Monday, January 20, 2014

College newspaper writer turns rape into a 1970s mood ring -- it means whatever any woman says it means

A self-proclaimed white male student writing in The Technician, student daily newspaper of North Carolina State University, wrote a piece on rape that slinks into the easily-mouthed clich├ęs of radical feminism and is among the most woefully unschooled we've come across, and that's saying a lot. For him, rape to a '70s era mood ring -- you know, the ring that supposedly changed colors based on the wearer's emotional state. Read it yourself and you'll understand.

The writer described a scenario where "a slightly drunk college-aged man engages in some sexual activity with a much more visibly intoxicated college girl." Afterward, the writer tells us, "the drunken woman in question . . . described her experience as rape, which she had every right to do." He dismissed any appeals to holding the woman "personally accountable” because, he said, such thinking "falls in line with a very common rape-culture apologist argument."

He then makes the following declarations: "But the fact remains, consent is not consent unless both parties offer it soberly." And: "as men, we have no right to tell women what rape is. We have no right to weigh in on the logistics of what constitutes rape. Our role is to shut up and stop raping people." He dismissed any appeals to holding the woman to "personal accountability,” because, he said: "This falls in line with a very common rape-culture apologist argument. The argument basically follows that a woman should not get drunk unless she expects to be taken advantage of."

The silly piece is scarcely worthy of serious refutation. Two simple points will suffice.

First, rape is not an amorphous, free-floating clearinghouse that means whatever any woman says it means. Our criminal law is not a guessing game, and rape has a specific, horrific meaning that can be found in the criminal statutes of each of the 50 states. But to people like this writer, rape means nothing — because it means everything. The law has been scrapped in favor of a 1970′s mood ring. This view is as silly as it is wrong.

Second, one need not be sober to give valid consent to sex. A man or a woman can give valid consent to sexual relations if they are merely under the influence, impaired, intoxicated, or inebriated. They can't give consent if they are incapacitated--that is incapable of making a rational judgment. Even NCHERM, the leading organization molding sexual assault  policies in American academia, makes this distinction.

College newspapers are a hotbed for all manner of radical politics, including this sort of wrongheaded feminist populism. Everyone is entitled to his own opinions but not his own facts. This writer is making it up as he goes, and that's terribly irresponsible.