Short Take: Woman Power (You Knew This Was Coming, Right?)

The list of sex abusers reads like a who’s who of powerful dudes. Until it didn’t.

Singer Melanie Martinez has been accused of sex assault by a former friend, who claims to have “repeatedly said no” to her sexual advances.

Timothy Heller, a Los Angeles-based aspiring singer, came forward with the allegations late Monday, sharing her story on Twitter about how she said Martinez, an artist who shot to stardom after appearing on NBC’s “The Voice,” sexually assaulted her.

This came out on the twitters, when Heller told the story of how Martinez, her best friend and the person who “saved her life,” turned the relationship sexual.

“I never said yes. I said no, repeatedly. But she used her power over me, and broke me down,” she said. “Just so there is no confusion, I was molested by my best friend.”

After multiple attempts to touch her, Martinez proceeded to perform “oral sex on me and then I was penetrated with a sex toy without being asked,” the woman alleged. “She knew I didn’t want to, I made that clear,” noting that she was “completely not reciprocating.”

Did any of this happen? Did it happen the way Heller claims? Will it ever be subject to scrutiny, as it would be if a complaint was filed, investigated, prosecuted and subject to the rigors of due process?

It was all good fun when it was directed at toxic masculinity. After all, haven’t women been oppressed enough? Don’t they deserve their opportunity to hurl the accusations for every pain they’ve harbored inside for years at the men who hurt them? But what if it’s not just men? What if it’s not just toxic masculinity?

Martinez responded to the allegations on Monday, writing on social media that although she’s “horrified” by the allegations, Heller “never said no to what we chose to do together.”

“No”? Remember when “no means no” morphed into affirmative consent. Sex apparently happened, but Martinez says it was consensual. That’s what some of the men said as well, though not Al Franken.

But as John Oliver demanded of Dustin Hoffman, “You’ve given no evidence to show that it didn’t happen.” Where’s the proof that it didn’t happen as the accuser claimed?

There was a period of time when you were creeping around women. It feels like a cop-out to say, ‘Well, this isn’t me.’ Do you understand how that feels like a dismissal?”

Hoffman fired back, “You weren’t there.”

“I’m glad,” Oliver said.

“You’ve put me on display here,” Hoffman told Oliver at one point. “You have indicted me … That’s not ‘innocent until proven guilty.’”

The basic precepts of our jurisprudence no longer apply to accusations of rape, sexual assault and harassment. Then again, these aren’t happening in the context of a criminal prosecution, so why should they? Trial by twitter was never meant to provide the accused with the opportunity to respond. Proving the negative isn’t usually possible, no matter how easy it may be to claim that a rape happened.

Remember the years of repeating the tropes that false accusations almost never happen? That one in five (or some permutation of the claim) women are sexually abused? Few of us got too bent out of shape when the narratives were perpetuated for the purpose of burning men for every hurt ever felt by a woman, but every false narrative eventually spreads. When the mob runs out of male witches to burn, then female witches will have to do.

Did singer Melanie Martinez engage in rape, because Timothy Heller failed to say yes? Beats me, but we’ve now seen the accusation and her denial, and neither will be tested. The deeply passionate inform me they’re entitled to their opinions on guilt, and to demand the execution of whomever the mob decides needs killin’.

But this time, you can’t blame it on toxic masculinity. What will the narrative have to say now?

H/T B. McLeod

23 thoughts on “Short Take: Woman Power (You Knew This Was Coming, Right?)

  1. B. McLeod

    Darn it. I guess “believe the woman” won’t resolve this one. No sooner do we get a new, bright-line rule than a new case that confounds it.

      1. B. McLeod

        Collateral issues seem to be cropping up as to whether, by failing to enthusiastically embrace the alleged lesbian sexual advances of Ms. Martinez, Heller committed an affront to the dignity of Ms. Martinez (as Justice Kennedy might say). However, as I read Heller’s account (and even though elsewhere on the Internet, Heller proclaims herself “into men”), the issue here was fatigue. That is, Heller has in fact not indicated any general bias against lesbian sexual relations per se, nor has she even said she would not consider a frolic with Ms. Martinez. Rather, Heller was simply too tired for sex on the particular occasion in question, and wanted to sleep. So I do not see that Heller was at fault for any sort of affront here.

          1. B. McLeod

            Exactly that, and not because Ms. Martinez (nor, I suppose, Ms. Heller) was taken aback by an affront.

      2. Elpey P.

        Suddenly the “If you deny my preferred pronoun you deny my human rights” argument actually makes sense.

  2. Sacho

    > But this time, you can’t blame it on toxic masculinity. What will the narrative have to say now?

    Singer Martinez has clearly internalized the permeating toxic masculinity of our patriarchal society if she has forced herself on a non-consenting survivor. Martinez as a celebrity probably suffers under daily bullying and oppression to conform to our patriarchal norms, and has suppressed her inherent femininity, which would guide her towards a mutual, caring, bonding sexual experience with affirmative consent. Instead, she has been twisted towards the oppressive masculine norms of domination and subjugation of unwilling victims. This kind of learned behavior clearly shows why we need to dismantle the patriarchy post-haste, to stop its toxic influence from seeping into every pore of our society. Martinez is not at fault here; her gender identity has been suppressed by the toxic masculine behavior that engulfs her daily life.

    1. Elpey P.

      Some people call it “horizontal violence,” where the oppressed displace their response to their oppression by directing it against someone other than their oppressors. They usually don’t mean the phrase so literally though.

  3. Robert

    I wager the same narrative-weavers who demand summary consequences for allegedly offending men in the court of public opinion will suddenly counsel due process for allegedly offending women. The shift will not be based upon distinctions underlying the substantive allegations, but will be based solely upon the sex of the putative victim. Many will continue to marvel at how sheer cognitive dissonance has not yet managed to cause their talking heads to explode into a fine, bloody mist.
    *Insert .gif of that one scene from Scanners*.

      1. Robert

        If just barely.

        I’m still hoping for the day when the narrative comes around to “trust, but verify.”

      2. B. McLeod

        If there really were any such “right as an entertainer” I would spend a lot more time practicing guitar.

  4. Xchixm

    This is an important statement relevant to the primary topic of this post: male witches are called warlocks.

  5. Pedantic Grammar Police

    When I was in college 30 years ago a woman did something to me that I enjoyed and appreciated at the time, but I was drunk and I don’t remember explicitly saying “Yes” and now I wonder if I really should have let her do it. My girlfriend was really pissed when she heard about it and I had to lie to her and the whole thing was just exhausting. Should I name and shame her? I don’t remember her name but I could do some research and probably figure it out. What is the female equivalent of “literally Hitler?”

      1. B. McLeod

        Timothy’s Twitter post was more interesting, but she had a rough childhood. Her parents were Heller raisers.

        1. SHG Post author

          If she’s Timothy, she’s Timothy. What difference does it make? It’s just the surprise of a male name and a female pronoun, but if that’s the case, so be it.

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