Daniel Holtzclaw was found guilty of sexual battery on Thursday after 13 separate women accused him, but on Friday, we were reminded that, for some people, women's words mean so little that a school bus full of accusers will not persuade them to believe a rape accusation. Ten women have accused porn actor James Deen of abuse, charges that Deen denies. Now Deen's friend and perennial asshole, Brett Easton Ellis, is on the rampage, giving an angry interview to the Hollywood Reporter about why he feels that these ten women's testimony should be blown off with extreme prejudice.
Ellis may be overrated as a novelist and thinker, but as a rape denialist, he's a master at the form. In this interview, he expresses two logically incompatible opinions. On one hand he advances the theory that the accusations are mere figments of the hysterical female imagination. But he's also a fan of the contradictory theory that the accusations are true in a material sense, but should be blown off on the grounds that the accusers had no right to refuse consent.
On the latter point, Ellis repeatedly suggests the porn set is a magical place where the right to refuse consent simply vaporizes, at least for women. "I mean everyone’s saying, 'It doesn’t matter if you’re in the porn world. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the porn industry,'" he sneers. "Well I think it does."
Or take this exchange:
But then [Stoya, Deen's ex-girlfriend, accusing him of rape] did open the floodgates to other accusations, if not of rape, of some dangerously abusive behavior.
In the porn world! And BDSM invite-only parties! What are we talking about? Is everyone nuts? Is everyone so hungry for a witch hunt — does James arouse such complicated feelings in people — that this is the endgame? I don’t know, what do you think? Does [MTV's Teen Mom star and Deen screen partner] Farrah Abraham coming along and saying, “Yeah, I guess I was raped too" — doesn’t that kind of invalidate everything? I don’t know! I’m asking you this.
Hard to believe that in 2015 someone still has the nerve to trot out the myth of the unrapeable woman---the myth that some women's right to refuse has been revoked because they have had sex before, do sex work, or simply because they are low status women---and yet, here we are.
The myth of the unrapeable woman has been on the decline in recent years, as evidenced by the fact that a jury in Oklahoma managed to convict a police officer of raping black women with criminal records. But here's a supposedly smart man, kicking it 1950s style with the sneering insinuations that you lose your right to set boundaries because you work in porn.
Seriously, Ellis is really, really outraged at this notion that women, even porn actresses, should be able to say no to sex:
That really was the shocking thing. “I can no longer work with James Deen because of this accusation.” That is scary. Like I tweeted. Let that sink in. Let’s live in a society and let that sink in. That’s a problem. You know?
You can just feel him bristling at the idea that a woman, even on a porn set, might think she has a right not to touch your dick. What is this world coming to, if women get to say no because they are afraid of you raping them? The overriding assumption here isn't just that women are obligated to promote Deen's career by working with him, but that they have to put their very bodies---and their safety---on the line in order to keep Deen's paychecks coming.
A humbler man might stop at simply castigating women for thinking they get to set boundaries in the first place, but Ellis, a man who is confident in his contradictions, endorses an alternate theory to make sure all bases are covered: That these accusations are all just lies anyway.
To this end, he refers to a classic in the annals of misogynist stereotypes : The Crazy Bitch. Referring to Stoya, Deen's ex-girlfriend who was the first to publicly allege that Deen had raped her, Ellis says,"this is a very unstable person" and alludes to mysterious "texts and emails that James has" that will supposedly exonerate him by exposing the Crazy Bitch-ness of Stoya.
Ellis's devotion to this stereotype is truly astounding. While admitting he doesn't know Joanna Angel, he nonetheless says, "But I think there was a similar problem going on with him and Joanna as well." And really, does one need actual evidence to convict a woman of Crazy Bitchitude? The mere fact that she is a woman is all you really need.
But it's okay for Ellis to wallow in one of the most tedious misogynist stereotypes of all time, because he has a poet's heart about it. "I mean, have you ever been in love with someone and you’re so angry that they don’t love you back and that the relationship has ended — and there’s this kind of rage that’s inherent to that?" he ponders. "I mean, to me, that doesn’t seem all that far-fetched."
Of course, the idea that a man who has been accused by 10 separate women, many of whom never dated him and only met him through work, might be a rapist---now that's far-fetched. Women are capable, perhaps born to perform, of all manner of evil, but a man? Preposterous! Especially if that man is a friend of Ellis. I mean, clearly those women are lying. Or if they aren't, they are making mountains out of molehills. Or they deserved what happened. No matter what, Deen has to be the good guy here, right?
It's unclear if Deen knew beforehand that Ellis was going to bat for him, but if so, he would have been wise to stop him. Ellis's work has been long derided for its misogyny, and any hope that it's just some kind of ironic hipster misogyny evaporated when Ellis threw a hissy fit because the Oscars actually allowed a woman to win an Oscar for directing, a field he has argued that "requires the male gaze," because women aren't capable of understanding visual language "because of how they're built." He's always been a man who tends to see women as objects, existing for being acted upon but not really as subjective human beings.
Under the circumstances, it was entirely predictable that Ellis would come across more as someone who cannot believe they are allowing the women to talk more than someone who is genuinely skeptical of the accusations based on evidence. That this man is a friend of Deen's isn't really doing a lot to discredit the accusations that Deen has no real respect for women.