Last week, news broke out that former Glee star, Mark Salling, was found dead due to self-induced asphyxiation. Twitter blew up following the news, and reactions ranged from sadness to anger. Many believed by taking his life was his way of escaping his sentencing after pleading guilty to possessing child pornography, while others seemed to be filled with sadness because they remembered his rebellious, but charming character, Noah “Puck” Puckerman.
They seemed to disregard all his charges despite the fact he admitted guilt because of a character he played on television.
This isn’t an isolated incident.
In my own personal experience, I have seen accused rapists continue to have supportive friends, despite their actions because of the character they have portrayed to the public.
I have heard excuses range from:
“He’s a feminist, he would never do that”
“He’s my friend”, “he’s a nice guy”
“The victim is just crazy and seeking attention”
or even as horrible as “I believe it, but we have a class together so I can’t cut them out of my life”.
Despite the fact, that these people may have never even spoken to the victim, and were not on the scene of the assault, they have these misconceptions that association equals innocence.
Those people who blindly support their friend because “it’s easier” or pretend that because they are their friend is enough to believe that they’re wrongly accused…listen up.
People can say they are feminists, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are.
I can say I am the President of the United States, but (unfortunately) that doesn’t mean I am, does it?
I don’t know about you, but from my own personal experience, you are taught that criminals have a particular look. They are blatantly aesthetically ugly; you know from a first-hand encounter that they are untrustworthy. It took me until high school to realize that a rapist can look like just anyone else. They can be someone you love and trust, and have shared fond memories with.
It’s absolutely acceptable (encouraged even) to cut yourself off from this person.
This shouldn’t skew ones perspective on when and what is deemed as believable when it comes to rape culture, if they are accused of assault. Understand that even your friends, are capable of things that you may not be able to fathom. Not everyone has good intentions, even the loved, talented, popular and seemingly selfless are capable of cruel actions.
This concept only feeds and perpetuates rape culture. It can lead to victims feeling as if they can’t trust even their own first-hand experience, because, I mean, they’re a nice person right… they’re a (supposedly) proud self-proclaimed feminist. They would NEVER do this. Maybe, I just misinterpreted the situation, maybe I lead them to believe I was interested?
But the fact of the matter is even the professedly sweetest, can have a taste of sour.
At the end of the day, if you choose to support someone after they’ve been accused of a criminal offense, at least realize that claiming you’re against rape culture all while perpetuating it (no matter how much you may believe they are innocent) isn’t exactly helping the cause.
Making sure your actions align with your preaching’s,
2 thoughts on “Association Does Not Equal Innocence.”
I agree with your comments. For anyone who wants a terrible, but true and EXTREME education in the subject of “assuming the best in spite of indications to the contrary that a guy is a rapist,” read Ann Rule’s The Stranger Beside Me.
I just…. YES. I had this conversation last week with a friend and I think this is such an important dialogue to have. Great job.