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Shame on Polanski Apologists, But Thanks for Demonstrating How Far We Still Have to Go

by Lisa Bennett, NOW Communications Director

Have Hollywood and the media gone mad? Why are these communities expressing almost universal support for director Roman Polanski, who admitted raping a 13-year-old girl in 1977 and then ran from the law? The Today Show has brought on guests to speak on Polanski's behalf, like his agent and his former sister-in-law, but failed to follow up those interviews with someone who supports Polanski finally answering for his crime.

Even Whoopi Goldberg, a longtime supporter of feminist issues, said on The View: "It wasn't rape-rape." This seems to be the position of many in Hollywood and the media -- that this was consensual sex, so it's really just statutory rape, which isn't so bad. And the girl didn't look 13, after all. And Polanski spent time in jail, so he did his time (a whole 42 days). And the opportunistic, ambitious district attorney and judge were just out to get him. And wasn't the girl's mom a pushy stage mother who would pimp her daughter out for fame? And the U.S. is such an uptight society compared to freewheeling France, which welcomed Polanski after he fled. And have we mentioned that Polanski's a brilliant director who won an Academy Award?

Enough with the excuses and diversions. Guess what? Rich, talented people break the law, too. They even rape girls who say No. And when they do, they should go to jail for more than 42 days, and if they don't like it, too bad -- they shouldn't flee the country. ABC News has posted extensive excerpts from the girl's testimony before the grand jury. Read this and tell me what happened that day wasn't rape.

And no, it doesn't matter that the woman, now in her mid-40s, has found a way to forgive Polanski. Survivors of rape need to do this in order to go on with their lives. It does not mean a crime wasn't committed or that justice has been served when it hasn't.

The media need to take a step back and start reporting on this case in a more objective way. Stop thinking of Polanski as someone you admire, as a great artist with lots of famous friends. Report on the details of the crime. Maybe even interview some experts on sexual assault. And to all those folks in Hollywood: you sure sound jaded and heartless. What if this happened to your daughter? Would you want someone to say that your daughter wasn't "rape"-raped?

Update: NOW President Terry O'Neill is speaking out about this case. O'Neill has been quoted on CNN.com and in The Washington Times.

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Comment from: andthentheresmaude36 [Member] Email
How does plying a 13 yr old with alcohol and a Quaalude not constitute in itself intent to do harm? Were the laws not clear on that back then? Honestly I think the victim is suffering from the Stockholm Syndrome where she just wants to not deal with it, and as for Polanski, people who have nothing to hide hide nothing-why did he have to flee if he was innocent? Sad day to see people so blinded by celebrity culture, they did the same thing with Woody Allen. I am sure people move on and forgive their attackers for their own benefit, but for the authorities to let it go and never take action would be the worst possible outcome for all American women. Honestly, why didn't they catch him sooner?

09/30/09 @ 17:19
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Comment from: Shannon Drury [Member] · http://www.shannondrury.blogspot.com
I was a media studies minor in college, and the vast majority of my peers in those classes were men. I remember well how the men dominated the discussion of "Chinatown," raving about Polanski's artistry, until I raised my hand and declared the film as disturbing to me as any horror movie. They were shocked, SHOCKED, that I'd object to the shrugged "whatever" when we learn that the rapist character will get away and will almost certainly continue raping. Gee, they said, we didn't think of it that way! That was in 1994.

Fifteen years later, I would never have guessed that we'd still be talking about our cultural "whatever" about rape!
09/30/09 @ 17:31
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Comment from: lambikins [Member] Email
I'm just shocked by the reaction of so many entertainers whose work I enjoyed. When did child rape become OK? How is this OK? Not "rape-rape"??? What other kind of rape is there? Is there a friendly, happy, affirming rape of which I am not aware? Maybe I was absent that day in women's studies class.

When I was a young'n (not much older than Polanski's victim), my Mom told me that her parents would not let her see The Bells of St. Mary because Ingrid Bergman was in an adulterous relationship at the time. I thought this was nuts -- what has her personal life to do with the movie? But I get it now. I'm not saying that I won't see a Polanski-endorser's work ever again -- I don't do absolutes. But it will be a factor.
09/30/09 @ 23:39
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Comment from: dick sheppard [Member] Email
Hello, and thanks for offering a place to include these comments.

Mr. Polanski's deed, and subsequent near-total flight from consequence, is infuriating itself. The specific details of his deeds, nauseatingly obscene; an adult man in his 40's plying a13-year-old girl with liquor and barbituates and raping her for his own, sick gratification.

And it might be noted that Mr. Polanski's despicable deed can't be so casually treated as if this pedophilia was a singular event. Which wouldn't excuse it, as some might intend.

Instead, consider that Mr. Polanski was a notable Hollywood figure. Tragically, his wife Ms. Sharon Tate, brutally murdered by Manson "family." psychopaths.

But the marriage offers another perspective: that Mr. Polanski wasn't denied adult female companionship. And following his wife's awful murder, depending on Mr. Polanski's personal mourning affects, a notable Hollywood figures such as Mr. Polanski presumably had adequate, daresay, "on demand," access to adult female intimacy.
Access, daresay, that your Joe Average, decent ordinary guy with a "so-so" intimate life, would consider fantasy-like.

Yet, perversely and disturbingly by implication, and raping reality. Mr. Polanski's presumed on-demand adult female intimacy access, "wasn't enough." Or, perhaps, adult woman didn't appeal beyond detached sex. Any or some of these perceptions, or none; who knows?

What is known, based on his admitted, convicted guilt, and the nauseating details described by a 13-year-old girl. Is that Mr. Polanski DID regard a 13-year-old girl as an acceptable, perhaps preferably gratifying partner, than otherwise accessible adult females.

It's not, therefore, unreasonable to suggest that Mr. Polanski's intimate, sexual practices and preference included more than this singular, coerced child-rape crime.

And as Ms. Bennett creditably includes in her comments, an essential quite revealing question for "Polanski excusers," is, "how would you feel if you personally knew the girl, or she were your own daughter?"

There is no dodging this necessary question: it's either "Yes, if she were my daughter, I'd consider murderous venegeance!" Or, "no, if Mr. Polanski, an adult male in his 40's, had sex with my 13-year-old daughter, as long as she didn't mind, I wouldn't mind, either."

I think the second answer is outlandish; however, if Whoopi Goldberg answered that, sincerely, I'd still disagree with her, and maybe be further curious about her perceptions, but if she wouldn't have a problem with an in-his-40's adult Polanski having climactic anal intercourse with her 13-year-old daughter, it's still illegal, but it's Whoopi's and her daughter's hopefully psychologically and emotionally unhurtful event to work through. I can't imagine how, but if Ms. Goldberg considered that liquor/drug/anal intercourse activity, "okay," for her 13-year-old; there's bigger issues beyond describing here.

Beyond this specific incident and the affected is the immeasurable but definitive ripple-affects absorbed by adult males and early- pre-teen girls. Treating sex between an adult male and pre- or -early teen girl can't, I'd insist, ever be excusable or unpunished.

Over time, and it would happen quite swiftly given the already young-girl endangering technological processes that invite preying adult men encouraging, seemingly undetectable on-line, or worse, personal access to too young girls.

It's not expected; if Mr. Polanski were a wise man, he would throw himself at the mercy of American justice, which, itself, can be casually inconsequential sometimes. Mr. Polanski might face a few years in prison, he should shut up and do it. Show remorse, and forcefully administer an inexcusable dose of self-scorn and contrition.

It won't square his deed; it won't square 3 decades of unpunished, who-knows-what ongoing pedophiliac deeds. But at the least, it will send even a belated message: that raping a 130year-old girl has consequences.

Thank you for including these comments, and for informative and thoughtful impressions.

Dick Sheppard Jersey City. New Jersey
10/01/09 @ 02:01
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Comment from: Lisa Bennett, NOW Communications Director [Member] Email
This morning the Today show finally presented both sides. But the sad thing is that in the first hour of the show they covered two cases that involved the kidnapping of girls by adult men, another case involving a husband who most likely killed his wife while on their honeymoon, and Polanski's rape of the 13-year-old girl. Being female is still a hazardous situation, not just in countries like Afghanistan, but in the U.S. as well. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
10/01/09 @ 10:08
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Comment from: cabaret voltaire [Visitor]
You guys are going to hate me, but the fact that the victim forgives him should be taken in consideration. In fact, I admire the woman who chose to live a life free of victimization.
10/01/09 @ 15:01
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Comment from: gt66 [Member] Email
While I wholeheartedly agree that Polanski should serve his punishment for his crime, I find it very disturbing the way NOW members and supporters still want to paint this problem with the "It's men only brush."

Call for Polanski's head, yes, but do not do so while making excuses for the other egregious sentencing discounts that get handed to another special class of child rapists:

http://interested-participant.blogspot.com/

This is a serious crime, anyone, ANYONE committing it should face the most severe of punishments. Until then, if one special class is as good as the next, then I guess Polanski and his supporters have a legitimate argument for leniency.

Thank You.
10/01/09 @ 17:26
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Comment from: Erin Matson, NOW Action Vice President [Member] Email
In case you haven't seen it, here is an article with a wonderful quote from our President Terry O'Neill:

http://washingtontimes.com/news/2009/oct/01/polanski-case-sparks-noisy-culture-war/
10/02/09 @ 11:17
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Comment from: tamara [Member] Email
I am outraged at those who support Polanski. As a result I will not view shows or movies that are connected his supporters, nor will I purchase products that buy advertising space from these productions. I am only one person and my buying habits and entertainment dollars will hardly be noticed. However, collectively that is another story. Please do not patronize through movie rentals, theater going, television viewing or purchasing products that are connected to Polanski's supporters.
10/03/09 @ 16:25
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Comment from: tamara [Member] Email
Cabaret,

It is wonderful that a women who was victimized has been able to find forgiveness towards the person who perpetrated a terrible crime against her. I applauded her strength and character for such an act. However, that hardly excuses him from facing the legal system. If he is not held accountable for his actions it sends a clear message that if you are wealthy enough, successful enough, talented enough and powerful enough, then the standards set for everyone else simply do not apply. Her forgiveness has no legal bearing on the situation. He fled the country after pleading guilty to something rather horrible. Just because she forgave does not mean he is repentant. Just because this happened a great many years ago does not have any bearing on the situation. This is not a gallon of milk, there is not expiration date on this one.
10/03/09 @ 16:43
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Comment from: blisted [Member] Email
Hi,

I run a pop culture human rights blog- please check out the results of our Roman Polanski blog - http://blisted.breakthrough.tv/take-the-poll-results-of-our-roman-polanski-quiz-5473

Also, please add our blog to your blog rolls -we do a good deal of women's rights work as well.

Thank you,

-Crissy
blisted
http://blisted.breakthrough.tv
10/06/09 @ 13:33
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Comment from: tajv2005 [Member] Email
Polanski committed rape and statutory rape. He did this because of power; not because he needed sexual gratification. All rape is a matter of power. It is also about defining Samantha Geimer and all women; lowering women's self esteem and defining their worth as human beings, defining their status in society as less than men and worthy only of being used, abused, anthing can be done to her just because she is female and he is male. Calling it consensual is a typical male attempt to get away with it. But that is part of the power-game he laid on her: "I can do anything I want to you and I can lie and get away with it and run away if I want. You can do nothing about it but adjust and forgive me. And I do not care how much this hurts you; you are not worthy of being cared about." He did wrong to her and the people supporting him and writing it off are also doing harm to Samantha Geimer and all women. When Whoopi so dominantly and insistently said it was not "rape-rape" I was shocked to say the least. I have always loved her. Now I don't know what to think. It hurts me that Whoopi said that and it hurts me severely that Polanski did this to Samantha Geimer. "It hurts me in my heart" as Marilyn Monroe used to say.
10/07/09 @ 05:13
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Comment from: michael [Member] Email
Thank you for your thoughtful views on this topic. I am bewildered at how quickly some would take Polanski's side, forgetting the immorality of his crime and the fact that he plead guilty to a crime against a child. Punishing crimes against children, regardless of how long someone has avoided justice by fleeing, should be a priority for those in authority. Perhaps we should examine why folks in entertainment believe that the rules do not apply to them.
10/07/09 @ 14:13
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Comment from: pacgrovemum [Member] Email · http://www.Invisiblerights.org
This sure did not surprise me! For the past nine year's NO police no sheriff no women's advocate no social worker no teacher no clergy no friend and no family will ARREST nor even quit throwing out my letter's witness statement's report's..mom and her brother were there helping murder Mrs. Tate and hiding people and escaping down the street in their house. NO ONE CARE's. Both have continued serial raping and murdering for 60 year's..the list uncle made out contains approx 60 women's names.. and NOBODy care's. The name's I am called! The degradation and sneering contempt for telling on them/ the Judge buried the letter's in Family Law' did not include them..no restraining order though they kidnapped my baby and have incested and abused her and will not let her see me. All court enabled and condoned. To the same felon's who boast about their murder's and their drug dealing's and their porno snuff film's. With children. My mother father and uncle..their stepfather..their sister's..the family. This just .. nothing surprises me or my poor daughter . We will never understand how we TELL about the attempt's strangling and throwing us and have all of the injurie's and overdosed record's to prove/ lifetime of this/ dad is even on video surveillance after groping two little boy's in movie theatre..and I callled the police station and told them what his van was and the address. No one came for him. It was on their news and no one even called.

There is a stark reality.. and it is clear . Women do not matter. We are nothing more than bodie's for hurting and raping and pleading for food all day.

Nobody does anything. "That Susan" the jealous hatred of thei phonecall's..the family lived in the forest next door. Dad was retired Air Force so he pointed the other direction when the fed's wanted to find them.. gee.. everyone believe's a handsome air force guy and his gorgeous wife with their two blonde daughter's whom they have as starved drugged sex object's. and their friend's and the party's with punch and the hazed club prostitution german' navy neighbour. and the NPGS.
where the shoe's came from dad wore to cover the footprint's of his real shoe's uncle wore after mom sent him back to " clean up your mess!" when her brother ran to our home covered in blood after chopping up another woman he was sleeping with in a barn around Los Angeles. The Beverly Hills police dept argued and refused to take a report all day long when I called/ their detective hung up on me/ I have mild epilepsy and do not drive/ but if I can't afford to come to their station they hang up and refuse to write a report.
THIS is true and real life factual/ they DO NOT CARE.

I bet N.O.W will even censor this post and prevent women from reading or knowing .

I pray they will not. Maybe one of the reader's has the right phd or car to force the police or fbi or whomever to ever solve these cases. to ever stop the incesting and predator jumping on children. 60 full year's of it.. and dad got to be a federal agent in D.C. lot'sa access to more children. The gun the badge the top secret clearance.

The murdered can't cry anymore. The noise bother's mom and dad's ears.If you whined it went worse for you.
10/12/09 @ 11:21
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Comment from: s_kank [Member] Email
Has it occured to any of you that his supposed victim has forgiven Mr. Polanski and moved on? Let's face it, the little las wasn't as pure as the driven snow, she addmitted to doing qualudes and having sex before being with Mr Polanski.

Let it go - it happened a long time ago. Let's move on to more important things like praying/hoping that Tiger wins a couple of majors this year.


03/04/10 @ 07:36
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