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.