Yesterday, not for the first time, I found myself yelling at the TV.
Watching the show Castle will do this to me. I have a relationship with it, and as with all relationships, sometimes I love it, and sometimes I want to choke it with my bare hands. (This could explain a lot about why I am still single, but we’re not talking about that right now.) My brother and sister-in-law gave me Season 4 of the show for Christmas. They did this because I asked for it. Now, I am alone with my punishment. (Even Zoë tends to leave the room when I get like this. Cats don’t do martyrdom.)
“But Kimberly,” I can hear you all saying, “Castle is a great show! What is your problem?” And you’re right. It tells a story each week, engaging the viewer with unexpected plot twists and witty banter. They haven’t introduced any previously unknown family members without explaining why they were absent for several years. But once in a while, they run headlong into a dramatic scene without bothering to check in at the Logic Booth, and it irks me. (Really, Rick? You didn’t tell Kate about Creepy Phone Guy because you knew she was too wrapped up in trying to find who shot her mother and herself, and she’d risk her life? You mean, kind of like she told you she would do back in Season One, when she explained why she didn’t want to look into her mother’s case anymore and you convinced her to do it anyway? Oh, and Kate – you think the Captain is unjust for wanting you off your own case? Just because you lack all objectivity and are likely to shoot the first person you think is guilty? No worries, I’m sure that old saying about a lawyer representing herself having a fool for a client only applies to professions that don’t carry guns.)
Right about now, at least one of you should point out that Castle is a TV show, and there is no point in trying to convince them of anything. Besides, no matter what happens, no matter how much it occasionally bugs me, Nathan Fillion, the ego-maniac with a heart of gold, will win me back eventually. We all know this.
I have spent a lot of hours lately connected to my television on an intense level. Castle, Downton Abbey, Angel – the genre doesn’t matter much, as long as it’s engaging enough to distract me from the current headlines. The world often sucks, so you might wonder why I’m bothered now. Something about the current spate of violence against women, I think. In Punjab, India, a woman was gang-raped, and though she reported the crime, police did nothing about it until a month later, after they found out the woman had died from drinking poison. (Gee, guess she was serious about it after all.) In Steubenville, Ohio, a high school student was raped by multiple attackers, and instead of calling for help, people took pictures of her unconscious body and posted them on Twitter. Oh, and here in my beloved California, a woman was told that no, it didn’t count as rape when that guy sneaked into her bedroom and started having sex with her without her consent, because she didn’t immediately shove him away. Yes, she was asleep at the time, and shoved him away and told him to stop as soon as she was awake enough to realize that he wasn’t her boyfriend, but that didn’t matter. Now, if she were married, it would have mattered, because he would have been impersonating her husband and we have laws against that. But an unmarried woman? Come on. We all know, if she’ll have sex with her boyfriend, she’ll do it with anyone. Clearly, all these women are just man-haters who want to cause trouble.
Is it any wonder I’m dissecting Castle episodes?
Some days, I get really tired of being a girl. Not because I want more upper body strength or facial hair. (The arms I have are plenty useful, and shaving my legs is enough of a pain without adding other areas, thanks.) And I realize that men have their fair share of societal headaches, too. But the world likes to assume that women exaggerate or flat out make up their problems, and periodically, I get sick of fighting the good fight. From cramps to depression, the first thing we’re told by doctors is that it’s all in our head. Heart disease was only researched in men because the primarily male medical establishment assumed it only affected them. It took decades to realize that women suffered from it, it just usually presented different symptoms. And when it comes to rape, most women don’t report it, because they know they’ll be interrogated more than whoever they’re accusing.
Think about this for a second. A 17-year-old boy goes to a party at a friend’s house and has too much to drink. He knows it’s a bad idea to drive home, and it’s only a couple of blocks, so he walks. Halfway home, he inadvertently walks by a drug deal and is severely beaten by the seller. He drags himself home and collapses.
How many people are going to say, “You walked home in the middle of the night. What did you expect?” or “You deserve it. Now you’ll know not to drink so much,” or my personal favorite, “You made that story up. You were probably just having a good time fighting with your friends, and things got out of hand.” No, most of us are going to be heartsick thinking about a 17-year-old suffering so much, just because he had too much to drink and tried not to make a bad situation worse. But somehow, when it’s a teenage girl saying she’s been raped, people feel free to say all those things and more.
I am sure, through the course of history, that some women have accused men of rape when that wasn’t actually the case, and I agree with you, guys, it’s a horrible thing to do. But here’s the thing: for most of us, it doesn’t actually have as much allure as you might think. Let’s apply at least as much logic as I imposed on the writers of Castle. I don’t know anyone who would go to all the trouble to seduce a guy and then accuse him of forcing himself on her. For starters, if she enjoyed herself, she might want to sleep with him again, and having someone arrested on false pretenses tends to discourage him from returning your calls. Second, and more importantly, it doesn’t do anything positive for the accuser. How would she benefit? Just from knowing that she ruined his life? There’s no money in that, and the fame that comes to a victim of sexual violence is usually of the “what a slut” variety. If that’s what you’re after, there are plenty of ways to be branded a slut that don’t require legal fees.
Most of my male readers are compassionate people, I’m sure. But perhaps some guy has stumbled upon this column who possesses not an ounce of empathy – or maybe the rest of you know guys like that and need a way to explain things to them. Here goes. Imagine yourself going down to the police station, facing an officer in uniform, and announcing in a clear, manly voice, “The guy with the locker next to me at the gym just knocked me down in the shower and raped me.” How do you feel?
Scared of what everyone, including the officer that you’re talking to, thinks about you?
Where on your list are “triumphant” and “turned on”? Are they even on the list?
Guess what – they’re not on mine, either. Or that of any other woman that I know.
I believe people are innocent until proven guilty, and that everyone deserves a fair trial. But that needs to include the victim. Unless there’s a compelling reason, it’s time to stop assuming that women accuse men of rape just because they don’t want to admit to enjoying sex. Most of us women think of sex with someone that we love as something to be happy about, not guilty for. If we’re down at the police station allowing ourselves to be examined physically and mentally in the most invasive way possible, there’s probably a good reason.
I long for the day that this is no longer an issue, because no guy would think of forcing himself on someone (male or female, by the way) without their consent. That day hasn’t arrived yet, but maybe we can stop fooling ourselves that with each rape accusation, there’s a 50/50 chance that she’s lying. The odds are much better that someone you love was raped, and never told anyone about it because she was afraid that no one would believe her.
Yeah, I know. I don’t want to think about that, either. Let’s all go watch Angel. On that show, the bad guy doesn’t usually get to assert that the victim is lying, because he’s too busy dealing with a stake through the heart.
Kimberly will try to be in a better mood for next week’s column. Honest.