By Alexandria Roswick
No victim is focused on the “15 minutes of fame” that comes with years of trauma and shame.
On January 5th, TikTok Influencer Jovi Pena took to Twitter about her experience with rape at Twitch streamer Kai Cenat’s New Year’s Eve party. Since her tweet has gone viral, the public has responded with some all too predictable yet tremendously shameful victim-doubting ideas.
“On January 1st 2023 I was raped at a party by a COMPLETE stranger.I was invited to this party by someone I thought to be a friend. I asked for help and It’s not going anywhere so I’ve decided to take it to social media. His name is Djigui Sack.” -@thejovipena via Twitter
Many Twitter users and Twitch fans have theorized that Jovi is only speaking out to use Kai’s name for “clout.”
I’ve written more in-depth about victim-blaming myths like these that make it easier for abuse to continue, and I’m certainly not alone. Since the explosion of the #MeToo movement, the public has been exposed to hundreds of thousands of perspectives on the topic which has no doubt led to more awareness and enlightenment.
However, it seems that every time something like this is brought to light, we are shown how little the public is actually implementing what they’ve learned. It’s as if we have not been paying attention to anything survivors, advocates or experts have been saying for decades.
As an advocate who usually aims to educate readers about sexual violence, it’s difficult to separate my emotions from my work. Because I, myself, am a survivor. These issues can feel personal when they blow up all over social media. It’s times like this when I realize that my writing may never even make a dent of difference because of how our culture is married to the ideas of the lying, attention-seeking woman trope.
Sometimes I don’t see the point in working hard to write formal and level-headed pieces about victim blaming when we are clearly incapable of setting aside our need for misogynistic confirmation bias. Sometimes, I just want to put formality aside and take out my frustrations with the world on my keyboard.
I will never understand the lack of logic involved in this deep-seated patriarchal myth about victims who come forward. Realistically, why would anybody choose to put themselves through the violence of public speculation and victim blaming just for “clout” or attention?
Why would someone do that unless it was for something very serious? How does one (especially a woman, and ESPECIALLY a black woman) personally benefit from that? Realistically, what is behind this parable besides the male guilty conscience? How many examples are there of women who came forward to “falsely accuse” someone and lived a happy and abundant life free from anxiety afterward? Even women who are proven to have told the truth don't receive that. Because there doesn’t exist a balanced system for survivors of sexual violence.
There is quite literally no possible way for a survivor to see the justice they deserve once the assault has already taken place. Because if they do decide to pursue justice, the process continues to traumatize them. Because we live in a society full of sexist troglodytes hiding everywhere from the darkest corners of the internet to the courthouse.
Yet “she just wants attention” is an explanation that makes sense to people. Even when 1 in 6 women and 1 in 10 men have experienced sexual violence. Instead of recognizing the reality of this very common occurrence, people would rather believe that women are out here signing up to lie. For what?! Abuse, humiliation, gaslighting, and doubting?
A lot of this stems from our cultural tendencies to buy into these fictional tropes we see in the media of women having a “vendetta” against men. Because men are always the center of our lives. Because women just love putting excessive amounts of time and energy into a plan to “ruin” a man’s life after a relationship doesn’t work out. That sounds like exactly what women live for. They have nothing better to do.
Loving men, needing men, hating men, and then wronging men — that’s all there is for us. Men, men, men. We’re obsessed. We will stop at nothing, not even swaths of hate and harassment!
No sweat. Bring it on! Because getting canceled is only a crime against humanity when it applies to male tears. It’s no big deal for us girls. We just let all the rape and death threats from daring to speak roll off our shoulders.
Get real, please. Women are not Disney villains. We’re not one-dimensional vapid airheads who would risk our mental health just for fifteen minutes of fame, either. I’m sure a few of those exist because there are billions of people in the world. But is that really what you think of us all?
Why jump to that so quickly in this case, or any case?
Jovi is already TikTok famous. She had a platform and she used it to tell her story. Social Media is a perfectly acceptable way to spread an important message and, in her case, get the help she needed to continue the investigation. Her intention was not to use a male Twitch streamer’s name for exposure, but this predator-protecting narrative is such an easy reach for the public.
What’s even more hypocritical is that many of those who tout the “don’t automatically believe a woman just because she’s a woman” line will automatically believe that a man is innocent or that a woman is a liar without question.
There are people out there who genuinely trust when their friends or partners or family members tell them they have multiple women who came forward to falsely accuse them of sexual assault. (Because he’s that important.) They are convinced that multiple women banded together to take one poor man down — because this fairytale makes way more sense than the silly, unserious, attention-seeking, and calculated words of a woman “scorned.”
To an extent, I understand it when it comes to people we know personally, because abusers are very charming and persuasive. But simping for people we’ve never met on the internet? Electing a man into office who had 44 women accuse him of misconduct? There’s absolutely no excuse. We hate women. It’s that simple. It truly feels like willful ignorance at this point. There’s too much awareness and information and pedagogy out there. And we’re avoiding it all for selfish reasons — at the cost of people’s lives.
We’re all afraid of sitting with the fact that it is inevitable for us to have invested in people who are predators. Join the club. They’ve fooled the best of us. It’s 1 in 6 and 1 in 10. You’ve allowed predators into your life and safe spaces. Forgive yourself and let it go, but never forget the lesson learned. Use this information to protect others in your community.
The only way we will save lives is if we are real about the prevalence of sexual violence. When will we finally learn?