Wednesday, April 2, 2014

David Guerrero, heroic college Freshman, and another example of why radical feminist criticism of RAINN is so misguided

In a dorm at the University of Illinois at Chicago, David Guerrero, 19, heard a woman scream that she was being sexually assaulted in the women’s shower.

“I opened the bathroom door and I asked if everything was OK," David said. "I heard a scream, so I entered. I saw the perpetrator in the corner and the victim was clearly scared and distraught.”

David led the attacker out of the restroom and held him in place while other students comforted the woman and called for help. The attacker, an apparent stranger to the woman, was described as disoriented.

David said: "My father raised me to be like this. If people want to call me a hero that's fine, but I don't think I did anything that anybody else wouldn't have done. I helped somebody to in need."  See here and here.

David took a chance going in that shower, and for all he knew, he might have been killed, but his instinct told him to help someone in need.

There are a lot of stories like this -- want me to start chronicling them? They could probably fill a blog ours. For every rapist, there are a ton of guys like David Guerrero, most you never hear about because they aren't called upon to act in such dramatic circumstances. David's instinct to prevent a rape is far more representative of "masculinity" than is the instinct to rape. I suspect that most people share that belief, and that most people can rattle off the names of a lot of men who could be counted on to do exactly what David did if necessary.

And that's why, I think, most people reject out of hand sentiments like those expressed by Jessica Valenti, who believes that rape is normal for even "otherwise decent" men. Valenti wrote: "Rape is part of our culture; it's normalized to the point where men who are otherwise decent guys will rape and not even think that it's wrong. And that's what terrifies me."

Recently, RAINN took issue with the "rape culture" meme in a letter to the White House. "Rape is caused not by cultural factors but by the conscious decisions, of a small percentage of the community, to commit a violent crime," according to RAINN.  The "unfortunate" tendency to blame "rape culture" for sexual assault, RAINN's representatives wrote, "has led to an inclination to focus on . . . traits that are common in many millions of law-abiding Americans (e.g., 'masculinity'), rather than on the subpopulation at fault: those who choose to commit rape."

RAINN was fiercely criticized in the radical feminist community for stating something the vast majority of people know to be true. RAINN's president, Scott Berkowitz, stood by his comments when he was questioned by one of the chief critics of RAINN's letter to the White House, Jessica Valenti herself. According to Valenti, Berkowitz said "that that the term [rape culture] 'muddies' the conversation about how to help survivors and risks alienating allies. 'Many people interpret it — men in particular — as accusatory,' he said. 'We need to encourage their good instincts rather than pointing a finger.'”

"Good instincts," like David Guerrero's, need little encouragement, but it is silly, incorrect, and mean-spirited, to suggest that "decent guys" -- like David -- "will rape and not even think that it's wrong." It is silly, incorrect, and mean-spirited to insist that "masculinity" needs to be reconstructed. And it is silly, indeed, astounding, that Jessica Valenti and her devotees don't "get" what Scott Berkowitz and RAINN are saying. Maybe they're too busy preaching to the choir to realize that sentiments like theirs engender disrepute of their movement outside their echo chamber. Few people, including few women, identify as feminist, and it's likely because of these outliers who are not called out by others in the movement.

Maybe it's time to start talking more about people like David Guerrero, if only to make a point. It's definitely time to start calling out the fools who cling to the "rape culture" silliness, who have conniptions over the sleepwalking man statue and snow penises, who accuse people of "rape apology" when they say we should keep an open mind in rape cases, and who want to expel students on the basis of a sex accusation. It's definitely time to start having an adult conversation about these serious issues free of the angry baggage of radical feminism.