Saturday, May 23, 2015

Content / Individualist Feminism -- Commentary / Transcript of my side of the debate with Jessica Valenti at Brown University -

So, the rape culture. A conflict within feminism about the rape culture came into focus on February 28th of this year when the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network - known as RAINN - the largest anti-sexual-violence organization in America and the most influential...and hardly a voice of conservatism - RAINN sent a 16-page letter to a new White House task force that had the mission of reforming and standardizing campus reform hearings across America

RAINN stated "there has been an unfortunate trend towards blaming the rape culture for the extensive problem of sexual violence on campus. While it is helpful for pointing out the systemic barriers towards dealing with the problem it is important not to lose sight of a simple fact: Rape is caused not by cultural factors but by the conscious decisions of a small fraction of a community to commit a violent crime. While that may seem an obvious point it has tended to get lost in recent debates."

RAINN argued that focusing on rape culture made it harder to stop sexual violence because it removed focus from the individuals at fault and seemingly mitigates personal responsibility for his or her own actions. I agree. The treatment of rape needs to move away from what has become the status quo assumption of feminist orthodoxy, away from rape as an expression of culture, and toward holding a small number of individuals absolutely responsible for their options. "Men" or "women" as a category do not rape - individuals do. And yet this idea runs counter to the whole idea of the rape culture. When you speak of a rape culture, you're saying rape is so widely accepted that it is a cultural norm. In short, it is a defining aspect of society.

And certainly there are cultures in which that definition fits. There are parts of Afghanistan, for example, where women are married against their will, they are murdered for men's honor, they are raped. And when they are raped
they are arrested for it, and they are shunned by their family afterward. Now that's a rape culture.

But that is not North America. It doesn't resemble North America. Here rape is a crime that is severely punished. Even an accusation of sexual harassment can ruin someone's career and their lives.

A few days ago I saw a sight that made me just wither inside. A man who had - a scientist behind the Rosetta comet landing - wept in apology on TV because after the biggest achievement of his life, he basically was hounded because he wore a shirt that a female friend of his had made that showed cartoon super heroines on it. And he was made to weep in apology on TV rather than revel in an incredible accomplishment.

Who had the power there? Did he have the power there? Feminists came and said that he basically should be excoriated and he wept on TV. It was a terrible sight. It was a cruel sight.

The messages sent to men today are not that it's okay to rape. It's the opposite. And according to both RAINN and the Department of Justice the rate of rape and sexual assault as decreased by more than half since 1993 so why aren't we celebrating?

North America is not a rape culture. It is an insult to women who live in one that women here with so much freedom and so much opportunity are trying to share the same status of oppression with them.

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