Friday, September 25, 2009

The real lesson of Hofstra: We can't empower our daughters by pretending they are powerless

A longer-than-usual post for an important subject. More than any single event since Duke lacrosse, the Hofstra false rape case has underscored a disturbing absence of concern for victims of false rape claims by those who dominate the public discourse about rape, radical feminists and their closely allied paid sexual assault counselors. Together, they make up what can aptly be called the sexual grievance industry. They have twisted and pounded the plain facts of the Hofstra incident to extract lessons from it that are diametrically opposed to the actual lesson Hofstra teaches. Their screeds are written for like-minded zealots and are lacking in either compassion for an entire gender or common sense.

The facts

We all know the story: four young men were arrested in a classic rush to judgment based on the word of a lone accuser despite the young men's sincere denials. The police appeared to side with the accuser. Bail was set at astronomically high levels to insure they would remain jailed. And it is no surprise to learn how they were treated in jail: "Publicly branded as rapists, the men said they were hounded as the lowest type of criminal in prison and feared for their lives. 'They were harassing me more than anybody else, just because of what I was in there for,' [one of the men said]. '[The guards] were badgering me. They would push me and shove me. I thought I was dreaming. The worst part was hearing that I could do 25 years. I'm not even 25 years old. I'm just 19.'" The mainstream news media chimed in to make sure everyone believed that a rape had actually occurred despite the flimsy evidence. Reporters came on television and described the alleged attack with a solemnity and a gravitas usually reserved for the death of a president.

The District Attorney's office refused to charge the false accuser immediately. "[Kathleen] Rice's spokesman Eric Phillips said the district attorney 'doesn't make snap judgments or let political expedience replace diligent fact-finding in investigations . . . . '" (Oh, you mean the same way you conducted "diligent fact-finding" and refused to make a "snap judgment" in arresting four young men on the say-so of a lone female, without examining all the evidence and without waiting to see the video, right?) Some said Danmell Ndonye shouldn't be charged at all. "Lois Schwaeber, director of legal services for the Nassau County Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said cases where people make false reports of rape hurt all legitimate rape victims seeking justice. But she said prosecuting someone who has made a false report will discourage real rape victims from coming forward as well." Gynocetrism, and it's indifference to the plight of males, is a hallmark of radical feminism. Ms. Schwaeber did not explain, of course, why it is somehow appropriate to elevate the victimization of one group of citizens (rape victims) over that of another (false rape victims). It gets worse: the Distric Attorney's office refused even to release Ndonye's name, because "her actions and her demeanor depict a very troubled young woman in need of much help." Imagine, if you will, a district attorney saying the same thing about an accused rapist. She would be run out of office. The New York Times didn't publish her name, either, but what should we expect from a paper that has yet to name Crystal Gail Mangum?

The reaction

The anti-male vitriol was sadly predictable. Consider a writer named Deborrah Cooper. Ms. Cooper presumably read the same news accounts that the rest of us read but has transmogrified them into a dark and twisted feminist fairy tale that fits radical feminism's victim metanarrative. Hers may be the single most misandric piece of writing I've come across in a long time. She concludes that Danmell Ndonye -- the criminal, the false rape accuser -- was the one who was "victimized" at a rape "party." Ms. Cooper weaves a fantastic nightmare of abduction, assault, and rape perpetrated against Ndonye that reads like a feminist "Pulp Fiction" in its utter depravity and violence. It is replete with Ndonye pleading while the vile men laugh at her and congratulate each other for their score. Ms. Cooper concludes that the "boys" (I can't imagine Ms. Cooper would think it appropriate to call the false accuser a "girl") are "sick," and that anyone who believes Ndonye consented to sex must be "real simple minded." Yeah, that's what Ms. Cooper said, "real simple minded." With no evidence beyond her serene ipse dixit and a fantastically large anti-male chip on her shoulder, Ms. Cooper knows that the young woman said "Stop it!," "I want to leave!" "Get off me!" and "Help!"

Ms. Cooper's language is a case study in misandry: "Like rutting animals one after the other - posing her, plunging in and out of her like beasts, using her body for their sexual satisfaction while others cheer him on and await their turn. What happened in that bathroom was not sex – it is sexual perversity and objectification of women." Ms. Cooper regales the reader with made-up facts about how even though the angelic "victim" was humiliated and frightened, she acceded to the men's horrid desires simply to save her life. "I guess we should be happy that these five aren't murderers," she opines, presumably with a straight face. The "victim" couldn't have consented, Ms. Cooper concludes, because "the victim is in a nasty men's bathroom smelling of urine, and on a cold tile floor." (Because, you know how men pee all over the floor and everything, just to be vile.) How does Ms. Cooper know what really happened? Because "[a]s an advice columnist for the past 20 years, I have a handle on how men think, the rage men have towards women that deny them, and the fears and vulnerability young women have." You see, it is not enough that men must never question a woman's "experience," men must also never question women who claim they know men's experience.

Oh, the young man who made the video -- you know, the video that prevented the falsely accused from serving 25 years in prison for a crime they didn't commit -- he "is the most twisted" one of all, according to Ms. Cooper. She doesn't stop there, she unloads a sort of feminist-diarrhea-of-the-keyboard about how "[m]ore and more men seem to feel entitled to women's bodies" and about sexual "comments and gestures." On and on she blathers, one twisted assertion cascades atop the next until they collapse upon one another to form a Rorschach inkblot of unmistakable misandry. It is not shocking that someone could be consumed by such fanatical hatred because, after all, the world is full of loons. What is shocking is that her words are published somewhere, anywhere.

And she's not alone. A Women's Studies major at George Washington University named Juliette Dallas-Feeney used the false rape claim at Hofstra to raise awareness about an entirely different crime, rape. She writes in the GW Hatchet: "The incident at Hofstra is a wake-up call for GW and all universities to answer the problem of rape on campus." And an arson is a wake-up call to raise awareness about burglary, right, Ms. Dallas-Feeney? Either Ms. Dallas-Feeney doesn't understand that she has posited a non sequitur or she lacks the intellectual honesty to give a damn. "Whatever [the young woman's] reasons [for recanting], it's doubtful we'll ever know her true intentions because these situations are all purely speculative." (Funny, later on her piece, Ms. Dallas-Feeney cites stats about the alleged prevalence of rape and doesn't bother to mention that those stats, by necessity, must be "purely speculative," too. But I guess that's somehow different? We can't possibly ever know that a rape claim is really false, but of course we can assume that virtually all rape claims were actual rapes, right, Ms. Dallas-Feeney?)

And it doesn't stop there. Amateur pundits on feminist blogs were atwitter with their usual attempts to minimize the prevalence of false rape claims in the face of overwhelming evidence that false rape claims are very common. Some openly ridiculed the concern shown for the falsely accused by asking why we assume their good names have been forever tarnished. The answer, sadly, is evident in articles written by people like Deborrah Cooper and Juliette Dallas-Feeney, who insist that what happened either was rape or that no one will ever really know what happened because it's "all purely speculative." So the young men are branded forever as either rapists or potential rapists, yet the feminists don't understand why that's a problem.

The radical feminists had their usual help from chivalrous men, radical feminism's useful idiots. A writer named Michael Daly entered the misandry hall of fame with this gem: "The five were freed after getting the good scare that they well deserved."

The lesson

In the end, Ndonye was treated by many as the "victim" and the five young men were treated as depraved sexual predators. The entire sordid affair was being talked about as yet another example of "rape culture," a way of life where males objectify and victimize females for their own personal gratification. She might have legally consented, but it was not really consent. No woman would really consent to engage in such depravity. Now, men . . . that's an entirely different story, of course, because men are vile, depraved, and beyond redemption.

Lost on too many is the undeniable fact that it appears a vicious crime was committed against five innocent young men. Period. Since the encounter appears to have been consensual, it was not rape, nor was it some sort of "rape lite." Yes, it was a wild, and unfortunate consensual hook-up, probably far more common than many of us would like to think. But this has nothing to do with criminality. As Cathy Young explained, the conduct of the young men wasn't "attractive behavior, to be sure. Yet we always have been told that rape victims don't need to be angels or models of chastity to deserve support. Surely the same should apply to men who are falsely accused." When the shoe is on the other foot, feminists cry "victim blaming" any time someone brands rape victims' conduct as lacking in morality. Somehow the same doesn't apply to false rape victims.

The fact is, if the "boys'" sexual escapades were troublesome, so was the "girl's," and, if it weren't for her lie about what happened in that rest room, what they did together would have been a private matter -- a matter that wouldn't concern the police, the courts, the news media, the feminist pundits, the chivalrous males, or any of us. She is a free moral agent, not a meek and powerless angelic being in dire need of society's protection from vile male predators who like to force women to have sex on urine-soaked tile floors. For more than forty years, feminists have insisted that women are at least as smart and as capable as men and more than able to make their own decisions, thank you very much. When feminists turn around and insist that, when it comes to sex, women are, in fact, utterly powerless, they set their own cause back by decades just to achieve an expedient victory in a sort of twisted Oppression Olympics.

All of the hand-wringing that insists Danmell Ndonye is a victim who could not possibly have consented, and that the men are evil sex predators, accomplishes the seemingly impossible task of insulting two genders at one time. First, it is insults women because it is sexist in the extreme, implying that they are either too stupid or too weak to act as free moral agents capable of making even fantastically dumb choices when it comes to sex, and that they need an unholy alliance of radical feminists and chivalrous guardian angel males to protect them from the male evildoers.

Second, it insults men because it suggests that when men and women engage in consensual, albeit fantastically stupid sex, the men must be the predators, the women must be innocent victims, and that later, when the women try to destroy the mens' lives by crying "rape," the women shouldn't be charged but the men will get the "good scare" they well deserve.

The misandry at work here is breathtaking. The lesson of Hofstra is that we live not in a rape culture, but in a false rape culture. It is a culture where it is far more important to protect our daughters than our sons, so even far-fetched allegations of rape, even the possibility of rape, is not endured for one moment, but false rape claims that destroy our sons are not merely tolerated, they are tacitly encouraged. It is a culture where we allow the persons who dominate the public discourse about rape to tell lies about our daughters by pretending they are powerless, angelic creatures, and about sons by pretending they are demonic, lying predators. Hofstra merely underscored that any culture that insists women can be "empowered" by telling lies will never achieve true gender equality. Sadly, the persons who supposedly are the most concerned about gender equality are just fine with that, thank you very much.