It’s Tough To Be A Man In This Woman’s World

A quick follow-on to Doug J’s post below.

To point out the obvious:  in the new narrative of sexual violence on college campuses, conservative writers, like the one Doug J cites, like Ross Douthat, like the richly informed social commentators he references (McArdle rising from her Bloomberg obscurity! The American Enterprise Institute’s Caroline Kitchens…) find the heart of the story clearly in the true victims of the rape crisis:  the accused.

The complainants?  The default in this new/old conservative commentary is that the accusation of rape is simply a tool — a way to get revenge for one slight or another, or simply to impose matriarchy on a society that has already abandoned its men.  Because universities are so cowed by feminist moral relativists, no accused male stands a chance.



Sulkowicz [a student at Columbia] said that she didn’t want to report her attack to the police because she was embarrassed and ashamed of what had happened to her.

“When it first happened, I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I didn’t even tell my parents. … I didn’t even want to talk to my best friend,” she said.

Sulkowicz decided to file a complaint against Nungesser through the University when she met two other women he allegedly assaulted. “I realized that if I didn’t report him he’d continue to attack women on this campus. I had to do it for those other women,” Sulkowicz said.

After Sulkowicz reported her assault to Columbia in April 2013, the University ultimately found him “not responsible”—the same decision it later gave the two other women who filed complaints against him, Sulkowicz said.

Sulkowicz has recently filed  a police report, and a DA is looking into the matter.  But the larger point is, I hope, obvious.

Rape is not a joke, a game, something that virtually everyone faced with the question of what to do after a sexual assault will bandy about.  (Sexual violence isn’t all rape, and rape doesn’t define the universe of such harm too, of course.)  Claims of rape are terribly hard on those who make them.  I’m stunned that I write these words at this late date, but folks on the right seem to have missed the bit where you talk to folks who actually know about sexual harm — so I guess we must.

I’m not saying an accusation is truth.  I’ve spoken with Title IX coordinators — and just received a briefing at MIT on my responsibilities as a graduate officer under that law — and there is no doubt that these are hard investigations to perform and difficult judgements (sometimes) to make.  Procedure is important; real commitment on the part of institutions to investigation is important; the establishment of a full suite of responses to help a victim of assault is vital and much more besides.

But the notion that the the risk of false accusation tops the list of concerns, and not paying due attention to sexual violence itself speaks volumes of the default to authority of the folks on the right.  Men deprived of power by an accusation are victims; the women who make up the vast majority of victims of sexual assault are the abusers for the act of talking out loud of the harm done to them.

This, friends, is how entrenched social power stays that way — or tries to.

Image: Artemisia Gentileschi, Judith Beheading Holofernes, 1614-20.

22 replies
  1. 1
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Ross Douchehat, dickless wonder.

  2. 2
    ulee says:

    I walk my dogs in the woods and cemetaries. When a stranger shows up, I’m not alarmed, but careful. If I was a woman I would get the fuck out of there in a hurry. It’s not a myth.

  3. 3
    Kropadope says:

    Her name is sulkowicz?!? She’s just made for pundit A-holery

  4. 4
    JPL says:

    This is OT
    What if we never reach peak wingnut? From TPM, I found this gem..

    The League of the South is pushing for a billboard that reads “SECEDE” to be restored on a highway in Montgomery, Ala., Alabama Media Group reported……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
    The League of the South is pushing for a billboard that readTs “SECEDE” to be restored on a highway in Montgomery, Ala., Alabama Media Group reported.

    Will someone explain to this ass, that if they secede, they will not be part of the America of which he speaks?

  5. 5
    the Conster says:

    I would like Columbia to answer the question “how many women’s voices does it take to equal one man’s”? Clearly, it’s more than 3. Is there an algorithm? It took 4 women before Herman Cain went down. So fucking sick of this shit.

  6. 6
    JPL says:

    Back to the topic at hand, why are old white guys telling me what is and isn’t rape. They just need to go away.

  7. 7
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    I lived in the North West of England during the “Yorkshire Ripper” times (he didn’t restrict himself to Yorkshire) I learned the trick of carrying my keys in my hands with each key protruding from between each finger. Four keys smashed into a face with force will bring down many an attacker. Rape is no joke. I would have been raped in a barn by a gang of boys had my sister not showed up and smacked the ever loving treacle out of the boys that had me pinned down and already had my clothes off. I was lucky, I lost my virginity to a boy I adored at the age of 18. Had my sister not intervened I would have lost it at age 9.

    BTW what the fuck is this story about the guy who was drugging his wife and raping her nightly not getting jail time?

  8. 8
    JPL says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: Wow! He would have received more time for animal abuse. That is just awful .. ..

  9. 9
    scav says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: Apparently, we’re lucky that Indiana is a state that even recognizes that it is even possible to rape one’s wife. There seem to be some where the biblically sanctioned ring means it’s sex on demand, 24/7, yee-haw! bulwark of society and ideal environment for raising the kidlets and instilling the proper family values!

  10. 10
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    There seem to be some where the biblically sanctioned ring means it’s sex on demand, 24/7, yee-haw!

    I believe some restrictions may apply. You need to look like Marlon Brando in “A Streetcar Named Desire” in order to qualify.

  11. 11
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @scav: Actually all 50 states, plus DC, have laws criminalizing spousal/partner rape. Ins several states, however, the standard is higher than standard rape – several states require proof of force or threat of force for spousal/partner rape but simple lack of consent for ordinary rape. No links – it’s out of my memory from a CLE class.

  12. 12
    geg6 says:

    Why can’t all these white men quit talking about rape? And telling us all how it should be defined? I am so sick of these mother fuckers. Just sick and tired of them.

    Oh well. I should just let them keep talking. They repel anyone with a conscience every time they open their mouths.

  13. 13
    burnspbesq says:

    I don’t know why I’m defending Ross Douthat, but this

    Ross Douthat … find[s] the heart of the story clearly in the true victims of the rape crisis: the accused.

    Is a complete fabrication.

    I’ve read the May 10 piece to which you link in your post several times, and there is nothing in it that can fairly be characterized as saying what you claim it says. If you think otherwise, please provide specific references to specific language that you claim supports that characterization.

    Sexual assault in university communities is a real and serious problem in need of real and serious attention, and I’m having a hard time figuring out how burning convenient strawmen is supposed to contribute to moving forward.

  14. 14
    ellennelle says:

    that reasoning, that the most crucial concern is false accusation, somehow reminds me of the “most crucial concern” supporting voter id laws: voter fraud.

    do these folks ever follow their thoughts past their own noses? what does any single person gain from voting twice? or even three times? there simply is no payoff, no incentive to do this!

    same with rape; what really would ever be in it for these girls to make such fraudulent claims? especially given the poor success rate of prosecutions. (i really need to read that book about the GA lacrosse story; something fishy there, yet it seems to drive their logic.)

    either way, both positions conservatives take protects the status quo, the dominant male and his vote; translation = white male dominance.

    i’d say give these people a mirror, but they’re so superficial they would never get the hint.

  15. 15
    Omnes Omnibus says:


    Is a complete fabrication.

    That sounds like mclaren’s line of rhetoric. Someone can’t be wrong or misinterpreting something; they have to fabricating?

  16. 16
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    it is even possible to rape one’s wife

    I am flashing on The Forsyte Saga. This was a major plot device in the original series.

  17. 17
    Ronnie Pudding says:

    Douthat is taking a “middle ground” position. The anti-rape activists go too far, but the colleges deserve it. He is at least correct in pointing out that the most important thing for universities is protecting their brand.

    His piece is still douchey, but he’s certainly not the worst conservative on this.

  18. 18
    mainmata says:

    I actually have more respect for Bobo than Ross whose Op-Eds tend to be creepy Opus Dei screeds at best. Don’t understand why he appears there. Maybe Cardinal Dolan has bought him advertising space on the NYT op-ed page.

  19. 19
    Tara the Antisocial Social Worker says:

    The knee-jerk fixation with false reports is quite weird. Law enforcement research typically finds that false reports are around 2% (highest I’ve seen is 8%), and the majority of those do not involve a named suspect. And even those numbers are artificially inflated by the fact that actual rapes are so underreported. A man is actually far more likely to be a sexual assault victim himself than to wind up in jail over a false accusation.

    David Lisak’s research on campus rapists found that the pattern described by the victim quoted above is common. Using self-report (without using the word “rape”), he found that 6% admitted to committing the legal definition of rape, and two-thirds of the rapists were repeat offenders with an average of six victims each. So out of 100 guys, 6 rapists but 26 rapes, and 24 of the rapes (over 90%) were committed by repeat offenders. If you stop him the first time, you stop 5 more rapes.

  20. 20
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Tara the Antisocial Social Worker: Thanks for the link. Those numbers are really interesting.

  21. 21
    Barbara says:

    I read about Ms. Sulkowicz in the NYT, and I got upset all over again about the way universities try to inoculate themselves as institutions. Her biggest mistake from a law enforcement perspective is that she waited to file any claim with anyone. My daughter goes to a college that is on the list being investigated for the way they handle allegations, and what I told her is what I would tell anyone: rape is a crime. Read the account of what happened to Ms. Sulkowicz, it was brutal — someone who would do what that guy did should be processed by the criminal justice system. Instead, what you find are universities (like my daughters) that are trying six ways to Sunday to provide a non-criminal process, and end up doing things like trying to maintain physical separation by ensuring no overlapping classes. It’s so maddening. I know WHY a woman would not want to report a rape to the police, but it seems like one part of the responsibility of any organization trying to help the victim is to take her side, calm those fears, boost her self-esteem and explain WHY she should not shy away from seeking the remedy that the law provides. The problem is that universities are not neutral — they don’t want their students being prosecuted, and so they promise a non-criminal process that is, basically, stacked against making waves that would put the university in a bad light. So in one sense, bringing all the bad publicity is probably just what places like Columbia need to shock their complacency. Seriously, read what happened to this woman. It was grotesque, and the people that Columbia put in charge of meting out “justice” were also grotesque.

  22. 22
    EthylEster says:

    I suppose allegations of child sexual abuse are likewise false.
    Guys’ dicks are one of the biggest protected classes in the world.

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