Rape

Revisiting '90s Feminists on Campus Rape

#TBT: We've been having the same sexual-assault debate for more than 20 years.

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Will Hart/Flickr

"One in four college women has been the victim of rape or attempted rape. One in four. I remember standing outside the dining hall in college, looking at a purple poster with this statistic written in bold letters. It didn't seem right. … If I was really standing in the middle of an 'epidemic,' a "crisis"—if 25 percent of my women friends were really being raped— wouldn't I know it?" 

That's from the opening to Katie Roiphe's New York Times polemic  against "rape crisis feminism" and the politics of trauma on college campuses. 

It was published in 1993. 

Yes, folks, we've been debating this same slippery statistic for more than 20 years. 

The whole Times piece—an excerpt from Roiphe's (then-upcoming) 1994 book The Morning After: Sex, Fear and Feminism on Campusis worth a read (or re-read), whatever your thoughts on the current campus-rape conversation. Some will cringe and some will cheer at lines like "the so-called rape epidemic on campuses is more a way of interpreting, a way of seeing, than a physical phenomenon" and "there is a gray area in which one person's rape may be another's bad night." But no one now paying attention can deny that most of the piece could have been written in 2015. All we're missing is a few references to Twitter and Barack Obama. 

A few snippets, to whet your appetite. On the climate on college campuses: 

Dead serious, eyes wide with concern, a college senior tells me that she believes one in four is too conservative an estimate. This is not the first time I've heard this. She tells me the right statistic is closer to one in two. That means one in two women are raped. It's amazing, she says, amazing that so many of us are sexually assaulted every day.

What is amazing is that this student actually believes that 50 percent of women are raped. This is the true crisis. Some substantial number of young women are walking around with this alarming belief: a hyperbole containing within it a state of perpetual fear.

On affirmative consent: 

The idea of "consent" has been redefined beyond the simple assertion that "no means no." Politically correct sex involves a yes, and a specific yes at that. According to the premise of "active consent," we can no longer afford ambiguity. We can no longer afford the dangers of unspoken consent. A former director of Columbia's date-rape education program told New York magazine, "Stone silence throughout an entire physical encounter with someone is not explicit consent."

This apparently practical, apparently clinical proscription cloaks retrograde assumptions about the way men and women experience sex. The idea that only an explicit yes means yes proposes that, like children, women have trouble communicating what they want. Beyond its dubious premise about the limits of female communication, the idea of active consent bolsters stereotypes of men just out to "get some" and women who don't really want any.

[…] By viewing rape as encompassing more than the use or threat of physical violence to coerce someone into sex, rape-crisis feminists reinforce traditional views about the fragility of the female body and will. According to common definitions of date rape, even "verbal coercion" or "manipulation" constitute rape. Verbal coercion is defined as "a woman's consenting to unwanted sexual activity because of a man's verbal arguments not including verbal threats of force." The belief that "verbal coercion" is rape pervades workshops, counseling sessions and student opinion pieces. The suggestion lurking beneath this definition of rape is that men are not just physically but also intellectually and emotionally more powerful than women.

As you may have guessed, Roiphe's ideas and writing were controversial. Reading Roiphe's critics can also be enlightening (and déjà vu inducing). Our battle lines have barely budged in the interim two decades. 

If you feel like going further down the rabbit-hole of retro writing on rape, sex, and feminism, see: "Not Just Bad Sex," Katha Pollitt's New Yorker review of Roiphe's first book; George Will's 2014 op-ed about victimhood on college campuses in its 1993 form; Harvard's "New Policy on Campus Rape" (1993); "Date Rape and a List at Brown"; and "Beating Swords Into Bustiers," in which Jennifer Weiner deconstructs the hot 1994 trend that Esquire labeled "Do Me" feminism. 

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  1. The suggestion lurking beneath this definition of rape is that men are not just physically but also intellectually and emotionally more powerful than women.

    This is so blindingly obvious that only a progressive feminist could fail to see it. Why a woman would accept being defined as a helpless idiotic child is just beyond me.

    1. Because it’s “empowering*”! Duh! You would know that if you weren’t some creepy, patriarchal, othering, sexist, eventual-rapist!

      *Translator’s Note: Empowerment in Feminist-speaks means privilege to summon violent, agents of the state, given to women by a group of men, typically white and heteronormative, who make laws.

    2. My last pay check was $9500 working 12 hours a week online. My sisters friend has been averaging 15k for months now and she works about 20 hours a week. I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out. This is what I do,

      http://www.work-cash.com

  2. It’s a 20-year debate because everyone assumed the PC crowd died off in the early 90s with their fake 1-in-4 statistics, but social media and fandom culture have given them a way to crawl back into the spotlight.

    I suspect this is a passing phenomenon, and what happened to them will be the same thing that happened to the PC crowd of the 90s and the original academic movements of the 70s – people will listen to what they have to say and promptly ignore them.

  3. What is amazing is that this student actually believes that 50 percent of women are raped.

    Except they don’t. This is just more signaling. By taking the statistic to more and even more ridiculous levels, they signal how serious they are about it, how “concerned”. There’s no actual thought about the numbers. It’s just a signal put out to peers.

    By viewing rape as encompassing more than the use or threat of physical violence to coerce someone into sex, rape-crisis feminists reinforce traditional views about the fragility of the female body and will.

    I swear today’s “feminists” are just misogynists who happen to be female. Just like today’s “anti-racists” are explicitly racist, these “anti-misogynists” are explicitly misogynist.

    1. I swear today’s “feminists” are just misogynists who happen to be female.

      In my experience, the overwhelming majority of men I’ve heard called misogynists were really just chauvinists and my list of top 10 misogynists are frequently dominated by women.

  4. What sort of horrible, deranged parent spends 2 decades saving money so their daughter can go to a school where there is a 50 or even 25 percent chance she will be raped? Why aren’t women on campuses refusing to go to parties or at least refusing to drink? Why aren’t karate dojo’s close to campus filled to the brim with co-eds training to repel their would be rapists? Why don’t women on campuses travel in groups lest they be picked off by their aggressors? Why do I sound like Andrew Napolitano?

    1. Why aren’t karate dojo’s close to campus filled to the brim with co-eds training to repel their would be rapists? Why don’t women on campuses travel in groups lest they be picked off by their aggressors?

      GAWD, you sexist Patriarchal pig! Women shouldn’t have to have an obligation or right to defend themselves! Men should be taught, in fully funded women’s studies classes from Kindergarten to 12th grade, not to rape women! Just like ho they are taught not to rob, kill, or assault!

      Fully-funded education solves everything! It’s only because the Patriarchy enjoys raping women that we don’t have this!

      1. Women shouldn’t have to have an obligation or right to defend themselves!

        The unisex dorms had a policy of “no unescorted [opposite gender]”, from the beginning, we were walking members of the opposite sex who we barely knew up to guys rooms who we only knew through roommates or by their dorm room number. The same happened in the girls-only dorms. Additionally, there were parts of campus that, for whatever reason, made women feel uncomfortable. More than once, my roommates or I had to walk a female friend, classmate, teammate, group of girls, roommates w/e from nearby bar or social spot to nearby apartment or other safe spot.

        Now, it just seems like an invitation to false allegations of sexual assault.

    2. After murder of a woman in Melbourne, local detective gets ass handed to him for suggesting that women should not be alone in parks.

      His hideous, misogynistic, cruel and triggering quote:

      “I suggest to people, particularly females, they shouldn’t be alone in parks. Jog with a friend, make sure your family know your route, exercise in daylight if you can,” he said.

      What a monster.

      1. Well technically he should have gotten his ass handed to him.

        Not because being somewhat aware and concerned about your security is a bad idea but rather because he is massively inflating the risk and feeding into the myth that rape is an everpresent risk for women

        1. Well, violent crime is an everpresent risk.

          For most people, in most places (at least in the civilized world), its a pretty low risk, frankly.

          But that’s not zero risk.

          I don’t know about that park or that area of Melbourne. There are definitely places in the US, and in every country, where that’s not bad advice, though.

          1. Nothing that a well played handgun used to kill the perp wouldn’t stop pretty effectively.

            Think of it. Instead of 1 out of four, or, two out of four depending on who you believe, women being raped, we could have 100% of rapists terminated from the class.

    3. You know what, I think I’m going to use this logic if my feminist mother ever tries to bring this statistic up again (she has in the past, and wasn’t deterred by pointing out that none of the women in our life have ever been raped and we know more than four women). She let me go live in dorms in a college several states away instead of forcing me to go to our local commuter college and sleep at home. If she actually believed the statistic she should pick up the phone and call CPS on herself, because she’s obviously not concerned about the safety of her children.

      1. It might be more effective and subtle to point out that a false rape allegation by a woman can impugn your character and can screw up your life about as much as a false allegation of child abuse could screw up a parent’s life.

        I’m sure, by a lot more clear definitions of abuse, closer to 1-in-4 children could be considered abused.

        1. Subtle and me don’t tend to go together. Plus if I start bringing up false rape allegations I’ll lose her completely. Feminism is a debate we’ve been having for over eight years, and the only times I’ve ever made headway is when I grab one of the most egregious issues and keep pointing it out over the course of a couple years. Eventually a bunch of small victories on the subject add up and she acknowledges the party line is wrong (doesn’t mean she decides to do anything about it, but it makes me feel better to know its one less thing she’s trying to instill in the youngest sister).

  5. 1 in 2?! Bah! I say 3 out of 4!

  6. TIL what TBT means.

    1. “Tits, Big Tits”

    2. Truth be told

      TBT I like nutrasweet’s definition better

      1. SF’s big tits are a wonderment of h&r.

  7. One argument I saw recently about the 1-n-4 stat was very enlightening.

    During the Bosnian war is believed that 50,000 women were raped as a tactic of war.

    According to the Center for Educational Statistics, 21 million women will be attend college in 2014-2015. That means feminists are asserting that 5.25 million women will be raped this school year.

    That’s 104 campus rapes for every rape in the Bosnian War. And considering the Bosnian War lasted three years, it’s really 312 rapes to every one in the Bosnian War.

    So feminists are saying that a woman attending an American college campus is 312 times more likely to be raped than in a warzone where rape was used as a deliberate tactic of war.

    Why people just don’t point and laugh what they try this shit is just beyond me.

    1. There were an estimated 20,000 rapes during the Rape of Nanking. And it’s named “rape”.

      1. And, in one of the underreported atrocities of WWII, there were 100,000 women raped in Berlin by the Soviets.

        Estimates of rape victims from the city’s two main hospitals ranged from 95,000 to 130,000. One doctor deduced that out of approximately 100,000 women raped in the city, some 10,000 died as a result, mostly from suicide. The death rate was thought to have been much higher among the 1.4 million estimated victims in East Prussia, Pomerania and Silesia. Altogether at least two million German women are thought to have been raped, and a substantial minority, if not a majority, appear to have suffered multiple rape.

        http://www.theguardian.com/boo…..features11

        Warning: seriously, don’t read that article unless you are prepared to be enraged/horrified/hate all Russians forever.

        1. I had a German girlfriend in college who’s mother was 13 and lived in Berlin when the Russian soldiers arrived and was victimized.

          Even through several physc courses where we covered rape with the standard definition of rape is not sexual at all but a form of violence against women being supported, I can’t wrap my mind around the act. Much less so when it is gang rape or military rape en mass. It just doesn’t add up.

          If more than 100,000 female Berliners were raped in the short period of time after the Soviet arrival and occupation before the rest of the allies showed up, that means that at least 100,000 Soviet soldiers participated. It remains inconceivable to me that 100,000 human males can be incited to torture simultaneously.

          Really. Even if the “enemy” has been dehumanized in the eyes of the troops by training, wouldn’t killing them be the result? Are militaries teaching soldiers to rape as part of their training? How would that accomplish any military goals?

          I just don’t get it.

          1. You’d almost think the “it’s not about sex” thing was bullshit, the way they rape the women and not the men, like they’re chimps.

    2. Technically it is 1 in 4 over the course of 4 years, not 1 in 4 per year so it would be 1.06 million rapes on American campuses this year.

      Not that that really changes anything

  8. We’ve been having the same sexual-assault debate for more than 20 years.

    longer. but they had to shut their pieholes for a while to defend Clinton.

    1. ++++

    2. Yeah, I started in 98, and this crap was hardly around. By 2005, after a full term of Bush II, it was back, and now…

  9. the only thing surprising here is that anyone is surprised

    people have pointed out a million times that the whole modern SJW bullshit is just a retread of 1990s Political-Correctness-culture. Maybe with some added frills like “preferred pronouns” and “trigger warnings”….but otherwise indistinguishable

  10. Does this affirmative consent have to be in writing? How detailed must it be? “I will allow you to put your penis inside of me until such time as I change my mind.” Signed and dated. Even then I suspect there will be rape charges.

    1. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…………….

      In that case, what about the resulting child. I mean, does that make ridiculous “child support payments” the price of entry….er rape?

  11. Yes, folks, we’ve been debating this same slippery statistic for more than 20 years.

    Lying liars won’t stop lying.

    Useful idiots won’t stop being idiots.

    Haters won’t stop hating.

    Its what they all do; its who they all are.

  12. The 1 in 4 statistic comes from Mary Koss’s study, The Scope of Rape… written in 1987.

    http://www.soci270.carvajal.ca…..ofRape.pdf

    First it doesn’t say 1 in 4 are raped, it says 1 in 4 are victims of sexual aggression. But you really have to read the questions. Pay special attention to questions 1 and 6:

    “1. Have you ever given in to sex play when you didn’t want to because of a man’s continual arguments and pressure?”

    That’s the one that jacks up the statistic and makes it 1 in 4. So if he constantly begs and she gives in, feminists are considering that to be rape.

    1. “Have you ever given in to sex play when you didn’t want to because of a man’s continual arguments and pressure?”

      Feminism is just so worthless to women. It would be good advice to point out that kind of relationship as something to avoid without going so far as to call it rape. But that would require caring about what Thomas Sowell calls “flesh and blood people” and not just the bigger political agenda.

    2. “So if he constantly begs and she gives in, feminists are considering that to be rape.”

      Wow! A lot of relatively “normal” husbands are just really rapists. ;-(

  13. I think people misunderstand the goals of the faculty of our universities. You might think that enrolling your daughter in a gender studies class is going to help make her a strong, independent, and knowledgeable person, equipped to thrive in the real world. This is incorrect. The faculty there are shrill, angry, fearful people obsessed with victimhood. And that is exactly the sort of person they want your daughter to become.

  14. controversial? No, it’s just that crazy feminists disagreed with it.
    Such normal, sane type of talk STILL is not controversial, it’s just that, again, the crazies want to pretend that it’s not true.

    Can we stop calling anything that’s attacked by a tiny cabal of crazy weirdos as being “controversial”? Neo-nazis deny the holocaust happened, but that doesn’t make claiming that it did happen “controversial”

    1. Yea, but that ‘tiny cabal of crazy weirdos’ is responsible for a whole mess of legislation over the decades that has adversely affected hundreds of thousands of men (and women); from anti-sex work to the divorce court. Your troop of crazies isn’t to be taken lightly.

      Legislatures tend to respond to the most vocal and emotional groups particularly if their core ‘value’ asserts a focus on protecting women and children.

  15. Re: “We’ve been having the same sexual-assault debate for more than 20 years.”

    I’ve said the same thing many times just in the past year, adding that it’s time a new perspective prevailed:

    “The Sexual Harassment Quagmire: How To Dig Out” http://malemattersusa.wordpres…..-quagmire/

    This may be the most exhaustive analysis you can find of what I think is the sexes’ most alienating and destructive behavioral difference, which is responsible for much of what is called sexual assault of women.

    I sincerely believe it all could have been so very different — so much better — between men and women. There may still be hope. See:

  16. The work ergonomist came in today and stated 90% of effective communication is nonverbal. Directly conflicts with the concept of positive spoken consent.

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