Saturday, December 12, 2009

Feminist theory and the Koss report

I must confess that I have a colossal lack of respect for people who wallow in the pretentious gibberish of social sciences.  My disdain borders on a sort of snobbery, I am quite certain, but it's a snobbery that is well-founded. You see, I have made a lot of money in my career representing all manner of clients, including many of the world's best known companies, crafting arguments backed by reason and expressed with clarity. In my profession, the best practitioners strive to write clearly, with as few words as possible.  We do not resort to emotional conclusory labels, and we back up our assertions with authority. In my undergraduate days, I graduated summa cum laude from a major U.S. university -- in a social studies field -- and I know how to "talk the talk."  But I don't. Not any more. It serves no purpose other than to anoint the writer as someone who is a member of "the club."

Feminist theorists wouldn't cut it in my world.  These are people who have wet dreams discrediting with byzantine, pretentious blather, and crabbed and angry prose, things they don't agree with by talking about "peer review" and whether a certain theory originated in second or third wave feminism, and by tacking on conclusory, discussion-ending, "I am right, you are wrong/evil/a misogynist," labels.
You get the point. 

I had one of those cringe-inducing moments reading the comments of someone who wallows in that witchcraft -- a cartoonist, of all things, named Barry Deutsch.  Mr. Deutsch responded to Chad Hermann's piece on the one-in-whatever canard, with some of the conclusory labels noted above.  Deutsch, who is also feminist blogger, defended the partisan Koss report and declared that its critics have been discredited. 

We could write for days on the Koss report and similar studies generated by the sexual grievance industry.  We don't need to.  Here is all you need to know about Koss.  An article in the Psychology of Women Quarterly (1988) provided additional data on howKoss's purported victims labeled their experience. Among other things, forty-nine percent labeled the experience a "miscommunication."  Many others said it wasn't a crime, etc.

But the "miscommunication" label is a problem for anyone who wants to declare that the women were raped (unless you simply choose to discount it).  It raises a very serious question about whether there was an absence of  "consent," a legal concept that doesn't crop up much in the world of cartooning.

"Consent" does not refer to an accuser's subjective or secret desires, whims, or beliefs. "Consent" refers to her outward, objective manifestations of willingness to engage in sexual relations. Those outward manifestations of assent need not be in words; they need not even be "enthusiastic" (there are some people who don't show "entuhsiasm" for anything). I am 100% certain that a lot of college women are conflicted and don't really want to engage in intercourse but do so for any number of reasons, good, bad, or indifferent (and here I am not referring to those who are incapable of making a decision because they are intoxicated). The problem is -- and here's where the "miscommunication" label is important -- that if a reasonable person in the position of the college guy understands there was consent, that's the end of the issue (some states make his belief subjective, but the trend is to move away from that to an objective standard). The result is that young women sometimes feel used and sometimes they really didn't want to have sex, and sometimes they transform those legitimate angry or regretful feelings into a belief that they were raped when, in fact, that's not what happened. Sometimes it is dangerously "close" to rape; and, yes, sometimes it can lead to false rape claims.

Koss's report is fatally flawed for that reason, and others I don't need to go into.

I have a problem with rape surveys in any event, because none of the ones conducted in the U.S. examine the alleged incident that is claimed to be rape to assess its merits.  What I hear from feminists is, "why would women lie in a survey?"'

OK, so why would men lie?  Unless you choose to believe men are inherently liars when it comes to rape.  Only one in 12 college men responding to the same Koss survey admitted committing acts that met the legal definition of rape or attempted rape.  Hmm.  I wonder why we don't hear much about the men?

You know what all this sounds like?  Lots and lots of miscommunication -- the very thing that half of the Koss "victims" said was going on.  It sounds like our young men and women are operating from different perspectives, and it would be the height of sexism to insist the men MUST be wrong.  It sounds like our young men and women need to be better educated about the fact that men and women generally have different ideas going in:  men want sex more than women, and women have greater ex post facto regret after one-night-stands.  A recipe for miscommunication and false rape claims -- but likely far fewer rapes than Mary Koss and her partisan ilk want to admit.

Anyway, why do we have to lie and transform rape an epidemic before we consider it worthy of our attention?  Some serious feminists, including one who ran a rape prevention program at a major university, said that the seriousness of  rape "is being undermined by the growing tendency of some feminists to label all heterosexual miscommunication and insensitivity as acquaintance rape."

I would add this.  All of the studies that show rape is rampant are conducted by partisans. Does anyone really think someone who has made a career insisting that rape is a problem, that women are subjugated, and that males are undeservedly privileged, will conduct a study that finds rape is not an epidemic?  You want to find an umpire for a World Series game at Yankee Stadium?  You don't put a diehard Yankees fan behind the plate.  In the real world, judges recuse themselves from cases when they have an interest in advancing a position they're supposed to rule on.