No, the real reason [the Rolling Stone UVA rape story] is turning into such a big deal is there are a surprising number of people who want to deny that rape is a serious social problem and who want to push the idea that many rape cases are just a matter of women lying because they are crazy or vindictive. For these folks — call ‘em rape truthers — this whole incident is like a second Christmas, an opportunity to take an extremely rare and strange case and pretend it should be reason to dismiss the reality that rape is a crime that happens with some frequency.
“Rape truthers.” Where shall we begin dismantling this straw man?
Let’s start by noticing how Amanda Marcotte obscures the sequence of events in how this became “such a big deal.” She begins her column by saying there has been “a shocking media feeding frenzy over the discovery that one of the young women claiming to be a rape victim in Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s recent Rolling Stone piece might be exaggerating about her experience or even lying about it.” Yet this was not the original “media feeding frenzy,” which was caused when Erdely’s story “A Rape On Campus” was published online Nov. 19. And we now know, as we did not know on Nov. 19, the motives and purposes behind Erdely’s story. She had shopped around looking for the perfect rape:
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Magazine writer Sabrina Rubin Erdely knew she wanted to write about sexual assaults at an elite university. What she didn’t know was which university.
So, for six weeks starting in June, Erdely interviewed students from across the country. She talked to people at Harvard, Yale, Princeton and her alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania. None of those schools felt quite right. But one did: the University of Virginia, a public school, Southern and genteel, brimming with what Erdely calls “super-smart kids” and steeped in the legacy of its founder, Thomas Jefferson.
As Tim Graham of Newsbusters pointed out, Erdley mocked the lack of radical feminist activism at UVA, and said female students there were “sickened by the university’s culture of hidden sexual violence.”
The quest that led Erdely to Charlottesville was part of a campaign by feminists to exaggerate the prevalence of rape on campuses, a campaign in which officials of the Obama administration were actively involved.
“It is estimated that 1 in 5 women on college campuses has been sexually assaulted during their time there — 1 in 5.”
— Barack Obama, Jan. 22, 2014
“We know the numbers: one in five of every one of those young women who is dropped off for that first day of school, before they finish school, will be assaulted, will be assaulted in her college years.”
— Joe Biden, April 29, 2014
Having re-elected President Obama in a campaign that claimed Republicans were waging a “War on Women,” Democrats were clearly exploiting this “rape epidemic” narrative for political purposes. Feminist activists, Democrat politicians and liberal journalists strove to promote this message which, among other things, resulted in Title IX investigations by the Department of Education and California enacting an “affirmative consent” law that applies only to college students.
Even as this politicized “rape epidemic” campaign rolled forward, however, critics pointed to clear evidence that this narrative was false. Federal data show that the incidence of rape has declined significantly in the past 15 years, and there are obvious problems with the survey from which the “1-in-5″ statistic is derived (see “Statistical Voodoo and Elastic Definitions,” June 15). Yet those who called attention to facts that contradicted the “rape epidemic” myth were excoriated for telling the truth, with one MSNBC commentator saying victims were “re-raped” and “re-traumatized” by a George Will column.
Facts are rape. Truth is trauma. And what is obviously at work here is a totalitarian effort to suppress truth, so that the truth is whatever feminists say it is, and anyone who questions feminist rhetoric is a thought criminal. “Shut up, because rape.”
It was amidst this bizarre Orwellian climate that Sabrina Rubin Erdely told the tale of Jackie’s alleged gang rape, a tale that specifically implicated members of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity at the University of Virginia, and accused UVA officials of indifference to pervasive sexual violence on campus. Megan McArdle explains why the factuality of Jackie’s gang-rape tale is crucial to what Erdely was attempting to do:
[Defender’s of the Rolling Stone story] have argued that focusing on Jackie’s story is getting us “sidetracked” from “the real story,” which is about the rape culture at UVA and the slothful institutional reaction to Jackie’s story. The story was headlined “A Rape on Campus.” The first thousand words are devoted to Jackie’s horrifying story, and much of the rest of the story is devoted to Jackie’s descent into depression and her interactions with the deans. If the story is so irrelevant to the real point of the article, then it should have been pulled out when the victim refused to provide details that would have permitted the author to contact the accused for comment.
But of course, if Jackie’s story had been pulled out, the article wouldn’t have received anything like the attention it got. The story was so electric precisely because it was about the premeditated gang rape of an innocent girl, in a way that suggested that such callous and criminal treatment of women was commonly viewed by the university community as not really worthy of comment, much less punishment — and that this view afflicted even the administrators charged with protecting students from rape. Without that element, this would have been a dull-but-worthy chin-stroker about institutional bureaucratic processes that probably wouldn’t have been shared 170,000 times on Facebook.
In other words, Erdely told the horrifying story of what allegedly happened to Jackie — an 18-year-old freshman gang-raped by seven fraternity members — in order to dramatize “rape culture” which feminists insist is responsible for a “rape epidemic” on America’s college and university campuses. Yet when doubts arose about the truth of this dramatic narrative, feminists claimed that the truth didn’t matter.
Facts were irrelevant, feminists said, because the narrative about campus rape was true, and those who want facts risk being “sidetracked” from that political narrative. Now we have Amanda Marcotte smearing as “rape truthers” those who insist that facts matter:
[M]any people stand behind the myth that women routinely lie about being raped, which justifies preserving a status quo where men’s word is considered more authoritative and trustworthy just because they are male.
Well, then, who are these “many people” who say “women routinely lie about being raped”? Marcotte names Rich Lowry, Chuck C. Johnson, Kevin Williamson, George Will, Tammy Bruce, Patrick Howley and Susan Patton as promoters of a “misogynist fairy tale about false rape accusations.” Readers are invited to examine the evidence and determine whether Marcotte is telling the truth about these “rape truthers.”
We must be clear about what is happening and why it is happening. Feminists are determined to silence their critics, and they are exploiting victims of rape for that purpose. Neither I nor anyone I know of wishes to “deny that rape is a serious social problem,” nor do we dismiss “the reality that rape is a crime that happens with some frequency.” Yet anti-male hate-mongering by feminists like Amanda Marcotte is also “a serious social problem,” and deliberate dishonesty by Democrats promoting political propaganda also “happens with some frequency.”
You may think Amanda Marcotte’s atheism is irrelevant to her hateful dishonesty, but me and Baby Jesus think otherwise.
First published at TheOtherMcCain.com
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.