This is, without a doubt, the most offensive thing that I have read in weeks, if not months. Not because I haven’t read it all before. But because usually when I read long rambling articles about how women aren’t actually raped, the feminists make it all up because the idea of violence apparently makes them feel better, the “rape” problem is really just women being sluts, and our concept of “consensual” is just way too confusing because it requires desire and communication, it’s by some moron on an MRA blog. Yesterday, it was printed in the LA Times. And it was written by a woman.
I’m going to include a trigger warning, not because there are graphic descriptions of sexual assault, but because the comments about women who are raped and the women who want to end rape really are just that unbelievably offensive.
It’s a lonely job, working the phones at a college rape crisis center. Day after day, you wait for the casualties to show up from the alleged campus rape epidemic — but no one calls. Could this mean that the crisis is overblown? No. It means, according to campus sexual-assault organizations, that the abuse of coeds is worse than anyone had ever imagined. It means that consultants and counselors need more funding to persuade student rape victims to break the silence of their suffering.
It is a central claim of these organizations that between a fifth and a quarter of all college women will be raped or will be the targets of attempted rape by the end of their college years. Harvard’s Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response uses the 20% to 25% statistic. Websites at New York University, Syracuse University, Penn State and the University of Virginia, among many other places, use the figures as well.
And who will be the assailants of these women? Not terrifying strangers who will grab them in dark alleys, but the guys sitting next to them in class or at the cafeteria.
If the one-in-four statistic is correct, campus rape represents a crime wave of unprecedented proportions. No felony, much less one as serious as rape, has a victimization rate remotely approaching 20% or 25%, even over many years. The 2006 violent crime rate in Detroit, one of the most violent cities in the U.S., was 2,400 murders, rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults per 100,000 inhabitants — a rate of 2.4%.
Such a crime wave — in which millions of young women would graduate having suffered the most terrifying assault, short of murder, that a woman can experience — would require nothing less than a state of emergency. Admissions policies, which if the numbers are true are allowing in tens of thousands of vicious criminals, would require a complete revision, perhaps banning male students entirely. The nation’s nearly 10 million female undergraduates would need to take the most stringent safety precautions.
None of this crisis response occurs, of course — because the crisis doesn’t exist.
Yeah, that’s an interesting thought, Heather Mac Donald. But here’s the thing: in reality, the crisis response doesn’t occur because self-loathing, misogynist assholes like yourself are so loudly denying that the crisis exists, and that’s what most people want to hear. Hell, it’s what I would like to hear, too — if it were true.
I think that what bothers me most here isn’t even so much that Mac Donald thinks the problem is completely fabricated, but that she finds the very idea of the crisis that doesn’t exist so fucking amusing. You can see the sarcasm dripping off of the page at the thought that an acquaintance is more likely to rape you than the culturally imagined big scary black stranger with a gun. And you also get the distinct impression that Mac Donald is actually so delusional as to believe that if women were being raped in large numbers, the powers that be really would decide to do something instead of just trying their absolute damn hardest to cover up and deny the problem. Delusion or malice? Based on her other work, I’m going with the latter — but either way, it’s wholly unacceptable.
Here is why Mac Donald thinks that the rape crisis doesn’t exist:
So where do the numbers come from? During the 1980s, feminist researchers committed to the rape-culture theory discovered that asking women directly if they had been raped yielded disappointing results — very few women said that they had been. So Ms. magazine commissioned University of Arizona public health professor Mary Koss to develop a different way to measure the prevalence of rape.
Rather than asking female students about rape per se, Koss asked them if they had ever experienced actions that she then classified as rape. One question, for example, asked, “Have you had sexual intercourse when you didn’t want to because a man gave you alcohol or drugs?” — a question that is ambiguous on several fronts, including the woman’s degree of incapacitation, the causal relation between being given a drink and having sexual intercourse, and the man’s intentions. Koss’ method produced the 25% rate, which Ms. then published.
It was a flawed study on a number of levels, but the most powerful refutation came from her own subjects: 73% of the women whom the study characterized as rape victims told the researchers that they hadn’t been raped. Further, 42% of the study’s supposed victims said they had had intercourse again with their alleged assailants — though it is highly unlikely that a raped woman would have sex again with the fiend who attacked her.
[. . .]
A 2006 survey of sorority women at the University of Virginia, for example, found that only 23% of the subjects whom the survey characterized as rape victims felt that they had been raped — a result that the university’s director of sexual and domestic violence services calls “discouraging.” Equally damning was a 2000 campus rape study conducted under the aegis of the Department of Justice. Sixty-five percent of those whom the researchers called “completed rape” victims and three-quarters of “attempted rape” victims said that they did not think that their experiences were “serious enough to report.”
Believing in the campus rape epidemic, it turns out, requires ignoring women’s own interpretations of their experiences.
Actually, it is highly common for a woman to have sex with a man after he has assaulted her. It’s called denial. When a friend rapes you, and he didn’t punch you in the face to make it happen, chances are you want to believe that it was all a big misunderstanding. Realizing that you’ve been raped by a friend, your boyfriend or your husband is extremely painful. It’s wrong. You don’t want it to be real. Also, we have idiots like Mac Donald writing for nationally distributed new papers, who say that the rape most women experience doesn’t count as rape.
Mac Donald’s reasoning for why the Ms. results are false is just plain astonishing. By her logic, a woman having sex that she doesn’t want to have as a result of being given alcohol or drugs has only been raped if: a) she is hardly conscious, b) we don’t live in a world where alcohol is linked to consensual casual sex and c) a man actually admits to having the intent to use alcohol and drugs as a tool to commit rape. It’s pretty amazing, to think that men can only commit rape when they intend to — especially when surveys show that changing the word “rape” to “forced sex” increases a man’s likelihood of saying he has or would commit it (read this study numerous times, couldn’t find a link — help? I’m almost positive that it’s also listed in The Beauty Myth). It’s also extremely rare for a man to admit to rape — though I doubt we would say the only actual murders committed are those where the murderer confesses.
Mac Donald gleefully mounts her high horse here by saying that women should be allowed to define their own experiences. This is certainly true to some extent. But we also happen to live in a world where — as this opinion piece demonstrates — our concept of rape is severely fucked. A world where 84% of men who admit to using force and coercion to obtain sex don’t define their actions as rape, where most high school students believe that forced sex is acceptable under “some circumstances” and where astonishing numbers of men admit anonymously that they would commit rape if they thought they could get away with it.
We live in a world where most women tell no one about their assault for many reasons. There’s the fact that reporting a rape is highly unlikely to result in a trial, let alone a conviction. There’s the fact that women who report rape are often harassed, ostracized and publicly smeared. There’s the fact that no one wants to believe their friend could be a rapist, that rape victims are often asked about what they were wearing and if they were drinking, and that rapists always make up a painful story about how very badly the rape victim wanted it. And there’s the fact that by the time many women are able to admit what happened to them, reporting feels extremely useless. Many if not most women I’ve talked to who have experienced any type of sexual assault or abuse — including myself — didn’t classify the violence as assault or abuse until well after it had been committed, whether that be weeks, months or years. It’s human nature to try to avoid feeling like a victim, and many people don’t realize that being victimized does not make you weak.
We also have people like Mac Donald in this world who have been brainwashed into really, really hating women. People who are willing to use any excuse they can possibly get their disgusting hands on to excuse rape as women just acting like slutty whiny bitches. And yet again we can thank Cosmo fucking Magazine — whose grave I would happily dance on — for printing every rape apologist’s wet dream of a story about how rape is made up and the fault of women. “Gray rape” seems to be the new buzz phrase, and I honestly don’t know how the editors at that magazine can sleep at night knowing that the concept has already become this widely disseminated that they’re no longer even credited as a huge part of starting the problem.
So what reality does lie behind the rape hype? I believe that it’s the booze-fueled hookup culture of one-night, or sometimes just partial-night, stands. Students in the ’60s demanded that college administrators stop setting rules for fraternization. The colleges meekly complied and opened a Pandora’s box of boorish, promiscuous behavior that gets cruder each year.
This culture has been written about widely. College women — as well as men — reportedly drink heavily before and during parties. For the women, that drinking is often goal-oriented, suggests Karin Agness, a recent University of Virginia graduate and founder of NeW, a club for conservative university women: It frees the drinker from responsibility and “provides an excuse for engaging in behavior that she ordinarily wouldn’t.” Nights can include a meaningless sexual encounter with a guy whom the girl may not even know.
In all these drunken couplings, there may be some deplorable instances of forced and truly non-consensual sex. But most campus “rape” cases exist in the gray area of seeming cooperation and tacit consent, which is why they are almost never prosecuted criminally.
“Ninety-nine percent of all college rape cases would be thrown out of court in a twinkling,” observes University of Pennsylvania history professor Alan Kors.
Many students hold on to the view that women usually have the power to determine whether a campus social event ends with intercourse. A female Rutgers student expressed a common sentiment in a university sexual-assault survey: “When we go out to parties and I see girls and the way they dress and the way they act … and just the way they are, under the influence and um, then they like accuse them of like, ‘Oh yeah, my boyfriend did this to me’ or whatever, I honestly always think it’s their fault.”
But suggest to a rape bureaucrat that female students share responsibility for the outcome of an evening and that greater sexual restraint would prevent campus “rape,” and you might as well be saying that women should don the burka.
College officials have responded to the fallout of the college sexual revolution not with sound advice but with bizarre and anachronistic legalisms for responding to postcoital second thoughts.
University of Virginia students, for example, may demand a formal adjudication before the Sexual Assault Board; they can request a “structured meeting” with the Office of the Dean of Students by filing a formal complaint; or they can seek voluntary mediation.
Risk-management consultants travel the country to help colleges craft legal rules for student sexual congress.
“If one partner puts a condom on the other, does that signify that they are consenting to intercourse?” asks Alan D. Berkowitz, a campus rape consultant. Short of guiding the thus-sheathed instrumentality to port, it’s hard to imagine a clearer signal of consent, although Berkowitz apparently finds it “inherently ambiguous.”
That’s right: it’s a travesty that we “can’t” say women are responsible for rape. (Because people like me are going to call them names? Yeah, that’s really stopped it.) It’s an outrage that women think their boyfriend doesn’t have the right to force sex on them just because they drink and flirt. It’s a cultural hatred of men that says women can just “change their minds” after sex and call it rape, not a cultural hatred of women that says this is what actually happens. And the idea that a man should have to communicate with his partner, negotiate the sexual act, start a discussion if the woman underneath him is laying still and not actively participating and not just assume that every woman he meets wants his dick forced inside of her, that my friends, is the ultimate mood kill. Oh, and if you read the end of the essay, you’ll see that it’s the school’s fault that the rape that doesn’t really exist happens, because they teach about mutual sexual pleasure. And nothing causes rape like telling people that they have bodily rights and that there is nothing wrong with acting on genuine sexual desire.
Please, everyone reading this, take the time to write the LA Times a letter at email@example.com. They say to send “well-written” letters only — perhaps you ought to craft a careful essay about how it’s ironic to demand of their readers what they don’t demand of their writers. But though polite letters are supposed to be “better,” I really don’t care what you send, so long as you send something to let them know that this is not okay. Personally, if I had a subscription to this magazine, I’d cancel it. I don’t necessarily ask you to do the same, but I do ask that you pass on the story and encourage everyone else who reads it to write a letter, too.