It’s to authentic human culture what genetically modified corn is to maize.
Like a gene, which is unit of biological information that propagates a physical characteristic through the generations and which can become prolific in a given population, a meme is a unit of cultural information that spreads virally from person to person within a culture. Like genes, memes self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selection pressures, such as political activism and journalism, with their origins often disguised or lost in history.
One of the most discussed memes today is “rape culture”, the proliferation of which is the basis of the increasingly strident effort to curb an alleged “epidemic” of campus sexual violence in the United States. Whether there is an epidemic of campus sexual assault in the US* is largely irrelevant, as it is assumed to be so because it is essential to the popularity and spread of this meme, which would become extinct (as some genes do) if it were widely known that it’s unquestioned axioms were not true and hence the meme was not supportive of cultural evolution – a “regressive meme” as it were.
* The 18-year DOJ study “Rape and Sexual Assault among College-age Females, 1995-2013” found the prevalence of all forms of sexual assault on campus to be 0.61% annually, and campus rape to occur at a rate of 0.2% per year, or 2 in 1,000 college women. It also found that campus sexual assault was nearly 20% less frequent than for similarly-aged non-student women, and down 50% from the late 1990s.
For a discussion of the history, origin and meaning of the “rape culture” meme, see All Sex is Rape – All Men are Rapists.
The following is a summary of The ‘Rape Culture’ Lie (February 2, 2015) by Heather Wilhelm. Wilhelm is a columnist for RealClearPolitics.com, a senior contributor at The Federalist, and sits on the board of governors for Opportunity International, a Chicago-based microfinance group providing small business loans to impoverished entrepreneurs around the world. She holds an MA in social sciences from the University of Chicago and graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a BA in English from Northwestern University.
Once rather obscure and confined to sociology and women’s studies departments, the term “rape culture” has slowly invaded the national consciousness. According to Google search analytics, the topic generated almost no traffic in 2005 or before. After 2011 [when the DOE sent its Dear Colleague letter to every US college and university, requiring them to investigate and adjudicate claims of sexual misconduct], popularity slowly began to rise and then, beginning in 2013 [when Congress passed the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination (SaVE) Act, requiring colleges and universities to provide sexual conduct education to all students and staff], it spiked.
The idea that one in five college women has or will be sexually assaulted [propagated by everyone from campus advocates to the President of the US] is mind-boggling and horrifying. It’s also not true. The statistic – together with two other dubious studies that upped the ante to one in four – would mean that young American college women are raped at a rate similar to women in Congo, where rape has been used as a weapon of war.
CNN Films has released The Hunting Ground [see addendum], which the Sundance Film Festival has called “a piercing, monumental exposé of rape culture on campuses”. This followed the release of yet another “study”, which declared “nearly one-third of college men admit they might rape a woman if they could get away with it”.
The latest Department of Justice hard data on sexual assault, released in December 2014, estimates that 0.61% of female college students are the victims of sexual assault. That’s 6.1 cases per 1,000 women. Curiously, these new numbers, which come from the Obama administration, aren’t making headlines at the Obama White House’s official website. In fact, in his January 25, 2015 address dedicated to sexual assault, President Obama declared the numbers to be “one in five”.
Speaking of culture, what does it say about ours when such clearly preposterous statistics are so easily believed? More important, what does it mean that discredited and long-debunked rape “statistics” are repeated, over and over, all the way up to the bully pulpit of the highest political office in the country?
In fact, if the latest official statistics are accurate – the unfortunate yet not-so-dramatic 0.61% that many feminists seem intent on ignoring – then America seems to have the opposite of a “rape culture”. Rather than pushing actual rape under the rug and celebrating male predators, in other words, we’re inventing fictional rapes and throwing actual men under the bus.
“Rape culture”, in other words, is an idea that swings, cocky and unhinged, from media and campus chandeliers. It dodges logical bullets, performs backflips around statistical cannonballs, and waltzes right through ground-leveling factual nuclear bombs.
And once it’s settled in, it’s hard to pry it out. This is, in part, because it’s an idea with a long, storied provenance, dating back more than 40 years. It has been a central feature of American feminism for nearly as long: “Feminism”, as legal theorist Catherine MacKinnon wrote in a 1988 book, is “built on believing women’s accounts of sexual use and abuse by men”.
Bathed in the sexual revolution and its culture of sexual freedom, many young Americans, male and female, now have no idea how – or why – to impose even the flimsiest moral framework around the most intimate, exposing, literally naked act in which two human beings can engage. Having been told that sex is easy, meaningless, and always pleasurable, many young people are shocked to discover that’s not invariably the case – that sex is often anything but casual, that it triggers deep and powerful emotions and needs they cannot integrate with the cultural insistence that sex is no big deal. They do not have the vocabulary or the clarity to grasp why. What has happened to them feels wrong, not right. It is disturbing, not ecstatic. And for these feelings, they believe they deserve redress.
It is easy to understand the hunger to reduce this moral crisis to a simple moral trope: a dastardly villain, a blameless victim. But the perpetrator, ironically, isn’t a massive, oppressive “rape culture”. It’s the “sex means nothing” culture, together with the ready embrace of a radical feminist worldview that holds women always blameless – even when they’re self-destructive – and men always guilty, simply because they are men.
What follows is summary of ‘Rape Culture’ and Feminism’s Sexual Exploitation of Women (February 10, 2015) by Robert Tracinski. Robert Tracinski studied philosophy at the University of Chicago and is a senior writer at The Federalist.
If we strip away the ideological claims and go back to the evidence, [the Columbia University “Carry That Weight” case] fits a pattern. These are cases where two young people have an existing sexual relationship, usually one that’s “casual” or on-again, off-again. They sleep together and the young woman acts, for a while, as if everything is fine and they’re still friends. But later she comes to decide that she was raped.
The key is the dubious notion that the young woman somehow figured out, some time after the fact, that she was assaulted. Coercion is physical force. It is blunt, it is physical, it is perceptual. But what is being described here is having negative feelings about something in retrospect, and there’s a very different word for that: regret. What these women are really expressing is regret for sexual encounters they wish they had not engaged in.
I have observed before the weird juxtaposition on campuses of a flamboyant, baroque version of the Sexual Revolution – alongside a strict neo-Victorian prudery advanced under the banner of feminism. But perhaps it’s not a contradiction. Perhaps the one phenomenon is an answer to the other. Dubious claims about “rape culture” are an attempt to create an all-purpose scapegoat for the emotional dark side of promiscuity.
College campuses have long since been taken over by a culture in which casual sex with acquaintances is considered normal and where slightly outré sexual experimentation is strongly encouraged, all of it spurred on by alcohol, which figures prominently in most of these cases. But it’s clear that some young women are not psychologically prepared for this. They have casual relationships and hookups, but then feel regret and emotional trauma when the experience ends up being emotionally unsatisfying or disturbing. Then they are encouraged, by the feminists and “rape culture” activists, to reinterpret the experience as all the fault of an evil man who must have coerced them.
It’s a system which systematically preys on and exploits the emotional vulnerability of young women in order to use them as publicity fodder for an ideological agenda.
From 2006-2010, United Educators, a cooperatively-owned insurance consortium that covers most US colleges, received 262 claims of student-perpetrated sexual assault. In 92% of the claims with financial losses, the accuser was under the influence of alcohol, and more than 60% of accusers were so intoxicated that they had no clear memory of the assault. Prior to the alleged assault, 33% of the accusers battled mental health issues such as eating disorders, personality disorders, suicide attempts, or trauma from a previous sexual assault.
The following is a summary of How Feminism Creates Rape Culture by tpaine, “the pseudonym for a 21st century pamphleteer, infidel, intellectual, radical, MBA refugee from the Fortune 100”.
“Rape culture” is a term that was apparently coined by radical feminists in the 1970s. These are the same great minds who gave us “All PIV (penis-in-vagina) sex is rape” and “All men are rapists”, things that many feminists disavow today but live on in their underlying assumptions. To understand the real culture of rape in our society, one needs to look past the gynocentric propaganda of feminism and understand that men are human, too, who must give consent to sexual intercourse in order for it not to be rape.
The real feminist rape culture is an ideological war on men and maleness. It involves erasing male victims and female perpetrators, demonizing men, stoking fear and anger in women and then making demands of men and the government for resources.
Here is the feminist recipe for that toxic cocktail: Rape Culture.
1. Define Rape Favorably
The crime of rape was defined by the FBI (effective in 2013) as: “Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”
The definition is not on its face gendered, but it describes rape as the act of “penetration” without consent rather then the act of “sex” or “sexual intercourse” without consent. Penetration, of course, is something men do disproportionately as it is the function of the male sex organ.
This definition of rape, then, for crime statistics and government survey purposes is heavily skewed toward female victims and male perpetrators compared to the non-gendered dictionary versions. This is by design. Feminists worked with the FBI on its current definition and academic feminists use the “penetration” version in their research.
2. Use (Mostly) Legitimate Numbers
Feminists can hype some pretty outrageous numbers, but all zealots do that. The real coup was the favorable definition of the term “rape”. Now, every legitimate study that comes out is essentially a foregone conclusion. The definition erases male victims and female perpetrators before the study even starts.
It is no surprise, then, that most studies and statistics show women as the vast majority of victims, and men as the vast majority of perpetrators, of rape. Having feminists in charge of sexual violence surveys is kind of like putting oil companies in charge of research on climate change or Big Tobacco in charge of research on smoking.
When feminists claim that rape is a virtual plague visited by men on women and have the statistics to prove it, they are making a circular argument of their own careful construction.
3. Add “Patriarchy”
“The idea that women who are victims of sex crimes are special, extra-victimy victims and that rape is the worst violation imaginable is rooted in the exact same Victorian morality that slut-shaming is – the idea that a woman’s sexual purity is the most important thing she has, and that she becomes valueless once that purity is gone.” – Karen Straughn, You Tube’s Girl Writes What
Feminists trade on all kinds of sexist stereotypes to promote their version of rape and female victimization, primarily the notion that since women are weak they need the protection of men (from other men). They also employ the corollary: that since men are strong they cannot be the victim of a weak woman. The damsel/white knight archetype is hardwired into individuals in our society. Women are programmed to cry for help, and men are programmed to respond. The secret of feminist rape culture’s success is that it taps into this cultural power source, the female privilege to command the help of men.
Just to be clear on this point: feminists are using sexism for propaganda purposes. They are not fighting sexism when they talk about rape culture.
Female rapists have long hid behind the sexist canard that men are in a perpetual state of consent, and indeed men who do not consent to sex with a woman are often shamed by that woman as “not a real man”. Feminists do very little to disabuse anyone of these sexist “patriarchal” notions.
When two people are too drunk to consent, the man is automatically assumed to be the rapist under “patriarchy”. Despite the fact that this assumption is actually misogynist (it infantilizes women – treats them as irresponsible children), feminists do not argue.
“Rape culture” allows feminists to attack the “patriarchy” for the imperfections of its attitude toward rape, while at the same time they benefit from its generally favorable disposition toward women on the issue.
The term “rape apologist” is the primary tool used by feminists to protect their “rape culture”. Anyone who questions feminist assumptions or pronunciations about rape is doing so out of support for rape itself. The fear of being labeled a rape apologist keeps feminism’s critics in line, but it is hypocritical. It is so powerful only because of the “patriarchal” taboo against rape that feminists deny.
Feminism is not unlike a parasite on “patriarchy” in this regard, and rape culture seems to be a product of feminists cognitive dissonance on the issue.
4. Stir The Fear And Anger
Women should be fearful of men. Of all men. Young men, creepy old men, your brother, your father, your friend, your boyfriend, every stranger, men walking on the street, men minding their own business, men who catcall you, men who don’t catcall – all men are Schroedinger’s Rapist and to be feared. Your son is just a future rapist.
Any common sense suggestion that women take steps to protect themselves, like they would against any other crime or misfortune, is called victim blaming and is part of the vast rape culture conspiracy.
And the threat is constantly expanding in feminist rhetoric. A woman is catcalled? Rape. A woman is ogled? Rape. Almost anything a man does vis a vis a woman can be construed as “rape”. All women, not just 1 in 5, are fated to a life of rape and more rape. “Rape culture” is mass hysteria, a full-blown moral panic, complete with torches and pitchforks.
Anger goes hand in hand with the fear. Anger is the response that feminists want – a self-righteous anger. This anger is always channeled, always directed at men – not rapists, but men. In a rape culture, men and their sexuality are threats to women indistinguishable from the act of rape.
Through their rape culture rhetoric, feminists are the ones who normalize rape. All men are rapists, even nice guys, and all women are victims. This is actually counterproductive to helping real victims because it minimizes their experience as “normal”. If the rapist is just a “nice guy” who made a mistake, a woman might feel conflicted about reporting an actual rape (as opposed to an accusation based on regret or intoxicated consent). If feminists actually portrayed rapists correctly as a small number of repeat-offending sociopaths, who would do it again to other women, more rapes would be reported and more rapists brought to justice.
With rapists lurking under every rock, feminist “rape culture” will never be out of business. By design.
5. Sit Back And Enjoy the Results
- Oversimplification and Half Truths to erase male victims? Check.
- Appeal to “Patriarchal” Prejudice? Check, Check, and Check.
- Appeal to Fear? Check.
- Demonize the Enemy? Check.
- Rape-Apologist Name Calling? Check.
Now all feminists need to do is sit back and reap the benefits as the “patriarchal” Uncle Sam creates white knight legislation like the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and Title IX rape provisions. Of course they all come with the money, power and influence feminists desire.
Conclusion: What Is Feminism?
Most feminists will insist, ironically given their definition of rape, that feminism is a movement for equality between the sexes.
If feminism were really a movement to smash the “patriarchy” and achieve equality between the sexes, we would have seen the following actions regarding rape after 50+ years of the movement:
- Gender-neutral definition of rape that does not specify penetration used in research.
- No suppression of the idea that women can rape (they can do anything a man can do after all), leading to more men reporting the crime and more women arrested and convicted.
- Recognition that when two people are both drunk beyond a certain point, one shouldn’t be considered the rapist automatically just because of their gender.
- Rape advocates pushing for laws, programs and funding to help all victims of rape equally regardless of gender.
We have not and never will see those things in our society as a result of feminism. They will only come about as the result of anti-feminism.
However, if feminism were an ideology of misandry [hated of men], of fighting to control and benefit from sexism rather than eliminate it, if feminism were a parasite in a symbiotic relationship with its host the “patriarchy”, what would we see? Exactly what we are seeing now: rape and its victims cynically exploited for “rape culture” propaganda.
How The Hunting Ground Blurs the Truth
Here is a short summary, excerpted from a lengthy investigative article by Emily Yoffe, published in Slate on June 1, 2015, which perfectly illustrates how “rape culture” activists genetically engineer reality to fit their ideologically-blindered perceptions:
The Hunting Ground is shaping the public debate around campus rape. But a closer look at one of its central cases suggests the filmmakers put advocacy ahead of accuracy.
One of the four key stories told in the film illustrates both of these points. It is the harrowing account of Kamilah Willingham, who describes what happened during the early morning hours of Jan. 15, 2011, while she was a student at Harvard Law School. She says a male classmate, a man she thought was her friend, drugged the drinks he bought at a bar for her and a female friend, then took the two women back to Willingham’s apartment and sexually assaulted them. When she reported this to Harvard, she says university officials were indifferent and even hostile to her.
In multiple interviews, the filmmakers have said that they rigorously vetted all of the stories they present in The Hunting Ground. They also acknowledge that they are advocates fighting for a cause.
An allegation of sexual assault is a grave one. If proven true, it can rightly end a perpetrator’s education and send him to prison. Because the stakes are so high, it is crucial, in telling stories of sexual assault, not to be blinded by advocacy, but to fairly examine the assertions of both sides. Despite the filmmakers’ assurances, The Hunting Ground fails in this regard. I looked into the case of Kamilah Willingham, whose allegations generated a voluminous record. What the evidence (including Willingham’s own testimony) shows is often dramatically at odds with the account presented in the film.
Willingham’s story is not an illustration of a sexual predator allowed to run loose by self-interested administrators. The record shows that what happened that night was precisely the kind of spontaneous, drunken encounter that administrators who deal with campus sexual assault accusations say is typical. (The filmmakers, who favor David Lisak’s poorly substantiated position that our college campuses are rife with serial rapists, reject the suggestion that such encounters are the source of many sexual assault allegations.) Nor is Willingham’s story an example of official indifference. Harvard did not ignore her complaints; the school thoroughly investigated them. And because of her allegations, the law school education of her alleged assailant has been halted for the past four years.
The Hunting Ground does not identify that man. His name is Brandon Winston, now 30 years old. Earlier this year, he was tried in a Massachusetts superior court on felony charges of indecent assault and battery – that is, unwanted sexual touching, not rape. In March, he was cleared of all felony charges and found guilty of a single count of misdemeanor nonsexual touching [the judge, Maynard Kirpalani, said of Winston, “He has … no criminal record whatsoever, and until these circumstances arose, had been a model citizen and a student with some promise.”]. Following the trial, the Administrative Board of Harvard Law School, which handles student discipline, reviewed Winston’s case and voted to reinstate him. This fall, he will be allowed to complete his long-delayed final year of law school.
Like most journalists and critics, I first wrote about The Hunting Ground on Feb. 27 of this year, the day the film made its theatrical debut, and did so unaware that, the same week, the unnamed man Willingham calls a rapist was standing trial in Middlesex County on the charges stemming from her criminal complaint. I learned of Winston’s trial when a juror [a woman public school teacher, age 54] contacted me after it concluded to express dismay that Winston had been forced to stand trial – and had faced potential jail time – for what she saw as a drunken hook-up.
The makers of The Hunting Ground say they gave the young men implicated in the film a chance to comment, and none responded. But it wasn’t until February, a month after the documentary made a celebrated debut at the Sundance Film Festival, that Winston says he was first contacted by a representative for the film. He referred this person to [his lawyer, Norman] Zalkind, who says he never heard from anyone representing The Hunting Ground. I contacted Kirby Dick to talk to him about the Willingham case. He declined to speak with me, but asked for a list of written questions. I sent him my questions by email, and he replied, “After careful consideration I respectfully decline.”
The filmmakers present what happened between Kamilah Willingham and Brandon Winston as a terrifying warning to female college students and their parents, and a call to arms to government officials and college administrators. They offer the case as prima facie evidence that draconian regulations, laws, and punishments are required to end what they say is a scourge of sexual violence. But there is another story, which the filmmakers do not tell. It’s a story in which Willingham’s accusations are taken seriously and Winston’s actions are thoroughly investigated, first by Harvard University and later by the Middlesex County district attorney’s office. It’s a story in which neither the school nor the legal system finds that a rape occurred, and in which Willingham’s credibility is called seriously into question. It’s a story of an ambiguous sexual encounter among young adults that almost destroyed the life of the accused, a young black man with no previous record of criminal behavior. It’s a story that demonstrates how deeply the filmmakers’ politics colored their presentation of the facts – and how deeply flawed their influential film is as a result.
Brandon Winston was hardly a perfect gentleman on the night of Jan. 15, 2011. But aside from Kamilah Willingham’s assertions in The Hunting Ground, there is no evidence to suggest he is dangerous or a predator. Nor do Willingham’s claims of institutional indifference hold up; Harvard twice delayed Winston’s education while its own and later Middlesex County’s adjudication processes unfolded. Neither found evidence to substantiate Willingham’s claims in The Hunting Ground, and Winston has since received the punishment the legal system deemed appropriate for his actions.
The filmmakers say they interviewed more than 70 women who have been sexually assaulted in order to find the most compelling and illustrative stories to tell in their film. They say that each of their major cases is backed up with “extensive fact-checking” and thousands of pages of documents. But if they fact-checked this case, that only makes their one-sided portrayal of the Willingham case that much more troubling.
Sexual violence on campus is a serious issue, and it is imperative that we understand its dynamics, work to prevent it, punish wrongdoers, and aid victims. Blurring the truth, and failing to tell both sides of the story, is not the way to achieve these goals. In their effort to sound an alarm about what they believe to be rampant college rape, the makers of The Hunting Ground did an injustice to Brandon Winston – and ultimately to viewers who have come, and will continue to come, to this film hoping for an accurate assessment of what’s really happening on America’s campuses.
by Robert Riversong: may be reproduced only with attribution for non-commercial purposes and a link to this page