DOUBLE STANDARDS – Feminism’s sorry record on the subject of rape

It’s not unusual in the gender discussion to hear someone claim that feminism is horribly understood, that it isn’t man-hating or gender-biased at all; it’s really all about equality – see, it even says so right here in the dictionary. How valid an objection is this?

Let’s take one example, rape. Let’s look at feminism’s on the subject of rape. It turns out that the feminist handling of the subject of rape is one example of feminism’s opposition to an egalitarian discussion of gender. Domestic violence has been another, but that a discussion for another day

First, back in the 90s the standard feminist line of rape was that it was patriarchal violence to maintain the power system that governs gender. This developed put of Susan Brownmiller’s thesis which she enunciated in 1975 in Against Our Will. A logical extension of her position males, by definition, could not be rape victims. (The extension was logical but of course the proposition is not, being based on an illogical premise.)This was operationalized in rape victims services, where male child rape victims were often treated and lectured as if they themselves were rapists, to the point of being told they were the rapists, that they had really raped the woman who raped them. Toy Soldier experienced this and has written about the phenomenon in general.

Then later as consent became settled as the standard for defining rape – a very sane definition and a very good development – a new theoretical problem reared its head. What about men who didn’t consent to sex? Weren’t they rape victims too?

There were several responses to this challenge:

Agreement
One was acknowledgement of this and a refinement in the theory – basically there were feminists who said damn straight that’s rape and those men are rape victims. But they became an embattled minority….

Doubling Down with Rape Culture of Their Own
They were even called misogynist – apparently a woman has an absolute right to sex, however she likes it, from a man for these people and it’s misogynist of him to refuse. It’s like insulting her or something. When people talk about “feminist rape culture, this is the kind of thing they are referring to. Feminsts themselves have identified this problem.

Denial
By far the most common response was denial – “Well maybe women do rape men, but it’s a vanishingly small percentage of rapes.” This was a widespread response; there was advocacy research to back this up that did what it could to erase male victims. Mary Koss stands out particularly in this connection, both because of her insititutioanl influence over the discussiion and the voluminous discussion of her and her position. Google it if you care to see how voluminous it is. Or sometimes the feint was that if women did rape men, then somehow those men pressured their own rapists into raping them. The “erection as consent” canard got thrown in quite a lot.

Deflection
Another form this took was to deny that raped men suffer from the rape as much as women do, based on who knows what information or analysis. Another was a retread of the Patriarchy narrative above, where when a man was raped, or even a boy, it wasn’t the same, it wasn’t really rape, because of the power differential (You have to be a real believer to believe some boy has a power differential over a grown woman.) Hugo Schwyzer had a post several years ago to this effect, though he may have taken it down by now.

Deflection by accusation of deflection
A common attempt at deflection was to claim that talk of female rapists was intended only to deflect attention from the real problem, male rapists. No real evidence was ever offered to back up this mind-reading. The same accusation is often made of attempts to discuss false rape accusations.

Rape denial and rape apology
Everyone one of these responses were forms of rape denial, and one thing feminists have taught us is that rape denial is a part of rape culture. When people talk about “feminist rape culture, this is the kind of thing they are referring to.

Double standards
The sexist double standards – there literally two standards for what constitutes a rape victim, two standards for the degree of harm rape inflicts and two standards for when rape apology gets called rape apology, and a bitterly entrenched anti-egalitarianism in all these responses.

The feminist handling of the subject of rape is one example of feminism’s opposition to an egalitarian discussion of gender.

I doubt this is an exhaustive list. Please help expand it.

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  • Patrick

    Recently I got sucked into House of Cards and have since watched the entire 2 seasons.

    One of the themes of the show is that the VP’s wife, Claire, was once sexually assaulted by a man in college who is now a general. She undertakes a bill to reform the way military sexual assaults are prosecuted. If you google it you’ll find feminists and politicians all over the web lauding this theme on the show. Kiersten Gillibrand probably foremost.

    One thing none of them seems to notice is that the Claire character actually commits sexual assault twice during these two seasons: first she gropes a man on his death bed in order to humiliate him. The second she has a “consensual” liason with a secret service agent who protects her. Consensual yes, but per military regs this would be considered a sexual assault for the statistics.

    Nowhere will you see that anyone even noticed this hypocritical double standard.

  • Patrick

    It reminded me of World According to Garp where in the opening scene a wounded soldier is raped by a nurse in order to get pregnant. Then the rest of the movie is about female rape victims.

  • tamerlame

    Supporting throwing men in prison for child support is supporting rape culture. Men get raped in prison. Feminists reply to me point this out. “Well they shouldn’t be deadbeats!”

    So if you don’t pay your debts you deserve to be put in a place where you have a much higher chance of getting raped?

    Feminism is just a filthy hate movement.

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  • YetAnotherCommenter

    You’re absolutely right about the feminist argument about rape of men being “more significant because Patriarchy” (i.e. the rape of women by men is worse because it happens within a patriarchy and reinforces that patriarchy, thus it is systemic, but the rape of men by women is still some freak occurrence and thus is incidental). I’ve seen feminists deploy the same argument about female genital mutiliation vs. male genital mutiliation, i.e. the former is worse because its (allegedly) about men trying to control women’s sexuality. I’ve seen the same argument used with respect to intimate partner violence as well.

  • Ginkgo

    “Supporting throwing men in prison for child support is supporting rape culture.”

    Tamelane, the extent there is a real rape culture, ie. the social expectation of free access tot other people’s bodies for sex, it is men who are the objects of it. The social penalties for women grabbing men or guilting them into sex are infinitesmal compared to those that restrict men, to say nothing of the of the legal immunity women enjoy.

    And as for prison rape, the feminist record on that is nothing for feminists to be proud of. It ranges from ouright rape culture of the type you mention to faint lip service on the topic, complicity by silence.

  • Ginkgo

    Patrick,
    “One thing none of them seems to notice”…..

    Isn’t that the pattern? Look at the lack of outrage over the child rape of Don Draper in Mad Men. In fact, to contradict what I said above, I only noticed it when a feminist called it out..

  • dungone

    There’s really no way to exaggerate the noxious effect that feminist activism has had on male rape victims, from Susan Brownmiller to Mary Koss. You couldn’t even make this stuff up: http://www.thelocal.se/20120704/41822

    A flagrant example of denial and deflection that we witnessed right here on this blog was CDC’s statistics and their strained and illogical attempt at a rebuttal of Typhonblue’s calculation that 40% of rapes occur by female rapists.

    One more category you should add to your list, Gingko, are the feminist-fueled hysteria that denies men due process when they stand accused of the crime. You can bucket people like Amanda Marcotte into that category. I’d fit this in with the Mackinnonian notion that all heterosexual sex is rape, the Dworkinian notion that rape of women is normalized and not taken seriously at all within our society, and the Enslerian notion that rape is a fate worse than death, unless of course a woman does it to a child.

  • Ginkgo

    Welcome back.

    Nice and tight summation.

    This whole subject just goes on and on off into lobes and branches and sewer eddies.

  • Andre

    “Supporting throwing men in prison for child support is supporting rape culture.”

    I think most men would rather be gang raped than trapped by child support for close to two decades. Actually, scratch that. I think most human beings would rather be gang raped than trapped by child support for close to two decades.

  • Andre

    “Tamelane, the extent there is a real rape culture, ie. the social expectation of free access tot other people’s bodies for sex, it is men who are the objects of it.”

    Yea, because it is so much better that the social expectation of free access to your body be for the waging of war, or the paying of taxes, or child support, or alimony. Sex is just way out of line! You can coerce anything you want out of someone, except sex.

    “One more category you should add to your list, Gingko, are the feminist-fueled hysteria that denies men due process when they stand accused of the crime.”

    As far as I’m concerned, a false rape accuser is a far worse human being than an actual rapist. A rapist will only coerce you for a few minutes/hours. A false rape accuser is more like that guy from Cleveland that locked women in his basement than a run of the mill rapist.

  • Andre

    The real problem is rape hysteria. Rape is not such a big deal. It’s not ideal, but the actual rape, apart from things like disease, pregnancy, and more serious side-crimes that might accompany it (assault, murder, torture, kidnapping), is actually a pretty mild personal violation, considering we live in a world that doesn’t think twice about putting someone in a rape camp for having too much of the wrong kind of plant, or sending young men to get their limbs blown off for no particularly good reason. I would volunteer for a weekend of rape if that could exempt me from paying taxes or complying with nonsensical laws and regulations. People have to stop treating rape as if it is much worse than a robbery, or countless other common crimes, because it isn’t.

  • Andre

    To be clear, what I’m saying is that minimizing male rape victims is only part of the bigger issue of minimizing male suffering in general. Only female suffering, which is symbolized by rape, matters. If we started treating rapists and rapees in a gender neutral way, the whole “rape is the worst thing ever” would instantly evaporate due to calls for empathy and mercy towards rapists, and calls for rapees to “thoughen up and move on”.

  • Crow

    Andre, I feel similarly to you and in the context of the current discourse there’s no choice BUT to treat rape as if it is amongst the most heinous violations imaginable. Doing otherwise is every attack buzzword at once.

    Being assaulted in any way is traumatic on a scale that can go from extreme to mild, however the CULTURAL discourse goes a long way to shape our own personal reactions and feelings. When every conversation and exploration begins at the point of assuming and encouraging an extreme reaction (justified or teased-out) and then hammers the idea that that is eternally the place that the victim will exist at for ever and ever.

    Many people experience trauma in one way or another in their lives. That trauma can have myriad effects depending on the individual and context of the incident(s). Some trauma takes years to fade while other trauma can be filed away and “moved past” within a short period of days to weeks. The current discourse concerning sexual violence CULTURALLY creates a framework where that pain, suffering and trauma are affirmed as eternal, constant and highly-intrinsically damaging.

    Personally I’ve experienced this myself in a number of ways over the years where I’ve sought out therapy and counseling, only to realize much later that the constant focus on the issues were, in fact, the things keeping me from resolving and moving on with my life. Sure I’ve been rather upset and sad lately, but if you keep saying that I’m “clinically depressed” then I’ll start to believe and expect depression. This is exactly what happened, and my entire worldview went from desiring/expecting happiness to desiring/expecting unhappiness and depression because that was the context that I was (inadvertently) placed into by creating the constant expectation of pain and suffering.

  • Andre

    “however the CULTURAL discourse goes a long way to shape our own personal reactions and feelings”

    Absolutely, which is why men go along with conscription. And with being rape victims. I sometimes wonder if it isn’t better for men that their rape is minimized.

  • Andre

    “Andre, I feel similarly to you and in the context of the current discourse there’s no choice BUT to treat rape as if it is amongst the most heinous violations imaginable. Doing otherwise is every attack buzzword at once.”

    Except rape is not amongst the most heinous violations. Rape of women is amongst the most heinous violations. Rape of men is treated as a joke. Literally. As in, you are shamed more as a victim than as a perpetrator, because it means you are a loser. I remember this movie, Hit and Run. In it the female lead lectures the male lead about using the term “fag” inappropriately. Then it turns out that the lead male villain was raped in jail. And what would you know, the result is a series of ridiculous jokes about it. And no lecturing about how they are inappropriate.

  • dungone

    And that is why rape hysteria is a key component of how feminists prevent men and women from being treated equally in this area. How can men compete for equal resources and attention for male victims without also making the entire female gender out to be dangerous psychopath monsters? The more hysteria built around rape of women, the less resources for men, even though neither gender suffers any more or less than the other.

    Besides, how do we even reconcile the regret one feels after drunk sex as a fate worse than death with the actual death that men face far more often – conscription, suicide, workplace death, and murder?

  • Druk

    “however the CULTURAL discourse goes a long way to shape our own personal reactions and feelings”
    Exactly. I saw a recent study that said that male rape victims, while traumatized as expected from the act itself, were less likely to have the incident affect their long-term self-esteem and other attributes.

  • John Anderson

    It’s kind of covered under double standards, but I’d include as a separate item, minimization. Feminists utilize statistics on a gendered definition of rape and use that to justify not supporting male victims. What makes it more insidious is that feminists are willing to accept male rape victims if they were raped by men. That leaves me to think that the only problem they have is recognizing female perpetrators. Kind of gives a different spin on the feminism empowers women thing. Women should be able to rape when they want to rape.

    I’ve read several articles on rape culture. These articles make me believe that the definition of rape culture is societal beliefs / norms that facilitate the rape of women by men rather than that facilitate rape.

  • John Anderson

    I’d also include ignore. Sometimes when I make a comment with links to the CDC, DOJ, etc showing the prevalence of female perpetrated rape, the comment is either deleted or ignored. So I guess you can include silencing.

  • Ginkgo

    “It’s kind of covered under double standards, but I’d include as a separate item, minimization.”

    John, I think this gets very close to the real motive – victim cred is a resource and it has to be guarded. Look how quick femnists in the 70s were to claim victim status with black people – “women and minorities.”

    So quoting studies and facts at these people is only going to work with the serious ones. The venal ones will never hear a word you are sayng.

    Druk, that’s un unsurprising finding. Victim status is not a component of the male gender role the way it is of the female gender role, so “rape victim” is nowhere as likely to be incorporated into a boy’s or a man’s self-image.

  • dungone

    Look how quick femnists in the 70s were to claim victim status with black people – “women and minorities.”

    And that’s why there’s no such thing as a single movement that’s for “equality”. When claiming to represent others gives more power to your own group, it creates a conflict of interest. Anyone who isn’t being dishonest would step down and allow others to represent themselves in their own struggles.

  • gwallan

    Partly relevant is this report released in Australia in the past couple of weeks entitled “The exception that proves the rule: Female sex offending and the gendered nature of sexual violence”

    http://www.aifs.gov.au/acssa/pubs/researchsummary/ressum5/index.html

    I’m interested to hear the views of others. At this point I have asked ACSSA about their motivation in creating this thing and also what purpose they believe it actually serves. I will report on their response if any.

    • Ginkgo

      “This Research Summary demonstrates that female sex offending, although a serious issue, makes up a very small percentage of all sex offences.”

      Translation: We magicked the numbers, and where even that wouldn’t work we magicked the definitions, so that we could maintain everyone’s comfortable gender prejudices.

      I wonder, gwallan, why there is such a disparity between the American and Australian incidences of female sexual offenders. An American study showed very high rates of predation in boys’ facilities and the overwhelming majority of predators were female. But I don’t wonder really very much, based on the picture you have shown us over the years.

  • John Anderson

    @ Ginkgo

    What about the “women and children’s” lobby? The funny thing is there was a controversy in Illinois regarding the minority set aside program. If I remember correctly, most of the contracts were going to white women. Some of the “women owned companies” that were serving as subcontractors were owned by the wives of the men who’s companies they were subcontracting for.

    @ gwallan

    “Data limitations with this population include very small samples, usually limited to custodial populations.”

    They only looked at people in prison and probably matched those numbers against sexual assaults in the general population. What percentage of your people are going to be in prison and yet this would account for 5% of sexual assaults.

  • Anon

    When they say “women and children” they mean “women.” I’ve never seen an organized campaign from a domestic violence advocacy group that talked about child abuse at all, except as a brief mention about abusive men who also abuse their children. Never mind that homicide is the second leading cause of death for children five and under; let’s make stuff up like “Among women aged between 15 and 44, acts of violence cause more death and disability than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined.”

  • Adiabat

    The full report is available in the link. I’ve just read it in all its amateurishness (The lead author’s highest qualification is a BA in Sociology: “Her honours thesis focused on gender, cultural images and young women’s sexual agency, which she explored in qualitative interviews.”*).

    The bias is obvious, and even though she admits the numerous flaws in the paper, she promptly ignores them all and makes grand claims in the conclusion without the hint of humility that the flaws warrant. It’s like she only mentions the flaws because that was what she was taught to do: she seems oblivious to the effect that the flaws will have and how they will affect the validity of her data and conclusions. In the conclusions she even boasts about how her “Research Summary can be called upon to repudiate any claims that sexual violence is a crime committed equally by men and women” while ignoring the fact that she only look at arrests and convictions. (And how desperate do you have to be to beg people to reference your paper).

    Personally, I haven’t received a good impression of the AIFS as a whole from this and it raises questions about the validity and objectivity of their other publications.

    *http://www.aifs.gov.au/institute/staffprofile/mstathopoulos.html. She holds the position of “Senior Research Officer” ffs.

  • Ginkgo

    John,
    “What about the “women and children’s” lobby? The funny thing is there was a controversy in Illinois regarding the minority set aside program. If I remember correctly, most of the contracts were going to white women. Some of the “women owned companies” that were serving as subcontractors were owned by the wives of the men who’s companies they were subcontracting for.”

    We just cleared this crap up in Washington State this year. The Assembly quietly dropped white women from the class that gets a preference in government contracting. No one dared make a squeak. I call that progress.

    gwallan, Adiabat – thanks for that. That is a gem of bullshit advocacy research that we can make sure comes back to haunt and haunt and haunt them. Wonderfully pathetic crap.