When There Are No Men To Blame (Update)

After the “shitstorm” hit, that the Rolling Stone article about the UVA gang rape wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, I checked the twitter feed of one of my favorite feminists, Amanda Marcotte, who writes for Slate’s XX Factor.  I actually felt bad for her, trying so desperately to salvage some tiny thread of dignity when her world view was shattered.

The problem was that she didn’t need to demean herself.  That one article turned out to be so poorly vetted as to raise substantial doubts as to its veracity, or the blind faith that replaced journalistic integrity in reporting it, proves nothing more than that this one instance isn’t what it purported to be.  Any thoughtful person realizes this, just as any thoughtful person realizes that one anecdote doesn’t prove the opposite.

The problem for Marcotte, of course, is that she, along with those who suffer from the same myopia, argue the opposite.  When a rape occurs, whether it’s what the law considers a rape or of the amorphous variety that appeals mostly to Jezebel readers, it doesn’t prove all men are rapists or that our society is built on rape culture (whatever that is) under the auspices of the patriarchy.  Live by the sword, get embarrassed by the sword.

But what salvages her honor, to the extent she believes it to be intact, is that she has the patriarchy to blame.  What if it was just among women?  Who then to blame?

Mount Holyoke is an all-female liberal arts college of some repute.  To say there is a progressive culture on campus is an understatement, which is, apparently, why a freshman political science major, Yvonne Dean-Bailey, was excoriated for an article that stepped a fraction of an inch off the required line of orthodoxy as to student protest of Michael Brown’s no true bill. She

attended the student-organized protest held on Monday. She took photos, reached out to the event organizers, and researched the demonstration. And like anyone in professional journalism strives to accomplish, Yvonne found a unique angle for her story and ran with it.

But it was that angle—an event organizer asking “white folks” to keep their hands down during the demonstration—which angered crusaders for equality at Mount Holyoke so much that they resorted to “fighting the good fight” with hateful notes and vicious attacks on an online message board.

For this breach, she awoke to find a note on her dorm door (with Campus Reform logo superimposed over someone else’s note, because reasons).

This was just the beginning, as she was attacked in social media of all flavors, by current students as well as “alum”:

All this because she wrote an article about someone else arguing that “white folks” shouldn’t do the “hands up” thing:

Susanna Holmstrom urged classmates Sunday night not to raise their hands in mock surrender in the “ Five College Mass Walk Out” if they were “white folks.”

“I encourage white folks participating tomorrow to keep our hands down, to avoid centering ourselves in the actions, and to listen much more than we speak,” Holmstrom said on the event’s public Facebook page.

It’s tough to be sensitive and progressive these days. So many landmines. So much anger. So confusing.  So mean.

So what does this internecine warfare over reactions to racial violence have to do with a story of a vicious rape that Marcotte, et al., fear will undermine public confidence in the veracity of rape claims, giving rise to “misogynists” (all people who question the veracity of a rape claim is a misogynist by definition, as feminists know that it’s immaterial if the claim is true or false, as it’s a reflecting of rape culture and, even if it didn’t happen, happened at least in the mind of the victim, which is all that really matters. Whew.) rape deniers.

Its tendrils meet at Marco Randazza’s post at CNN, and Glenn Reynolds’, the Instapundit, snarky twit:

So as I understand it, Atticus Finch is now the bad guy in “To Kill A Mockingbird,” because he doubted a story about rape.

So many sacred cows.  So many beliefs that the orthodoxy demands. So many things in which we must believe, WE MUST BELIEVE, or be hated and reviled.  And then something happens, like UVA’s “oopsy,” or the viciousness of the attack on a Holyoke College frosh for not being radical enough, that brings it all crashing down.

Marco’s post is, of course, unnecessary.  Only a blithering idiot doesn’t realize that false accusations happen, and the fact of their happening neither adds nor detracts to whatever narrative advocates demand be obeyed absolutely.  Does Amanda Marcotte really want to call Atticus Finch a rape apologist?  Which side wins and loses when race and gender collide?

And therein lie so many problems.

This is the kind of “believe the victim” mentality that is so darkly infecting academia. “Presumed guilty” is the new standard. Patrick Whitt is the new Tom Robinson, the black man accused of the rape in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Due process loses, ethics are out the window, because there is an agenda, and it needs the fuel of a rape story.

We can all argue about the relative virtues of progressive visions of our future, but we can do so with some tiny degree of honesty and integrity rather than screaming facile names at the “enemies” of the orthodoxy.

While I wouldn’t be able to attempt to make this point on my own, as I’m too easily tarred as a misogynist and rape apologist, being a man and all, and thus dismissed as either “mansplainin'” by a gentle person, or far worse by an enraged feminist, there is no man to blame for the attack on Mount Holyoke’s Yvonne Dean-Bailey.

So your orthodoxy has been revealed as just a little too full of shit to all, and your efforts to salvage your righteousness are, well, laughable.  Here’s the difference between the vicious haters at Mount Holyoke and those of us who you have fought desperately to never hear again: we’re not the enemy. We’re just people who think about stuff.

We’re not laughing at this shitstorm, but hoping that you might now clean yourself off and stop making yourself look like fools. Maybe then, rational solutions can be found that we can all live with.  But your orthodoxy is a fraud and everybody knows it. Let it go.

Update:  As if on cue, the defense of the faith appears in the Washington Post* in the persona of Zerlina Maxwell:

This is wrong. We should always believe, as a matter of default, what an accuser says. Ultimately, the costs of wrongly disbelieving a survivor far outweigh the costs of calling someone a rapist. Even if Jackie fabricated her account, UVA should have taken her word for it until they could have proved otherwise. This is not a legal argument; it’s a moral one, about what happens outside the legal system.

But what about truth, accuracy, integrity, honesty, and the presumption of innocence?

The accused would have a rough period. He might be suspended from his job; friends might de-friend him on Facebook. In the case of Bill Cosby, we might have to stop watching, consuming his books, or buying tickets to his traveling stand-up routine. These errors can be undone by an investigation that clears the accused, especially if it is done quickly.

Putting aside Maxwell’s unique ability to unring bells, why?

The cost of disbelieving women, on the other hand, is far steeper. It signals that that women don’t matter and that they are disposable — not only to frat boys and Bill Cosby, but to us. And they face a special set of problems in having their say.

We wouldn’t want to signal to women they don’t matter. Not even the ones who lie and falsely accuse men of rape.  No, this is not a legal argument. No, it’s not a rational argument. It’s a religious argument. And if you don’t share the faith, you will be burned at the stake for heresy. Because women.  Maxwell, in case you’re interested, is a graduate of Rutgers Law School and, per her website, is a very important on-air pundit.

* It would appear that WaPo stealth edited the post after my cut and paste to water down some of its most absurd assertions.

35 thoughts on “When There Are No Men To Blame (Update)

  1. Vin

    _People aren’t always going to do it properly. Innocent folks may get hurt. But we need the stories to be told._

    A tweet from a mother of two boys in regards to the RS article being good or bad for the cause.

    To a point you made to me, I wonder if she would sacrifice her boys for the cause?

    Like I said before, the RS article did nothing but add vigor to those who want to deny the Jackies of the world their day in court.

    1. SHG Post author

      Neither the twitterer’s view (stories need to be told, even if they’re false, because truth doesn’t matter to the cause) nor the alternative (“add vigor to those who want to deny the Jackies of the world their day in court”) reflect what any thoughtful person should take from this. Both are similarly wrong, and idiotic. These are the ridiculous views of dogmatic simpletons, who reduce complex thought to abject ignorance.

      I’m sorry, what was your point, Vin?

      1. Vin

        LOL, the second part about “adding vigor” is not idiotic. You can already see it unfolding on the news and the social web. People rush to the judgement that the Jackies of the world are no longer believable. The fact that RS also apologized for putting their trust in Jackie shifts blame, in the public eye, to Jackies lack of being trustworthy.

        These things when taken together, allow for the possibility of the average person jumping to conclusions about the veracity of Jackie or other victims claims that they were raped.

        In other words, RS may have partially hurt the cause for true victims of the crime of rape.

        1. SHG Post author

          There you go again, Vin. Mistaking reaction for the absence of idiocy. Yes, people will rush to judgment. That’s because they’re idiots. Sometimes truth hurts causes which rely on fictional narratives to play to idiots. So what you’re saying is that you share their view, but since you do, it can’t be idiotic because that would make you an idiot. See, grasshopper?

          1. Vin

            I do not share their view. I am an observer only, speculating on the reactions of the majority.

            In your video interview about revenge porn you suggest that laws are often created because of the knee jerk response of politicians to the knee jerk response of voters.
            Im suggesting that articles like the RS creates knee jerk responses, and the follow up apology creates more knee jerk responses.

            That is a crap load of jerks!

            As for my being an idiot, that largely depends on the situation. In this case, I believe my observations about the knee jerk response of the vast majority of idiots is spot on. So, no, I don’t think in this case, Im an idiot.

            1. Vin

              OK, just read the WP article saying that we should always believe accusers.

              That is NOT what I am saying at all. That is the furthest thing from what Im saying.

              My personal belief is that every case should be treated as a separate case, and a full investigation conducted.

            2. SHG Post author

              Now do you see the inherent conflict in your earlier argument? We can’t have it both ways. Either it’s real, in which case idiots will react irrationally and leap to the wrong conclusion, or it’s not. Pick one.

    1. SHG Post author

      That’s a two-part question. Show up? Slim to none. She doesn’t stray from places where she is in control and surrounded by her support group. She’s blocked me on twitter because she so desperately doesn’t want to hear my hurtful and hateful thoughts.

      Engage in reasonable discussion? Demagogues don’t engage in reasonable discussion. Whether she’s capable of it, either in real life or in her feminist ideologue persona, beats me. I’ve seen nothing to suggest it can happen.

  2. Beth Clarkson

    I find it troubling that there seems so little sympathy from feminists for the type of harassment experienced by Ms. Holmstrom (and others) when it is inflicted by like-minded people on behalf of straying from their beliefs about social mores. The statement “such disregard and close-mindedness will not be tolerated in any design at this institution” is both humorous and frightening. And getting to be rather common.

    1. SHG Post author

      That’s the thing about irony and hypocrisy. It’s so obvious from the outside, and yet those making the outraged accusations can’t see it at all.

  3. Cynabc

    I have been raped three times, my best friend was raped, another friend was raped, another gang raped by five of our small town football team, another gang raped by the college football team (11-14 players). I’ve been sexually assaulted by little boys since the age of eleven, then by teenagers, then bosses, then men. None of us ever reported what happened to us. Much more to be said about what happened to us but I don’t have the time to tell you right now. My point in commenting is this-none of us reported it and speaking only for myself-I love men and I love sex and have had a wonderful sex life in spite of what happened to me. Not all men are rapists but many are. I also know of two women who have falsely accused their ex boyfriends of rape as a way of punishing them for leaving them. Real rape happens and many of us don’t report it. False accusations happen and it makes me angry. I love men cause not all men rape.

    1. SHG Post author

      I’m sorry for what happened to you, but why write this? It’s not about you (or any other individual, regardless of how she feels or which side she comes out on). Rape happens. False accusations happen. It’s neither more nor less true because of your comment. If you felt the need for catharsis, that’s cool, but I truly don’t understand what purpose was served otherwise by your comment.

      1. Beth Clarkson

        I think the point is that such actions are horribly common. I suspect much more so in some subcultures of our society than others. I’m not sorry to see such behavior given some public light and both comment it’s loathsomeness and it’s distressing commonality.

        But by today’s definitions of molestation, no woman I ever knew escaped from all of that. It was simply part of a living as a young woman in our society. Particularly for ‘liberated’ women who worked outside the home. Inside the home, it was only your husband who could treat you as he liked.

        In my experience, most husbands were nice guys and treated their wives well – at least in front of us. And some guys were assholes who treated their wives so badly I commented to my husband that I’d leave him if he were to treat me that way.

        I may have been raised to be a second class citizen, a good wife and homemaker, but it was also a home and extended family where women were treated well and not battered or raped. I have come to see that upbringing as an important part of why I can say that to my husband and still be married to him after 35 years. My father treated me well. My husband has treated both me and out daughter well. Her husband treats her and her daughter well. That is our family culture and I am very grateful for it. Other woman haven’t been as fortunate. I suspect that growing up in a family culture that allows that behavior would result in woman more likely to be targeted by others for casual loathsome out-of-bounds behavior.

        I think there is value to differentiating between violent stranger sexual assault and the equally insidious sexual assault of the powerful over the weak: Bosses over secretaries. Teachers over students. Priests over children. I am of the opinion that these social miscreants need quite different treatment by society. I’m pretty sure that opinion lands me squarely in ‘rape apologist’ territory. I see this as a problem.

        I’m rambled on a bit. Sorry. Thanks for listening.

        1. SHG Post author

          Unfortunately, Beth, it proves nothing more than one person’s story. It no more makes something a fact that another woman saying she’s 99 years old and has never been raped and knows no one who’s been raped. Anecdotes prove nothing.

  4. Ryan

    you hit the nail one the head, ive been thinking for some time that the rape culture crusade is essentially a cult. In a cult the leader declares something and the followers uncritically nod their heads, they are fed their opinions and nothing, not even clear evidence that cuts their sacred cows, opens their eyes.

    The problem for a cult trying to reach a broader audience is that logic within the cult is waky and fringe to those outside it. So something like being raped for hours on broken glass and not having to go to the hospital only makes sense, and is only accepted uncritically, to those in the cult.

  5. The Real Peterman

    “Because women.”

    That’s not a complete sentence. I see this formulation more and more on the internet, and confess to not being able to decipher its intended meaning when I do. To quote Anatole.France’s three rules for writing: clarity, clarity, and clarity.

    1. SHG Post author

      There are only two types of people, those who can extrapolate from incomplete data.

      If you don’t like my writing, nobody makes you read it, but sometimes it isn’t necessary to spell out every obvious detail just in case some bonehead out there is one of the other type.

      1. The Real Peterman

        I love your writing. This is one of the first blogs I read nowadays. Thats why i think you can do better than hackneyed cliches. Really, what can or should be extrapolated from “because women”? Bcause women aren’t worth protecting? Because women are more important than men? Because women are delicate flowers who shouldn’t be bothered with mundane tasks? Because women are lizard people from Mars in disguise?

        1. SHG Post author

          Please take this in the spirit in which it is give: If you don’t like my hackneyed clichés, go elsewhere, but never try to play me with this horseshit.

          1. Sgt. Schultz


            Maybe it’s me, but does it seem that the level of discussion in the comments has fallen into the toilet? It’s been mostly shallow non-lawyer rants, very little from lawyers and, frankly, fairly worthless. Time to ban the non-lawyers?


    2. Gary Tippery

      I think from the contexts in which I’ve seen that formulation (“because “) that it usually means something like, “I don’t _have_ to explain, so I won’t.” One example I saw recently was someone explaining why he went to the trouble of operating a farm: “Because bacon!” I took that to imply that he believed “Because bacon!” was sufficient to imply reasons that were too obvious to need to actually list them. Sometimes “don’t have to” means “you don’t deserve an explanation”, some times it means “It’s complicated, just trust me”.

      But I think it’s usually “quoted” derisively, to imply someone is exhibiting that attitude. That is, used to imply that there really aren’t any valid reasons to give, just a sort of mindless automatic response . “I can’t list reasons, but I’m sure I’m right”, frequently meaning “morally or politically correct” rather than objectively correct. A particularly pointed example was “Because shut up!”. I’ve also seen “Because, reasons!”

      1. SHG Post author

        This is an exceptionally good explanation. The fact that it requires an explanation saddens me, but this is excellent nonetheless.

        1. Rendall

          There’s a great article by Mark Liberman on the construction ‘because NOUN’ over at languagelog. Google ‘language log because noun’ and you’ll get it as the top result (I would post a link but won’t because reasons).

          ‘This use of because as a preposition (without a helping “of”) appears here and there these days. It seems usually to be associated with an implication that the referenced line of reasoning is weak’

  6. Melissa

    As much as a disaster this story was I think it is actually illuminating on how college campuses can deal with rape. The answer isn’t one a lot of advocates want though, because it shows college campuses aren’t equipped to deal with cases of rape. A school has competing obligations to both students accused of rape and students claiming to be raped. Both deserve a school that fairly takes into account their interests, including the former being penalized only for what they are culpable of and the latter deserves a safe environment. But The Rolling Stone shows that a school cannot adequately serve both when they come into conflict in a rape case–disbelieving the accuser jeopardizes her (or his) position within the community (it may damage the student’s mental and physical health or actually force the student to endure a dangerous environment on campus), but defaulting to always believing the accuser jeopardizes that student’s position within the community (whether by merely labeling the student to damage their reputation or by some sort of sanction which damages their future).

    The Rolling Stone believed Jackie in order to respect her interests, but did so at the expense of others’ interests. If UVA had done the same thing would the result be justified because because they were protecting a student’s interests, notwithstanding the fact doing so jeopardized the interests of other students?

    We have a system designed to balance a victim’s right to vindication and an accused’s rights not to be punished without establishing the accused is culpable–our criminal justice system. Why are college campuses, institutions designed to educate and nourish all students, expected to also be adjudicators of crime. Rape is a crime, if someone committed a violent orchestrated gang rape, the question isn’t whether they should be able to finish their senior year of college, but how much time they spend in jail. Maybe it’s just me, but if a student was murdered at UVA, I don’t think The Rolling Stone or anyone else would be asking how the University handled the murder investigation and punished the culprit. We would expect the police and prosecutor to be handling it, rape shouldn’t be any different.

    Some of the commentators are right in saying regardless of Jackie’s credibility, the issue is how college campuses deal with rape on campus. And the answer is they aren’t capable of handling it and should not be handling these cases.

    (*that college campuses cannot handle rape accusations or their investigations, does not mean they can’t have a secondary position in supporting the victim by for example issuing a sort of restraining order pending the investigation)

    1. SHG Post author

      Imagine how effective your comment would have been if you wrote: Colleges shouldn’t be in the business of investigating and prosecuting crimes.

      But thanks for informing lawyers and judges that “rape is a crime,” because we sometimes forget all that crime-y stuff.

      1. Melissa

        If the point of the comment was that “rape is a crime” than your comment would be correct. The point of the comment was that The Rolling Stone article could be the basis not for talking about how colleges can better handles accusations of rape, but the validity of expecting colleges to handle accusations of rape.
        Universities are capable of handling some acts constituting crimes like for example a laptop stolen from a campus library or an assault between two drunken frat boys, so saying campuses shouldn’t be in the business of investigating crimes is a generalization not particularly helpful.

        I don’t think I need to remind judges and lawyers “rape is a crime.” But I thought judges and lawyers may be amenable to considering how there is a mindset that traditional criminal law enforcement should be extended not just to quasi-administrative agencies, but civil institutions like colleges.

        1. SHG Post author

          Sigh. Yes, lawyers and judges not only understand it, but this is a well developed concept. This was a post on a different subject, and not only did you go off on a tangent, but at huge length, yet in a simplistic manner.

          Nobody here disagrees with you, but it’s off topic and you really don’t need to murder 1000 words to say something so painfully obvious. And, I would consider it a personal favor if you could stay somewhere near the topic of my post rather than whatever tangential ideas pop into your head.

  7. John Barleycorn

    Because gold stars….

    Next time you are in a stationary shop you should buy yourself a few thousand gold stars esteemed one.

    They have thousands of uses. For example cardiovascular health reasons… heck, every time you refrain from blowing out a few skull capillaries in your back pages or in your front pages for that matter, you could paste one to your forehead.

    Pro Tip: Don’t go with the new peel from a sheet adhesive ones (you have to actually remove those ones after you stick um). Definitely go with the old school lick and paste variety they will fall off on their own and if you just leave them where they fall around the house or office they make for outstanding conversation starters and you can play it a million ways.

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