The feminist freak out over Emily Yoffe’s advice to her teenage daughter has crossed the pond.
This morning Olivia Fleming reports on the firestorm in the London Daily Mail. Apparently, she could only find one author who dared defend Yoffe—that would be your humble blogger—so she quoted my post on the subject. I would have been happier if she had remembered to link my post, but, all told, I am proud to have been quoted in the Daily Mail.
If there is a moral to this kerfuffle it is this: when passions are enflamed, reason goes on leave.
Feminists are so consumed with hatred over rapists—with good reason, one might add—that they fail to make the most elementary rational distinction. Telling a young woman not to take an unnecessary risk in no way, shape or manner excuses rape. A woman who drinks herself to the point of blacking out is not asking for it. No one believes that. It is not the issue.
Yoffe was saying that such a woman is making herself unnecessarily vulnerable to assault. Is that not something that a mother should tell her daughter?
If the outrage over rape was a deterrent, we would be having fewer rapes. We do not, so perhaps it is not the best way to solve this problem.
Some who have taken issue with Yoffe recommend that we teach men not to rape. But, whatever makes you think that young men are being taught to rape or that young men do not know very, very well that rape is an extremely serious crime? Does any man not know that if he is convicted of rape he will receive an extreme punishment?
We aren’t living in Dubai, after all.
Fleming offers an “expert” opinion:
But this, according to Thomas MacAulay Millar from Yes Means Yes, Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape, focuses on treating the symptom, instead of looking for ways to treat the disease -- the repeat rapists and the social constructs that allow them to get away with it.
'She [Yoffe] gives up on catching and punishing them, in favor of telling women that they can’t do something that men take for granted the right to do,' he writes.
Millar’s last sentence tells us that he not expert in English grammar. The sentence is illiterate.
When Millar talks about a “right” that men take for granted, he is talking about the right to get completely wasted on alcohol.
Since when is that a “right” that we need to defend? Since when is that a hallmark of anyone’s liberation?
Writing for her daughter Yoffe was counseling moderation in the consumption of alcohol. She did not address the question of how to punish rapists or even how to deter them from doing it.
And Yoffe never said that no one should ever have another drink. She was not proposing a return to Prohibition. She was arguing for moderation. Her detractors seem to think that moderation is equal to repression.
In the Huffington Post Emma Gray also suggested that, by counseling moderation Yoffe was blaming the victims. She made it sound like Yoffe was saying that women who get raped are at fault and that the men who rape them are not.
Again this is an absurd distortion.
Emma Gray, editor of Huffington Post Women, agrees. 'Have we lost so much faith in our male population that instead of publishing columns telling young men to stop raping tipsy women -- or encouraging the expansion of programs on college campuses that work to educate students about such matters and prevent sexual assault -- some of us believe it is most effective to tell women not to drink at all?' she asks.
'We need to place the burden of blame for these assaults squarely where it belongs -- on the shoulder of those individuals who choose to commit them.'
Since Yoffe never blamed young women for getting raped, one does not quite understand what Gray is trying to say. She makes a serious error when she conflates binge drinking with getting “tipsy” and declares that Yoffe wants women not to drink at all.
Many of those who denounce Yoffe make recommendations that would naturally lead to more and better policing.
Amanda Hess wrote this:
We can prevent the most rapes on campus by putting our efforts toward finding and punishing those perpetrators, not by warning their huge number of potential victims to skip out on parties.
Colleges can start changing those structures by refusing to put the onus on victims to prevent their own assaults and instead holding perpetrators accountable for the crimes they commit—often, while drunk.
How much extra policing would accomplish that goal? Should armed guards be stationed at fraternity parties? Should men be banned from women’s rooms and vice versa? Should young couples have chaperones? Does Hess believe that we as a culture do not hold perpetrators accountable for the crimes they commit?
The truth is, the only people who dare suggest that rapists should be excused for misreading signals are their defense attorneys. I trust that even they do not believe what they are saying. Does the legal system need to be reformed or does Hess want us to deprive those accused of rape of a fair trial and competent counsel? Would she prefer to see extra-judicial proceedings, run by college administrators and students deal with the problem of on-campus rape?
And if she would, what would she say to the young men who are falsely accused? What would she say to the young men who have been wrongfully convicted of the crime?
Alexander Abad-Santos wrote on the Atlantic Wire:
… these people [women who binge drink] aren't breaking the law, yet they're the ones being targeted and asked to compromise their lives. What about teaching men not to rape?
What about teaching Abad-Santos how to think? Why does he imagine that a young woman who is told by her parents that it is a bad idea to binge drink is being asked to compromise her life?
Again, how exactly do you teach men not to rape?
Presumably, he favors sensitivity training where men are taught to pepper their amorous advances with requests for permission.
But, don’t these classes assume that all men are potential rapists and all women are potential victims? How do you promote more loving relationships between men and women when you start out accusing young men of being potential rapists and young women as potential victims?
Fleming closed her article with a remark of mine: the best approach to reducing sexual assault on campus is to teach young people to respect each other.
She might have mentioned that it is also a good idea to teach men that they have a fundamental moral obligation to protect and defend women. You cannot teach people not to do something without teaching them to do something constructive in its place.