It is astounding how the writings of those looking to raise awareness about rape purposefully ignore the presumption of innocence, the falsely accused, and the fact that actual victims and perpetrators of sexual assault come in both genders. Here's a typical college piece about rape by a young woman at Southern Utah University who seems more intent on promoting the victimhood of women in general than about objectively addressing rape. We offer no rebuttal to her misandry because the brilliant attorney Marc Angelucci wrote a letter in response, which is set forth immediately below her piece. Marc thoroughly exposes her anti-male biases with irrefutable logic. Marc, as most of you know, is one of the leading spokesmen for men's rights in the United States.
OP-ED: Put blame on rapists, not victims
By Nicole Lee
Before you read this, please take two deep breaths. Hold each for a minute or two - for as long as you can bear - until your breath burns and leaves you in a hot rush. One breath each for two of our fellow students whose lives have been drastically altered by horrible acts of sexual violence. Remember them.
However, this is not an article about recent events; it is instead about sexual violence, how we talk about it, and what we can do about it.
By using two imaginary students named Jane and John, let us look at how we talk about sexual assault (this linguistic awareness is borrowed from Jackson Katz, an influential male activist in the fight to end gender violence).
First we may say, "John victimized Jane." Merely by shifting a couple of words, we may instead say "Jane was victimized by John," and then "Jane was victimized." Eventually, all we're left with is "Jane is a victim."
Wait, where did John go?
Initially, our attention is on John as the subject of the story: "John victimized…" But with each retelling, shifts occur. Ultimately, John disappears and Jane (with her new "victim" identity) is the subject of the story. Since Jane is the only character in the story, we look to her for an explanation, to see why she didn't stop it, to see how she could have prevented herself from being victimized.
When we look closely at the "prevention" tips that are offered to us - for example, avoid dark alleys or walking alone at night - it becomes apparent that these "prevention" strategies are useful as ways to reduce the risk of being attacked, but do nothing to prevent the creation of attackers. Acknowledgement that "risk reduction strategies" are far from equal to "prevention strategies" is imperative before any real progress can be made in the work to end sexual violence.
When a woman manages to successfully foil an attempted or potential assault by using risk reduction strategies, a success has been achieved: there is one less victim! However, it does not follow that there is one less rapist.
Another reason to reconsider how we look at sexual violence and whom we hold responsible for preventing it is that the mislabeling of "risk reduction" as "prevention" provides a point of view from which victim-blaming is often a logical progression: "Why," it allows us to say, "didn't you protect yourself, tell him 'no' louder, fight harder, avoid that party, drink or person? We told you all these ways to 'prevent sexual offense'; why didn't you use them?"
It is very difficult to accept that potential victims (who are typically but not exclusively female) cannot fully bear the responsibility of ending rape. If potential victims can't prevent rape, who can? Are we brave enough to acknowledge that we, you I and every person we pass on any given day have both the power and responsibility to prevent rape? We do this by changing our world, every day, all the time.
We make our world a place in which no man thinks he has the implicit "right" to a woman, in which mutilated or beaten women are not eroticized or used to sell shoes, in which a woman's right to say "no" at any time is acknowledged and respected. We do not confuse rape with desire, or think that power makes exploitation OK and sexy. We do not allow anyone to be degraded or dehumanized by language, action or representation. We do this by changing how we look at ourselves and gender and by fearlessly picking apart the power inequities that often lead to violence and objectification.
We remember, when we talk about Jane, to also mention John. We do not grant perpetrators invisibility, nor do we blame victims for "allowing" themselves to be victimized.
Jackson Katz reminds us that we are all "bystanders." As such, we have great power to be activists in our own lives. We can bring rape prevention to every party we go to, to every friendship we have, to our living rooms, clubs and relationships.
People don't just end up victims all by themselves: someone's doing the raping. Pay attention to how people treat others, and let them know when they're crossing lines. Even small lines.
Sometimes, it's as simple as saying, "Man, you shouldn't treat your girlfriend like that."
With constant vigilance and a conscientious way of living, each moment can be an act of rape prevention.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Op-ed displays sexist view on rape
Nicole Lee's op ed, "OP-ED: Put blame on rapists, not victims" makes two false assumptions.
First, by calling the accuser a "victim" and the accused a "rapist," Lee assumes the accused is guilty when he/she should be presumed innocent. If Lee thinks false accusations are rare, she is wrong.
For example, when the U.S. Air Force annonymously questioned about 300 women who alleged rape, about 20 percent admitted they lied either just before taking a lie detector test or right after failing one.
The most common reasons they gave for lying were spite or to cover up an affair.
After further investigation, the study concluded that 60 percent of the accusations were false. (Forensic Science Digest, vol. 11. no. 4, December 1985).
According to a nine-year study conducted by former Purdue sociologist Eugene J. Kanin, in over 40 percent of the cases reviewed the complainants eventually admitted that no rape had occurred. (Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol. 23, No. 1, 1994.)
And a new study in India shows 18 percent of rape accusations are false. (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com)
Second, Lee uses gendered terminology that stigmatizes male victims and she incorrectly assumes very few rape perpetrators are women or victims male. She is wrong again.
A student survey publicized in the News Observor found 43 percent of teacher sex abuse comes from female teachers, but only 4% of teachers investigated for sex abuse are female, and 92 percent of prosecutions are of male teachers. (http://www.newsobserver.com)
A recent study in the Vancouver Sun found 75 percent of homeless boys in Vancouver were sexually molested by adult women. (http://www.canada.com)
And a recent study in the Montreal Gazette found two-fifths of South African boys say they were raped, mostly by adult women. (http://www.canada.com)
The sexist, anti-male approach to sexual violence must end.
Marc E. Angelucci, Esq.
Men's Legal Center, San Diego, Calif.