Dear devil’s advocate
author: annie trussler | op-ed editor
Dear Devil’s Advocate: no one fucking asked.
The other day, I went to visit my friend at work. She had asked me earlier if I could bring her some coffee, and dutifully, I did just that. We stopped to talk, like we usually do, and we got to talking about the deplorable cast of men plaguing Hollywood as we speak. There was, unfortunately, a man in the room – and like clockwork, a chorus of “well, we can’t believe every victim” began. I saw it coming, and it still made me sick.
I tried to argue, like I often do (I am more or less the personification of Scrappy Doo), but soon my hands were shaking, and my chest was aching, and my heart was racing too quickly for me to formulate any sort of reasonable argument. Eventually, I crafted a masterful string of BS to escape, and I left to do some deep breaths in the bathroom.
It has not been until these last few years that I have felt unsafe around all men I am not familiar with, and even with some of those that I am. You never know when your suggestion of “rapists are evil” will be countered with a straight, non-victim male’s bullshit attempt at insight.
So, allow me to take this time to make a direct address:
Dear Devil’s Advocate, dear “if I might just offer my opinion,” dear “you have no evidence,” dear “she could be doing this for attention:” fuck you.
I can speak earnestly, and hopefully on behalf of all victims who suffer in silence through this nonsense, without shame, and with anger I have never been able to name.
Any victim who comes forward – be it with allegations against Johnny Depp or Joe Nobody – are goddamn heroes. I find it difficult to name a braver act than taking an act of violence against you, and bringing it forth to the law, to friends, to family, or anyone that happens to listen.
There will be men reading this article. Many men know how to act like decent human beings and agree the above behaviour is disgusting, but there will also be men that proudly wear the badge of “that guy.” So, that guy, I am going to try to put some things in perspective for you: 1 in 5 women are raped or sexually assaulted in college. Those women are around you. They are your friends, your family, your classmates, but most importantly, they are living, breathing, and existing people who cope with this horrific trauma every day of their lives.
Victims who hear men like you defend their attackers learn quickly and severely that they can no longer trust you.
The list of men I no longer trust with my secrets or safety is longer than I could possibly begin to detail. There isn’t enough paper in the world to catalogue the names of every man who has scared me into silence time, after time, after time.
I can tell you, genuinely, that there are few things more frightening than admitting to being a victim. For life, from that point onward, you are ashamed, frightened, and suddenly on your guard in every space that is not your own, and sometimes, even then.
I don’t care about your opinion. I don’t care how badly you want to defend your disgusting male faves – they were probably mediocre anyway, and even if they weren’t, they sure as hell are now. So are you.
Earlier last year, I decided to come forward to different people about what I had endured. I found that the more women I told, the more seemed to have a frighteningly similar story.
Once, at an improv show, I sat with a group of thirteen women and we all shared our experiences.
This branch of sisterhood is not one I ever wanted to participate in. I should not be able to walk into a crowded room and know that nearly every woman there can relate to each other.
While I have your attention, I would also like to dispel a few bullshit counterarguments:
- Why didn’t she report it? Because of people like you! Victims that come forward are often mocked, belittled, and driven away from their places of comfort or success for daring to speak out. People privilege men in almost all cases of accusation, so why would a victim bother?
- Don’t you know men get raped? I do, in fact; however, it is because of people like you that male victims don’t come forward. If women were afraid to speak out for fear of disbelief, why would your bro try?
- You have no evidence! If a woman came forward, trembling, crying, and breathless as she recounted how her husband just murdered someone against their will, would you question it? Would you dare look this clearly traumatized human being in the face and tell her she’s lying?
Dear Devil’s Advocate: no one fucking asked.