Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Old Dominion frat banners are not evidence of 'rape culture'

A fraternity at Old Dominion University has been suspended for hanging three banners from a balcony bearing these messages: “Rowdy and fun—hope your baby girl is ready for a good time,” “Freshman daughter drop off,” and “Go ahead and drop mom off too…” See here. They are the latest manifestation of a hook-up culture that detaches sex from emotional intimacy. Robby Soave summed it up: "Some frat brothers are eager to have sex with girls—is this surprising?"

But the real story about the banners is the overreaction to them. On a day when two innocent television journalists were horrifically gunned down on-the-air by a former reporter colleague (the shooter tweeted his own gruesome video of the misdeed before killing himself), a writer named Adrienne Lafrance declared that the fraternity banners are "worthy of international attention." Yep, you read that right--"international attention."

If that seems over-the-top to the point of absurdity, Lafrance's explanation is even sillier. She harrumphs that such banners are not "distinct . . . from the prevalence of rape on college campuses." They are, rather, a manifestation of the dreaded "rape culture."

And when Moe konks Curly on the head with an over-sized mallet, it's evidence that we live in a "murder culture."

You see, to the chronically offended extremists who insist ours is a "rape culture," rape is "in the air"--it's like "The Force" in Star Wars, "it surrounds us and penetrates us, it binds the galaxy together." Has any other imaginary concept ever been invoked as often to mean so much and, really, nothing at all?

The fact is, lewd banners are neither "rape" nor is actual rape a cultural norm. The folks who get as worked up over a leer as a brutal rape, and who have no compunction about citing non-rape as evidence of rape, don't have the foggiest idea how prevalent campus rape really is or who commits it. Dr. Christopher J. Ferguson of Texas A&M has concluded that "pornography is no more linked to rape than violent games are to violent crimes" but to our moral superiors who dominate the public discourse on rape, facts are beside the point. When they insist these banners are a way station on the road to rape, they undermine the perceived integrity of every actual rape victim because their insane overreaction suggests that rape isn't a very serious problem--if it were, the rape pundits wouldn't be offering such crappy evidence for it. But, alas, this is a group prone to over-the-top overreactions when it comes to anything that remotely resembles men and sex.

One thing we can be fairly certain of: the boys who made the banners are neither rapists nor rapists-in-waiting because there is a chasm as forbidding and as difficult to cross as the Great Nefud Desert that separates horny frat men who openly brag about getting off from the small percentage of deviants who rape. But, hey, why let the facts get in the way of a good sexual grievance industry meta-narrative? When they cite the banners as more evidence for the "ban fraternities" movement, it's as compelling as Rolling Stone's manufactured gang rape of Jackie at UVA.

The real problem with the "rape culture" meme is that it foments rape hysteria and encourages young women to reduce young men to vile caricature and see them as predators. We can thank the "rape culture" hysteria for the fact that almost half of all college women--a full 44 percent--think that when a woman gives a guy a "nod in agreement," that isn't enough for consent. This sort of wrong-headed thinking translates into policy: the "rape culture" meme gives license to anti-due processors who are happy to chip away at critical rights of persons accused of sexual misconduct--that's not my opinion, it's a fact. The quartet of judicial decisions in the past several weeks supporting college men accused of sexual assault shows how terribly misguided the "rape culture" extremists are. We can expect a lot more favorable court decisions in the months ahead as the cases work their way through the judicial process in the wake of the mandates of the Department of Education's unjust "Dear Colleague" letter.

Regardless, there is no question that the extremists who trade in "rape culture" hysteria have done more to harm innocents on campus than the most ardent law-and-order conservatives -- ironically, the purveyors of the "rape culture" meme are otherwise among the last people who'd want to roll back due process rights, but when it comes to college men and sex, the term "man-haters" is not too strong to describe them. It is time to insist that RAINN's counsel be heeded and that the "rape culture" meme be mothballed once and for all. "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 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." The extremists think they know better than the most prominent anti-rape organization in America.

The chronically offended gender zealots are dangerous people.