Thursday, August 28, 2014

Rape Hysteria: Anti-Rape-Drug Nail Polish Backlash

facepalm

This literally-not-from-The-Onion collection of facepalmery is like a concentrated shot of web feminism.

Look.

There is a reason why a significant majority of Americans support sex equality, but only a small-ish minority consider themselves feminists.

Feminism has a problem.

I don't doubt that your average feminist-in-the-street is as sane as ever. Johnny Quest, for example, literally the most reasonable person I have ever met, if forced to say, says that she considers herself a feminist--though she doesn't go around talking about things in those terms.

But the most prominent current public representatives of feminism are batshit crazy.

And a fair bit of it is on display here. Anti-rape-drug nail polish? A little gimmicky, perhaps...but if invented by women, would be lauded...however, invented by...dudes.  Ergo: not cool. Also: falls afoul of perhaps the most insane bit of contemporary webfem orthodoxy: there is absolutely nothing any woman can ever do to lower the odds of rape! Is impossible! Also: it is wrong to try to stop some rapes if you are not stopping all rapes.

Contemporary feminism is deranged.

It has abandoned any effort to be rational or reasonable, and replaced those things with a kind of ideological primal scream.

And it isn't just that these people make feminism seem crazy. Rather: they are actually making it crazy. These are the people influencing the direction of the movement.

As I've often said, I try not to hold the lunatic fringe against any movement. For example, if the GOP merely had its nutty fringe like the Dems have theirs...well...that plagues even the best of political movements and parties. But when the crazies take over, it's a different story...  In the case of contemporary feminism, the nuts have taken over. And, almost as bad: the rank-and-file seem hesitant to criticize them.

Look:
Rape drugs are a factor in only a small number of rapes. See? That is what we call a good point. That is a reasonable and important thing to point out.

Contrast that with this, written by Jessica Valenti:
"I'm appreciative that young men like want to curb sexual assault, but anything that puts the onus on women to 'discreetly' keep from being raped misses the point," writes Jessica Valenti for the Guardian.
"We should be trying to stop rape, not just individually avoid it."
The mind, it reels...

"We should be trying to stop rape, not individually avoid it."

Hey, let's apply this principle generally, shall we?

Don't exercise or eat right--we should be trying to stop heart disease, not individually avoid it!

Don't lock your doors--we should be trying to stop burglary, not individually avoid it!

Don't wear your seat belt--we should be trying to stop car accidents, not individually avoid them!

If physically attacked, do not fight back--we should be trying to stop ass-kickings, not individually avoid them!

Two. Seconds'. Thought.

That's what it takes to see how insane this is.

Two. Seconds'. Thought.

This is basically a paradigm of a false dilemma. Nothing about seeking to individually avoid rape is in any way inconsistent with stopping rape. In fact...it's a kind of turbocharged false dilemma. Individually avoiding rape is, in fact, a step toward stopping rape.

Also from Valenti:
Valenti argues that promoting products like Undercover Colors is not only ineffective, but also can lead to "victim-blaming," if women don't take all the suggested precautions.
Analogously: telling people to exercise to avoid heart disease is bad, because then if they don't exercise, it might lead to people blaming others for not exercising...

Don't blame the victim: sound advice.

Criticizing methods of avoiding victimization because they might lead to victim-blaming if you don't use them: nuts.  (In Vaelenti's words, they "leave room for" victim-blaming...  Egad.)

Again: criticizing them because they are ineffective is perfectly reasonable.

But criticizing them because someone might conceivably blame someone who didn't use them, or because they do not end all rape everywhere, or because they are not the methods you prefer...is just nuts.

15 Comments:

Anonymous cb said...

All of those tweets are funny and on point. It's obvious that you don't understand the argument being made, given your choices of analogies.

If you calm down and think about it, you might realize that two of your analogies to rape are horribly off the mark. But given the heat of your rhetoric whenever feminism comes up, I'm not sure you're actually trying to understand what they are saying.

10:36 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Nope. The analogies are right on target.

I understand what they're saying perfectly--they're just wrong.

10:47 AM  
Anonymous cb said...

You really don't see a key difference between rape prevention strategies and heart disease prevention strategies?

10:51 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

The question isn't: are there differences?

The question is: are there *relevant* differences.

There are *differences* in any two cases...

The point is that the claim "we should be trying to stop X, not individually avoid it" seems loony, as we can see by substituting *just about anything whatsoever* in for 'rape.'

Consider:

It is wrong to sell people alarm systems for their homes--we should be trying to stop burglary, not individually avoid it.

First, you *do* see that that's a false dilemma, right? Trying to keep yourself from being burglarized is in no way inconsistent with trying to lower burglary rates.

You should try to do both things.

In fact, helping enough people avoid individual acts of burglary *will* lower burglary rates.

Rape is not some special, mysterious, supernatural case that is subject to some kind of magical rules...

*In the relevant respects* it is just like the other things I mention.

If there's a disanalogy that makes "we should be trying to stop X, not individually avoid it" a sound principle in the rape case then, by all means, tell me what the difference is.

Because the principle makes no sense whatsoever for any other example I can think of.

11:02 AM  
Anonymous cb said...

It's interesting that you first claimed all 3 of your analogies are right on target, yet you immediately go to burglary (which I agree is the most appropriate) instead of discussing the one I brought up.

In your post, you used heart disease as your primary analogy. Are you willing to defend that as having no *relevant* difference from rape?

11:16 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

It's interesting that you first said that my analogies were bad, and then backtracked to "one of your analogies is bad"...

But, snarkiness aside:

Yes. That strikes me as a good analogy.

I'm willing to be shown to be wrong.

11:24 AM  
Anonymous cb said...

Not a backtrack. From my original: "If you calm down and think about it, you might realize that two of your analogies to rape are horribly off the mark."

Rape involves a perpetrator who intentionally causes harm to a victim. Heart disease does not. In rape (unlike car accidents), the needs and motivations of the victim and the perpetrator are completely different. Certain strategies which might help individuals may in fact have a detrimental on a society-wide scale by increasing the amount of harm to other victims or by increasing incidence of perpetration.

This seems to be a very relevant distinction if we are going to engage in critiques of prevention strategies.

11:59 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

"Not a backtrack. From my original: "If you calm down and think about it, you might realize that two of your analogies to rape are horribly off the mark." "

Ah. My bad. I was wrong.

"Rape involves a perpetrator who intentionally causes harm to a victim. Heart disease does not. In rape (unlike car accidents), the needs and motivations of the victim and the perpetrator are completely different."

Agreed, of course. But I'm not seeing how this matters. Neither of those things seems relevant.

As far as I can tell, we're asking about the following claim, and counterexamples thereto:

(JV) "We should be trying to stop X, not individually avoiding X"

My response:

JV is a false dichotomy

(At *best*...)

Neither of the considerations I quote above indicate a difference between rape and heart disease that would prevent JV from being a false dichotomy when substituted into JV.

Am I missing something?

"Certain strategies which might help individuals may in fact have a detrimental on a society-wide scale by increasing the amount of harm to other victims or by increasing incidence of perpetration. "

I'm not seeing this point... I mean, again: true. But why relevant?

First, just because SOME strategies might, there's no plausible reason to think that the nail polish thing would.

Second, you can make the same point about heart disease. I might eat less meat, thus causing the rest of my family to eat what I would have...thus increasing their heart disease. But... how does this matter?

So...not a difference, and not a difference *that makes JV not a false dichotomy for x=rape*

I'm probably just pissing people off by getting so mad about this stuff...but I don't understand why *everybody* isn't mad about this stuff...

12:10 PM  
Anonymous cb said...

Ah, I misread your post. It seemed to me that you were responding to the entire article, and using it as an example that modern feminism was completely out of touch with reality in their insistence that conversations about rape prevention focus more on perpetrators than victims.

Had I known you were only quibbling with this quote: "We should be trying to stop rape, not just individually avoid it." I would not have bothered to reply (except maybe to note that the word "just" in that sentence does more work than you're willing to acknowledge).

12:53 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Well, I'm doing both things: I'm complaining about contemporary feminism and using the craziness in the linked story as examples...

And I thought you were explicitly complaining about my analogies?

And if you agree that the analogies are fine, then you seem to have to agree that Valenti's point is wrong. Really, really, really, obviously wrong...

And this sort of thing, I'd say, is par for the course for people like Valenti...

...who is/are prominent voices in web feminism...

...hence my more general point...

12:57 PM  
Anonymous cb said...

When the feminist critique is: "This completely ignores the perpetrator's role in sexual violence," and your response includes two "analogous" situations that do not involve perpetrator/victim dynamics, that's an illustration what the problem is. We don't often talk about murder without talking about murderers, but we often talk about rape without talking about rapists.

Given that an overwhelming amount of discourse (mainstream, not in web-fem circles) is on victim-focused "rape avoidance" techniques, feminists feel that it is important to change the frame by devoting most of their energies to the perpetrator side.

Tne critique of the nail polish is that it is:
a) ineffective
b) focusing on the wrong aspects of rape prevention

I think you concede a). You certainly can disagree on b), but I think the underlying arguments deserve a more charitable reading than you're giving them.

1:42 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

"When the feminist critique is: "This completely ignores the perpetrator's role in sexual violence," and your response includes two "analogous" situations that do not involve perpetrator/victim dynamics, that's an illustration what the problem is."

Again: none of that is relevant to the point: that it's a false dilemma in both cases.

"We don't often talk about murder without talking about murderers, but we often talk about rape without talking about rapists."

That is neither true nor relevant. It simply isn't true that we talk about rapists less when we talk about rape than we talk about murderers when we talk about murder. It just is not true.

But, more to the point:
That is not relevant *to the question of whether the analogy is good with respect to illustrating the problem that it's a false dilemma.*

The reason I included both analogies that involved crimes and criminals (burglary) and those that didn't (heart disease) was to illustrate the fact that it doesn't matter which type of analogy you use. The problem ranges across both crimes and non-crimes.

Furthermore, so long as you admit that at least one of my analogies works, that's all I need.

But they all work.

"Given that an overwhelming amount of discourse (mainstream, not in web-fem circles) is on victim-focused "rape avoidance" techniques, feminists feel that it is important to change the frame by devoting most of their energies to the perpetrator side."

But the feminists in question are not merely "devoting most of their energies" to that. They are, in effect, presupposing that we are never allowed to talk about anything else. That's the force of the false dilemma.

"Tne critique of the nail polish is that it is:
a) ineffective
b) focusing on the wrong aspects of rape prevention

I think you concede a). You certainly can disagree on b), but I think the underlying arguments deserve a more charitable reading than you're giving them."

Right--I not only concede a), I make it clear that it's a good criticism.

However, I don't that that b) is true. I do not think that there *is* a wrong aspect of rape prevention. we need to work all (well both) of the angles here.

In fact, the problem with the webfems--as made clear by the false dilemma--is not merely that they want us to focus on perpetrators *too*--but, rather, that they want us to focus on them exclusively.

Invent something that helps women avoid rape? NO! You must not do that! You must try to get fewer men to rape *instead*...

And, you're right--the 'just' matters, and I wish I hadn't left it out. Valenti is saying that if you "individually avoid rape" then that is *all* you are doing.

This is like saying that if you are getting a college degree, then that's all you're doing--you're not doing anything else. You're not eating, nor sleeping, nor getting exercise...

*There is absolutely nothing about "individually avoiding rape" that in any way, shape or form prevents one for working for bigger, social solutions.

There is simply no opposition between "individually avoiding rape" and trying to fix the social problem as well, and it's nuts to claim otherwise.

I can work for my own personal health even as I work for, say, the CDC to improve the health of all Americans. I can lock my doors even as I go to work as a cop...

In fact, my individual actions *help* solve the big problem in each case. Far from being in some bizarre sense *opposed* to each other, they are part of the same effort.

Contemporary web feminism has adopted the bizarre, inhumane, inhuman, *anti-feminist* view that women are utterly helpless to prevent rape.

And that is madness.


2:45 PM  
Anonymous cb said...

I'll retract the muderer/rapist complaint. I've no desire to go combing for evidence of that.

Do you agree that mainstream (non-webfem) discourse re: rape has a heavy focus on rape avoidance strategies for women? Or do you feel that these strategies are not given proper weight in modern American culture?

You write: "There is simply no opposition between "individually avoiding rape" and trying to fix the social problem as well, and it's nuts to claim otherwise."

While I don't disagree there is no direct opposition, people's time and attention is limited. Focusing on one thing necessarily leads to less focus on the other. If I were of the firm belief that campaigns for male awareness were more effective than nail polish that detects roofies (one such campaign), and a news organization were to contact me for a quote about said nail polish, why shouldn't I say: "well, the nail polish is a nice gesture, but we REALLY should be focusing on something more likely to work". Why is that, to use your term, "nuts"?

4:30 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Let me say that your very reasonable tone is making it hard for me to be a bastard...

"I'll retract the muderer/rapist complaint. I've no desire to go combing for evidence of that."

ok. Let's put that off the table then.

I *do* think I'm right about it...but it really would be absurdly hard to prove one way or the other...

"Do you agree that mainstream (non-webfem) discourse re: rape has a heavy focus on rape avoidance strategies for women? Or do you feel that these strategies are not given proper weight in modern American culture?"

I absolutely do not agree with this...but I'm not *committed* to the claim. It just plain seems false to me...but I'd be fine with being proved wrong.

I think people confuse two very different claims:

1. People think it's women's job to not be raped.

2. People think that rapists are psychos, and there's a better chance of teaching women to thwart them than there is of convincing psychos not to be psychos.

There is a *massive* cultural push against rape--as a culture, we discourage men from raping about as much as is possible. We try hard to help women not be raped as well...but it seems to me that our efforts in that respect pale to the deep, background, unquestioned cultural disapprobation directed at rape. In fact, it's *so* profound that I think people often look right over it...

"While I don't disagree there is no direct opposition,..."

What would you think if I claimed victory here and went home?

" Focusing on one thing necessarily leads to less focus on the other. If I were of the firm belief that campaigns for male awareness were more effective than nail polish that detects roofies (one such campaign), and a news organization were to contact me for a quote about said nail polish, why shouldn't I say: "well, the nail polish is a nice gesture, but we REALLY should be focusing on something more likely to work". Why is that, to use your term, "nuts"?"

I really just don't agree.

I don't see why efforts to do one thing necessarily lead to diminished efforts to do a different thing. If there were only two things in play, that would make sense...but we are all doing many things...we're not talking about shifting effort between A and not-A...but, rather, among A and B and C and D...and...Z...

I still think I'm right and you're wrong...but I very much appreciate your reasonable tone. That carries a lot of weight with me.


6:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh for crying out loud, the nail polish is merely a new tool invented - for women to get more information out of the situation they're in. Whether they use it discretely, dump their fingers in front of their date, or continue on anyway despite the outcome of the nail polish is completely up to them.

The only thing I see this can do is add complexity to a legal battle, in the case where the plaintiff (rape victim) is proven to have worn the polish during a crucial scenario being presented in court, and did not heed results from it (or may have forgotten about it). The defense may be able to use the nail polish as a point or dismiss it - whatever works for their side. But these situations are in a grey area that whoever has luck, the better lawyer, and compelling evidence and arguments will win.

11:17 PM  

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