On Monday evening, producer Dr. Luke broke his silence about his legal battle with pop star Kesha, denying the allegations of emotional abuse, battery and sexual assault she has made against him.
"I didn't rape Kesha and I have never had sex with her," Dr. Luke (Lukasz Gottwald) tweeted, going on to tell his side of the story.
Of course, the producer has every right to comment on the claims made about him. But in his 22-tweet rant, he also perpetuated damaging myths about who a rapist can -- and can't -- be.
Dr. Luke tweeted about his past friendship with Kesha and how she "was like [his] little sister."
He pointed to their past professional collaborations:
He brought up the women in his family, including his feminist mother:
All of Dr. Luke's points may very well be true -- but they have no bearing on whether or not he sexually assaulted Kesha. They especially have no bearing on whether or not he is capable of assaulting anyone. His assertions are irrelevant to whether he forced Kesha to snort illegal drugs or gave her "sober pills" or manipulated her professionally or assaulted her while she was drugged, leaving her to wake up "naked in [his] bed, sore and sick, with no memory of how she got there," as the pop star's 2014 lawsuit alleged.
Let's make a few things clear:
- Having a feminist mom doesn't mean you can't rape.
- Having a daughter doesn't mean you can't rape.
- Having a sister doesn't mean you can't rape.
- Having a consensual sexual relationship with someone doesn't mean you can't rape them later on.
- Having a friendship with someone doesn't mean you can't rape them.
- Seeing someone as your "little sister" doesn't mean you can't rape them.
- Being an all-around "nice guy" does not disqualify you from the ability to commit rape.
It isn't uncommon for men with wholesome reputations to be accused of rape. Daniel Holtzclaw was "a nice kid." Bill Cosby was a "father figure." R. Kelly was "in love" with Aaliyah. James Deen seemed like a "really nice dude." (To date, only Holtzclaw has been convicted.)
In reality, it's the "nice guys" -- the acquaintances, friends, lovers and partners -- who are most likely to commit rape. According to RAINN, 4 out of 5 rapes are perpetrated by someone the victim knows. Forty-seven percent of rapists are friends or acquaintances of the person they assault, and another 25 percent of sexual assaults occur in the context of an intimate relationship. Half of assaults occur within a mile of the victim's home.
It's terrifying to imagine that our idols, our mentors, our brothers, our fathers and our friends could be rapists. It's terrifying to think sexual assaults occur in our communities, our schools and our homes. It's much easier to separate ourselves from the men (and a few women) who rape, imagining them as bogeymen in the shadows. But when we do that, we avoid reckoning with the rape culture we live in.
We don't know what happened between Dr. Luke and Kesha, and we never will, definitively.
What we do know is that it's dangerous to perpetuate the idea that having a feminist mom or being a good friend or being a productive professional collaborator means that a person isn't, or couldn't be, a rapist.
Rapists are human beings, not monsters. The sooner we can wrap our collective minds around that fact, the sooner we can get down to the business of fighting the culture that creates and protects them.
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