Mike Tyson is a Rapist.
It is bad enough, as a woman, to know of many, many rapists who are living their best lives and not being held accountable for their crimes. I know several of these men, and there’s nothing I can do about it. Throughout organisations, workplaces and so on, there are whisper networks between women about who is a rapist, who assaulted someone. But nothing can be done to actually hold these men accountable if they have not been convicted for their crime. We have to watch them being friends, or becoming friends (which is somehow more painful) with people we work with and collaborate with. We have to watch them being awarded for their work, praised for their work. We hear them weighing in on the #metoo thing, confidentally espousing on Repeal and ‘trusting women’, being so totally right-on woke male feminist on consent. We see them being role models for men and our hearts break. We have to hold back on our outrage and grief. We have to keep our mouths shut.
It is inexplicably difficult to witness all of this if you have been raped. The rage boils and simmers, boils and simmers. Sexual violence is an area to be involved in for which there is no good news. The good news is usually still bad news. I’d been taking a social media break to bring my eyes away from constant reports of men abusing and raping women and children, of sentences, of arrests, of over 300 images of child abuse found on another man’s computer, of think pieces about rape and sexual assaults and abuse. When I am over exposed to all of it I start to feel dead inside, stunted. It becomes impossible to see the joy in life, the joy of my dog looking up at me, the joy of my nieces, the joy of friendship, the joy of my existence. The inside of me becomes grey. I start to feel like I am part of this problem, because of what happened to me. Like I carry it around to make up for all these unaccountable free roaming rapists who don’t.
My social media break lasted about two weeks, until I realised that I needed to be logged into Facebook to promote an upcoming workshop I am running. The first thing I saw was an interview with Noeleen Blackwell from the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre on Newstalk about the convicted rapist Mike Tyson coming to The Helix in Dublin to talk about his life and do a meet and greet on the 2nd November. My stomach dropped. I felt sick. So angry and sick.
Tyson is an unremorseful, unapologetic and unrepentant rapist. Those words all mean the same thing but I feel its important to hammer home the fact that Tyson does not have a conscience about what he did to the 18 year old girl he raped. He spent 3 of his 6 year sentence in prison. He denies he raped her. In 2013 he said he wished he had raped her. It makes sense that he reacts badly to questions about his rape conviction. He doesn’t want to talk about it, doesn’t acknowledge it, and verbally attacks any interviewer who brings it up. In light of all this I am guessing that whoever is interviewing him from the UK promoter ‘Gold Start Promotions’ is not going to ask him anything about it during his life story telling and ware flogging event in The Helix.
We hold back on the unconvicted rapists surrounding us. We keep it quiet and keep our fury private, and then The Helix trolls every rape victim in the country and rents their theatre space to an event celebrating an unrepentant convicted, did the jail time, ‘definitely did it’, rapist.
If Tyson speaks here, then he, and the promoters, and The Helix owe it to every rape victim in this country that he acknowledges his crime and speaks to it. But he won’t, because he denies doing it, and loses it at anyone who asks him about it. He cannot be a ‘changed man’, having never actually acknowledged he did anything wrong to begin with. We cannot celebrate convicted rapists. We cannot park their crime, ‘leave it in the past’, separate it from the ‘work’, and so on. We cannot. And we definitely cannot celebrate convicted and unrepentant, male role model hero rapists. NO. If we do that then we discount the life long impact of the crime on the victim. We say it doesn’t matter. We say it’s okay if you rape a teenage girl, we’ll forgive you. We don’t care that you’re a role model to boys and men, we’ll just ignore the rape like society does all the time anyway. Just don’t mention it, that uncomfortable sticky dark thing over there.
Ultimately the problem is not Tyson’s desire to exploit his fame to make money. The problem is the promoter, UK based Gold Star Signings for deeming this somehow acceptable. For me, the problem really lies with The Helix, for agreeing to sell their integrity for the price of the theatre rental. The Helix could have retained their integrity and said no. Surely the people who made this decision have been aware of what 2018 has been like for women in this country and all over the world. Surely they are aware of the injustice of the Belfast rape trial and it’s fallout. Surely they are not thick. Surely they are aware of what they are doing. The heartbreaking thing is that I’m sure they are very aware of all of this, but don’t care enough to turn down the business and play their part in challenging the attitudes and beliefs that make up our rape culture. Would The Helix rent the venue to someone who is far right? a known racist? A known homophobe? If not, why not?
Lastly, the problem, the saddest problem, is the men, young and old, who will go to support and celebrate this unapologetic rapist, every ticket sale telling not just Tyson, but every other rapist, that if you are a sporting hero, or any kind of hero, you’ll be forgiven for your violence towards women, that women don’t mean much to them, that a rapist is worth more than the relationships with women and girls in their lives. That a sporting hero rapist is more important than a family friend rape victim. That it’s fine that he raped that 18 year old girl. It’s fine.
The Helix holds 1,860 people.
The event is sold out.
We have to say that Time is Up on this prick.
You can email your rejection of this rapist celebrating event to The Helix’s marketing manager Louise at: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can start a petition here.
You can contact Gold Star Promotions here.