During an interview with Dazed Digital earlier this week, actor Shia LaBeouf shared the knowledge that he was raped during a performance art project. We believe him. General response to the news was familiar: you don’t need me to tell you how people reacted to a man, a famous man, saying that he was raped. Abused by an unknown woman, while engaged in an art project that many people, including us, found silly.
So many questions:
“Why didn’t he stop her?”
“Why isn’t he pressing charges?”
So many possibilities:
“He put HIMSELF in that situation.”
“What an embarassment.”
“He’s lying. He’s a proven liar.”
“A man can’t be raped by a woman.”
But now two of LaBeouf’s collaborators on the project have come out in support of him. It happened. They didn’t know what to do. They tried to make sure everyone was safe, but handled it poorly.
Do you believe him now? One of them is a man. Does that help? Maybe if you can read his statements. Maybe then.
You’re worried, maybe, about being fooled. How terrible it would be, if he were proven a liar, and you had fallen for it. How terrible for you. What a loss.
Justice is adversarial in the West: innocent until proven guilty; lying whore until proven a survivor. The first fight is speaking, speaking, repeating, enduring. Doubt is institutionalized, our highest aim, so long as our possible criminal is white, male, and rich, and so long as our potential victim is white, male, and rich.
Belief is radical when there are a thousand in-built excuses, a checklist of blame to clear him of, that allow us to do otherwise (he’s a dumbass, he’s a plagiarist, he’s a shitty actor, he’s a loser, he’s a pussy, he’s) — but do it anyway. Believe Shia LaBeouf. Believe all victims. Believe, because it’s the only way things can change.