Fixed It: he raped a child, he did not “defile” her and rapists are not “highly regarded”

The Maroondah Leader reported that Aran Spottiswood, 26, will serve a minimum of two years in jail after pleading guilty to raping a 14-year old girl and involving a child in the production of child abuse material.

Their salacious Facebook lead calls him “highly regarded” and lauds his academic achievements while misrepresenting his multiple rapes and sexual assaults of a child as defiling her. 

The Cambridge Dictionary defines defile as “to spoil something or someone so that that thing or person is less beautiful or pure”. 

This is not what Spottiswood did to the child he raped. He committed a violent and repellent crime against her, but he did not “defile” her. Girls are not defined by their beauty or purity and nothing a violent man does to them lessens their worth as a person. It’s an archaic and revolting view of women and girls to see rape as defiling them.

Rape certainly defiles the man who chooses to commit such a vile act, but it is never a reflection of the worth or character of the girl or woman who was raped. 

The most generous interpretation of lauding his academic achievements and “prominent family” in the article might be that the journalist was impressing upon the readers that such men can and do commit rape. This is certainly true, but it implicitly underpins the notion that this is an exception and most rapists are evil monsters, not ordinary men. 

Ordinary men rape women and girls. Educated men rape women and girls. Men who have friends and families rape women and girls. They’re not exceptions. They’re not unusual. They’re not obviously different to other men. They’re just men who choose to rape. 

The full article was published online by the Herald Sun, which rarely makes an appearance in Fixed It. Their headline did describe him as a “Monash Uni Grad” but it did at least name him, correctly identified his crime as a rape and lead with the fact that he was jailed. 

(as always, if you’re reading this on social media, links are in the OP at www.patreon.com/JaneGilmore )

FixedIt is an ongoing project to push back against the media’s constant erasure of violent men and blaming of innocent victims. If you would like to help fund it – even $5 a month makes a big difference – please consider becoming a Patron

If you would like to know more about how and why the media’s erasure of men’s violence against women occurs, the Fixed It book is out now! Buy your copy here or at any good bookstore. Extracts available on why Fixed It started inThe Guardian, rape and other violence myths in The Age/Sydney Morning Herald and the Good Guy trope on my website.

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