Do not dismiss LaBeouf’s rape allegations



Shia LaBeouf told Dazed magazine last Thursday that he was raped by a woman during his February performance art show.

The internet’s reaction so far has been appalling.

LaBeouf’s performance art piece involved the actor seated at a desk with a paper bag stating “I am not famous anymore” over his head.

Lacey Donohue of “Defamer” wrote in a February first-person account of the exhibit that individual audience members were invited to take any of the following implements into a back room with LaBeouf.

“A pink ukulele, a Transformers toy, a bowl of Hershey’s Kisses, a vase of daisies, a wrench, a whip, Brut for Men spray cologne, Jack Daniels, a bowl filled with printed out LaBeouf-related tweets, and a copy of The Death-Ray by Daniel Clowes.”

LaBeouf told Dazed magazine that on Feb. 14, one woman whipped his legs and sexually assaulted him during the exhibit.

LaBeouf’s artistic collaborators took to Twitter to defend the actor’s claim. “Nowhere did we state that people could do whatever they wanted to Shia during #IAMSORRY,” wrote Nastja Säde Rönkkö, who collaborated with LaBeouf on the exhibit.

She and exhibit collaborator Luke Turner backed up LaBeouf’s claims and defended him to Piers Morgan, who in a post on The Daily Mail, accused LaBeouf of fabricating the incident to create a “PR opportunity.”

“Shia LaBeouf is one of the toughest actors in Hollywood,” Morgan wrote in the post. “If he’d wanted to stop this complete stranger supposedly ‘raping’ him, all he had to do was physically stop her himself or shout for help.”

Sadly, this is the attitude that many reactionary articles have adopted since LaBeouf publicized his claim.

Here’s the problem with this approach: society cannot choose which allegations they credit immediately based on how much they like the claimant.

Lindy West of the Guardian wrote on Tuesday that men’s rights activists and some feminists apparently agree that LaBeouf’s allegations should be dismissed out of hand.

How did women who are presumably very aware of the issues facing female sexual assault victims looking for recognition manage a complete about-face when a man made a similar claim?

“Feminists, it should be noted, are also the only ones I see defending LaBeouf,” West wrote. “The scant response from ’men’s rights activists’, supposed champions of male victims, seems to mainly revolve around how effeminate LaBeouf is for not fighting his attacker hard enough.”

West goes on to state that LaBeouf’s history of erratic behavior could back up a claim that he was not capable of giving consent to sex acts in February, especially during an exhibit that put him in a vulnerable position physically and emotionally.

But do we really need to justify LaBeouf’s claim? It is a dangerous move to expect support in your own claims but not extend the same belief to others. And if we ever want to create a society where victims of sexual assault get the help and justice that they deserve, we need to start listening to them, regardless of gender.

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