War Machine thinks he has a right to rape women (and so does porn culture)

war machine

MMA fighter, “War Machine” (born Jonathan Koppenhaver), is in court facing 34 charges, including sexual assault and attempted murder, in relation to his abuse of ex-girlfriend, Christy Mack.

Last year, the self-described “Alpha Male” broke into Mack’s home, beating her and friend, Corey Thomas (who Koppenhaver allowed to escape, ordering him not to call the authorities), viciously, leaving the 24-year-old woman hospitalized with a lacerated liver, 18 broken bones, multiple stab wounds, a fractured rib, and two missing teeth. Koppenhaver also forced Mack to undress, threatened to rape her, then, allegedly, sexually assaulted her with his fingers after saying “That’s my pussy and I’m going to take it back now.” She escaped and ran to a neighbour’s house while Koppenhaver was in the kitchen, she believes, looking for another knife. Afterwards, he claimed he did all this out of love.

Of course this was not the first time Koppenhaver had assaulted Mack.

“He became abusive about four to five months in,” she told ESPN. “But by that time I was totally in love with him… The first time I thought, ‘Oh it’ll never happen again.’ The day after, he stayed home from training and coddled me. After every time he would hit me, those were the best days of our relationship.”

In November 2013, she tweeted that her boyfriend at the time “beath the shit out of [her]” and threatened to kill her. There are other accounts of his violence, too…

christy mack

Needless to say, it’s unsurprising that this misogyny has continued in court. On Monday, Koppenhaver and his defense attorney, Brandon Sua, argued that the fact that Mack was a porn actress constituted consent to rape, instilled in her “the desire, the preference, the acceptability towards a particular form of sex activities that were outside of the norm,” and that the sexual assaults Mack was charging Koppenhaver with were “a consensual part of their relationship.”

These claims are disturbingly familiar to the ones we heard from Jian Ghomeshi last year who, likewise, attempted to claim that assault was, in fact, simply consensual “rough sex” and said that “sexual preferences are a human right.”

Essentially, Koppenhaver and his lawyer were arguing that because Mack engaged in violent sexual acts, “rough sex,” and rape scenes in porn, she was unrapeable. But it’s not really just that he thinks she, as an individual, isn’t rapeable, it’s that he actually doesn’t think rape is wrong. He thinks it’s what “real men” do.

In 2013 he tweeted that he raped Mack, following his statement up by saying, “Real men rape. ( Their GF’s and wives, not strangers, don’t get your panties in a bunch.)”

Presumably, I don’t need to tell anyone here that rape is not negated because a woman works in the sex industry… That is to say, prostituted women and women in porn are raped all the time. But I also think it’s worth mentioning that the cultural narrative surrounding pornography and the supposedly “consensual rough sex” we see in porn is part of the problem. Men all over the world watch women be abused and raped in porn and learn that it’s simply a “sexual preference” and are told this “sexual preference is a human right.”

It’s not as though violent monsters like Koppenhaver are the only ones pushing this narrative — it’s progressive men and women, too. Ghomeshi is a good example — a man who pretending to be a feminist ally and, by all accounts, a politically progressive man, who also thought he had a “right” to act out his violent fantasies on women. But where do men get these ideas from? Whether or not they’re comfortable admitting to it, leftists and liberals are complicit.

Editor of Jacobin magazine, Connor Kilpatrick, defended men’s right to access porn (you can’t argue that men in prison have a “right” to porn without arguing that all men have a right to porn), framing the sexualized abuse of women as simply “booby pics.”

The idea that porn culture is not only harmless but that it is a human right is embraced in our culture, despite the harm of the overarching message.

Porn actively advocates against consent. It teaches its audience that consent isn’t sexy but that violence is. Porn sends men the message, every single day, that sex, in any form, is their right. That access to women’s bodies is their right. It says that rape and violence is a “sexual preference.” So it’s no real surprise that men not only try to defend, but truly believe that their abuse is not abuse at all but simply a personal sexual preference that is completely harmless — they are fed this message constantly by liberals, leftists, and porn culture alike.

Sure there are men who watch porn but don’t rape, but the fact that we work so hard to convince them that the images they see on their computer screens constitute “sex,” a “human right,” and that they are a perfectly healthy part of being male don’t counter the anti-violence messages liberals and progressive pretend to support. Men aren’t seeing that line you keep trying to draw between rape culture and porn culture because it isn’t there. I mean, it’s no wonder men like Koppenhaver and Ghomeshi think they can get away with these lines.

War Machine only epitomizes the kind of behaviour our culture, at large, condones. To say violent porn is a man’s right only to turn around and say sexual violence is not sends a dangerously inconsistent message that has real-life consequences for women everywhere.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including The Spectator, UnHerd, the CBC, New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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