Admit it: some rapes are worse than others

Aug 1, 2014

by Carol Sarler

Men are getting away with sexual assault as our laws ignore obvious differences in severity

Richard Dawkins has enjoyed a glorious week. First, he said the unsayable by suggesting that not all rape is equally bad: “Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse.” Next, he pre-empted naysayers with the insult: “If you think that’s an endorsement of date rape, go away and learn how to think.” Then, all he had to do was sit back and wait for the headlines, the fury and the outrage that, predictably speedily, followed. The professionally provocative professor must have thought he’d died and gone to the heaven in which he does not believe.

It is a pity, however, that the pantomime has succeeded in obscuring the fact that what Dawkins had to say was true. He affected surprise at the “absolutist terms” used by his opponents, even though these noisy voices have dominated the rape debate for decades. The childlike simplicity of “no means no” has sought, successfully, to equate the stranger-in-the-bushes-wielding-knife sexual attack with an unpleasant breakdown of communication between two equally inebriated adults, even though — and I write as a survivor of both — they are so obviously different.
The stranger case involves premeditation, arming oneself and clarity of thought at the moment of attack; none of those applies to the social occasion gone so hideously askew, and if there really are people who refuse to differentiate between the two, we can but pray they never sit in judgment on a killing.

The greater pity, though, is that it is exactly the same voices who refuse to accept any kind of gradation in rape who also most loudly bemoan the rape conviction rate — currently about 6 per cent of incidents reported — without seeing that this small figure is, to a very great extent, a consequence of their vocal presence and their lobbying.
It is not 6 per cent because 94 per cent of the accused men walk free from a court; it is 6 per cent because most cases never get to court in the first place. Our strangers-in-bushes, once arrested, do get tried and convicted as they always have — more easily now than ever, courtesy of advances in forensic evidence, including the potential to match DNA.

These days, however, most incidents fall into the category of what Dawkins called “date rape”; an event where there are no witnesses and where forensic investigation is unnecessary because the fact that intercourse took place is rarely denied. The issue is simply one of consent — he-said-she-said. The Crown Prosecution Service is less concerned about whether an arresting officer — or even the CPS itself — believes a woman than about whether a jury will believe her. Time and again it is forced to conclude that a jury will not.


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170 comments on “Admit it: some rapes are worse than others

  • Yes, the paywall is unfortunate, because The Times often has good articles. You’ve got most of the gist of Carol Sarfer’s article in the extract above. She goes on to advocate a Canadian / Australian reform in terminology whereby the emotive word “rape” is replaced by a graded series: sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon, etc. She also makes the case that dogmatic refusal to distinguish shades of grey may actually have the effect that fewer guilty parties are convicted.

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  • Even if both parties may have agreed, one of both parties can be below the age legally required to give consent. This is statutory rape.

    If you refer to the “unpleasant breakdown of communication between two equally inebriated adults” example, it’s relevant to note that one party may not have agreed either. The most important principle in cases like this is: “absence of consent does not mean absence of objection”. It can simply mean that one is physically not capable of objecting. Eg. if a woman is passed out because she drank too much, then she is incapable of objecting or giving consent. This means that everyone, however inebriated, who has intercourse with her is in fact raping her.
    To prove this beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law is not easy. Dare I say it is almost not possible. This does not mean rape didn’t occur. It just follows that cases like this, as stated by Carol Sarler, rarely make it to court. This has nothing to do with the supposed lobbying of people who happen to criticize prof. Dawkins’ tweets. To state this as fact is intellectually unfair.

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  • 6
    christopher.m.anderson.10 says:

    The issue at the heart of the critique of Dr. Dawkins comments is not whether or not a scale of severity exists with regards to rape. Any harmful act can be measured in terms of the impact it has on someone. And, while there are some people who absolutely mischaracterized what Dr. Dawkins was driving at, the over-reaction from some quarters is absolutely predictable.

    Logically there is no issue with what Dr. Dawkins tweeted. In no way was he endorsing one form of rape vs. another. Ethically, however there are 2 fundamental problems with his actions and words. First – by taking a needlessly confrontational and harsh tone with his critics via the tweets he is violating the very policy that he himself has sought to establish that disgreements be handled “ethically.” Dismissing those who disagree with you via insults that imply they do not know how to think is immensely disrespectful and disingenuous given the standards he is seeking to establish. Second, he is willfully dismissing the very real ways in which his speech is causing harm to trauma survivors and actively reinforcing stereotypes and cultural norms that make it far more difficult for survivors to feel safe enough to come forward and discuss these matters. I laid out these arguments yesterday in my open letter to Dr. Dawkins, and I have yet to see him address any of my point. (Not that he is obligated to, of course).

    For what it is worth, I have no issue whatsoever from moving off of the term rape itself, or finding ways to expand our capacity to talk about this more openly. Rape is and antiquated and emotionally laden term, and this is not helped by the fact that it is so often thought of as a strictly gendered form of violence. The FBI only shifted to a gender inclusive definition in 2010, and there are still a handful of states where males cannot be raped according to the criminal codes. And in the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, rape is so narrowly defined as to eliminate almost over 4% of male victims who were “made to penetrate” another from the category of rape itself.

    We need to find ways to open up the dialogue about sexual violence, as the op ed written by Laurie Penny in yesterday’s NY Times shows. Silence and stigma only exacerbate these problems. Getting into needlessly divisive and harmful back and forths with those who should be your allies isn’t making things any better. The only way we can come together to address the very significant problems posed by sexual violence is to be respectful of one another and come to see that the harmful impacts of sexual violence can be both physical and emotional. If our dialogue around the issue is willfully blind to that fact, we are hurting people more than we are helping them.

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  • I do agree that ‘stranger in the bushes’ rape is different from ‘date rape’ but most cases of rape are date rape. In my view, not calling it rape when it is rape will do more harm than good. With that said, there do need to be legal distinctions between these sorts of things. Two drunk adults having sex (both possibly unable to consent) is very different from one sober adult and one drunk adult, is different from two sober adults, with the victim at knifepoint.

    But it should be kept in mind that a victim’s response to being raped will not be dependent on these legal degrees. As stated by Dawkins himself in later tweets, for some people, date rape would be worse than stranger rape. So these legal guidelines should not be used to try to minimize a victim’s experience (‘at least x didn’t happen’). I think that is what those who refuse to acknowledge the differences in rapes are afraid of, and having known rape victims I can understand where they are coming from. Many people already do not take date rape seriously.

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  • From what I’ve heard date rape usually is more traumatic because it is a severe violation of trust. That is what bothered me about Richard’s initial Tweet.

    BTW moderators, why am I not getting email notifications when there are responses to my posts?

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  • Abby:

    I agree with some of what you say, but I disagree that “many people already do not take date rape seriously.” I think the problem with a lot of date rape is exactly what we see on college campuses these days: a male and a female both get drunk. They have sex. A few weeks or a few months later she regrets her decision (or he makes her mad) and she punishes him by calling it a rape.

    There are countless lawsuits playing out across the country right now because of this type of situation. Everyone says “a person cannot consent when they are drunk” but somehow only the male is guilty of rape in situations where both parties were drinking.

    I think that’s the kind of rape “many people” don’t take seriously, and it’s that kind of rape that is usually referred to as date rape.

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  • 10
    DrewVox says:


    I like how you used the example of a woman being “passed out” when you talk about rapes that involve alcohol. While we’re all aware that happens, we should all also be aware that a lot of the time BOTH parties were drinking and neither party was “passed out”. In those cases, men are still being accused as the rapist even though according to the law both parties actually raped each other. It’s a disgusting double standard and rape charges are being wielded as a weapon by women who were either rejected later or who regretted their decision. Then, the accused men are railroaded out of the university, refused the right to an attorney during the proceedings, refused the right to face their accuser, and in many cases, subjected to double jeopardy.

    This needs to stop.

    This is very simple. The problem with many rape cases is that there is limited physical evidence and it DOES rely on he said she said. What many feminists are advocating is that we change the way our justice system works. Sorry, that’s not how the world works. People are innocent until proven guilty. We follow Blackstone’s formulation for a reason.

    You may also be aware that eyewitness testimony is incredibly unreliable. That’s because our memories don’t work the way we think they do, and this has been proven by countless studies. I’m not sure what the author of this article expects us to do. In the absence of evidence, we just take a woman’s word for it and throw any accused male in prison? Sounds reasonable.

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  • DrewVox,

    I don’t mean to offend you, but in my experience (what I saw in college) it is different. Usually, both the man and woman have been drinking but the woman is much more drunk. They have sex; she feels violated and as though she was not able to consent. The man uses his non-sober state as a defense of his actions (in some cases it is; others not.)

    But, I do agree there is a double standard against rape charges…if both parties are at the same level of drunkenness, it stands to reason they raped each other. And don’t even get me started on the definition of rape, which doesn’t even include male victims of female rapists. But, I think in a lot of cases the man is blamed because the woman is usually more drunk, because women have lower tolerances for alcohol.

    In my experience most people say date rape is when a woman regrets it later, but the women I know who have been raped, actually feel like they were violated and like they did not have the state of mind to consent. I haven’t ever known a woman to say she was raped in order to cover herself or ‘punish’ someone-but I’m sure it does happen sometimes. Based on what I’ve seen though, that’s the minority.

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  • I am not sure whether your comment that Richard is not endorsing one form of rape over another is based on his subsequent article that he was using the degrees of “badness” as just an example of saying X is worse than Y doesn’t imply acceptance of Y, but it is clear from that article that he was distancing himself from attributing comparison of the two statements in the tweet as somehow a reflection of his own personal views. He wrote that he regrets not putting quotation marks around the two statements to clarify that they were just statements that anyone could make and holding one as worse than the other didn’t imply acceptance of the lesser evil. However, I do believe that they are his personal beliefs as it would be hard to see all examples of rape as being equal when viewed by the victim.

    However, if I do have criticism of Richard it is that he shouldn’t tackle such complex and emotive issues on Twitter with its 140 character limitation of what can be said. Invariably you will need to omit quotes or something similar that can be crucial in how some people understand what you are saying. However, I must admit that I completely understood what he was trying to convey and was dismayed when I saw the reaction in some of the mainstream press in the days that followed.

    There was a similar reaction when he made the statement about Islamic Noble prize winners. I can’t recall the detail, but I think that issue was discussed prior to that in some debate with Neil deGrasse Tyson and in the debate it was clear that the issue of lack of winners was due to a general distrust of science (mathematics in particular was regarded as the work of Satan) that invaded Islamic culture and brought their golden era of scientific discovery to an end. From the debate it was obvious that it was the rejection of scientific investigation that was the reason for the lack of winners. But trying to convey that fact in a 140 character tweet is impossible, so it ended up being perceived by some as a bigoted remark that implied inherent lack of intelligence by people of the Islamic faith.

    Richard should be careful in his use of twitter and avoid tweeting on complex or emotive issues that require more than 140 characters to convey unambiguous meaning or opinion.

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  • 13
    DrewVox says:

    Or people could withhold their outrage until they understand what he’s actually saying. Or they could stop being so offended by, well, everything.

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  • 14
    DrewVox says:

    The man uses his non-sober state as a defense of his actions (in some cases it is; others not.)

    Exactly. In some cases, it IS. In some, it’s not. The problem is that there’s really no way to find out which is which and by default, people are innocent until proven guilty. Is it unfortunate in cases where a rape did occur? Yes. Should we change it? Nope.

    In the absence of any solid evidence, it becomes a case of eyewitness testimony. By default, people are innocent until proven guilty. The onus is on the accuser to prove they were raped and their version of events is not and SHOULD not be enough convict someone (or even expel them from the university).

    Based on what I’ve seen though, that’s the minority.

    Again, there are a large number of lawsuits pending across the country right now that would indicate otherwise.

    By the way, no worries about offending me. This is not easy to do. 🙂

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  • 15
    christopher.m.anderson.10 says:


    I am basing my assertion on the subsequent statements that Dr. Dawkins has made to clarify that he does not endorse any form of rape, mainly in the statement he issued yesterday.

    I agree wholeheartedly with you and feel further that all public figures should all be more mindful about how their statements can impact others. However, I can’t help but wonder if there wasn’t a degree of nefarious intent on Dr. Dawkins’ part, as it stretches the bonds of credulity to believe that he would be so emotionally tone deaf as to be unaware that we was kicking a proverbial hornets nest. It’s not impossible, of course, but given the facts and the way in which this has created so much attention for him, I suspect intentionality. If true, that makes it all the more ethically dubious to make the statements he did, in the format and manner that he did.

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  • 16
    christopher.m.anderson.10 says:


    Or perhaps those of us who have raised objections are deserving of having our points heard and analyzed. Your statement makes a blanket assumption about the persons who disagree, and is needlessly dismissive of arguments to the contrary. While that’s par for the course for internet discourse, it’s not the raison d’etre for this community as I’m given to understand it.

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  • 17
    DrewVox says:

    One does not even have to kick a hornets nest to get stung. Sometimes just walking in the general vicinity is enough to do the trick. Such is the case these days, because we’re so obsessed with political correctness.

    I don’t find it ethically dubious to do what he did. In fact, they proved his point for him with their reaction.

    You call it ethically dubious. I call it clever.

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  • 18
    old-toy-boy says:

    Time to stick my head up and be counted, Clearly there are different kinds of rape. to say otherwise is just denying the obvious. I do object to the closed minded attitude of some, who are not even prepared to discuss it. (the type who think that just staring at a woman in a lift is sexual assault). To those people I think that you should listen to all the arguments and respond accordingly. Coming back to what is or is not defined as rape. What if, after consentual sex, the woman changes her mind? and if that is tenable, what if the man changes his mind? who is the victim? In GB, If a man forcedly buggers another without consent, it is not even considered as rape, but assault, But if the victim is a woman then it is more serious. One more absurdity in GB, if an under-age boy has consentual sex with a girl over 16, then it is the woman who is accused of sexually assaulting the boy. (If that happened to me when I was at school, I would not have told anyone …honest .. Miss – (who taught me maths) ).

    On a more serious note, you may find the following link interesting.

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  • 19
    DrewVox says:

    Why shouldn’t it be the woman who is accused of statutory rape when she has sex with an underage boy? I’m confused, what do you think is the more appropriate action in that kind of scenario? The thing about laws is that they must be applied consistently.

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  • 21
    DrewVox says:

    I made no such blanket assumption. I said “they”, as in, the people who were so outraged but who didn’t even understand yet what his actual argument was.

    If you understand his argument, you aren’t one of those people now are you?

    As I stated elsewhere, the way with which he chose to make his point was brilliant because the outraged respondents confirmed exactly what he was saying.

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  • 22
    christopher.m.anderson.10 says:

    It absolutely should be the case when the facts warrant that. However, speaking for how rape crimes are prosecuted and discussed in the US (as that’s where I’m based) I can tell you that it is slowly changing, but still very much the case that few female perpetrators of stat rape against boys are appropriately prosecuted.

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  • Good to know, Richard. I’m glad you’re getting it. As I’ve been telling people, I think all of us have blind spots about certain issues, but the difference is most people aren’t celebrities on Twitter. Many people are waiting for you to make a mistake. You know that. I hope in the future you will write blog posts about controversial topics like this BEFORE reducing them to 140-character Tweets on Twitter. In fact, I would think the only mention of such issues on Twitter should be in the form of links to the blog posts.

    The example I keep coming back to again and again is a conversation I had with my father recently. While he is someone who easily understands issues that affect women– better than most men AND women, actually– he has a really bizarre hangup about people who self-cut and attempt suicide. I’ve never done either but this issue has come up in conversation. He has said dismissively that people who self-cut or attempt suicide do it to get attention. I have had to tell him– numerous times– about how insulting that is. I have known people who’ve attempted suicide and cut themselves. He accepts that people who succeed in suicide are in pain but thinks that those who attempt it and fail are failing on purpose to get attention. I had to tell Dad that they are in horrible psychological pain and are taking it out in a very unfortunate way. I told him that to dismiss the actions of these people who are in such horrible pain only makes things worse and belittles their experiences. It makes them sound like they’re crazy. We have had this conversation numerous times and I think NOW I am starting to finally get through to him. I don’t get how someone with his intelligence has a hard time grasping that. But that’s his blind spot, his flaw. Good thing he’s not a celebrity on Twitter.

    I suspect, on the other hand, that you probably already understand this sort of thing and don’t need it explained to you. I think about how many people over the centuries were wrongly institutionalized, put into straitjackets and into padded rooms, hosed down, you name it, when they were not crazy, but tormented. They needed help and understanding, not to be marginalized. Ugh, it almost brings me to tears thinking about that. Some of it happened as recently as 50 years ago. The good old days, my ass. There was nothing good about them. Steven Pinker is right. But I digress.

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  • 24
    christopher.m.anderson.10 says:

    George Will’s recent ‘rape grants a “prvileged status” to victims’ column actually uses the perfect example (perhaps the only good thing thing in that piece) of a semi-consensual situation where a male continued to push for sex up until the point where the women submitted.

    Here the key distinction is submission vs. consent. There’s a huge difference between the two. And while it certainly may not be legally definable as “rape” when a victim submits in circumstances that seem to cloud the issue, the fact is that submitting to being penetrated, touched, fondled, or molested is not the same thing remotely as freely consenting to such. It’s not for me to define where the lines stand in terms of criminality, but I will say that submission can be as traumatic and harmful to a survivor as an overt attack where they are overpowered.

    The inability for people to be able to have open dialogue about these fine distinctions is a huge problem. And, again, I’ll go back to my main point that Dr. Dawkin’s rhetoric has actually made it less likely that the open dialogue that is required can take place.

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  • 27
    DrewVox says:

    What about married couples? I’d say it happens rather often that one partner may want sex at times that the other doesn’t, but they do it anyway. This is true for both males and females. Would you still call that traumatic? We do things for our spouses all the time that we may not want to do, I would hardly call that traumatic.

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  • 28
    christopher.m.anderson.10 says:


    Trauma is in the eye, or perhaps the mind, of the beholder. It’s not my call whether or not a specific incident is traumatic. That’s part of my whole point. We cannot simply dismiss a person’s experiences if they say that they have been traumatized because we do not feel the circumstances should objectively give rise to it. The only authoritative source for what is and is not traumatic in a given altercation is the survivor him or herself.

    Sure married couples do things all the time they may not want to, but that doesn’t mean that an abusive line can’t be crossed. Rape within marriages does occur. Are you suggesting that a person signs away their right to refuse to engage in sexual activity once they marry?

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  • Could you clarify what you mean by “ethical” ?

    Because “a needlessly confrontational and harsh tone” and “dismissing those who disagree with you via insults” doesn’t have much to do with ethics to me. Did you mean politeness/ etiquette ?

    If he was saying that “all rapists should be killed” , “anyone who disagrees with me deserves to be tortured” , or “we should experiment on rapists to understand rape better” that would be unethical.
    I didn’t see anything like that.

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  • 30
    Sandra says:

    I disagree that some rapes are better than others (which has to be the case if it is true that some are worse than others). This is based on personal experience.

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  • 31
    Sandra says:

    Clearly there are different kinds of rape. to say otherwise is just denying the obvious. I do object to the closed minded attitude of some, who are not even prepared to discuss it. (the type who think that just staring at a woman in a lift is sexual assault). To those people I think that you should listen to all the arguments and respond accordingly. Coming back to what is or is not defined as rape. What if, after consentual sex, the woman changes her mind? and if that is tenable, what if the man changes his mind? who is the victim? In GB, If a man forcedly buggers another without consent, it is not even considered as rape, but assault, But if the victim is a woman then it is more serious.

    This misstates the law on rape and sexual assault. The law recognises a specific definition of rape, which is quite simple in its terms. The law does not regard “forced buggery” of a woman as more serious than of a man.

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  • For you, Sandra, this much is true, unfortunately due to your personal experience.

    Would you agree however that gradations of punishment (based on relevant extenuating circumstances) are a logical way to handle this from a legal perspective? And if not do you think it’s black and white, guilty or not, equal punishment for all offenders?

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  • Rape is a very specific definition which precludes women. However she will be charged with sexual assault if it is a minor. And imprisoned!

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  • 34
    Sandra says:

    I would urge you to read the Sexual Offences Act 2003 which does a very good job of properly describing and criminalising the various sexual offences against the person. In my view (and I am a lawyer), it needs no further reform.

    A fruitful line of enquiry for you might be to think about why you find the word “rape” so emotive. What is it about it that upsets you so much that you would rather it was replaced by other terms?

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  • Old toy boy, you are stating some very well used myths there! Rape is a very specific, very unpleasant, brutal violation. It is NOT being looked at funnily in a lift. it is NOT sex that’s regretted for whatever reason. It is rife with victim blaming (way someone’s dressed, what they’ve drunk, being out late etc).

    It is under reported because attitudes like that result in a real s***storm for the woman involved. And for the record last year the CPS dis a review of convictions for perverting the course of justice by falsely accusing men of rape. For every 5,561 successful rape convictions (bearing in mind the low reporting and low conviction rates) there were only 35 convictions for false reporting. Just over 0.6%.

    Women do NOT mistake bad or regretted sex for rape. Nor invading their personal space, nor clumsy propositions, not even rejection. Most rape reports are not the result of mad women getting revenge. They are vile sub human creatures violating another human being.

    Now I ask you, do you mistake a man invading your personal space as rape? Do you mistake a perhaps unwanted proposition from a gay man as rape? Or do you recognise that rape would involve that man overpowering and violating you. Now if you can recognise that, what on earth makes you think woman can’t? Someone invades my personal space I’m irritated. Rape is a traumatic experience that last a long time. No comparison.

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  • 36
    Sandra says:

    Reply to Steven007 at 4.42pm (I could not see a “Reply” button next to your post):

    For you, Sandra, this much is true, unfortunately due to your personal experience. Would you agree however that gradations of punishment (based on relevant extenuating circumstances) are a logical way to handle this from a legal perspective? And if not do you think it’s black and white, guilty or not, equal punishment for all offenders?

    I would urge anyone who is interested in this question to inform their understanding of it by reading, if they have not already done so, the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and the sentencing guidelines thereunder, which are the result of the work of Parliament and the courts on this issue. They are, in my opinion (both as a lawyer and a rape victim) a good attempt to find the right approach and balance.

    Sexual Offences Act 2003:

    Rape sentencing guidelines:

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  • Oops errors there and no edit function. Should read 5,561 successful convictions for rape.

    And should also read women do NOT mistake bad or regretted sex for rape.

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  • 39
    rocket888 says:

    Can a man be raped? Would any court ever convict a woman of rape?

    If rape is penetration of a bodily cavity without permission, then I was raped as a teen. A woman, knowing she would never see me or my friends again, grabbed my head and gave me a tongue in the mouth kiss. I spent the next day or two spitting and the image from my perspective is emblazoned on my mind, even after some 45 years.

    I know of at a few cases where a man (also during my teen years) woke up to having a girl(friend) giving the guy a b-job. Is that rape?

    Clearly these would be problematic cases of the definition of words such as rape. The problem is that people with agendas change the meaning of words for their own use. Consider government central banks that now define inflation as price increases to hide the fact of who is causing those increases and by what means.

    It’s all just a bit of Orwellian newspeak, if you eliminate certain words (or meanings) then people won’t be able to think as clearly about those subjects.

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  • Hi Christopher,

    I was interested in your post. You claim:

    Ethically … there are 2 fundamental problems with [Prof. Dawkins’] … words.

    Two things. I can’t see any evidence of action, unless we count posting, so I’ll stick to what I can see – the words. You claim an ethical dimension to the words. I’ll come back to that.

    First – by taking a needlessly confrontational and harsh tone with his critics via the tweets he is violating the very policy that he himself has sought to establish that disagreements be handled “ethically.”

    Please forgive my flat-footed ignorance; to me the word ethical is a plea to consider what is right and what is wrong? Surely that is Dawkins’ main point – and the whole point of Carol Sarler’s intervention?

    Dismissing those who disagree with you via insults that imply they do not know how to think is immensely disrespectful and disingenuous given the standards he is seeking to establish.

    Insult? Sorry you lost me there. I think, rather than simply gainsaying Dawkins it would be better if you spelled out what you mean. I cannot see beyond the fact that a lot of people were responding without thinking. You appear to be saying, to my simple mind, that Dawkins is wrong to tell people when they are not thinking things through!

    Second, he is wilfully dismissing the very real ways in which his speech is causing harm to trauma survivors …

    This, surely, goes to the very heart of Dawkins point. You give every indication of merely vindicating his position – of reinforcing the idea that the stereotype of the rape victim unable to function in the real World is not a stereotype, it’s for real.

    Shame on you.

    You’re not adding anything we don’t already know, vis.: Some people, including most victims, and yourself included, cannot set aside emotions and apply logic. You want to say that your suffering is special – so special, indeed, that we’re not allowed to discuss it unless we’re continually overflowing with emotion.

    … and actively reinforcing stereotypes and cultural norms …

    No. You’re the one reinforcing stereotypes

    … that make it far more difficult for survivors to feel safe enough to come forward and discuss these matters.

    Well, just on this Web Page, so far, we have two examples to prove that you’re simply wrong, if your suggesting that rape is being misrepresented because people can’t speak out.

    In addition, as Sarler is saying, not thinking clearly about this issue is actually making it more difficult to persecute rapists. The unintended consequence of this is that fewer survivors feel safe enough to come forward and discuss these matters.

    I confess I have very little personal knowledge, I have only once been privileged to hear a victim’s story.

    Nevertheless, Christopher, that experience cried out to me when I read your post. Please, consider that there might be another way, a better way, a way that will remove the hurt in the future for far more potential victims. That way is to apply critical analysis and, as Dawkins says, to recognise that seeing shades of grey will help us – in the longer term – to reduce the suffering.


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  • DrewVox the CPS did a survey of convictions for perverting the course of justice by falsely accusing someone of rape. For 5,561 successful rape convictions (given a low reporting rate and low conviction rate) there were just 35 Convictions for perverting the course of justice. About 0.6% of actual convictions for rape.

    Take into account the low reporting and the difficulty of securing a conviction even when the CPS and police believe the woman, that is staggeringly low.

    As for drunk. Drunk men may be more persistent, more irritating but to be capable of something as awful as rape you’d have to be pretty drunk. So drunk I doubt you’d actually be capable. In most cases where alcohol is implicated the victim is far drunker than the perpetrator. The law in the UK now recognises that if someone is deemed incapable of giving consent then they haven’t and it is rape. Difficult to prove.

    And it is hard enough to report real rapes. Why would anyone put themselves through what rape victims do for nothing?

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  • You can be right and still lose the argument. If you are trying to convince others about something, then you have to take into consideration not just the point itself but how you make that point. Given the trauma associated with the act of rape in the minds of many people, it was a big mistake on Dawkins’ part to use that as an example. In the public’s mind, Dawkins came off as someone insensitive to the plight of rape victims. I agree that was not his intention and that it is unfair to him. However, some subjects like rape have such negative connotations that you can’t avoid getting slimed when you bring it up. We can argue that it should not be that way but unfortunately “perception is reality” in the social world.

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  • Can a man be raped?

    Of course a man can be raped. Men are raped by other men, and by women. In fact, if we broaden rape to sexual assault, men are sexually assaulted almost as much as women:

    Data hasn’t been calculated under the new FBI definition yet, but
    Stemple parses several other national surveys in her new paper, “The
    Sexual Victimization of Men in America: New Data Challenge Old
    Assumptions,” co-written with Ilan Meyer and published in the April 17
    edition of the American Journal of Public Health. One of those surveys
    is the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, for
    which the Centers for Disease Control invented a category of sexual
    violence called “being made to penetrate.” This definition includes
    victims who were forced to penetrate someone else with their own body
    parts, either by physical force or coercion, or when the victim was
    drunk or high or otherwise unable to consent. When those cases were
    taken into account, the rates of nonconsensual sexual contact
    basically equalized, with 1.270 million women and 1.267 million men
    claiming to be victims of sexual violence.

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  • 44
    Imperius says:

    As a general observation, one wonders how long a society that promotes the emasculation of men and the masculization of women can survive, for at least two reasons:

    One, because it seems to have a severely dampening effect on fertility. In modern Japan for example, where birthrates are around 1 per female, significant numbers of young people are showing little interest in the opposite sex, and seem to be forgoing marriage and reproduction altogether. But at least these domesticated, feminized men aren’t raping so much!

    Two, because it’s not clear where an emasculated society is going to find the warriors necessary to defend itself. Unless robots completely replace humans at war-fighting, you’re still going to need aggressive men to do the dirty work of protecting your civilization. But increasingly, we see a Western civilization that seems unable to win decisively against those nasty, sexist men in, say, the Muslim world, or to protect themselves in their own lands against invasions of such men.

    So as I’ve suggested before, the modern “progressive” ideology, driven especially by emasculating feminism which seems bent on vilifying men as a bunch of rapists, may just be a brief transient period before a new wave of “barbarians” ends this period of decadence and a new dark age falls.

    Can progressives even grasp what I’m saying here, or is to far outside their worldview to compute? I’m sure most in late Rome didn’t see the writing on the wall for their civilization either. But empires don’t survive by ideological magic, but by the blood of rough men willing to do the rough work necessary to maintain it. If you want less rape, encourage strong families and conservative values. Surely rapists are mostly young, unmarried men, disproportionately from broken families and victims of our shallow, hyper-sexual culture?

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  • 45
    christopher.m.anderson.10 says:


    Yes, men can be and are raped. Men are also subjected to all the varying degrees and shades of sexual violence in a myriad of contexts. Historically speaking, courts have not convicted female offenders as much as male perpetrators, but that is slowly changing as the recognition that there are male victims of sexual violence at the hands of women is growing.

    As of 2013 (I had earlier said this was 2010 in another post, mistakenly) the FBI officially changed their definition of rape to the following for purposes of statistical counting of crimes within the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program: “Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or
    anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without
    the consent of the victim.” LInk to FBI information

    Many people will disagree over whether a tounge in this case counts as a sex organ, and whether what you experienced was technically a rape. In my mind their opinions on the matter are far less important as how you choose to define what it was that you experienced, and how you choose to process and identify the event cognitively and emotionally. And for the record, how you see it today may be entirely different from how you viewed it as a teen. Many men delay disclosure of being sexually abused for 20 years on average (I’ll link a report below for that stat), for some it is because it has taken them many years to be in a place where they can identify themselves as having been victimized.

    As I said in my open letter yesterday, outside of the legal framework there is a whole host of social responses – from behavioral and medical health resources, social services, and even peer support – access to which is greatly influenced by how the term rape is defined and discussed in both legal and the non-legal contexts. The more that rhetoric is put out there that shames, demeans, and dismisses the lived experiences of survivors, or forces them to place themselves into neat categories in order to get recognition and support, the less likely it is that survivors will feel safe enough to come forward, and will prefer to suffer in silence.

    I, and many others, happen to strongly believe that Dr. Dawkins’ tweets were of a nature that, whether it was his intent or not, reinforced damaging stereotypes that some forms of rape are worse than others. Outside of the narrow needs of a legal assessment, comparisons of rape severity are potentially very harmful. Raising this point is not suggesting that some items are too inflammatory to be discussed, but that Dr. Dawkins and his supporters have neither the privilege, nor the standing, to determine unilaterally how these issues should be discussed in public fora.

    Incidentally, should you, or anyone else reading through these conversations want more information on male survivor issues, please visit

    Link See table 14 for disclosure delay stats Technical Report prepared for
    Summary of Results of the 2010 Health and Well-being Survey

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  • @Imperious.

    After reading this post and others in the past, I sense you have a particular way of looking at the world that is at odds with the majority of posters. I suspect you hold strong Christian beliefs. Am I right?
    If you look at the qualities for which Jesus was an exemplar, I think you’d find a rather feminised character. For example humility, turn-the- other-cheek, meek and mild! Not the warrior prince suggested in the early days.
    BTW do these ‘strong families’ need to be patriarchal?

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  • 47
    christopher.m.anderson.10 says:

    Hello Stephen,

    Thank you for your post and questions. I’ll attempt to answer as best as I can.

    I do consider the issuing of statements in public fora such as Twitter, Huff Post UK, and here on this site to be actions. But this likely a point of semantics and seems not necessary to clarify further in order to address your other points

    Please forgive my flat-footed ignorance;

    No forgiveness needed when no offense is given (or attempted). Here is a link to his rebuttals to all the controversy

    My reading of these tweets is that the statements “go away and learn how to think” and “go away and don’t come back until you have learned how to think logically” were intended to be insulting and dismissive.

    I believe that is unethical because it is hypocritical. How can insulting and dismissing those with whom you disagree be in keeping with the plea he made just a little while earlier that disagreements be handled “ethically”? His tenor is itself emblematic of the “bullying and harassment” that he decried in others in the joint statement posted with Ophelia Benson

    I presume that you have a different opinion on the matter. My guess is that you are going to suggest…

    Actually no, upon further reflection (which is necessarily a rational and emotional exercise because we are thinking AND feeling creatures) I take that back. You are not suggesting anything. You are outright declaring that the problem is not with how Dr. Dawkins expressed himself but rather with my inability (among most other victims’) to distance myself from my emotions. Essentially you are positing a hypothesis whose essence is this: simply by being offended (or presumably having any emotional reaction at all) by anything that is said either to me or in public discourse, I have abdicated my capacity for rational thought and cognitive analysis.

    Some people, including most victims, and yourself included, cannot set aside emotions and apply logic. You want to say that your suffering is special – so special, indeed, that we’re not allowed to discuss it unless we’re continually overflowing with emotion

    So let me see if I understand this correctly. You are essentially saying that Dawkin’s point is that some people are too emotional to think. A statement which you, presumably, endorse. I attempt a rebuttal by saying that his presumption is incorrect and his behavior in unethical. Then, you go on to further analyze my statements, but instead of actually asking me questions about my meaning, you insert the following declaration “most victims, and yourself included cannot set aside emotions and apply logic.”

    So not only do you feel that some people are too emotional, but now anyone who has been a victim is more likely than not of the class “too emotional” (I assume you fully intended to use the term most in that statement, and further that you recognize that most means more than 50% of a class, and that therefore you are making a generalization about the cognitive abilities of the majority of the human species as practically everyone is a victim of some form of trauma or abuse at some point in their lives).

    Then you seek to dismiss my arguments (which have been laid out rather extensively over the past 2 days in multiple places on this website) not by actually rebutting any of the points that I have made (including numerous links in my chain of reason that touch on ethics, the neurology of trauma, the social stigma created by the dismissive ways that survivors of sexual violence are treated) but rather by saying that I am too emotional, and that, even worse I “want” my suffering to be acknowledged as special.

    Compared to this thinly veiled attempt at character assassination, Dawkin’s tweets are the moral equivalent of not apologizing for bumping into a person on the street you didn’t see because you were too busy tweeting. Even worse, you came into this exchange acting like you were respectful of me, and begged my forgiveness. That is profoundly dishonest and wholly unnecessary. Your idea of ethical behavior is nothing short of abusing someone with fancy words.

    Well, just on this Web Page, so far, we have two examples to prove that you’re simply wrong,

    2 persons’ disclosures on one page, out of the billion plus survivors of sexual violence on this planet do not a representative sample make. To suggest otherwise is to say that anyone who is too stupid, excuse me too “emotional,” to be able to disclose their trauma in an environment where they will be attacked for being emotional (which incidentally thereby exacerbates their suffering) is necessarily a flawed person and not worthy of your sympathy or support in the first place.

    Please, consider that there might be another way, a better way, a way that will remove the hurt in the future for far more potential victims. That way is to apply critical analysis and, as Dawkins says, to recognise that seeing shades of grey will help us – in the longer term – to reduce the suffering.


    What you are offering, sir, is not peace. What you are actually doing is attacking those who you feel are too “emotional” to apply said critical analysis. As I said before – reason is not a tonic that cures emotional ills. Our reason is one part of a complex neurological structure and perceives, analyzes, and interacts with the world on multiple levels. I suggest that you actually learn something about the neurological impact of trauma and its effect on survivors of significant abuse before you so cavalierly seek to kick them out of your thinker’s utopia. You might find that you actually have more in common with other survivors than you think.

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  • 48
    NMLevesque says:

    Consent isn’t given in perpetuity. Both parties can agree to proceed, and one party can rescind their consent at any time. If the other party continues that is rape.

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  • Hi Christopher,

    Thank you for your prompt response.

    I can see that posting text is, as usual, being confusing because readers will insist (albeit unintentionally) imposing their own intonation, tone, accent – call it what you will. I, of course, include myself in that description.

    I do consider the issuing of statements … But this likely a point of semantics …

    I agree, let’s move on …

    My reading of these tweets is that the statements “go away and learn how to think” and “go away and don’t come back until you have learned how to think logically” were intended to be insulting and dismissive.

    You’re entitled to an opinion.

    From my perspective you’re simply wrong.

    I appreciate that may seem, um, dismissive … I don’t mean that in the sense you might be thinking. What I mean is, you have stated your position … and I’m left thinking, eh, okay, and the reason is … ?

    I believe that [it] is unethical because it is hypocritical. How can insulting and dismissing those with whom you disagree [with] be in keeping with the plea he made just a little while earlier that disagreements be handled “ethically”?

    Christopher, we return to my first question to you – and, therefore, a question which remains unanswered: ” … the word ethical is a plea to consider what is right and what is wrong?”

    Please, for simple clarity’s sake if nothing else, what do you mean by ethical in this context?

    [Dawkins’] tenor is itself emblematic of the “bullying and harassment” that he decried in others in the joint statement posted with Ophelia Benson.

    As a regular, almost daily, visitor and as a frequent poster here I don’t need to be preached to regarding the Host’s position on bullying. Posting that comment without justification could be interpreted as, in itself, bullying …

    Your point is … ?

    I presume that you have a different opinion on the matter. My guess is that you are going to suggest…

    Ah, well, now we’re appear to enter the World of Christopher’s imagination …

    Actually no, upon further reflection (which is necessarily a rational and emotional exercise because we are thinking AND feeling creatures) I take that back.

    Oh No! Just when I thought it was a slam-dunk!

    You are not suggesting anything. You are outright declaring that the problem is not with how Dr. Dawkins expressed himself but rather with my inability (among most other victims) to distance myself from my emotions.

    Ouch. Yes, as usual, I may have gone over the top.

    Essentially you are positing a hypothesis whose essence is this: simply by being offended (or presumably having any emotional reaction at all) …

    But then the reprieve comes!

    No. I made a specific allegation, and I was trying to avoid any generalisations. My post was deliberately written to offend no-one (including the alleged perpetrator because, bizarre though that may sound, those are the rules on this forum) that I could think of.

    I know that seems strange to you. Even though we have never met, I can feel your indignation as I think of you reading this. I’m sorry. Not for what I have said, but because there is no simpler method to explain to you that you are wrong.

    I don’t enjoy calling people out Christopher, especially in as public a forum as this. But I’m afraid your many recent posts have finally brought me to the point where I can resist no longer.

    Someone has to say it. You’re wrong.

    … by anything that is said either to me or in public discourse, I have abdicated my capacity for rational thought and cognitive analysis.

    Hmmm. I can see that I was an error. Nevertheless, I challenge you to be much more specific on your side. I too would like to avoid semantics.

    Some people, including most victims, and yourself included, cannot set aside emotions and apply logic. You want to say that your suffering is special – so special, indeed, that we’re not allowed to discuss it unless we’re continually overflowing with emotion

    So let me see if I understand this correctly. You are essentially saying that Dawkin’s point is that some people are too emotional to think.

    No. No-one, as far as I know, is saying that no-one thinks. We all think.

    I attempt a rebuttal by saying that his presumption is incorrect …

    No worries, I fired a blank or two too …

    … and his behaviour is unethical.


    Hold those horses there, we’re getting a rocky ride back here!

    You know, I knew this would be a sticking point. Do you remember the bit where I said: ” to me the word ethical is a plea to consider what is right and what is wrong?”

    How can I put this … Still waiting for an answer on that one … ?

    Then, you go on to further analyze my statements, but instead of actually asking me questions about my meaning, you insert the following declaration “most victims, and yourself included cannot set aside emotions and apply logic.”

    Yes. That was my interpretation at the time. I had hoped that it was clear that we were both discussing the points raised in the Original Piece (OP)?

    So not only do you feel that some people are too emotional, but now anyone who has been a victim is more likely than not of the class “too emotional” …

    Wow, where did you get that “anyone”?

    I, of course, did not say this – you did. However, I cannot deny that I implied it, and I think that now you’ve put it out there … I have to agree. However, there is a caveat. As someone who has experienced severe trauma, I recognise that we all go through the stages of emotional turmoil energized by powerlessness, shame and guilt.

    I assume …

    Ah Christopher … never assume you know how the old joke goes: If you assume you make an ass out of u and me …

    … you fully intended to use the term most in that statement …

    Your invention.

    … and further that you recognize that most means more than 50% of a class, and that therefore you are making a generalization about the cognitive abilities of the majority of the human species as practically everyone is a victim of some form of trauma or abuse at some point in their lives).

    Wow. Just calm down, okay.

    Hopefully, by this point, you have stopped hallucinating about what is in my mind.

    Then you seek to dismiss my arguments (which have been laid out rather extensively over the past 2 days … (etc.)

    My dear Christopher, this is pure fantasy.

    I know you are a victim. I freely acknowledge that fact.

    Every time you seek to promote that fact by filling a large space of text with your pain – you prove Professor Dawkins’ point.

    Compared to this thinly veiled attempt at character assassination …

    If you mean me, then that was not my intention. If that is the way it seems to you, then I would urge you to step down as an advocate in this area of public concern because you are showing all the signs of being too early in PTSD cycle to be able to be objective. People like me will have a great deal do sympathy for you, but we cannot help you until you leave your personal pain at the door.

    This sounds harsh to you now. One day you’ll get it.

    I am a fellow PTSD sufferer.

    I too have made emotional outbursts full of justified (in my own mind) and factual statements – in the hope of retribution on the guilty.

    I accept your rebuke at face value. I may have been a little too strong in my own advocacy. If so, it was only with the best possible intentions and, unlike you, I have passed the anger stage.

    Dawkin’s tweets are the moral equivalent of not apologizing for bumping into a person on the street you didn’t see because you were too busy tweeting.

    Is this the best I can hope for? Is this your ethical base?

    Even worse, you came into this exchange acting like you were respectful of me, and begged my forgiveness. That is profoundly dishonest and wholly unnecessary.

    That sounds terrible. I wish that I could make amends. If only I knew how to interpret your bland assertions.

    Your idea of ethical behaviour is nothing short of abusing someone with fancy words.

    Nasty. I only wish I understood what it was based on?

    Well, just on this Web Page, so far, we have two examples to prove that you’re simply wrong,

    2 persons’ disclosures on one page, out of the billion plus survivors of sexual violence on this planet do not a representative sample make.

    True. It didn’t stop you telling us about your experiences as though they where representative though …

    To suggest otherwise is to say that anyone who is too stupid, excuse me too “emotional,” to be able to disclose their trauma in an environment where they will be attacked for being emotional (which incidentally thereby exacerbates their suffering) is necessarily a flawed person and not worthy of your sympathy or support in the first place.

    Professor Dawkins’ critics please note.

    Look, Christopher, I could have continued to the end but you get extremely emotional and personal against me and … well … you just prove Dawkins’ point over and over and … you get the point I’m sure.


    And yes, I really mean that. PTSD is hard man, but you can get there.


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  • 50
    Imperius says:

    No I really am an atheist, but one who understands that many traditional practices associated with Christianity and other religions have a long-term, evolutionary utility that many fashionable progressive memes may not.

    I must keep pounding home the point that one of secular modernity’s primary effects is to sterilize societies, which I’m sure you’ll agree is a rather odd notion of progress from an evolutionary perspective. And yes, patriarchy seems to have more proven utility than feminism, being the basis of human civilization from the beginning. To find non-patriarchal societies, you pretty much have to go back to the neolithic age, don’t you?

    To me, these are vital facts that need to be considered when faced with feminist attacks on all things masculine and patriarchal. Show me a successful feminist civilization that has lasted for centuries, and I’ll take their concerns more seriously. For now, it looks like a totally unproven ideology, and quite possibly a form of civilizational suicide. And none of this has anything to do with belief or disbelief in god!

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  • @Imperious

    Perhaps it works well for the longevity of the society but it’s not much fun for any family member in a subordinate role. I support the notion of a form of domestic socialism, where each individual contributes to the success and well-being of the family unit and takes a share in good things available.
    I think you’re placing a great deal of stress and responsibility on the patriarch of your model. Many men may relish the role of ‘lord and master’ while others may feel daunted by the task. Why not let families work out the structure that best suits their needs?
    This is not to say that the male of our species should have a subordinate or non-existent role. Many of the problems suffered by young aboriginal men can be traced back to the fact that they do not have an adult male presence in their lives. But the presence does not have to be that of an oppressor.

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  • 53
    DrewVox says:


    First, there’s simply no way to come up with an accurate figure on how many rape claims are false. Here in the United States, most prosecuting attorneys don’t even pursue charges because they believe it will deter future rape victims from coming forward. So, they deny falsely accused men justice. However, I don’t think the number of false claims is really relevant to the discussion.

    In most cases where alcohol is implicated the victim is far drunker than the perpetrator.

    There’s simply no way you can know that.

    Lots of women put themselves through it when the charges are false. Again, do a quick Google search and see how many lawsuits there are across the country against universities who expelled young men over “he said, she said” scenarios.

    Look up Brian Banks. Look up the Duke LaCrosse team. Why did either of those women do what they did?

    All of this aside, again, it doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t matter if there’s only 1 false claim out of every 1,000 rapes we STILL follow Blackstone’s formulation. So in situations where there is no physical evidence and it boils down to “he said, she said” we simply cannot say that is enough to put someone in prison.

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  • 54
    DrewVox says:

    Rape is a very specific definition which precludes women

    It’s not in the United States, at least not anymore. Thankfully. What an atrocity it was before it was changed.

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  • 55
    DrewVox says:

    And should also read women do NOT mistake bad or regretted sex for rape.

    Yes, they do. You keep saying these things as if you know something we don’t. Women absolutely do “mistake” (I’m not sure that’s the word I’d choose) those things as evidenced by the fact that we can point to actual examples of it happening. Now, how often it happens is still up for debate but it’s certainly a number that is greater than zero.

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  • What worries me most is always the exception status of sexuality in our societies. Is there any good fundamental, biological or philosophical reason why sexual aggression is worse than aggression ? Why sexual exploitation is worse than exploitation ? Why being obliged to do sex work is worse than being obliged to do any kind of job ?

    I hang around with some young left-wing activists from the local PG (Parti de Gauche) and they are very in favour of our new laws against prostitution, arguing that nobody should be “forced to consent”, by economic pressure, to do sex work. How ironic it is, to see French young extreme left passively admitting that is it all-right for workers to be forced into any shitty job for need of money, just as long as it doesn’t involve any of this immoral sex stuff. They want to equate prostitution with rape, because (for them) sex for money can never be desired by the seller, and a sexual intercourse must not only be consented but also desired ; otherwise, it is rape.

    I don’t know if sexuality’s exception status was imposed by a very influential sect composed exclusively of single males worshipping virginity, or if religions are just plainly unable to invent anything and just crystallise human frustrations and fantasies. However, a gun still seem less obscene than a pair of tits to many people. Even I would be less shocked to see children pretending killing each other than to see them kiss.

    For me, rape should be equalled with any form of torture, abuse or assault. The fact that reproductive parts of the body are involved or not should be irrelevant. Just like, if you are massaging someone, professionally, you should no more be considered a prostitute for massaging their sex than their feet. What if you are dealing with a foot fetishist, anyway ? Or if you are one ?

    Nuances of grey and limit cases are what annoys the most Aristotelian people thinking in simple and clearly delimited categories. A rape is what looks like what we already called a rape. No clear border.

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  • DrewVox if you can believe that than you clearly have no understanding of the trauma and the violation of rape. There is no comparison between that and having sex you later regret. Imagine how you would feel if you were raped. Male rapes do happen after all. Nobody trivialises them or doubts the trauma suffered in the way you are trivialising female rape.

    Yes I agree there are false claims, those are not mistakes but deliberate attempts to discredit someone in a vile way. Yes there are cases of coercion or pressure and the law partly recognises that by including things such as statutory rape of people it deems to be too young to resist. And even within statutory rape considering the difference in age between the perpetrator and victim.

    Here in the UK the fumbling 16 year old having sex with his fifteen year old girlfriend in the first flush of lurve is not viewed or treated the same as the predatory abusive 27 year old for example.

    So stop making the comparison between rape and bad sex. A claim after the latter is something other than the horror of rape.

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  • In modern Japan, women have only just started to go out to work in the same numbers as men. The emasculation has come from easier access to porn and a fractured society that is changing rather than anything else.

    If we go to your point which suggests keeping women in their place is best than why not go the whole hog. Societies are more successful if they have slaves for example. Free labour. Lots of the glories of Bristol, Liverpool and London are evidence of the wealth you can generate from brutalising other human beings.

    The measure of how civilised a society is is partly judged on how much rights women have. Look to your ideal societies in Pakinstan. Iran, Afghanistan and honestly tell me you think that are successful models for society. Cos everywhere see women as incubators I also see poverty, backwardness and high infant mortality. That’s the real evidence for your ideas.

    You are basically saying one gender has more rights than the others.

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  • Ornicar it recognise the emotional and very deep attachments to sex and sense of ownership of our own bodies.

    You mention prostitution yet only a tiny minority of women opt for it as a career and they exercise control over their clients. For most it is associated with abuse desperation and addiction. Increasingly often with human trafficking of women who were labouring under the impression they were coming here to do menial jobs. How many other jobs do you know that require a crock of heroin and a good bearing before you can go to work?

    But answers your own point. Woipuld you prefer a man to rape you or beat you up?

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  • 61
    snrckrd says:

    [First sentence removed by moderator. Please reread Terms of Use and make your points without rudeness to other users.] Rape means unwanted sex. If both parties agreed to sex, there can't have been a rape. Both parties aren't going to "agree to rape", that doesn't make any sense.

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  • 62
    DrewVox says:


    I’m not making the comparison between rape and bad sex. What I’m saying is that we cannot change the legal system. As I’ve stated at least 3 times now here in the United States they’ve gone too far in the other direction. In the interest of trying to provide justice for potential rape victims they are in fact violating the rights of the accused. This is a huge problem across college campuses here in the U.S. Is rape a horrible thing? Certainly! Without question it is one of the most detestable acts.

    But that doesn’t change the fact that we have to err on the side of caution. In the absence of evidence, we simply cannot value the “she said” over the “he said” and throw men in prison because of one person’s word. That’s not how the law works, and with good reason.

    You seem to be conflating “false claim” with “unsubstantiated”. A rape may very well have happened, but if there’s no evidence to show that we can’t simply put people in prison because we’re emotional about the crime


    I don’t disagree that probably only a small percentage of rape claims are false, but keep in mind there is also “unsubstantiated” which means that a rape may have occurred but there is not enough evidence to convict. In either case, as I’ve stated, we cannot change the laws because that goes against due process and the way our judicial system is set up.

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  • 63
    DrewVox says:


    I mostly agree with your position on this and I don’t think that we need to go back to gender roles nor do I believe one gender should have more rights than the other.

    But I will say there is such a thing as overcompensation and in the United States we are seeing some of those affects. While I think feminism sometimes has good intentions they also sometimes perpetuate inaccurate information in order to promote their narrative. Even at the expense of others, especially men. I can cite numerous examples of this. I’m not sure if it’s the same in the UK but here it is certainly an issue. For one example, Google the “Ban Bossy” campaign. They lied about their own data in order to promote the idea that little girls were being held back by a word. The part they didn’t tell the public was that little boys were almost as likely to cite that as the reason they didn’t want to be leaders. Little girls were JUST as likely as little boys to view themselves as leaders, and the real kicker, little girls were actually MORE likely than little boys in the study to have had actual leadership experience!

    So here we are promoting a message that is not only untrue, but that harms the opposite gender. In the U.S., it’s little boys who are falling behind in schools not little girls.

    Overcompensation is absolutely an issue and we have to make sure to keep our measure of “equality” calibrated.

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  • 64
    old-toy-boy says:

    (In reply to Alice, ) I agree that the legal understanding of rape is very narrowly defined, but that is part of the problem. False accusations are not so easily defined. I believe the general idea of this article is to clarify the the meaning of rape.
    With regarding your comment, “women do NOT mistake bad or regretted sex for rape.” … How do you know that? and are you claiming that for every case? If not what percentage?

    I do apologise for for being a bit sarcastic/exaggerating that “leering at a woman in a lift is tantamount to rape. However the general sentiment remains. when it come to the legal crime of rape the odds are stacked against the man. Your data of 5,561 rape prosecutions to 35 of false accusations does not imply a connection to that actual number of such crimes committed reported or otherwise. Perhaps the difference is because in a British rape trial the woman is given automatic animosity and all the legal help they while the accused is not, And even if the accused is proved to be innocent, their lives are ruined. On this point I do agree with you. Part of the problem is the s***storm generated by the press. Animosity must be given equally to both the alleged victim and the alleged rapist, Because people should be treated as being innocent until they are proven to be guilty, Reporting needs to be highly restricted until the verdict is given. That will encourage more rape victims and people falsely accused to come forward.
    And the law needs to be changed so a man forcedly buggering another without consent, is also considered to be rape. I do not see many pro-women groups fighting for that recognition.

    Basically I am saying in the legal system there is great bias, If rape victims want to be treated fairly, then it is only fair that everyone should be treated fairly and rationally. Which come back to this title of this topic, There are different degrees of rape, to claim otherwise is just not true. To say legally that is just the way it is & cannot be changed, is being lazy. To say that women need positive discrimination, is immoral.

    My starting point is… Can we talk about this?

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  • What an incredibly stupid and offensive article. Mr Dawkins himself admitted that his tweet was a mistake and that acquaintance rape can be just as, if not more traumatic than stranger rape. Rape is rape. There is no sliding scale of severity. When there are weapons and brutal violence involved, this should be treated as a separate, additional crime. But please no more talk of “mild” rape.

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  • 66
    old-toy-boy says:

    “Can a man be raped? Would any court ever convict a woman of rape?”

    Actually yes, one obscure case where some women held down another women (actually all girls) while a boy raped the victim. One of the girls doing the holding down, was prosecuted of the crime of assisted rape or rape. (sorry can not remember exactly, it was in the news about 4-5 years ago).

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  • 67
    old-toy-boy says:

    On the other hand, I do not find the article stupid or offensive, uncomfortable? very. And the way to move forward is to discuss it, not by burying one’s head in the sand.

    So far the only counter argument I gave heard against this article is that rape is so bad, we should not even talk about it. Surly we can do better.

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  • Well, actually, between being tortured or being raped, I would not see much of a difference. It’s roughly a matter of which body part is being tortured. I’d care for my eyeballs as much as any other balls. I guess the fact that the torturer gets pleasure of it somehow makes it worse, but that could happen for any torture. Is reproduction that different ? According to what ? Why is it more intimate ? Is there any objective reason ?

    Let’s be gross for a minute but, biologically, if a man tortured an animal or if he raped that animal, what do you think the animal would “prefer” ? I’m no good at telepathy with animals but I think that the rape would be clearly preferred, from the animal point of view. They might not even really realise what it’s about.

    So how come us, humans, can be destroyed so easily by a brief unwanted invasion of our intimacy when it takes considerable amounts of pain and time to break someone’s mind by torture ? What exactly, specifically, is broken by a rape ? People get betrayed all the time, humiliated, exploited, abused. We don’t like it, but we accept it when it’s not about sex.

    And, by the way, I can think of many jobs one might need to get drunk or stoned to go to, but beggar is probably a great example. Is it all-right to let people to do that ? How do you think they feel, on the long run ? I don’t know where you live and what the prostitution situation is in your place, but down here, most of the foreign (eastern Europe and Africa) female prostitute appear to be illegal migrants, who were generally already prostitutes in their home country and are in debt with the people who help them cross borders more than held by pimps. They want to come to France and they earn money the best way they can as they always did. Resourceful women of negotiable affection. They would happily accept many other jobs for as much money but the last thing they want is for a good Samaritan judge to send them back to the hell they fled and call home. Unfortunately, that is what all our puritan laws on sex work are always designed for. And stigmatisation of prostitutes as poor helpless victims unable to know what is good for them is puritanism oldest weapon to remind us insidiously that no sane woman would have sex without love and respect for her rightful owner.

    What people really hate about prostitution, is that women rent their sex. They are supposed to sell it !

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  • I disagree with you at a 180 degree opposite. I think that raping children is the worst of all. And I disagree that their aren’t grades in crimes. If that were true, we would not have different grades of felonies, and there would be no distinction between a felony and a misdemeanor. Everyone wants sexual assault to be the sacred cow, where it is all the same. As a survivor, I am telling you, it is not the same. The sense of powerlessness when it happened repeatedly as a child versus women I know who later laughed about how they “got him” for date rape… don’t tell me it isn’t different. And don’t tell me there aren’t degrees of severity or that they are all “equal”. I am not saying that all women who claim date rape are liars, but I have known too many of them who were for me to ever consider it “open and shut” like knife/gunpoint rape, or sexual assault on children. So, um, there IS a sliding scale. Unless you were a small child raped, you wouldn’t have my perspective on this. Also, I did not see anyone but you describe rape as “mild”.

    As a sexual assault forensic examiner, I can tell you right now what we teach women AND men. No = no. Maybe = no. Mind altering substances and yes = no. It’s not worth the gamble when two impaired adults agree, and one of them decides later that she actually was too incapacitated to really consent (which is what most of the date rapes I have seen personally were). Don’t be so naive that you don’t recognize degrees, and don’t be so stubborn that you can’t admit that there are women who use the date rape scenario as a way to punish someone they think deserves it.

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  • I find your first fundamental issue with Professor Dawkins’s tweets somewhat confused as nowhere does he endorse one type of rape over another, hence his opponents who dispute that particular point do indeed need to, if not go away and learn how to think, at least go away and re-read what he originally said. It is bordering on hypocritical to accuse someone of rudeness to his opponent(s), because of his response – sufficiently measured, considering – to said opponents’ malicious and misplaced accusations and distortion of his words. ‘Ethical’ debate goes both ways. Your second fundamental issue is frankly unreasonable, at least, and can even be viewed as downright petty. By what token should anyone, and especially a leading figure in social debates, bypass socially important issues just so they do not risk affecting someone negatively? Should we all shy away from discussing anything even remotely controversial, or potentially difficult, to avoid ‘insulting’ someone? And if so, why at all have you joined and do post on a site, which primary function is to provide a forum for people who generally engage in a critical discussion and debate of religion – an at least as controversial topic as are rape and pedophilia?

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  • 71
    Astrokid says:

    It usually is more traumatic? As determined by feminists, I suppose.

    There is violation of trust is so many other areas of life. In those cases, do courts attach greater weight to the psychological impact than to tangible damage?
    People’s psychological reactions vary greatly.
    Here is an inside look at two Canadian women who alleged they were raped by two men they went home with after some drinks at a bar. It includes police investigation clips conducted by female cop, and the allegations were flimsy. And yet the women feel traumatized 3 years later. One woman says Being raped was nothing compared to having the case closed
    The bottomline is that some women process things psychologically very badly. Then there are some great strong women like sex-workers rights activist Maggie McNeil

    I’ve written on numerous occasions about the way Western culture has
    returned in many ways to the Victorian Era; we have seen a return of
    that time’s extreme sexual prudishness, its affection for polysyllabic
    euphemisms, its dedication to prohibition of drugs and sexual
    activities and its “white man’s burden” colonialism, and the popular
    Victorian myths about the “innocence” of children (including
    adolescents), “white slavery” and the moral superiority of women over
    men have returned as powerfully as if they had not lain dormant for
    most of the 20th century. But while I am not alone in decrying all of
    these things, I have until recently felt relatively isolated in my
    resistance to one of the most damaging and perfidious of all Victorian
    revivals: the belief that rape is a “fate worse than death”.

    Before we go any further, let me assure you that I know whereof I
    speak: I have been raped several times, and the first instance (in May
    of 1995) was rape by even the strictest, most unforgiving and most
    legalistic standard. It was a terrifying experience, but it did not
    destroy me and was not the worst thing ever to happen to me; in fact,
    it wasn’t even the worst thing to happen to me that year.
    Yet nearly
    every time someone finds out about it for the first time, he or she
    acts as though it happened last night, as though this one kind of
    trauma had the unique ability to cause permanent and irremediable
    damage. The dominant cultural narrative is that both men and women can
    get over just about any personal tragedy – financial ruin, the loss of
    a limb or a loved one, persecution by governmental authorities, etc –
    except rape, which if it doesn’t leave a woman a psychological wreck
    is supposed to at least cast a dark pall over the rest of her life.

    Contrast that to prison rape of men. There have been articles showing that number of men raped in prison by itself exceeds the total number of women raped in the US. These are all forcible-rape, and yet those men barely receive help. There is no mention of them in mainstream media, nor in “Humanist” organizations. Imagine the plight of those men, esp if they had processed their violation just like some women do.

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  • No, that doesn’t sound reasonable.

    At the age of 19, I was drinking at a family party and had had too much. A family member took me to a quiet room and tucked me into bed, then returned to the party. Shortly thereafter, I was raped by a shady cousin’s shady boyfriend. I woke up at the end of the encounter. He wore a condom and I didn’t resist as I was passed out drunk. The police told me that since I didn’t scream, it wasn’t rape.

    Sound reasonable?

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  • Yes we can talk about it. But you need to look at the statistics from groups like rape crisis that suggest not only are false claims rare as the CPS research claims, but that rape is under reported. Rape crisis encourage but do not force victims to go to the police and many do not. It is an extremely difficult thing to admit. The shame and history of victim blaming mean many women fight very shy of reporting it. Attitudes like the ones you express don’t help. Maybe the US needs to change, maybe your education system needs to tackle it the way ours does.

    You have to admit there are also some horrific stories coming out of your universities. Rape followed by films of the event!

    I agree in part with the statement that both sides should be given anonymity. Rape however is complex and sometimes building up a pattern is the answer to the he said she said debate. Recent high profile historical cases tried here in the UK of celebrities were based on a number of women of different ages who had never met coming forward and giving the same story. Over years a pattern built up that could not be put down to them coming up with the same story by coincidence.

    In the UK the odds are most definitely NOT stacked against the man. Rape convictions are notoriously difficult to get and there has been a call for juries to have access to previous conviction histories as often corroborating evidence from previous reports is the determining factor. My friend was on a jury recently. The victims distress was huge but it was a date rape. She could not, within the guidelines, find guilty on the one case. Afterwards she heard of other similar claims made about the same man. In short he was a serial rapist getting away with it. That would have tipped the balance for her.

    Lastly comments about being leered don’t help your case. Being leered is actually unpleasant but it ain’t rape. And for most men rape is an anathema. They will plead and ask and profess love etc, but I’ve only ever known one use force when it came to the crunch!

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  • I really don’t know where all this ‘date rape is just bad sex when drunk and a woman changing her mind’ is coming from. Date rape is any kind of rape that might happen on a date and could just as easily be:
    1. Someone inviting a woman back to his room, then locking her in and subjecting her to hours of the most horrific rape and violence during which she fears for her life.
    2. Someone being drugged, raped and then filmed, with the results being put on the internet.
    3. Someone spiking a woman’s drinks so that she is intentionally rendered incapable of consenting.

    Just a few examples. It could be all number of things. Some of them would at least as frightening as the stranger in the alley case.

    All I can say is that as a younger person I have on occasion ended up in bed with someone I wouldn’t have ended up with while sober. I would not have accused the man of rape on such an occasion in a million years (unless of course he had drugged me or deliberately spiked my drinks) and I have never come across any other woman who would have. This ‘we were both drunk and she consented’ is usually just the modern version of a classic rape apologist line, along the lines of ‘She was wearing a mini skirt’ ‘I could tell she wanted it’ etc etc. I’m sure the scenario happens but it must be very very rare. What woman is going to subject herself to a court and all the tearing into her private life that that entails unless she has no real grievance for doing so?

    What HAS been shown in recent studies on rape on campuses is that the accused males are usually, far from being the innocent wrongly accused young chaps you imply, a very small number of repeat offenders, who have struck many times before being caught. The idea that all men will rape in the right circumstances is a false one, largely put about by the kind of men who will, it’s their great get out of jail card, because of course if it was true then all the onus could be put on the woman – if all men are bad, she has to be a fool to put herself in any situation with any of them. The reality of course is that most men are perfectly decent and totally able to tell the difference between a consenting woman and a non consenting one. Ask any woman, and I’m sure that along with a few horror stories in her life she will also be able to tell you many times when she has been vulnerable and the man involved DIDN’T take advantage. I can vouch for that myself, many times…

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  • DrewVox I am unaware of US feminism, but my take on it is that it means equality and equal respect for the other gender as people first and foremost. I would call all of my male friends ‘feminists’ and I would call some females sexists. They are terms that shouldn’t be gendered because bring a t*** is not a gender thing. I know male sexists too.

    Feminists do not hate men they hate misogynists. Sexist women join groups like Femen or wear burkhas or actively depend on men. In short sexist women play sexist men’s games to drag us backwards. I am as appalled by a false rape claim as by a real rape.

    I’m not sure what goes on in the US. Here progress is slow but getting there. I will say whenever women move forward there are attempts to drag us back. Things are far from perfect but the new generations of women are stronger and more resistant to insult whilst men are more supportive in general. Rape is a real crime and it’s effects are real and long lasting. The men I know would not assume a woman was lying as much as men over there seem too.

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  • 77
    reverendmachine says:

    Both parties have to continue to consent to said act of sex. If at anytime either party feels the need to end the current sexual act and is forced to continue, then that force is defended on the basis that it was agreed upon before hand is very much rape.

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  • Western civilisation is taking a battering at the moment due to globalisation, specifically the entering to the global wage market of many cheaper labour forces (and there’s also the tiny matter of an international and monumentally stupid banking crisis).

    As another poster has mentioned, Japan is hardly a good example of feminism being rampant.

    You are implying that there was less rape in earlier eras or countries where women have no rights? No, it is quite the reverse though of course in such societies women had/have no possibility of justice so the figures may be lower. In most such societies rape is virtually unpunished and even seen as reasonable (note that even in the UK it was not illegal for a man to rape his wife until the 1990s).

    I’d also like you to consider how much more successful Muslim countries might have been over the last 100 years or so if they actually educated and used the brains and talents of that half of the population who they currently prevent from taking part in economic life. Women’s contribution to the economic success of the West must be massive, wouldn’t you say? What kind of state would we be in without it?

    You could also consider the possibility that the Muslim countries that are successful, which is by no means all of them, might just include the possession of oil in their reasons for success.

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  • I find it sad how far personal responsibility has disintegrated… There is little regard for self control in today’s society. We collectively allow people to “play the victim” far too easily. I am not saying there’s not legitimate victims. I’m saying, we as a human group, lump them all together. We can’t seem to separate the drunk person from the sober person. When a sober person makes the conscious choice to become a drunk person that choice must be taken into account. It seems to be the belief of many, that if you get yourself drunk , that now, it is the rest of the world that is responsible for your safety. This notion is preposterous.

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  • 80
    Eduardo says:

    It wouldn’t be reasonable if your statement had any truth to it, if an innocent person is accused of rape, subsequently charged and convicted that is not reasonable. However if you had read the article without bias you would have realized that only 6% of cases actually lead to a conviction, does that sound reasonable? Is it reasonable to think that 94% of all rape allegations are fictitious? The truth is that most never get to court, and most are never taken seriously by authorities or are prosecuted lightly. That is what is unreasonable.

    How often have you read about about a star athlete or university student being railroaded and forced to leave? You don’t we often hear of Universities holding private “inquiries” into the alleged “incidences” often resulting in inaction on the part of the school, and authorities being satisfied the matter was looked into. That is the reality of the university system today, not the anti male establishment you see on TV. We live in a society where we have been taught that a woman’s voice can ruin a man, the truth however is that society has deafened itself to the cries woman’s suffering.

    I implore you to read what women who have had to endure when reporting a rape, it will turn your stomach that so much emphasis is placed on whether or not she was really raped…

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  • 81
    paulawright says:

    Hi, just a correction re rape conviction rates. These are not 6% but near 60%. The commonly cited stat under 10% is the atrition rate, not the conviction rate. A problem, but not one which will be properly addressed until radical feminists stop misrepresenting it to promote the myth that we live in a “rape culture”.

    Direct link to the Stern Report:

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  • @ Logan

    I could not agree more!
    We live in a society where everything is someone else’s fault. Sad truth!
    Your parent dies at the hospital, some doctor made a mistake
    Your child is beaten at school, it’s the teachers’ responsibility.
    Everything has to have a reason and a third party involved, otherwise it wouldn’t have happened… No place to fate anymore

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  • Rape is now classified as a form of torture. And of control. And as a war crime. What level of torture are you comparing it with?

    Over here the vast majority of prostitutes are addicts. Controlled by pimps. A growing number are trafficked slaves desperate to escape.

    Even in your description they are desperate women trying to make ends meet. More a comment on the need for employment laws and minimum wages than a positive cheery enjoyment of their jobs.

    Puritan laws on sex tend to judge women harshly for a lot of things including enjoyment and rights over their own bodies. Rarely do they judge the men who use prostitutes. I think moves to shift the blame to the users is a move forward.

    Well done on sourcing he only ethically managed branch of
    desperate women. Though I think you are kidding yourself.

    Your last comment is most telling of all. Sex is not something you purchase or rent from women. Or indeed take as you want. It should be a mutual activity.

    You seem to harbour a dislike of women so I’ll ignore your nonsense.

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  • Submission implies coercion. Consent is NOT consent if it is coerced.

    When I was in my twenties, I went on a double date. After my date dropped our friends off, he took me home. Once in my driveway, he proceeded to pester me to let him come into the house to “say goodnight”. I refused. After some back-and-forth, he began to grope and kiss me. When I resisted, he reached into the door pocket and showed me a gun. He didn’t hold it to my head or verbally threaten me with it – he just let me know it was there, within reach. I had a young child who was sleeping inside the house with my sister, who was babysitting. All kinds of dire scenarios went through my head. In the end, I let him do it to me in the back seat rather than take a chance that he might shoot me or harm my child and my sister …or have them see me shot and/or killed. He wore a condom, so there was no forensic evidence. I never reported it, having thoroughly absorbed the idea that I probably deserved it somehow, that it would be my word against his, and that nobody would believe a single mother (all single mothers are sluts, right?). I did not consent willingly – I submitted. Did that make it Not Rape?

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  • I think you’re living in some kind of weird world if you think feminists or any other woman claims we’re living in a rape culture. I’ve never heard anyone claim that. Nor does either article mention feminists, it mentions governments who seem to be misleading with statistics.

    But rape does occur and is a horrific crime abhorrent to any decent person. And as the article said reporting rates are shockingly low.

    So who exactly are these mythical radical feminists?

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  • 86
    Eduardo says:

    “It usually is more traumatic? As determined by feminists, I suppose.”
    Why do you suppose this? I would imagine courts have a great deal of trouble dealing with psychological impacts as they can vary so greatly. I think it is abhorrent to state that “The bottom line is that some women process things psychologically very badly.” On what grounds do you state that women are solely responsible for processing things badly, it would make much more sense, and be less misogynistic to state that humans process things badly. Your statement leaves ignores availability of resources for victims, circumstances surrounding the rape, and a multitude of other conditions that you completely disregard entirely and relegate the only factor to dealing with trauma as gender.

    As for your questions about those who are seeking to aid in the rape of prisoners have you tried looking? Various human rights organizations have platforms against the dehumanizing effects of prison, which include the systematic ignorance of rape as a problem of the prison system. But the idea that the number of men raped in prison exceeds the number of women is a falsehood. That was the result of a 2001 study that extrapolated the data incorrectly. A look at sexual assault data sets from 2007-2008 shows quite conclusively that women experience forcible penetration at a rate 3 times that of men in prison.

    Does that negate male prison rape? No, of course not, but it should not be used as platform from which to decry the same sexual assaults on women. It is solely used by men who promote the victimization of the male gender by a feminist society, which is a disgusting misrepresentation of the world we actually find ourselves in. Part of the very rape culture feminists are trying to address, includes the idea that men in prison deserve the sexual assaults they undergo while incarcerated. The fact that many people, our youth included, often joke about prison rape is representative to that fact that rape culture is deeply embedded in American culture. Also a couple organizations seeking to stop the rape cycle in prisons include: California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Justice Detention International (one of the proponents of the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003).

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  • Kim I would agree with you 100%.

    The fact that very few men will rape has been tested by most women many times when we’ve been vulnerable in their company!! If all the comments here were remotely correct no woman would dare be alone in any mans company!

    Most men don’t rape. Most women don’t make up claims. Some do. Perhaps the men here should save their vitriol for those individuals instead of pretending all women are on some kind of mission to get them. We aren’t!

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  • Either it was in the UK or their was a similar case here. In which case given our definition of rape she was charged with assisting rape.

    In terms of minors, women have been charged with sexual abuse and imprisoned here. Recently there have been a couple of cases of female teachers and teenage boys. The women were imprisoned exactly the same as males in similar instances. And in another very horrific case of abuse a number of women working in a nursery were given very long sentences for abusing the babies and toddlers in their care.

    And I want to repeat again,for all the men who are trying to turn this into a woman getting at you all by howling rape. Rape is a horrible violation. Most men are totally incapable of it. I’ve been with drunk men -irritating, persistent, labouring under the illusion we all have when drunk that it makes us irresistible. Despite all loss of reason they did NOT rape. I’ve been drunk and vulnerable with men. They did not rape. I’ve been in situations where I’ve called my halt on proceedings. The men kept asking and so on. Only one ever resorted to force. I was lucky that a male friend helped out. He was a rarity!

    I’ve been in situations where I’ve slept with people and regretted it. It was not rape. I did not mistake it for rape. I did not cry rape. Every single friend I have has had their drop in standards nights. They did not call it rape. They did not consider it rape.

    There is no confusion. The man that can genuinely claim he didn’t know the woman didn’t want it is very rare indeed. If he exists. You would know if you were raping someone believe me.

    So please stop the conspiracy nonsense. You are, for the most part, defending men against something you would never ever be capable off out of some weird distrust of women.

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  • I voluntarily let myself go to sleep at night. If my husband or some other man in the house comes in, pulls off the sheets, lifts my nightgown, and puts it to me, reasoning that, like a mountain, my body is to be climbed on just because it’s there, did I contribute to it by allowing myself to get into the vulnerable state of sleep? If I walk in front of the windows of my house naked, is that an invitation to rape me? If I wear a short skirt or stay out late, am I deliberately making myself available to any man who wants to tear off a piece? Let me put it this way: If I see a half-naked drunken man, is it his fault if I roll him and rape him? Or am I just a predatory opportunist with no sense of social responsibility or compassion?

    Have you heard of that thing called “victim-blaming”? That’s the trope that says that people can’t control their urges and shouldn’t have to because the other person should realize they can’t control themselves. It’s bad for both men and women. Instead of telling women how not to get raped, we should be telling rapists not to rape. There is never an excuse for violating another. It’s never an accident. No rapist can say, “Gee, I didn’t see that coming. All of a sudden, there we are, having sex,” or “I don’t know what happened. My dick just took off on its own.” It’s always a conscious act, a conscious decision. That’s what we should be addressing – why anyone thinks it’s okay to violate another regardless of what that other is doing -not how much sympathy or support a victim deserves based on what they were wearing or how much they drank or how violent the rape was or wasn’t.

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  • It is a weird world.

    You may personally not heard many things. Personal anecdote is known to be unreliable. I have studied these things for many years and don’t base my findings on my personal experience.

    The under 10% rape stat has generally been disseminated on such platforms as the Fawcett Society and Rape Crisis Centres and then everywhere in the media thereafter. The weight of history and probably more than a billion pieces of cached information on the internet shows this to be the case. Some people cannot see beyond their own noses – some people refuse to even try. I’ll put you in the former catagory, to be generous 🙂

    Rape occurs – yes. Is a horrific crime – yay, we agree!

    The difference between us seems to be that I am pro-women, not especially pro-feminist. Which one demands the most allegiance from you? Please answer that question, as I am genuinely interested in the answer.

    I don’t see in the article where it says reporting is low, perhaps you can provide me with a direct quote, as I may have missed it.

    I may have missed it, however, because of the claim that the rape conviction rate is only 6% when it is in fact near 60%! That, in fact, juries convict MORE than they acquit. That women have a very GOOD chance of receiving justice in court. Thank you for allowing me to reiterate that. The MYTH that juries are biased against women needs to be challenged, as it will encourage women to come forward – which seems to be your concern. So help spread the good news!

    Women knowing that the rape conviction rate is in line with other crimes should give them courage to come forward, no? That is an unequivocally good message to send out.

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  • We are not bonobos. We are humans. We are not monogamous, but monogamish – or polyamourish – depending on your bias.

    If women could be socially conditioned to like rape, don’t you think “the patriarchy” would have succeeded in brain washing us by now. The blank slate, culurally determined, sex at dawn, perspective you present is just as idiotic as the radical feminist one – neither are scientifically valid. Just wishful thinking.

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  • Maggie McNeil forgot about abortion. Abortion is also something that is supposed to “cause permanent and irremediable damage.”

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  • Can I ask the obvious: where is the evidence that date rapes are less traumatic than stranger rapes? This isn’t rhetorical, mind you; it’s just, barring the absurd straw man of two drunk people having regretful sex that has been posed, a guy drugging or physically forcing his date into sex could be even more traumatic than stranger rape for any number of reasons:
    Betrayal of trust (we hate traitors more than enemy soldiers for a reason)
    Greater propensity for self blame
    Potentially less empathy from others
    Less likelihood of finding justice
    Chance of encountering rapist again
    Loss of trust in others (it’s one thing to learn there are bad people out there, another thing entirely to be betrayed by someone you obviously trusted)

    These factors may or may not outweigh the aggravating elements of stranger rape. Preferably we are operating on scientific data rather than convenient assumptions.

    Sent on iPad; apologies for obviously compromised prose

    Ps. Most date rapists are serial offenders. It’s not typically a genuine miscommunication.

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  • Actually Alice, the definition of rape changed in early 2012

    to “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

    Which is why rape was a discussion during the 2012 elections of what it should be defined as …

    So no, thank god, women are not precluded from rape now.

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  • @Alice
    As a matter of fact the opinions expressed by Ornicar follow those proposed by Germaine Greer. She suggested that the idea that rape carries a disproportionate amount of fear and loathing because men themselves have an exaggerated perception of their own power. In her estimation rape is equivalent to other crimes of violence.

    I don’t know how you feel about the pronouncements of Germaine Greer (author of The Female Eunuch) because she comes out with some pretty outrageous stuff. She’s always provocative and often deliberately so, but at times she forces us to see things in a different light.

    I need to add that I’ve never been raped and I’ve never Ben put in a position where I feared that outcome, so my comments don’t have the backing of personal experience.

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  • 100
    Paula says:

    Andy, each case needs to be judged individually. There are degree’s of murder, which people accept, depending on levels of intent and violence, etc. This system can logically be used with rape.

    Where do you get the idea that “most” date rapists are serial offenders. There are a minorty of men who are sexual predators and serially offend if given the opportunity. The line between bad sex, drunk sex, regretted sex, bad communication between drunk individuals and actual rape – date or otherwise – is being eroded by radical feminist rhetoric. Young people want to explore their sexualities and will come together. The onus is on older, more sexually experienced people to let them know it can be risky, they will undoubtedly make mistakes, but that they always need to take responsibility for themselves. A crime is a crime. Young people need honest guidance not divisive political rhetoric which can often lead them to make reckless mistakes.

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  • Hi Alice,

    You’re right on the spot, there. Sex is not something I purchase from women. As a matter of fact, most of the time, when a woman wonders if she is sexually attracted to me, the first word that comes to her mind is “poor”. Can’t even pay for a restaurant, a weekend in London, let alone a ring or a house. And I’m pretty sure many a girl would be very “grateful” to see me spend a month of minimal wage, in two days, in Venice for her. She might give me a present too…

    But never mind. I can pay to have my feet, legs, back, arms, neck, head, torso, hands and face pleasantly massaged, and that leaves me, indeed, with very little parts to do myself.

    If you don’t understand the irony in my previous message and this one, please refrain from answering. I’m sorry if have offended. That always happen when rationality clashes with beliefs. Point is : good women hate whores like car sells-men hate car rentals. They never say they hate them. If they could pretend to help them and see them disappear, that would be perfect.

    Shifting the blame on the user, especially if you also protect the sex worker as a victim, may very well seem like fantastically moral idea. But if buying sex is a crime, what about the person who witnesses systematically that crime, encourages it and get profit form it ? She is an accomplice by definition ! And she causes trouble in public areas. So in Norway and Sweden, this is now used in courts to send illegal migrant women (specifically women) back home. Can you think of another service or product that would be legal to sell but illegal to buy ? No. Because that’s inconceivable.

    Abolitionism is prohibitionism. The goal is always to make sex-workers life harder and to conceal them. Prohibitionists, at least, recognise prostitutes as responsible agents.

    So rape is classified as torture and war crime, and prostitution is equated to rape, but prostitution is not war crime, so our good Professor is exactly right, isn’t he.

    We call rape many different forms of violence and constraints, but we feel the need to make a special category because it is about the holy sex. What if we hadn’t worshipped virginity for 2000 years ? What if Onan hadn’t been slain by Yahweh ? What if it had always been alright to covet thy neighbour’s wife ? What if … ?

    Well, maybe it’d be easier to sell sex than guns.

    @Nitya : Thank you. I’ll check Germaine Greer

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  • Yes, there are different degrees of rape. I don’t see how the specific factor of knowing your attacker would be a mitigating factor; if anything, it could heighten the trauma for the reasons provided. Of course, actual evidence one way or another would be preferable to assumption and idle speculation.

    There have been anonymous surveys of males; the vast majority of those who admit to date rape are repeat offenders – I think they average 6 rapes per offender. If I get off my iPad to a computer I may be able to post a link.

    Look, you keep using the term “bad sex” to describe something nobody has actually complained about. Organizations such as Take Back the Night and RAINN are not concerned about women who regret drunken but consensual sex. The real concern centers around cases where the woman (or man, or whoever) is forced or coerced into having sex, or taken advantage of when incapacitated. This is completely separate from any form of consensual sex

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  • (Cont – site logged me out)

    …and why you use the word “mistake” to apply to anything remotely resembling date rape, I’ve honestly no clue. You seem to have conjured this ridiculous straw man of feminists whining about sexual hang ups and slightly drunken consensual sex. The issue at hand, actual rape that happens to occur between acquaintances, is neither ambiguous nor excusable.

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  • This is a profoundly bizarre comment (Logan’s), and I love how you keep to deliberately vague so as to avoid revealing how absurd it is when you apply it to a remotely realistic scenario. You mentioned getting drunk; do you seriously think getting drunk is an action a girl should reasonably be “punished” for with rape? Should someone assault you in your behind the next time you’ve had a few beers to demonstrate the absurdity of your logic to you? If I jaywalk and get hit by a car, some blame may rest on my shoulders, for doing something so obviously casually linked to a vehicular accident. Even then, emergency units would not hesitate to come to my aid, and no serious person would assert that my stupidity was a capital crime. Their empathy may evaporate if I assault a man and am killed in self defense, a case where I additionally commit a moral error. This does not apply to a rape victim who was intoxicated/scantily dressed/insert stupid just world fallacy aphorism.

    Furthermore, rape victims already tend to blame themselves for the assault. There are times where negative reinforcement would be effective; here, you are just rubbing salt on the wound, creating a slippery slope to trivialization of rape, and being totally redundant. After the trauma of a rape, victims really have no need for lectures on “personal responsibility”.

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  • Ornicar, no offense, but the answer to this question is quite obvious. We judge crimes by the severity of the harm they cause, and rape for obvious evolutionary reasons causes psychological damage far more severe than all but the most viscious physical assaults (and those we do consider just as heinous,)

    That you have to compare a physical act as extreme as torture to rape to get equal levels of harm actually reinforces this point.

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  • Alice, I remember the seventies catchphrases ‘All men are potential rapists.’ and, ‘A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.’ Given their source, I found both ironically sexist.

    With regard to this thread, I think that only those who’ve suffered rape are qualified to comment on it, and usually they are extremely reluctant to do so, which speaks volumes; people don’t like even thinking about traumatic experiences let alone talking about them.

    And as for making comparisons between types of rape, well, words fail me.

    Apropos of the video, the detective should not have been accusatory but should have drawn the women out Socratically.

    Now, despite having experienced a sexually intimidating phone call, which was bad enough and freaked me out for weeks every time the phone rang, I’m not qualified to talk about rape. However, I can address the matter of my own sexuality.

    Although I can’t speak for my wife, I’ve been happily married for thirty years, have the highest respect for my wife and would never betray her trust, but that hasn’t prevented my natural urges making me feel – how can I put it – ‘uncomfortable’.

    It’s how most men are, and I think this is something about males that many females don’t understand, and it’s a misunderstanding which can lead to perfectly innocent fun going seriously wrong.

    So, I suppose that all men are indeed potential rapists, but were it not for the ridiculous taboos surrounding masturbation, there would most probably be far less sexual crimes committed, and that includes those by Priests against children.

    As Richard Feynman so cogently put it: “Nature cannot be fooled.”

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  • 107
    Paula says:

    I agree, we ought to base guidelines on scientific data rather than convenient assumptions and folk psychology. The fact is though, feminism favours politics over science, and they are the ones in charge of the debate. Anyone who expresses dissent is an anti-feminist, which is akin to scientists viewing the scientific method as anti-science.

    Re the surveys you mention, I would think a great majority of sexual predators utilise contemporary culture and practice “date” or acquaintance rape. They prey on women who have drank too much. But does that mean all men who take drunk women home with them are dedicated sexual predators? I don’t think so. I think the strategy is popular and probably highly successful for a minority of men, who as you say, continue to use the strategy because it works. Feminists can shout that it shouldn’t happen until they are blue in the face, but they will not succeed in stopping men of this mindset.

    I’m using the term “bad sex” and “regretted sex” in response not to RAINN but to the apparently shocking statistic of college campus rape, which if we accept the one in four/five stat currently being peddled by many feminists, would mean the US has a rape problem worse than that of the Rape of Nanking or the Russians in the fall of Berlin (both around 1 in 20). 1 in 4 would demand martial law! Clearly, that hasn’t happened and won’t be happening any time soon.

    So what is happening here? What is happening when young women – as I say, who are wanting to explore their sexuality at uni, are being encouraged to call regretted or drunk sex date rape. We are already told a woman cannot consent to sex if she is drunk, yet millions of women are still having sex when they are drunk – with drunk men! Sites like Everyday Sexism – even the No More Page 3 sites – regularly publish instances of incredibly equivocal scenarios which are enthusiastically called rape. And the women who report them are encouraged to feel victimised to blame patriarchy for not believing them. How does one separate the real scenarios from the indulgent ones? You cannot. They are all as valid as one another – all in service to the “rape culture” meme. For who’s benefit? Young men and women’s, ripe to explore their sexuality? Absolutely not!

    I was writing an piece about online rape threats and, when I asked to see the actual threats, was called a rape apologist. I was told that I shouldn’t need to see the evidence. The situation is utterly ludicrous at the moment.

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  • 108
    Paula says:

    Of course people who have not experienced rape can be qualified to talk about it. Do you imagine all people who have studied rape, collected data – both qualitative and qualitative – on rape, have spoken to rape victims male and female, have all been raped? Do we need to demand that all jury members in a rape trial have been raped themselves?

    Or to turn this around, again, if feminist stats are to be believed, a majority of women HAVE experienced sexual assault, so following this premise, we’re all qualified to talk about it!

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  • 109
    AdOculos says:

    The sentence ‘absence of consent does not mean absence of objection’ does not really mean anything.
    Did you mean to write ‘absence of objection does not mean consent’?

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  • 110
    AdOculos says:

    It is the Hornet’s nest reaction that RD us trying to object to.
    He is basically saying that we should be able to discuss these issues as intelligent adults without the emotional reaction that stifles debate.

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  • I’d just like to post this clip from You Tube here if I may. It is of a clip from a mainstream US film of the 1970s starring Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand, The Way We Were. It’s a fuzzy clip but you can clearly see what is happening. It lasts about four minutes and there is no dialogue until the very end.

    My question is this: is what we are watching here a depiction of rape?

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  • Not sure what the relevance of abortion is to this debate cos can see no comparisons at all

    Firstly only the religious right tend to claim abortion causes permanent damage. The most common emotion is relief. Not sure that compares with rape.

    Secondly abortion is something a woman chooses to do, rarely an easy or light choice but a choice. By it’s very definition rape is not chosen by anyone.

    So what point are you making cos it ain’t clear.

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  • Paula, I take your point, but, I’m talking about the emotional, traumatic and immediate physical effects of being raped, not stats or law etc.

    Another thing which has to taken into consideration is our natural tendency to deceive ourselves and others to gain advantage, an unattractive trait but a genetically inherited one which has to be taken into consideration too; when emotions run high that last looms large.

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  • 117
    Alice says:

    Paula, not sure what planet you are on, but just look at some of the comments here and see how many rape myths still stand and how it seems to be the men that are making them.. How many times have I seen the women report rape after bad sex myth. Or an over emphasis on the minority of false claims., or drinking blurring lines myths. They all seem to be from the men.

    And of course the depressing conspiracy claims that women do not get jailed for sexual offences yet men do. Or the rape of men is ignored when in fact it isn’t and no compassionate person would find a difference. Again that myth seems to be coming from the men.

    Exactly what are you objecting to in those articles? They repeat what the first article you posted to said. That rape myths prevent reporting. Men seem as happy to perpetuate those myths as women they are after all the myths that allow them to walk free. And you don’t know very much history if you think the current sensitivities shown to victims has always been there cos it

    And may I suggest that you cannot be pro women and anti feminist that is a misnomer. Who got you equal pay, equal status, the legal right not to be groped at work, the legal right not to be raped,. Who fights for your right to have sex with whomever you choose without being called a s***.

    Take it back a few years -who got you the right to be educated, the right to vote, to control your fertility. The right to own property, the right to divorce and not lose your children.. Feminist, because feminists aren’t just women they’re anyway that cares about equality!

    Sounds lie you’re still buying into the sexist men’s myth that feminists are all harridans that hate men. Based on a minority who in their day may well have had a point but not now! Well us feminists don’t hate men these days cos these days men support women in their fights and see us as equal.

    Shouldn’t you be practising you what you preach and cooking tea?

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  • 118
    Alice says:

    Stafford the 70s were forty years ago,

    And you think I’m so naive as to not understand men like sex. Look at my earlier posts where I’ve mentioned that men will try very hard to persuade but that rape is still something that most would find totally abhorrent and manage not to do. Believe me like most women I’ve tested that fact! And it is irritating to constantly hear how much men like sex with no acknowledgement that women do to. For every time you’ve looked but not betrayed your wife, she’ll have done the same.

    Perhaps one simple fact will make it clearer. Rape is not about sex, rape is about hatred and misogyny.. Power and control. For all you desires could you honestly have sex with someone crying and saying know.? I don’t think you could for one moment. Most people couldn’t.

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  • 119
    Paula says:

    The biggest and most pernicious rape myth is the one about the 6% rape prosecution rate when in fact it is nearer 60%. And that’s one endlessly disseminated by people like you, as it has been all through this thread.

    That is the biggest rape myth which needs to be challenged, along with the one that juries are biased by “rape myths” when, in fact, juries convict much more than they acquit. Myths do prevent reporting. The myth of a low conviction rate may in fact be the main contributing factor to this phenomena.

    I have not mentioned false reporting rates. My research shows these are not out of line with other rates. They do occur however, and the costs and stigma of being falsely accused of rape for a man should not be underestimated. And drinking does blur lines of consent. This is not a myth. This is a fact and I put women’s safety before radical feminist dogma I’m afraid. It happens all the time to young people and we neglect our duty of care to the younger generation if we do not prepare them for the some of the more challenging facts of life. These things don’t come from men, RAINN themselves has asked feminists to tone down the dogma to no avail. I’m not a man, but a sex researcher.

    And you most definitely can pro women and anti feminist – or in my case not anti-feminist, just not feminist. Feminism (today) is a political movement aligned to unfalsified ideas of human sexuality with a basis in cultural Marxism and social constructionism theory (I have studied the history of feminism also). Unfortunately for orthodox feminists today, human problems and issues do not obey such rigid and (today) archaic disciplinary boundaries. Studies show that more people identify as egalitarian than feminist. So in spite of your opinion that it is a misnomer, it is actually a fact. One you can deny all you want. But that doesn’t make it not true.

    The feminist movement came on the back of general liberal rights movements from the Enlightenment onwards. It is part of a greater enlightenment project. I have no issue with liberal feminism, but since the 70s liberal feminism (the kind represented by the Rebecca West quote everyone so loves) has been ousted by radical feminism. They do like to dress up in liberal feminist clothes when challenged, but the moment you begin hear the word “patriarchy” you can be sure you are in the company of a radical feminist (though many women do not actually know the history of feminism enough to know they espouse radical feminist theory themselves). So I am an egalitarian who does not ascribe to the separatist, gender divisive, liberationist stance of radical feminism. As anyone can see, this is not a misnomer.

    I am in fact an educated woman who can think for myself, who likes to follow the evidence where it takes me, unfettered by ideology. I am an egalitarian. Just a few posts ago you denied knowing about the orthodox feminist idea of rape culture. And here you are now still asserting your superiority on a subject you actually seem to know little about. Three words for you to google – Dunning–Kruger effect.

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  • 121
    Paula says:

    Okay we are talking at cross purposes for the moment. That’s okay. Right now this is where I am – I think it is incredibly important that the 6% rape conviction rate myth is challenged robustly, as this is a major contributing factor to low reporting. It is irresponsible and frankly, unconscionable for feminists to repeatedly misrepresent this statistic. We all know people in positions of power and especially moral standing are susceptible to falling foul of the very “sins” they appear to stand against. Politicians, the clergy. I know of no logic which would dictate that feminists are no more susceptible to being corrupted by power than anyone else.

    I have studied rape (and looked at much of the literature now) from both a (social science/feminist) socially constructed perspective to an evolutionary perspective. That is one discussion which few people can have without falling foul of the naturalistic fallacy. A point Dawkins illustrated with his x/y experiment. So that is maybe a convo for another day 🙂

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  • 122
    christopher.m.anderson.10 says:

    Hello Stephen,

    Again, thank you for your post and rebuttals. You are certainly presenting me with some serious counterpoints to consider. I’ll acknowledge from the start that I was angered by some of what you said. I won’t apologize for my emotional response because… frankly emotions are neither right or wrong, they are. I contend, that I could have likely phrased somethings less passionately than I did, and perhaps that would have led to less misunderstanding. For that I apologize for any misunderstandings or statements that upset you. I have endeavored to express myself more thoughtfully here. Thank you, also, for sharing with me that you are past the anger stage, by the way. I am sorry to hear that you are a PTSD sufferer, however I take heart that you have made progress in your recovery. All of us who have battled through abuse and trauma need constant reminders that healing is possible. It also relieves me to a certain degree of worrying about whether or not what I am asserting is needlessly inflammatory.

    Allow me to say from the outset that I believe one of the challenges we face is fundamental difference in what we believe is the limitation or lack thereof of the power of rationality. The human brain is comprised of massively complex rational and emotional faculties that are fundamentally and physically intertwined. I believe that our perceptions and processing of the world around us occurs at all times on both levels. Further, I assert that just as it is dangerous to allow emotions to dictate our behaviors and policies, so too do I assert that is it dangerous to allow pure analytical logic to rule the day. As a matter of fact, I do not think that humans are truly capable of pure analytical logic, nor can ethical (relax, I will clarify how I am using this term, I promise) judgments be based on rational analysis alone. As much as possible, I believe an Aristotelian middle path is what is called for.

    For the record, I do not make any judgments about your character based on this difference of perspective, although I do sense from your side (i.e. from you and other members of this community) a level of disregard for my capacity for logical thought that extends to a negative judgment about my character. While you might disagree that that is not what you mean, that sort of gets to the heart of the problem here. Declaring you mean no offense, and then asserting that if I take offense that I am therefore in the wrong, is debating in bad faith and intellectually lazy. You are, as I keep seeing over and over again on these boards, allowing yourself to engage in an ad hominem attack upon me. Further, it is no different from the very valid objections others have made that some survivor advocates have made over the top mischaracterizations of what Dr. Dawkins originally said. Both arguments are made in an effort to paint a person unfairly. It’s as ugly when it’s done in the name of defending a person you agree with as it is when you are trying to attack the credibility of someone you disagree with.

    Certainly you have sought to establish that you are acting with the best of intentions, and that this somehow makes you less angry than me. By so doing, I contend that you are asserting that my behavior is not merely “wrong” but also to some degree censurable and dismissible because I am “angry”. I base this on the following evidence: 1. you making the declaration that I am wrong, and 2. adding on assertions about my state of mind and my emotional health 3. you then further suggest that I am unqualified to effectively fulfill the duties and responsibilities I hold as an advocate for other survivors and 4. you then state that you are at a further stage of health and recovery than I am, and then state that wherever it is that you are is better than where I am, and that you are sure one day I’ll get to where. There is no need for me to answer any of these challenges, I am merely highlighting what it is you actually wrote.

    You claim that I am in an “anger stage.” I don’t really understand what that means, but I have an idea what it is that you are implying. Namely, you believe that the wounds from the traumas I experienced are still so raw as to inflame, and that given enough time and healing, I will develop a deeper, more sensible perspective. You assert this is evidence that I am too emotional and stuck in a state of PTSD that is leading me to make erroneous statements and misread what it is that Dr. Dawkins and others have been saying. I disagree on both count of course, but then again my perspective is necessarily biased. So instead of getting into a futile debate over what my emotional state is or is not, and how that impacts my capacity for rational debate, I propose we simply leave the issue thus: You do not have sufficient evidence or understanding about my life and experiences to make a qualified assessment or diagnosis of my psychological state. I do not have the authority to make unbiased statements about my emotional health. Therefore all discussion centered on who or what I am is a needless distraction and source of controversy that will only muddy the waters and inflame passions and resentment that is contrary to productive debate.

    Onto the other piece upon which disagreement continues to linger. Namely whether or not Dr. Dawkins’ actions were ethical.

    I am sorry that you do not feel I sufficiently answered your question about what “ethical” means.

    You first defined ethical thusly:

    to me the word ethical is a plea to consider what is right and what is

    I have to confess I find this definition confusing. I don’t believe this is a definition as it leaves us completely in the dark as to what ethics is beyond some sort of inquiry. The way you have laid out this example gives us no direction or indication of how we are to populate these categories of right and wrong, which I contend is the whole point of contemplating ethics in the first place. We must have a way to actually define right and wrong within the context of ethics in order to have a substantive understanding of what we mean when we say ethical. Unless we do that, it would be consistent with your formulation to say 2+2=4 is an ethical statement and 2+2=5 is unethical, or vice versa, or that both are ethical or neither are. Clearly one answer is right and one answer is wrong, but that gives no way of determining which side of the ethical divide those statements would fall into, or whether indeed an ethical analysis of the two statements has any substantive meaning at all.

    All you have posited is that the term “ethical” indicates an exercise in applying labels that have no moral weight to them. To me, this is nonsense, and I do not believe that you actually think this is the case, otherwise why bother to make a point of so emphatically stating that I am wrong? (That said, you’ve pointed out to me that I should not make any assumptions more than once. So, if your contention is that being ethical really is an just an exercise of randomly saying one thing is right and another wrong, then you have not at all offended me because there is nothing of substance behind your assertions that I am wrong. Consequently I would therefore withdraw my assertions of disingenuousness on your part and apologize for any offense given.)

    Moving forward, here is how I choose to flesh out the categories of ethical/unethical.

    Ethical behavior is behavior that promotes well-being.

    Unethical behavior is behavior that – intentionally or not – undermines well-being.

    The immediate challenge that these definitions give rise to is what, precisely, do I consider “well-being.” To go any further will require us to at the very least establish some common ground and definitions that can be agreed upon. Even though I fear this may not be possible, I’ll give it a shot nonetheless.

    I consider “well” to be synonymous with terms like good, health, and happy. Well in this usage describes states of existence that a reasonable person would normally judge to be positive and desired.

    “Being” is, to reduce entire fields of philosophy to a pathetic summation – existence itself including our consciousness of our own and other’s existences.

    Further, I define a reasonable person as someone who is possessed of enough intelligence and maturity to be able to assess their current state of being, predict within an acceptable rage of error how his or her behavior might contribute to the increase of decrease of well being in themselves or in others, and adapt their behavior in such a way as to conform to their desires. As an example – a reasonable person would determine that punching another person will cause some degree of discomfort, and will choose whether or not to let fly their fearsome fist only after some degree of contemplating the outcome and determining their behavior is warranted; an unreasonable person will act without premeditation, consideration, or assessment. AS you can see, being reasonable is not as easy as it sounds…

    I am sure that I have not sufficiently clarified these definitions to the satisfaction of all who would read this, however, not even Euclid himself could establish definitions that were beyond debate (my geometry class at school spent days dissecting what “A point is that which has not part” could possibly mean).

    So, in my mind, well-being is a state of existence that broadly speaking, encompasses or embraces or endorses the thoughts, actions, and feelings that a reasonable person might determine would generate an increase the overall level of positiveness or goodness or health.

    So when I say that I believe that ethical behavior is behavior that contributes to well-being, I am asserting that it is therefore unethical to act in ways that detract from well being – either to ones own self, or to have that same impact upon others.

    Therefore, when I say that I assert that Dr. Dawkins’ behaved unethically I am asserting that his actions (in this case the posting of tweets that established hierarchies of rape and child sexual abuse in conjunction with dismissive and needlessly the aggressive and disrespectful encomium, “go away and think”) subtracted from well being more than it added to it. Further I assert that being hypocritical – that is asserting that your peers must adhere to behavioral norms that you yourself are exempt from – also detracts from well-being because it reduces trust between you and other people, and gives rise to negative feelings such as bitterness and resentment.

    In order for Dr. Dawkin’s actions to be considered unethical, it is not necessary for me to establish what his intent was. That may seem a curious statement, nonetheless I contend that intent does not matter when it comes to ethics. If ethical behavior is that which contributes positively to levels of well-being then anything which has the opposite effect – regardless of intentionality – is therefore unethical. When a person commits an act, then there is a certain level of responsibility that he or she owns for the consequences of that act – known or unknown, foreseen or unforeseen, intended or unintentional. A drunk driver who runs over a small child very likely had no intention to commit murder when getting behind the wheel, however that does not mean his behavior was ethical.

    When Dr. Dawkins issued those tweets, and then further went on to dismiss the concerns and allegations of those who felt his behavior was improper by penning a long screed about the danger of establishing “emotional no-go areas” he acted in ways that decreased well being for a number of reasons. For example, it inflamed and needlessly aggravated many survivors of date rape who, justifiably, are concerned about any statements that minimize the criminality or harm of what was done to them. Now, of course, Dr. Dawkins pointed out that he in no way meant to minimize the suffering of any victim. But as I have established, his intention no longer matters. The effect of his actions is what matters.

    The only ethical behavior in light of having caused harm is to respond in ways that attempt to build up well being again. In order to establish what a person who has been harmed might need to build up their sense of well being, at the very minimum an inquiry as to what that person wants or needs is required. One does not build up well being by glossing over the legitimate objections of those one has hurt and firmly asserting one’s innocence. In this case, Dr. Dawkins could have responded ethically in any number of ways (he could have agreed to learn more about the position of sexual violence advocates who strongly disagreed with him, or he could have issued a sincere apology for speaking with too much passion and too little compassion). However he chose instead to go on the offensive and assert that there are survivors who are too emotionally damaged to be capable advocates for their cause, or who can be trusted to engage in rational dialogue about things like how harmful some kinds of rape can be vs other. That does nothing to actually ameliorate the situation, and is likely to only upset those who have been harmed even more. Worse, it callously redirects attention away from those he has injured and disingenuously puts himself in the place of victim in their stead.

    None of this is to suggest that Dr. Dawkins is a bad person, morally speaking. Many people act in ways that are unethical – that detract from overall well-being – that are otherwise morally upstanding people. To go back to the drunk driver, perhaps this person is a great surgeon who has saved countless lives who, one night, made a tragic and horrible choice. It is dangerous to jump from a determination that a single act is unethical to establish a clear declaration of a person’s moral worth.

    I trust this sufficiently clarifies what it is that I mean by ethical behavior, and why I contend that Dr. Dawkins behaved unethically. I could move on from this point to explain why, within the context of trauma and recovery, it makes no sense to talk about hierarchies of harm, but this is enough for one post. My last point is this: Compassion is a resource that flows from the heart and the mind. To deny the heart its hurts, and seek to be absolved of responsibility for the hurt we cause is to effectively reduce the amount of compassion that is available at any given moment in the world. Given the amount of suffering that exists around us, I feel that anything we do to limit compassion is unwise.

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  • Probably not worth while tossing One More Note here. But the point probably needs to be made.

    There is no reason to object to the observation that some rapes may be worse than others. What IS absolutely objectionable is Dawkins drawing a specific line and declaring a CATEGORY of rape as worse. e.g.: stranger rape with knife, versus date rape.

    What about date rape with a knife? Or stranger rape via alcohol or rohypnol?

    Date rape may very well be MUCH more serious as it involves betrayal of trust and the suborning of normal social and sexual conduct for the criminal intent of the perpetrator. The extraordinary difficulties in prosecuting acquaintance rape, and the failure of bystanders to recognize or acknowledge the predatory nature of the rapist, is another damage magnifying aspect.

    If it is ‘less bad’ to be raped by an acquaintance. Why not argue that being raped by a family member should be even more benign?

    The degree of harm, if it can every be established or placed on a scale at all, depends on individuals, circumstances, prior conditions, and aftermath.

    One schoolboys brief unwanted fondling may be relatively harmless, another’s could be devastating.

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  • .

    The above link will take you to an essay written by Germaine Greer ( a ground breaking feminist) on the topic of rape. Most will not find her views palatable as she has an unorthodox way of looking at society. The article is worth reading even if is only useful in suggesting another way of seeing. I’m not necessarily endorsing her views, but I like to look at alternatives.

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  • Alice, you touch on an important point, sexual innuendo unintended, of course women enjoy sex, I’ve noticed it, but I think that far too often when it comes to discussing the matter men take the rap for all the wrong doings, and I’ve always thought it patronizing towards women to infer that they have to suffer the approaches of men.

    None of us are angels.

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  • Alice, further to my last, of course it’s profoundly unnatural to engage in non-consensual sex, so please don’t get the idea that I’m even suggesting that it’s acceptable.

    The thing that turns me on is a woman being likewise, and I think I can usually sense when that happens, but I would never cross the line and jeopardize my relationship with my wife; I simply deal with the situation in my own way; or, take things in hand myself.

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  • Alice (and Stafford) – I think we can put the ‘All men are potential rapists’ safely together with the other ‘rape myths’ that we have noted, such as ‘date rape is just women complaining after bad sex’. Feminists certainly used to say this and they were wrong but the other group that love this one are the real potential rapists. If this idea is accepted, then indeed women are to be blamed for having any social contact with men alone at all. And this is what a rapist will claim. ‘Why did she invite me into her house?’ and the like.

    However, the reality is that all men are not rapists, even potential ones. Do a straw poll of women around you, most will have learned very young that, far from having to fear every encounter with men, on the contrary they can put themselves into 1 on 1 situations with the vast majority of men and most will behave perfectly reasonably, and be very sensitive to the fact that every step of the way, relations have to be consensual. The potential rapist is the exception and one that women have to watch out for, but very far from being the general case. Which is why, the fault for such situations is not with women but with the potential rapist himself.

    And no, Stafford, it is not a question of having to feel like a potential rapist because you feel strongly attracted to someone. We all feel very strongly attracted to other people sometimes, women included. But what do most of us do, male and female, if that feeling is not appropriate (because you are married or any other reason) or not reciprocated. Well we get over it don’t we, maybe go home and masturbate even? We do not go out and rape that person.

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  • 128
    Alice says:

    Hi Nitya. I’ve not read Germaine Greer tho I am aware of some of her pronouncements. I don’t feel overly qualified to comment on them as they’re out of context and from an era I haven’t experienced.

    However that rape is just another form of violence is a tricky one, in one respect absolutely, but one with psychological implications. In another respect it is a very distinct form of violence in that it violates something deeply emotional. It is difficult to articulate what but it does elicit a great deal of revulsion and fear.

    There are other points about the comment I’m uncomfortable with. It ignores rape of males which is equally traumatic. After all a lot of the victims of catholic priests went on to commit suicide, something that rarely happens after other forms of violence. Even if they are initially more damaging.

    It also ignores the complexities of rape cases. Nobody chooses to go out and get mugged. People choose to have sex all the time so with date rape particularly it is reduced to he said she said. And the accused must always have justice. Despite what the others think I hold to the premise better ten guilty men go free than one innocent suffer. Saying that victims also deserve justice and others deserve protection. So rape leads to complicated court cases. Unlike other forms of violent crime.

    I would prefer to see the comment in full context before making a judgement. But at first glance I don’t agree with her.

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  • Excellent post Andy. Absolutely agree with all your points. Knowing your attacker obviously doesn’t determine the degree of violence or trauma.

    There was a post earlier either on this thread or Richard’s original one laughing at the idea that a man could rape his wife. The quote went to say something like ‘If you have sex on Friday, how could having sex on Saturday be rape’. The post seems to have been moderated so I can’t check it now or reply to it directly (and although I’m pretty sure which poster put it up I do not want to address the wrong person because I cannot check) but it seems relevant to address it here (I hope you don’t mind).

    The scenario clearly could have been:
    1. Friday they have consensual sex.
    2. Saturday he goes out drinking, comes home, tries to initiate sex. She says no, because he is drunk and being unpleasant. He tries again. She says no and tells him to sleep on the sofa. He loses his temper and violently attacks her causing massive injury not to mention the emotional trauma of having been attacked by her husband, the person she has previously trusted above all others..

    By the logic of ‘ if you know your attacker, it is not really rape’ the description above is not rape.

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  • 130
    Alice says:

    Ornicar I don’t use the word whore. If you mean do women hate prostitutes I doubt it. Either it should be legalised with full employment rights and checks and protection or if it remains criminalised the users not the providers should be charged. The current situation of pimps, gangs, trafficking etc where exploitation and harm are rife is unacceptable.

    As for poor. I have two divorced female friends. One with good job and house. The other rented accommodation and poorly paid job. Guess which one is in a new relationship.

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  • 132
    Alice says:

    Men don’t take all the rap for everything. I’ve said again and again that very few men are capable of rape. Very few women are capable of sexual assault. But both happen. Likewise false claims. None of us are angels. But this debate has become a bit fixated on false claims and drunken sex. And I do think it is because so many people are equating sex and rape.

    I would be willing to bet you’ve been in lots of situations where you were very close to, and desperately wanted sex but the other person said no. I’d stake my life on the fact that no matter how annoyed you were you did not resort to force. Persuasion maybe, name calling maybe but never force. In common with the vast majority of men. It’s the unthinkable step to force that is rape. Whether date or otherwise.

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  • 134
    davo1955 says:

    Consent may cease at any time. Sex should then stop. If you visit Sweden be aware that consent, to be considered consent, has to be clear, explicit, ongoing and without a trace of deception. I think this is a good criterion as it leaves people in no doubt where they stand and protects everyone from both rape and false accusation.

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  • Hi Andy.

    Please, what obvious evolutionary reasons do you mean ? I see mainly social constructions. I don’t think other apes would be as destroyed as a human by a rape. I could be wrong about that and I know rape is not uncommon in some species of primates.

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  • Excuse my French, Alice 😉

    It’s interesting that you write “It is difficult to articulate what but [rape] does elicit a great deal of revulsion and fear.” That is exactly what I wonder.

    Is it possible that those victims of catholic priests felt even more harmed, to the point of committing suicide, because they were deeply catholic themselves, whereas some “atheist child” could have felt more detached about sex ?

    Sex and shame seems to me a very artificial association.

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  • 140
    DrewVox says:


    While I agree that the statistics on rape convictions are low, I’m not sure what you would propose we do. As I’ve stated elsewhere on this thread, unfortunate as it may be, rape is often unsubstantiated. That doesn’t mean a rape didn’t occur, it means that there’s no physical evidence with which to prosecute the accused. However, we cannot change our judicial system just because we’re emotional about rape. In cases of “he said, she said” I’m not sure what else you would expect we do.

    I’d like you to present some evidence that rape cases are not treated as “serious” by law enforcement. You can’t, because it’s not true. They ARE treated as serious it’s just that in many cases there’s really no way to prove it. Again, I’m not sure what your solution to that problem is.

    A woman’s voice CAN ruin a man and it doesn’t matter to me if it’s .5% of cases or 10%. Either figure is too high. Simply put, no person should be convicted of any crime (rape included) based solely on eyewitness testimony. This type of evidence is incredibly unreliable and you can verify this by reading one of the many studies on this.

    When you say women have to “endure” when reporting a rape, I don’t understand what your issue is. It’s normal procedure to ask questions because how else would law enforcement get an idea of what the victim says took place? Do you want them to just run right out and arrest the accused regardless of the details of her story?

    It sounds to me like you are a proponent of the same solution feminism is: guilty until proven innocent.

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  • 141
    DrewVox says:

    I don’t see anyone spewing vitriol, Alice.

    Most men don’t rape.

    I agree.

    Most women don’t make up claims. Some do.

    That’s exactly right. SOME DO. This is exactly why, in cases of “he said, she said” we can’t just throw men in jail. It doesn’t matter if it’s .5% or 30%, we err on the side of caution. Our legal system follows Blackstone’s formulation for a reason, which states:

    “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer”

    I’m sorry if you don’t like it, but that’s the way it is.

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  • 142
    DrewVox says:


    It’s clear now that you do not live in the United States. Feminism over here is a very different animal. You claimed in an earlier post that “feminism is about equality” but I already showed you one example that proved that isn’t true. I can cite multiple other examples.

    There’s not a single day that goes by here in the U.S. that I don’t hear SOMETHING about the U.S. being a “rape culture”. Even the largest support organization in the country for sexual violence says rape culture doesn’t exist, and yet, feminists here still spout it as though it were a fact.

    Across college campuses there are posters all over the place depicting situations where a rape might occur. The slogan is: “Don’t be THAT guy…”

    As if moral men need to be told not to rape. And as if a man who WOULD rape would be swayed by a poster.

    It’s ridiculous, quite frankly.

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  • 143
    DrewVox says:

    The reason the debate comes back to false claims and drunken sex is that we’re discussing the ability of our judicial system and law enforcement agencies to prosecute rape cases effectively.

    We already know that rape is, quite often, a crime of no physical evidence. In many cases it boils down to “he said, she said”.

    So, BECAUSE we know these things happen (whether it’s 1% or 25%), we simply cannot change the way we investigate or prosecute rape crimes.

    Otherwise, we end up putting even more innocent men in prison. More than the number who already end up in prison when they’re innocent.

    Look up cases like Brian Banks here in the United States. Or the Duke LaCrosse team. Or Google the headline “Dallas man exonerated by DNA in 24 year old case”.

    This is a perfect example of what can happen. They had ZERO physical evidence. The only “evidence” they had was her identification of him as her rapist. (Or, rather, they had ZERO physical evidence that pointed to this particular individual.)

    Guess what? It wasn’t him. It was another black man who lived in the same building.

    But I guess that’s okay, because they all look the same right?

    I realize you think these examples are rare, but we’re seeing more and more that they aren’t.

    It may not be that the victim in the aforementioned case picked the wrong person out of malice, but that doesn’t change that it happened or that it happens more often than you probably think it does.

    One more time: Blackstone’s formulation.

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  • 144
    DrewVox says:


    You are purposely twisting his point, and you know it. You’re creating a dialogue for which your argument sounds reasonable.

    do you seriously think getting drunk is an action a girl should reasonably be “punished” for with rape?

    That’s not what he said. He’s clearly making the point that you should be responsible for your own actions when drinking.

    If you get drunk and run over a pedestrian and kill them, are you responsible for the actions that took place after you got drunk? Yes.

    Now, let’s be clear. There’s a difference between “one person having sex with another person while they are passed out, with no consent” and “two people getting drunk, consenting to sex, and then one of them gets called a rapist.

    The argument most people keep making is that, somehow, only the male has any agency when both parties are drinking. You can look through this thread for people insinuating that very thing. That somehow men are less drunk when both parties are drinking and they somehow have more responsibility.

    No, I’m sorry. We’re clearly talking about cases where both parties are drunk and sex takes place. That’s not rape, no matter how many times you or others say it is.

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  • 145
    DrewVox says:

    Ps. Most date rapists are serial offenders. It’s not typically a genuine miscommunication.

    How could you possibly know this? You can’t.

    Regardless, it’s irrelevant. It doesn’t matter if it’s .25% or 30%. Rapes are often hard to prosecute because of the lack of physical evidence. As unfortunate as it is, there’s not much we can do to change it unless you propose we just starting throwing the accused in prison without a fair trial or any actual evidence?

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  • 146
    DrewVox says:

    feminists whining about sexual hang ups and slightly drunken consensual sex.

    There’s no such thing as drunken consensual sex according to most feminists. The popular message seems to be that the male is guilty. Read through this very thread for people suggesting that when both parties are drinking “the female is drunker” and other such nonsense.

    There are a TON of cases here in the United States of the VERY sex you are talking about resulting in the expulsion of males from college campuses.

    Cases where law enforcement did NOT pursue charges but where the campus took the word of the woman over the man anyway, and kicked him out. There are now numerous lawsuits pending across the country.

    I suspect that most feminists support the supposed “victim” in these cases.

    The issue at hand, actual rape that happens to occur between acquaintances, is neither ambiguous nor excusable.

    It’s not a straw man. The REASON that “slightly drunken consensual sex” and “sexual hang ups or regret” are relevant is that ALL OF THEM ARE OFTEN CRIMES WITHOUT PHYSICAL EVIDENCE.

    Do you understand now why they are similar? We’re discussing the ability to prosecute rape cases that may have very little (or zero) physical evidence.

    Those other examples are WHY we cannot just throw people in jail when it’s a “he said, she said” situation.

    …is neither ambiguous nor excusable.

    From an evidentiary perspective, they are the same.

    Nobody said that date rapes were excusable. The question is, are they always going to be cases that we can successfully prosecute? Nope. As unfortunate as it may be, that’s simply the reality.

    The alternative is that we just start taking the word of the accused as though it were gospel at all times, and throwing innocent men in prison. Would that make you happy?

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  • 147
    DrewVox says:

    He loses his temper and violently attacks her causing massive injury not to mention the emotional trauma of having been attacked by her husband, the person she has previously trusted above all others..

    Give me a break. In a case like this, you honestly think he wouldn’t be convicted? If he caused massive injury, that’s called physical evidence. That’s completely different from a case where both parties drink, one person passes out, sex occurs, and there’s no physical evidence. It’s also different from cases where two people drink and have drunkenly consensual sex.

    Most of these conversations are centered around date rape cases in which there is NO PHYSICAL EVIDENCE. Do you understand what that means? It means there was no physical evidence (abrasions, bruises, signs of physical attack, etc.) Those are the kinds of date rape cases that are tough (or near impossible) to prosecute because it becomes a case of he said she said.

    Surely you understand the differences between all of these types of cases?

    Some rapes are obvious and have lots of physical evidence.

    Some rapes may have happened, but there is no physical evidence. That’s not a false rape, that’s called an “unsubstantiated rape”. That means that a rape may very well have occurred, but we can’t really prove it.

    Then there are false rape claims, which are cases where a rape never occurred but a woman (or man) has claimed it happened anyway.

    Now, the first type of rape is easy to prosecute and I would say the percentage is higher than most people here claim. (6% is ridiculous.)

    Now, those last two are the issue. The second one is actually rape but there’s really no way for prosecutors to make a case. How would you propose we solve the problem?

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  • 148
    Reginald says:

    @ DrewVox

    Please read this recent article in the NYT
    “hundreds of thousands of other rape kits across the country containing evidence gathered from victims, … lay untested for years on a storeroom shelves. ”

    and then suggest to us that “I’d like you to present some evidence that rape cases are not treated as “serious” by law enforcement. You can’t, because it’s not true.”

    That article most certainly confirms an overwhelming complacency and disregard for ‘rape’ by the authorities, at least in the USA. Look at the appalling number of neglected investigations and then come back and restate your argument.


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  • 149
    DrewVox says:

    Excellent post, Paula. It’s nice to see others who see the feminist movement for what it really is.

    I am so tired of the “No True Scotsman” arguments. Every time you point out something horrible feminism does people will just point and say “But that’s not REAL feminism! Feminism is about equality.”

    Yeahhhhhh. Sure it is.

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  • 150
    DrewVox says:

    I love her quote.

    And it is irritating to constantly hear how much men like sex with no acknowledgement that women do to.

    Finally, we agree on something!

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  • 151
    DrewVox says:


    I agree that we could do a better job of ensuring rape kits are tested and that sort of thing.

    But, that has nothing to do with cases where there is zero physical evidence. Those are the cases I’m more concerned about and its those cases that the original post was referring to.

    Feminists seem to be proposing that treat victim testimony as though it was infallible and start throwing men in prison. Even the original article this blog post referred to is complaining about those types of cases.

    “an event where there are no witnesses and where forensic investigation is unnecessary because the fact that intercourse took place is rarely denied. The issue is simply one of consent — he-said-she-said.”

    See that last sentence?

    I agree that investigators should try their best to find evidence, but there isn’t always evidence to be found.

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  • This is a clear case of rape. But I am interested in why people often include overt violence with rape, as often the threat of violence is enough (females of many species are more risk averse than males, for sound evolutionary reasons). I am not sure about US law, but today a woman does not need to show that she put up “reasonable” defence for an offence to have taken place.

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  • It comes from the Dworkin/Brownmiller vintage of feminism, the same vintage as “rape is about power not sex” (which you have heard of).

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  • 154
    Paula says:

    Force does not have to occur for rape to take place. The most obvious example would be if someone was unconscious – no force needs to be applied. On a more complex level however, the human stress response is more varied than people generally understand. It isn’t just “fight or flight”, but fight/flight/fright/freeze, the latter the strategy of “playing possum”. This appears to be a common strategy for women under threat, and as such, understandings of rape (and other assault) need to take this into account, which has happened in the UK at least.

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  • Hi Alice,
    Yeah I think you and I are pretty much on the same page.

    I think most feminists have rethought this one these days but it was something that was often heard at one time. Let me make it clear, my main point above was not to criticise feminists (I am not an anti-feminist at all), just to recognise one particular viewpoint that I disagree with and how actually it plays into rapists hands, because I think it’s an important point because it has implications for how both rapists and their victims are to be judged.

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  • 158
    Stijn says:

    What amazes me, is why everyone starts to think that Dawkins’ words (“rape X is less bad than rape Y”) implies that rape X can be trivialized or that Dawkins minimizes the badness of rape X. People tend to believe that if you say that “badness of rape X < badness of rape Y”, that you lower X. Dawkins’ critics say that Dawkins underestimates the badness of X, because he lowers X by saying “X<Y”. But there is another possible movement: increasing Y! It might be that according to Dawkins, rape X is as bad as rape X is according to his critic, but that Dawkins thinks rape Y is worse than what his critic believes about rape Y. In other words: it is equally possible that Dawkins increases the badness of Y when he says that X<Y, and that he could say that his critic underestimates the badness of Y when his critic says that X=Y. Is it so wrong to believe that rape Y is worse than what all his critics believe about rape Y?

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  • 159
    Bernard says:

    I was hoping for a bit more logic, too.
    I propose we make a game of it, and compete to make Dawkins’ syllogism-like argument valid with the fewest premises/words.

    Here’s my effort:

    A1. What makes rape bad is that it violates a person’s right to bodily integrity.

    A2. Going on a date mitigates a person’s right to bodily integrity.

    I’m not a enamoured of rights-language for ethical arguments, but it keeps it short.

    NB Efforts to make this argument valid do not imply that it is sound.

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  • Hi Alice.
    My comment is in reference to the one before ( written at 3.53) but I’m replying here as I have no access to ‘reply’ after that comment. In relation to Germaine Greer, she’s not of another era at all. She’s a very prolific commenter now! I provided a link on another post but it could be found by googling Germaine Greer/rape. I assure you that her views are worth the investment of time to read.
    Greer holds a post in a prestige university in the UK though I’ve forgotten which one Oxford/Cambridge not sure.
    She proposes that ‘rape’ is a medieval misogynist construct. The wide usage of the word and as a root word for in other contexts such as ‘rapacious’, ‘rapine’ and even ‘rapier’ is linked to the male obsession with power of their own genitalia.

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  • 161
    flatch says:

    Part of the problem here is that some people don’t understand that you can’t be in the middle of consensual sex, decide you don’t want it any more, run out of the bed and call it rape.
    You can’t just decide at any point during consensual sex whether or not the sex is rape. That is not how it works.

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  • 163
    Deborah says:

    If both parties agree, then obviously there is no rape, it is consensual intercourse. While there may be degrees of sexual assault and differences in how a rape occurred, I don’t understand how your first statement about rape substantiates the second.

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  • 164
    Deborah says:

    I would agree that a person can withdraw consent at any time during a sexual act, and any force or coercion constitutes rape from that point on.

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  • 165
    Deborah says:

    I agree. Despite initial consent to a sexual activity, that consent may be withdrawn at any time. Any force of any type past the withdrawal of consent is rape. Sweden’s laws appear to provide clarity and fairness in application of rape laws.

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  • 166
    Deborah says:

    Many years ago, a freshman girl in my dorm was quite inebriated and went with a group of supposed male friends (also inebriated) to their dorm to continue to socialize, per her account. She reported that when she arrived, these boys (all parties were 18 years of age) began sexually assaulting her, finally taking all of her clothes off, keeping them from her so she could not leave, and gang-raped her numerous times over at least a twelve hour period, again, per her report. When reported to campus security, the officer told her she should not file a complaint, as it would “ruin her reputation”. I witnessed this occasion. No forensic evidence remained, as the girl showered and hid in her room for three days, until I finally came to check on her. The boys obtained statements from friends of theirs’ in their dorm that the door was open and she was a willing participant. As you noted, eyewitness testimony is extremely unreliable, and in this case may have been tainted by the friendship between the alleged rapists and their witnesses. What I can say is that the extreme trauma I observed expressed in this girl’s behavior following the event, especially in retrospect as a retired licensed clinical psychologist, appeared to go well beyond regret or later rejection. I cannot imagine a scenario in which this girl forcibly raped a group of 18 year old boys, despite their inebriated state. With encouragement and support, she finally pled her case to the head of the legal department of the university. He appeared to believe her story, but felt there was not enough evidence at that point to successfully prosecute these boys. He said the best he could do was to write a letter to each of these boys’ parents explaining the circumstances and put this in their student file. Even had she lost her case, it is my feeling that she had the right to have her day in court, if only for the chance to stand up for herself and bolster her own sense of strength. This would have also set an example for other girls on campus, so many of whom stay silent. I don’t understand why the “he saids” outweigh the “she said” in a case of gang rape in terms of going to trial, even when the chances of winning are slim.

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  • A female judge in New Zealand got lambasted (as she predicted) because she was sick of the date-rape scenarios where the woman couldn’t remember if she gave consent but said she wouldn’t have slept with him if she was sober and so accused him of rape, so the judge told women to “stop getting so drunk, or these rape statistics are never going to improve.”

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  • How does 6% of charges lead up to conviction while the UK conviction rate is 60%? Some differences explain it. I don’t know about the UK but in the U.S whether charges make it to court is determined by the D.A and they only accept the cases they think they are likely to win. (They run on their win percentages). So actually, very few cases even make it to court. Things have improved over the decades since I worked as an advocate of rape women. Now the use of rape kits greatly assist in the gathering of evidence.

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  • In the U.S The D.A desires whether to accept the case and they only accept the cases they think they can win. Many are charged but few are chosen (for court)

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