James Deen, rapist?

A few disjointed thoughts on Stoya’s tweets about James Deen:

  1. If she says she was raped, I believe her.

  1. This is different than saying “I believe James Deen raped her.” In complicated but important ways.

  2. Which is not to say I don’t believe James Deen raped her. It’s simply to say that believing her truth does not require me to grant it the status of objective truth.

  3. I have no difficulty holding in my mind the seemingly irreconcilable possibilities that a) Stoya was raped by James Deen and b) James Deen didn’t rape Stoya. My world is big enough for multiple, mutually exclusive, truths. In fact, it’s filled with them.

  4. This is a story with no winners. If the objective truth is that James Deen raped Stoya, I feel for both of them: her, for being disrespected and violated, him, for being wounded in whatever ways led him to coerce and disrespect. If the objective truth is that James Deen didn’t rape her, that she’s invented a story for whatever reasons, it’s differently sad. For each of them. And if the objective truth lies in some murky middle, well that’s the worst of all, as each is a victim.

  5. Notwithstanding this claim, James Deen isn’t Bill Cosby. (Yet?) One other claim, of an interaction that sounds very different from Stoya’s, does not a pattern establish.

If I had my druthers, Deen wouldn’t have issued a denial crafted by lawyers.

Though I understand why he probably had to. If it were up to me – and if he believes himself to have been falsely accused, as, regardless of the “objective” truth, I imagine he does – he would have said something like the following:

“I dated Stoya from date x to date y. I care about and respect her. And I am devastated that she has accused me of having raped her. Devastated because, as a feminist, I know the importance of believing – without question – reports of abuse. And devastated because I know that no matter what I say, many will – and SHOULD – conclude that I am, as alleged, a rapist. But most of all, I’m devastated that, evidently, this person – whom I loved – and I managed to miscommunicate so dreadfully. I don’t know what happened on the night Stoya is referring to in her tweet. If you’d asked me yesterday had I ever raped Stoya, or anyone else, I would have said, unequivocally, no. But I can’t say that today. I learned today that, somehow, I overstepped her boundaries. Not knowingly. But evidently I did. All that remains is for me not to convince Stoya, the courts, or my fans that I didn’t do what she has said I did, but rather, that whatever I’ve done in the past, I understand – and am committed to eradicating – the evil of rape. If there is a trial resulting from this accusation, I will defend myself forcefully, using the best legal advice I can find. But, in the court of public opinion, I plead guilty. Whatever happened between Stoya and me, there is simply no way I can ask anyone to believe my word over hers. All I ask is that you believe this: rape is awful, consent is vital. Survivors of sexual assault are entitled to implicit, unquestioning acceptance and trust. If Stoya says I raped her, then I don’t ask you to believe anything else, regardless of what I believe, what I remember.”

Truth is not often absolute. I don’t imagine that it is in this case. I certainly hope it isn’t.


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