A University of Vermont fraternity has been suspended over a "survey" that asked members who they would like to rape. I assume the survey was sick humor, a crude satire of the fratboy culture, and perhaps an imprudent poke at a PC campus culture run amok. Whatever it was intended to be, ultimately it is indefensible. We have long held the view on this blog that trivializing the word "rape" is no laughing matter, whether it's a joke about the rape of male prisoners, or the fantasy "rape" of women, or a false rape claim intended to get a guy in, or a woman out of, trouble. The word "rape" should be treated as sacred, and used only when it truly occurs. Even though it is unfathomable that this "survey" will cause a single rape, the community of the wrongly accused, of all groups, should appreciate the terrible potential for harm when the word is misused, and should make no exceptions allowing its misuse.
Besides, reverse the genders and imagine if a sorority's "survey" asked, "Which guys would you like to kick in the testicles/beat up/shoot in the leg," and that would also be indefensible, too.
There most certainly will be an outcry in the feminist blogosphere over this isolated incident, and it will be cited as proof positive to support the myth that ours is a "rape culture." A "rape culture," of course, not only would tolerate but would condone such a puerile survey. Our society does neither. The only "rape" jokes our society condones concern the rape of male prisoners, and that's because society actually encourages prison rape and looks the other way when it occurs-- it's a sort of "added bonus" punishment for any hapless male who lands in prison. (It is ironic that actual prison rape does not garner the outrage that this this sick fratboy humor is generating. Go figure.)
So, if there is an outcry over this, why not over other things, too?
Where was the outcry when a young mother made two false rape claims in ten months that put innocent men at risk because "she likes being the center of attention"?
Where was the outcry when a trial judge coerced a jury into finding a man guilty of rape in a close case?
Where was the outcry when it was reported that the military is charging more and more people with bogus sexual assault cases for the improper purpose of showing it is taking such claims seriously?
Where was the outcry when a licensed psychologist who oversees a team of clinicians in a California prison faked her own brutal rape -- in order to persuade her husband to move?
Where was the outcry when a gipsy camp was burned down in retaliation for a false rape claim?
Where was the outcry when police said that a woman who had previously made other false claims falsely accused a man of rape (and she's still enrolled at the school)?
Where is the outcry when a male student alleged he was expelled for doing exactly what his partner -- who was not expelled -- did: engage in drunken sex?
Where was the outcry over allegations of impropriety about Denison University's handling of sexual assault cases against two male students?
Where was the outcry over a serious proposal at Cornell University that would have done away with a variety of protections for the accused in sex cases, including the University Hearing Board, and would have allowed secret adjudications of the accused's case?
Answer: there was no outcry over any of these -- all of which were reported on this blog in just the past two weeks. Each of these is, arguably, far more serious, and more deserving of an outcry, than the childish rape survey, which has been widely condemned.
We, at FRS, condemn the rape survey. It would be nice if the shrill voices who dominate the public discourse about rape--and who like nothing better than to partake of gender passion plays when the victim is the right gender--wouldn't be so selective about its condemnation of outrages.