Content Warning: As implied by the headline, this entry contains a frank discussion of rape and rape culture.
A version of this appeared on my Tumblr blog earlier today.
Recently allegations that Ryan Kopf (organizer behind several conventions including Animinneapolis and Anime Midwest) has committed rape have been circulating the internet. If you're curious about the exact details, you can find them here. Now whether you choose to believe Mr. Kopf is guilty or not, one of the questions that's been asked a lot is "Why didn't she press charges?" David Capito wrote an interesting response to this, but I wanted to add my two cents in as well.
Every time someone tries to tell me rape culture isn't a real thing, I think about how many women I know who have been victims of rape at one point or another. And those are just the ones who trusted me enough to tell me. I'm completely sure there are more. Here's the thing - none of these women ever reported their rape.
Why? Because we put rape victims through the wringer in this country. It's a ridiculous monstrosity against justice and humanity, but that's the current reality.
I've been working cons for a long ass time (16 or 17 years now?), and there's this weird perception that the bubble in which cons exist is somehow safer than the rest of the world. That "one of us" wouldn't do something like that. Well I'll tell you something, for damn sure "one of us" could do something like that. I can guarantee you that at, say, No Brand Con, in its over a decade of history has had at least one sexual assault. In fact, I promise you it has.
Because I was Floor Manager on duty when one of the victim's friends reported it to the staff.
It's been many years since this happened, but I remember quite clearly asking the young woman to report it to the police, but she was too afraid to. There was no evidence and she feared no one would believe her. So it went unreported.
Conventions are filled with the same people you find on the street, and the sad fact is a percentage of them are rapists. Most of whom will never get caught. Because our society and culture kind of sucks. I'm not saying the allegations against a certain convention organizer are true or not -- I met him for a whole two minutes once at a con, so I don't know him -- but don't dismiss them just because people in the convention scene are "different."
It's sad how a lot of this stuff happens. I remember having female friends tell me they get nervous in their cosplays because they are in skimpy outfits. I had a friend tell me she was trying to stay stationary and not move around much because a creep was taking pictures of the women with skimpier outfits even without permission.
No one has ever come to me and tell me about their experiences with rape or molestation (well one friend but he isn't affiliated to the conventions.) But I know it happens. I come from a very small rural area where rape stories spread and different sides of the argument are always clear.
Rice Lake has an infamous "Justice for Josh" campaign that is trying to clear name of a kid who was sentenced 10 years to prison for a sexual assault of a 15 year old girl who was his GF at the time and the case is all drama and shit.
But rape culture is definitely a mess up in this society.