and other ramblings feminism knowledge

Response to Op-Ed in the Badger Herald: ‘Rape culture’ does not exist

Mendeley Plugin Error: No access token set - try to authorize against Mendeley in the backend before accessing data first.

Mendeley Plugin Error: No access token set - try to authorize against Mendeley in the backend before accessing data first.

I would welcome a legitimate debate on a concept well established and defined in the peer reviewed literature. But don’t bother reading this piece from the Badger Herald which tries to refute the whole discussion with 629 words. If the comments section is to be believed the piece’s aim is to prompt lively debate.

The piece of writing in question is an op-ed piece in a random student paper, by a poli-sci undergrad with zero references and plenty of “anecdata“. The topic is not in his line of study, and he has clearly made no attempt to study the topic in order to refute it. But it’s making the rounds on the internet (at least in my circles) because being published by a student newspaper at a university is some kind of bully-pulpit. Let me summarize the short piece for you.

Before he gets to his argument he’ll just drop this one in there, to appropriately frame his argument for all his potential critics…

I know that people are out there on the fringe of reality who are going to criticize me for what I’m about to [mansplain] — but somebody has to [mansplain] this.

Yes I put mansplain there in the square brackets where he wrote “explain,” because that is what he is doing. This is targeted at feminist and he is framing it as condescending and underhanded, so you could just stop reading it here, but… His thesis (as far as I can tell) is that rape culture doesn’t exist because bad people exist. Here are the main points to support his thesis:

  1. “murder, rape, child abuse, domestic abuse” are because of bad people
  2. crime happens other places too

Now that he’s shown you that rape culture doesn’t exist… Seriously that is the entire argument. To sumarize, “…if you put a spotlight on rape, you don’t understand the real issue.” And the real issue is…? Violence happens? I believe in logic circles this would be called a red herring, “seemingly plausible, though ultimately irrelevant.”

So he goes on to address those things “people often attribute to this non-existent rape culture.” Let me continue my summary of his points:

  1. There is degrading lyrics in rap, sure, but they also talk about other types of violence and no one seems to call that a culture
  2. We don’t need to teach boys not to rape. “Anybody who’s ever watched the news knows that rape is illegal.” Women rape too, why aren’t we teaching them not to rape?
  3. Anecdote about male friend getting raped. Presumably it would have been a big deal if he was a woman.
  4. Sometimes there are false accusations of rape.
  5. Anecdote that “many women tell [him]” they’ve regretted having sex and say they’d lie that they were too drunk to remember.

So, my response:

  1. Strawman with use of anecdata – I think with a little research he would find feminist do address more than just rape in rap culture, but that’s irrelevant.
    Just because someone doesn’t address all the evils of the world but instead addresses some of the evils, that doesn’t negate their argument…
  2. Red herring – by his logic we are teaching women not to rape, as long as they’re watching TV.
    Instead of trying to engage in the conversation about how we teach rape prevention, much as Kitzinger and Frit (1999) did (bam!, in-text citation, seriously, I made a reference list), he takes the easy route and says, “no problem here, just keep moving along.”
  3. Strawman with use of anecdata – seriously. His friend was raped and somehow that is proof that there is no rape culture. Oh, it’s because the victim was a man… What?
  4. Show me the study, any study. The first statement that could actually be cited and no citation or reference. If he’d looked, the very first study by Kanin (1994) states in the abstract

    false rape allegations covering a 9 year period were studied. These false rape allegations constitute 41% the total forcible rape cases (n =109) reported during this period. (Kanin, 1994, p. 1)

    Which would be easy to spin… 2 out of ever 5!!! Until you actually read the paper. But I’m distracting you from his “argument,” sorry.

  5. And he closes with the worst kind of anecdata because it’s not even specific.

Supposedly this is good for a lively debate… I would say fodder for critical thinking skill.


(Because I can’t, I won’t, and I don’t stop)