Thursday, January 17, 2013

It's not rape culture... or is it?

The big thing lately has been the whole Team Lloyd Irvin rape catastrophe.  I want to put together a numbered list of things and then respond to them generally.

1.  Bad enough a teammate was raped, but there's the quinkydink of Master Lloyd himself having narrowly escaped conviction on his own gang rape charge twenty years ago.

2.  Thanks to a teammate for pointing out to me comments on the internet by one of Lloyd's blackbelts,  "Phil_PROC", as follows:

"Full disclosure:  I am a Lloyd Irvin black belt.

Lloyd is an absolutely brilliant BJJ/MMA coach and business man.  Our team results speak for themselves. . . . Nothing but a standup guy has he ever been to me and the rest of his students.  I've known him for over 15 years.  ... It sounds like the evidence is overwhelming for the 2 lowlifes accused of rape.  They are scum.  They scarred a girl who was a teammate. ...

The trial from 1990 is news to me.  This will sound blunt and maybe offensive, but it sounds like a "train was run" on a dirty whore that got to feeling guilty.  Bad judgment? hell fuck yes.  But not rape.  I know this is a touchy subject and I have daughters too.  ..."

(And then his signature file appended to his post read "The first rule of combatives training: Thou shalt gear up and bang."  Not good.)

Here's Phil Proctor with Lloyd Irvin:

[edited to add: here's the page on the forum where Phil Proctor apologizes to all for his horrible words... well, wait-- he didn't apologize to the RAPE VICTIM...]

3.  I have already heard, from people who are apparently talking to TLI members, that the survivor of the NYE rape by Nick Schultz and Matt Maldonado is reputedly the "team whore" who was recently dumped by, or had dumped, one of her rapists.

4.  I've even heard a former teammate of mine (!!!!!) explain that that lady is partly responsible for her rape because she was intoxicated that night.

5.  And another male friend of mine and fellow jiu jitsu fighter agreed with Phil_PROC up there about the train-running viewpoint.

6.  Remember that 17 year old rape victim who violated a court gag order when she revealed the names of the juvenile rapists after they pled guilty?  I stopped being friends with another former teammate who insisted that she probably wasn't raped because she got drunk at a party, and kept saying the photos the rapists took of her didn't matter, unless there was video of the rape.  (He's semi-on board with the Nick and Matt Assault being a rape, thank God for surveillance cameras.)

First of all--This type of revisionist victim-blaming and shaming is SO typical, it just saddens and appalls me that we're still hearing it.  It's like hearing someone use the N word.  I give myself whiplash with the take-two on that kind of thinking.  What? Seriously??

Second, I don't know Lloyd Irvin, Nick or Matt personally.  So I'm not speaking from any special position of knowledge or experience with them.  Nor do I have access to transcripts or other evidence and factual support from Lloyd Irvin's rape trial, so I don't know how persuasive Lloyd's 17 year old victim was, etc.  I do know that three of the codefendants were convicted of rape... so she couldn't have been terribly incredible by a longshot.  Another good article here includes more of the actual evidence about the 97-pound woman's physical trauma... (My personal opinion is that if you get acquitted of a gang rape that you admit you attended and you did nothing to stop, and only didn't "participate" in the sense that you couldn't get an erection and thus did not penetrate her vagina with your penis... you're a rapist just like the dudes who did get it up.  But that's just me.)

Third, I suspect that Lloyd did not imbue his "medal chaser" team with any "rape culture."  I honestly think it was statistical likelihood that there happened to be a connection like this.  It was just dumb luck that a near-rapist coaches rapists.  No causal relationship.    Some statistics from a really great article you should read:
  • Every 2 minutes someone in the US is raped.  Over 300,000 and possibly as many as 1.3 million US women and girls over 12 y/o are raped a year.
  • Women have a 1 in 5 chance of being raped in their lifetime.  Women in college have a 1 in 4 chance of being raped while there.
  • 54% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police
So I think it's entirely possible that it was sheer statistical likelihood that accidentally, three totally unconnected rapists were in close proximity.  I don't think Lloyd Irvin's past caused the rape of that poor girl this New Year's Eve.  I don't think Lloyd Irvin encouraged anyone on his team to commit rape or even necessarily to view women as objects.  I think it was just blind luck that a rapist coached rapists on a BJJ team.

Fourth, what in bleeding hell is wrong with men that they can attribute any blame to the survivor in these cases?  Don't men get drunk all the time?  My former teammate said he'd kick himself if he left his window open and someone came into his house and stole something while he was gone.  REALLY???  you're analogizing a woman who was raped after getting drunk on NYE (and responsibly choosing not to drive, but relying on friends for a safe ride home) with leaving your window open? Do you really mean if that happened that you would tell the courts not to punish the burglar so much? or that you'd shoulder some of the blame? And trust me, that girl is kicking herself right now... for trusting her friends.  (Not an irresponsible choice, not an unreasonable decision at the time!)  But that's irrelevant.  We always doubt ourselves when we Monday-morning quarterback.  That doesn't mean our decisions were wrong.

The last thing we need is women to feel like they need to dress like nuns, live in lockboxes, and eschew social interaction on par with men.  And even that wouldn't protect them from rape.

Maybe it is rape culture in a broader sense, when perfectly nice-seeming ordinary guys can say with a straight face that
  • She wanted it and regretted it later
  • She was drunk
  • She was promiscuous
  • She dated one of the rapists
... and therefore it's partly her fault.  Therefore he shouldn't be punished as much.  Therefore he's not as responsible.  Why do men so consistently doubt a woman's report of rape? Do they really think women cause rapes because...

Because what?  Men are subhuman creatures unable to control their baser instincts?  Men are beasts, determined to dominate and control and we have to limit their opportunities if we women want to be safe? 

Bunch of crap, I say.

Was I responsible for my sexual assault because I went to bed alone but tipsy (after celebrating the end of sophomore year finals) and had left my window open two inches on a balmy May night?  If my window wasn't open, that asshole who lived in the apartment underneath mine would maybe not have been tempted to come in.  Maybe if I wasn't sleeping so heavily, I would have heard him pull off the window screen, open the window, and rummage around in my kitchen getting a towel to gag me with?  Therefore it was partly my fault?




Anonymous said...

Nicely written.

This situation has nothing to do with Lloyd Irving or jiu-jitsu in general.

It has everything to do with 2 monsters taking advantage of a woman's trust when she needed them.

My only hope is that this woman gets the help from friends and family that she deserves.

Meerkatsu said...

Strong post G. I'm shocked at the blatently women-hating revelations that have come out of this from certain people...people who are supposed to be leaders, instructors, role models.

Megan said...

I really think the issue is a culture that sees women as commodities for it physical, visual or emotional.

So frequently I see men compare rape (violation of person) to theft (violation of property) it makes me think more and more that there is an undercurrent in male culture in the US that still sees women's bodies as something to be owned. If you think that, then violating an incapacitated woman's body is no different than picking up a dollar you find on the street.

...and we condemn India...

JCC-CSV said...

Why do I get punched in the head?

Neil said...

Absolutely amazing that someone can stand up and say with a straight face that a rape case from 20 years ago in which a bunch of people were convicted "sounds like it wasn't a rape".

With no evidence to support the conclusion. Just that simple, she's a whore it wasn't a rape. The jury that heard all the evidence was flat out wrong.

What is wrong with some people? Seriously.

Alex J Kennedy said...

You forgot to mention that Lloyd bought the URL to and directed it to the school site

Anonymous said...


I'm curious. As a woman, what do you think of the Lloyd Irvin guys who say, it's no big deal. It was 20 years ago, so who cares?

And, do you think the IBJJF should ban Lloyd Irvin from coaching ever again?

BeeJayJayee said...

I just think that mentally unstable people should not be allowed to subject themselves to an extremely concentrated, pressure cooker-type training situation.

Only bad things can happen.

Anonymous said...

I HATE when people blame the victim. There is no excuse for rape. I've been in plenty of situations where I've been around females that were more intoxicated than they should have been and have given them rides home and NEVER, EVER have I taken advantage of the situation.

It's wrong, and as a father of both a son and 2 daughters I have taught them the ethics of these types of situations. I think girls get 'the talk' about putting themselves in bad circumstance, but boys often get neglected. We need to teach our sons that they should avoid situations where even the appearance of impropriety is there.

Anonymous said...

I feel terrible for the victim and hope that her well being doesn't get lost in the shuffle of all the other things swirling around. Admittedly I've gotten a bit caught up in the sideshow myself.

I agree that what happened on new year's eve may not necessarily reflect directly on Lloyd Irvin; however, even the most ardent Irvin supporter has to admit that what has come to light about his involvement in a gang rape 20 years ago is significant and alarming.

Georgette, I believe you're in agreement with this; however, I sense that there are many who dismiss the significance of Lloyd Irvin's past case simply because it is unrelated to the recent alleged crime of his students-- e.g. the 1st comment above seems to imply that there's no need to consider any judgement of Irvin at all (Anonymous who commented above, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong). I just don't understand this logic other than if it's from someone who is emotionally attached to Irvin and therefore reflexively inclined to defend him.

It is also interesting to notice that many people seem to have a skewed understanding of how the legal system should relate to public or personal opinion. If a jury rules "not guilty", that person is free to walk the streets, but that certainly does not free them from the opinion and judgement of those outside the courtroom (sometimes fairly, sometimes not). The argument that "he was ruled innocent, no more discussion is warranted" is disingenuous or at the very least just silly based on the details of his case.

Irvin's case cannot be ignored, particularly when he runs self defense and rape prevention programs-- there is a credibility problem. Perhaps Irvin doesn't "owe" anyone an explanation (except maybe his current students). Conveniently, he seems to have engrained a mentality into his team that there's an army of "haters" lurking -- the outcry over the recent events and revelations play perfectly into this mindset-- "See? they're just trying to tear down our team and our success."

There's a couple of ironies wrapped up in all of this mess-- One, that for all of Irvin's prowess as an internet marketer who is an expert at manipulating search engine traffic, a google keyword search is likely what uncovered this long buried secret.

Secondly, as visible as Irvin has made himself in the BJJ community and as outspoken as he's been on a myriad of topics (often refreshingly so), his silence on this matter has been deafening.

He is the leader of a high profile school with affiliates across the country. He was once involved in an incident in which a 17 year old was violated by a group he was a part of -- how did that experience shape him? What were the circumstances? How and why was he a part of that kind of company of friends? Does he view that event as insignificant because he was ruled innocent, and it happened 20 years ago?

Those of us outside his circle don't "need" or "deserve" answers and he's not obliged to give any-- but the trial information available to the public is damning, and absent of any meaningful statements from him we have nothing else to go on.

Tom Callos said...

Thank you for speaking about the incident -and rape, in general, with intelligence.

Mikal Abdullah said...

Thanks for sharing! Another great write-up by Georgette! Unfortunately, we don't have all of the facts of the case presented before us to make a completely accurate decision on guilt-even though the video transcript does seem PRETTY DAMNING.

Mikal Abdullah said...

Also, at "Anonymous" in a response to "I'm curious. As a woman, what do you think of the Lloyd Irvin guys who say, it's no big deal. It was 20 years ago, so who cares? And, do you think the IBJJF should ban Lloyd Irvin from coaching ever again?"

While am but a mere man, I believe that not all crimes in the world are ever solved and sometimes the good are persecuted and villans let go. In this Loyd Irvin instance his reputation has nothing to do with his ability to be on the roster as a coach. How many other "coaches" have students/competitors with lesser known of criminal behavior. Sounds like that would be a slippery slope...

John McKay said...

A woman must to be in a condition where she is able to give clear assent to having sex with someone else.

A woman must be old enough to legally provide that consent.

There is nothing a woman can do to make her more deserving of rape or deserving of being treated with anything but respect and compassion.

If found guilty, the club should refund their memberships and ban them permanently to demonstrate that type of behaviour is not condoned by the club.

Irving supporters were not there at the time and need to stop talking. Their comments are misogynistic and demonstrate a lack of ethical maturity. People who commit murder and rape CAN be rehabilitated by the system, or on their own. The question is whether Irving can demonstrate that he vehemently and actively opposes any such actions ,any such culture, or students demonstrating such.

kcallos said...

Thank you for your post - your voice counts so much and is needed as I know all reading must agree and be greatful! And though the events of that NYE night have not been judicially deemed "rape," through a court of law,I know we all are abhorred by demonstrations over these last two weeks, and at the very least, of the low moral decrepitude they represent.

Like you, some of the things that have been said to me in regards to this event have been less than comforting. In fact, they have been repulsive. An individual whom I love body and soul, and never - in a million years - would have believed could say such blatantly ignorant things regarding the issue of rape, responded in ways that I feel stunned and betrayed by.

I think, that events like this and the attitudes that can be taken towards them, can divide us and should. If a line is drawn that demands us to act on principal, and we must stand on one side of that line, whether we are unified with: our loved ones, friends, "team family" or not, we should/must stand in opposition - loud and strongly. This is an activism that even the most beloved bonds must not be held above. If we are truly family, if those bonds are real, then we can still love each other, but we must not be silenced nor forgo action by that love.

Though I am sick and saddened by the nature of the people who would oppress, insult and blame women/victims in response to these events, but I am simultaneously heartened by the fact that people and organizations have come forward - and continue to do so - to oppose these behaviors - this culture, but...

I am waiting for ALL MA schools and groups, retailers, sponsors, competitors, event organizers, really, the entire MA organism to step forward and acknowledge such acts for the damage they cause, become educated, alert and cognizant of what they are, sound and look like, and police their presence in our community with vocal disdain.

Kathleen Harris Callos

Anonymous said...

Great post. Nothing rambling about this, it's a pretty point-blank rebuttal to the misogynist crap that people are fed around the world.
I agree with everything you said except for #punchallmeninthehead

Unknown said...

I know that there are some people who have said that TLI encourages a culture of bullying. I hate to say it but I've been around the block a few times and TLI is not that much different from a lot of schools.

I've seen instructors beat up students on numerous occasions. I've seen upper belts sick people on lower belts to get them to calm down. Me personally, I pull people to the side and talk to them like an adult. It seems to work every time.

In a lot of schools there is a culture that condones grown men giving other grown men "spankings" to put them in check. Sounds like bullying to me. Once you have an environment that is permissive to violence and bullying then you never know where it will end.

Unknown said...

this is so sad. thank you for your words. i only hope that the victims of these vicious assault have found or are able to find comfort again.

and just because a woman dated her rapist doesnt make it not a rape. husbands and boyfriends are perfectly capable of raping their spouses. if she says no, its rape, no matter who you are.