Rihanna, The Mail Online and Its “Invitation To Rape”

June 30, 2013 4:24 pm

rihannavictoriassecretSometimes you read things on the internet so heinous, so utterly, utterly heinous, you have to do a double take.

Before I expand on that, can I just say, before anything else, how incredibly, insanely tacky and disrespectful it is to keep posting a leaked picture of a young woman’s battered face years after the tragic incident took place. Whoever had need or interest to see that image already saw it at the time – over 4 YEARS AGO. There is absolutely zero need for it to be prominently displayed on any damn post dissecting Rihanna’s beach bod or live vocals or latest hair weave. As a rule it’d be real neat if we could all agree to hold off on posting incredibly intimate pictures leaked into the public domain by someone other than the featured party.

That said I present to you this here quote, taken from Liz Jones article “Pop’s poisonous princess: Rihanna’s  toxic role model for her army of young fans” for the Daily Mail’s Mail Online.

Of course, these little girls don’t realise there is anything wrong with what they are doing — they just want to copy the chart-topping star — who this year became the first singer ever to have had ten No.1 singles in the U.S. Billboard Chart. But if only she could be a better role model for young women.

I don’t care if she has the voice of an angel and is self-made, feisty and confident. 

All these qualities pale to nothing when we know she went back to her abusive boyfriend, Chris Brown, who pleaded guilty to assaulting her in 2009; that she promotes drug-taking, drinking and the sort of fashion sense on stage that surely invites rape at worstdisrespect at least.

Emphasis my own.

On a superficial level, I’d like to point out the logical fallacy that is consensual non-consensual sex. An invitation is a request, an encouragement. The element of invitation is completely absent from non-consensual sex. There is no consent or “invite” in rape. That’s kinda the whole point.

To break it down further, here are some simple rape-related rules everyone should know by heart:

1. Marriage is not an invitation to rape.

2. Nor is any other relationship level.

3. Previous consensual sex is not an invitation to rape. No matter how many times.

4. Eating a meal you bought for them is not an invitation to rape. Even if it was more than one!

5. Promiscuity, flirtatiousness and/or consensual sex with other people are not an invitation to rape.

6. Drug or alcohol use are not an invitation to rape. A person who is drunk or high may not be able to say “no”, but that does not equal a “yes” in any way, shape or form.

7. Nudity is not an invitation to rape.

8. Sex work is not an invitation to rape. Whatever your view of the morality or ethics of sex work, it is the sole right of that individual to determine whether or not,  where, when, how and with whom they want to do it with. Obviously if you look down on sex work and then try to use that as some warped legitimization of rape you’re really, especially, ultra-hyper twisted in the head.

9. Ethnicity and any other socio-economic markers you can think of are not an invitation to rape. No matter where someone comes from, what colour their skin is, how they dance, talk, act, pray, believe or otherwise carry themselves, you’re still not invited to rape them.

10. Nothing is an invitation to rape. There is no such thing.

I earnestly believe that if you are physically capable of sexual activity – 11, 12, 13 upwards – and not some kind of complete and utter psychopath, all of the above points should be intuitively obvious.

Not an invitation.

I’m also firm believer that everyone makes mistakes and that learning from these mistakes is crucial in the process of growing up, the process of emancipating oneself from whatever ghetto you grew up in. Not that you could ever rape someone by mistake – but it’s not hard to see why various people, depending on background, regurgitate tenets of rape culture they have been fed over the years. See for example CNN’s sympathy for the Steubenville rapists, and this here association of a young woman’s (a young pop star’s!) edgy or even hyper-sexual fashion sense as constituting a sure invitation to disrespect and/or rape. Hopefully the above “rules” will be useful to those still on that path.


I even understand the notion that a woman wearing more revealing outfits (or more outspoken about her sex life, or walking down a dark alley, or a million other things) might be considered to be at greater risk of assault – not for any fault of her own, but because of the twisted way some people’s minds work. By no means do any of these legitimize any kind of sexual violence or lessen their severity or the victim’s “victimhood”. And that’s exactly why posts like the one I’m responding to are damaging. There is exactly zero basis for associating stage outfits with some imagined “right” to disrespect or rape: even less for propagating that cancerous idea to a widespread audience.

Still not an invitation.It saddens me that this is the work of someone the British Society of Magazine Editors named their Columnist of the Year. A woman evidently preoccupied and heavily invested in providing healthy, positive role models for young women. A woman (this should have sufficed). A former editor for Marie Claire. A writer who should really, really just know better. An award-winning publication reaching over 100 million unique web browsers (as of 2012); the most popular news site online.

For more information on all of the above check out Rapecrisis.org.uk or their “This Is Not An Invitation To Rape Me” campaign.

Still not an invitation.


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