Monday, December 13, 2010

The elephant in the room that feminists and men's rights advocates ignore

The elephant is gray, and its massive, and both sides have trained themselves to insist it's not their problem, even though it is.

When it comes to rape, feminists and men's rights advocates spend a lot of time -- let us be candid, way too much -- arguing over the prevalence of false rape claims. But neither side is ready to embrace the truth: some rape claims are actual rapes, and some are false rape claims. But most lie in a vast, murky, gray area where we just don't know what happened. That's the elephant in the room no one wants to discuss, but that's also the nature of a rape claim.  Most are unknowable.

So what do we do?  Instead of teaching our college-age sons and daughters that excessive alcohol and sex play are a recipe for terrible misunderstandings and differing perceptions, and, yes, lies, and instead of teaching them that the big gray area is almost always impossible for an outsider to unravel after-the-fact but can ruin their lives nonetheless, both sides are too busy pointing fingers at the other, with one side calling the other "undeservedly entitled beneficiaries of rape culture," and the other responding with cries of "lying cunts!" and both sides insisting the other side must change, and almost in defiance, inviting their side to keep on playing in the room with the big gray elephant.

Is it any wonder that approach hasn't worked?

Every objective observer agrees that sex and alcohol on campus are a deadly combination, and when it leads to rape claims, it's usually not clear to an outsider who's the victim and who's the villain.  The fact is, it's not only murky to the cop, the student disciplinary board, and the judge trying in vain to unravel it after-the-fact, it's sometimes even murky even to the participants. Alcohol-fueled sex enhances one of two possibilities: (1) the absence of real consent, usually on the part of the young woman, or (2) after-the-fact regret on the part of the young woman that results in a false rape claim.

There's only one solution, but it's not one that plays well to anyone. Both parties need to alter their behavior and take lots more responsibility to avoid putting themselves in that situation instead of playing the victim card.  It's time for a little blunt "victim blaming" for both genders.  We need to tell our sons that they might not think it was rape, but it might look that way to an outsider, and even if they beat the rap, their lives could be destroyed. We need to tell our daughters that they might think it was a life-altering rape, but chances are an outsider won't see it that way.

It's too bad this message won't play well to people so busy being the victim that they don't realize they actually have the power to help solve the problem.