Soliciting The #MeToos They Want To Print

It would likely be considered unseemly for a newspaper, say one as well-regarded as the Gray Lady herself, to put out a notice that it would like to publish a story about a particular identity group being victimized, so if you’re a member of that group and want to see your name in print, manufacture a claim of victimization and become famous! After all, newspapers report news, not create the news they want to report.

At least, that was the idea way back when. Today, there is a more social media perspective, where one sniffs the air for the stench of outrage and then solicits the stories that emit the desired odor.

It’s not so flagrant as to say outright that yesterday’s consensual sex should be today’s rape, but clearly suggests that women revisit their dalliances for the purpose of expressing why, in retrospect, their good times are now their worst nightmare. And create a story where none exists that just so happens to reinforce the narrative they’re trying to feed their hungry readers.

On the one hand, there’s the incentive of getting your name in the funny pages. On the other, there’s the ability to create the most adored status of the day, victim, out of nothing. But more dastardly is the promotion of the narrative that something proper can be converted into impropriety after the fact by post-hoc feelings coupled with some facile rationalizations. You did it, but in some secret recess of your mind felt doubts? Tell the New York Times all about it and be a rape heroine!

This has become a staple of campus Title IX accusations of sexual misconduct, that it is entirely legitimate for a woman to reconsider consensual conduct at the time such that it morphs into misconduct in retrospect. Often this comes when a friend, or gender studies prof, explains why their consent wasn’t really consent, or why they weren’t capable of consent. In some cases, even “enthusiastic consent” in the heat of the moment becomes an enthusiastic accusation of rape a few days or months later.

Does the New York Times encourage this “rethinking” of sex as a legitimate option? What’s wrong with that?

Writing for the Harvard Crimson, Bartholet says that due to the current social climate, “men and women are put at risk for personal conduct that may be essential if they are to have the chance to develop future relationships.”

“In the recent rush to judgment, principles of basic fairness, differences between proven and merely alleged instances of misconduct, and important distinctions between different kinds of sexually charged conduct have too often been ignored,” Bartholet says, as first reported by Campus Reform.

“Some argue that women who speak out should simply always be believed,” says the professor. “Others argue that if some innocent men must be sacrificed to the cause of larger justice, so be it. I find this deeply troubling.”

Bartholet says that “efforts must be made to investigate what actually happened and how the different parties understood the events.”

Bartholet’s issues should be abundantly obvious to anyone paying even moderate attention to what’s happening. But the push reflected by the Aziz Ansari kerfuffle, while commonplace on campus in Title IX proceedings, is finding its way into the hive mind of female victimhood in general.

Recently, male feminist actor Aziz Ansari was accused of sexual assault. However, the salacious allegation prompted a swift backlash across the political spectrum because of the arguably over-expansive definition used by his accuser. HLN’s Ashleigh Banfield called it a “bad date” — an opinion echoed across both independent and mainstream publications by women who say that calling it an assault diminished actual instances of rape.

But how does one “not rape” when the sex was expressly consensual at the time, and consent was “withdrawn” only afterward, whether days, years or when the New York Times asks you to reconsider and get your name in the paper?

The well-intended, if childish, notion that if one says the words, “yes, oh yes, OH YES,” they mean what they say and another person is entitled to rely on them without fear that tomorrow, that “oh yes” meant “please don’t rape me.”

As Bartholet notes, it’s unfair and untenable. But further, it makes normal relations impossible when one’s totally gentlemanly behavior is twisted into a misunderstanding upon being revisited at the behest of the Times.

I am also deeply troubled by over-expansive definitions of wrongful conduct. In the current climate, men are called out for actions ranging from requests for dates and hugs on the one hand to rape and other forced sexual contact on the other, as if all are the same and all warrant termination.

When everything is, or can be upon subsequent deliberation, sexual impropriety, then nothing is. And this is terribly wrong, as there most assuredly is such a thing as rape and sexual assault, even if it bear little resemblance to the facile definition of any conduct that causes a feeling of unpleasantness now or at any time in the future.

Ask a young lady out on a date?* Ask her to dance? Ask her if she would like a drink? The risk of such benign conduct is no longer worth it. After all, who needs to be the man named in the post-hoc review of potential rapists solicited for the pages of the New York Times?

*Note that this includes both the guy in whom she has no interest as well as the guy she finds alluring and wishes would approach her. The guy doesn’t know which one he is until after he asks.

11 thoughts on “Soliciting The #MeToos They Want To Print

  1. B. McLeod

    Seems like exactly the pile that Rolling Stone stepped in, with its infamous “gang rape” story. The “journalist” starts with the premise of the story that needs to be written, then seeks out a “source.” What could possibly go wrong?

  2. Mike G.

    Will the Times print my story if I tell them I was stare raped by a gaggle of hot cheerleaders? It made me feel really uncomfortable, IYKWIM.

  3. Cattress

    You could be absolutely right, this could be nothing more than a solicitation of manufactured victimhood.

    Or, because Aziz Ansari has had quite a bit of support on his side, this could be an attempt to generate more productive conversations between men and women. I see this as an attempt to ask women to step back and reassess their victimhood claim, to ask themselves “did I clearly communicate what I did or did not want using words? Or did I expect someone I had only begun to get to know to be able to read my body language? Did I stay in an uncomfortable situation, even though I was free to leave, because I didn’t want to offend him or felt I owed him, even though he never stated his expectations?”
    And the ad doesn’t say they are only looking to hear from women or “victims”. The writer could be interested in hearing from men to find out if they are questioning their own past behaviors. Some men might question if they ignored or misinterpreted body language. Could he have inadvertently implied that a date couldn’t leave if she wanted, or continued to pressure her even though she stated her boundries.
    Both men and women perpetuate these situations of confusion and mixed signals. #Metoo shouldn’t be invoked over bad dates and regrets and failure to communicate. We shouldn’t blindly believe an alleged victim, but we should hear her out and investigate with due diligence and impartiality. One of the reasons Title IX proceedings have become so aggressively anti-male has to do with police not investigating reported rapes and stuffing thousands and thousands of rape test kits away in storage.

    1. SHG Post author

      One of the many joys of vagaries is that it’s possible that it could refer to unicorns prancing on rainbows. And you’re right. It could. But it’s…unlikely.

  4. PseudonymousKid

    Dear Papa,

    There was a time a man could buy a woman a drink without being accused of trying to “loosen her up.” It was a welcomed side-effect, of course, but the friendly gesture is now menacing when not desired. Is this what it feels like growing up? Things from yesteryear fade into memory as we shift closer and closer to Sandra Bullock and Sylvester Stallone in Demolition Man?

    The NYT request has to be satire. I can write pulp fiction all day long, if they want.; think I have a shot at getting published, Pa?


    1. SHG Post author

      There was a time when guys hoped women would approach them and offer to buy the drinks. That was back when equality was the goal. Unfortunately, it never caught on.

  5. J. Griffin

    One of the most ironic parts of the Aziz story is thinking about how Matt Damon was roasted for saying there was a “spectrum of behavior” and pointing out there should be distinctions based upon what the alleged conduct was.

  6. Fubar

    The well-intended, if childish, notion that if one says the words, “yes, oh yes, OH YES,” they mean what they say and another person is entitled to rely on them without fear that tomorrow, that “oh yes” meant “please don’t rape me.”

    … as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I
    put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me
    under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my
    eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I
    put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes
    and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

    A letter from the Gray Lady:

    Dear Molly, We now must presume,
    Since that most fragrant rose and perfume
    Have wilted away,
    You would much rather say
    “I was raped in a shabby backroom!”

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