Steroids, Rape, and Toxic Anonymity

Feminists are pissed. Jose Canseco has outed his accuser.

I grew up watching Canseco and his “Bash Brother,” Mark McGwire. They hit the long-ball a lot and they struck out…a lot. Canseco’s nickname was “Jose Can-strikeout.” He was as bad at striking out as he was good at hitting home-runs.

Even though Canseco’s career was plagued with injuries, I remained a fan throughout the 90s and was glad when he outed his story of steroids in baseball. People knew that steroid use and abuse was rampant among baseball players, but rarely was anything said about the issue. So long as the fans were happy, so long as records were being broken, so long as attendance soared, the media, the owners, and the trainers mostly looked the other way. Even the drunken fans like me knew that something was wrong, but we didn’t care. Long-ball was in. Small-ball was out and baseball players had the relative freedom of anonymity to juice their bodies as they pleased.

In an age of slut-walks and post women’s sexual liberation, why do we care about anonymity for the rape accuser?

The whole point of granting the privilege of anonymity to the presumptive rape victim is to minimize the shame of being accused of possibly having had consensual sex. Do we still need to grant the protection of anonymity to rape accusers? Do women really need a white knight to ride in and protect them from shame? Are women such delicate flowers of moral purity that they cannot be strong enough to endure the publicity of their sex life? I think not. Anonymity is a special privilege granted to women and often denied to the accused men. Strong women shouldn’t have to suffer alone and anonymously. Anonymity is for the weak. Strong women should come forward and be public about their sexual history. Strong women should have no shame about their sexuality, being raped, or talking publicly about their victimization. Taking refuge in anonymity perpetuates their victimization. After all what’s shameful about being called a slut?


The occurrence of steroid abuse in baseball was perpetuated, in part, by the refuge of anonymity. Countless players were made victims, in part, by this anonymity. Home runs were not the only things to soar during the steroid era. The rates of ligament, tendon and other steroid-specific and related injuries to professional baseball players also soared throughout the steroid era. (Here is a link to more information about this correlation.) Had there been more transparency about the abuse of these performance enhancing drugs, steps could have been taken to ameliorate the problems. Instead, many of us cared more about the long-ball than we cared about the bodies and spirits of these men.

The anonymity perpetuated the disposable nature of these men, making them victims of their own utility, valuable primarily insofar as they perform and so long as their performance can be enhanced by the anonymous abuse of these drugs, rarely did anybody express care. Enter Jose Canseco. He came forward from the refuge of anonymity, shedding light on and making more transparent the proliferation and abuse of these drugs. He deserves much credit and respect for coming forward to make the story public. He also deserves credit for coming forward to make public the name of his accuser.


This is the 21st century. Although remnants of sexual shame may still exist in some areas within the bible-belt of America, I doubt they ever existed as a major influence in Las Vegas. Given the state of women’s sexual liberation, the old reasons for rape-accuser anonymity carry less weight today.

As the anonymity of steroid abuse made men into victims, so too does the anonymity of the rape-accuser make men into victims, destroying their reputations, livelihoods, and lives. It’s time to end the special privileges granted to women. Rape-accuser anonymity is a special privilege rooted in the antiquated idea that women are morally pure and that sex and sexuality is base and immoral. Again, this is the 21st century.

Jose Canseco is still a hero and he has hit another homerun, but this time he did it on Twitter.

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