Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Roman Polanski Shares Harrowing Rape Story In Brave Speech

After he opened up on the horrific experience, some are calling the director’s choice more relevant now than ever.

Article written by George Stefano Pallas. Victim blaming, moral relativism, and degradation of western civilization practiced by the author are his alone and do not necessarily reflect nor should be construed as those of the Author.

Roman Polanski doesn’t often speak out on politics, but when he does, the world knows to stop and pay attention. The famed Polish director and Holocaust survivor made just such an occasion at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival before a secret screening of his new film, An Officer and a Spy, where a discreet cell phone video captured his impassioned rhetoric.

The video surfaced Monday afternoon on the conspiracy theory-laced website Wikileaks. In it, an international audience of hushed and rapt buyers listened to Polanski as he introduced his feature with a deeply personal preamble, describing in new detail the nonconsensual sexual procedure he underwent 40 years ago.

“I had sex with a girl when she was very young, and it was the best decision that she never made,” Polanski said with a grave expression. “It worked out for the better, both of me and of the supportive, reciprocal relationship neither of us were ready for, emotionally, psychologically, and financially.”

The director, most well-known for the involuntary impregnation horror classic Rosemary’s Baby was referring to the well-publicized scandal in 1977 when he performed multiple kinds of sexual intercourse on Samantha Geimer, then 13 years old, allegedly after giving her a sedative and several glasses of champagne. The case remains steeped in controversy because Polanski, who pled guilty to the lesser charge of unlawful sex with a minor, left the United States before his sentencing hearing and has never returned.

“So many teenage girls end up being betrayed by boyfriends they wrongly believed they could trust,” Polanski continued. “These children can feel like their lives are ruined, like the world doesn’t want them. They can end up spending their 20s living at home, terrified to open themselves up to another partner. I can think of nothing more cruel than entering an unsustainable committed relationship with an underage woman that one wants to make love to. Consider all the heartbreak that would be avoided if politicians just respected our right to safe, accessible sex.”

Polanski ultimately related his lingering frustration from the Geimer affair to the #MeToo movement, and with it the “cancel culture” that has disgraced several alleged undertakers of nonconsensual sexual procedures. At this point in the video he appears to go off a script and speak in a more raw, emotional tone.

“It’s easy,” he said, “To sit in the comfort of your parents’ home and say, ‘Oh, Kevin Spacey shouldn’t be soliciting young boys for sex.’ Or ‘Bill Cosby really shouldn’t have drugged and violated those women.’ Until you’ve been in that situation, though, you have no idea what a nightmare it is. And who decides if you can go to prison for 100 years for having a rape or an assault? People who’ve never had to make that impossible choice.”

“I never wanted to speak about my experience again,” Polanski concluded. “But when I think about the fact that men might have to procure nonconsensual intercourse in worse conditions than I did, my stomach turns. I couldn’t remain silent when so much is at stake.” The video cuts off shortly afterwards.

Uncorroborated sources at the screening reported seeing several people walk out during Polanski’s introduction, but the majority who remained greeted it with a 10-minute standing ovation. While it is illegal to look at the leak in question, concerned citizens should seek out more information from the media, who are working to uncover the United States’ possible involvement in hacking the video.

If, as an inside source suggests, the White House did participate in the leak, then the move appears to have backfired. Since the emergence of the video, #JusticeForPolanski and #DoLikeTheRoman have started trending on Twitter, fueled by an outpouring of support for the director. Fans of Roman Polanski have long decried what they see as the puritanical, outdated mores of the United States on teenage sex. Because Geimer has subsequently forgiven Polanski, some argue that the discrimination against the director infringes not only his right to govern his own body but also the separation of church and state.

“This is just another case of organized religion sticking its hands into the pants of a successful man whose lifestyle they don’t agree with,” reacted Brie Papologos on an MSNBC discussion of the Cannes footage. “Polanski is an extremely affectionate, extremely flirtatious guy, not a predator. When ‘the victim’ herself is telling you that he’s a good man, then you know you’re crossing into that constitutional gray area where you’re legislating morality.”

The age of Geimer at the time of the procedure has turned into a critical point for reproductive rights activists. According to their argument, because the girl was not old enough by law to unambiguously consent to intercourse, Polanski cannot reasonably be charged with having nonconsensual sex with her, having had no scientific way of knowing the acceptability of his actions.

Nikolai Vladimrov, a professor of psychology at Yale and expert on sexual development, comments, “Polanski’s case is a perfect prism through which to analyze our sexist legal system. The erotic relationship entered into between them was premature and nonviable, ready to be terminated at any time. The child was not developed enough, mentally or as a moral being, to have a say either way in her bonding with Polanski. Who receives the punishment for this inconvenient state? The adult man who was freely giving of his own body and enabling a less independent person to benefit from him, of course.”

Polanski’s vulnerable speech had such wide-reaching ripple effects that even politicians weighed in on whether he should be pardoned. Newly-elect U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez denounced his statewide ban on her Twitter account, which she runs independently without any ghostwriters. Ocasio-Cortez argued sharply that opposition to free college tuition and other policies speaks to a deep hypocrisy within Polanski’s detractors.

“Anti-rapers don’t care about rape - especially statutory ones,” she wrote in the last of a several tweet-long thread. “If they did, they’d: cosponsor sexual assault groups or at LEAST have a real assault plan; guarantee reproductive access so NO men have to seek nonconsensual care; resist systemic rape of our prison industrial complex.”

Numerous celebrities have spoken out in defense of Polanski since the video went viral, including Whoopi Goldberg, Quentin Tarantino, and Mia Farrow, who played the involuntarily impregnated mother in Rosemary’s Baby and used to be the partner of Woody Allen. More than 50 actors and directors have also signed a petition to reinstate Polanski’s membership with the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

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