Friday, March 22, 2013

The fluid definition of rape

I've been meaning to link to a pair of op-ed pieces I wrote in my final month of college where I was critical of the flimsy definition of rape pushed on college students. I finally have an excuse because tonight I read a piece by Anna March that makes many of the same points and dared to say some things that will get ones head cut off today.

The outcry about the “Girls” episode truly startled me. I was surprised when several bright writers whose work I admire labeled the scene rape, because to me and to so many other bright writers whose work I admire, it so clearly was not rape. Categorizing it as such is an intellectually unsound discrediting of women’s power. Natalia was not raped and to call the sex she consented to rape is to demean actual victims of sexual assault and devalue the crime. Further, it is paternalistic in its approach to women, as though women are helpless beings incapable of voicing their wants, and, absent violence and/or threats of violence, can’t or won’t say no. If we want to argue that women are so limited by the patriarchy that they can’t say no, how do we counter the arguments that women can’t handle jobs in the military or working as police officers?

These attempts to water down the definition of rape to include insensitive or unclear sexual partners is misguided. It states that all sex is rape until proven otherwise and that rapists can be oblivious well-intentioned lovers who missed some subtle signals. It also abandons the reasonable person standard and blurs the line between regrettable decisions and force.

I predict March will become the straw man of the week in the feminist blogsphere for this peice. I don't agree with everything she wrote, but I give her a lot of credit for taking a brave stance on an important topic.


  1. Thanks for this entry, Michael. It's rather scary what extremist feminists are trying to do to truly strong, independent women and men through misguided activism and attention seeking.