Rape is wrong, but ‘rape culture’ is fictional

Published by on Mar 2, 2016

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I may regret weighing into this discussion, but the principle of "innocent until proven guilty" is under attack, and without that principle, we're all just sitting ducks waiting to have our lives ruined by a vindictive adversary who opts to lob salacious accusations rather than address their own culpability for their actions. Rape is a horrible crime, but it's also a very specific crime with a (historically) well-understood definition. It's sexual intercourse by force or under duress; it's not voluntary sexual activity that one later regrets.

The problem of rape is quickly being eclipsed by the problem of college safe-space advocates and social justice warriors (SJWs) trying to redefine rape to include far more than its original definition and to treat an accusation as proof of guilt without a trial or due process of any kind.

Here's a good example: A self-proclaimed white male student writing in The Technician, student daily newspaper of North Carolina State University wrote a piece on rape in which he claims that "as men, we have no right to tell women what rape is. We have no right to weigh in on the logistics of what constitutes rape. Our role is to shut up and stop raping people." Can we all see the problem with this 'logic'? How are 'men' (because in his view all men are potential rapists) even supposed to "stop raping people" if rape isn't defined?

Some feminists even go so far as to claim that all sex and even having children is "rape." Seriously.

Another example can be found in Amanda Childress, Sexual Assault Awareness Program coordinator at Dartmouth College, who during a two-day "dialogue" about sexual misconduct and college students at the University of Virginia asked "Why could we not expel a student based on an allegation?" She went on to claim that "Safety is a right. Higher education is a privilege." She would happily deprive someone of their educational future solely on the basis of an unproven accusation.

After the infamous gang rape of "Jackie" at the University of Virginia (which was hyped by Rolling Stone) turned out to be entirely false, Zerlina Maxwell wrote that it is "wrong" to hear both sides of the story and collect all the evidence before coming to a conclusion in rape cases. Instead, she said "we should believe, as a matter of default, what an accuser says."

The worst thing is that this is effectively what happens to many students. Reason reports on one such case.

The University of Texas at Austin has recommended expulsion for a male student who was found responsible for sexual misconduct by the university's Title IX bureaucrats. But the woman he supposedly raped didn't formally accuse him—they remained friends and even flirted via text messages subsequent to the encounter.

It was the woman's father who decided to classify a voluntary sexual encounter as rape and attempt to get the male student expelled. Sadly, he will probably be successful in ruining this guy's life.

Those who want to expand the definition of rape to include voluntary actions which are later regretted and to remove the presumption of "innocent until proven guilty" when rape accusations are made have spent much of their time attempting to create the perception that there is a "rape culture" which must be decried and combatted by every decent person. The problem is that their contentions are entirely false.

Consider this from U.S. News & World Report:

The Bureau of Justice Statistics' "Violent Victimization of College Students" report tells a different and more plausible story about campus culture. During the years surveyed, 1995-2002, the DOJ found that there were six rapes or sexual assaults per thousand per year. Across the nation's four million female college students, that comes to about one victim in forty students. Other DOJ statistics show that the overall rape rate is in sharp decline: since 1995, the estimated rate of female rape or sexual assault victimizations has decreased by about 60 percent.

Compare the actual numbers—over four years of college approximately 1 in 40 women will experience some kind of sexual assault, but not necessarily rape—to the claim that 1 in 5 women will be raped, a statistic popularized by feminists and repeated by Lady Gaga recently at the Oscars. Of course any rape or sexual assault is unacceptable, but the numbers don't support the notion of a pervasive "rape culture"; rather they reveal that a small minority of people will be victims of crime—not exactly a startling revelation.

Wendy McElroy sums up the problem with the "rape culture" claim excellently.

The idea that America is a rape culture is a particularly vicious big lie, because it brands all men as rapists or rape facilitators. This lie has been successful despite reality. The rate of actual rape is declining. The crime is severely punished, and even an accusation can ruin lives; men who rape are reviled; the social messages on rape delivered regularly to young men are the opposite of encouragement.

I'm certainly not defending rape. Rape is a despicable crime that violates the self-ownership of the victim, and rapists deserve to be brought to justice for their crimes. We can't do that if we abandon the principle of "innocent until proven guilty" and expel every student who is merely accused of sexual misconduct, however. Expanding the definition of rape actually minimizes the crime and thereby further harms its victims. Failing to provide due process for the accused damages society and leaves people with little reason to believe that those punished for sexual misconduct are actually guilty. Opposing rape is the right thing to do, but peddling false statistics about "rape culture" and waging a war against due process is unquestionably the wrong way to do it.

Want to read more on this subject? I recommend this excellent article by Matt Walsh: Rape Culture Doesn't Exist And There Is No Rape Epidemic.

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