CONTENT WARNING: Below I’m going to give my personal reaction to an unfortunate recent incident of rape, rape apologism and victim shaming within a subset of the My Little Pony fandom. As explained by the author of the original post which archives this incident, it will include severely upsetting descriptions of rape.
The background information regarding this incident can be found HERE, and note that the previous warnings also apply to that link.
I’m going to be frank and blunt, and while I’ll strive to be tasteful and respectful and choose my words carefully, there’s nothing tasteful about the subject matter involved, and dressing it up with less abrasive and less direct language is an insult to the actual suffering inflicted by cases such as these, and I find that I can most effectively and comfortably discuss subjects like this though plain speaking.
While I also have given consideration to the risk of my language coming off as insensitive to the actual specific person this incident concerns, I decided that my ultimate intention is to speak about this in a real and honest way rather than to try to avoid offending anyone’s sensibilities.
That being said, topics discussed will include rape, statutory rape, pedophilia, zoophilia, and frank descriptions of sex acts and troubling situations.
Sadly, in addition to legitimate actual triggers, I must also attempt to preemptively quell knee-jerk reactions that have nothing to do with the subject at hand. I’m going to harshly criticize specific people who do despicable things, or tolerate and defend despicable things, and in this case, the people in question happen to call themselves Bronies.
If you consider yourself a Brony or a My Little Pony fan, but don’t tolerate, defend, or participate in despicable acts, then I have no quarrel with you and am not attacking you or holding you responsible for what other people have done.
With that out the way, my reaction and opinions can be read in full below.
As passionate as I am about raising awareness and speaking up about all forms of abuse, including sexual abuse, with particular concern given when I see this sort of thing being diminished or turned into a joke, I feel I should have been more vocal just for the sake of adding strength the the voices saying “Watch the fuck out, the horrible shit pervading this ‘Brony’ subculture will lead to seriously bad things even if its just a highly visible minority that’s acting like this.”
It would be an outrageous and disgusting sin of hubris on my behalf to think my voice could have somehow helped to quell this corrupt aspect of the Brony subculture, but I wish I opened my mouth just to know that I voiced and spelled out my disgust with the trends and mindsets that may have in some way lead to this happening, and certainly have lead to the rape-apologist and victim-shaming responses many Bronies openly voiced once it did happen.
People say sometimes say that “slippery slope” arguments applied to social issues or large groups of people are invalid or place undue shame on innocent people for the sake of furthering the accuser’s point of view.
That’s true when extreme conservatives say things like “OMG INTERRACIAL MARRIAGE IS LEGAL NEXT THEY’LL BE TEACHING BESTIALITY IN KINDERGARTEN”.
But in the case of the Brony subculture, I was right on the money, and I feel like an idiot for not being more vocal about it earlier on rather than now with the ease and benefit of actually being able to point to real examples of horrible, yet predictable things after the fact of them having taken place.
Not that I was ever part of the Brony subculture or any aspect of the My Little Pony fandom, or that I could have in any way stopped this incident from happening, but I saw the general antecedent conditions with my own eyes and remained silent when I could have been adding to the other sane voices out there that were also trying to call attention to how serious these highly visible, widely documented problems within the Brony subculture were.
It started with sexualization of animals and children in fanfics and farnart, and a culture which allowed for significant and visible toleration and acceptance for unacceptable crap like real life stalking of My Little Pony fans, rape “jokes”, molestation “jokes”, and “jokes” about wanting to bang horses.
Then there was an actual case of a Brony purchasing a female horse for the purpose of sexually abusing her, and publishing pornographic images of her involving actual My Little Pony children’s toys.
Yet people within the Brony subculture continued to dismiss and deny that the adult fanart, adult fanfics, realistic mare themed sex toys, and extreme fantasies sexualizing fictional animals and children could possibly lead to actual real life abuse if a mentally unwell person was exposed to them and came to see this as acceptable conduct beyond the realm of fantasy.
And now, after all these varying forms of desensitization have become endemic to a considerable part of the Brony subculture, and with extreme fantasies of sexual violence being not just tolerated, but embraced as a fetish, and then diminished and turned into a subject of humor, we have finally come to the actual real life rape of a human being, an actual flesh and blood person who didn’t deserve or ask for this to happen to them, and we have first hand undeniable documentation of the rapist being defended by their fellow Bronies who have also attacked and shamed the victim, being turned by the rapist from mere bystanders into pawns actively participating to worsen the harm caused by the rapist’s evil actions.
The worst and most worrying part is, I can assure you that these pawns most likely AREN’T EVEN RAPISTS THEMSELVES. These are people who might otherwise be reasonable, unassuming folks who wouldn’t hurt a fly, and whose only connection of “kinship” to the rapist and causes of action in defending him are a shared identity of being “Bronies”, and an extreme sense of collective Brony tribalism at the expense of all logic and elementary human decency.
Also common amongst the comments made by Bronies in response to this horrendous story - even among those who aren’t being rape-apologists and victim-blamers, are equally disturbing and disgusting responses from My Little Pony fans who are concerned with the fact that this incident will make their fandom, and by extension themselves, look bad.
This demonstrates lack of the most basic empathy and understanding of the severity of what’s being discussed here, and it shows a willingness to turn someone’s real and severe suffering and anguish into fuel for their own imaginary struggle for “acceptance” for liking a children’s cartoon.
Appropriating the struggles of other people for their own self-serving purposes is one of the most frequently appearing and widespread of the inappropriate social behaviors exhibited by members of the Brony subculture.
This usually takes the form of Bronies likening disapproval and ridicule from their peers for them liking My Little Pony to a form of persecution akin to racism, apartheid, and the suffering endured by religious minorities and the LGBT community.
I also want to take this opportunity to specifically mention that the qualifier “statutory” in the context of casual discussion of this unique case actually somewhat risks distracting from the severity of the crime the rapist committed, though I know its an important legal detail to consider in regards to hopefully bringing the rapist to justice.
I feel as though in this unique case, in discussing the victim’s status as a victim, and the rapist’s status as a rapist, to suggest that the victim being a mere two years older (eighteen rather than sixteen) would have made the situation as described anything less than rape is worrying.
When someone is cornered in a dark, unfamiliar area with no access to outside help or means of escape, and trapped with a person they are frightened of, don’t want to be near, and who is causing them to be fearful for their safety, and the only way out of that situation is for that person to unwillingly give the person holding them there a blowjob while they themselves are shaking and crying, THAT’S RAPE, and merely closing the age gap or making the victim a legal adult doesn’t change that what happened to the victim in this case is an act of rape.
The fact that the victim in this story was a minor forced into this situation by a grown adult makes the rapist’s actions incalculably more heinous and detestable. In fact, at the age of 21, this man was old enough to, in a setting such as a summer camp or high school, theoretically serve as this teenager’s legally recognized superior with nearly parental levels of authority over her.
However, to suggest that the “statutory” qualifier and the age difference involved in this case is the key detail defining this an act of rape rather than a mere awkward sexual encounter between consenting adults in which the victim just happens to “not have enjoyed it” is extremely offensive and is literally dangerous.
Additionally, in regards to this story, the sorry state of how many people still perceive and judge victims in rape cases is also extremely outrageous and troubling.
Even knowing for years and years all too well that these problems still existed, after having pushed myself to the edges of my own health and sanity writing about it back in 2008, I now realize that I had constructed a fantasy for the sake of my own comfort that this was just a problem with older conservative adults. People like woefully of touch pastors, judges, congressmen, or cops, who grew up with old timey preconceived notions about nature of victims in rape cases.
I hoped unrealistically that my generation, the connected generation, the generation that has more access to real information on this topic, and with access to limitless channels for discussion and means for direct action against these ugly parts of our culture, WOULD KNOW BETTER THAN TO BELIEVE THESE ARCHAIC LIES THAT ARE STILL TOLD ABOUT RAPE VICTIMS.
I can’t believe that people still think it’s the VICTIM’S fault for merely doing what they needed to do in order to leave a frightening or dangerous situation they had no control over.
I can’t believe that people still think it’s the VICTIM’S fault if they were forced to perform an “active” function in the unwanted sex act rather than a “passive” or “submissive” one.
I can’t believe that people still think it’s the VICTIM’S fault if their reductive system responded as nature intended to in an unwanted sexual situation, and that such a physical reflex (pregnancy, orgasm, etc.) somehow “proves” that the VICTIM consented to the activity.
I can’t believe that people still think that the VICTIM is to blame for being a “slut” merely for having a sex life or sexual interests and desires prior to the assault, and that somehow “proves” that the victim wanted or deserved for this to happen to them, or was otherwise “asking for it”.
I can’t believe that people still think its somehow “not real rape” unless the VICTIM loudly screams for help at the top of their lungs as it happens, or otherwise fails to consistently yell for help or beg the rapist to stop throughout the assault. (I’ll rather bluntly and explicitly mention that this isn’t something that’s physically possible for a victim to do while they have someone’s dick in their mouth in addition to being reduced to tears.)
I can’t believe that people still think its somehow “not real rape” unless the perpetrator is “forcibly” restraining the VICTIM or holding them at gun/knife point.
These are all lies, whether the victim is a male or female, an adult or a minor, and whether the rapist is male or female, or even if the victim was never even directly touched by the rapist as part of what they were forced into doing.
I personally believe that anyone who believes any of this forfeits the right to call themselves a human being.
These are lies that are perpetuated to create a culture in which violence like this is permitted and accepted, and to create a culture in which the victims can’t come forward for fear of being punished, blamed or otherwise persecuted for what happened to them.
Many of these lies and attitudes literally date back to medieval times and are rooted in religious and pseudoscientific superstitions whose function was to subjugate women and the disenfranchised for the purpose of maintaining a brutal, rigid social order.
Members of our species have traveled to space and walked upon the faces of other worlds, and harnessed the power of the sun itself, and yet MEMBERS OF MY YOUNG GENERATION BORN ON THE CUSP OF A NEW MILLENNIUM STILL THINK LIKE THIS.
If you believe or perpetuate any of these lies, you are literally and materially acting as an agent in allowing this problem to persist in our society, and for further victimizing innocent people, and next time the victim YOUR attitudes end up harming could be YOUR friend, YOUR parent, YOUR sibling, YOUR classmate, YOUR significant other, YOUR online buddy, or even YOURSELF, because being sexually assaulted isn’t an experience unique to any single gender, lifestyle, age range, or sexual orientation.
I’m personally offended as a man and as a human being by this story and the victim-blaming, rape-apologizing responses it received, all in the context of community tribalism regarding a children’s cartoon about talking animals.
I’ll do whatever I can to in any small way make the world a better place, but seriously -
Screw every single one of you people who think like this or in any way sympathize with, defend, tolerate, or comfort anyone who thinks like this, whether or not they’ve actually directly participated in harming anyone, because if there is a hell, you deserve to burn there.
When a considerable, widely documented segment the Brony subculture has previously demonstrated tolerance and acceptance for rape culture, sexual harassment, and general sexual misconduct prior to this incident, this is no longer an issue that can be dismissed by the decent, reasonable members of the My Little Pony fandom who currently consider themselves “Bronies”.
This is your problem as well, even if you aren’t personally responsible for or approve of these elements of your fandom. This is causing people to directly associate YOU with RAPE, PEDOPHILIA, ZOOPHILIA, RACISM, DEATH THREATS, SEXUAL HARASSMENT, and STALKING when your only connection to those horrible people may be that you both claim to like an innocent children’s cartoon.
If you’re a reasonable, harmless person who likes My Little Pony, you are ENTITLED to better treatment than to have to tolerate associating yourself with these toxic, evil elements of the My Little Pony fandom.
However, merely by calling yourself a Brony, you are willingly allowing this to happen to you, and you are selling yourself short.
Unlike other fandoms and fan related subcultures, the My Little Pony fandom is largely dominated by a single collective identity and subculture which places emphasis on an amorphous collective, and which adheres to a certain unwritten code of conduct regarding what is and isn’t tolerated, and far too often this unwritten code of conduct has been proven to embrace, tolerate, and facilitate extremely outrageous and unacceptable behavior that leads to people being irrevocably harmed.
The fatal flaw in this structure is that it creates an environment of diluted individual responsibility that encourages people to defend and evangelize My Little Pony and the Brony community as a whole when a member of the collective goes errant, rather than to actually hold that individual accountable.
While other fandoms have their weirdos, creepers, undue drama, and actual real-world tragedies attached to them, the way in which the Brony subculture developed has created a situation in which sane, benign people find themselves pressured to tolerate or embrace extreme elements of the fandom they personally want nothing to do with as part of the “price of admission” for participating in the dominant component of what today comprises most of the online My Little Pony fandom.
It seems to me that any good will and reputation associated with the Brony subculture is at this point beyond any possibility of being salvaged.
Decent, sane, benign fans of My Little Pony should no longer tolerate this by associating themselves with the nonsense attached to the marred “Brony” trademark.
Even though individuals and even small groups have dedicated themselves to exposing these toxic elements of the Brony subculture so that they can be rightfully subject to ridicule and criticism, it’s clearly not enough, and seems to have done little more than turn those negative elements of the Brony subculture into a public freak show for the outside world to gawk at.
Loudmouths who choose to evangelize a subculture suffering from plainly visible corruption should not be allowed to continue misrepresenting the “Brony” collective as having a universal monopoly over the My Little Pony fandom akin to the universal monopoly the Roman Catholic Church once held over Christianity.
People should not continue to be fearful of retribution for choosing to love My Little Pony while refusing to endorse or expose themselves to the corruption and negativity that has become an obvious and egregious defect in the “Brony” subset of the fandom.
People should know that they can still make friends, still enjoy themselves, and still have a great, healthy, vibrant community pertaining to their interests without having to tolerate corruption or remain silent while other members on the extreme fringes of some mega-clique engage in destructive activity that reflects poorly upon innocent bystanders who want no part in that behavior.
I don’t have a solution. I’m not a Brony, nor do I have any involvement in the My Little Pony fandom, but I sincerely hope that hope the sane, reasonable, harmless people out there who happen to like My Little Pony find a way to divorce themselves of the stigmas and legacy of reprehensible behavior that have haunted them due to the actions of a minority of bad people who have embedded themselves within a specific subset of the My Little Pony fandom, nearly all of whom choose to call themselves Bronies, and hide behind that collectivity identity for comfort and protection when the shit hits the fan.