You Know Tod’s Rule For Conservatives?



Patrick is a mid-40 year old geek with an undergraduate degree in mathematics and a master's degree in Information Systems. Nothing he says here has anything to do with the official position of his employer or any other institution.

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107 Responses

  1. Avatar Pinky says:

    Hopping on “trigger warnings” and “micro-aggression” is below George Will (I think – I haven’t read him in years). Talking about campus rape is fair game. It’s a serious issue, and he’s not running for anything. Never let anyone tell you what issues you’re not allowed to talk about.Report

    • Avatar veronica dire says:

      You’re right. Let George talk this way all he wants. This link is everywhere on my feeds now. And trust me, this is worth lots of votes on my side.

      The thing about the stats for sexual assault, you can dismiss them, but we know they are real because we live them. We gals are enmeshed in a plain truth, and the fact mainstream conservatives cannot see this, and will not listen to us, is a political goldmine for liberals.

      So keep talking. Talk loud. Give us all your opinions or rape, Republican men. Go for it.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      I dunno what’s below George Will anymore, myself. He recently wrote a post arguing that “the real reason for progressives’ passion for trains is their goal of diminishing Americans’ individualism in order to make them more amenable to collectivism.”

      That’s a real quote!Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Notice, and I’m sure you did, that Will is identifying liberal’s “real” motive for them.

        Could it be for someone else? Nahhh.Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        I wouldn’t have put it the same way, but Will’s hardly the first person to notice the connection between trains and, let’s say, orderliness.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Orderliness enforced with white gloves, as people shove you aboard.

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        That George Will statement on trains, dear God. The inability of certain conservatives to tell the difference between liberalism and communism is really frustrating. Every liberal program is just a stepping stone to the abolition of private property to them. Have they ever considered that liberals believe in public transportation becaue we think it might be a paid idea to have an entirely car and airplane focused transportation system? No, its all a plot to end single-family home suburbia to them.Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        Lee – I keep typing sarcastic replies to this comment then deleting them before I submit. I guess I at least have that much good judgment left. Let me say this non-sarcastically: the inability of certain liberals to tell the difference between conservatism and racism/sexism is really frustrating. I know that saying that might come off as a “both sides do it” comment, but (a) really, factually, both sides do do it, and (b) the subtext of this thread is that conservative men don’t care about rape, so yeah, it does seem worth pointing out.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        (b) the subtext of this thread is that conservative men don’t care about rape, so yeah, it does seem worth pointing out.

        Pinky, Will’s entire article is a dismissal of the concept of rape, arguing that it’s a liberal construct based on lies. It’s a mystery how you could write that comment on this post without at least providing some balance to the “don’t care” attitude expressed by Will.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Will’s entire article is a dismissal of the concept of rape, arguing that it’s a liberal construct based on lies.

        I’d say that’s a very bad reading of Will (althougha good reading doesn’t actually make him look a whole lot better).Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        I’ll re-read it.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        OK. I stand by the earlier comment wrt the portions of the article that express his views on rape and rape culture and the role liberal gummint plays in justifiying it’s views on both those topics. He does make a broader point in there about victimization generally, but there isn’t any concession to reality on this score, or even to the legitimacy of views regarding the expansion of the definition of rape to include actions beyond – how did Veronica describe it? – taking the clothes off a woman down in a dark alley? His argument on that score (on my reading) is entirely focused on how liberals construct governmental policy regarding rape exclusively by lying about statistics in an attempt to foster a culture of victimization. That’s just bullshit, and I think Will knows it.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Right, it’s not the concept of rape he’s opposing, but anything beyond a very narrow definition. It’s not quite as bad, while still being, as you say, bullshit.

        (I feel like I’m arguing something like, “the dude’s not a mass murderer–he only killed two people.”)Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

        I would find it easier to be outraged if I didn’t see words like “dog whistle” and “code words” tossed around here with such regularity.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        use of words like “dogwhistle” and “code words” always comes with a good deal of burden on the user. Are there times when folks do use words that might be fine in another context, but are really shitty things to say in a particular context? Suuure.

        A southern gentleman and member of a legislature calls our President who is actually older than he is, “boy” — yup, that’s offensive.

        Republicans have been on record explaining some of the code words — and others are just hilarious, like calling black folks “Canadians” — as in “Canadian in aisle 3”Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      Of course the issue is “fair game,” but that’s not Pat’s point.

      Tod’s rule for conservatives wasn’t made because the the subject should be verboten. It’s because the subject is talked about to score political points, and it always backfires.Tod’s rule for conservatives isn’t a ban, it’s advice. Because they are really, really terrible at it. They might as well send letters to every independent female voter in the country and ask them to please vote Democrat in the next election.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

        And no matter whether they’re terrible or not, they’ll never be taken seriously.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        Well, not if they say what they say now.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        It’s hard to take someone seriously on a subject where they can’t even get the rough contours of the problem right.

        If my car is dripping water out the tailpipe and blowing white smoke, and the mechanic says “Sounds like your AC is on the fritz, that’s your only real problem” — I’m not taking him seriously even if he’s trying his hardest to fix my problem.

        Even if he actually MEANS something else entirely and just brain farts and says “AC” instead of “blown head gasket” (for instance), if he keeps screwing up basic car parts over and over, I’m not gonna trust him to fix my car.

        When conservatives talk about rape these days, they put their foot in their mouth so far it’s really hard to believe they’re even trying. The mismatch is so fundamental it’s hard to believe they’re serious, because really — un-serious is actually more flattering to the GOP than “serious but that wrong”.Report

      • Avatar Patrick says:

        Morat, I expect that what you’re seeing here is not that they’re not getting the contours of the problem wrong.

        What they’re actually doing is speaking to an audience that isn’t interested in getting the contours of the problem right.

        They’re interested in hearing that the actual real problem is how terrible the liberals are making the problem with their boneheaded response to the problem.

        Regardless of how terrible the real problem is, the equation is:

        Real Problem (which may be a real problem)

        Is Always Less Than

        Problems Caused by Liberals Trying to Fix the Problem.

        For All Problems.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        @patrick That’s a really interesting way of putting it. I also think it’s spot on.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @patrick — That matches my experience.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        You do have a point. Although I notice it always seems to be other people’s problems that can’t be solved that way — there seems to be more flexibility depending on whose ox is gored. (“hands off my Medicare” for instance).Report

      • Avatar Patrick says:

        Well, certainly. It stands to reason that our solutions work, after all. We’re the Right Team to Back.

        (this part of the phenomenon is bipartisan).

        To be fair to the right, this isn’t entirely a right phenomenon.

        Everyone on the Left “knows” now that PPACA was the “Heritage Plan”. What they forgot was that the “Heritage Plan” was offered up as an alternative to Clinton’s Plan, and it was totally ridiculed by the left at the time, basically under the same evaluation.

        Your solution is a bigger problem than the problem.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        when one runs up a stalking horse that one has no intention of actually implementing (or implementing with funding), one ought to be made fun of.

        I try to give people credit where they deserve it.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        To be fair to the right, this isn’t entirely a right phenomenon.

        Everyone on the Left “knows” now that PPACA was the “Heritage Plan”. What they forgot was that the “Heritage Plan” was offered up as an alternative to Clinton’s Plan, and it was totally ridiculed by the left at the time, basically under the same evaluation.

        I’m not seeing how that’s an example of BSDI, actually. It’s not as if liberals actually like the ACA because Democrats passed it. Most liberals hated the ACA when it was in committee and when it was voted on. And they only support it now because they view it as an improvement over the status quo, not – for the most art – because the policy frustrates conservative goals.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        I’m not seeing how that’s an example of BSDI, actually. It’s not as if liberals actually like the ACA because Democrats passed it. Most liberals hated the ACA when it was in committee and when it was voted on

        Yeah, it was very much a “We’ll take a quarter of a loaf over nothing” with a great deal of “We could have had this 15 years ago” grinding of teeth.

        The comments about how it was the Heritage plan were almost entirely about GOP attacks on the ACA. “It’s literally your flipping plan from 1994, was the 1994 House a bunch of socialists? THEN HOW IS THIS SOCIALISM, IDIOT?”

        Plus a great deal of — quite accurate, as it turns out — complaints that since even voting on a Republican plan wouldn’t get any Republican votes, Democrats might as well push for a more liberal plan.

        I’m literally not aware of a single person who supported the ACA because the GOP opposed it. I only know a handful that are really happy with it, most having wanted — at the least — a public option.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        I am aware of at least one person (a rather good strategist, I might add) who did support Obamacare because the GOP did not (okay, so that might not be his only reason). His call was that the GOP’s lack of support for Obamacare would make them slide into irrelevance (and becoming a joke) all that much faster — he saw Obamacare as the GOP’s deathknell –because lord forbid they change their mind!Report

  2. Avatar j r says:

    I have to disagree. When politicians start saying absurd things like rape shuts down the reproductive process, we should tell them to shut up.

    Questioning conflicting statistics on sexual assault and questionable education policies is fair game. You cannot simultaneously turn something into a political cause and then criticize people for politicizing it.

    If Will is wrong, then point out why he is wrong.Report

    • Avatar veronica dire says:

      Simple, because those of us who are victims of sexual assault will be surprise to learn we are privileged by this. Furthermore, the cynical view of in-fact privileged men on this issue is deeply callous. And their “of course I don’t approve…” lip service ain’t worth shit. That’s why.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        I’m not all that interested in defending this Will piece. It is meandering and unfocused and I can’t quite discern an actual argument or anything in the way of evidence. The signal-to-noise ratio is quite low. It’s the sort of uninteresting piece that aging pundits all too often churn out.

        All that being said, your comment does some work towards demonstrating Will’s assertion. You want to mark some people as privileged and marginalize them from the conversation. For some conversations that’s fine, but not for conversations about public policy or criminal justice.

        Also, in regards to your comment above, that is not how statistics work. Statistics are not right, because you know them to be true. The whole point of statistics and of empirical methods is to serve as a check against subjective impressions of reality.Report

      • Avatar Cathy says:

        The intersection of statistics and @veronica-dire ‘s comment about lived experiences above, is this:

        George (and others) discount the statistics or estimates about the prevalence of sexual assault because it counts things he believes should not be counted; things like “misunderstandings” or “everyone was just equally drunk” or, so far as I can infer from his rambling article, the example he illustrates of “unreasonably not saying no enough times.”

        Meanwhile, those of us who were women at college, or had female friends who talked about things like this, heard or lived enough examples of the above situations to be very sure that they deserve to “count” as sexual assault.

        To the extent I read veronica’s comment correctly (and even if I don’t, this statement is true on its own), the point is not that anecdotal experience of “one fifth of my friends” generalizes to that statistic, but rather that “these things do or should count as sexual assault, so if that’s the survey asked about that said one fifth, then it’s one fifth.”Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        My point is simply this: if Will wants to say something dumb about a topic like global warming, or whatever, folks can agree or disagree as they are inclined. When he says something dumb about women, something dismissive of our lives — well — unlike the climate, we are people, in fact we are voters. He can nitpick all he wants about the stats, but he cannot nitpick about our votes.

        I know that I have been sexually assaulted. I know that I have not been raped, but I know the number of friends who have. Likewise, I know who wants to dismiss these facts and who wants to foreground them, to actually address them in concrete ways.

        These things make my political decisions really easy. That is all.Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        The abuse you endured doesn’t give you a right to separate statistics, or an advantage in debating those statistics. It’s possible to dismiss some statement on the subject of rape without dismissing your experience. Life is not statistics, but to the extent that a statistic accurately describes a real-life situation, it shouldn’t be ignored.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        folks ain’t talking about taking away your fucking right to vote, yet, are they?
        Talk to me again when you have some perspective on assaults on autonomy.
        (not saying you Don’t, mind).Report

  3. Avatar Christopher Carr says:

    From Will:

    “…when they make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate”

    Surely this happens, and it’s sad when it does.

    I’m not sure what it has to do with progressivism or the right-left political battlefield.

    In general I try to avoid that battlefield.Report

  4. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    You’re sure it’s a George Will column? I don’t see the lead quote from Madison, Burke, or Casey Stengel.Report

  5. Avatar James Hanley says:

    Will’s column is, as j r notes, an unfocused mess. But the statistics issue is a good point, although that actually comes from Mark Perry. The numbers of 1 in 5 (20%) of women being sexually assaulted and 12% of assaults being reported are not reconcilable. If one is true, the other must be false. 12% reporting rates result in fewer than 20% of women being sexually assaulted, while 20% of women being sexually assaulted results in a reporting rate much lower than 12%.

    Perry, whom I respect, seems to assume the 20% figure is inflated. Given the nature of politics, that intuitively seems plausible, because it’s normal to inflate the size of the problem (which I do not mean to imply, suggest, or hint that lower rates are acceptable or non-problematic), and I can’t see what would be gained politically by over-estimating the reporting rate.

    But I doubt that’s the answer, or at least not the whole of it. There’s a lot of vaguery surrounding the term sexual assault. It’s a lot broader than rape, but as with Will’s column, we often see the terms used interchangeably. I suspect the two numbers may come from different studies, that had different methodologies in their definition of terms, and so the two do not reconcile because they’re measuring different operational definitions of sexual assault, with one being looser, and one being stricter.Report

    • Avatar zic says:

      I think this is probably true.

      First, so much of what we might call sexual assault isn’t even viewed that way by women; it’s too common.

      Is having your ass or breast grabbed in public a sexual assault? I hardly know a woman who hasn’t had this happen to her; I’ve experienced it often enough that I really don’t know how many times it’s happened. Catcalls, whistles, etc. are even more common.

      But I’m thinking of a day I was taking my lunch break, walking down a busy city street. Man walking the other way reached out and grabbed my breast (painfully, too) and said, “Nice titties,” without even breaking stride.

      Is that a sexual assault? Yes. What if he’d just said the words, without the invasion of my personal space? It’s still an invasion, it still turns me from a whole person to a set of sex organs on display.

      At some point, it all sort of turns into the same din: if you are female, you most probably will have some man exert himself into your private physical space with some sort of unwanted sexual attack. It will leave you feeling vulnerable, perhaps frightened. Yet you will, most of the time, know nothing more is threatened, too.

      Rape, usually, is another matter altogether, for it’s mostly a person the woman knows.

      So while the ways we count this might differ; one thing is always true: some dude invaded your space, discomforted you, and he should not have done so. This isn’t a problem of how we count the violations; they are so far beyond counting it’s pathetic. I have never spoken with a woman who has not been so treated at some point in her life; and until you probe, she probably doesn’t even count these violations as violations herself, if they’re of the street variety I described.Report

    • Avatar gingergene says:

      I think you’re probably right that they are using different definitions, and that not all sexual assaults are rapes. To many victims that’s a difference without much of a distinction.

      And put me down as not losing too much sleep about whether or not colleges are overeacting to the a problem that may only impact 1 in 8 women rather than 1 in 5.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        It’s not a question of “is it 1 in 5 or 1 in 8”, it’s “is it 1 in 5 or 1 in 34”

        I’m with you in not worrying about whether colleges are putting too much funding and effort into the problem (partly because what they’re doing is mostly so very bloody little). Except – will proponents at some point find they’ve harmed their own cause when the numbers get more closely examined? No one likes to feel like they’ve been lied to. Even when the ultimate action being encouraged is undeniably a sound one, being told that we should do it for a reason that turns out to have been a lie makes us angry, and risks turning people off what they would otherwise be willing to do. I think the problem is bad enough without using dodgy stats that can later be used as evidence you’re full of it.

        I half feel like I’m concern-trolling here. I don’t want it to be so, but what do I know – it’s hard to tell from inside your own head…Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        To be clear, I am in no way trying to say that faulty numbers means there’s no problem. But faulty numbers will–as George Will just illustrated–be used by others to suggest there’s no problem.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        [tw: child rape]

        @james-hanley — Better stats would be a fine thing, and if that is all Will had said, I bet this conversation would be much different. For example, his “victim privilege” thing is a level beyond clueless.

        His critique did not sound like this: “These numbers have problems; let us see if we can work out some better research.”

        Instead, his critique sounded like this: “Women are lying about rape so they can play the ‘victim card’.” He is saying this to every woman who has cried in the bathroom of a club, because she was just sexually assaulted, and she is crying not because it happened but because she let it happen.

        She used to imagine how strong she would be, before she transitioned; she spun all the scenarios in her mind. But the day came when she was tested and she fell apart.

        He is saying this to my friend who when she was twelve her father caught her wearing a skirt and shouted “no son of mine will be a faggot.” Then he beat her up. Later he raped her. (Obviously she was trans.)

        He is saying this to every teenage girl who learns to deal with leering men, who sit too close on the train, who touch.

        He is saying it to another of my friends, who has been raped twice.

        He is saying it to every woman who has ever dressed sexy. He is saying it to every woman who stopped dressing sexy — but they loved the way they felt when they dressed like that, but hated what happened to them. A little less beauty in the world. A little less of their heart.

        Seriously, this is not about the numbers.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        Totally off topic, but doesn’t (tw:child rape) open that barn door even as it shuts it? I think reading that first hit me harder than the comment content did.

        Not a criticism, @veronica-dire, just an interesting thing I noted about my own reaction.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @tod-kelly — I don’t really know.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        By the way, in case this gets misinterpreted, I was the girl crying the club bathroom. I was not the girl abused by her father. Just, that should be clear.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:


        That was rather my point. I wasn’t defending Will.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @james-hanley — Fair enough.

        Thing is, I don’t think we’ll ever have perfect numbers. There will always be guesswork around the edges. And (to be honest) there will always be some amount “creative math,” pious lies. But in this case I hold my nose and both sides really do it. I don’t see a solution to that. For myself, I take every number I see with a grain of salt.

        But I ask people to read @zic ’s posts, or read mine. We are not lying. And the numbers are high. But more, the culture we describe really is as we describe it. It is not only the assault itself; it is everything that surrounds it, the culture that sustains it, the silence and the fear, the immunity and impunity of the abuser, on and on. This is where I want to aim the lens. (Which is why I never quote stats.)

        To George Will, the important thing is that some feminist exaggerated a claim and is off by 17%. That is what matters to a man like him.Report

    • Avatar Saul DeGraw says:

      Emily Bazelon wrote an opinion piece/article a few months ago about how the term sexual assault became favored because it highlighted the violence of the crime. In her opinion, this is a disservice to rape victims and she thinks the term needs to come back and be used more often.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        The problem is a sizeable number of people don’t think it’s assault OR rape if it isn’t violent.

        I’d imagine many date rapists don’t consider what they did rape. Rape is lurking in bushes with a knife.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        oh, yeah. How the hell could it be rape if she didn’t know she was even having sex? /sardonic humorReport

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      You’re correct that they use different definitions. Also, the study that came up with the 20% figure attempted to calculate the number of cases that go unreported; when it is criticized by people who study crime or assault, it is usually criticized on their calculation model. (Some think it pads the statistic, others say it makes the numbers too low.) But pointing out those two numbers being different is either disingenuous or a sign that someone didn’t bother to ask any questions before knee-jerking a response to them.

      In addition to all of that, there really are other stats that should be looked at. According to the FBI, false rape accusations really occur significantly more as a percentage than false accusations of any other crime, especially violent crime. But it’s also important to keep *that* in perspective, because we’re still taking about 93 out of 100 accusations not being false.

      The GOP’s problem today (politically speaking) is that it gets so amped up on opposing “the feminists” that it loses all perspective on this subject. I’m trying to think of a high-profile sexual assault case over the past four or five years where the only reaction from the right wasn’t a knee-jerk reaction from some vocal minority trotting out reasons to think the victim was faking it to get attention.

      They could easily (and relatively quickly, I bet) get on the right side of this by publicly responding to those cases where it was obvious that assault occurs and condemning them (rather than, say, declaring that if a woman wants to join the military what was she expecting?), and expressing doubt in specific situations where doubt is warranted.

      I can’t for the life of me understand why they don’t do this.Report

      • Avatar Patrick says:



        Social science measures are in many cases necessarily proxies; ergo we don’t expect two of them from two different studies necessarily to align. Usually you have to approach the same problem from about five different perspectives to get a halfway decent idea what is going on, given any reasonably complex phenomenon.

        But pointing out those two numbers being different is either disingenuous or a sign that someone didn’t bother to ask any questions before knee-jerking a response to them.

        Right, this. If Will is going to write about social science, he should at least have a rudimentary idea of why these two things might not align, and have something reasonably complex to say about the disjoin and what it means. As opposed to, “ONE OF THESE NUMBERS IS A LIE”, which is just bullshit.

        Like @zic says above:

        First, so much of what we might call sexual assault isn’t even viewed that way by women; it’s too common.

        Is having your ass or breast grabbed in public a sexual assault? I hardly know a woman who hasn’t had this happen to her; I’ve experienced it often enough that I really don’t know how many times it’s happened. Catcalls, whistles, etc. are even more common.

        One of the problems, in this problem space, is that we have intuitive ideas about what these things are tied into our ideas about the criminal justice system, too. If someone grabs your ass in public, I’d call that a sexually motivated assault. I wouldn’t call it a felony worthy of 2-4 years in prison, a $10,000 fine, and a revocation of your ability to vote and basically get a job for the rest of your life.

        Almost all pundit-sourced discussions around this problem space completely ignore all of the context, they just assume that you agree with their interpretation of the context.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      @james-hanley here are the White House report’s sources for the 1 in 5 women in college:

      and 12% reporting claims:

      From the first:

      Table 1 shows that women surveyed in their senior year of college (those having the longest risk period for sexual assault since entering college) had the greatest cumulative prevalence of each type of completed sexual assault. Almost 20% of the seniors experienced some type of sexual assault since entering college, with 6.9% experiencing physically forced sexual assault and 16.0% experiencing incapacitated sexual assault.

      With sexual assault defined as:

      Sexual assault involved unwanted sexual contact that could include touching of a sexual nature, oral sex, sexual intercourse, anal sex, or sexual penetration with a finger or object.

      Nearly 5% of the total sample were forcibly sexually assaulted since college entry (4.7%; Figure 1, box 9(. More than 3% of the women (3.4%) experienced forced rape since entering college (Figure 1, box 11) and 1.4% experienced forced sexual battery since entering college.

      In the second source, the scope is limited to rape (though it lists different kinds, which mainly concern whether violence or drugs were involved), which it defines specifically as involving “oral, anal or vaginal penetration.”

      It gives a lifetime prevalence (not just in college) of rape among college women (they have two samples, one general and one college) of 11.5%, with more than 5% raped in the last year, which likely means this estimate is higher than the estimate for rape specifically in the study that gives the 1 in 5 figure for sexual assault, since 5% in one year implies that, over the course of college, even with some repeat victims, the number will be higher than 5%. Among the college sample, it finds that 11.5% of those who had been raped in their lifetime reported their rapes to law enforcement.

      In short, then, the two numbers — 1 in 5 sexually assaulted, and 12% reporting rape — refer to different crimes, and if you take into account the two studies’ figures for rape during college, they come out pretty well. The White House report unfortunately does not make this distinction, using “sexual assault” in the context of both numbers. The irony of this, perhaps, is that if women are less likely to report other forms of sexual assault than rape (which is likely true for things like unwanted touching), the percentage of reported sexual assaults is probably well below 12%.

      It took me all of about 5 minutes to dig this up. It’d be nice if bloggers like Perry and columnists like Will took 5 minutes to do so as well.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        Thank you, @chris . I seldom have the patience nor the skills to dig through this stuff myself. It is very helpful when someone has both.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Yeah, I didn’t have the patience to do so this morning, either. ;). But it seemed like the most obvious explanation. Maybe I’ll send Perry a note.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        The White House Report is not blameless, of course, and could have avoided this by simply being more careful with the terminology, but the references are in the friggin’ report, so if someone like Will is going to draw conclusions about the scope of the issue, you’d think he or she would take a little time to just check the sources.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        Thank you Chris, that makes a lot of sense.Report

  6. Avatar LWA says:

    Some in here may recall that piece that went around a while back, along the lines of:

    A man staggers into a police station, clothes torn, and face bleeding. He reports he’s been mugged.
    The officer looks at him and asks why he went into a neighborhood like that, dressed in such fashionable clothes; and isn’t he well know to give money to charity? Isn’t it possible that he actually donated his wallet, then regretted it? And why would he want to ruin someone’s life over something like this?

    Its funny, that we never hear such handwringing parsing of statistics, when we talk about property crimes, or intellectual property piracy.Report

    • Avatar Pinky says:

      The officer looks at him and asks why he went into a neighborhood like that, dressed in such fashionable clothes

      You think that doesn’t happen?Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        I think that if it goes to trial, he doesn’t get badgered about how he was asking for it.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        They certainly won’t look at him and note “You box a lot. In fact, we have a number of people here you’ve gotten into the ring and gotten punched by — of your own free will. Are you sure you didn’t just challenge this man to a boxing match, and then in a fit of poor sportsmanship, claim it was assault?”

        Because let’s face it — you spend a lot of time getting hit. You must like it.Report

      • Avatar LWA says:

        Part of me wants to believe that.

        But more of me wishes you didn’t.Report

  7. Avatar Jim Heffman says:

    “Don’t ever talk about rape! You don’t understand it. Stop insulting us by pretending you care!”

    (two weeks later)

    “Why aren’t you talking about rape? That is the most important thing right now! Clearly you don’t care about rape!”Report

  8. Avatar morat20 says:

    I’m all for conservatives talking about rape.

    This country actually needs more politicians saying what they really think, and less focus-group tested and memorized phrases.

    Give me that, and I’ll slap down all the idiotic gaffe comments personally — tell me what you really think, and I’ll forgive the obvious screwed up word or garbled thought.

    Of course, you run the risk of losing my vote if I don’t like what you say — but that’s democracy! We should all be honest.

    You wanna go with “That’s not real rape”, go for it.Report

  9. Avatar veronica dire says:

    For some perspective, it would be great if folks read this post:

    (Consider it a George Will antidote.)

    So, consider this as you read the article: how much is it about the two creepy men and how much is it about their social circles, and in particular the boyfriends, how they enable the behavior? This is the big subtext of the sexual violence conversation, not just the predators, but all the other people who apologize for them.

    When women complain about these things, very often we are dismissed, and this can be infuriating. Things are much better now, however, as we have more tools to deal with it. We have better theoretical models, provided by feminism, which tell us we are not crazy and this is not okay. We have other women who have developed these tools, and who will share with us, and who are only a few mouse clicks away.

    People like George Will, who want to sidestep this and quibble over some numbers, will never get this. Just as the women in those articles have to lay down the law with their clueless boyfriends, we women will be laying down the law with clueless men. We do this when we vote.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      That’s… a really good link.
      Good enough to make me want to fashion a guest post.
      “Games Don’t Hurt People”Report

    • Avatar Patrick says:

      That’s a very good post.Report

    • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

      “People like George Will, who want to sidestep this and quibble over some numbers…”

      If you don’t want people to quibble over numbers then don’t shove the numbers in our face and say “look at these these numbers. ARGUMENT. OVER.”Report

      • Avatar Patrick says:

        Jim, feel free not to comment on my posts for the next couple of weeks if you’re not going to actually follow the spirit of the blog.

        Because reframing people’s comments to make them say what you want them to say instead of engaging with what they actually say is a fucking tired schtick.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @patrick — It’s almost like they search for any gambit to avoid talking about the abuse itself.

        @jim-heffman — Let me make this super clear, whatever the exact number or rapes versus sexual assaults versus everything else, it is enough women that if all of us who have suffered this choose to vote Democratic, then the Republicans are done. Consider that when you decide how you want to engage with us on the topics of sexual assault and rape.

        I have no doubt numbers get inflated. Likewise, I very much doubt that social scientists will ever be able to produce perfect, unassailable numbers. But the numbers we do have, from the various sources with their various flaws, tell a story.

        But then, women already know that story. The numbers are talking points.Report

  10. Avatar Road Scholar says:

    The comedian Amy Schumer does a bit about how every woman she knows has been sorta raped at some point. I think she calls it being “graped” although I can’t recall what the “g” stood for. Anyway, it’s these borderline cases where you wouldn’t be having sex if it was really up to you and it really was forced, but you’re really not up to all the shit involved with reporting it and besides, he’s normally a pretty decent guy and you’re not sure you really want to ruin his life over it anyway cuz you were both kinda drunk at the time and… yeah, that sort of thing.

    Anyway, if I have a point laying anywhere around here it would be that this is a pretty much universal experience for most women and that any kind of statistics that try to capture the phenomenon are going to depend heavily on definitions and phrasing of questions.Report

    • Avatar zic says:

      Age, too.

      There was no such thing as marital rape when George Will was a young-to-middle-aged man. A husband could not rape his wife, he had a marriage certificate giving him access to her whenever he so desired.

      And of course, more recently, date rape was not rape because it was not forcible rape.

      So I definitely think the age of the person contemplating rape, and the social mores in vogue at the time they came of age, shape their thoughts and the tone of the conversation.Report

  11. Avatar Road Scholar says:

    Something I truly don’t understand, at least I don’t if I’m going to be charitable, is why this is even a red/blue issue to begin with. Aren’t conservatives the law & order crowd? Aren’t they the first with calls to “get tough” on crime? The ones to complain about perps walking on technicalities? Aren’t they all “book ’em Danno” and “hang ’em high” and three strikes and you’re out? Is it just my imagination or haven’t they been complaining for as long as I can remember about liberals coddling criminals?

    So why when it comes to sexual assault do they suddenly want to minimize the issue, blame the victim, etc.? I mean… I can think of reasons, but I doubt they would find them particularly complimentary…Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      Yes, and they are deeply concerned about the crime of false rape accusations!

      I would say it’s the War on Women, but I don’t want you to be incapable of saying anything.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        Yes, and they are deeply concerned about the crime of false rape accusations!

        And voter fraud.

        And taxes have gone up under Obama.

        I’m noticing a trend here. . .Report

    • Avatar veronica dire says:

      @road-scholar — I’d love to hear a thoughtful and self-critical Republican really engage this question. I mean, I have some thoughts of my own, but they tend to be — well — what one would expect of me.

      I think tribalism is a big part of it. Namely, feminists have been pushing this, along with reproductive choice and the rights of women to divorce their husbands and become witchy lesbians (yay!). So, there is that. Feminists talk about this, must be bad.

      Partly it is a reliance of traditional gender norms, where men are people and women are the sex class.

      Sure, conservative men disapprove of “rape,” but this word means what they want it to mean, and those darn feminists want to talk about broad sexual assault and sexual harassment and the Republican man likes patting his secretary on the bottom.

      Feminism ruins everything!

      Plus we want to wear short skirts without consequence. Jesus hates that.

      Partly I think Republican men are simply boorish, but there is a very thin line between garden variety boorishness and full-on, unbridled misogyny. On this, I think, Modern women are very attuned to the fine points; Republican men stumble around like fools.Report

      • Avatar Road Scholar says:

        Your list of answers is pretty much the same as mine. What I don’t get is that I can usually come pretty close anyway, to divining the motives of those I disagree with by just assuming their position to be self-regarding. That only sort of works here, though, since part of self-regard is regard for those close to you. Do they not realize we’re talking about their daughters? Their wives and sisters and mothers and aunts and nieces and girlfriends? Do these people really mean that little to them?Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Road and V,
        The more insightful people understand that folks are just plain Animals at heart. And a lot of men, who were used to getting a woman handed to them — for their use, for ever and ever, now aren’t getting that.
        They are looking at Demographic Armageddon.

        Now, do they understand that? Hell no. But their actions are such as to reverse the ability of women to live without men.

        **Mike Dwyer just wrote a piece on lower-class folks not getting married. That is emphatically not related to the point I’m making above.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        If “rape” is okay (and I’m including “hypnotism” and “drunken” and “unconscious” and half a dozen other variants), well then they can just get their pick of the “loose women” without consequences.

        And a good fraction of these people want biological, procreative sex (that’s about 1/3rd of the population, not all conservatives, mind — another third has fetishes that actively move against procreation)Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        And remember, in order for “rape” to be okay, there must be Scary Stranger Rape that will be punished harshly.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        Do they not realize we’re talking about their daughters? Their wives and sisters and mothers and aunts and nieces and girlfriends? Do these people really mean that little to them?

        I know a lot of women who won’t tell their male family members about their rapes because they’re pretty sure 1) they’ll be blamed because they were dressed wrong, drinking, in the wrong place, etc. etc. etc. 2) they’ll always be treated differently because they’re no longer ‘pure,’ and 3) afraid their beloved male family member will end up facing homicide charges.Report

    • Avatar j r says:

      You have a point. I can, however, very easily reverse that question. Why are progressives, who normally are very interested in due process and procedural rights, so quick to shout down and scream “rape apologist” at people who don’t toe the line?Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Because culture is not law? I think liberals are just as bitchy about gaybashing and other things.
        I also think most liberals don’t know a rapist (or don’t know that they know a rapist)… I rather think the second is more common in conservative communities.Report

    • Avatar gingergene says:

      So, channeling my inner “thoughtful Republican”, I would say this is about the difference, as Whoopie Goldberg once put it, between “rape” and “rape-rape”. The latter is when a fully clothed woman is walking down the street and is dragged, kicking and screaming, into a dark alley and forcibly raped. The former is when two college kids are at a party, get involved in tequila-drinking contest and retire to the same bedroom at the end of the night, where “signals get crossed”.

      Most people can not possibly imagine themselves, or any of the men they know and love, being that person in the dark alley. Many, many people can imagine being the college kid. So, in a rare case for many law-and-order types, especially men, they find themselves able to identify more with the criminal than the victim. In the case of the dark alley? They’re still very much “lock-’em-up-and-throw-away-the-key”, but in the case of the second, well, “that’s different; that could’ve been me” (I think that’s also why they find the false-accusation meme so compelling- that could also be them). I also think they are deeply ignorant about how common this is, or how traumatic it can be when it’s not a stranger in a dark alley.

      This is about changing norms, though- it’s to make each succeeding generation find the second situation (“rape”) more and more horrifying and unthinkable until it’s much nearer the current reaction to the second. (“rape-rape”). Like the evolution we’ve had on drunk driving or cigarette smoking. Conservatives are conservative- they are skeptical of change and are slow to embrace it.

      That’s as charitable as I can be. The best picture I have is them being the feminist equivalents of my racist ol’ Grandpa who was a mostly decent guy that didn’t understand why he couldn’t call Brazil nuts whatever he wanted. Honestly, though, I think there is a fair amount of tribalism, knee-jerk-anti-feminism and loss of privilege, on top of a metric fish-ton of ignorance.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Are you Brazilian by some chance? That’s the actual name for them down there.
        (there’s a few german dishes that are unprintable in English because they make fun of poles).Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @gingergene — Thank you. That sounds very on target.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @gingergene — Let me add, this is why those links I posted above are so critical. This is not about the two drunk college kids, although rape-apologists will try to make it about that. Instead, this is about men who know exactly what they can get away with.

        Another important post: (follow the link to the parent post).

        Thing is, women are figuring this stuff out. And we are speaking to each other, learning the real deal, getting power. The men who do these things, who creep on girls, hate that we are learning and getting power. It spoils their reindeer games.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        I think gingergene has a good argument. I would add–not contradict–that there’s also a certain reluctance to think that copping a feel is sexual assault, because it’s something that’s so easy for a guy to do, and feels kind of nice, and surely–although I can imagine doing that–I’m not a bad guy, right? (Where “I” is the guy thinking about his situation, not “I” as in I, James, go around copping feels.) It seems so minimal compared to “real” (pardon me) forcible rape, that it’s really easy for guys to excuse it away as just a bit of fun.

        Of course what they don’t grasp is that’s making themselves–the acting party–the standard of acceptability, and denying that agency to the recipient of the act.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @james-hanley – One of my sexual assaults was a groping incident; I mentioned it in my post above, when I ended up crying in the back of the club. The person who assaulted me was a woman, evidently a lesbian, who I was dancing with, and she seemed sort of interested in me. So, anyway, I hadn’t been living trans too long and there is this big-scary-thing dealing with cis lesbians and trans dykes. Anyway, the idea she might be interested was really overwhelming. So we danced. Then she started to feel me up, first my breasts, which in retrospect was probably not so much for the sexy-fun of it, but more literally inspecting for reality — you know, was I or wasn’t I? Then she put her hand up my skirt and checked on the down-low. I let her. I kept dancing with her. But then it dawned on me how gross that was, how degrading to be checked that way, and there was her sneer. So I backed away from her, drifted off and danced elsewhere. But no one else would dance with me — I hadn’t yet figured out how to seem happy and attractive. No doubt I was rather off-putting. So I danced alone and felt filthy and worthless, until the tears started to come and I had to flee to the back of the club.

        I mean, no big deal, no big trauma, no nightmares, no PTSD, just a shitty night at a club feeling horrible and worthless.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:


        I don’t know the experience, but I hear what you’re saying. I can’t avoid imagining my daughters being in that situation.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @james-hanley — I think every girl has to work her way through this, piece by piece, as she grows into her sexuality. But for me, I learned all this stuff at once with and adult mind and a fully grown body. I cannot even imagine passing through this world as a teen.

        I miss very much that I did not grow up a cis girl. I imagine her, a plucky tomboy, a girl scout who earns every badge. She has a tattered tee shirt, skinned knees, but wears a darling skirt nevertheless. That is little Veronica. I never got to be her. But I do not miss adolescence and the boys of high school and the creepy men on the subway and all of that. I have no idea how I would have navigated that world.Report

    • Avatar Pinky says:

      So, what could be going through the head of a Republican? Let me try to explain.

      First of all, if there’s any sociopathy, it’s a conditioned form. I have found that, when people make emotional arguments and include statistics, if you look into the statistics you’ll find they’re being misused. That seems to be what’s happened here. In fact, I don’t see anyone denying that.

      I’ve looked into postwar US economic data, and I’ve become convinced that generally lower marginal tax rates are good for economic growth. For that, I’ve been called a racist. Also a classist. I’ve looked into the “77%” claim about women’s wages and found that’s not what it seems; for that I’ve been called a sexist. I know what you’re thinking: boo hoo. That’s life. In the internet age, people get called names all the time. But here’s the thing: after a point, you train yourself not to let it register.

      Actually, that’s a lie. Of course it hurts. You get called a horrible thing, and it hurts. Someone talks about being sexually abused, and your instinct is to protect her, help her, maybe even track down the guy who did it. But then they say in the same breath that you don’t care about sexual abuse because you disagree with them politically, and at some point, you have to (pretend to) numb yourself, and say as much as I care for you, as much as it hurts to hear what you went through, you’re not using the statistics right.

      The other thing going through a Republican’s mind is the belief that there are very few unconditional wins in the world. That’s a belief that requires a detachment. A new policy or approach may have emotional appeal, but everything’s got a trade-off, and the best of intentions can lead to really bad consequences. That makes it my responsibility to ask what policy is being discussed and what its ramifications would be. Because what’s funny is, we’re not talking about any particular policy here. This whole time. We’ve been talking about what’s tactically bad for Republicans, or what would happen if all the women of America who’ve been abused voted Democratic, but there hasn’t been a single reason given why they would vote Democratic. You’ve been abused, and Republicans don’t care, so you should vote Democratic. WHAT? Even if Republicans didn’t care you’ve been abused – assuming a fact not in evidence – why should that make you vote Democratic? The statistics are being misused, and even if you call me a sexist for saying that, my conditioned sociopathy is going to kick in, and I’ll maintain eye contact and repeat myself: the statistics are being misused. Call me whatever you like. Give me a policy with reasonable support for why it’d work, or for that matter don’t, but don’t tell me to shut up.Report

      • Avatar Patrick says:

        I’ve looked into postwar US economic data, and I’ve become convinced that generally lower marginal tax rates are good for economic growth.

        Just out of curiosity, what convinced you of this? I look at something like this and just offhand I don’t see any particular spikes in GDP growth when marginal tax rates are dropped. In fact, I don’t really see any correlation between tax rates and GDP growth at all. Granted, this isn’t my bag.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        Talk about missing the point entirely.Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        Patrick, I don’t want to go too far off-base. There are plenty of economics articles out there. My point was that disagreements about economics, law, whatever, lead to unfair accusations of moral flaws.

        Morat, what did I miss? What particular policy are we discussing? What statistic was being used properly? Or if I missed the point “entirely”, it could be that I’m discussing this from a different paradigm, which is actually what I set out to do in order to explain a different frame of mind.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      Road S,

      So why when it comes to sexual assault do they suddenly want to minimize the issue, blame the victim, etc.?

      The short explanation (and a sufficient one, I think, even if it lacks PUNCH!) is Cleek’s Law. The longer explanation might involve Corey Robin’s thesis that conservatism is primarily about preserving established individual privileges, in this case, the privilege of boys to keep on being boys.Report

  12. Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

    I dunno if Tod’s rule should be about conservatives or the GOP.

    Instead I think it might also be best delivered to the Washington Post editorial page….

    Christ on a Cracker.Report