Friday, August 24, 2012

Slate columnist suggests rape claim is false, 'Rambling Feminist' accuses her of 'victim blaming'

In her “Dear Prudence” column, Slate’s Emily Yoffe recently fielded a question about a rape claim and had the good sense to recognize the difference between incapacitation, which negates consent, and inebriation, which generally doesn't unless it leads to incapacitation. Ms. Yoffe had the temerity to suggest that a false rape claim is a false rape claim.  For that, she's been excoriated by a puerile, victim-mongering blog post in a blog called The Rambling Feminist. As shown below, that blog post throws out buzzwords like "slut shaming" and "victim shaming" where they have no application, and, sadly, the blogger seems utterly content not to understand what "consent" means. 

First, here is the Dear Prudence question and answer:

Q. Friend Has Revised One-Night Stand Story: A friend recently called me and said she had a one-night stand after drinking too much. She was beating herself up over drinking too much and going home with a guy she met at a bar. I reassured her that everyone makes mistakes and didn't think much more of the account. However, since then, she has told many people that she was a victim of date-rape—that the guy must have put something into her drink . She spoke to a rape crisis line, and they said even if she was drunk, she couldn't have given consent so she was a victim of rape. She now wants to press charges—she has the guy's business card. I have seen her very intoxicated on previous occasions, to the point she doesn't remember anything the next day. I'm not sure on what my response should be at this point. Pretend she never told me the original story?

A: Trying to ruin someone else's life is a poor way to address one's alcohol and self-control problems. Since her first version of the story is that she was ashamed of her behavior, and since you have seen her knee-walking drunk on other occasions, it sounds as if she wants to punish the guy at the bar for her own poor choices. Yes, I agree that men should not have sex with drunk women they don't know. But I think cases like the one you are describing here—in the absence of any evidence she was drugged—where someone voluntarily goes home with a stranger in order to have a sexual encounter, makes it that much harder for women who are assaulted to bring charges. Talk to your friend. Tell her that she needs to think very long and hard about filing a criminal complaint against this guy if there's any way her behavior could be construed to be consensual. Say you understand her shame, but you're concerned about her drinking, and if she addresses that, she won't find herself in such painful situations.

Second, here is the response by the The Rambling Feminist, who takes that same question and answer and somehow transmogrifies it into "rape." She writes:

"If you ever needed a classic example of ways rape culture is insidious, here you go. This has stopped being about the victim, who was date raped (and is dealing with the shame socialized in that situation) and become about how her actions in trying to get justice, trying to deal, confiding in her friend, become about the rapist. Suddenly, it’s the rapist’s reputation you have to think about, it’s their life that matters, their peace of mind. Add to that, the victim’s behavior is somehow a justifiable part of her possibly have being raped? As if her drinking is an automatic signal putting out 'YES PLEASE RAPE ME!'.

"Here’s the bottom line. No matter the situation, there is no justification or excuse for rape. A rape is a rape. There is no better or worse rape. There is rape. And it must be stopped or prosecuted when it happens. More than that, how about we teach DON’T RAPE instead of what this kind of advice puts out.

"Slut shaming, victim blaming.

"I see what you did there Prudie."

Our comment: Late last year, we pleaded to elevate the public discourse about sexual assault. Since that time, nothing has changed. This is still one of the few blogs that bothers to voice respect for both the victims of both sexual assault and of false rape claims.  The Rambling Feminist is happy to wallow in smug, derisive ignorance about consent and assume men are rapists when they are not. Worse, he or she does a disservice to rape victims with his/her vituperative and factually absurd rhetoric. It is rants like The Rambling Feminist's that engender disrepute of people who, in good faith, want to raise awareness about rape.

Matt Lewis commented about the hysteria over Emily Yoffe's column: "I can only imagine what would have happened to Yoffe is she were a male Republican, rather than a female writer at Slate."