NCFM PR Director Steven Svoboda book review, Rape Culture Hysteria by Wendy McElroy
Rape Culture Hysteria: Fixing the Damage Done to Men and Women. By Wendy McElroy. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016. 270 pages. $15.99 paperback, $4.99 Kindle e-book. Review by J. Steven Svoboda
Wendy McElroy, author of XXX: A Woman’s Right to Pornography and Sexual Correctness: The Gender-Feminist Attack on Women, has published a new book about the rape culture mythology that is currently reigning in our country thanks to hardcore feminism.
McElroy writes well, is insightful, and is not afraid to say what she thinks. She is a devout libertarian whose commitment to those political principles does come through at times like a religious fervor that can overtake her views. Having said that, McElroy is obviously entitled to her opinions, and I can’t give her book anything other than a rave review. I’m not aware of any previous author having addressed this issue at book length, and it did need addressing.
We know where the author is going from her very first paragraph, which is starkly laid out and may reflect a lot of revisions:
There is no rape culture in North America. There is a rape culture hysteria that is not based on evidence, statistics or reason. In fact, the politically correct (PC) myth or lie of a rape culture flies in the face of all evidence, statistics and reason because it is ideologically motivated.
McElroy then goes on to lay out, in no uncertain terms, why the rape culture myth “is part of an “ultimate goal of PC feminism [that] is breathtaking in scope.”
As with the author’s previous books, her sparing yet well-chosen personal disclosures enhance both her credibility and the emotional appeal of her book. “In my twenties, I chose the wrong romantic partner and the mistake culminated in a domestic assault that was severe enough to leave me legally blind in my right eye.” McElroy adroitly notes that while PC feminism generally believes that “having been attacked gives me special credentials to speak out on the rape culture,” at the same time, feminism tries to silence dissenting voices like hers:
[V]ictims like me are inconvenient. I’ve received the distinct impression that PC feminists would like to yank the victim-credential out from under women like me who both vindicate and debunk their ideology in the same breath.
What McElroy adroitly terms “zombie statistics” are used to prop up the rape culture myth, statistics she later debunks in detail, such as that one in every 4 or 5 women will be raped in their lifetimes, and only 2% of all rape accusations are false. To her credit, the author forthrightly notes that the book does not address the topic of male victims of rape, outlining how male victims are defined out of inclusion in statistics on sexual victimization. “Some rape culture zealots,” she later notes, “will respond with an outright denial that men can be raped.”
I very much appreciated the author’s recognition of Charles Mackay’s “remarkable book that became a classic within sociology, economics, politics, and psychology,” published in 1841. The book addressed mob psychology, which McElroy ties into the current topic. Two defining characteristics of mob psychology are that 1) members act collectively in a way they would never act by themselves, and 2) a mob tolerates no dissent or limits on its energy.
In a telling section, McElroy discusses the war culture we had during World War II and asks if any of the defining characteristics that made our culture a war culture then could make our culture a rape culture no. “Does government mandate policies and laws to encourage rape rather than to prevent or punish it?… Do most families have relatives who are rapists?” Her conclusion is predictable yet valuable in concretely showing how far we are from actually having a rape culture in this country.
The author also notes that the US rape rate declined to a forty-year low in 2013, and PC feminists did not celebrate this event, nor as far as I know did they even mention it. “To them, the decline is bad news because it calls into question the validity of their world view and for some, it threatens their livelihood.” In contrast to feminist claims of a college “rape epidemic,” “in fact, the rate of college female victimization has been trending downward for almost 20 years.”
Many of us have heard it before but McElroy appropriately reminds us of Mary Koss’ notorious research in which “73 percent of the women whom she characterized as rape victims said that they hadn’t been raped.” Even worse, “42 percent of Koss’s supposed victims had intercourse again with their alleged assailants.”
Nominally gender neutral policies and regulations almost always treat males as the default offender and females as the default victim.
While Michel Foucault no doubt developed an interesting theory, treating sex or gender as a matter of social construction and power is more than a bit much. Then we have the feminist theory of “microaggressions,” which McElroy debunks in detail.
Surely for anyone who is no longer a virgin, the absurdity of the “yes means yes” affirmative consent laws is clear. As the author correctly writes:
[T]wo college seniors who’ve been in a loving relationship since they met during the first week of their freshman years and who, with the ease of the committed, slip naturally from cuddling to sex, could fail its test.
Despite Susan Brownmiller, “rape is caused not by cultural factors [such as so-called patriarchy’ but by the conscious decisions of a small percentage of the community to commit a violent crime.”
The author goes on to explore in detail the Rolling Stone-promulgated University of Virginia fraternity gang rape myth. One of the most disturbing aspects of campus review of alleged rapes is the civil standard of evidence that is used to effectively criminalize a male student’s often innocent behavior and in some cases even wreck their lives. The author shows us that amazingly, rape culture zealots call on us to believe rape claims regardless of whether they are true or not! This would have led, McElroy writes, to feminists siding with the young white woman in the famous novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, when she falsely accused a black man of rape. A predictable result is that lawsuits by aggrieved male students wrongfully tossed out of their university are becoming legion.
McElroy provides a helpful list of questions to use in appraising the objectivity and value of research. Some of the data claiming men would rape women if they could get away with it has been cited over and over but the ostensible original source doesn’t even exist.
Another problem to which the author points is variable definitions of rape. One data set considered “sexual coercion” to constitute sexual violence, and includes in its definition a boyfriend’s threat to end a relationship if his girlfriend doesn’t have sex with him, “wearing [the girlfriend] down by repeatedly asking for sex,” and “showing he is unhappy.” Another data set does not separate rape statistics from other sexual assaults, which “includes forced kissing, grabbing, and ‘rubbing up against you in a sexual way.’”
“Rape” is subject to various definitions that are even “stretched to include verbal harassment in situations where no physical contact has occurred.” The author includes a very useful cross-comparison of rape statistics from the different leading sources, appraising the different definitions used and also the widely varying conclusions that were reached. McElroy is a fair author and doesn’t avoid mentioning research reaching conclusions favoring higher rape figures when those are what is present in a particular source. She concludes, reasonably enough, “The data is an onslaught of confusion.” A little later she notes that more accurate and useful advice for a female student might be something like, “In any given year, there is something like a one percent chance that you will be raped. That’s true whether or not you go to college – in fact, college is slightly safer for you.”
The author lists some very trenchant harms of rape culture: preventing healthy sexual relationships, increasing skepticism about rape claims, preventing healing from rape, endangering women’s safety, infantilizing women, and polarizing women and short-circuiting critical thinking. McElroy rightly, and forcefully, insists on the application of proper scrutiny and standards of evidence to all rape accusations. She contributes an awesome combination of personal disclosure and objectivity as she revisits her own rape experience and connects the dots to the need for fairness to all and avoidance of gender dogma.
I was not raped by men as a class, by the patriarchy or by society. One man was responsible. Most men I know would have defended me, even if it had endangered them, because they are decent human beings. An essential step in my healing was to direct my rage at the individual who had harmed me and to not blame men who would have protected me. If I had generalized my fury, then I doubt if I could have fallen in love with my husband. I would have missed the greatest emotional fulfillment I’ve ever found.
The author goes on to make a couple of related telling points. First, feminism seems to be celebrating victimhood rather than heroism and secondly, advising someone to act defensively such as by not dressing provocatively is now considered by some to be victim-blaming rather than sensible advice. “As bizarre as it sounds… PC feminists believe a woman should be able to walk naked through a biker’s bar and never be attacked or threatened.”
McElroy’s final chapter may be the most contentious, as she presents potential solutions to rape culture hysteria, some of which seemed to stem from her political perspective. She proposed abolishing the Department of Education (DoE), drastically reducing the DoE budget, repealing Title IX, devolving educational authority to state level, or privatizing higher education.
Wendy McElroy concludes her book just as strongly as it begins: “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.” And welcome to another outstanding, indispensible masterwork from Wendy McElroy. Highly recommended.
NCFM PR Director Steven Svoboda book review, Rape Culture Hysteria by Wendy McElroy
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