Over It.

February 15, 2013

I've read some of Eve Ensler's work, I've attended performances of her acclaimed play The Vagina Monologues, and I wrote about her in my 2003 book Media Mythmakers: How Journalists, Activists, and Advertisers Mislead Us; she came up in my research of activists who use misleading statistics to support their social agendas.

Ensler reappeared on my radar again a decade later with a new movement she created called One Billion Rising. She planned to spark a "revolution" in which one billion women (actually, several thousand) danced on Valentine's Day around the world to speak out against rape and violence against women. (The "one billion" is a reference to a statistic she cites claiming that "one in three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime" and that "One billion women violated is an atrocity. One billion women dancing is a revolution").

Why dance-instead of, say, volunteer at a local domestic violence shelter or meet with lawmakers to increase penalties for physical and sexual assault? As Ensler explained to Amy Goodman on her Sept. 24, 2012, appearance on Democracy Now! "One Billion Rising is basically saying that the time has come for women across the planet and the men who love them to do an outrageous, disruptive dance action that makes it so clear how many women have been raped... and that if we rise together we will understand that it concerns us all."

I had mixed feelings about the idea; on one hand as a strong supporter of women's rights I support her goals of reducing rape and other forms of violence against women. On the other hand as a skeptic, as someone who values truth over ideology, and as someone who has researched some of Ensler's claims and found them to be factually wrong, I had serious reservations. I have always had little patience for slacktivist petitions, feel-good, do-nothing social stunts and movements, and their ilk. I have criticized many such "efforts" publicly over the years, including anti-bullying campaignsanti-child abuse campaigns, and even pro-democracy fighters in Iran.

I don't criticize these campaigns because I am against them (or somehow pro-bullying, pro-child abuse, or pro-oppressive dictatorship); in fact it's exactly the opposite. I criticize them because they have little or no chance of success, since the protests are based partly on myths, misinformation, and often a grotesquely exaggerated belief in their influence. I don't like seeing people pretend to address and solve social problems; I like seeing people actually address and solve them. And the same goes for violence against women. Will women doing a dance in different parts of the world really improve anyone's life or reduce physical and sexual assault? Ensler seems to think so, while I am...skeptical.

Ensler wrote a poem about the movement called "Over It," which has appeared in many places including the OneBillionRising website, the Huffington Post, and elsewhere. You might want to look at it. I decided to write my own poem about my own personal feelings on the topic.



Over It (for Eve Ensler)

Benjamin Radford

I am over rape.

I join mothers, sisters, fathers, brothers, and lovers in condemning rape and all manner of violence against women.

I am over the hundreds of thousands of women in Congo and elsewhere around the world still waiting for the rapes to end and the rapists to be held accountable.

I am over the 100 innocent women attacked, disfigured, and killed by their husbands and boyfriends in Pakistan each year in acid attacks.

I am over brave teenage girls being targeted for assassination by fundamentalist Muslims in Pakistan for demanding the right of girls to get an education.

I am over teenage girls being denied access to contraception by fundamentalist Christians in America.

I am over the fact that many women (and men) think that only men rape, and only women are raped.

I am over the hypocrisy of a prominent feminist anti-rape activist like Eve Ensler writing a play describing "a good rape." There is no such thing as "a good rape." All rape is bad. It is never deserved, nor asked for, nor good; it is always bad and wrong. Always.

I am over exaggerated and alarmist statistics being used to scare the public about any social agenda-whether I agree with that agenda or not. The real numbers are alarming enough without exaggerating them. One rape is just as much of an injustice as a billion rapes; one rape is too many. (1)

I am over the fact that up until January 2012 the federal government's rape statistics did not include male victims of rape-and that Department of Justice studies estimate that one in ten men have been raped in prison, with no resulting outrage.

I am over "don't drop the soap" comments, and people who think that anyone raped in prison deserves it as part of their punishment.

I am over the fact that Native American women face far higher rates of sexual abuse than White women, yet receive little concern or attention-including from rape advocacy groups.

I am over the forces that deny women who have been raped the right to have an abortion.

I am over women being silent about rape, because they are made to believe it's their fault or they did something to make it happen.

I am over the myth of "the passivity of good men," suggesting that many or most men are complicit in rape culture when in fact most men are not rapists, and condemn those who are.

I am over the male bashing often inherent in feminist writings and slogans; "All men are rapists" is neither true nor fair nor helpful.

I am over the wanton slinging of labels like "misogynist" and "sexist" and "sister hater" and "gender traitor" and "rape apologist" to people who dare criticize feminists. Plenty of feminists disagree with each other.

I am over social activists, including those whose causes I support, who value emotion and anecdote over truth, facts, and critical thinking.

I am over thin-skinned "feminists" who blithely and intentionally confuse legitimate questions and criticism of their facts or claims with misogyny and sexism; it is insulting to real victims of misogyny and sexism.

I am over blaming TV, movies, magazines, and video games for real-life violence-including violence against women. Just as sexy clothes do not cause rape, violent and sexual images do not cause rape; rapists cause rape.

I am over the simplistic idea that women are raped by heteronormative, hegemonic patriarchies instead of by criminals.

I am over the myth that society as a whole "accepts violence against women and girls," as Ensler claims. The reality is that physical and sexual abuse of women has been dropping dramatically for decades and continues to do so. (2) There is much more work to be done, but there is no shame in putting the facts in perspective.

I am over people mistaking dancing for social justice or activism; real change comes from funding social services for victims of rape and domestic violence, family services, and so on.

I am over the idea that women doing a four-minute dance is going to stop a young mother from being beaten by her alcoholic boyfriend, or increase the number of social workers on the streets of Detroit or Delhi, or help parents overcome meth addiction. A four-minute dance is not going to "shake the world into sense." Women deserve better; they deserve real answers and real help-not faux activism, ineffective e-petitions, or dancing flash mobs. 

If people want to do the dance, that's great, but I hope it won't be seen as a substitute for actually doing something real and tangible for the men, women, and children in communities around the world.


As for me: I'm over it.





(1) The correct statistic is not that one billion women will be raped in her lifetime (as Ensler said in an interview on Democracy Now!), nor that one in three women "will be raped or beaten" in her lifetime (as Ensler states on the One Billion Rising web site), but instead that one-third of women "has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused" in her lifetime (as referenced in the study linked to on the web site). "Otherwise abused" includes "homicide, intimate partner abuse, psychological abuse, dating violence, same-sex violence, elder abuse, sexual assault, date rape, acquaintance rape, marital rape, stranger rape and economic abuse." All these are serious, legitimate problems, but not all of them are physical beatings or rape (nor even involve men). This is important because mischaracterizing the statistic as reflecting women either being "raped or beaten" harms victimized women instead of empowering them by not reflecting the true diversity of forms of abuse.



(2) For example "From 1990 to 2005, sexual abuse substantiations went down 51%" and "From 1992 through 2005, physical abuse substantiations declined 46%" (p. 122-147) in Childhood Victimization: Violence, Crime, and Abuse in the Lives of Young People, by David Finkelhor, 2008, Oxford University Press. As two-time Pulitzer prize nominee Steven Pinker notes, the best data "shows that in thirty-five years the rape rate has fallen by an astonishing 80 percent, from 250 per 100,000 people over the age of twelve in 1973 to 50 per 100,000 in 2008.... [Yet] rather than celebrating their success, anti-rape organizations convey an impression that women are more in danger than ever" (p. 403 in The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, 2011, Viking Books; see also pp. 394-415 in the same book for a detailed, fully-referenced analysis of the significant drop in domestic violence, and other forms of physical and sexual abuse). For more on the misuse of sexual and physical assault statistics by social activists, see Damned Lies and Statistics, by Joel Best, 2001, University of California Press; Once Upon a Number, by John Allen Paulos, 1998, Basic Books; and my book Media Mythmakers.



#51 Jason (Guest) on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 4:32pm

Very hypocritical of you Ezi M, to attack EllenBeth for offering no actual criticism (which I would agree with you about) then to do the same to Heina. EllenBeth’s pointless personal attack was not much different than yours.

Everything Heina said was reasonable and worth debating if you disagree with it. She pointed out her disagreements with him using his own metaphor. You failed to engage with any of them and instead tried guilt by association tactics.

You did not contribute to a constructive conversation.

#52 Timid Atheist (Guest) on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 5:01pm

“This would almost be funny if it didn’t dismiss the reality that men do get raped, and while the reported numbers are in fact inch lower than the numbers of women getting raped, the under reporting is, from what I have read, worse.”

How does what I wrote dismiss it? I admit that it’s centric to cis women. I’m still unpacking my cis privilege. However it’s interesting that your focus is immediately upon men being raped. That wasn’t the focus of his critique.  But of course since it wasn’t addressed by commentary, well we’re obviously fighting the wrong fight! I should be outraged about the men being raped, not the women, they already get attention! Even if that attention is so fucking brutal and dismissive it’s as bad as NOT getting any attention at all.  How about instead of focusing on one group being raped we focus on ALL rapes and rapists?  I’m game if you are.

When this happens to women, we are, correctly, outraged. But when the FBI tells you you weren’t raped, because they don’t count male rape victims as rape victims, when feminists, who one would think would be a welcoming supportive group for rape victims *regardless* of gender say thing like “it’s only rape when the victims a woman”, well you learn really quick what you, as a male rape victims expected to do:”

If there are feminists saying that men being raped aren’t real rape victims then they are wrong. You cannot in any way take what I said and twist it into what you’ve written here. I don’t know who you’re addressing, but it certainly isn’t me.

#53 Pitchguest (Guest) on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 5:05pm

I don’t get it?

The first lines in the poem are thus:

“I join mothers, sisters, fathers, brothers, and lovers in condemning rape and all manner of violence against women.”

How can you construe that to mean something anti-feminist? Is it because he uses the words “I am over it” even though it’s supposed to be a mirror image to Ensler’s own slam “poem”? Have you read Ensler’s own?

#54 Johnnny (Guest) on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 5:18pm

It’s amusing how many people made negative comments about this article but obviously didn’t read it. Love all the typical strawmen we see in every single discussion where some of these feminists are questioned; “You can’t be ‘over’ rape!” “Why do you want to treat objects like women!” etc. Brilliant.

He’s absolutely correct about the slacktivist pushes we see lately. Posting on your Facebook, wearing a ribbon, or dancing are going to do very little to nothing. Those interested in actually helping should do something that extends beyond wearing a ribbon or tweeting out a hashtag.

#55 Pitchguest (Guest) on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 5:31pm

Jason? Is that you, Thibeault? Whoever you are, I’m sure you think it’s fine to be condescending to people about their lack of “education” about feminism, but frankly, first of all, this piece is hardly anti-feminist. Secondly, “rape culture” is a device from the second wave feminists of the 70’s in the United States. It started out as a movie, for crying out loud.

Furthermore, there is no evidence to support it what so ever. Rape culture supposedly being a “complex of beliefs that encourages male sexual aggression and supports violence against women” and “where violence is seen as sexy and sexuality as violent.” (According to Emilie Buchwald, Martha Roth and Pamela R. Fletcher in the book, “Transforming a Rape Culture”)

Melissa McEwan of Shakesville says rape culture is a culture which treat rape as a “compliment”, where “straight sexuality is the norm” (not sure what this has to do with rape) and ... well read it for yourself:

Forgot that guests can’t post URLs. Search for “rape culture 101”, it should be the first link.

Whereupon she begins to “support” it by linking to various incidents of rape, statistics of rape, and correlating a bunch of stuff as if to form a consensus that, yes, we are living in a rape culture. Indeed, in a culture that fetishizes rape to the point where it’s considered “sexy”, we are punishing offenders of rape by putting them in prison, we name and shame them, and rapists today should be lucky they weren’t alive two centuries ago where such offenses would either result in castration or execution.

Rape culture? Pish posh. And if that’s not enough to get your goat, don’t get me started on patriarchy.

#56 Melody Hensley on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 5:49pm

Nice group of friends you have on your Facebook, Ben. Calling people that disagree with you ‘professional victims’. That’s what that anti-feminists and MRAs do. That’s what my harassers have done to me. Yet you don’t correct your friends. Your friends call us over-emotional and mock us. No, Ben… You wrote another horrible blog that many people would consider sexist and you won’t own up to it.

Here is your straw feminist: http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php?id=341

#57 Jason (Guest) on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 6:18pm

Nah, I’m not that guy from FTB. I’m sorry you feel I was condescending, I was trying to be conciliatory and practice the principle of charity.

But to address your point, you’re right that some descriptions of rape culture are quite hyperbolic. What you didn’t mention is that some of what Ben was talking is included in the Shakesville essay on rape culture (which was my point).

I’m happy to provide for you the working definition of rape culture in a much simpler, sane form that I use.

“Rape culture” is the subset of cultural notions that inadvertently assists and/or encourages rapists. That isn’t to say that we don’t discourage rape too, just that we send mixed messages and those messages that are counter productive form “rape culture.”

Ben explicitly mentions victim blaming with regards to rape, meaning that he probably accepts that victim blaming encourages rape. Thus he’s trying to stop rape culture while denying that it has any affect.

That’s why I think he’s confused.

#58 marlorocci on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 6:25pm

It’s very amusing how bitter feminists get when they find someone disagreeing with their views.  You get name calling and petulence.

They’re like a jilted girlfriend. 

I believe women can be mature adults, but I just don’t see this out of feminists.  It’s no wonder why the word “feminist” now has a negative approval rating.

#59 Channel #4 (Guest) on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 7:20pm

I am over poems that don’t rhyme.

#60 S.E. Mayhew (Guest) on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 8:28pm

Melody Hensley doesn’t like people labelling her “professional victim” just because she disagrees. Wants Ben to “own up”. But she called me a chill girl, known sexist, and claimed that women ‘rag on’ Skepchicks just to try and get male attention (heteronormal much?). Did she own up? No. She’s never apologised—just blocks ppl.

CFI should be ashamed to have a director who organises WiS but accuses smart young women, like Miranda Celeste Hale, of getting speaking gigs not because they earned it, but because they suck up to men.

Rebecca Watson assumes that males like Shermer don’t get sexualised hate mail. Jen McCreight assumed Dawkins doesn’t have to worry about sexual abuse, because he’s male, despite him admitting to being molested as a boy.

I introduced my boyfriend to a Skepchick at CSICon and she said “Mm, I gotta get me one of those!”.

But calling me a sister punisher chill girl Stepford wife known sexist who rags on Skepchicks to suck up to boys is okay as long as it comes from a feministTM.

Hensley would’ve long ago lost her position as director if CFI-DC if she were a man acting like this.

#61 Amphigorey (Guest) on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 8:42pm

Sara Mayhew:
“But she called me a chill girl, known sexist,”

You are, in fact, a chill girl and a sexist. If you don’t want to be called those things, then don’t be those things.

#62 DK (Guest) on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 9:43pm

There definitely needs to be scepticism regarding feminist claims about rape, without that simply being dismissed as misogyny.

I’ve seen feminists use One Billion Rising as a platform to make some pretty wild claims about the causes of rape. For example, blaming sex shops and strip clubs for rapes that occur nearby, and using that to demand their closure as a rape prevention measure. It shouldn’t be off limits to request evidence before accepting an assertion like that.

In my opinion there are too many dubious and contradictory claims and statistics thrown around regarding rape for them to be given the benefit of the doubt.

#63 S.E. Mayhew (Guest) on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 10:33pm

CFI take note. Commenters like #61 believe I’m a chill girl and sexist based on Melody Hensley’s accusations of me. Slander of me, the young woman who talked at CSICon about creating positive skeptic and female role models in entertainment. I earned my TED Fellowship because of my work that promotes humanism and science based thinking using female heroines.

But Hensley trashes the reputation and hard work of myself and many other women involved in skepticism.

But faux-feminists like Hensley are given a free pass because of their gender and their successful attempts at intimidation.

#64 skepteaser (Guest) on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 10:46pm

Hensley is an over-emotional professional victim and an harasser destined for the dustbin of history, so I wouldn’t bother if I were you, Sarah.

#65 Amphigorey (Guest) on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 11:36pm

Uh, no, Sara Mayhew. I called you a sexist because I recognize you from other forums. Your reputation precedes you. Melody Hensley had nothing to do with it: it was all you.

If you would like to change your reputation as a chill girl, then I suggest you start working on your own behavior.

#66 Erik (Guest) on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 11:55pm

I find it strange and sad that a piece that is so clearly feminist—and condemns rape so clearly, strongly, and repeatedly—is garnering such criticism. In my opinion, victims of physical and sexual abuse deserve real action and real help, not faux activism and PR-friendly flash mob dances. Apparently many people disagree, and that’s fine. It’s just bizarre to see people arguing AGAINST the suggestion that dancing is not an effective anti-rape measure.

Really? Because *I* find it strange (sarcasm) that the people I meet actually participating in activist events like this and others are actual victims of rape, abuse, and just general misogyny. In other words, actual victims seem to be just fine with this.  There are others who aren’t and prefer their own way of dealing and that’s fine too.

So you can criticize that all you want, but I have to ask: What the hell good are you doing? Because this sure doesn’t help. Flexing your “feminist” muscles on the one hand, and on the other hand telling women that they should take your precious advice on how they should deal with their own life experiences.

#67 SkepticReport on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 12:01am


I see you didn’t answer my question. In case you missed it, here it is again:

Is it OK to use bogus statistics to further a cause?

#68 Zac (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 12:37am

I object to people being called sexist names like ‘chill girl’ (see comment #61).

Is this comment section completely unmoderated?

#69 GeodgeGedson on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 2:28am

If any “skeptics” have weighed in here they’ve disguised their skeptic arguments very well.

But then, what else would you expect when you’ve set a tone relying on virtually NONE yourself writing this piece? OMfreakingG—it is pedantry, not skepticism, to pick at Eve Ensler’s data errors which a) you didn’t report here 100% accurately yourself and b) where those that may in fact exist on her website or whatever are *trivial* [for example, given the U. N. reports that 30% of women worldwide were forced or coerced in their initial sexual encounter, and one third (33%) were “beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused by an intimate partner” just how many of these “billion” abused women would you estimate remain to be abused by exclusively non-physical means? And remember, there are only estimates to work with and most rational people full well understand that we can only work with that level of data because that’s all we have at this point.


So let’s get serious here.  This, what you’ve offered here, is NOT skepticism. This is horseshit.  If you want to take this on as a skeptic, you cannot DEDUCE One Billion Rising to be ineffective because it isn’t 10,000% absolutely, unassailably, true in each of its slogans you tried to fact check, or because “dancing” is a priori so much pointless folderol, or because Eve Ensler or any of her fellow “thin skinned feminists” are annoying. (Speaking for myself, I think “people who are thin skinned about some stuff some feminist once said once upon a time somewhere” are annoying, but I don’t pretend to myself that my pique over this kind of thing qualifies “skepticism”.)

You need data that shows that One Billion Strong type Big Lights, Catch Phrases, feel-good gimmicks and all the rest - that any of it is ineffective activism next to 10,000% anally red pencil nitpicking and skeptic mag hosted naysaying? Where’s THAT data, may I ask?  Don’t just Dress the Part of a Skeptic, Live It!! Do It!  You need INDUCTION, duh. Meaning, you need data these efforts that rely on high profile ShowBizzy, catchy headline based tactics don’t accomplish much. And you do *not* need your own transparently emotional, ideological and subjective hero stories (“I tackled Eve Ensler, anti-bullying, anti-child abuse, pro-democracy - go me.”)

#70 Feanor (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 4:04am

This is all utterly bizarre to me.

On the one side you have the article whose faults as highlighted by #69 I agree with.

On the other hand you have the criticism of the article, where apparently “you don’t get to be over rape”. Well of course you don’t in that sense. But characterising the article as saying that is downright dishonest - especially when it’s a response to another article/poem saying THE SAME FRIGGIN THING and received no such criticism whatsover.

And then you have the criticism of Sara Mayhew by #65. I’d love to see the posts Sara has made in other forums that back up the accusation that she’s sexist. (I doubt they exist, but let’s see shall we?)

Anyway, as ever in this bonkers McCarthyist mudfight, there is a failure of “skepticism” almost across the board (except for a few individuals). Neither “side” is being particularly rational; both are succumbing to primitive tribalism and are nit-picking things the other “side” says while failing to apply the same standards to their own “side”. It’s tiresome and counterproductive.

#71 Melody Hensley on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 4:58am

#67 Did my comment specifically address statistics? No, it did not. Ask someone that did.

#72 kfreed (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 5:39am

Who’s to say that the women dancing in the streets as a form of protest aren’t also engaging in the more “effective” approach you suggest? They can do both - the former raises awareness at a time when we have Republican members of Congress refusing to renew the Violence Against Women Act while GOP candidates regale us with brilliant nuggets like “Legitimate rape” - “Rape babies from God” - “women’s bodies can shut that whole rape thing down” - “wives submit to your husbands”... two of these happened to be GOP presidential candidates in 2012.

I think your post leaves much to be desired and is itself rather unproductive in the face of current religious extremists pushing anti-women legislation across the country. Isn’t the Center for Inquiry supposed to be concerned with separation of church and state? Well, here’s your opportunity. Why waste time bashing Eve Ensler?

#73 Hero on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 5:58am

Melody Hensley’s response to this article is fascinating:


(In which she laments Ben Radford’s article, wishing he’d stick to Bigfoot)

#74 Hero on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 6:04am

On twitter, Becky Watson :

In a welcome change of pace, an embarrassing, ignorant blog post attracts many sharp, thoughtful comments http://t.co/MGJdeN8a


This one is my favourite :

Such nuanced criticism

#75 Edward Gemmer (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 6:11am

Oh hey, more atheists attacking each other for not thinking the right way.  I think a good rule of thumb for atheists to avoid that is to decide whether you are attacking someone because they have different beliefs than you or attacking them for some other reason.  Here, Radford clearly supports feminism and many feminist goals, but doesn’t support some methods.  Attacking him over that is akin to Protestants attacking Catholics for taking communion.  Is based in b.s. and the results will be b.s., as the comments here show.

#76 SkepticReport on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 6:22am


Do you support the One Billion Rising campaign?

#77 Achron (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 6:23am

Hey, if you don’t like this article, I’m sure you can create an online petition about it… because those do lots of good.. or something.

#78 M. Lee (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 6:34am

Here’s a thought. When commenting on an article that makes clear bad statistics do nothing but undermine one’s cause, how about a specific citation when making another reference to other stats? Or is my rationalist privilege making me another in the long line of misogynists out to keep the woman down?

#79 Pitchguest (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 6:38am

I just want to say it’s amazing that Melody Hensley can still use terms like ‘chill girl’ without impunity. Whatever she may say about sexism, *that* is sexist. It’s a term that describes women as agreeing or disagreeing with something only to vie for the affection of men.

It’s horribly, disturbingly sexist, and I’m disgusted.

Another term like “sister punisher” has also been used by Melody, as if it’s justified. Do a Google search for “sister punisher” and “Melody Hensley” (with the quotes) and it should be the first entry. CTRL+F “sister punisher” and there you have it. Then, of course, there’s “gender traitor” although I don’t think Melody has ever used that - yet.

Is this conduct really appropriate for an Executive Director of a CFI chapter? To deliberately use sexist terms to label women with, implying they do and say the things they do simply to get the attention of men? Vomit bag, please.

#80 Hero on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 6:44am

The delightful DM that Melody Hensley sent to Sara Mayhew:


#81 Martin (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 6:53am

#79: And of course, you’re just as disgusted by the misogynists and MRAs who label men who are supportive of women and feminist issues as “manginas” and “white knights” who say the things they do in the hopes of getting laid, aren’t you? It’s just that you forgot to say so. Right?

#82 Egalitarian (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 7:22am

Actually, men are often rape victims, and women are often perpetrators, if you properly define rape. According to the latest CDC (US government) survey, 4.8% of all men have been “made to penetrate” and 79.2% of the perpetrators were women. Examples of “made to penetrate” are: a woman who has sex with a man who is passed-out drunk, or a woman who forces a man to have sex with her through violence or threats of violence. There is some confusion due to the fact that their definition of rape excluded “made to penetrate” and only included men who had been penetrated. That was far less common (1.4% of men) and was mostly perpetrated by men. However, if you include “made to penetrate” as rape, which you should, since it is forced sex, women are a significant percentage of rapists, and the majority of male rape victims were raped by women.
Here are direct quotes from the report:

“Approximately 1 in 21 men (4.8%) reported that they were made to penetrate someone else during their lifetime”

“For three of the other forms of sexual violence, a majority of male victims reported only female perpetrators: being made to penetrate (79.2%), sexual coercion (83.6%), and unwanted sexual contact (53.1%).”

The above, lifetime stats do show a lower percentage of male victims (up to 6.2% of all men) than female victims (18.3% of all women) although this is far more than commonly believed. However, if you look at the report’s stats for the past 12 months, just as many number of men have been “forced to penetrate” as women were raped, meaning that if you properly include being “made to penetrate” in the definition of rape, men were raped as often as women.

#83 DriveBy (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 7:25am

Don’t you love how one crappy little blog entry about how some guy doesn’t like what some women are doing by some guy who’s really sure that there are no little green men can threaten the reputation of a major skeptical organization?  Such is the power of FREEZE PEACH!

#84 John C. Welch (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 7:40am


When people tell men “you don’t have to worry about rape”, what message does that send to the men who were raped?

When you say “Nor have you ever been told that if you’d just screamed louder or not been so drunk that your rape would be a legitimate rape.” What do you think that says to the male victims told “if you didn’t kick their ass, you must have secretly wanted it.”

Your entire reply tells every guy who has been molested, sexually assaulted, or raped one direct truth: “you don’t count, what happened to you isn’t as bad” I don’t actually care if that was your intent, or if you didn’t mean that. That is what your post said.

Rape is not a “woman’s” problem, it is a *human* problem. And until it is really treated as such, it won’t get better.

#85 Pitchguest (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 7:46am


Seeing as I’ve never used the term “mangina” in my life to label anyone, then yes. Except for the other meaning, obviously, which is “tuck job.” (Think Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs.) As for “white knight”, yes and no. Because of its duplicitous meaning of being both what you said and a “knight in shining armour” meaning basically chivalry (i.e, benevolent sexism). As long as you use it in the right context, I’m fine with it, because it’s actually meant to disparage men who treat women as though they are helpless victims.

However, to clarify: Yes, I am equally disgusted by terms that are used to disparage women as well as men, “Mangina” and “white knight” included. But I’m curious why you think I “forgot to do so”? Since I didn’t say I condemn racial epithets as well (even though I do), would you say I forgot that too? What an odd thing to say.

Then again, you make the baseless assertion that all who do this are “MRA’s” (casting all MRA’s in the same bunch) and “misogynists” (misogyny being “hatred of women”) - so either Men’s Rights activists or haters of women. Truth be told, I’ve used the term “white knight” once or twice (very rarely), but ironically it was used to defy the notion that women can’t fend for themselves which was heavily implied. Funny thing about feminist screed, they want to say that women can be empowered, but if you ever insult a woman in any way, it’s misogynist and sexist. Like trying to have the cake and eat it, too.

#86 atheist (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 8:05am

Benjamin Radford: I am over rape.

Oh, fiddlesticks.

You’re not over rape, you’re just tired of having to think about rape. Which is understandable, I suppose. But your claims to be “over rape” are totally unconvincing. The fact is that if you or someone you care about gets raped, your claims to be “over it” are gonna go right out the window. I guess what you really are is “over feminism”. You can be over feminism, but why anyone else should be overly concerned about your personal feelings is something of a mystery.

I ask quite seriously: Why should I regard you differently from any of a million other people who do not wish to think about politics? And why should your pettifogging exercise on the statistics of Eve Ensler be considered definitive of anything?

#87 Pitchguest (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 8:10am


Oh, but I forgot to ask. Do you think it’s appropriate for an Executive Director of a CFI chapter to use sexist terms to label women with, as well as men? Since you supplied me with that red herring before which I was forced to answer or you’d label me with either MRA or a misogynist, I think you owe me a response.

As #80 points out, seems Melody Hensley has her hands full denigrating other women who doesn’t toe her line at every turn. So according to Hensley, “no one gave a shit about Miranda Celeste Hale until she went after Rebeccca Watson”? Is that a fact? Is that implying she’s another “sister punisher” or “chill girl”? Oh, and if you do a Google search for “bigfoot” and “Melody Hensley”, the first search should be a link where Hensley is saying that Ben Radford should “stick to Bigfoot” and “other shit I don’t care about” (applying scepticism to things like Bigfoot is apparently not part of the CFI mission statement, or at least is “shit” an Executive Director of CFI doesn’t care about)

She is also saying that Ben is “ruining” the culture of this movement by writing a “sloppy anti-feminist blog” which she is “working too damn hard” to change. She’s also saying she’s “given [her] life to CFI” and is asking Ben to “please don’t fuck CFI.” But we shouldn’t care about Ben, apparently, because he’s only contracted by CFI part-time to “write about skepticism” and is “small potatoes.” Wow.

#88 Pitchguest (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 8:16am


Click the URL to HuffPo in Ben’s post above. It leads to Eve Ensler’s piece which is also titled “Over it” where the statement begins, and I quote,

“I am over rape.”

So can you people please stop with the conniving potshots before you actually read the original article which Ben’s “poem” is based on? That is, if we’re to call ourselves fellow sceptics and not vultures.

#89 atheist (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 8:33am

@88 Pitchguest (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 8:16am

So can you people please stop with the conniving potshots before you actually read the original article which Ben’s “poem” is based on? That is, if we’re to call ourselves fellow sceptics and not vultures.

Your expectation that skeptics will become enraged if they read Ensler’s article is going to lead to you feeling disappointment.

#90 Matt (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 8:43am

Excellent article, thank you for writing it.

#91 Pitchguest (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 8:44am


Wha? Enraged? I’m saying it’s using the same sentence to start the piece of,

“I am over rape.”

Are you saying that you’re morally outraged that Ben uses it in his piece but not with Ensler? Hypocrite. Good grief.

And to belabour a point, to go back to Melody, not only is she using sexist terms to label other women and men with and not only is she denigrating other women who don’t share her views, but she’s also second-guessing Ron Lindsay. I’m not sure what she’s implying that Ben Radford is only a “part-time employee” but considering how she’s threatened to contact other people’s employers before, it’s dubious. Melody: If you think he’s doing a bad job, then you go directly to Lindsay and don’t say shit about Radford behind his back. Do you think behaviour like that will reflect well on CFI? With that kind of conduct, who do you think is “fucking CFI”?

#92 Astrokid on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 9:27am

PitchGuest says:

As #80 points out, seems Melody Hensley has her hands full denigrating other women who doesn’t toe her line at every turn. So according to Hensley, “no one gave a shit about Miranda Celeste Hale until she went after Rebeccca Watson”? Is that a fact? Is that implying she’s another “sister punisher” or “chill girl”?

“Misogynist: A man who hates women as much as women hate one another.” ― H.L. Mencken

Reading the comments by feminists here throws some light.

17. slythwolf says:
When you talk about women testifying against each other during the Burning Times, you do also have to recognize that many of those women were giving their testimony to save their own lives after horrible torture. This was not always the case, but it was in many situations.
I think you may be right about the pressure, Violet.
It may also be that it’s so ingrained in us to criticize everything women do, that we–you and I–think that what these antifeminist feminists are saying and doing is worse than it actually is. Don’t mistake my meaning; it is egregious. I just think it’s interesting that we feel so much more betrayed when we hear that a woman has used a sexist slur against another woman, than when we hear that a man has beaten and raped a woman. I have said it myself: I would expect this kind of behavior from a man, but for a woman to do that to her sisters…
But really, it isn’t any different. Men and women both grow up in the patriarchy, are brainwashed from birth in its ways, chief among which is misogyny. Of course women hate women. Hating women is the thing to do.

#93 Feanor (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 10:47am

No, I think his (or, at any rate, my) expectation is that skeptics should become enraged when they read Ensler’s original article and realise that your criticisms are disingenuous bullshit. It’s the hypocrisy of your criticisms they should become enraged about.

Ensler also said “I’m over rape”. The “poem”, over all, was very very similar. And yet you are only criticising Radford; you are only (mis)interpreting his words and are not giving the same treatment to Ensler’s words.

This is absurd and it is precisely the reason why so many atheists have resisted the witch hunts called by the small group of so-called feminists. It reeks of double standards and intellectual dishonesty, and it’s an attitude that is poisonous to honest and open debate.

This is a shame because if it weren’t for this behaviour many people including myself would be arguing with the “feminists” within the movement and not against them.

#94 EllenBeth Wachs (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 10:49am

@51 “EllenBeth’s pointless personal attack was not much different than yours.”

If you are qualifying my mild statement of fact that I am over Ben as a personal attack, Holy Cow! The vitriol and insults and harassment that the we get thrown at us must be nuclear bombs to you.

And Sara, for crying out loud already. How many blog posts have you done on this? How many tweets? How many forums and threads that I go to and there you are, insulting and demeaning Melody.  If that one tweet was so traumatic to you, TRY, for one second, to imagine what it is like to be on the receiving end of thousands of tweets and emails and be the subject of nasty videos.

#95 Feanor (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 10:49am

My last comment (#93) was aimed at comment #89.

#96 kntuu (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 11:04am

A few points.

Firstly, you are doing a great dis-service to this and all other “stunts” by lumping them in with e-petitions and calling them names like “slacktivism”. Stunts have their place. The primary goal for our local Billion Women Rising was to get the attention of the local press and get people talking and thinking about the horrific levels of violence (sexual and otherwise) against women worldwide. Participating in a stunt does not preclude you or bar you from more important work on other days. Nor does it mean that you think the problem is solved afterwards, really… far from it.

Stunts can also make people realise how really not alone they are. That many people care about these, their, issues. They care enough to get their bums off the internet and take the risk of making fools of themselves. In full public view.

Secondly, I do think that groups need to be as factually accurate as possible. I think you’re right in this regard, and to go deeper into the statistics is a laudable endeavour. The statistics are just as shocking up close. What you seem to miss is that activist groups are under pressure to get the message across in the most sound-bite media friendly way possible if that message is ever to reach a mass audience. That is unfortunate, but the alternative is never to be heard at all.

Thirdly. While helping out with my local Billion Women we came under constant fire for not including men and “forgetting” about trans issues. To me, this all just sounded like women just aren’t really important enough to have events dedicated to them exclusively.

In fact, the real beauty of activism in a modern western democracy is that there’s no bar to it. You want to advocate against domestic violence as a whole in society? Go ahead. If you want to concentrate on domestic violence against men. Again, there is nothing stopping you. I’ll even support you in that.

#97 atheist (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 11:27am

@93 Feanor (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 10:47am

No, I think his (or, at any rate, my) expectation is that skeptics should become enraged when they read Ensler’s original article and realise that your criticisms are disingenuous bullshit. It’s the hypocrisy of your criticisms they should become enraged about.

Right, and what I’m explaining is that when most skeptics go and read Ensler’s article, they are gonna consider Mr. Radford’s response to be an oddly childish exercise in gate-keeping. It will seem to them a bit like Sheldon on “The Big Bang Theory” explaining to his girlfriend that biology isn’t real science by using the example of the Piltdown Man controversy, and then contrasting this to the beauty of String Theory. We will then wait for the part of the episode where Sheldon asks for Stephen Hawking’s autograph and Hawking explains to him where he’s wrong about String Theory by a factor of 10^100.

In addition, thank you for the statement about “Feminist Witch Hunts”. I take an odd, perverse enjoyment in the self-pity of others. Especially, self-pitying statements about entirely imaginary situations give me an odd thrill.

#98 Feanor (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 11:27am

#96 is exactly the sort of constructive, honest debate we need more of and is a refreshing change from the disingenuous vitriol we see most of the time. Thank you.

#99 Feanor (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 11:50am

#97 - The implication made by you and others is that when Radford said he’s “over rape” he meant that he’s bored by it or not interested in it as an issue. This is obviously not what he meant, nor is it honest to imply that he meant that. My accusation of double standards was because this interpretation has not been applied to Ensler and this still stands.

I am open to the criticism you made in your most recent post. I too find Radford’s article rather odd, pedantic and unnecessary and its placing on the CFI’s website peculiar. These are all fair points for discussion and raising them is reasonable. My only issue is with, as a previous commenter put it, your “kafkatrapping”.

As for “feminist witch hunts” well, I didn’t use quite those words but feel free to use the phrase if you want. Still, if pouncing on a poorly chosen turn of phrase and taking it out of context to whip people into a frenzy and excoriate an invididual isn’t a witch hunt then I’m not sure what is, in the modern context at any rate. This has happened a lot over the past year or two (and yes, both “sides” are guilty of it).

#100 S.E. Mayhew (Guest) on Sunday February 17, 2013 at 11:53am

@94 EllenBeth

Don’t presume to know what kind treatment I receive. Not everyone posts all their hate mail on a page-o-hate. And why do you feel that you (and whoever the “we” you’re referring to) are justified in attacking others because you ‘have it worse’?

And I’ll continue bringing up Melody Hensley’s sexist remarks when she apologises and stops labelling the women involved in speaking at CFI events, the employer she claims to give her life to, as chill girls, sister punishers, and making other sexist accusations.

Get it, EllenBeth? You don’t have a monopoly on receiving online hate and getting it doesn’t give you carte-blanche to bully and intimidate others.

Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.