Dick Dox Your Rapist

I was casually scrolling through the internet the other evening when I came upon a post that was emblazoned with the warning, “LOCAL RAPIST.” It was an eye-catching post, and upon further examination I realized that the picture of the dangerous local rapist was someone that I knew peripherally through bars here in Oakland. It was one of those moments that made me feel like, “Woah, what the hell happened here?” because as a woman who goes out to bars, it’s always disconcerting to discover that someone that I’ve seen around for a while is out there raping women.

Over the next 24 hours, thanks to the internet, the flyer went viral on Tumblr, with more than twenty thousand likes, and started popping up repeatedly on Instagram and Facebook. Yes, indeed, this guy that I had seen around had in fact raped a young woman with whom I have mutual acquaintances. It came to light that this guy had sexually assaulted more than just this one young woman who was speaking out, but that there were ten other women who contacted her to corroborate this abusive behavioral pattern.

Watching my community mobilize on the internet in order to oust a rapist was a wild thing to witness. In recent years, after the Steubenville rape case and after groups like Anonymous set a precedent for doxing and fucking with bad guys, watching a similar effort of vigilante justice unfold was a new phenomenon. Having been in the Oakland community for years, there’s a tacit log of rapists and offenders who walk among us, yet this kind of justice has never been brought upon them. I’ve seen women suffer through being raped and beaten, and oftentimes the only option they have apart from the legal route is to hope that maybe some stand up guy in the community will beat up the rapist, or else the woman just has to let the other women know and deal with seeing her rapist around. That being said, the chances of some stand up guy beating up a rapist is still slim, because I have seen these rapists walk around without a scratch.

As we’re coming into a new era of internet-fueled vigilante justice in a world of blossoming feminism, witnessing the social ramifications of this style of justice has revealed where we as a community stand when it comes to rape, especially within the so-called hipster scene that camps out in bars. The victim is brave for speaking out so vehemently about what happened to her, and that has created the opportunity for other women to admit to their experiences of abuse with the local rapist. But it’s worth noting that this situation is extraordinary in that these kind of consequences do not usually befall the accused rapist. This situation is setting a new precedent, and it’s a good precedent to set. When considering why we don’t see this kind of reaction and upheaval every time a woman in our community is raped, we see that survivors do not always have the resources to mobilize their community against a rapist; they don’t have the social cushion within which to feel supported and safe in making these accusations; they fear the ramifications and emotional investment of this kind of justice. The confluence of social factors and technology have, in this particular case, been conducive to a reaction on a level that I have not seen before. So, we have to ask: why is that, and what happens now?

There’s something to be said for the virality of dick doxing a rapist; without the internet buzz machine, the image of this guy that I’d seen around never would have crossed my feed. In the era of the viral video, we all know what it takes to get your shit seen on the internet: a community that gives a fuck about the content and an incentive to share. In this case, the incentive is social justice, a cause that many people are eager to get behind. And the amount of effort that it takes to support that cause is minimal: a click, a share, a retweet.

luca rapist

Before viral dick doxing was a thing, women could only hope that other people gave enough of a fuck about them and their experiences to share what had happened to them. Oftentimes, after the truth had been revealed, when asked, “Well, what are we going to do about this?” the question was met with nothing. There’s something about a witch hunt that makes people uncomfortable; it’s easier to be apathetic in the face of such accusations. But you know what else makes people uncomfortable? Getting raped. So while many people choose to be apathetic or disengaged from a woman’s story of rape because it makes them uncomfortable, or seeing the process of vigilante justice brought upon a rapist makes them squirm, or they have moral qualms about whether or not the rumors are substantiated – surviving rape and the threat of rape are ultimately much more uncomfortable and squirm-worthy than one’s social standing.

So, as we come to the era of virally dick doxing your rapist, we have to ask how we as a community deal with these new tools and this new system of justice. How are we using these tools to effectively work as a community to keep women safe, to ensure that their voices are heard, and to make sure that the result of this community action works to further the sexual safety and education of everyone in the community? Viral dick doxing has a touch of mob mentality to it, which is a thing nowadays with internet communities. Still, in order to be a woman whose voice is heard in these types of situations, one has to be willing to take on the monumental task of mobilizing community resources and bearing the burden of negative repercussions and bad press. That is not something that every woman is willing to do, and I wonder: for those women who are not willing to put themselves in the spotlight so readily, how are we listening to them? What resources do we have for women who have experienced rape within our community but who wish to remain anonymous? What are we doing for women who want to let everyone else know without totally disrupting their lives to relive and deal with their trauma on a social level? Support groups and other online resources exist for women coping with trauma, yet their presence remains distant from the public eye.

As with any system of justice, we must examine the punishment in relation to the crime. We burn these rapists at the stake. There is a level of public humiliation that goes along with being outed as a rapist. Now we all know he is a rapist, which is more than just a function of humiliation but one of warning other women in order to ensure their safety. The public nature of dick doxing likewise lets other would be rapists know that there are consequences for their actions, which is in turn the reason why consistently leveling these consequences at rapists is an important part of ensuring that this kind of justice gains traction. Beyond just public humiliation, however, there is an opportunity to seek out violent retribution, financial compensation and complete social ostracization. Of course, as we see rapists leave town due to public humiliation, alerting networks of their status as a rapist as they move to other towns will help women in other cities avoid the rapist because what we don’t want is for a rapist to go somewhere where no one knows him just to rape again.

This kind of vigilante justice has the ability to utterly ruin someone’s life forever, but the goal of justice can be undermined by a failure of due diligence when it comes to outing a rapist. With that in mind, we see that too often the skepticism is foisted on rape survivors rather than rapists because it’s easier to pretend nothing happened than to seek justice.

As a community, we are responsible for taking action to ensure the safety of other women and creating a culture and a community that doesn’t allow this kind of behavior to escalate into rape. Moving forward from this particular incident, I have to ask myself: what am I doing to create a safer place for my peers? A place where we can drink socially, be sexual, and be safe among each other at the same time? What am I doing to let people know that sexually aggressive behavior is not tolerated in my social circle? How are we calling out inappropriate behavior before it escalates to levels of sexual assault and rape? As a sex positive blogger, I see that rape alarmism in the face of rape culture creates a mentality of a fearfulness to be sexually expressive in the face of rape accusations that carry such grave consequences. With cases of grey rape, people begin to second guess manifestations of their sexuality especially as it comes into conflict with their alcohol consumption. While reassessing our approach to sexuality is generally a healthy one, this seems as good a time as any to cover some basic approaches to being sexual without being a rapist (because sex is awesome, but rape is not):

Always ask for consent. The best way to ensure that what you’re doing is gravy is to ask for consent. Consent is sexy, and the more you practice consent, the more fun and easy it becomes. It’s as easy as asking someone, “Do you want to [fill in the blank sexual activity] with me?”

Give consent. Part of creating a positive environment for consent is to give consent to your partner every step of the way, even if it’s unsolicited. Saying something such as, “Yes, touch me,” creates a level of communication so that if a “no” arises, it can be more easily handled.

Learn to take no for an answer. When a partner says no, it isn’t necessarily an ego assault. Nor is it an invitation to try harder. Learning how to respond when someone says “no” will help create a more comfortable situation for everyone. When someone says “no,” back off, reassess, and go back to the land of “yes.” Anger, offense, or aggression are no way to handle that kind of situation.

Learn to say no when you want to. Often times, there is pressure to keep your mouth shut and go with the flow during sexual activity. However, it is your right to say no to whatever you want. This doesn’t make you a prude or stuck up or square, but, rather, is a sign of maturity and that you know what you do and don’t want. Stick to your guns.

Don’t engage in sexual activity with someone who is too fucked up. If you’re among the drinkers in this community, then you should know what too fucked up looks like. It’s slurring words, slumping over, difficulty moving with coordination. When you take advantage of someone who is too fucked up, you might not necessarily be met with the onslaught of ‘no’s that a more sober person might give you because alcohol creates inhibition. Of course, this is complicated because too fucked up for one person is just fine for another, and being comfortable with one’s level of consumption of alcohol is part of knowing where the line is. Some people say that any amount of intoxication creates a mind that can’t readily give consent, but in reality we live in a society that pairs alcohol and sexuality very readily. Your best bet for dealing with people who have been drinking when in a sexual situation? Don’t initiate sexual contact, and discuss sexual contact every step of the way in order to help assess whether or not this person is too fucked up. Regardless of what your conclusion is, remember that if you decide to deal with someone who is too fucked up, the consequences might be grey rape.

Don’t engage in sexual activity when you’re too fucked up. Yeah, we all drink, we all get fucked up, we all get horny. Sometimes it’s easier to be sexual when in the pits of intoxication, but learning to be sexual without the crutch of alcohol is ultimately more rewarding and definitely safer. A clear head will make it easier to give and receive consent. Learn your limits, and stick to them. As someone who loves drinking, I know that this can be a tall order, but we can spare ourselves the anxiety of unintentional sexual contact by drinking with sexual discipline.

In conclusion, I would like to thank the survivor for bringing this pressing issue to light in our community. I have seen many people struggle with the implications of these events, yet ultimately we have the opportunity to grow into a community that is safer for everyone and handles this kind of behavior swiftly and with justice. It takes courage to be the person willing to launch this kind of public campaign to oust a rapist while simultaneously dealing with the trauma of having been raped.

It is the responsibility of everyone in this community to make sure that this never happens again. It is our responsibility to deal with these situations with level-headed justice, compassion, and discernment. With these events, we have set a precedent for dealing with rapists, and from this we can only hope that the methods we use to prevent rape, protect survivors, and handle rapists makes our community better. This is just the beginning of the conversation.