Friday, February 6, 2015

Is Rape Complicated?

Recently Cathy Young published an article on The Daily Beast that included a lot of information from the perspective the accused rapist in allegations at Columbia University that have become a form of performance art.

Young's piece is straightforward to understand as it is largely simply reporting on the perspective of the accused - the accused denies the allegations and provides evidence he feels exonerates him. Much of the evidence happens to be recorded communications of the accuser(s) being friendly with him in Facebook chats and emails after the purported assaults occurred.

The accused seeks to show that the allegations are false by demonstrating that the accusers were absolutely cordial with him even though he's supposed to have terrorized their lives as far as to warrant his expulsion. The argument is that if they are being nice to the alleged perpetrator at the same time as plotting his demise, the chances they are lying out of insanity or jealousy increases.

"Feminists" rush out to loudly proclaim the simple fact that rape victims do not need their behavior policed - being polite does not mean someone has not been victimized.

It's absolutely true that victims do not have to fit a profile of behavior. Everyone deals with trauma differently. Perhaps most relevant to this story, victims cannot be expected to immediately verbally dress down their abuser in order for their claims to be taken seriously.

Yet there is something missing about this empathetic view of victims. Too often "activists" have already decided who the victim is - calculations about the victim's feelings are interesting only in that they paint the foregone conclusion in an ever more sympathetic light.

The mantra often repeated from accusers and their advocates is "Why would I lie?"

A potentially similar statement that often remains unvoiced is "Why would I rape?"

It's very black and white. The accuser is a complex character in a confusing situation, dealing with conflicting emotions and motivations.

Meanwhile, the accused is to be a simple sexual sadist. Blurred lines do not exist - the accused is a horny automaton that knowingly steamrolled consent. The only thing to do now is to exile the cancer from the community.

Easy, right? Perhaps one can be convinced after seeing manipulations of statistics pointing whichever way the author wants. Opinion pieces give us good reason to believe that rape is a complex subject. Bizarrely, this is said to be another reason why skepticism is a bad thing!

It seems the best course of action is to withhold judgment until more information is known. Yet there are elements that believe fact-finding and character witnesses are tools to be used in only one way, that is in support of the "survivor". "Believe survivors" is an ideological talking point repeated so early and often that it becomes a weapon to crush any hope that a transparent investigation into what exactly transpired will occur.

While it is not true that one person must be a rapist or the other is a liar, the topic is so poisonous that nobody is thinking at all about the possibility that neither party is actually a culpable and abusive evil. The choice narrows and lines are drawn.

But are "Why would I lie?" / "Why would I rape?" not questions with the same answer?

"Because you need help."

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