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“He wouldn’t need to rape someone- he is hot” and misconceptions of sexual assault

*Trigger Warning for sexual assault and rape*

 

Two weeks ago, former NFL football player Darren Sharper was charged with rape on multiple accounts. According to court files, Sharper drugged 11 people and raped 7 women. The scenarios described by the victims suggests the met Sharper at the bar, gave them a drink, and then they woke up later either while being assaulted or afterwards knowing something was wrong

sharper1

However, instead of responding to this in shock and disgust for someone who would repeatedly violate another human being, people are focusing more on his looks than his actions.

The responses to Sharper’s arrest on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and social media in general reflect a worrisome image of how talk about rape, reasons for rape, and why people rape. Comments about Sharper’s “hot body” and “beautiful face” have shaped the public discourse around his charges being perceived as ridiculous because “attractive men don’t need to rape.”

Apparently his abs are more important than his crimes?

Apparently his abs are more important than his crimes?

Various comments about the case include:

Darren is a sexy man!!! Can’t imagine him having to rape anybody to get some!!

I doubt it. He does not need to rape a beaux! They give it up willingly for a high price! But if you cross him watch out.

Darren Sharper is too fine to be raping people… (That has nothing to do with him being sick but still)

Darren Sharper too fine to be out here living that roofie life. Unless his peepee is just SUPER itty bitty…

Whaaaat! With dimples like that why would he have to rape anyone? Damn, I hope it’s not true I used to love him on the Saints. SMH

I don’t get it. Why would Darren Sharper fine ass need to rape somebody? It’s a hoax for sure! Has to be.

Darren sharper too fine to do the raping…he should be fighting from getting raped by women

Darren sharper is sexy and handsome, hoes probably tryna set him up. I know them hoes lying.

Comments like these assist in perpetuating victim blaming culture and misconceptions of rape. We as a culture have created the image that rape is something that happens to women walking home at night by a man in the bushes with a knife.  But that is far from the case. Rapists aren’t just men who “can’t get sex anywhere else”; rape is an act of power- seeking. Studies have shown that a majority of motives for rape stem from wanting power, not sex. While sexual attraction may also be involved, it is important to not discredit the role power and anger play in sexual assaults.

Rape is not just a sex act, but an act of violence. Instead of discussing this violence though, we become fixated on details like the perpetrators appearance or reputation. Situations like “well he is too nice to sexual assault someone” or “he doesn’t need to rape someone to get laid” take blame off the perpetuator as if being attractive is proof of innocence.

We need to shift our rhetoric when discussing rape, and particularly about those who rape. Rape is not perpetrated by only members of one religion, race, nation or belief system, but rather by those living in a culture that treats women like second- class citizens. We have made strides in promoting discourse that does not blame victims of rape, but if we don’t try to change the way we talk about those who commit rape, are we truly starting to fix the problem?

Saying someone is “too sexy” to commit rape attempts to excuse individuals from violent crimes.  Just as the conversation is changing to say a woman dressing a particular way is not asking for rape, we need to say someone being hot does not mean they will not rape.

What are your thoughts on the response to Darren Sharpers charges? Let me know in the comments below!

3 Responses to ““He wouldn’t need to rape someone- he is hot” and misconceptions of sexual assault”

  1. SarahStar77

    Really good post. I like how you are discussing the “rhetoric of rape.” It is interesting to see how athletes, particularly good looking athletes are portrayed as innocent in regards to sexual assault there is a huge pattern of this. It is clearly evident that Darren Sharper is a rapist and has sexually assaulted seven women, maybe even more we do not know about. But hopefully if there are more women who were assaulted by him they will come out now. I am glad you brought this subject to light. Just because someone is “sexy” does not mean they would never rape or sexually assault someone. People are ignorant and hopefully the “rhetoric of rape” will change and not portray the victim as the wrong doer. Thank you for sharing this.

    Reply
  2. ladylikesailormouth

    I think the ignorance card is a little too easy to play. I believe it is more about how our society perpetuates images of rape and those shape how we construct the identity of a rapist. If we promote images/ rhetoric that say rapists are unattractive, you would believe attractive is the opposite. Rather, we need to challenge cultural connotations of rape in a public sphere in order have others see opposing images of rape that they may not know, and thus help reverse rape culture.

    Reply

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