Gender Blindness

At Minding the Campus, Cathy Young writes of the Ohio University rape that wasn’t.

The scandal started, like many scandals do these days, in the social media. On Saturday, October 12, amidst the school’s Homecoming Weekend festivities, photos and a video of two young people engaged in a public sex act near the campus–the man on his knees performing oral sex on the woman while she leaned against a plate-glass window, half-sitting on its ledge–showed up online and promptly spread on Twitter.

On Sunday night, the woman in the photos, a 20-year-old Ohio University student, contacted Athens police to say that she had been sexually assaulted.

This became the floor show in Athens, Ohio.

Meanwhile, the photos and videos–initially taken down after the rape complaint–resurfaced.  They appeared to show a fully consensual encounter; the woman was seen smiling, flipping back her hair, at one point putting her hand on the back of the man’s head, and even posing for the camera with a grin on her face.  Witnesses confirmed that, while both participants were clearly drunk, the “victim” was not incapacitated and “seemed like she was enjoying it”; she also left with the man afterwards, walking unassisted.  (While none of the onlookers thought the sex was non-consensual, at least one or two of them berated the man as a “slut” and physically assaulted him after he stood up, bloodying his face–an ironic detail considering feminist complaints that women are stigmatized for sexually “loose” behavior while men are not.)

In other words, plenty to see there, but nothing to see there, if you get my drift.  Thereupon, the forces of gender politics took over.  Young goes on to document the outpouring of support for this “survivor” of “rape culture,” and the near universal refusal of progressive-leaning sources to even consider that this was consensual sex and, perhaps, second day remorse.

Feminists outside the OU campus took the same stance. A column on ThinkProgress.org, the website of the Center for the American Progress, suggested that eyewitness accounts confirming that both participants in the act were “very, very drunk” proved that, no matter how consensual it looked, it fit Ohio University’s criteria for sexual assault. (Actually, the university policy quoted in the column states that a person is unable to consent if “incapacitated” due to alcohol or other factors.) The writer, Tara Culp-Resser, did not seem to realize that by her definition, the man can be considered a victim of sexual assault as much as the woman–leading to the absurd conclusion that they were raping each other.

Culp-Resser laments, “When women allege that they have been sexually assaulted, everyone from police departments to university officials to their neighbors often tells them they’re mistaken, and assumes they’re simply ‘crying rape’ after waking up the next morning and regretting a sexual encounter.” And yet, ironically, the Ohio University incident validates precisely that stereotype. Doing stupid things when one’s judgment is impaired by alcohol is not the same thing as being coerced while unable to resist or consent.

What makes this otherwise absurd scenario worthy of note is how the infiltration of gender politics has so absurdly obscured reality.  This is a very real problem, that when it comes to issues like sexual assault and rape, distinguishing between crimes and false claims appears utterly impossible for those who are so tied to gender politics that they are blind to such old-school stuff as facts.

The problem is that this creates an insurmountable rift between people who should be natural allies.  Much as occurred with the war over criminalizing revenge porn, where there was never any question that the specific evil that the Gender Warriors sought to eradicate was, indeed, a terrible wrong, they were so blinded by the argument that the baby was ugly to recognize the commonality of interest against revenge porn itself.

Wrapping up something as horrible as rape and sexual abuse in a culture war that ignores facts, redefines conduct as becoming criminal based on revisionism, and there becomes a split that cannot be overcome.  And screaming generalities afterward makes it impossible to support the cause when the facts just don’t back it up.

There is no doubt that the religious belief that surrounds certain political agendas cannot be addressed through rational discussion.  Some of us need facts to get riled up.  Some don’t.  Some will seize on any opportunity to scream about the evil of their personal agenda and deny any possibility that they can be wrong.

The problem is that those who refused to see that there was no sexual assault at Ohio University, but rather two college students who needed to get a room, aren’t stupid. Just blind. Blinded by an agenda that doesn’t allow for reality, for facts, for the possibility that not every cry of rape is true.  And this is why those of us who are constrained by facts and reality find it impossible to back you up, as much as we abhor rape and sexual assault.

33 comments on “Gender Blindness

  1. jakee308

    I don’t know about these days but 40 years ago I found out how thin a grasp college students have on reality and how many times what appears to be one thing can turn out to be another. (or as in this case can be twisted to appear as other than was the reality).

    Nor do they have the life experience and wit to accept that others might not view the world the same as they do and that that view might be as valid as theirs is.

    But then we’re all young once. And if we’re lucky we live to outgrow it.

  2. John

    It would seem that the larger problem is most likely not necessarily gender politics, but rather the 24-hour new cycle. When I say that I don’t mean to imply that people are always searching for news, but rather that in their search for news they don’t actually investigate the news. Similar to the Duke lacrosse case (and many others like George Zimmerman) a lot of people (reporters, bloggers…) latch onto the first news piece which was nothing more than a news flash without any substance and ran with it. Only then they never check what actually occured or are willing to go back to the story when the facts are laid out.

    1. SHG Post author

      While I agree with you in general, in this case, after the news was clear, some otherwise smart people persisted in denying facts in favor of ideology.

      1. John

        I was going to say that the facts don’t always seem to register with some people, but as I was thinking about it your point makes sense. As was seen with the George Zimmerman case (whether you think Zimmerman attacked or Martin attacked) once the facts came out that Stand Your Ground had nothing to do with the case, it was just plain old self defense, people kept on the case not because of the facts but because it fit with their ideology and they had a point they wanted to make, damn the facts.

        1. Angela

          Given that “Stand Your Ground” was included in the jury instructions, it very much had to do with the case.

            1. SHG Post author

              It never ceases to amaze me how one person’s dubious analogy causes otherwise intelligent people to run blindly into dark alleys.

            2. Mark W. Bennett

              I’m not sure what you’re referring to, but John’s incorrectness about the Zimmerman case, flying in the face of the objective facts (i.e. the jury charge), seems an especially poignant unintentional illustration of the point of your post.

            3. SHG Post author

              Especially poignant? Pungent, perhaps, but not especially poignant. Now, we’re done with Zimmerman here. Pungent, right?

            4. SHG Post author

              Never. Just keeping comments on topic. It’s so easy for feral cats to stray.

              Edit: Actually, now that I look at what the mere mention of Zimmerman has done to the comments to this post, I’m seriously considering it.

            5. Sgt. Schultz

              Wow. You really trashed the comments here with Zimmerman crap that has nothing to do with the post. It’s one thing for Angela, whoever she is, to go flying off on a tangent, but you ought to know better. And you ought to have a little more respect for SHG than to do this to him. Not cool.

    2. Ed

      Will you people please stop trying to defend George Zimmerman. He has nothing to do with any legitimate cause unless your goal is to shoot black kids with immunity. Feel free to inject all other falsely accused be subjected to summary judgment except THAT GUY! I have no idea what kind of idiot racist you have to be to NOT understand why the guy who shoots a unarmed black kid isn’t an ideal example of a innocent victim. In fact he’d be the sort of person who hurts innocent people by executing his own summary judgment.

        1. SHG Post author

          But nobody cares over there, as long as they can extol their personal virtues and include a link back to their marketing platform.

  3. John

    My apologies to SHG and the community, my intention was not to divert the discussion to such an extent, it was a poor analogy.

  4. BL1Y

    What makes you think they’re blind to the facts?

    And I mean that question in contrast to the possibility that they are well aware of the facts, but are just liars.

      1. BL1Y

        Definitely very cynical. My question is why would thinking they’re blind to the facts be more or less cynical than thinking they’re lying?

          1. BL1Y

            Worse, but only in a very narrow way, and not necessarily the relevant way.

            Imagine you were one of the people calling this incident a rape. Would you rather it be because you are aware of the facts but ruthlessly pursuing your goals, or because you’re honest but too stupid to understand simple facts?

            I think reasonable minds could disagree on that, but I suspect most people would rather lack morals than lack agency.

  5. Barry Sheridan

    What a nightmarish world this has become, here we have a couple engaging in what belongs in private, carrying on without shame, and then embarking on vile allegations afterwards. I am glad to be beyond the point in life where I ever need to consider such activity. As for my sons, well they must live in the world where finding someone decent to share life with seems next to impossible. This is sad beyond belief.

    1. SHG Post author

      We use to think the only danger for our children would be AIDS. It’s a minefield out there today, and there’s no way of knowing whether you’ve made it through safely.

  6. UltravioletAdmin

    The problem with a case like this is murky and drunk consent brings out only preconceived notions and kneejerk reactions. There are those that will decry it as rape, those that decry it second hand remorse, and those trying to use it to open a dialogue on the notion of consent. I found no one ever really changes their position from their reactive position. I haven’t seen any good idea except for life loggers where everything is recorded from both parties, to try and give a more objective view. The problem with that there’s still this whole ambiguous area. Defaulting so that every rapist goes free, or every accused party faces life aren’t the only options, but that’s how it feels with the emotions running around.

    1. SHG Post author

      This isn’t an ambiguous area, unless you’re searching for a means to justify a preconceived bias. It’s not even close.

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