Saturday, August 30, 2014

Rape Crisis Hysteria: Former GWU President Accidentally Speaks The Truth, Is Vilified

Still more insanity.

Will Trachtenberg be forced to publicly admit to counter-revolutionary thinking, and to recommend a stint at re-education camp for himself?

The advice "don't blame the victim," like so much we got from old-school feminism, was sound. In the current climate of hard-left rape hysteria, however, this has become: it is thoughtcrime to entertain the idea that there is anything women can do to decrease the probability of being raped. To suggest that women might lower their odds of being raped by drinking less--or by doing or refraining from doing anything whatsoever--is blaming the victim. (See: the recent freak-out about anti-rape nail polish...)

This is, of course, the utterest hogwash.

It is simply a fact that women--especially in a typical college environment--can tilt the odds in their favor by, for example, not getting black-out drunk. Again: that is a fact. 

To insist, on daft ideological grounds, that this very sound piece of advice not be uttered is to be willing to sacrifice the well-being of actual people to an insane political commitment. And that is either evil or damn near to it.

The crazies are ascendant in contemporary feminism, and that feminism is at the forefront of the effort by the loony left to lead liberalism over the cliff.


18 Comments:

Blogger The Mystic said...

Well, I sure can see why this touched a sore spot with you. The remark he made on Diane Rehm's show not only seemed eminently reasonable, but almost an exact replica of statements I've heard you make before. =)

Similarities aside, it is of course absolutely crazy that he's being vilified in any way for this.

9:46 AM  
Anonymous Jim Bales said...

So I looked at the transcript
http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2014-08-26/role-fraternities-and-sororities-today/transcript
and, while I did see Mr. Trachenberg say that women need to be “trained” [1] not to drink in excess, I could not find where he said that men need to be taught not to rape. By the way, such teaching can be found, for example, here:
http://accidentaldevotional.com/2013/03/19/the-day-i-taught-how-not-to-rape/

I could not find where Mr. Trachenberg said that men need to be taught how to deal with a woman who had drank too much, even though such training can be found (for example) here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sOXN_80ohM

In explaining why Dr. Trachtenberg is right in placing his emphasis on “training” women not to drink to excess rather than teaching men not to rape, I ask the small courtesy that, in addition to directly and expressly responding to my links above, one also responds expressly and directly to the case cited by Ms Flanagan in the transcript:

”But I do want to circle back at the risk of offending again Dr. Trachtenberg. You know, the end of the article was a very long investigation of a rape in a fraternity house at Wesleyan, a very elite, excellent university. The young woman was stone cold sober. She hadn't smoked any marijuana, she hadn't drunk anything. It resulted in a criminal conviction. The guy was so much larger than she was, she did everything she could. I won't go into the graphic details but she really fought back. And he raped her in a very violent, very, very hideous, very abhorrent manner.”

“And so I do acknowledge -- I think Dr. Trachtenberg is right that women, the less alcohol they have onboard the more aware they can be of situations, the more sensitive they can be to danger of certain situations. But that is by no means a protector from rape.


Given that experience shows that "[Being sober] is by no means a protector from rape," why, precisely, is Mr. Trachtenberg correct in placing the emphasis on "training" women to stay sober rather than "training" men to not rape?

Personally, given how quick Mr. Trachtenberg was to raise the "need" to "train" women not to drink to excess and how studiously he avoid the far more pressing (IMHO) need to teach men not to rape, I can only say he got what he deserved.

However, I could be wrong. And, I am happy to hear, with specifics, in detail, why "training" women not to drink to excess is a better use of our "training" capacity than "training" men not to rape.

Best
Jim

[1] Why "training" in quotes? Because I always thought that our responsibility as educators at Universities was to teach, not to "train". One trains a puppy. One teaches a student. -jb

5:36 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

True or false, Jim:

Women in college can decrease the likelihood of being the victims of sexual assault by drinking less?

4:02 PM  
Anonymous Jim Bales said...

WS,

I happily stipulate that women in college can decrease the likelihood of being the victims of sexual assault by drinking less. I have never claimed otherwise. And, those outraged by his words have not (to the best of my knowledge) claimed otherwise, either.

Those outraged by his words share the understanding set forth by this woman with her sign:
http://www.buzzfeed.com/fjelstud/things-that-cause-rape

Or, the same message put a little differently here:
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BuMovGbIAAAQSaa.jpg:large

From Trachtenberg’s words you would never know that rapes happen because rapists choose to commit rape. Trachtenberg identifies one and one only way to prevent rape. Train women not to get drunk.

By speaking of women needing to be “trained not to get drunk” while saying nothing of rapists who cause rape, Trachtenberg implicitly blamed the victims. Trachtenberg’s error was not what he said, it was what he did not say. And those who protested took Trachtenberg’s implicit assertion and made it explicit.

I, for one, have no problem with a loud outcry -- nay, a veritable shitstorm -- any time a major public figure implicitly blames the victim by telling women that they need to change their behavior yet remaining silent of the need to change how rapists behave.

If we have enough such shitstorms, then, maybe, we can start to substantially reduce the incidence of rape.

Best
Jim

11:15 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

That, Jim, is one of the ways that liberalism goes crazy.

I do not have to mention every way of preventing x when I discuss the topic. Granted, in some contexts, it's better to give a fuller picture. But this nonsense has gotten completely out of hand.

Basically, the hysterical demands to repeat the politically correct line on this have gotten so strident that failure to mention the approved talking points is met with the kind of response we see in the Trachtenberg case.

Trachtenberg said something true. He doesn't have to mention all the true things at once. He doesn't have to mention the PC talking points in order to say anything at all about the problem of sexual assault on campus.

It's true--absolutely, unequivocally, beyond-a-shadow-of-a-doubt true--that there would be fewer sexual assaults on campus if female students drank less.

One is not obligated to say anything else about the problem in order to make this point.

Are there other points one could make? Absolutely. But one is not obligated to do so.

The current liberal insanity involves denying that point.

6:56 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Footnote: what else might one want to mention?

That it would also help if males drank less might be one. You *could* mention that rape is a crime and one shouldn't blame the victim...but for the love of God, who needs to be reminded of that? Or you could point out, similarly, that it's the rapists' fault...but, again...really? Maybe we should discuss the general problem of man's inhumanity to man? Or the problem of evil?

Sadly, liberalism has gone from the sane, sound, "don't blame the victim" to "you are never allowed to say anything about this problem except the approved talking points."

We are becoming the crazy people that the right thinks we are.

7:00 AM  
Blogger tehr0x0r said...

Few quick thoughts, forgive me if these are not fully formed our thought out as this is the first time I'm putting them to "paper" or whatever the heck the phrase should be these days.

Anyway, first, the big difference between "training" men not to rape and college women not to drink to much is that most men don't need to be "trained" not to rape, while most college student do need to be "trained" not to drink in excess.

Second, what WS said about not needing to mention every possible solution to a problem. This is the problem with the left today and its why I struggle in every election trying to pick the lesser of two evils, just because he said women should drink less, doesn't mean he can't also think that men should, you know, keep it in their pants and not be creepy dbags or rapists.

Third, on the general topic of "rape culture." I was talking to my sister a few weeks back about the issue and she stated "we do have a rape culture!" At that point I about lost it, this is a very well educated young woman who I've always considered rather bright. So I pushed her on it, I told her she was way to smart to make such a stupid comment. She continued to insist that it was true, but did eventually say, "well, I think the problem is that when we use the term rape culture we lose the rational males who don't rape people." I think the point here is that when people talk about rape culture what they really mean is that we have a sill largely patriarchal society. What has happened is that in order to get shock value the left uses the term rape culture, and is then somehow surprised when people either laugh at it or get mad.

8:03 AM  
Blogger Jim Bales said...

WS, you write:
"I do not have to mention every way of preventing x when I discuss the topic. Granted, in some contexts, it's better to give a fuller picture. But this nonsense has gotten completely out of hand."

It is true that you do not have to mention every way of preventing x when discussing a topic. However, you will be judged by which preventative measures you choose to mention and which *causes* of the injury you choose to ignore.

Hint, anyone who tells other people how they might avoid being injured by third parties without acknowledging the culpability of those who inflict the injuries will be seen as either heartless or clueless. This is the natural consequence of the original speaker's choice of what to include and what to exclude.

And, if instead of being Winston Smith, the speaker is a Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, a former university president speaking on a nation-wide radio show, this is precisely a context where it is better to give a fuller picture.

WS, you go on to say that:
You *could* mention that rape is a crime and one shouldn't blame the victim...but for the love of God, who needs to be reminded of that?

Many victims of rape need to be told that it is not their fault. They, if no one else, need to hear this. For the love of God, who would avoid the opportunity to reinforce that message and possibly help alleviate someone’s suffering?

Many Americans blame the victims of sexual assault and rape. For example:

A Montana judge will be publicly censured and suspended without pay for 31 days for saying a 14-year-old rape victim was “as much in control of the situation” as the 47-year-old teacher who raped her, the state Supreme Court announced Wednesday.

State Judge G. Todd Baugh, 72, drew criticism after he suspended all but 30 days of a 15-year sentence handed down to former teacher Stacey Dean Rambold, who was charged in 2008 with raping his 14-year-old student. The student committed suicide in 2010, before Rambold was convicted.


Judge G. Todd Baugh needs to be told not to blame the victim. He is not alone.

Liberalism is still on the sane, sound, "don't blame the victim" because too many Americans - including many in positions of power - are still blaming the victim, and because too many victims are feeling blamed.

Best
Jim

8:06 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

"Anyway, first, the big difference between "training" men not to rape and college women not to drink to much is that most men don't need to be "trained" not to rape, while most college student do need to be "trained" not to drink in excess."

I think that's a good point, t.r0x.

(Like you and Jim, and raise an eyebrow at "trained", incidentally...)

I've been trying to figure out the best case to make in defense of the "rape culture" locution...I think I figured out a suggestion for defending it...but, like you, I I'm inclined to think it's a bad/ dopey/ inaccurate way of speaking.

6:53 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Jim,

You write:

"It is true that you do not have to mention every way of preventing x when discussing a topic."

Ok then.

That was my point.

I'm glad you agree...and, in fact, we might not disagree about anything then...

But wait...:

"However, you will be judged by which preventative measures you choose to mention and which *causes* of the injury you choose to ignore."

*Will* you be? Maybe. *Should* you be? Depends... Unless you are claiming to be naming the primary cause, you get to talk about any of the causes you like. When I hear someone talking about cutting down on transfats as a way of lowering cholesterol, I don't think "HOW DARE HE NOT TALK ABOUT THE FACT THAT GENETICS ARE MORE IMPORTANT!" I think 'yep, that's one way to mitigate the problem, alright..."

Feminism has gone crazy on this issue because it has decreed that you are not permitted to *ever* speak of *any* way in which women can lower the odds of rape. If you do, you are falsely accused of blaming the victim. What they're really mad about here is not that Trachtenberg *only* mentioned one factor without mentioning another... They're actually mad that he mentioned any factor other than the politically correct one...

I can virtually guarantee you that he'd be getting virtually the same flack if he'd have mentioned both things...

But more to the point:

You write:

"Hint, anyone who tells other people how they might avoid being injured by third parties without acknowledging the culpability of those who inflict the injuries will be seen as either heartless or clueless. This is the natural consequence of the original speaker's choice of what to include and what to exclude."

This seems false, my friend!

Every year before Christmas break, for example, my university sends out the same e-mail to everyone, saying, in effect, "Here's how to lower the odds of your apartment being broken into over break..." There follows a list of perfectly reasonably recommendations (stop the mail/don't let it build up in your mailbox, put a lamp on a timer, don't let newspapers stack up in front of your door, etc. etc. etc. There is no mention whatsoever of what *everyone knows*: burglars are to blame for burglaries. No one *ever* thinks this is "blaming the victim."

So:

If you're asked to give a comprehensive theory of sexual assault, you'll want to mention, I suppose...that rapists are responsible for rape...I mean...if you think that needs to be said...

But: you don't need to recite PC talking points to say anything at all about the subject.

However: the cases you cite do show that some people *haven't* yet been clued in on not blaming the victim--agreed. They are the opposite kind of crazy.

Between the two kinds of crazy under discussion is the fairly ordinary position I'm espousing...or so I'd say...

7:18 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

OTOH...

You might say:

1. You have no obligation to mention all elements of the situation under normal conditions.

2. However, if you're speaking in a context in which many people are inclined to under-emphasize one of the factors, your obligation to mention that factor becomes weightier as the tendency to dismiss becomes more pronounced...

That seems reasonable to me...

But wait...that interview took place on NPR...

So I don't see that the above consideration is operant there...

*Certainly* NPR listeners are more inclined to make the opposite error--the contemporary feminist error of denying that anything women do has any effect on their odds of being sexually assaulted...

I started this particular comment as a defense of your position, Jim, but when I saw that the interview was on NPR...well...

But, at any rate, I still think that 1 is true (in defense of me) and 2 is very plausible (in defense of you)...and that was the real point...

But the NPR revelation means, I'd say: in this context, the kinds of considerations you're raising are less important...given the audience, I'll say that the outrage is less "you're talking to people who need to be reminded not to blame the victim" and more: here's an opportunity for NPR liberals to get their huff on.

7:50 PM  
Blogger Jim Bales said...

First off, let me make a retraction. I had written,

"Hint, anyone who tells other people how they might avoid being injured by third parties without acknowledging the culpability of those who inflict the injuries will be seen as either heartless or clueless. This is the natural consequence of the original speaker's choice of what to include and what to exclude."

WS provided a counter example that disproves my statement -- point taken, I retract that paragraph!

Best
Jim

11:04 PM  
Blogger Jim Bales said...

WS,

You write:
OTOH...

You might say:

1. You have no obligation to mention all elements of the situation under normal conditions.

2. However, if you're speaking in a context in which many people are inclined to under-emphasize one of the factors, your obligation to mention that factor becomes weightier as the tendency to dismiss becomes more pronounced...


As to 1), it is not normal to be a former university president, nor is it normal to be an invited guest on a nationwide radio talk program.

This why I said:
And, if instead of being Winston Smith, the speaker is a Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, a former university president speaking on a nation-wide radio show, this is precisely a context where it is better to give a fuller picture.

As a former university president, Trachtenberg is reasonably percieved as representative the thinking of university presidents on the matter of rape on campus. (After all, he was responsible for how a major university addressed rape on its campus.)

Leaders send messages by what they say and by what they don't say.

Leaders are obligated to tailor their words so that what they do say is what they consider more important and what they don't say is what they consider less important.

Best
Jim

11:13 PM  
Blogger Jim Bales said...

WS,

You write:
you'll want to mention, I suppose...that rapists are responsible for rape...I mean...if you think that needs to be said...

I gave examples of people who need to hear this. You acknowledge that such people exist, and dismiss them as "crazies".

Then you dismiss those who insist on saying the words the "crazies" need to hear as being "crazy" themselves.

The most imporatant of all the people you dismiss as "crazy" for needing to hear that rape is the fault of the rapist are those rape victims who do blame themselves -- who have internalized the messages that it is there fault because of what they wore or said or drank or went, etc.

Are they crazy? Well, they have been the victim of violent sexual assault. That could easily make someone crazy. I know people who have been raped with significant damage to their mental health.

It helps many of the victims to hear that they are not at fault, and that it is their assailant's fault.

It hurts many of the victims to be told what they "should" have done to protect themselves with no mention of their assailants. They understand that this implicitly places the blame on them, not the assailant.

By making a point of reinforcing the message that rapes happen because rapists choose to rape we can provide some small support to people who have been hurt, sometimes greiviously. I choose to do so.

Best
Jim

11:24 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

"First off, let me make a retraction. I had written,"

Thanks, but, more importantly: I'm impressed by your efforts to be objective and not just debate. As usual, you're a paradigm in this respect.

4:34 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

"As to 1), it is not normal to be a former university president, nor is it normal to be an invited guest on a nationwide radio talk program."

Ah...well, now, that's a point I had not thought of.

You might say:

It's a bit like the POTUS speaking... Different rules apply... Normal for the POTUS != normal...

That's a point I'll have to think about. Prima facie, it seems to carry weight...

4:35 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

I think what we're finding through this discourse here is that reasonable people can disagree about how to prioritize the contents of a message like this.

If it really is coming down to that, we should probably conclude that it would be bad to try to constrain a public figure into a perfectly-devised speech with a rigorous speechmaking calculus. Our obligation to do what is right is broad, and the paths therein are many. If we turn on one another for walking a slightly different path, we'll be in real trouble.

What Trachtenberg said was correct. It might not have been the entire correct message, but it is at least reasonable and correct. Women should avoid being too drunk to deal with potential rapists. This is a fact.

There are many ways to defend his prioritization of that message. There's the angle which would hold that the most productive way for a public figure to decrease the odds of rape occurring is to point out the most likely means to accomplish that goal. Convincing good people of the value of sobriety is almost certainly a lot easier than convincing bad people of the error of their ways.

There's the angle that would hold that would hold that one should not be held responsible for avoiding any and all statements which merely carry a potential for furthering some sort of incorrect view (such as blaming the victim). Language is not perfectly precise, and it's extremely easy to critique speakers for subtleties which could be construed by one already so-inclined to imply a false conclusion.

But it's not unreasonable to think that it would be valuable for this public figure to have prefaced his suggestion with a confirmation that he is in no way shifting blame from the criminals to their victims.

But, accepting that, we should also be wary of allowing that pendulum to swing so far that we can't even accept reality; if we insist so strongly on the innocence of the victim that our insistence drowns out sound advice for potential victims, we have been hypocrites in critiquing the inefficacy of the public figure.

Let not reason become a tyrant, fellows. By all available evidence, the man made a reasonable effort to do what is right. To vilify him or hold him as an example of serious moral failings is to turn good people against one another and really harm our public discourse, if you ask me.

9:42 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

I agree, M.

Jim,

The crazy people aren't rape victims...that's not who we're talking about here...

If we want to talk about not making victims feel bad, that's a whole different topic--so far as I can tell...

Seems to me that the question is:

Did Trachtenberg say something so bad (false, misleading, incomplete, etc.) that a fervent apology is required?

My answer: absolutely not, and it's crazy to think otherwise.

This is consistent with thinking that rape is a horrible cirme, that rapists are guilty and not their victims, that one should not blame victims, etc.

I don't deny that, for anything we might choose, some people are ignorant of it. You give examples--but, of course, I wasn't really denying that *no one single person anywhere* had false beliefs/bad attitudes about this stuff... What the numbers are like, I don't know...it is certainly not unreasonable to think that getting the information out there is a good thing.

(Though, again: what percentage of NPR listeners need to be reminded of this? Does anyone think that number is large?)

Anyway: I suppose I still think I'm right, i.e. that the following is false:

What Trachtenberg said is so bad that he was obligated to issue an apology.

Final point: there IS a vocal sector of feminism currently that holds NOT merely that one is always obligated to remind people that, in cases of rape, it is the rapist that is guilty...but, RATHER that it is impermissible to mention any other factors whatsoever.

To mention any other factor, they falsely believe, is to blame the victim.

A corollary of this crazy view is that there is nothing whatsoever that women can do to either raise or lower the likelihood that they will be sexually assaulted.

This crazy view has begun to rear its ugly head in middle-brow popular discussions...and I suspect it was operative in the background of the reaction to Trachtenberg.

But that is mere hypothesis.

As always, I find all your points reasonable, FWIW.

10:03 AM  

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