Ed Westwick, my Chuck Bass crush, is accused of rape. By two women at the moment when I am writing this article. And this is precisely the point when I realized how difficult feminism can be.
As long as it was someone older, less handsome, in a “power position”, it was certainly very easy to say “Well, why would she lie”. My position on the side of the woman was firm. I would have defended each woman’s right to express what has happened to her to the grave and would speak in best thoughts of other women – when having to decide whether I believe the woman or believe the man, I would always choose the woman.
I still am on their side, but this time it was harder. This time my first impulse was “Well, certainly not him” and something pretty indecent about her “15 minutes of fame”. that thought stroke me. I cannot decide when I am a feminist or not. I cannot decide for whom I am a feminist, and for whom not. I cannot decide, just from the facts that are presented, who is right and who is not. And I most definitely cannot decide that one woman shares her true story, and the other one does not – just because I happen to like the man. That’s not being a feminist. That’s being inconsistent in my values.
It is something different, when we personally know someone. If one of my close friends was accused of rape, I would know on a much more secure basis that they didn’t to it. But I don’t know Ed Westwick and I don’t know Kristina Cohen – so who am I to damn her and free him of doubt, when I didn’t do it with the other defendants?
It is not just me – if you have been on facebook the last days you will see how different people respond to rape accuses, once the man in discussion is well liked. With all the meetoo hashtags the resonance is high – but for no one before, not Cosby, not Weinstein, not Spacey, have I read so many “We believe in you”, “You are not the type”, “We stand behind you” comments.
This incident uncovers two difficult truths.
- I was too quick in judging other men, who I didn’t know, for their assaults. If I am true to myself, I never took the time to read the stories thoroughly or care for the statement of the accused people. In doubt, I am still on the side of the women, because I think that the last thing this discussion is allowed to become is a women bashing, women shaming for coming out kinda thing. Still, I will take more care in listening to both sides – whether I know the person or not.
- You can always control your thoughts. Jep, my first reaction was definitely wrong. It’s not right to damn a woman, not for me or anyone else, as a liar, just because she is not as famous as others or her claim is somewhat inconvenient. But in the end, it was only a first reaction. It showed me the importance of being aware of your thoughts and of seeing reality as it is. And feminism isn’t that the men you don’t like are rapists and the men you do like are little angles, but that you are constantly aware of how to judge a situation, are true to your values and are objective.
This particular case is still difficult
It is for sure the case that I have spent the most time on. I have read Cohens statement and Westwicks answer. I have tried to look at the whole thing objectively. Of course I do not know the answer, and maybe that is an important development to discover for oneself too. I will never know what is true and what is not.
- Westwick is one of the few people accused who is actually denying it. He doesn’t say “I can’t remember”, he says “I didn’t do it”.
- Westwick claims he doesn’t even know her – that should be able to be proved, shouldn’t it? She talks about a specific party – there must have been people who saw her at that party and can prove that he does in fact know her or not. Either would certainly tip the scale in favor of one or the other.
- Her story shows some flaws. You feel uncomfortable in the presence or at the house of someone, and fall asleep, there, in a room of a man you don’t know and feel threatened by?
Then again –
- Why should she lie? Sure, she can say it just to get her 15 minutes of fame. But why would she choose someone who is this much liked and known among her peers? For me that doesn’t make sense. It could have been much easier, if it was just about the fame – accuse someone much older, much uglier, in a higher power position. The fame would have been the same, the backlash much smaller.
- According to Cohen it happened in 2013. Maybe the details aren’t too clear anymore – certain flaws, as long as they are little, shouldn’t be held against her, a situation like this is for sure traumatizing.
- A second woman came forward today. I haven’t read her claims, but the more people there are, the less likely it is that all of them lie.
This discussion is incredibly difficult. Truth is, we cannot know what really happened. Truth is too that a man, who is falsely accused of rape, still will keep a stain on his reputation. Truth is too that women should be able to speak out and should not fear that society belittles them for a fame seeker, if they do.
We have reached a peak. On the one hand, that is good – sexual assaults have never gotten that much attention. On the other hand, it is difficult – it was never this easy for any woman to harm a man, by accusing him wrongly of rape. I hope that this doesn’t happen often. I am pretty sure it happens sometimes. It is wrong and false, but so is rape and assault and neither should go unpunished.
My position is clear: just because of some, few, women, who falsely accuse men of rape, we cannot silence all other women. Whether or not I know the accused party, information is everything. Keep updated. Keep informed. And most importantly – keep true to your believes. Even if it is difficult.