Today in "conversations I had with dudes several years ago": a roof terrace in Elephant & Castle, drinking Red Stripe in the evening summer sunshine. We were talking about old friends, fun times, and an ex-friend. He became an ex-friend after a party where he persistently followed a woman around, groping her, trying to kiss her, as she got more and more wasted to the point of incapability. He only stopped when she woke up enough to ask my Straight Best Friend (a man; a big burly ex-rugby player; a feminist, if imperfectly, but then aren't we all?) to keep him away from her. This was not the first time he had behaved in such a predatory way, but it was the time that got him excommunicated from our gang.
Straight Best Friend actually dealt with this whole situation brilliantly, putting the woman to bed on the sofa and staying up to keep an eye on her and prevent Creepy from making another attempt. The following day, when Creepy called full of empty apologies and ridiculous excuses about how the booze made him do it, etc, SBF told him it wasn't okay to do that shit, ever, and hung up.
On the rooftop, I referred to Captain Creepy as "a fucking rapist", if memory serves, and Straight Best Friend told me off.
"He didn't actually rape her," he said.
"Sure, he's creepy, predatory, pushes boundaries to see what he can get away with, but he didn't actually rape her." he said.
"If you throw that word around, it dilutes its meaning, and he didn't actually rape her," he said.
I backed down at the time, but you know what? I am actually entirely comfortable with my assessment of Captain Creepy as A Fucking Rapist.
No, he didn't succeed in raping that one woman that one time. And no, I have no knowledge of any occasions on which he has succeeded in raping someone. And no, as far as I know he has not been convicted of rape, not that that means a fucking thing.
But from everything I've read about rapists (which, honestly, is probably too much for my mental health), and everything I know from hanging out with that guy for two years, convinces me that, if he hasn't raped anyone in his life, it's not for want of trying.
That guy went out drinking almost every night. He pursued women in that manner every time he encountered a suitable target. He clearly had a premeditated plan to take advantage of inebriated women in classic Social Licence To Rape style. He had the archetypal Nice Guy mentality, constantly whining but why will these bitches not provide me with sex in return for me acting like a decent human being, though paraphrased, slightly.
It fucking breaks my heart to think about it, but I just can't
believe that someone can say those things and act in that way and not,
at least once, put it into practice.
No one wants to think of their friend as a rapist, even though, logically, we know they walk among us without handy name badges identifying them as such.
And for some people - like, say, straight cis dudes, who are statistically much less likely to be raped than I am, and who are not conditioned to live in fear of that eventuality - think that it is very important to Use Words Carefully and not call someone a rapist until you have incontrovertible evidence of him doing some raping, preferably videotaped. Me, I am not willing to give the benefit of the doubt to people whose best claim to Decent Human status is "hasn't raped anyone yet, that we know of". If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, you know? I'm going to stick my neck out and Choose My Words Carefully to say: that duck is a fucking rapist.