Rape Couture: Moving the goalposts

by | March 10, 2014

When I was younger I had a lesbian friend, haven’t seen her in years. One night we had a conversation about a one-nighter she had. She knew this girl socially, and they had been drinking and went back to her place. They had all kinds of sex. The next day, the girl wouldn’t return her calls, and she got shit from a mutual friend about how she had abused the girl. My friend was mystified. She said she is always careful about consent and had repeatedly asked if she could x, or if she could y.

The crux of this little story is, my friend was in her late twenties, and the girl in question was 18.

I told her: You did a bad thing.

She was seriously upset by this.

I said, you can’t go to town on someone that young. You are older, they are going to look up to you and want to please you. They will agree to all sorts of things they are probably not ready for.

This is not to say that all 18 year olds are fragile flowers, but in my opinion, when there is an age difference, the older person has to err on the side of not being a selfish jerk.

My friend asked me, if she should try and apologize. I told her, only if you get the opportunity. If the girl doesn’t ever want to see you again, then you don’t get that privilege. An apology should be about the person you are apologizing to, not about you.

Does regret make it rape? Does any amount of alcohol? Can women rape? I’m not denying rape exists, and I’m not saying it is not a serious problem we have to face as a society, but I do think people tend to oversimplify.

Koss undertook a survey whereby she arrived at the one-in-four figure. To get there, Koss mischaracterized responses. For example, 73% of those she characterized as rape victims said they had not been raped. And 43% of the alleged victims said they had continued to date their alleged rapists. Nevertheless, the one-in-four meme took hold. The survey was published in Ms Magazine in 1987 and “took the universities by storm,” producing what can rightly be termed a rape-culture industry: expensive, over-staffed rape-crisis centres, hotlines, rallies, conferences, sexual-assault procedures consultancies and inter-collegiate sexual-assault networks.

I’m sure there are lots of people who think I should just shut up and listen. I’m a straight white male, after all. What do I know about it?

I can’t say I have ever been raped.

On the other hand, I can count 3 times in my life(and I’m not proud of it) when I have woken up next to someone, I would never have consented to sleep with, sober. I’ve never done crack in my drunken stupors, but sex I don’t remember… and could not possibly have consented to… has happened to me.

I can’t say I have ever been raped. But if I was a woman… would I be wrong to say that?

Should I have reported these women to the police?
I doubt anyone would have taken it seriously.
For me, its just…. embarrassing.

I mean, I’m a privileged white male, I should just shut up and listen to real victims. I’m the oppressor. I deserve what I get?

Or am I the victim of a patriarchal culture that defines me as the aggressor, by default?

I’m sure I don’t know.

14 thoughts on “Rape Couture: Moving the goalposts

  1. Veronica Abbass

    The cover of the Winter/Spring 2014 issue of Ms. Magazine claims “1 in 5 Women Students on College Campuses Will Experience Sexual Assault” I haven’t purchased Ms. in years, but I will buy this issue to read the article.

    1. Joe Post author

      I would expect them to define their methodology and apply it to men as well… that would give it some context. But I’m not going to hold my breath.

      Reducing crime statistics to a simple fraction, is hugely irresponsible, inflammatory, and mere propaganda.

  2. Diana MacPherson

    Steven Pinker wrote a really enlightening thing in Better Angels of Our Nature where he goes into the differences in how males and females view sex. This is often taboo to a certain extent in evolutionary psychology and I’ve had some arguments with people (mostly women) with what Pinker said but it really hit home for me. In a nutshell, men see sex more about body parts while women have sex with the person. This isn’t about relationships but about sex only. He then talks about how men don’t always see rape in the same way as women – not that men and women don’t understand what rape is but men don’t have the same emotional reaction to it because for women it’s a bigger violation (of course this isn’t saying men don’t get it or that they are cold, etc. but that the reactions do have a slight difference). I don’t do it justice here but Pinker goes through how forced copulation is prevalent in many species and how the slower reproducers (women) can be choosy. Take a look at “Women’s Rights and the Decline of Rape and Battering” for all this in The Better Angels of Our Nature. In my copy it starts on page 394 of the hard copy.

    1. Bubba Kincaid

      I wouldn’t go as far as saying that men and women “don’t have the same emotional reaction to it,” though that reaction might possibly express itself differently, and certainly women have one more thing to worry about than men.

      However I find Joe’s ending to the article another one of those weird ones where the male writer verbalizes what our reaction will be and sort of castigates us at the same time, which always sorts of put us in a “what’s he really trying to say” frame of mind.

      My first reaction was, yeah, that does sort of sound like a rape might have occured, and yeah I do sort of sympathize with you and feel for you….But then he just goes on to blast us with a shot of blame for being a sort of machismo that sounds more like some illusionary self-imposed ideal or maybe some psychology from his own personal idiosyncratic circle of acquaintances.

      Dude, yes, you might have been raped. I hope you’re ok.

      What you are likely referring to is not really a reaction to you being a male that might have been raped, but more a reaction to the following line of blaming us for your own machismo of not knowing if you’ve been raped or not.

      1. Bubba Kincaid

        There are also different realistically possible actions available to men and women.

        For men, whether we like to think society is more civilized than maybe it is, we have to decide whether we should inflict physical violence on the perpetrator, possibly even resulting in a murder, something that is more realistically possible for men, and maybe an option viewed as less viable to women, or one they will spend slightly less time on thinking as realistic or possible.

      2. Joe Post author

        – “what’s he really trying to say”

        Good. That is a good first step. I prefer that very much to simply being labeled as, on this team or that. I find these hot button discussions often fall into ‘who’s side are you on?’ nonsense. I’m not a team player. Make a good argument, and I might agree with you. But don’t expect me to fall in line with your expectations.

        – machismo

        That amused me. I know macho men, and some macho women. I can honestly say, no one who knows me well would label me that way. Cold, cynical, calculating and ruthless… well sure.

        – I hope you’re ok.

        I appreciate your concern. I am. I spent my university days getting blackout drunk with some regularity, and did many stupid, embarrassing, things as a result. Fortunately, no bar fights ended in serious injury, and although I got into a few cars with drunk drivers, nothing bad happened in that regard. A buddy of mine woke up on some ‘active’ train tracks one morning, but apart from some minor emergency room stuff, I survived my wild years unscathed.

        These incidents I mentioned are small potatoes for me, in terms of emotional impact, with zero discernible lasting effect. Got drunk, shit happens.

        But, I’m also not one of those sensitive people. Never have been. It took me a while to understand that other people are much more emotionally sensitive than I am. I can often come across as callous. I try not to be mean, but it’s an intentional thing. Ruthless logic is my natural state, not compassion. (I even took a psychopath test online. Not even close btw.)

        I think people on the left overplay the consent card, since quite a lot of sex happens because alcohol and drugs change our mental state and alter our decision making, and that is exactly why people use them. I think there is a big difference between day after regret, and saying No. Consent in this case becomes a trump card, one you can’t use if you get caught drinking and driving.

        – What you are likely referring to is not really a reaction to you being a male that might have been raped, but more a reaction to the following line of blaming us for your own machismo of not knowing if you’ve been raped or not.

        But that is just it, as the part I quoted stated, feminists have been telling women for years that they are wrong about their own experiences. I think that is hugely problematic.

        Racism and misogyny used to be about hatred, now they include ‘microaggressions’.
        Rape used to be about forced penetration, now you need a constant stream of cold sober yeses or it is not consent.

        All of these definitions have been expanded to the point that they are vague and confusing to most people. Feminists and their MRA adversaries seem focused on making prosecutions easier for their side, rather than dealing with consent as a complicated issue.

        I’m not saying we shouldn’t talk seriously about these issues, but denying other people’s experiences because they don’t fit yours, is not the way to go.

        My experiences in this regard are trivial in my mind.

        1. Bubba Kincaid

          Listen, you are being weird.

          Either prove that Koss included in her definition of Rape: waking up next to a complete stranger of whom you have no recollection after willingly engaging in a drunken binge,

          Or shut up. Nobody wants to hear how great and balanced you think your psychology is.

          1. Joe Post author

            Awww. Now that hurts my feelings.
            I guess you don’t really care.

            I have no intention of shutting up, so Frack You.

            I don’t care what Koss intended.
            I’m not a mindreader.

            The issue is moving the goalposts… and the ability to consent.

          2. Bubba Kincaid

            No, the issue is rape and how prevalent it is.

          3. Bubba Kincaid

            And by the way, in case you wander too far from reality, all you have to do is take a trip down to the old city hall holding cells which is chock-full of men every day with the look of wonder and amazement on their faces asking everybody why they are there when they barely touched their wife/girlfriend/that-lady and she did much worse to them, too which the prompt reply from the more experienced detainees is, to make sure you don’t go back and do much worse. After which, like as if from a thunderbolt of understanding, they promptly shut up for the rest of their time there. Like clockwork.

          4. Joe Post author

            Which is reliant on how you define it.

            But please, don’t feel bad about derailing this discussion, tell us more about your time in prison.

            Did you find Jesus there?

          5. Bubba Kincaid

            1) I didn’t say I spent time in prison.

            2) You just said you don’t care what Koss intended, which I assume means you don’t care how Koss defined it, because it was in response to my question of specifically how she defined it.

            3) You’re still acting weird.

    2. Joe Post author

      I saw him speak once, he had some interesting things to say. I’m not sure I accept the men/women divide. In my experience it is more individual than that, although certainly there are probably reasonable generalizations that can be made.

  3. Joe Post author


    Ok, here is the dummies version.

    1. I don’t care how Koss defined it. This is why I didn’t include Koss’s or the Koss’s alleged victim’s definitions in the post. I included Koss as an example of how feminists have moved the goal posts with regards to definition.

    2. I did include for discussion 2 examples. The first was of someone who I felt was victimized, even though ‘consent’ was not the issue. The second was of myself, someone who does not feel they are a victim, even though the ability to consent was in fact an issue.

    3. You decided to derail the discussion with your own ideological baggage, instead of stick to a discussion relating to the examples.

    Not that 3 is surprising, I fully expected that someone would try and win the internet…. that always happens.


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