Advice Goddess Blog
« Previous | Home | Next »

Crying Rape Instead Of "Need More Toiletpaper!"

Still Life With Toilet Paper

Perhaps Desiree Nall, the president of the Brevard, Florida, chapter of the National Organization Of Women thought she was being helpful by reporting that she was raped in a campus bathrum when she really wasn't. (Or maybe she was just looking for attention.) Wendy McElroy writes:

Instead of publicizing sexual violence against women, Nall has spotlighted the problem of false accusations against men. Her case also raises the question of whether NOW-style feminists encourage false accusations when they flatly insist that women must be believed.

In the '60s, feminists fought to have rape taken seriously. But taking an accusation seriously is not the same as granting it automatic validity. Rather, it means investigating the facts and weighing them in an unbiased manner that favors no one and nothing but the truth.

A lot of ugly truth may surface in the coming months. The state of Florida seems determined to pursue its case against Nall, who seems determined to fight back.

Winter Park Sgt. Pam Marcum explained to the Orlando Sentinel that bringing charges against Nall had taken so long because the police department sought a second opinion from the State Attorney's office. It is rare for those who file false reports of sexual abuse to be prosecuted. In short, the prosecution is carefully constructing a case; the defense is loudly crying 'political persecution!' In the process, the definition and legal status of rape within our society continues to evolve.

Where it comes to rest depends largely upon the honesty -- not the NOW-like silence -- with which women confront the problem of false accusations.

And then there's the date rape arena. What some would call "date rape," I call bad judgment. Kate Roiphe writes eloquently on the "one-in-four" statistic; the notion that one in every four women has been raped. Come on, isn't that an outrageous statistic, just if you think about it in terms of the women you know? There are four women in my family. So, statistically, one of us should have been sexually assaulted? You see a restaurant filled with a few tables where there are four women out to lunch. One of them has been raped? Come on. In Roiphe's words:

Is there a rape crisis on campus? Measuring rape is not as straightforward as it might seem. Neil Gilbert, professor of social welfare at the University of California at Berkeley, questions the validity of the one-in-four statistic. Gilbert points out that in a 1985 survey undertaken by Ms. magazine and financed by the National Institute of Mental Health, 73 percent of the women categorized as rape victims did not initially define their experience as rape; it was Mary Koss, the psychologist conducting the study, who did.

One of the questions used to define rape was: "Have you had sexual intercourse when you didn't want to because a man gave you alcohol or drugs." The phrasing raises the issue of agency. Why aren't college women responsible for their own intake of alcohol or drugs? A man may give her drugs, but she herself decides to take them. If we assume that women are not all helpless and naive, then they should be responsible for their choice to drink or take drugs. If a woman's "judgment is impaired" and she has sex, it isn't always the man's fault; it isn't necessarily always rape.

As Gilbert delves further into the numbers, he does not necessarily disprove the one-in-four statistic, but he does clarify what it means-- the so-called rape epidemic on campuses is more a way of interpreting, a way of seeing, than a physical phenomenon. It is more about a change in sexual politics than a change in sexual behavior. Whether or not one in four college women has been raped, then. is a matter of opinion, not a matter of mathematical fact.

That rape is a fact in some women's lives is not in question. It's hard to watch the solemn faces of young Bosnian girls, their words haltingly translated, as they tell of brutal rapes; or to read accounts of a suburban teen-ager raped and beaten while walking home from a shopping mall. We all agree that rape is a terrible thing, but we no longer agree on what rape is. Today's definition has stretched beyond bruises and knives, threats of death or violence to include emotional pressure and the influence of alcohol. The lines between rape and sex begin to blur. The one-in-four statistic on those purple posters is measuring something elusive. It is measuring her word against his in a realm where words barely exist. There is a gray area in which one person's rape may be another's bad night. Definitions become entangled in passionate ideological battles. There hasn't been a remarkable change in the number of women being raped; just a change in how receptive the political climate is to those numbers.

The next question, then, is who is identifying this epidemic and why. Somebody is "finding" this rape crisis, and finding it for a reason. Asserting the prevalence of rape lends urgency, authority to a broader critique of culture.

In a dramatic description of the rape crisis, Naomi Wolf writes in "The Beauty Myth" that "cultural representation of glamorized degradation has created a situation among the young in which boys rape and girls get raped as a normal course of events." The italics are hers ["as..." in italics in original]. Whether or not Wolf really believes rape is a part of the "normal course of events" these days, she is making a larger point. Wolf's rhetorical excess serves her larger polemic about sexual politics. Her dramatic prose is a call to arms. She is really trying to rally the feminist troops. Wolf uses rape as a red flag, an undeniable sign that things are falling apart.

But, things are falling apart -- but not because of some imaginary increase in rape, but because of feminist propaganda about what horrible creatures men are. Why do some women need to feel like victims to feel good about themselves? In my line of work, I get letter after letter from these poor, dateless men and women in their 20s and 30s, and even in their 40s, who are really hedgy on their gender roles, and can't begin to fathom that this might be having an effect on their being able to get a partner or even a date.

While it's tempting to laugh off radical feminists as shrill nuts, there was a trickle-down from the radical feminists, that sick, pathetic, evil Andrea Dworkin (ding-dong the witch is dead!) and Dworkin's evil twin sister in victimism, Catherine MacKinnon, to the day-to-day lives of ordinary people. I wrote about that here, recently, in my article, "Victims Gone Wild: How Feminism Has Messed Up Relationships."

In reality, what they were fighting wasn't male oppression, but maleness of any kind—based on the erroneous feminist notion that equality means sameness.

In their eyes, male sexuality isn't just different. It's WRONG. Penetration is a form of rape, don'tcha know? Ultimately, these femi-fascists sought to re-create men in their own image and to reshape sexual expression into something kinder, gentler and more "egalitarian." (Personally, I have no idea what more "egalitarian" sex is—and I hope I never find out.)

Posted by aalkon at April 22, 2005 8:49 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


>Kate Roiphe writes eloquently on the "one-in-four" statistic; the
>notion that one in every four women has been raped. Come on,
>isn't that an outrageous statistic, just if you think about it in
>terms of the women you know? There are four women in my family.
>So, statistically, one of us should have been sexually assaulted?

Good rhetoric, bad statistical math. If the incidence of date
rape is as stated, and is randomly distributed (which was *not*
implied), then there's about a 30% chance that none of the four
of you would ever be date-raped. Again, assuming the validity
of the statistic, it would take a group of about 11 people before
it was large enough to give 95% confidence that somebody within
it was date raped.

Posted by: Ron at April 22, 2005 9:41 AM

I always wondered why it doesn't occur to this particular brand of feminist that when they lie about a rape or a beating, they are not only doing damage to their cause, but also mocking every woman who ever has been raped or physically abused by a boyfriend and contributing to a culture that increasingly doubts their story. Must be painful for real victims.

Posted by: Little ted at April 22, 2005 10:59 AM

Thanks, Ron.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at April 22, 2005 2:34 PM

How'd you get 30%, Ron?

Posted by: Lena at April 22, 2005 4:09 PM

Lena: Not Ron, but I'm taking stat right now, and his figures are all right. The 30% figure is easy to find. If there's a .25 chance any given woman has been raped, there's a .75 chance she hasn't. The chance that four out of four people have not been raped is then (.75)^4, which equals (damnit, where's that calculator when I need it!) a .3164 chance that all four people have not been raped.

The second figure is derived from an attempt to solve the equation (.75)^x

Posted by: Jadagul at April 22, 2005 4:55 PM

Oops, my post got cut off somehow. I was writing,
"The second figure is derived from an attempt to solve the equation (.75)^x<.05--that is, the chance that x women have not been raped when there's a .75 chance of each woman not having been raped is less than .05. The chance that ten out of ten women have not been raped is (.75)^10=.05631, so if you have ten women together there's a 94.369% chance that at least one has been raped. But you need eleven to push you over the 95% threshold, giving a 95.776% chance that at least one person has been raped."

Posted by: Jadagul at April 22, 2005 4:57 PM

Yes, Jadagul worked it the same way I did.

The right way to solve the 95% confidence equation is by
using logarithms. The easy way is to load the stack of your
RPN calculator with the odds (.75) and just push X, counting
the pushes until you hit an answer of .05 or less (and count
1 push for the initial entry).

Posted by: Ron at April 22, 2005 5:46 PM

> The easy way is to load the stack of your
> RPN calculator...

Who needs the hard way?

Posted by: Crid at April 22, 2005 6:00 PM

Way to go, Amy. Most cases of 'date rape' are nothing but buyer's remourse.

Posted by: Ira Pesserilo at April 22, 2005 7:07 PM

I wouldn't go that far, Ira. I agree that getting drunk or high with a guy, agreeing to have sex with him, then claiming it was rape because you were drunk is bull and infanticizes women. I don't remember where it was, but there was a University in the early 90s that made it rape anytime a guy had sex with a girl who'd been drinking - even if she was willing and filed no complaint. Idiocy.

Actual date rape does occur, though. It's ugly, dehumanizing, and scary - especially when it comes time to report the crime to people who wonder if you're making it up. That's why I know way too many women who didn't report what happened to them.

Unfortunately women like Desiree Nall are the ones who make the reporters of an actual crime fell more like suspects than victims. She's helping perpetrators, not victims.

Posted by: Kimberly at April 23, 2005 12:05 AM

We need a new term to refer to the experience when you start fooling around with someone, and it's really not pleasurable, but you just go along for the ride, so to speak. Those times when you hug someone really close so that they can't see you rolling your eyes in disgust.

Wait. I think that's what me and my girlfriends used to call a hatefuck.

Posted by: Lena at April 23, 2005 12:36 AM

Paglia used to say "A woman who drinks and is raped is complicit," which sounds pretty harsh but is really illuminating. If prosecutors and courts could ignore every case where the women had compromised their own judgment, there'd be a lot more convictions.

Posted by: Crid at April 23, 2005 1:13 AM

>I don't remember where it was, but there was a University in the early 90s that made it rape anytime a guy had sex with a girl who'd been drinking - even if she was willing and filed no complaint. Idiocy

That university is called the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Posted by: Little ted at April 23, 2005 1:17 AM

Booze is so often a factor in these situations. Maybe we just need to teach girls and boys some common sense drinking skills.

Today's Lecture:
Figure out how many drinks it takes you to become stupid. If it looks like you're approaching your Stupidity Limit in some public place, then get your ass in a cab and go home. Or risk getting yourself raped.

As a middle-aged gay man who's managed to stay HIV negative after 20 years of living in New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, I can tell you from experience that it's a matter of life and death to "know thyself."

Unfortunately, talking with children about how to handle sex and booze is getting less and less popular these days.

Posted by: Lena the teetotaler at April 23, 2005 9:17 AM

We prefer to let them die or suffer for a lifetime from diseases, just so long as we can cling to our fantasies that abstinence education works and drinking and drug prohibition is a good idea.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at April 23, 2005 10:42 AM

Thank you, Amy Alkon, for weighing in with the policy implications! We're a team!

Posted by: Lena at April 23, 2005 11:11 AM

But, of course! If you weren't so consumed by covariate analysis, and I weren't so lacking in real singing talent, we'd be a rock group.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at April 23, 2005 11:16 AM

And we both know who'd be on lead vocals...

Posted by: Lena at April 23, 2005 12:26 PM

Well, I do have the wardrobe for it, after all!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at April 23, 2005 1:06 PM

Goddess is the last thing a female should use as a lable, it should be Satan's spawn.

Posted by: Christian at April 24, 2005 5:50 PM

In North Texas the Local Joke about Coeds at SMU goes like this. "What is the dating call of a SMU Coed"? "I'mm Sooo Drunk"! Alcohol lowers inhibitions and is sometimes called "Liquid Courage". Men and Women use it to "loosen up" so they can overcome shyness and throw caution to the wind. Why is it that only Women who later regret their own choice cry "Date Rape". My wife says "You can't rape the willing". Women refuse to accept responsibility for their actions and blame Men for everything. This is why Men are withdrawing from the dating scene and Marriage. We are fed up with our mistreatment by Women.

Posted by: khankrumthebulgar at April 25, 2005 4:09 AM

Nice column. My local paper last year ran a story about three boys detained without bail for something like a week because of the rap accusation of a girl in their school. The cops found her story shaky, she recanted, they were freed, but the prosecutor didn't press charges against her. Ditto a similar incident that happened a month later one town over. After it hit home, I started to notice false reports more -- and the women never even get their wrists slapped

Posted by: denny at April 25, 2005 5:13 AM

There's a reason for this. If the woman knew she'd be
prosecuted for filing a false report if she recanted, then she'd
be less likely to recant. The result would be more innocent men
prosecuted. While not ideal, at least this policy minimizes the
amount of injustice to the innocent parties.

Posted by: Ron at April 25, 2005 6:46 AM

And women should be prosecuted for filing false reports. Vigorously. There's no justice if women can ruin men's lives, or throw the police into a needless investigation, with no comeuppance.

On a comeuppance note, I go back to court against my hit-and-run driver, who glared at me in court like I was the one who did something wrong for tracking him down and having him prosecuted. They gave him two years probation and a $200 fine, and it goes on his record -- and I'm not positive, but I think he might have to go through the whole mug shot deal. His lawyer said, in hopes of getting me to dismiss the criminal charges, "But he's 78 years old." My response: "You'd think he would have learned ethics by now!"

Next, I'm trying to get compensated for all the hours I spent tracking him down, getting tape of him doing it, getting the insurance company to fix my car, taking it to be fixed (twice!...because they did a sucky job), etc. I actually gave them a very reasonable figure in court the last time, but the guy refused to pay it! Not smart! Now, I'm going to do a highly detailed accounting of my time, and somebody who knows economics told me I make a much higher hourly rate than I thought, averaging what I make on Dennis Miller, for example, and taking into account that I don't write 40 hours a week!

Anyone with any advice on this, feel free to write me at AdviceAmy AT AOL dot com !

Posted by: Amy Alkon at April 25, 2005 7:36 AM

I got drunk one nite in college, crashed at some friends, and woke up (partiallY) to see some strange coed having her way with my erection. I tried to make her stop but... and I felt so used the next day. I never told my girlfriend. No way she would have believed it was not my fault. kind of sounds stupid coming from a guy, but it did happen. Luckily I never actually knew her and never had to pay her the next 18 yrs. and so forth. Guys really don't have any rights, do we?

Posted by: dave at April 25, 2005 11:11 AM

When a man forces his reproductive capacity on a woman, we call it rape. When a woman forces her reproductive capacity on a man, we call it a child support check.

We finally have a meaningful statistic about rape and who admittedly commits it. In a 2004 "That's Life" magazine poll, 48% of the 5000 women surveyed stated that they would lie about use of birth control if they wanted to get pregnant, regardless of the wishes of their partner.

Feminism has not actually been about equality for decades. Its modus operandi is to hurl hugely overblown statistical allegations of the supposed improprieties of men, in order to distract attention from the political agenda of feminist organizations, which have been squarely committed to maximizing sexual and social abuse of fathers and husbands.

They actually succeeded in doing this to about half the husbands in America since 1960, and making everybody think that the problem is merely one of child support.

But the reality is this: by driving half the husbands out of their families and from society itself, feminism has left more women and children in poverty and at risk for their personal safety than any other event in American history.

The answer: we must now grant to fathers the same right to be in the family as we have granted to women in the workplace. All men and women who are sick and tired of sexism should walk away from the institution of feminism and play an active part in the legitimate marriage movement.

Note: The legitimate marriage movement does not include David Blankenhorn, who pretends men brought on father-absence by being irresponsible and walking out on the family. He is a classic feminist male absolutely refuses to acknowledge the primary role feminism played in the destruction of fatherhood since 1960.

Posted by: Dave Usher at April 25, 2005 8:46 PM

Another point illustrating the insanity of Dworkin and her sisters in crime:

When a woman gets drunk and has sex, some feminists call it rape. When a women gets drunk and has a car wreck, the paper calls her dead on arrival. Would feminists blame it on the car?

Posted by: Dave Usher at April 25, 2005 10:19 PM

None of you really know what happened. All you hear and see is what the media will let you hear and see. Anything for a dramatic story! Many date raped victums end up being the "bad girl-liar" in the end of most cases, and this may be just another case in history repeating itself. Sad to have to go strictly on what filtered news we all hear from a third source.

Posted by: RoseyTheGoddess at May 8, 2005 11:55 AM

I think that your response to the article lacks any real statistical data that comes from a credible source. When a person does research or makes public statements about crime, there are supposed to be specific examples of sources for information and I don't see that in the post. It's OK to criticize someone's work, but it should be done with factual information and not just opinion. I also think that just because you and yours were not victims of rape does not prove that the figure of 25% is wrong. It just means that you were in a very safe environmen

Posted by: Curious George at July 19, 2005 11:54 AM

I know the questions used behind that data -- something like, Did a man ever give you alcohol or drugs and did you have sex with him and were you sorry afterward? Sorry, that's not rape - that's bad judgement.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 19, 2005 3:58 PM

Most women who were raped are raped by men who they trust.

Posted by: Lisa at March 12, 2007 11:02 AM

Leave a comment