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.

 

***

 

Notes 

(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.

 

Comments:

#1 EllenBeth Wachs (Guest) on Friday February 15, 2013 at 1:51pm

You know what I am over? You.

#2 Heina (Guest) on Friday February 15, 2013 at 2:17pm

I am over the straw feminist caricature present in this piece. I am also over the idea that rape culture does not contribute towards the social acceptance of rape.

#3 Audra (Guest) on Friday February 15, 2013 at 2:44pm

Which domestic violence shelter did you volunteer at or which lawmaker did you meet with on Valentine’s Day?

#4 Timid Atheist (Guest) on Friday February 15, 2013 at 2:49pm

I’m guessing you’ve never been raped yourself. Nor raised to believe that if you walk down a dark alley you deserve to be raped. I’m also guessing you have never had to choose between having your rapists child or having an abortion. 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.

“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.”

How about realizing that dancing isn’t social justice or activism, but a way for victims to make choices with their own body that isn’t forced on them like their rape was forced on them.

#5 Xipe-Totec (Guest) on Friday February 15, 2013 at 3:09pm

Interesting read.  I see that you were unable to check your skeptical privilege and will pay the usual costs.  Perhaps with a panel outlining your transgressions at an upcoming con.  Considering your affinity for Bigfoot Skepticism(tm) I sometimes wonder why they would bother?

#6 SallyStrange (Guest) on Friday February 15, 2013 at 3:28pm

At least this time Radford’s picking fights with adult feminists, instead of last time, when he bravely critiqued a four-year-old girl’s distaste for gendered toys.

#7 Chas Stewart (Guest) on Friday February 15, 2013 at 4:16pm

I welled up with tears when you brought up the plight of native american women. To live in many reservations is to face a general state of lawlessness and depression. That’s not to say that others’ pain should be muted but I would like to see more ideas on how to spread our relative peace to their lands.

In general, whatever your cause you should embrace the statistics and be honest with them by not incorporating a host of offenses of varying degrees in to one category of “rape, or beaten”.

RE original poem: How does one rape a page? “I am over people demanding their right to rape pages, and calling it freedom of speech or justifying it as a joke.”

#8 Melody Hensley on Friday February 15, 2013 at 4:45pm

This: “I am over the straw feminist caricature present in this piece.

#9 SallyStrange (Guest) on Friday February 15, 2013 at 5:06pm

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

Since less than 5% of incidences of sexual assault lead to a trial with conviction, I think it’s fair to say that the vast majority of people who are raped are not, technically speaking, raped by criminals. They are raped by men, mostly, who are mostly not prosecuted, because we live in a patriarchal culture that treats only a small minority of rapes as actual crimes.

#10 Mike (Guest) on Friday February 15, 2013 at 9:52pm

I don’t agree with everything here, but I’m not going to dismiss it all out of hand. I am very glad to see someone calling attention to male victims of rape. A former lover of mine had been raped by two other men during the 50s and had been afraid of reporting it; even his wife had scorned him and refused to believe him. A childhood friend was raped at gunpoint by a woman, and the police refused to listen. There’s no question that male victims of rape are only a small fraction…I’m not making a case for equivalency…but it is real. I’m sure a lot of cases go unreported and unprosecuted, similar to the problem of domestic abuse against men. Stuff like this…and the oft-ignored issue of prison rape…is under-addressed in discussions of rape, and it can lead to the erroneous impression that some groups simply don’t care.

#11 ladyvanda (Guest) on Friday February 15, 2013 at 10:13pm

It’s not a strawman, Ben is trying to tell us he is becoming a feminist. His text was a feminist manifesto, pretty much verbatim (I don’t know of any feminist who would disagree with any point made). Welcome.

However, I think he might want to read his link about “the good rape”, as it clearly makes the point that all rapes are wrong, including women on women. It clearly states that’s the point Ensler is trying to make.

#12 ladyvanda (Guest) on Friday February 15, 2013 at 10:18pm

People interested in activism against prison rape should visit

#13 ladyvanda (Guest) on Friday February 15, 2013 at 10:20pm

Ok, I can’t link here…

I tried to link the “just detention dot org” website.

#14 Astrokid on Friday February 15, 2013 at 11:21pm

Its a pity you are over it. Otherwise we could have joined in teaching our toddler sons to not rape.
We could have taught young boys in NYC to respect women (but not young girls to return the favour).

We could have lobbied for domestic violence legislation for women only (VAWA.. 600 Million$ per year), even though researchers have since 1985, time and again shown that Intimate Partner Violence is bidirectional and happens in pretty much equal measure.
In Defense of Abused Men (See the reference to Martin Fiebert’s massive compilation)

SUMMARY:  This bibliography examines 286 scholarly investigations: 221 empirical studies and 65 reviews and/or analyses, which demonstrate that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners.  The aggregate sample size in the reviewed studies exceeds 371,600.

We could have continued being blind to our innate bias in favour of women due to the women are wonderful effect and never see women as perpetrators Reaction To Women Abusing Men In Public, and dismiss any damage done by women to men.

We could ignore scholarly opinion from numerous quarters, such as Barbara Kay on institutional feminism and misandry or <a href=“http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DP3H0dv_e4g”>Senator Ann Cools Speaks About Domestic Violence Issues<a> because they are conservatives, or libertarians.. and so are evil.

Too bad you are over it.

#15 Amanda (Guest) on Friday February 15, 2013 at 11:39pm

Ben, “all men are rapists” is a line from a novel written in 1977 and said in that novel by a fictional character. 

I’m sure you know this because someone so devoted to sceptic principles and valuing facts over emotion would never cherry pick a line to create a strawman simply because it will provoke an emotional response from people without knowing the source and context of said quote, would they? 

Can you explain why this line from a 40 year old novel is a relevant characterisation of current day debates?

#16 Astrokid on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 12:22am

she [Eve Ensler] came up in my research of activists who use misleading statistics to support their social agendas.

Another feminist moral panic is the Real Men Don’t Buy Girls campaign where Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore say (based on feminist stats):

“It’s between 100,000 and 300,000 child sex slaves in the United States today,” Ashton Kutcher told CNN’s Piers Morgan on April 18. That, says Kutcher, is how many kids are lost to prostitution in America every single year. “If you don’t do something to stop that, that’s when there is something wrong with you, in my opinion.”

The real figures? Real Men Get Their Facts Straight

Law enforcement records show that there were only 8,263 arrests across America for child prostitution during the most recent decade.
That’s 827 arrests per year.

Flashback: The Burning Times from 1990 where feminists threw a figure of 9 million women being burnt between 1400-1700.  The actual figure? around 40K. ~80% women, 20% men

Feminist quote from the documentary:

The scientific revolution (in the 1600s) relied heavily on the techniques of questioning witches in the witch burnings. Francis Bacon wanted to “tease or torture out the secrets of mother earth or mother nature using the techniques and implements of the inquisition” (interpreted literally by feminist)

In the end, one has to follow the money and ask: Cui Bono from all this moral panic?
05: Domestic Violence - Introduction

#17 The Devil's Towelboy (Guest) on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 1:27am

Same old faces as always. So who’s going to be first to post a threat to themselves and then demonise Ben for encouraging this “rape culture”? Sally, if it’s you, at least use another browser and wait half an hour between the posts.

#18 Bruce Gorton (Guest) on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 2:39am

You know what I am over? Bullshit like this:

< blockquote>Why dance-instead of, say, volunteer at a local domestic violence shelter or meet with lawmakers to increase penalties for physical and sexual assault?</blockquote>

This is little more than whining “why don’t you do activism the way I want to do it?” In this case it was because Ensler’s activism was aimed at stopping rape happening.

There is nothing wrong with helping abuse shelters, there is nothing wrong with trying to repair the damage, but there is also nothing particularly visible about it.

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

I live in South Africa, out here we have ‘corrective rape’. What that means is that in South Africa there are men who specifically target lesbians to ‘correct’ their homosexuality. That sounds pretty much like rape by heteronormative, hegemonic patriarchy to me.

Further your whole idea of ‘criminals’ - yeah we don’t live in Duckburg where criminals are easily recognised by their raccoon masks.

We live in the real world where there is no outward sign as to whether someone is or isn’t a criminal, and fairly often rapes are committed by people familiar to the victims, not some weirdo on the side of the street wearing a sign pointing ‘Here is a rapist’.

The whole ‘rape is committed by criminals’ schtick is just another way of victim blaming because ‘didn’t you know he was a criminal?’

And funny thing here, your examples of societies “worse than us” are essentially highly patriarchal ones. So what is it, do you want feminists to tackle patriarchy when it comes to rape or not?

#19 Illuminata on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 5:53am

A SINGLE citation would have made this ridiculous, assinine, whiny, idiotic piece seem less so.

But, of course, there are no citations - no proof of any kind - just a lot of accusations, from a man who clearly doesn’t want women in HIS movement. 

Does CFI care what sort of message it sends to its female members?  At all?

because this content-free, woman-bashing horseshit speaks volumes.

#20 Carmen Finnigan (Guest) on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 7:40am

That was quite the pile of straw you set fire to. It is utterly disgraceful that this is in the Centre for Inquiry. Perhaps you would like to read some legitimate critiques of One Billion Rising, by actual feminists, not the ones in your head.

#21 Carlie (Guest) on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 7:45am

Why are you “over” all of these things instead of simply being “over” Eve Ensler? It seems to have been her you have a problem with, but then you transferred that anger to all of those other things.

#22 Carlie (Guest) on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 8:17am

Also, I do hope you don’t later try to claim the list was satire, or that your list was a semantic exercise simply as a way to try to shock Ensler and any of her supporters, or that everyone is misinterpreting what you really meant. You can’t, because your list includes things you think are useless and are presumably honestly “over” (“mistaking dancing for social justice or activism”), as well as things that are incredibly important and upsetting (“100 innocent women attacked, disfigured, and killed by their husbands and boyfriends in Pakistan each year in acid attacks”). You could have almost made a point by making your entire list either one or the other, but you have dumped both things you presumably find important and things you are claiming you despise into the same trash can of things you are “over”. You can’t use “over” in two entirely different ways in the same list and expect it to transmit any meaning whatsoever.

#23 John C. Welch (Guest) on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 9:06am

“I’m guessing you’ve never been raped yourself. Nor raised to believe that if you walk down a dark alley you deserve to be raped. I’m also guessing you have never had to choose between having your rapists child or having an abortion. 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.”

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.

“Why didn’t you kick their ass?”
“A real man wouldn’t have let that happen”
“There’s no way you can force something up there. You must have wanted it.”

Up until 2012, as far as the FBI was concerned, and therefore, most other law enforcement groups in the US, male rape didn’t exist. It was just “sexual assault”. Men have a very hard time being taken seriously as the victim of such a crime due to real, intense socital pressures and attitudes, but to then behold what happened to you wasn’t even rape, but just sexual assault?

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:

STFU already, we have REAL problems to deal with, you wuss.

The ONLY aspect of rape me don’t have to deal with is pregnancy. Other than that, rape is an equal-opportunity horrorshow.

#24 Karla Porter (Guest) on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 9:38am

I sense you intended to write this for the right reasons and the blog post portion is ok, but the poem certainly doesn’t come across well. Perhaps you could have had a couple of people who have been raped review it for you before posting it. My guess is you’ll end up with a ton of nasty comments and sentiment beyond that already popping up here.

#25 Eshto (Guest) on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 10:09am

The regular cast of characters will react with nastiness no matter what. I don’t mind the poem. It’s certainly not any worse than the under informed, f-bomb peppered, overly simplistic, heteronormative and regressive nonsense passing for “feminism” these days on the drama blogs. The drama bloggers and their fans have already demonstrated they don’t understand feminism, and they aren’t willing to be reasonable. So write what you feel.

#26 Ashley (Guest) on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 10:28am

I’m a little confused by your accusation that the stats are misleading. The list of “other abuse” is dominated by rape and violence. Do you really think that those kinds of rape and abuse don’t count? How is including them misleading?

#27 armchairSJW (Guest) on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 10:36am

STOP KONY!!!!!!!!!1!!1!1!!!11

(oops, wrong thread. sorry…)

#28 SallyStrange (Guest) on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 10:40am

One more remark, cross-posted from Pharyngula:

I imagine that, if CFI were to consider hosting on their page an article about, say, developmental biology, they would probably insist that the author of the article either be a developmental biologist, or know the first thing about developmental biology.

They certainly wouldn’t consider hosting an article on developmental biology from an author who has a proven track record of writing about developmental biology and getting it really wrong, to the point that readers of the article, who are knowledgeable about developmental biology, begin to suspect that he’s been getting his information about developmental biology from the Discovery Institute or Ray Comfort.

Yet, when it comes to feminism and women’s rights, issues that affect a lot more people, in very direct and concrete ways, than the ins and outs of developmental biology, suddenly it’s, “Oh, Redford, you want to write another badly-misinformed an inflammatory piece about how you’re really annoyed by feminists? Okay, go ahead, and make sure you don’t check your sources or do any research, just like last time—because that’s what critical inquiry is all about!”

So, I’m wondering: did somebody tell Radford to stop writing about women’s equality and feminism, and he refused to listen, or did the management at CFI just foolishly assume that Radford had learned his lesson and would actually do his due diligence before posting anything inflammatory about human rights for women again?

#29 Earl (Guest) on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 10:40am

“strawfeminism” = This term is a simple way to invoke the no true scotsman fallacy. While feminism as an ideology is quite diverse. Each feminist believes their own brand is the true feminism. If you criticize a feminist not in their ‘tent’, or criticise words, or actions by those outside their specific sub-ideology, your words will be dismissed. Because ‘not their feminism’ is ‘strawfeminism’.


I did notice the tone picked up later in the comments. But notice the usual suspects that can offer no thoughtful criticism. Just dismissal and hate?

#30 SallyStrange (Guest) on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 10:41am

So write what you feel.

Because, seriously, that IS what critical inquiry is all about!

/snark

#31 earl (Guest) on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 10:44am

*illuminata*

“A SINGLE citation would have made this ridiculous, assinine, whiny, idiotic piece seem less so.

But, of course, there are no citations - no proof of any kind - just a lot of accusations, from a man who clearly doesn’t want women in HIS movement. “

Except for all the links and citations in and at the end of his post. amirite?

I counted 11 more than you did.

#32 SallyStrange (Guest) on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 10:46am

So who’s going to be first to post a threat to themselves and then demonise Ben for encouraging this “rape culture”? Sally, if it’s you, at least use another browser and wait half an hour between the posts.

These are your fans, Mr. Radford: the people who obsessively spread lies about feminists, for example: the lie that I logged into Thunderf00t’s website anonymously to post a rape threat against myself.

As if it’s necessary to fabricate misogyny to make misogynists look bad.

#33 Ben Radford on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 10:46am

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.

As for the tone and structure of the poem, much of it was modeled after Eve Ensler’s original version, linked to above. Many of the criticisms I see of my poem (such as the “straw man arguments”) apply equally well to Ensler’s original poem, yet I see no one complaining about that. It’s a poem, not an academic treatise; at least I provided links and references to published & respected scholarly work—including that of Steven Pinker, who will be a guest on CFI’s ‘Point of Inquiry’ podcast next week. Questions about his research and conclusions should be directed to him.

#34 skmc (Guest) on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 11:02am

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.

Perhaps you have not been as clear as you wished to be.

It’s just bizarre to see people arguing AGAINST the suggestion that dancing is not an effective anti-rape measure.

That is not an accurate summary of the criticisms you are getting.

#35 Chris Clarke on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 11:05am

I’m over men lecturing women to be quiet about rape and violence so that they can get back to the far more important work of proving you can’t bend spoons with your mind.

#36 SallyStrange (Guest) on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 11:05am

It’s just bizarre to see people arguing AGAINST the suggestion that dancing is not an effective anti-rape measure.

There are plenty of effective criticisms against the One Billion Rising Campaign. Unfortunately, because yours rests on a foundation built of lies about feminism perpetuated by anti-feminists, this piece is not among them.

#37 SkepticReport on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 11:13am

I am addressing this to Heina and Melody:

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

#38 Yasmin S (Guest) on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 11:20am

To the dude that wrote this: YOU and the majority of men are part of rape culture. You don’t have to be a rapist to be part of rape culture, you don’t have to support rape to be part of rape culture, as you have shown in this piece, you can condemn rape, and still actively play in to rape culture. I suggest you let go of your misogyny, your rape culture, your MRA attitude. However, seeing that you actively deny such things, I doubt you will try to learn anything.
You are not a “skeptic” of rape culture, you are a denier of rape culture, and an active member in rape culture.

#39 ArtCrawl on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 11:25am

Chris Clarke, would you care to point out where Ben suggested women to be quiet about rape and violence?

#40 Dylan (Guest) on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 11:26am

2 out of 3 women will never suffer any form of abuse whatsoever in their entire lives.

#41 SkepticReport on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 11:31am

Yasmin S,

What does it mean to be “an active member in rape culture”?

I am also a man. Does what you described Ben as, apply to me as well?

#42 Astrokid on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 11:35am

Yasmin S says:

You are not a “skeptic” of rape culture, you are a denier of rape culture, and an active member in rape culture.

In addition to highly inflated stats, moral panicing,  we also have Kafkatrapping, the above being a good example

Good causes sometimes have bad consequences. Blacks, women, and other historical out-groups were right to demand equality before the law and the full respect and liberties due to any member of our civilization; but the tactics they used to “raise consciousness” have sometimes veered into the creepy and pathological, borrowing the least sane features of religious evangelism.
One very notable pathology is a form of argument that, reduced to essence, runs like this: “Your refusal to acknowledge that you are guilty of {sin,racism,sexism, homophobia,oppression…} confirms that you are guilty of {sin,racism,sexism, homophobia,oppression…}.” I’ve been presented with enough instances of this recently that I’ve decided that it needs a name. I call this general style of argument “kafkatrapping”, and the above the Model A kafkatrap
...
This is almost exactly the way the kafkatrap operates in religious and political argument. Real crimes – actual transgressions against flesh-and-blood individuals – are generally not specified. The aim of the kafkatrap is to produce a kind of free-floating guilt in the subject, a conviction of sinfulness that can be manipulated by the operator to make the subject say and do things that are convenient to the operator’s personal, political, or religious goals. Ideally, the subject will then internalize these demands, and then become complicit in the kafkatrapping of others.
...
Sometimes the kafkatrap is presented in less direct forms. A common variant, which I’ll call the Model C, is to assert something like this: “Even if you do not feel yourself to be guilty of {sin,racism,sexism, homophobia,oppression…}, you are guilty because you have benefited from the {sinful,racist,sexist,homophobic,oppressive,…} behavior of others in the system.” The aim of the Model C is to induce the subject to self-condemnation not on the basis of anything the individual subject has actually done, but on the basis of choices by others which the subject typically had no power to affect. The subject must at all costs be prevented from noticing that it is not ultimately possible to be responsible for the behavior of other free human beings.

#43 Mike (Guest) on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 11:38am

Me again. I see the impassioned stance against rape, and it’s honest and admirable. He has a criticism of the One Billion Rising thing, OK, he’s entitled to it. Maybe not the best, but that’s the way it is. I raised an eyebrow at it myself, wondered what good it would do beside maybe making the participants feel better, but decided if it was something they wanted to do, more power to them and hope I’m wrong in my assessment.

I’m not completely down with dismissing the notions of rape culture and patriarchy…but at the same time, I do sometimes fear that they’re overstated as well, and I only feel safe saying that more-or-less anonymously for fear of being labelled an “MRA” or “misogynist”.

I don’t think anyone here wants women to be quiet. I have my own personal concerns, having had men in my life who were victims of rape, and a friend who died as a result of domestic abuse at the hands of his wife (the police wouldn’t take him seriously, and thanks to a technicality in the law she was never prosecuted). I get uncomfortable when discussions of rape focus solely on women. I see women I know personally, who I love dearly and know to be good people, making statements online about fighting sexual assault AGAINST WOMEN and sexual harassment OF WOMEN and all sorts of crimes AGAINST WOMEN, when men are also victims but to a much lesser extent. I guess I’ll have to try to have a dialog and see where they’re coming from…is it just a case of picking battles? Is it a blind spot? I’m sure they’re concerned about it but I can’t see what’s wrong with being against rape and sexual assault and harassment against ANYONE, regardless of sex.

But I’m sure you can all understand how this can lead to an impression (unfortunate and inadvertent, I’m sure) that some feminists simply don’t care about sexual violence against men. I want to think the best of people, and consider myself one of the “good men,” but am often afraid of speaking up because I don’t always agree with my potential allies 100% and am fearful of being branded a misogynist if I question their beliefs and pronouncements…and I have to be true to my own convictions as well! (And I wonder how many other men feel the same way, if any.)

Sorry to ramble, this has been on my mind.

#44 GeodgeGedson on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 1:25pm

Wow, , , ,

And so instead of joining One Billion Rising OR volunteering at a “local domestic violence shelter” OR meeting with “lawmakers to increase penalties for physical and sexual assault” to stop sexual violence, you compose your own 1200 word whine about Eve Ensler and “thin-skinned feminists” and disguise it as “true”, rather than “faux”, concern over violence.

Uh, hate to break it to you sir but I have NO doubt in my mind that Ms Ensler’s efforts, meager though they may be, are immeasurably more successful in accomplishing these goals than this cavilling cow pie will be.

#45 marlorocci on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 2:30pm

The push back against the excesses of feminism has begun.  This is what happens when you ask for too much.

#46 Ichthyic (Guest) on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 2:37pm

The push back against the excesses of feminism has begun.  This is what happens when you ask for too much.

you know, racists said the same fucking thing when African Americans started demanding the same civil rights as Caucasians in the US.

so, I suppose if you were around then, you would have justified the lynchings of “uppity niggers” by saying the same thing?

in short… you’re very, very dense.

#47 marlorocci on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 2:44pm

Actually, I was thinking of McCarhyism. 

That’s what modern feminism has become.  Rule by accusation.  Rule by intimidation.  Try to make a point or raise an objection and you’re slammed with name calling. 

Now this new McCathyism is getting called out on it’s BS.

#48 Martin (Guest) on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 3:05pm

The push back against the excesses of feminism has begun.  This is what happens when you ask for too much.

“Ask for too much”? You mean, like, “Hello, please treat us a human beings, not objects that exist for the gratification of your penis whether we want it or not?”

Yeah, what are those uppity hoes thinking?

Actually, I was thinking of McCarhyism.

That’s what modern feminism has become.

You could have just said “Hello, I’m spectacularly unintelligent,” and saved yourself several taxing keystrokes. But I suppose I should give you props for not going straight to Nazis.

#49 Jason (Guest) on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 3:09pm

Ben,

I don’t think you understand the claim behind the phrase “rape culture” well enough to criticize it. Many of the things you take a stand against are part of rape culture (example: victim blaming).

I think this piece is lacking in nuance at times and easily attacked for that reason. And I also think you overestimate the influence that phrases like “all men are rapists” has had on modern feminism (especially for the feminists who are also freethinkers that you are engaging with).

It can be hard to get to know feminists and count yourself among their ranks when you see the statistical abuses, emotional pandering, and anecdotally based arguments that many feminists make. I get that, I struggled for the same reasons.

But I legitimately hope you perfect your understanding of modern feminism and make an attempt to view us in a more accurate light.

I do agree with the core of what you wrote however. There are quite a few feminist activists out there that regularly abuse science and empiricism to make their points. And Eve is very hypocritical for her “good rape” inclusion.

Overall, I’d say this post is a mixed bag. I appreciate some of what you say as a skeptic and some of what you say as a feminist, but both my skeptical and feminist side has objections to what you’ve written.

Either way, I wish you good luck in furthering your education about feminism.

#50 Ezi M (Guest) on Saturday February 16, 2013 at 4:11pm

Write a post about using an effective, evidence-based approach rather than emotional arguments and anecdotes; commenters use emotional arguments and anecdotes.

1st comment prize to EllenBeth, who jumps to defend her friends but offers no actual critique.

Cognitive Dissonance badge awarded to Melody Hensley for dismissing post because she’s one of those feminists who irresponsibly spews the words MRA, misogynist, sister-punisher, rape apologist, chill girls. She can’t accept the damage she’s caused, having lists of “known sexists” and bullying other women.

Heina gets a Check-ur-privilege sticker. Keep writing for a blog that think if it says rape culture enough times that it’s fighting for women’s rights.

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