Review of "Rape Culture Hysteria"

It is a very refreshing feeling when common sense, sanity, fairness and a sense of justice is applied to a subject which has defied rationality. In today's world, it feels like these occasions are less and less frequent.

In "Rape Culture Hysteria: Fixing the Damage Done to Men and Women", Wendy McElroy has succeeded nobly where others have failed. People of good will and rational minds sometimes shy away from taking up arguments against people who are not employing reasonable thought and analysis to a problem simply because they don't want to be victims of one kind of phenomenon that McElroy describes in her book. Arguing with people who believe presumed guilt is not only justifiable but desirable even in the absence of any evidence that wrongdoing has occurred is in no small way like arguing with the village idiot. People avoid doing so because they don't want people wondering who is the idiot. After all, taking up an argument with someone who is not using common sense is unpleasant and usually a waste of time.

Yet, it is such people who have managed through screaming, protesting, demanding, and threatening, to get their way of looking at the matter of rape on college campuses through the lens not just of presumed guilt, but imputed guilt: guilt regardless of facts. Guilt not by association, unless that association be by being a member of the male sex, but guilt by accusation. Like in a "star chamber", an accusation is sufficient for a conviction and no other opinions or evidence is deemed necessary nor relevant; in fact, in the twisted view of today's anti-rape social justice warriors, to even suggest that there may be exculpatory facts around a rape accusation is tantamount to participating in the rape itself, whether it ever occurred or not being irrelevant. Rarely in the history not just of higher education but of America have such depths of civic depravity been reached. The last time it came close was the Red Scare of the 1950s and the House Un-American Activities Committee's wild-eyed accusations of association with the Communist Party, wherein a subpoena to testify would often result, prior to any testimony made, in a person's termination from employment and being branded a "red", all without any time or opportunity for a hearing or investigation. Alas, it is to such depths of civic depravity the American collegiate world has sunk, with a great deal of active and enthusiastic assistance from the Obama administration.

McElroy first discusses her perceived place in the argument as a self-described feminist and rape survivor. She discusses the problems associated with being a dissident voice among feminists and the particular barriers she has had to face in an effort to introduce rationality into the debate. She then proceeds to identify the phenomenon of rape hysteria on college campuses, pointing out the reasons why it can accurately be referred to as hysteria, and then she painstakingly deconstructs the arguments, if they can be called that, that modern college feminists/social justice warriors give in favor of their particular point of view on campus rape and why it needs to be handled at the campus rather than formal legal level. The many ethical and moral hazards associated with this approach are reviewed and arguments are made not just against them but in favor of presumed innocence and the full scrutiny of the US legal system, with its collection of evidence, right of cross-examination, presumption of innocence, and provision of actual legal recourse.

McElroy's conclusion sums up the consequences of rape culture hysteria aptly, in part as follows:

"The rape culture is not only a myth but also a barrier to preventing rape. Adherents show a disregard for victims whenever they excoriate crime-prevention advice and conflate it with slut-shaming. They destroy the reality of rape by substituting highly-flawed studies for facts and character assassination for arguments. By constructing unjust procedures to address reports of sexual assault on campus, they destroy public confidence in rape accusations and the women who make them. False accusations encourage a cynicism that no genuine victim should ever have to face.

The rape culture hysteria has been wildly successful within academia partly because it wears a mask of benevolence and justice. In reality, rape culture politics expresses intolerance and a dogmatic disregard for fairness. Political correctness is the opposite of what it purports to be. It does not champion human rights; it destroys them. It does not express morality; it converts morality into a mockery imposed by government. It destroys the goodwill that naturally flows between free individuals who are equal.

The rape culture does so through a war on ideas, attitudes and words.
With a bitter irony, PC feminism and the rape culture hysteria on which it thrives is destroying the basis of feminism itself. The freedom of women has always rested on one thing: the ability to say “no,” the ability to say “I disagree.” Without being able to dissent, there is no freedom, no justice, no color to life. There is only 1984. Welcome to the true rape culture – the rape of human freedom."

But do not allow a book review and quotation from the conclusion to lead you to believe that such is sufficient to appreciate the degree of effort and soundness of discourse found in McElroy's book. I can't recommend it enough to those who see the trends that have taken hold of college campuses today and find them disturbing, and also to those that may have bought into this new trend and actually believe that by discarding legal protections and eliminating fair shake standards in the name of ideology, a greater kind of justice is somehow served. It isn't. If after reading McElroy's book one still believes that presumed guilt is defensible, then I can only refer such people to history books and a review of what happened in countries where there is no presumption of innocence and accused parties are not given a chance to defend themselves against criminal or criminal-like accusations. I have only this to say to such people: What if it's at YOU the next time the fingers start pointing?

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How anyone can still adhere to the beliefs and presumptions around rape as found on today's campuses among feminists and social justice warriors after reading McElroy's book truly beggars belief. Unfortunately, such people are the least likely to be the ones to read it, though they need to read it the most. How one could come to believe as they do makes me scratch my head, but as the old saying goes, "I blame the schools." Perhaps if the foundations of American legal justice and the principles on which it is built were taught in high schools more often (or at all), the kind of guilty-even-when-proven-innocent attitude of today's young activists would never have arisen in the first place. No doubt the influence of radicalized college professors in such areas as women's studies can be counted among the causative factors. Lacking any education about the dangers of presuming guilt and not requiring evidence for a person to be considered guilty of an offense, it is no wonder young minds fall prey to the machinations of today's college feminists' agenda to turn young women against men and as I suspect, eventually bring about a new era of collegiate life wherein men are either entirely or mostly absent from the undergraduate (and graduate) student bodies. I have to wonder if the administrators of today's colleges have the wisdom or courage necessary to save themselves from this agenda, as I do not believe any man on a college campus can eventually count himself "safe" from the mob. And with many women's colleges going co-ed over the past 20 years because of financial unsustainability, how anyone can think that scaring/chasing off men is a sound financial decision for a college, I will never know.

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