When a woman posted about her sexual assault on Reddit, she enraged doubters, who eventually convinced her to post video "proof" of the crime. Her experience says a lot about the strange — and sometimes sexist — culture of the site.

A user identifying herself as theoculus posted the photo at left yesterday, along with the message, "I was sexually assaulted in the early evening while wearing jeans and a t-shirt in a 'safe' residential neighbourhood in Toronto. This is what he did to my face. Only rapists cause rape."

User I_FRIENDZONE_CATS responded,


I really, REALLY don't want to say this is fake, and I'm sorry that the internet has done this to me... but you have a history of using effects makeup to look like a zombie.

I don't know why you would fabricate this story... but I don't know why someone would pretend to have cancer either.

Again, what happened to you is terrible but I'm the tiniest bit skeptical.

After this reference to theoculus's previous forays into makeup, others piled on. Said lmsft,

I'm not a doctor, but I play one on the internet. (aka medical student)

The eye is a hard call, it looks convincing, but from my limited expertise, I would actually say that there is a strong possibility it is fake.

the bruising is atypical of a single strike [...]

she would likely have broken blood vessels in her eye, but it appears to be completely white. the area around the laceration is remarkably bruise free

there is high level of bruising yet almost no visible swelling

and most of all, the contusion stops very conveniently around her hair line and eyebrow.

Like you I don't want to call fake if this is real. But some opinions,

1.) Reddit isn't the place to go with this, your local police and possibly news is. 2.) Women who, for any reason, ever claim fake rape are among the scum of the earth. Not only does it detract significance from actual rape cases, it can land innocent people in serious trouble. 3.) Possibly it is a bias due to my foreknowledge of her stage makeup expertise, but it REALLY looks like good makeup.

Other users pointed out her earlier post of a comic critiquing rape culture, and speculated that she might be "an anti-rape activist resorting to a false account of attempted rape in order to further her cause." She responded, "I am unsure how to verify my story, short of making a video running a wet cloth over my wounds." Other users asked her to do just that — so she did.


Many of those who doubted her edited their original comments and apologized — but not before user stringerbell posted a detailed breakdown (now removed) of the "evidence" that she was lying, drawn from her previous reddit posts. Such "evidence" included "She has anal sex - even though she doesn't want to" and "She likes being burned during sex." A number of users called him out for victim-blaming — and it turns out he's got a history of misogynist comments. On a thread titled "How many girls in their 20s are still saving themselves for the right guy," he wrote,

'Saving themselves for the right guy.' - MY ASS!

Let's quit it with all the bullshit - and call it what it really is:

'Selling their vagina for the highest possible price.'

And in a thread on the "friend zone," he said,

Girls seek ALPHA MALES (power/money/muscles/etc..). Women don't really give a shit about intimacy - as long as you're an alpha male! [...] In our world, men do all the real work. So, women NEED a man to do everything for them. So, they need to hook their man for life (and they have to do it QUICK, as they start losing their looks in their thirties, and start getting fat too). If she hops into the sack with a man, she hasn't hooked him. So, women want to know that a man will stay with them - before - they give him what he wants. So, how does one know if a man will stick around? Well, the only way to do that is to get to know him first... In other words: intimacy...

Reddit's far from the only place on the internet where people are awful. But a group of hardcore misogynists have found a sort of home there. Some subcategories of the site (called subreddits) are essentially assholes-only walled gardens (r/beatingwomen is an example). Others, like r/mensrights, have a more ideological bent ("We recognize the right of females to be treated equally, but we fight for the right of males to be treated equally"). David Futrelle of Man Boobz has done an excellent job of chronicling (and critiquing) Reddit misogynists' defenses of underage sex.

When such arguments stay in sexist subreddits, they have limited impact — but as stringerbell's comments on theoculus's story show, they don't always stay there. Often, they're met with the appropriate scorn — many of stringerbell's contributions to other threads have been vigorously downvoted. But they can also spark long debates like the one on theoculus's initial posts. These debates aren't all bad — one poster, for instance, describes how another user convinced him to quit victim-blaming. But they do illustrate what happens when a few assholes get loose in a community that really loves to argue. Sometimes somebody learns something. And sometimes a rape victim has to wash her face on camera.

I Was Sexually Assaulted ... [Reddit]