I’ve been reading a lot of justifiably angry posts about those who would defend Roman Polanski, who was convicted of raping a 13-year-old thirty years ago. I did a bit of research, trying to understand the mindset and the concerns of the people arguing against Polanski’s arrest. What follows are the most common reasons I’ve found, as well as my translation of those reasons.
Polanski is a charming, intelligent man – We should only arrest scary-looking, deranged rapists, preferably the dirty homeless types. Bonus points if they’re a racial minority. Arresting “nice guys” forces us to consider that many rapists do appear charming, intelligent … even normal! This disturbs our simple view of the world and makes us uncomfortable, so please cease at once.
The victim’s mother pushed the child at Polanski – He shouldn’t be blamed because men are helpless to resist a 13-year-old girl. Remember, rape is always the fault of the women! If we can’t blame the victim, we’ll blame her mother. Even when that girl is saying “No,” and trying to get away, men are helpless to control our urges–the male penis forces us to drug and rape the girl.
It was more than 30 years ago – Accountability comes with an expiration date, and if I can avoid taking responsibility for my actions for a certain period of time, I should be absolved of that responsibility.
The victim doesn’t want to put herself or her family through this ordeal anymore* – If I can intimidate my victim enough, I can get away with it! Note: I have a great deal of sympathy for Polanski’s victim, and I’m torn about this one. Polanski has been on the run for 32 years. I’ve read commentary about how hard it’s been for him–he couldn’t even get his Oscar, he poor man. But what about the survivor? She’s also lived for 32 years with no closure, and wants to be done with it. *My research might have fallen short on this point. See this comment thread for clarification and further discussion.
He didn’t know she was thirteen – All girls should be required to tattoo their ages in a visible location in order to protect men from accidentally raping them. Also, it would have been perfectly okay for him to drug and rape her if she had been sixteen.
Nobody would even care about this case if Polanski weren’t famous – Who cares about rape anyway?
Sadly, there’s some truth to this last one. According to RAINN, 1 in 6 women will be raped in her lifetime. (My sense is that the numbers are even higher.) Yet only 6% of rapists will ever spend a day in jail. As a society, we don’t care. At least, we don’t care enough.