OPINION: Matt Lauer Accused of Rape. But the Accuser's Alleged Behavior Creates Problems.
Note the OPINION in all caps buffering this title. For though I will present snippets from the Variety article which covers the alleged rape committed by creepy Matt Lauer, what follows those snippets will strictly be my opinion. While reading the article, which you should also peruse at your leisure, a number of things raised my BS hackles which need to be discussed. The issues, not my BS hackles.
With stories like these, a few disclaimers are in order:
One, yes, Matt Lauer is at the very least a major douche. If not a full-fledged member of Douches Incorporated R' Us. Their mascot is a dildo on a BMW. A rape accusation is a serious thing and should be taken seriously even if the accused is a human boof who votes for Democrats. By the way, for full disclosure, Matt Lauer has already been accused of sexual assault. Okay? Okay.
Two, questioning the timeline or behavior of someone leveling an accusation isn't "victim-blaming." It's asking questions. To be clear, in a battle between who should survive, Matt Lauer or plantar warts, I'm siding with the warts. Matt Lauer hovers around the top of my sh*t list. Still, due process is a thing, as is seeking the truth. Asking about the victim's behavior is not blaming the victim nor is it condoning rape. Okay? Okay.
Third thing: rape is evil and rapists should be punished to the full extent of the law. If, and only if, they're guilty of rape. Not to be confused with "Yeah I had sex, but I, like, totally regretted it the next day." Also to be punished: people who fake rape claims.
Now the housekeeping is all done, let's get to some quick facts about the case here.
The accuser is a former NBC employee Brooke Nevils. She worked the Sochi Olympics in Russia as a sidekick to Meredith Viera. The alleged rape allegedly took place after an admittedly "too drunk to consent" Nevils went up to Matt Lauer's hotel room in the middle of the night.
That sound you hear is the first bull caca alarm ringing like a dinner bell.
In Nevils’ account, one night over drinks with Vieira at the hotel bar where the NBC News team was staying, they ran into Lauer, who joined them. At the end of the night, Nevils, who’d had six shots of vodka, ended up going to Lauer’s hotel room twice — once to retrieve her press credential, which Lauer had taken as a joke, and the second time because he invited her back. Nevils, Farrow writes, “had no reason to suspect Lauer would be anything but friendly based on prior experience.”
Remember, the following exercise isn't victim-blaming. But imagine yourself drunk. Now imagine you already have your press pass. Now imagine Lauer asks you back to his hotel in the middle of the night. Now imagine why a man would invite a drunk woman to his hotel in the middle of the night. Now just imagine.
Once she was in his hotel room, Nevils alleges, Lauer — who was wearing a T-shirt and boxers — pushed her against the door and kissed her. He then pushed her onto the bed, “flipping her over, asking if she liked anal sex,” Farrow writes. “She said that she declined several times.”...
Nevils tells Farrow: “It was nonconsensual in the sense that I was too drunk to consent,” she says. “It was nonconsensual in that I said, multiple times, that I didn’t want to have anal sex.”
Questions not clear from the Variety article but maybe clear in Ronan Farrow's full book: Was Lauer wearing his bedtime attire when Nevils entered the hotel room, or did he strip down to his jammies after she walked in? Because if he answered the door in his underwear, and she went in, what a dumbass.
Okay, maybe that's a teensy bit victim-blaming. Slightly.
Also, what does it mean "declined several times"? Yelling "NOOOOOO!" Or soft, "oh, I'm not sure I'd like that, tee hee" comments? Yes, it matters.
See, most of us wouldn't have entered a hotel room of a man we work with or work for in the middle of the night, especially if he's in his underwear. It's inappropriate. On all levels. But the phrasing "declined several times" shoots off the second round of bull caca alarms. Now sure, if she felt in danger, Nevils would want to downplay the situation, not rev it up by being too confrontational. This is where I'm pulling out my girl card and saying a scream may not have worked. But I want clarification on what "declining several times" translates to. And why the hell a woman who wants to be taken seriously would enter the hotel room of a man she works with during the dead of night.
But wait, because here's the issue which busts my alarm bell entirely:
Back in New York City, Nevils had more sexual encounters with Lauer. “Sources close to Lauer emphasized that she sometimes initiated contact,” Farrow writes. “What is not in dispute is that Nevils, like several of the women I’d spoken to, had further sexual encounters with the man she said assaulted her. ‘This is what I blame myself most for,’” she says to Farrow. “It was completely transactional. It was not a relationship.”
If a man rapes you, why would you return to him to have more sex? Sorry, but this makes zero sense. No, I've never been raped. But if we're playing the imagination game, I'd imagine I'd find rape traumatic at the very least and wouldn't call up my rapist so we could have consensual -- or I'm sorry "transactional" -- sex after the fact. Call me a prude.
Nevils says she was in fear of the control Lauer had over her career. I'll buy that to an extent. But if this man really raped her, if she felt truly violated and raped, career or not, why return to the rapist for a little hanky panky in the skanky? Find me a serious gal who returns to her rapist for more sack action, and maybe I'll retract what I'm saying about Nevils now.
Listen, women are sexually harassed. Women are raped. Powerful people exert control over their victims. All true. But when the story, such as this one -- in my OPINION -- is so murky with the victim's behavior being so blurry on motivations, drunkness and bad decisions, who is to say if the initial encounter in Sochi wasn't at least seen by Lauer as consensual? And how does Nevils case not water down actual cases of rape and sexual harassment in the workplace? More importantly, Matt Lauer is, in my book, a wanking piece of human debris. That this Nevilis character went to him post-"rape" for a romp in the hay really rips my britches which I don't show off to people I work with. Since it's just gross and totally unprofessional. Yes, that's judgment. No, not going to walk it back.
Harvey Weinstein would trap women alone with him. Brooke Nevils was invited back into the room with a possibly bed-time attire clad Matt Lauer, who probably had a reputation around NBC as a cad, and walked in. While she was drunk.
I'm sorry, but I'm having a tough time mustering too much sympathy here. If that makes me a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad person, then a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad person be I.
Rape is serious and should be treated seriously. But to treat it casually by classifying that which isn't rape as "RAPE" damages the claims made by people who were actually raped. Goes with the "crying wolf" problem. Related: Dear Feminists: Your Fake Rape Claims Against Men Have Real Consequences.
It's possible Matt Lauer took things in the violent sexual direction. But even if he is a total pig, he still deserves due process. As every single person does.