It’s On Us

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181 Responses

  1. Avatar zic says:

    Tod, the author’s name is wrong, Nolan should probably be either “Nolan Brown” or just “Brown,” I’m not sure which way is appropriate for AP style standards.

    Thanks, anyone, who can mend that. I wrote this as an OTC, not expecting it here.Report

  2. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    There is always a possibility that some very real or more frequently imagined problem can get overblown and turn into a moral panic that makes things worse. A series of PSA that tell men that the key to ending men sexually assaulting women is for men to stop sexaully assaulting women doesn’t seem really likely to lead to anything like the Satanic preschool panic.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to LeeEsq says:

      Yes, there is. And one -in-four women are raped. So let’s just keep pretending we’re blowing this all out of proportion because there’s the possibility of a manufactured problem. That’s exactly Nolan Brown’s point.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to zic says:

        @zic

        The problem is that I can’t think of what guy is going to be convinced not to commit sexual assault because of a PSA. Maybe it can get some guy’s to be more cautious but I have my doubts. My suspicion is that guy’s who would listen to this PSA are not likely to commit sexual assault in the first place and were already likely to be cautious. Just like the people who watched the famous “this is your brain on drugs” PSA and got freaked out were probably not likely to do drugs in the first place.

        Maybe I am being overly cynical but I don’t think PSAs are very good at raising awareness. They are very good at letting people pat themselves on the back for “doing something.”

        Of course this is a really serious issue on which expressing dissent is sometimes not allowed without being called an MRA:

        http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2014/09/false_rape_accusations_why_must_be_pretend_they_never_happen.html

        And now I have stepped into the fire….

        And I sound a lot like our libertarians on this issue.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to zic says:

        Saul,
        there are people publishing rape guides out there. Literal guides on how to rape 16 year olds.

        But besides and before that, the goal isn’t to stop rapists. The goal is to empower their friends to man the fuck up.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

        @saul-degraw

        I would be the first in line to complain of the damage of a false rape accusation. It’s a horrible thing to do. There is no excuse for it.

        I’d also suggest that one of the reasons men think there are so many false rape accusations is because they are unclear on what legal consent is; and they think the really, really drunk girl can give consent. That’s a huge problem, and men need to understand that, no, she cannot.

        But the instance of false rape accusation is still dwarfed by the mountain of actual rape.

        So yeah. It’s like some black people commit crimes. Some mothers murder their children. Some cops take bribes. So what? That’s a related problem, and a real problem, but not the problem on the table.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to zic says:

        @kim

        Proof please. I generally believe you because people publish guides for everything including many illegal activities and the internet allows anyone to say anything.*

        *There is a famous case on publisher liability that involved a how to guide for being a hitman. The publisher was a comic-book company. IIRC the guide turned out to be written by a suburban housewife. And someone did use it to commit a hit murder so these things do happen. The publishing company ended up losing their jury trial and then had the jury verdict upheld on appeal. I personally think this happened because the publishing company stipulated to intent and said that their comic was meant to be taken seriously and as a how-to-guide. In short, it was a civil liberties tactic that backfired.

        This is usually counter-balanced with a case against Hustler where they published an article on auto-erotic axphysiation and a 14 year old ended up hanging himself. Hustler was found not guilty among the reasoning were lots of warnings about how this was illegal.

        Also the guide fact does not counter my viewpoint.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to zic says:

        @zic

        I agree with your points and the ones Chris made below.

        That being said, I don’t think the PSAs will work for the reasons I listed above. But you are right about the problem of murky lines.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to zic says:

        I’m with Saul on this. The PSAs are well-meaning but fall under the Better Angels of Our Nature tendency. They might encourage a few men to really make sure that they have a woman’s consent before initiating an encounter but the type of man whose likely to find them persuasive is also going to correlate highly with the the type of man that wouldn’t even consider sexual assualt in the first place. Brown is still wrong about the dangers of moral panic but these PSAs are very much preaching to the choir.

        A scare them straight tactic might work better in PSA that aims to convince men not to commit crimes of sexual assault but deterance theory has been kind of disproved in regards to death penalty/homicide. Its either a heat of the moment thing or the killer is a psychopath that basically doesn’t care. I imagine that sexual assault crimes have the same issue.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to zic says:

        The publication company could well be within their Constiutional rights to publish a How to be a Hitman guidebook and still lose the case if the basis of the trial against them was for wrongful death. Sullivan defangs the tort of defamation, but wrongful death, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and other somewhat speech related torts are left untouched.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

        @leeesq and @saul-degraw honestly: do you think that most men who commit rape by raping someone who’s drunk think of themselves as rapists or, maybe instead, as guys who found a party girl happy to have a good time and guys who got lucky?

        Because I ran into quite a few of the latter back in the day; and a know a lot of women who experienced rape that way, and blamed themselves for ‘bad sex,’ and don’t even think they were raped because it wasn’t a stranger committing forcible rape.

        So I kinda sorta disagree that a PSA can’t help. I think it’s very possible that most guys think it won’t change the rapists behavior, in part, because they don’t see how often their own behavior crosses the bar. It’s there that it can make a huge difference.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

        @saul-degraw I like Sully’s post on the Salon piece very much. It’s a good summary of the problem of false accusations.Report

      • Avatar morat20 in reply to zic says:

        Saul,
        Zic’s right. Look, let’s be blunt — there are a lot of rapists out there who don’t think they’ve committed rape.

        They did, but nobody filed charges and the woman probably never complained or even said anything — they just probably didn’t call back. Ever. The guy chalks it up to a one-time hookup or buyer’s remorse or ‘we were drunk, lol’ and the woman feels violated, but she’s not going to raise a stink because….what good would it do?

        Strangers jumping out of bushes with knives are hard to prosecute and a nightmare and that’s clear cut. Do you think a case built on intimidation and coercion, perhaps booze but no physical force, is going to be any easier? So they just..avoid that guy. Because he doesn’t get “no” and he thinks it’s “hard to get” and hey, he was right, because she slept with him in the end, right?

        Those guys — maybe some of THOSE guys can be reached, and there are an awful lot of those guys. Guys who don’t think of themselves as rapists, don’t think of what happened as rape, and figure ‘no harm no foul’ ’cause it’s not like she ever said anything.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to zic says:

        @zic, your probably right about that provided that the man isn’t drunk out of is mind to. If you have two drunks than I doubt that any half-remembered PSA is going to work. One reason people get so drunk is to lower their inhibitions enough to get into these sort of encounters.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

        @leeesq I agree; and two drunks is a conundrum. But there’s some mid-way state here that’s worth the focus, too. Because for the most part, she gets that drunk a whole lot faster than he does. Not always, obviously. But most of the time. This salient detail bears serious consideration; it’s the place something like this can and should work; plus the general observation that people around should generally think about it when a smashed girl goes off with a semi-smashed guy in general.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to zic says:

        What @zic said and @morat20 reiterated – this isn’t addressed at the minority of rapists who think of themselves as rapists. It’s addressed at the majority of rapists and potential rapists who wouldn’t think of themselves in those terms, as well as people who may have an opportunity to intervene in questionable situations.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to zic says:

        @zic
        I’ve actually never seen an advocate who takes a hard line on the equivalence of drunk sex with rape so straightforwardly acknowledge that “two drunks is a conundrum” before. Usually there’s denial that it’s much of problem at all. Kudos.

        The problem is that “two drunks” is a large percentage of the situations, especially in college, in which “one or more drunks” are having sex. This is why it’s so misguided to try to head off an approach to campus seal assault that makes alcohol a big part of the approach, because it apparently blames the victim. It does’t blame the victim; it’s quite simply a massive part of the problem in general.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to zic says:

        @dragonfrog

        It’s addressed at … potential rapists

        Why does this need to read this way? “Potential rapists” simply means, “men,” or perhaps “able-bodied men.” There is literally no able-bodied man who couldn’t get drunk and have sex with someone too drunk to consent. There’s nothing special about anyone capable of doing that – it’s just us, men. The point here is not to address “potential rapists,” which is not a thing, but quite simply to teach men how not to rape.

        There’s no reason to attempt to build categories of “men who might rape” and “men who are somehow safe from it because they’re not among that disgusting category of men I call ‘potential rapsits'” in our heads. That’s not a thing. People are just people until they commit crimes, then they’re criminals. None of them were more potential criminals beforehand than anyone else. You do the crime; you become a criminal. Read your Camus.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

        @michael-drew I get where you’re coming from, and I agree, sort of, except for the difference in the ease of inebriated in smaller, lighter female frames. I would argue, that in the social-scene as has been since at least the 1970’s, if not for all history, is that a drunk girl is fair game, sexually, and while there’s a little bit of ‘taking advantage,’ it’s not rape.

        But it is rape. I’ve been that girl. And long before I’d have been old enough to go to college. Which leads to another important point to note about this campaign; the determination that the extent of rape on campus, and the handling of that rape, rose to the level of violation under IX. So that provides the administration with opportunity to speak out. To the college crowd. The folks who help set social trends. Taps into them with social media. Don’t rape; this drunken sex is not cool. If you don’t have clear consent, you are not getting lucky, you’re raping.

        Ain’t no harm in letting folks know that novel idea; it is a bit different from the accepted norms of getting lucky.

        At some point through this libertine event, and I have no issue with libertine events, he may well be unable to consent, too. I’m pretty sure there’s plenty of cases where women sexually molesting, perhaps raping, men too drunk to consent; I’m pretty sure I’ve walked a little bit of that path, and I don’t look proudly on it.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

        @michael-drew

        Beautifully put:

        There is literally no able-bodied man who couldn’t get drunk and have sex with someone too drunk to consent. There’s nothing special about anyone capable of doing that – it’s just us, men. The point here is not to address “potential rapists,” which is not a thing, but quite simply to teach men how not to rape.

        When I initially read it, I wanted to soften it. But it’s the essence of the thing; social meme as vaccination to stop a contagion.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to zic says:

        The two drunks problem is close to the two underaged teenagers in a state without a Romeo-Juliet problem. You have two people technically incapable of giving consent that are having sex and under the law both theoretically rapists and rape victims at the same. Note, that I’m assuming that both parties in the two drunks scenario were sloshed long before even they began to interact with each other in this case.

        Lots of people like sex and aren’t opposed to a hook-up. The problem is that people have lots of inhibitions and tend to resort to liquid courage in order to approach or get themselves in a position where they could imagine having sex with a stranger. This makes things troublesome. As long as people use alcohol as inhibition reducer we are going to have this problem.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to zic says:

        @zic

        It sounds harsh, but in my view it’s actually a strident defense of men in general against a creeping implication among anti-sexual-assault activists that suggests a view that in fact there are two species of men: rapists (wither potential or actualized), and somehow, reliably non-rapist men. And there may be some men who are not capable of the jump-out-of-the-bushes-with a knife form of rape, but the point has been to toss in all “rapists” (potential or actualized) into one bin, where the criterion is having committed, or being able to commit rape of the form you discuss, basically as easily as making the mistake of having sex with a woman who’s had a bit too much to drink. If that’s the criterion, then there are no non-potential rapists – even the most normal, well-adjusted man qualifies. All we should really be talking about is teaching (plain old) men not to do that. Because to call men who haven’t yet done that “potential rapists” in my view is a calumny against men.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

        @leeesq that’s a problem of thinking of consent as a thorn. It is. At the beginning of the school year, I heard a radio piece on Public Radio produced by a young man about to go off to college, on “The Talk,” parents talking about campus assault before taking their kids to school. There was the range, from, “Yes,” to “Ewwww, talk to my parents about sex?” And then the kids own mom, who told him to remember that gaining real, joyous consent is incredibly hot. Consent’s a sweet, sweet rose, too.

        I’ll try and find the specific broadcast if you like, didn’t turn up with a cursory search.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to zic says:

        @zic

        I’m not quite sure I follow why the slightness of women’s frames provides a distinction of some kind here. If anything (and I would say this argument isn’t really a good one, but it’s the argument i could see most clearly here), it seems to me that would actually mitigate men’s culpability for non-consensual sex relative to women’s. Keep in mind that the point of “too drunk to consent” is not an assertion that if she was drunk, she was very unlikely to have said yes. That might be true to an event, but the legal point is really to assert (provide) that even if she said yes, it was not consent, because she was too drunk. It can be hard to know for sure when that is, and if it takes a surprisingly small number of drinks for a woman to arrive there, well, I guess that could be an argument that from a moral culpability perspective non-predatory men might have it a bit harder in policing themselves to avoid nan-consensual sex with women. OTOH, if it takes more drinks for a man to be TDTC, I guess that could mean a woman (or any other person) should have more time to take note of how many drinks the man has had and think to herself, Gee, whatever he says now, I might not be able to interpret it as consent (which is what the law expects of men with women after fewer drinks). Again, I don’t hold that view, but if there were a legal implication of women’s smaller frames making them more susceptible to alcohol, that would seem to be a logical one to me.

        So while that’s not my view of the right way to think about drunken sex and sexual assault, at the same time, I’m not really following what distinction you’re saying follows from women’s usually lower tolerance (due to lower body mass or chemistry or whatever) within the too-drunk-to-consent-on-too-drunk-to-consent context.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

        @michael-drew body mass and rate of intoxication matter because they have, as I tried to say, traditionally been used to create opportunity. It doesn’t really matter who has the bigger mass; some women have bigger mass and remain able to legally consent longer then some men. But the norm here is smaller woman/bigger man, and men need to rethink things in this light; that she’s smaller and quicker to get drunk, which is often perceived as a chance to get lucky, is really a chance to become a rapist. And that’s not lucky.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to zic says:

        @zic, I understand that enthusiastic consent or as you put real, joyous consent is considered the current standard and that many people do find it hot. Its important for the purposes of avoiding sexual assault but many people including me do not find it hot. Personally, I find that many of the things that women expect in the early stages of courtship or seduction to be draining, exhausting, and unsexy work from my part that makes me feel like other people get friends with benefits and NSA sex while I get Every String Attached Sex where I have to pled eternity to the sun, moon, and stars simply to be under consideration. I loathe the chase or the work of suiting, it is simply not enjoyable at all from my perspective but lots of other people adore it.

        Meanwhile, there are things that I find sexy that a lot of women find sexist like the Manic Pixie Dram Girl. I understand why women do not like the Manic Pixie Dream Girl but I find the idea exciting because it suggests a relationship where the early building stages aren’t entirely on my shoulders and that I can have a little bit of the wildness I missed out on. The counter-narrative of a woman of dating a stream of bad boys before settling done with a good man is less appealing because it suggests a romantic version of the Grasshopper and the Ant fable to me.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to zic says:

        Saul,
        as a matter of course, I am not going to cite you rape guides, as I consider the promulgation of links to such as being a horrid idea. However, one of your fellow front page writers has done you the favor of citing details from that book to which I refer. You might want to refer to that post, which I am not linking to, for reasons explained above.

        Legally allowed rape is a thing.

        I do not think that sexually frustrated guys are going to be able to stop raping people (at some point, you get down to instinctive behavior, and though that can be mostly halted with immediate consequences… you can’t watch folks all the time). But their friends can stop them, physically if needed.

        Most people here don’t have much idea about how public rape tends to be in our culture (particularly when the woman isn’t aware that she’s being raped).Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to zic says:

        Does anybody have any idea of what Kim is talking about? It seems like a less coherent version of the argument that all heterosexual sex is rape that has been made from time to time but without the benefit of academic language to make it seem elegant as an idea.

        I’m really confused about the woman not being aware she is being raped. Everybody on this blog understands that some people can be too drunk to give consent and thats not cool. Kim seems to be talking about something else like “If a tree falls in a forest and nobody was around does it make a sound.” Its maddingly arcane.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to zic says:

        Lee,
        I am not making the argument that all heterosexual sex is rape.

        it is possible, if a guy is slow and delicate enough about it, for a girl to not realize what exactly he’s touching her with down there. One can’t give consent to sex that one doesn’t know is happening. (and in instances when this is what is going on, most of the time, the girl doesn’t want to be sexually assaulted either, but is not protesting loudly). Often, doing this in public places allows the guy more leverage and ability to get away with “whatever he’s doing under the blankets.”Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to zic says:

        @michael-drew You make a very good point.

        I guess the only useful distinction that might be salvaged from my post is this – for “potential rapist” substitute “people getting into a situation where there might be sex” as opposed to “people who are bystanders to those situations” – that there’s one set of obligations for people who are negotiating a romantic or sexual situation, and another for people who are generally present at bars and parties and anywhere else, really. (removing even the specificity of gender, since women can commit sexual assault too, and do commit some smallish minority of the assaults that take place)Report

  3. Avatar Kolohe says:

    “yes, even crime data and ad campagins targeted at the people most likely to commit those crimes.”

    and thus, 30 years of drug war propaganda (and Rachel Leigh Cook) are vindicated.Report

  4. Avatar j r says:

    So the problem’s not made up, but any attempts to help solve the problem should be disregarded, because problems offer an opportunity for potential problem solvers. Like, let’s not actually talk about the real problem, let’s talk about made-up problems — and then treat this particular effort as if it’s a made-up problem.

    This pretty much sucks donkey dung. It’s some of the most stupid, lame logic I’ve ever encountered.

    You are seriously twisting around Nolan Brown’s argument. The crux of her argument is that in going after the hyped “campus rape epidemic,” the White House is, in fact, not addressing real and larger issues of sexual assault. Maybe that is a bad argument, but if you are going to call something stupid and lame you should probably give it an accurate rendering.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to j r says:

      No, I get that part of her argument. I think she views this campaign as ‘the solution,’ instead of a single prong of addressing change over time. We’re old hat at this stuff; some good, some bad. With tobacco, we’ve done a great job of lowering smoking rates, for instance. War on Drugs, not so great. Drunk driving, however, has really declined.

      I’d say this is intended to reframe the debate in terms of what consent means; and lacking consent, it’s rape. I don’t think it’s viewed as ‘the solution,’ so much as a way to begin reframing our willingness to recognize and confront the behaviors that lead to so much rape.

      I don’t think I’m twisting Nolan Brown’s meaning, she mostly approves the content, she just has this total knee-jerk need to shoot the messenger because it’s the bad, bad government, and the government arouses her ick factor. It’s idiotic.Report

  5. Avatar Chris says:

    The attack on the research that she links is pretty damn weak. It contains the go-to critiques from people who know jack about research or statistics: “the sample size was too small,” “the response rate was low,” without mentioning methodology at all, and fails to note that there is actually a pretty big literature on campus sexual assault, which is why no one in the community of researchers looking at it batted an eye at 1 in 5: it’s what they expected.

    I’ve seen no serious critique of the 1 in 5 number, and I’ve yet to see any study that provides a substantially different rate. As far as I can tell, their primary reason for believing the 1 in 5 number to be false is because they don’t want it to be true, and they don’t want it to be true not because it is an absolutely horrible number, but because it bugs the crap out of them that “liberals” have this as an issue.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Chris says:

      Annecdotally, @chris I think 1-in-5 seems right on rape; the 1-in-3 seems to low for sexual assault, I’ve hardly ever met a woman who hasn’t experienced some minor assault, such as a groping or forced feel. I’d put that closer to 100%, myself.

      Thanks for tracking that down.Report

    • Avatar j r in reply to Chris says:

      Huh? She links to a Washington Post article. And that article notes several studies with different rates.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to j r says:

        Uh, no, it doesn’t. Go read it again. Find one study the WP article links with a different number, and post a link or reference here.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to j r says:

        OK. The first study that the WaPo article links to (https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/221153.pdf) says this:

        Data indicate that 13.7% of undergraduate women had been victims of at
        least one completed sexual assault since entering college…

        The article also links to this NIJ page: http://www.nij.gov/topics/crime/rape-sexual-violence/campus/pages/measuring.aspx

        Which says:

        One survey of college students, which relied on student self-reports, not crime reports, found that about 3 percent of all college women become victims of either completed or attempted rape in a given nine-month academic year.

        The numbers seem low, but 3 percent translates into 30 such crimes for every 1,000 women students. For a campus with 10,000 female students, the number would reach 300.

        An earlier study found a sexual assault victimization rate of 21.6 per 1,000 students..

        So, that is three studies that give three very different numbers: 3%, 14% and 22%. And thew NIJ addresses this by pointing out that:

        Unfortunately, researchers have been unable to determine the precise incidence of sexual assault on American campuses because the incidence found depends on how the questions are worded and the context of the survey.

        Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to j r says:

        Jesus, @j-r will you listen to yourself?

        We all know the stats are tough. So it may only be 300 women instead of some larger potential number; is three-hundred rape victims a semester okay with you on any college campus in this country? Because it might be lower, might be higher, and the actual number will always depend on what you ask and how you classify answers. That given, how does that suggest that this particular campaign, which is relatively inexpensive and helps frame what individual responsibility, should be tossed aside because the data underlying the need for a campaign is unjustified because of only 300 rapes a semester on a large campus?

        I’d argue a campaigns like this reach for the low-hanging fruit and might be of tremendous worth; they might help prevent a lot of uncomfortable government intrusion into people’s personal lives, which is what happens when officials have to step in to help determine if someone committed a crime.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to j r says:

        I disagree with @j-r on this issue in general, but it seems a little unfair to ask him so show his math and then bang on him for showing his math.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to j r says:

        I apologize; I should have clearer that I’m banging on the notion that any result in the ranges given deserves addressing via public discourse. I would have a much easier time talking with Libertarians in general if, somehow, they could examine the kneejerk reaction that anything government does is bad. To make an analogy, with fill awareness of Vikram’s wise warnings about analogies, it’s akin to too false rape accusations; it damages your cause.

        It’s okay, once in a while, to hope some government action actually produces some good.

        So I’m sorry, @j-r , I conflated you with the general group of libertarians, the people who gobble columns like this one up without pushing back on them. That was unfair.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to j r says:

        For what it’s worth, I think that this sort of thing is great for government to do. I’d be willing to get rid of a half-dozen government agencies in order for there to be more government-sponsored commercials involving celebrities.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to j r says:

        Thank you, @jaybird

        I stand in solidarity with you on this concept. I’m sure we’d have a hella time negotiating which agencies, and hella fun laughing at the commercials.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to j r says:

        It’s okay, once in a while, to hope some government action actually produces some good.

        That is the issue isn’t it? And that is why I have a different reading of Nolan Brown’s article than you do. I do not see it as a an all-encompassing swipe at government action. After all, almost all libertarians believe that it is the government’s responsibility to defend people from sexual assault. The question is whether this particular White House campaign will produce some good or whether it’s just an attempt to score points by being on the perceived right side of some issue.

        And the issue isn’t whether there should be more or less rapes. The issue is how best to address whatever number of rapes and assaults that there are. And this is where there is lots of legitimate disagreement.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to j r says:

        @j-r if the issue were ‘if this campaign will do any good,” it can only be resolved by actually conducting the campaign with some metrics of its success. It’s got all the hallmarks of the Obama machine; those who sign up for the pledge are the ones willing to go out and spread the message, and the machine can contact them via social media, easily, with a clever new meme.

        But there are metrics to measure; and there can be metrics devised to measure. And what results any particular campaign might produce only happens if the campaigns are actually undertaken. This seems a whole lot more helpful and benign then stuff like the abstinence-only propaganda campaigns taught in lieu of actual sex education in many schools.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to j r says:

        I think that was a bit unfair.

        @chris – I’ve seen no serious critique of the 1-in-5 number
        @j-r – [cites critique]
        @chris – You fool, the article’s sources don’t support its premise at all!
        @j-r – [quotes the sources to show they do]
        @zic – Christ, listen to yourself! What does it matter if the number is wrong? Questioning the number must mean you oppose the measures justified by the number, which are demonstrably good regardless of the number’s truth value.

        You wouldn’t turn on someone supporting that number’s veracity with “Christ listen to yourself, the number doesn’t matter” would you? It can’t matter when people believe it’s right but not when they don’t. Either Chris and j r are both being ridiculous, or neither is, and Chris is the one who brought it up in the first place.

        I happen to think the number doesn’t matter to whether this campaign in particular is a good idea. It’s inexpensive enough that it would probably be justified by the true statistics no matter what they are, because even an order of magnitude lower than any of the commonly bandied-about numbers would be a hell of a lot.

        This campaign sounds really awesome to me, especially in a landscape so full of men advising women to lock themselves in cages and victim-blaming people for doing things everyone should be able to do in peace and safety. Its value might be even greater in how it influences other smaller and more localized campaigns, than in its direct reach.

        @j-r were you intending to argue against the campaign itself?Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to j r says:

        Oops, didn’t refresh before posting – I see the conversation has moved on. Please disregard.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to j r says:

        @j-r

        The question is whether this particular White House campaign will produce some good or whether it’s just an attempt to score points by being on the perceived right side of some issue.

        That’s not quite the utility calculus I’d use.

        After all, if it’s just a completely and utterly cynical attempt to score points and it produces some amount of good justifying its cost anyway, the fact that the Dems get some team flag waving out of it seems to be a terrible negative value to assess to it for the purpose of determining value.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to j r says:

        I’d like to mention that it appears JR went and tracked down the WaPo study… and somebody apparently read it well enough to quote the 13% figure…

        … but omitted the remainder of the paragraph that quoted the 13% figure:

        Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to j r says:

        Oh, uh, hm.

        So I went and read the Washington Post article, and I see this:

        Notice that the percentage of sexual assaults –13.7 percent—was lower than the one-in-five figure cited by administration officials. (It is more like one in seven.) That’s because the president and vice president used careful phrasing that covered a student’s entire time in college.

        Um, no. It’s not because the president chose a number that’s inflated for the sake of inflating the number.

        It’s because the study authors mention in their conclusions that the raw number is likely low, why it is likely low, and how a corrected number would look.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to j r says:

        The NIJ page also says:

        Regardless of which studies are most accurate, the often-quoted statistic that one in four American college women will be raped during her college years is not supported by the scientific evidence. Nonetheless, several studies indicate that a substantial proportion of female students — between 18 and 20 percent — experience rape or some other form of sexual assault during their college years.

        Which is the 1 in 5 figure.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to j r says:

        @dragonfrog dude, that’s such a poor and unfair reading that I’m not going to bother addressing it.

        @jr dude, you’re not reading what you’re citing. The first report is the 20% report. The 13.7 number measuring something different over a different population (something the article that linked it notes, even), which is why the report they came from uses them to say different things. The 3% is rapes in a year, not sexual assaults (defined more broadly) in all college among seniors.

        So again, you’re cutting different numbers for different things from the same damn study. Just read, man.Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto in reply to j r says:

        Remember that you’re measuring different things when you measure:
        1) The number of rapes per academic year.
        2) The number of rape victims as current students.
        3) The number of women being subjected to rape over the course of their college career.

        Dataset 1 and 2 are actually snapshots in a cross-sectional dataset that needs to actually be examined longitudinally to get a good sense of the overall prevalence of rape as an experience on campus.

        That is rather than measuring: # of Rape Victims / (Freshmen + Sophomores + Juniors + Seniors) = 13.7%

        The more useful measure would be to track individual cohort and ask per graduating cohort.
        That is:
        Freshman Year – 3%
        Sophomore Year – 3% + another 3%
        Junior Year – 3% from FY, 3% from SY, and another 3%.
        Senior Year – 3% from FY, 3% from SY, 3% from JY, +3%
        At which point you’d get a different set of statistics, but give you a better sense of an average woman’s chance of being the victim of sexual assault on campus. Which is why Chris notes that talking about seniors is more meaningful in this case.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to j r says:

        For what it’s worth, I think that this sort of thing is great for government to do. I’d be willing to get rid of a half-dozen government agencies in order for there to be more government-sponsored commercials involving celebrities.

        Luckily, they don’t have to be gotten rid of in order for there to be more, at least under Democratic administrations.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Chris says:

      How ironic that this:
      It contains the go-to critiques from people who know jack about research or statistics: “the sample size was too small,” “the response rate was low,” without mentioning methodology at all,

      Was followed by this:
      the actual number will always depend on what you ask and how you classify answers.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to James Hanley says:

        If I may address you, @james-hanley, framing of the questions on such delicate matters will inevitably produce different results. For instance, simply asking someone if they’ve been raped will probably produce lower results then asking a series of questions about drunken sexual encounters where someone was raped, if the definition is that they were unable to give consent.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        How droll.

        Maybe I can teach you something about knitting?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to James Hanley says:

        Dude, because they’re measuring different things in different populations. You’re a political scientist, you know this. Ugh, this whole subthread is absurd: People not reading what they cite, and people who should know better playing gotcha. I’m out, before I start throwing things.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        @chris

        What do you happen to think I’m talking about? Your comment is not contextually meaningful.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        Let me put it this way, Chris. Is your critique…

        people who know jack about research or statistics: “the sample size was too small,” “the response rate was low,” without mentioning methodology at all,

        …to be applied generally, or only to people who disagree with us?

        Because sample sizes and low response rates are, of course, just as legitimate methodological issues as question wording, and concerns about question wording can be used as inaccurately–“without mentioning methodology at all”–as concerns about sample sizes and response rates.

        A non-specific comment that resorts to using the concern about different question wordings to explain away the very alleged differences that you note don’t even exist…that comment can hardly be said to be a more respectable use of methods-talk than the ones you criticized.

        But that commenter is on the right side, so does that mean she gets a pass?

        You are right, Chris, that like you I’m a social scientist. Maybe you could take that into account when reading what I’m writing, instead of reading as though I’m not, and just applying that knowledge about me post hoc for the purpose of criticizing?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to James Hanley says:

        Dude, I got nothing. If you think your second quote addresses mine at all, then maybe they don’t teach statistics and methods in poli sci at all.

        “Ask the question differently” is addressed by my subsequent comment, Patrick’s, and the conversion you and I had about these very numbers months ago. And you know, by the research.

        Like I said, I’m out. The research is not giving vastly different numbers. If jr read the very source he cited, he’d know this. Dragon jumps in without reading shit. And then you come in with pointless and misguided snark. On a post about rape. I don’t have the patience for laziness and point scoring on a thread about rape. Y’all can play your own little “it must be wrong because people who disagree with me politically cite it” game by yourselves.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to James Hanley says:

        Dude, the link to the example is in the post. And sample size and response rate critiques only make sense in the context of the research methods and analyses. “Small sample” is meaningless without methodological context. Representativeness is more important. How researchers compensate for response rates is more important. Statistical methods used are more important.

        If you want me to consider that, don’t snark with two unrelated quotes.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to James Hanley says:

        @chris

        I am not sure who you think is playing gotcha. However, this sub-thread started when you tried to characterize the WaPo piece as “an attack on the research,” and I pointed out that it was not that at all.

        All the piece said was that the first study was based on one survey from a population of students at two different schools. And the piece pointed out similar studies that come up with different numbers. The only thing absurd about this conversation is the assertion that the 1 in 5 number is somehow sacrosanct. This is especially true, because, as @zic and others have pointed out, what number you get is largely a function of how you define the terms, what questions you ask, and how you ask those questions.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        Chris,

        Do you think I was criticizing the research? Because if so, you couldn’t possibly be more wrong.

        I think we need to do a study to see how being consumed by moralist rage affects reading comprehension. My working hypothesis is that it has roughly the same effect as consuming 8 drinks within an hour.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to James Hanley says:

        James, you were criticizing my comment. And you were off by a mile. It’s not moral outrage, it’s frustration at laziness and ignorance.

        Jr, dude, read. Seriously. The 1 in 5 number is not called into question by anything you cited. Hell, you cited the damn report. See Patrick’s comments. The only way you get lower numbers is if you ask all years, or rape with penetration only. Those show different, supporting numbers. The 1 in 5 number isn’t sacrosanct, it’s well-demonstrated fact. As your own cites show (the same cites you thought you were criticizing). Read. Read. Read. Read.

        Read. And just stop until you do.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        @chris

        James, you were criticizing my comment.

        No, Chris, I was not. Not even remotely.

        From a friend, calm the fuck down and listen.

        I support your comment. Totally. Because, like you, I am a social scientist who cares about methodology. Maybe next time yiu might remember that, and maybe ask yourself whether it’s more likely that 1) you’ve misunderstood me, or 2) I’ve totally abandoned my professional interests.

        But here’s the thing, if you’re right–as I think you are–that the studies don’t show significantly different numbers, then a comment directed at explaining away alleged–but not real–bigger differences is problematic. If it purports to explain away a non-existent difference as an issue of methodology, then clearly the comment is using that methodological claim spuriously. That is, like the folks you critique use methodological claims.

        That’s why zic’s commment was ironic.

        There was never anything wrong with your original comment, and I never suggested there was.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to James Hanley says:

        The 1 in 5 number isn’t sacrosanct, it’s well-demonstrated fact.

        I have read. And I guess that we just have different definitions of “well-demonstrated” fact. I don’t think that the 1 in 5 number is a lie or even wrong (when using a particular definition of sexual assault). I simply believe that it is not as clear as you present it, that the different numbers imply different rates of assault (and yes I realize that they are asking different things, but nonetheless 3% a year for four years does not add up to 20%), and most importantly using limited sample sizes to extrapolate to the entire population of college women is problematic, to say the least.

        Now, please feel free to once again question my reading comprehension.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to James Hanley says:

        I apologize for misinterpreting you, then.

        I can’t say that I feel apologetic to jr or dragon. All jr had to do is read his own source. All dragon had to do was read period.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to James Hanley says:

        Jesus H. Christ, they don’t imply different rates. The 13.7 number is perfectly consistent with the 1 in 5 number as the source of , Patrick, and I have pointed out, and the 3% number is consistent with the same study, which shows something like 7-9% rape rates over all of college. Read the damn study. I’m just going to respond with that sentence until you do. We don’t have different concepts of well-demonstrated, we just have vastly different levels of knowledge of your own cite, because I’ve read it and you haven’t (we discussed it here, in depth, months ago).Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to James Hanley says:

        Right. I suppose that I’m just illiterate.

        Unfortunately, researchers have been unable to determine the precise incidence of sexual assault on American campuses because the incidence found depends on how the questions are worded and the context of the survey. For example, researchers did two parallel surveys of American college women during the same time and came up with very different results. The surveys, conducted between February and May 1997, asked only about sexual assaults that had taken place “since school began in fall 1996.”

        One survey found a completed rape rate of 1.7 percent, while the other study found a 0.16 percent rate. Similarly, one study found an attempted rape rate of 1.1 percent, while the other study found a rate of 0.18 percent. Thus, the percentage of the sample that reported experiencing a completed rape in one study was 11 times the percentage in the other study. Researchers believe the disparity arises from the way the survey questions are worded.

        Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        @j-r
        but nonetheless 3% a year for four years does not add up to 20%),

        Well, sure, how could it? The 3% number refers to “completed or attempted rape[s],” while the 20% figure refers to sexual assaults. Rape is a subset of sexual assault, and since when do we expect subsets to equal the parent set?Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to James Hanley says:

        Yes, I get that the 3% is for rapes and not for all sexual assault. And I was mistaken for implying that those two numbers contradict each other.

        I still, however, stand by my defense of the WaPo article, which @chris called an “attack on the research.” And I still maintain that the number you get is a function of who you ask, what questions you ask and the how you ask them, which calls into question whether 1 in 5 is a demonstrated fact or not.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        I still maintain that the number you get is a function of who you ask, what questions you ask and the how you ask them,

        Sure, but that’s just a general observation. It’s not a meaningful critique unless you comment on actual specifics of who got asked and how the questions were worded. If you see an actual problem, let’s discuss it, but this vague observational “critique” doesn’t really take us anywhere useful.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to James Hanley says:

        Like I said, I was never trying to offer a meaningful critique of the 1 in 5 number, which may very well be the most accurate. I was only objecting to @chris’s characterization of the WaPo article.

        Let’s just chalk this up to an unproductive tangent for which I take full responsibility.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to James Hanley says:

        The WaPo article is one of those borderline legitimate articles that selectively critiques a measure by critiquing the particular source of the measure without actually providing any alternative measures.

        This is the sort of thing that will get you on the shit list of science bloggers.

        It’s perfectly legitimate to offer critical evaluation of methodology of a particular study, but absent an actual survey of the literature (to show that you’ve attempted to see if the body of extant literature addresses your critique or not), it’s criticism absent context. For all the WaPo author knows, the criticism offered may already be rendered less relevant by the body of literature.

        But okay, I don’t expect news reporters to get science correct in the first place, and the WaPo piece actually reports what the study actually says, so really in the domain of “news reporter at news site reports science” it’s actually not that bad.

        But the Reason piece specifically says, “I was reminded of author and professor Joel Best speaking on the hallmarks of how media hype (and the attendent bogus statistics) get promulgated”.

        Which specifically calls the statistic cited “bogus”. Explicitly saying “it’s made-up”.

        Which is just rank unmitigated bullshit, and it us the particularly egregious sort of bullshit where it indicates a high likelihood that the author is either

        * A complete and utter moron
        * They’re deliberately eliding the important details of the thing that they’re linking to in order to give people the impression that it says something that it doesn’t, which is just outright malicious manipulation of science for the sake of political talking points or
        * They’re so blinking blindered by their framework that they missed a forest for jumping on a tree.

        This is worthy of all sorts of ridicule.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to James Hanley says:

        First, the WP critiques of the 1/5 number are these:

        1) Small sample. This, by itself, is not a critique. It’s two words that are meaningless without context the article doesn’t provide.

        2) Low response rate. See (1).

        3) Two colleges. This is a half-hearted attempt to say the samples are unrepresentative. Unfortunately, “two colleges” alone does not say that.

        What’s more, this is one study in a larger literature. That literature is moderately well surveyed in the federal report the article links. There the findings are consistent across studies. 1 in 5 or higher (one has around 50%) over more than a decade of research. No study has contradicted that. The 14% includes freshmen, sophomores, and juniors. Do the math.

        4) There are other numbers (from the same report). See (3). Those numbers measure different things.

        In short, the WP article is wrong, its critiques miss the mark, and if you read the links, you’ll find it’s actually citing the numbers it’s trying to critique.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to James Hanley says:

        This is the sort of thing that will get you on the shit list of science bloggers.

        OK, I was ready to just shut up about this, but sometime I just can’t help myself.

        Are you really calling this science?

        Social science is not science. And I say that as someone who does macroeconomics for a living. Science involves a level of precision and certainty that comes from the ability to do controlled, observable and repeatable experiments. Those are things that you cannot do when trying to count the number of sexual assaults. You cannot observe the act. You can only piece together best guesses about whether it happened or not and that usually happens well after the fact.

        As @zic said above, if you expand the definition of sexual assault to include all unwanted touching and advances, then the number will go up to about 100 percent. If you start talking about only rape, as in penetration of any kind, the number is going to drop well below 20 percent. That matters.

        If you want to gig Nolan Brown for calling the number bogus without offering an alternative, fine. If you want to gig the WaPo article for not mentioning other studies, fine. There is nothing wrong, however, with pointing out the limitations of the study in question. It is pretty obvious to me that any criticism from the WaPo article is not being leveled at the researchers, but at politicians for taking the research and broadly applying it to cases where it might not apply.

        It may well be that 1 in 5 is the best, most robust answer that the research can give provide on this topic, but that does not make it a “demonstrated fact.”Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        Small sample.

        What’s really bad about this critique is that, if I recall correctly, the one study had 5,000+ respondents, which by no reasonable measure is a small sample.

        Social science is not science. And I say that as someone who does macroeconomics for a living. Science involves a level of precision and certainty that comes from the ability to do controlled, observable and repeatable experiments.

        Oh, please, j r, can we just bury that old trope? At its root, science just means knowledge. Physicists and chemists love to point to the greater precision of their disciplines and pretend that makes only them scientists.* But that’s a relatively recent cooptation of the word, done for purposes of turf-staking and status-claiming.

        One can certainly be more or less scientific, in terms of employing elements of the scientific method, in the social sciences, but the “social sciences ain’t science” line is overly simplistic, and elides the important methodological differences between the social sciences and the humanities.
        ___________
        *Biologists sit in the doorway, claiming to be in, while physicists and chemists check their credentials. “Geneticist? I guess you can come in, but sit over in the corner.” “Ethologist? The social ‘sciences’ are down the hall, third door on the left.” I have a friend who’s an entomologist specializing in social insects–I can always get a rise out of him by saying he and I are essentially in the same field, studying the behavior of social species. The big difference is he can kill his subjects with impunity, while the human subjects research committee makes me file a bunch of paperwork if I want to do that.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to James Hanley says:

        “Every time we do this, with different surveys, at different schools, over more than a decade, we get around 20%” = demonstrated fact. We are converging on some state of the world. If you have a better explanation for what that state is, you’re more than welcome to offer it. Just be prepared to offer data to back it up, because that’s how science works, even if you don’t think that’s what this is.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to James Hanley says:

        jr,
        You can’t observe the act????
        Do you have any idea how many guys take video of their rapes, while they are occurring?
        Or security footage?

        The data is out there, kids.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to James Hanley says:

        @james-hanley

        I think that you are taking what I said a bit personally in the same way that you said Chris was. I am not trying to denigrate social science. As I said, this is what I do for a living.

        I am not an academic, so I am not clued into these hierarchy battles between various disciplines. I apologize if it comes across as if that is what I am doing. My point is simply that hard sciences are different from social sciences in that hard sciences have at their disposal the ability to do controlled laboratory experiments in ways that the social sciences do not. And that matters when talking about predictions with any level of epistemology certainty.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to James Hanley says:

        jr,
        You’d be surprised at how much good research gets done outside the eyes of the IRB.
        I think “private research” is most common in macroeconomics (how much money is riding on it, hmmm?), but you do see a good deal of research on human sexuality (erm, perfume companies!).Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to James Hanley says:

        Social science is not science.

        Whoo lord, time for this conversation again?

        Science involves a level of precision and certainty that comes from the ability to do controlled, observable and repeatable experiments.

        No, it doesn’t. You’re talking about the most postivism of positivist disciplines, in only the most narrow section of their own fields.

        Those are things that you cannot do when trying to count the number of sexual assaults.

        What, hold a controlled, double-blind, completely generalized laboratory experiment? Yes, you cannot do that. Well, unless that’s what God’s doing.

        You cannot observe the act.

        Sure you can. You can observe the act indirectly. This applies to “hard” sciences, too. You lose precision, but this is not a problem unique to social sciences.

        You can only piece together best guesses about whether it happened or not and that usually happens well after the fact.

        I don’t really like the term “proof” when people throw it around talking about science, but “best guesses” means several different things to several different people.

        My point is simply that hard sciences are different from social sciences in that hard sciences have at their disposal the ability to do controlled laboratory experiments in ways that the social sciences do not. And that matters when talking about predictions with any level of epistemology certainty.

        Physics runs the gamut. We have a “hard” science when you look at mechanics, and we have a much “softer” science when you start getting really fast, really slow, really big, or really small.

        Physics has zero predictability within arbitrarily small precision. This was shown quite a while ago. Physicists have been grappling with the implications for almost a hundred years now.

        There is a difference between predictive capability and descriptive capability. Especially in complex systems, predictive capabilities are usually limited to long range trends. That doesn’t mean that those long range trends aren’t predicable. In the medium range, your predictions are usually crap. In the very long range, your predictions are usually crap too, because systems have an evolutionary aspect.

        Social science has fairly capable descriptive capabilities, even when it doesn’t have great predictive capabilities. To get a reasonably accurate picture of a reasonably complex social science phenomenon, you need to approach a problem using multiple methodologies. The more complex the problem, the more angles you need to look at in order to draw a reasonable descriptive bubble around the very complicated phenomenon.

        The “how many people get sexually assaulted on a college campus” is both a descriptive problem and a predictive one. The predictive aspect is, “given what we know about the phenomenon of sexual assault on college campuses that we have studied, if we take an arbitrary college campus out of the pool of college campuses that we haven’t studied and study it, will the sexual assault numbers for that campus be in line with our predictive measure?”

        The answer to that question is “probably not”. Localized criminal activity, religious or cultural norms, geospatial factors, student population, campus size, what have you, they all are going to make the measure of sexual assaults on any one given campus have enough uncertainty (when compared to the campuses you’ve already studied) that you can have a localized phenomenon that results in a fairly large or small deviation from your predictive measure.

        Hey, you know what? You can still win a Nobel Prize in physics with instruments that throw up errors in your experimental observations.

        You can, however, given enough time, come up with a reasonably probable predictive capability given a body of subjects. This version of the question is, “given what we know about the phenomenon of sexual assault on college campuses that we have studied, if we take several college campuses out of the pool of college campuses that we haven’t studied and study them, will the sexual assault numbers for those campuses be in line with our predictive measure?”

        This is where Chris’s attitude about the 1/5 number becomes justifiable. Enough studies have been done on sexual assault that it’s reasonable probable that additional follow up studies will be around that number. No, induction doesn’t work in science the way it works in math. But as difficult as it is to predict complex social science phenomenon, many of them have common root factors, so it’s hardly utterly impossible. You just can’t do it with arbitrarily small precision.

        In any event, predictive capability is different from descriptive capability and the ability of social science to describe phenomenon is much better than “best guessing”.

        And that matters when talking about predictions with any level of epistemology certainty.

        This is your error.

        The correct version of this statement is “And that matters when talking about predictions with arbitrarily small levels of epistemology certainty.”

        Not “any”.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

        @j-r
        No, not offended. It’s just a tired old conversation that, as Patrick aptly demonstrated, obscures more than it reveals.* And while you didn’t mean it this way, the phrase is often used as a way to dismiss the idea that the social sciences produce any useful knowledge, so people don’t have to adjust their thinking–e.g., every journalistic critic of polling and Nate Silver.

        Macro may not be physics, but it sure as heck ain’t the humanities. You’re not wholly interpretive, like literature, or limited to pure reason, like philosophy. And that’s not even to speak of behavioral economics which does do a lot of nicely controlled laboratory studies. So if we’re not science and not humanities, what the hell are we?Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to James Hanley says:

        James,
        I’d say you’re becoming science. It’s a process, after all, of learning how to predict a very complicated system.
        Then again, I don’t have complete access to most of the good research (herein defined as “what the IRB won’t let you get away with”).Report

  6. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    I’m not exactly sure where all else to look to assess the overall White House campaign beyond this PSA, but from what I can see the PSA in fact is not aimed at *campus* sexual assault. It says “It’s On Us” to stop sexual assault.

    I guess Brown might have a decent argument against the larger advocacy campaign around campus sexual assault to the event that it focuses on campus assault to the exclusion of other sexual assault. OTOH, that only goes so far. Y is a bigger problem than X therefore you’re wrong to focus on X is always an argument with a distinctly force, especially when the person being criticized in no way is guilty of ignoring Y. Nevertheless, IF the numbers don’t give any reason at all to give special attention to campus sexual assault as vice other sexual assault, it is worth asking advocates why they’ve pushed such a focus. So that’s fair enough.

    As far as the argument that campaign itself is well done, but it’s a problem simply that the White House is the one doing it goes, though, does that resonate with anybody? It doesn’t with @jaybird . As far as I can see that’s an outlier view that we can note and just move on from.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

      …distinctly limited force. It’s there, but it’s limited. It’s rarely all that problematic to focus on problems if they’re real problems, even if there are bigger ones.

      ..The point about the “crisis” claim is valid, especially if restricted to campus assault, though. It may be there is reason to use the term that way, but it may be not. The sides could certainly argue that one out, and I’d listen open-mindedly to both sides.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Michael Drew says:

      Mike,
      College is a grand time to focus on. You’re at about the upper end of “where sexually frustrated guys rape” (actually, you’re not, but rats and rabbits are a relatively small portion of the populace, and we already sanction them greatly). People can be expected to be more responsible, and college has served as a rape preserve for generations, complete with campus police whose job it is to hush hush rape allegations.

      It’s just a starting point, but it’s a damn good one. A lot of girls come into college as virgins, and don’t make it through three months without getting raped. They call them freshmeat for a reason.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Kim says:

        ITA, Kim. It’s where young people with hot bods are all crammed in together with relatively much free time, relatively few responsibilities, not-even-relatively much alcohol, and a strange twilight zone as far as who the presiding law-enforcement authorities are. It’s hard to focus on “all of society.” If you can make major steps with it on campus, it stands to reason you can use that to improve matters elsewhere. Does Ms. Brown have an idea for a better point of focus for an anti-sexual-assault campaign?

        It may not be strictly indicated by the numbers, but a focus on campus sexual assault seems like a pretty reasonable way to come at the issue to me.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Kim says:

        Mike,
        another point that’s been lost: there are a lot of girls/women in college who DO know the score, and can intervene on behalf of others.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Michael Drew says:

      Let’s see commercials that talk about ending racism! Ending alcoholism! Ending abandoning cars on the side of the road! I want to see Jon Hamm tell me that we are suffering from an epidemic of global proportions when we are talking about congestive heart failure!

      Seriously, of all of the stuff that the government flushes down the toilet, how much of it is actively harmful?

      At its best, maybe this program will change things for the better. At worst? It’ll do nothing more than waste money and, therefore, be downright harmless. There are worse things that government programs have done with taxpayer dollars.

      If we’re going to be saying that “the government shouldn’t be doing this”, I’d much rather look at the agencies that have swat teams.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to Jaybird says:

        The issue is that when the SWAT team kicks down my door and shoots my dog, the people who say “you probably deserved it for acting in a probably-criminal manner, and if you didn’t want it to happen you should have done something differently” are generally considered to be heartless jerks that are objectively wrong.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

        Jon Hamm making a commercial saying that we are suffering an epidemic of global proportion of dog abuse. It’s on us to stop shooting dogs.

        And if it turns out that the police kicked in the wrong door and your address wasn’t on the warrant, we can have commercials talking about how we need to end qualified immunity when the cops say that they aren’t liable for damage to your house.

        “It’s on us to end qualified immunity.”Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird says:

        There’s room for some more of this, but there will also be a point of suddenly diminished returns. If the government is nagging about every problem, people will certainly tune out everything it says. If it limits its focus to just a few things so it’s not preaching all the freaking time, then maybe a few people won’t tune it out. So a discussion about what issues to prioritize among these endeavors is I think appropriate. I think prioritizing stopping sexual assault is also appropriate.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

        If it limits its focus to just a few things so it’s not preaching all the freaking time, then maybe a few people won’t tune it out.

        Yes, I certainly hope that the White House doesn’t exceed preaching tolerances lest it gets tuned out. How far away are we from that, do you think?Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Jaybird says:

        Jay,
        dunno. obama is teh cool, but this isnt’ preaching to blacks about gay marriage.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird says:

        I don’t know. We seem pretty interested in what they’re saying in this campaign here on this blog.

        I’d say there’s a difference between a glitzy campaign like this and various statements issued from the briefing room. You’re trying to reach a group of people who aren’t really paying attention to what’s said from the podium with the production values and celebrities. Maybe those people are already saturated with messages; maybe not. I don’t think so – how many campaigns like this have there been from this White House?Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to Jaybird says:

        @michael-drew

        So a discussion about what issues to prioritize among these endeavors is I think appropriate. I think prioritizing stopping sexual assault is also appropriate.

        It’s not just whether or not something is an appropriate priority but also whether or not a PSA can be effective and not piss off certain politically powerful constituencies. Case in point – the First Lady’s hapless “Drink Up” campaign.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Jaybird says:

        Dave,
        Bets on the next Twilight?
        *what powerful constituency were YOU talking about?*Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird says:

        @dave

        I’m not really familiar with what happened with that one. This is kind of a weird view, but to some extent I’d say that the standard should be relaxed somewhat for FLOTUS, because that kind of thing is more or less what that position exists to do. So you’re necessarily going to have some oversaturation there. So maybe there is where you are a bit less failure-risk-averse in thinking about what issues to target. What you want to, well, husband, is the unique ability of the Office of the President to gain eyeballs.

        But yeah, if for some reason there’s reason to be sure ex-ante that the chances of having a good effect are exactly 0%, it obviously makes sense to spend the resources on a different campaign. Hindsight helps in figuring that out, though. You definitely want to be more careful in determining that if it’s a POTUS-headed rather than just a FLOTUS-headed campaign, as well, IMO. (That latter calculation might be a different animal in a situation in which FLOTUS is Bill Clinton, as well.)Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Jaybird says:

        @dave I think it’s important to keep some context here. There have been a lot of POTUS public-service campaigns over the years. Some are, as you point out, First Lady campaigns. Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No,” campaign had a pretty big impact in both positive and negative ways; it certainly helped lower the rate of pot smoking in high-school students, and overall, I’d say that a net good; pot and developing brains are a troublesome combination. It also might have been one of the foundation blocks of our incarceration problems, and this is very bad.

        Other campaigns have been successful to great degree, smoking rates are down, drunk driving down. Betty Ford helped make it possible for people to admit they had addiction problems and seek help. So the important question here is if, overall, POTUS campaigns for public awareness of important things works, in general, and if, on net, that improves the overall wellbeing of people who happen to live in the US.

        Each campaign is a data point; and no single data point, alone, seems all that worthwhile in determining the potential outcome of another campaign, which is another data point (or even its own sub-set). There seems little doubt that some very good results have happened; some concern of reinforcing freedom-limiting government actions such as the WOD, and some that simply flop.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Jaybird says:

        @dave

        I’d also like to consider the campaign that didn’t happen but, in my opinion, should have: The early AIDS epidemic. I lost a brother to it.

        The first time I heard about AIDS was from my husband, who asked if I’d heard about the new disease that was killing gays, particularly those known for having over a thousand sexual encounters with strangers a year. That’s the early epidemic in the early 1980’s. That’s when my brother was infected. I will never forget, after my brother was already dead, seeing C. Everit Koop (SP?) give an interview where he said his greatest mistake as Surgeon General was not being honest about AIDS early on, not providing information to stop its spread, and bowing, instead to the Reagan administrations fear of causing a public panic.

        I don’t know if such a campaign, earlier, might have saved my brother’s life. But it might have given him a chance he didn’t have due to lack of honest information about physical threats to his health and well being.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

        We seem pretty interested in what they’re saying in this campaign here on this blog.

        From where I’m sitting, it seems to me more that we’re interested in the meta issues of them saying it rather than in what they’re saying.

        I mean, has your mind been changed by this campaign? What behaviors did you used to have that you have abandoned since seeing this commercial?

        how many campaigns like this have there been from this White House?

        Well, off of the top of my head, there’s the Julia campaign and any number of ad campaigns related to Obamacare, for that matter (from the tone-deaf ones that talked about keg stands and worry-free hookups to pajama boy, there were a bunch). Do those count?

        If we’re willing to stretch a little bit, we can look at stuff like his push for bombing the crap out of ISIS/ISIL.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird says:

        @jaybird

        First of all, I’m confused what you’re arguing. One minute you want more of these, next minute, after I say there may be a point of diminishing returns, you’re saying we’re past it. Or are you saying, if there were one we’re certainly past it, so we might as well just act like it doesn’t exist?

        I would say that campaigns attached to really major policy initiatives like Obamacare aren’t really good analogues here. Yes, there is some reform being pursued relating to university policy. But I don’t think the relationship of this ad campaign to that policy is like the relationship of ads meant to inform people how to interact with Obamacare, for example. This is a campaign to directly inform/advocate that people cahnge the way they behave for the sake of doing less damage to those around them. It’s not quite the same. Do you have any more comparable examples? Anyway, those are a couple of campaigns. Is that all it takes for there to be oversaturation?

        As to our interest not being the right kind of interest, read the thread again,. There’s some meta, but there’s a ton of straightforward consideration of the thorniness of the issue. The very point of the campaign is to get the idea out there that it’s not like you’re immune just because you think you’re a good guy who would never rape. The dynamics of sexual assault are really thorny; that’s why it gets people caught up in it who there’s every reason to think would be people who should be able to avoid that. I think the interest we’re showing is exactly the kind.

        And anyway, if you’re so inclined to see more campaigns like this, and we’re evidently showing interest in this one, what’s behind your inclination to say that, no, at least where we’re concerned, the campaign clearly isn’t garnering the right kind of interest? Couldn’t be. We’re us, not them.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to Jaybird says:

        @michael-drew

        I’ll cite from a USA today article from 2013. I believe this was from the original press release.

        http://www.usatoday.com/story/theoval/2013/09/12/obama-michelle-drink-water-project-politico/2803417/

        “Drink just one more glass of water a day and you can make a real difference for your health, your energy, and the way you feel…”

        No doubt hydration is important but water has never had anything to do my energy levels. From my own experiences, I can’t imagine how someone who consumes all sorts of unhealthy food is going to feel any better adding a glass of water to help wash down half a box of Twinkies. Blood sugar will spike and crash just the same. The claim goes against my “bro-science” understanding of diet and nutrition.

        The “real difference” is adjusting one’s diet, but she can’t come out in her capacity as the First Lady and say that. Setting aside the cries of paternalism from the right side of the aisle (they’d happen although I think it’s unwarranted), Big Business, especially the food and beverage industry, would pitch a fit if she talked about the true causes of obesity and took a position that people should reduce/eliminate sugary drinks and processed carbohydrates from their respective diets. Hell, that’ll do more to make people feel better than an 8 oz water chaser to go along with that 10-scoop banana split.

        But yeah, if for some reason there’s reason to be sure ex-ante that the chances of having a good effect are exactly 0%, it obviously makes sense to spend the resources on a different campaign.

        I can’t say for sure that I thought that the chance was 0% but I’d say less than 3%.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

        One minute you want more of these, next minute, after I say there may be a point of diminishing returns, you’re saying we’re past it. Or are you saying, if there were one we’re certainly past it, so we might as well just act like it doesn’t exist?

        I’m saying that, of all of the things government does, this is one of the things that, at worst, is harmless. The government should do more thing that are, at worst, harmless.

        Now, do I think that the ad campaign will do any good? No, I don’t. But that’s not my standard when it comes to judging the government. All this is doing is flushing money down the toilet.

        Could be worse!

        (And, hey, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe there are people out there who will have their mind changed by this ad campaign. If that’s the case, *SCORE!*)

        As to our interest not being the right kind of interest

        I didn’t say that it wasn’t the right kind of interest. I said that we were interested in the meta-issues of the ad rather than in the issues of the ad. To say that that means that I’m saying that we don’t have the “right” kind of interest is to misunderstand my position.

        But I would be interested in hearing how this campaign changed the way that you think of things involving sexual assault.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Jaybird says:

        @dave
        The “real difference” is adjusting one’s diet, but she can’t come out in her capacity as the First Lady and say that.

        Give me a break. She’s been doing that very thing for a long time, and highly criticized for doing it, too.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to Jaybird says:

        @zic

        There seems little doubt that some very good results have happened; some concern of reinforcing freedom-limiting government actions such as the WOD, and some that simply flop.

        Yes, but things get a bit fuzzy here. We can agree that positive things have happened, but can we agree that the PSA’s were a major contributing factor? In some cases, I’m not sure. One can argue that teenage marijuana use declined if only because of the demographic changes (the Boomers grew up). Anti-smoking campaigns were largely driven not by fear of the health problems but rather the startling number of health-related problems as well as very high-profile litigation against the tobacco companies.

        High profile public service campaigns were instrumental in getting tougher laws passed against drunk driving violations, but a lot of the heavy lifting was done by private not-for-profits (MADD).

        I don’t have a dog in this fight. I’m not going to complain about the government getting involved in public service campaigns although I don’t need to watch a celebrity-laden commercial to tell me what I already know. What I think is that the PSAs that have the best curb appeal will be the “low hanging fruit” – PSAs that should (in theory) gain the most acceptance among the public. The second we get into controversy or have to compromise the message in order to appease political interests, it’s probably not best to move forward.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Jaybird says:

        The second we get into controversy or have to compromise the message in order to appease political interests, it’s probably not best to move forward.

        Totally agree; this is the best reason for caution about POTUS PSA’s I’ve yet seen.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to Jaybird says:

        @zic

        Give me a break. She’s been doing that very thing for a long time, and highly criticized for doing it, too.

        She should have come out with a much stronger message in her drink up campaign. What she says at the White House Kitchen Garden is one thing, but if she wants to come out with a public service campaign that attempts to address a serious problem, take the kid gloves off and start swinging. Otherwise, it’s pointless.

        You can say that she’s been saying it “for years”. I can tell you that she backed off in her “Drink Up” campaign. We’d both be right.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird says:

        I didn’t say that it wasn’t the right kind of interest. I said that we were interested in the meta-issues of the ad rather than in the issues of the ad.

        I don’t think that’s much of a distinction, to be honest. Or, in any case, even if I may have slightly misstated your contention, as far as I can see, the issue is addressed by the same examination: look at the thread. We’re clearly interested in the issues of the ad.

        As to how it’s changed my views, well, it’s a new campaign. The discussion it’s engendered here is still ongoing. That’s not determined yet. Maybe I’ll get back to you on it. It’s also possible the campaign is not seeking to change views that are roughly like my own (it’s possible that it is), but rather views that are significantly different from my own. It’s also possible that my views were not firmly formed, so it may be hard to articulate how they changed after whatever effect might take place takes place.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to Jaybird says:

        @zic

        Totally agree; this is the best reason for caution about POTUS PSA’s I’ve yet seen.

        If I recall, AIDS awareness campaigns didn’t start to materialize in a significant fashion until there were a rise in cases among heterosexual men and women. It took off like crazy after Magic Johnson announced he was HIV positive. It’s sad to think about it that way but I think that’s how it went down.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to Jaybird says:

        @zic

        I don’t know if such a campaign, earlier, might have saved my brother’s life. But it might have given him a chance he didn’t have due to lack of honest information about physical threats to his health and well being.

        If it couldn’t have helped him, it could have saved others. I remember hearing that about Dr. Koop, but I don’t recall how much was known about the virus and when. Did they have enough knowledge by the early ’80s to be able to publish warnings?

        Unfortunately, given the nature of those times, I think that would have been damn near impossible to produce a campaign, especially while AIDS was seen only as confined to the gay community.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to Jaybird says:

        In addition, public awareness campaigns have been successful in the past, in particular with regard to discouraging smoking (which has gone from “cool” to “resulting in social ostracism”) and drunk driving.

        I think this looks like a well-designed campaign, in that it targets actions that a lot of guys don’t take seriously and points out that 1) those actions are sexual assault and 2) it’s not enough just to refrain from doing it, you should stop other people if you see them doing it.

        It’s similar in some ways to the “Don’t be that guy” campaign that was used at my former university.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Jaybird says:

        @dave Koop’s regret was, as I recall, not undertaking a campaign in the early ’80’s, not speaking out as soon as they began to understand transmission, and the dangers of unprotected sex and shared needles. He understood that his guilt was in not starting a campaign, eventually launched in 1986, sooner. It’s not that he didn’t act, but that he was restrained from acting as early as his conscience dictated he should have.

        Spreading facts about public health seems like one of the better things a government might do; and some attempts will succeed, some will fail, and some will simply bore us to inattention.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird says:

        Btw,

        Maybe there are people out there who will have their mind changed by this ad campaign. If that’s the case, *SCORE!*

        I mean, indeed! Maybe! Hence… the campaign.Report

  7. Avatar Jim Heffman says:

    It is certainly useful to see an official stance that drunk sex is rape, that unwanted touching is rape, that catcalling is rape. Not merely boorish behavior, but rape, big-R Rape, exactly the same (in a moral sense) as ripping the clothes off and forceful entry.

    It helps to have that declared as the official position, because now we know that we’re actually supposed to be recreating the 1950s.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Jim Heffman says:

      You know better.

      All the things you’ve listed form a spectrum of sexual assault, with rape one part of that spectrum. Some of those things (catcalling) are usually not illegal. Most always are because they’re assault, with rape a charge of a specific type of sexual assault.

      But if you’re not able to sort out those differences; that’s a reflection of you. But nobody’s calling grabbing a woman’s breast on the street a rape except you.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to zic says:

        I’m okay with taking a hard-line stance regarding men’s behavior towards women.

        I just wish people would stop pretending that A: it’s not what they’re calling for, and B: it’s a paradigm that society has never seen before.

        Yes, I’m sure that back then it was different because reasons.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

        Back then, (1950’s) she did not have the right to contraception or abortion. Yet it was still the dude’s game to get her drunk and get lucky. She just wasn’t supposed to consent to it because, you know, lack of contraception and abortion. That’s how my mother ended up married at 16 in 1952.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to zic says:

        Jim,
        Part of the way to achieving a pro-rape society is taking a hard line on violent rape and only violent rape. (there’s a bunch of other components, mind).

        I don’t think you’re entirely right that this was tried back in the 1950’s. I believe that there were various and sundry methods where a guy could get a girl drunk and rape her, and that they were all quasi-encouraged back then.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

        And just to be perfectly clear, Jim, I want people to be able to have sex. I don’t want men to think they have to sneak it from a woman by lowering her defenses, I want them to relish in her right to desire sex. I want people to admit that sex is fun, that people like it. Most people seem to experiment a little, get comfortable with the own particular pleasures, and settle down into relatively long-term relationships, economics providing a benefit there. Some people only ever have a single partner; and some people always want the thrill of a new body. As long as those people are, for the most part, happy to proceed respectfully and with knowledge about how to maintain their sexual health, I got no problem with that.

        But for that to work, a fully-empowered female is half the equation. She has as much right to have silly, hook-up, get-lucky sex as he has. And he has as much responsibility to have sex responsibly, with care of others physical and mental well being; not to mention his own.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to zic says:

        “She has as much right to have silly, hook-up, get-lucky sex as he has.”

        But see, there it is. One person might see “silly, hook-up, get-lucky sex”, and another might see that the woman had been drinking, and so she didn’t really have full control of her faculties, and that means it was sexual assault, and we have to take that sort of thing seriously.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

        One person might see “silly, hook-up, get-lucky sex”, and another might see that the woman had been drinking, and so she didn’t really have full control of her faculties, and that means it was sexual assault, and we have to take that sort of thing seriously.

        I presume she would know if she was willingly and happily consenting, vs. sort of not-resisting because she was too drunk. The problem you’re chewing on, or so it seems to me, is that she’ll claim the latter because she’s ashamed of the former; the false charge fear. My answer is to stop making the former shameful.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to zic says:

        My answer is to stop making the former shameful.

        I’d be willing to say that there are more women out there who see the former as shameful (defined as “worth shaming”) than men. Men, at least in my circle, saw the former as celebratory. Then they pair-bonded, of course, and things got complicated… sigh.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

        I’d be willing to say that there are more women out there who see the former as shameful (defined as “worth shaming”) than men.

        Oh, I wholeheartedly agree. I think there’s a lot of religious tradition leading to this outcome; purity rings and the fallen woman are ancient standards of some pecking orders.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to zic says:

        @zic

        I presume she would know if she was willingly and happily consenting, vs. sort of not-resisting because she was too drunk.

        Does this mean that any time a woman is that drunk, that is the most willing she can possibly be to have sex? And that therefore, all such drunken sex is rape and should be regarded as rape? Or does it matter how she feels about it after?

        In pursuance of the aim of reducing shaming over sex, are you willing to say that people who have an agenda of getting more women who indeed were too drunk to consent but who don’t regret having had the sex to see that in fact they were nevertheless raped ought to let go of that agenda, or at least in some cases not pursue it? Keep in mind that (actually I think this is part of what you’re saying), given the right kind of shaming, the regret can be brought into existence where it didn’t exist independently. That can come from religious busybodies, but it can also come from people telling women that, “Look, under the law you were raped in the same way a fifteen year old who wants to have sex was raped: you were unable to consent. The fifteen year old doesn’t know to regret that sex yet but she will; you don’t regret this drunken encounter just yet, but are you sure you’re not starting to?”Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

        @michael-drew

        I think all of what you’re saying here is possible, yes. I think women who have drunkenly consented, and don’t regret, might sometimes be made to feel regret; or at least to express it to protect their reputations. In a lot of circles, it’s really unacceptable for a woman to admit to sexual desire and lust.

        The countercurrent here is what happens when you claim you’ve been raped, too. The reputation of that particular result is so well known that women who know they’ve been raped usually don’t report it.

        But if we can have it be acceptable for women to enjoy consensual sex without so much shaming, there might be less shit-faced drunkenness involved in general, since part of the inhibition-break down is those very social norms that produce shaming, too. Perhaps part of the phenomena of drunken sex stems from desire that’s difficult to satisfy without inebriation because of our shaming social conditioning?Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to zic says:

        The countercurrent here is what happens when you claim you’ve been raped, too. The reputation of that particular result is so well known that women who know they’ve been raped usually don’t report it.

        Indeed, I am aware that, even though these issues interest me a great deal, and even though they are necessary to consider if we are going to take an approach to fighting sexual assault that is based in educating men, since these are questions that men encounter as they both go about the business of coordinating their sexuality with that of women and with what the law has to say about it all, nevertheless, that is not just the countercurrent, but in fact the greater part of the relevant reality here. It shouldn’t get lost in these discussions and it should always be front of mind. The major problem isn’t that women who don’t regret sex are being spurred to decide they were raped; the major problem is that women who were raped are intimidated from and see no gain from reporting their rapes.

        Nevertheless, an approach that centers on bringing to men’s attention facts like that you can rape someone merely by not knowing that the consent you hear from a woman isn’t legal consent because of intoxication and going ahead with having sex you heard consent for – no matter how diminished by alcohol your own ability to perceive her level of intoxication is – necessarily raises questions like, If that happens is it rape even if she’s okay with what happened afterwards?

        But the importance of those questions should be kept in perspective. It’s more important that women are discouraged from reporting rapes of all kinds for a variety of reasons.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to zic says:

        Perhaps part of the phenomena of drunken sex stems from desire that’s difficult to satisfy without inebriation because of our shaming social conditioning?

        Perhaps, but my honest sense is that the large majority of it stems from having not developed the social skills to navigate comfortably to a mutually-desired (or so it is thought) outcome. I of course don’t know the reasons that people, especially young women, drink these days. It’s probably different at Bob Jones university than at UNC, too. But in my campus experience, I didn’t get the sense that people drank in large part to get out from under the social conditioning that made them feel ashamed of their desire to have sex. What I saw was people who drank to help take the rough edges off of social interactions with people that make getting to the place of wanting to have sex with them difficult (which is an obstacle that itself is probably one that’s there for an evolutionary reason, or at least one to be wary of removing).Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to zic says:

        Michael,
        *snort* one thing about betas… they’re actually a good deal smarter than alphas (Yes, there is research!).
        Not the least of which is because most of them still have to talk to get into a girl’s pants, even if they’re committing non-consensual sex.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to zic says:

        Kim,

        Alphas & betas both use booze for this purpose. My sense is that it’s more the alphas who use it in a consciously predatory way (“I’m going to get her drunk and then have sex with her when she can’t stop me.”), but not exclusively. But both certainly go out to bars and clubs and drink and socialize with women who are drinking (and buy them drinks) and hope it all results in sex. And women do that too.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

        my honest sense is that the large majority of it stems from having not developed the social skills to navigate comfortably to a mutually-desired (or so it is thought) outcome

        So learning to negotiate these things sober, instead of drunk, would seem the better path. If, non-drunk, your conditioning is that she should say no, that does go some long way to explaining why some of this happens after the second drink, not before the first. If she’s comfortable saying yes before the first, if there’s no shame in it, then a lot of the difficulties vanish.

        These are subtle shifts in perception; but they matter tremendously, since the weight of history dictating how women should behave is thousands of years on the shaping; and the notion that her drunkenness creates a chance for him to get lucky is still celebrated in our culture.

        The year I was born, the year they introduced the pill in the US, was also the last year the home for pregnant women in Ireland was shut down, remember. My generation raised the current young women; we’ve got plenty of reputation-protecting responses baked in to pass along to both our daughters and sons.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to zic says:

        So learning to negotiate these things sober, instead of drunk, would seem the better path.

        I agree. But the period in which we need to get that taught to people is short – basically, from age 16-early twenties. We’re trying, but the shortcut of booze is a hard thing to counteract. By 24, 25, people generally start to figure out that it’s a lot nicer to find someone you like and can have good experiences with sober on their own. It’s just really easy to miss the window in the majority of cases, in which case experience ends up being the harsh school-mistress.

        More generally, these cultural shifts are desirable. But at the same time, drinking is fun; are you saying it’s not? At best we can reduce the total overreliance on this substance. You’re not going to take it out of social interaction among the young entirely. And this these issues will persist. It’s only a really big problem because it’s a really big problem – if it were a smaller problem, it would still be a problem. And you haven’t changed the culture until you have. You can say that the answer to the complexity of mutually drunk sex is to change the culture, but while you still haven’t done that, you have to figure out a modus vivendi, and a legal regime, and you have to be honest about your legal regime and its whys and wherefores to all its stakeholders.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to zic says:

        …I guess I didn’t think in a complete enough way on the question of why the drinking happens.

        To the extent that people drink in order to promote sexual activity, in my experience the barrier being dealt with is largely social awkwardness, not an underlying disinclination to have sex out of shame or other reasons that needs to be over come. (But then I am not a college-age woman.)

        But it’s not clear to me that’s the large majority of the overall set of reasons people drink. It’s there, but if we reduced the underlying sexual inhibitions, people (young people) would still, I’d guess, drink – probably a lot absent concerted intervention. But even without the underlying sexual inhibition, the alcohol would still continue to have its disinhibiting effect, sexually as well as otherwise. So you’re still left with some of these problems.

        But in a broad sense, you’re right to say that if people were less ashamed about sex, thus more inclined to consent to it, by definition, or at least assuming a massive increase in the number of attempts to have sex wouldn’t occur in response, then rape would happen less. So in that sense, whatever alcohol did or didn’t do regarding inhibitions based in shame, there should be less rape if there could be less shame in sex. Alcohol could still lower inhibitions even further in some cases so that alcohol-induced rape could still happen, but maybe a lot of the pop would be taken out of the effect. So I’m for that.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to zic says:

        Mike,
        I don’t have the numbers on hand, but I’m pretty sure guys drink in order to get girls, more than anything else. (particularly on the “drink till someone passes out” metric, not the “single drink at a party” metric).

        Pull the numbers from Colorado, after marijuana got legalized. That’ll be a good test of my hypothesis. Since marijuana is also something that can allow guys to get girls they wouldn’t otherwise… you’d expect to see some shifting from one drug to another.

        We may be defining alphas and betas differently… I tend to take a more game theory approach to it (which helps define different strategies that occupy different niches of sexual behavior).

        I prefer to call “drunken sex where nobody could legally consent” as “non-consensual” sex, and only label something rape when there is trauma. People are quite willing to have tons of non-consensual sex (it is possible to have sex while sleeping — in which case, nobody’s consenting, dammit).Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to zic says:

        I’m pretty sure guys drink in order to get girls

        I’m pretty sure you don’t have any clue.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to zic says:

        I’ve had at least as many drinks to forget them.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to zic says:

        …the cause of, and solution to, ah forget itReport

      • Avatar Kim in reply to zic says:

        James,
        Well, aside from obvious mutants who go to bars simply to scam drinks from “interested” folk.Report

      • Avatar Dave in reply to zic says:

        Kim,

        Your attempts at pseudoscience never cease to amaze me.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Jim Heffman says:

      I swear to God, it’s like conservatives see the words “sexual assault” and they immediately lose the ability to read.Report

    • Avatar LWA in reply to Jim Heffman says:

      A man and woman get drunk and sleep together.
      In the morning he wakes up to discover that she is gone, along with his car and debit card, and his bank account is cleaned out.
      When he confronts her, she acknowledges taking the items, and that he drunkenly confessed his PIN number and scrawled his signature on the car title during sex.

      When he goes to the authorities, they patiently explain it wasn’t theft-theft, big T theft, it was merely boorish behavior. Further, they admonish him to be more responsible in future.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to LWA says:

        I have my doubts that for her to pull all that off, she was drunk enough to be unable to consent to (i.e commit) the theft.

        Maybe Jim is complaining about the notion that a man staying pretty much sober – enough to consciously get a woman drunk in anticipation of raping her once she can’t consent/stop him – is rape.

        But to be clear, “a man and a woman get drunk and sleep together” happens all the time, in absence of any such plan by the man (unlike your scenario in which the woman is rather obviously planning the theft from the beginning, like sexual predators who stay sober and get women drunk or drug them). Maybe the man loses control in his drunkenness and forces himself on her (obviously rape), but also maybe she drunkenly assents to it, and the man is too drunk to remember/be able to tell that the woman cannot legally consent in that state. That, too, is rape – for all practical purposes of the woman by the man, even if they’re equally unable to consent, though in theory the man could probably claim he was raped in that scenario too.

        Again, maybe Jim is contesting that the man who consciously get the woman drunk and has sex with her has raped, but pretty much no one else is. And that’s what your sc enario is an analogue for. But there are a lot of alcohol-fueled sexual situations that constitute a rape scenario that don’t look very much like your analogy at all. IOW, while it’s comfoting to think that that’s the kind of rapist the law is meant to punish, in fact, it’s meant to punish them certainly, but also men who raped in situations quite different from that.

        It’s important to acknowledge here that, in so many situations, whatever the law is meant to punish, in actuality it doesn’t because of the difficulty of proof and the reluctance of victims to report and cooperate with prosecutions. But it’s also worth being clear what is rape and what isn’t. It doesn’t have to as clear cut as the woman who drinks with a man with the clear plan of taking him for his possessions and savings.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to LWA says:

        Maybe a better analogy (Vikram, avert your eyes!) for a common date-rape scenario?:

        Glyph and LWA are playing poker and getting progressively-drunker on whiskey. In the morning, Glyph wakes up to find his car signed over to LWA, who claims Glyph bet and lost his car in a fit of sadly-misplaced optimism about Glyph’s poker skills and whiskey tolerance.

        Unfortunately Glyph doesn’t remember things this way, and also has a splitting headache. But that appears to be his signature on the title transfer.

        Glyph goes to the police, who either:

        A.) tell him not to get drunk and play poker with people in the future, or

        B.) charge LWA with auto theft, since he should have known better than to take the car from Glyph, who was obviously drunk at the time and therefore unable to legally-consent to the transaction.

        Which outcome seems more likely to occur (assuming the poker-playing/betting itself is legal where I am)?

        Which outcome should actually occur?

        It seems to me that while the mental incapacitation/intoxication of one or both parties *might* be a reason to retroactively void our transaction/”contract” (though, people drink and gamble against others, and lose, all the time), absent any evidence of premeditated malfeasance on LWA’s part, the worst that would happen to LWA is that he would *maybe* be forced to return the car.

        I doubt he’d be charged as a car thief, and I don’t think I’d want him to be, unless he did something like slip me a mickey, to intentionally incapacitate me.

        Obviously simply voiding the contract/returning the property is not an option with sex.

        I dunno, maybe Vikram’s right and analogies just don’t work, especially here.Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman in reply to LWA says:

        “Maybe Jim is complaining about the notion that a man staying pretty much sober – enough to consciously get a woman drunk in anticipation of raping her once she can’t consent/stop him – is rape.”

        Consciously taking actions to reduce a woman’s ability to deny consent is rape.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to LWA says:

        @glyph

        Probably your last sentence is the most correct one and we can leave it at that. But I’m of the view that analogies are good only insofar as you don’t just stand back and think, “What a lovely model I’ve built,” but instead examine them closely to see the ways that insights gained from coherent-thing-X that’s standing in for coherent-thing-Y have to be qualified in order to be useful in thinking about thing Y. So I’ll keep piling on because I can.

        What stands out to me in both these scenarios is that there is physical evidence emerging from each situation to represent the existence of an action that might be interpreted as consent, but might not in fact be consent because booze. Such evidence rarely emerges from nights of drunken sex.

        In reality, most often ultimately there aren’t successful prosecutions of these sexual assaults even when they’re reported. But there presumably are some prosecutions, successful or otherwise. It’s not fun to be prosecuted for rape, but it’s devastating to be raped. So I think most of us think these prosecutions should happen, and that they mostly don’t, but that they sometimes do.

        To me, the important thing is to be clear what the universe of things you can do that will make you subject to prosecution for rape encompasses. That is, after all, part and parcel of the basic substance of teaching men not to rape. That means making clear it’s much easier to do those things than LWA’s analogy suggests. And it’s also worth pointing out that if you wrongly interpret something as consent, possibly something that would *be* consent if not for the BAL of the person you’re with, not only does that make you potentially subject to prosecution for rape, but there won’t be any signed consent form you can produce to the court to at least show that the thing you wrongly interpreted as consent at least existed.

        It’ll just be you word against hers. Which will likely mean you won’t go to prison. But it does mean you’ll have having been prosecuted for rape on your public record. And it means you’ll have to live with the fact that probably you deserved to be convicted under the law as it existed when you hopped in the sack, there just wasn’t enough evidence for it (as is so often the case with this crime). These are the facts that men need to learn.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to LWA says:

        @jim-heffman

        I’m glad you’ve clarified that, and understand if you are a little miffed that you had to. To be fair, the language in your initial comment in this thread was not entirely clear on that score. “Drunken sex” is an ambiguous phrase/concept. Probably best to be very clear what we mean here. I’m not sure I’ve done as well as I could myself here, but I’ve given it a shot.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to LWA says:

        This is my problem with the initial comment:

        that unwanted touching is rape, that catcalling is rape. Not merely boorish behavior, but rape, big-R Rape, exactly the same (in a moral sense) as ripping the clothes off and forceful entry.

        He suggesting the campaign takes the range of offensive to violent behaviors and raises them all to the extreme penalty of the most violent — forcible rape. He’s simply flat out wrong in that assertion, and with it, the assertion that we’re stepping back to the 1950’s land of no-sex-before-marriage or some other nonsense; how he envisions this as going back to the ’50s is not exactly clear to me.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to LWA says:

        @zic

        Which campaign? The White House campaign certainly not. I do understand where he’s coming from in noting a tendency on the part of activists in general to insist that rape is rape, and thus utterly dismiss any distinctions among behaviors that are plausibly called rape. An angry rejection of any sense that maybe (only maybe) it’s not right to lump the college student who gets too drunk to understand what is and isn’t consent with the guy who rapes you at knifepoint because he wants to. (And maybe that’s the right policy, to lump them together. Jim’s point is that if it is thought to be, it’s good to be clear about that.)

        Further, I have certainly seen some conflation of sexual assault with rape among anti-sexual assault activists at times. Groping *is* sexual assault. And at times I’ve seen people slide easily from “sexual assault” to “rape” terminologically. And once you’re terminologically in the rape category, then, as we’ve seen, all rapists are potentially the same. I think you’re right that no one is consciously asserting that groping is rape, but I have seen the progression I describe take place here and there.

        Jim was wrong to suggest that *you*, and I think the White House campaign though I haven’t reviewed all of it (actually I’m not sure which he was suggesting did so), have directly suggested that groping is rape, for example.

        I don’t know if you use Twitter, but would you forswear the possibility that among some activists, studiously maintaining the distinction between the terms “sexual assault” and “rape” isn’t always given highest priority the way you are admirably making a point of dong here?Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to LWA says:

        @michael-drew

        To Jim’s original comment, I apologized elsewhere on this thread for conflating JR with the Reason crowd. Jim may have made a similar error, saying t is certainly useful to see an official stance that drunk sex is rape, that unwanted touching is rape, that catcalling is rape. Not merely boorish behavior, but rape, big-R Rape, exactly the same (in a moral sense) as ripping the clothes off and forceful entry. Perhaps he’s conflated the confusion of rape discussions (and there is often a lack of discernment between rape and sexual assault, a switching back and fourth,) and this particular ‘official stance;’ attributing general lack of clarity and precision in speech to the official line as presented. That’s what he implied, and I’d hold him to account for that.

        On the lack of clarity, there may be good reason for it; for the lack of distinction between rape and sexual assault. (I’m not condoning this, I’m explaining it.) When I was raped, while extremely drunk, it was awful, but I was also too inebriated for it to have a feeling of terror. I’ve also been groped by strangers on a subway, grabbed on the street, and put up against a wall by an acquaintance for a good long time against my will. In none of the situations was I raped. But they were all, at the moment they happened, a lot more terrifying. And the second, more terror-inducing kind of assault I’m describing here, is a whole lot more common. So I can see how women, when they’ve got their dander up, would equate it all to rape, which is commonly understood by non-women as the terror-inducing thing.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to LWA says:

        @zic

        It’s a good point re his use of the word “official” to describe the confirmation he’s claiming. As I’ve said, these conflations do happen in the course of argument by activists, but there’s no basis for a claim about an “official” position asserting them that I know of. I’d be interested to know what he meant to refer to with that. The White House campaign, or what? Based on what language therein?Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to LWA says:

        @michael-drew

        It’ll just be you word against hers. Which will likely mean you won’t go to prison. But it does mean you’ll have having been prosecuted for rape on your public record. And it means you’ll have to live with the fact that probably you deserved to be convicted under the law as it existed when you hopped in the sack, there just wasn’t enough evidence for it (as is so often the case with this crime). These are the facts that men need to learn.

        I’m no expert, but I am pretty sure that what you are describing in that paragraph is prosecutorial misconduct.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to LWA says:

        @j-r

        I was actually thinking about that. Rape is (I think) uniquely difficult to prove. But don’t we want to deter it anyway?

        I would be open to an examination of changing the standard around prosecution away from “likely conviction” for the crime of rape in order to increase the rate at which the deterrent effect merely of being prosecuted for rape is applied to people accused of rape. We already fail to weed out false accusations in many cases before they are pursued. That may increase some, and that would suck. But right now there’s a terrible dynamic wherein, because the crime is so inherently difficult to prove, the CJS is stuck being unresponsive to women’s reports of being raped, which discourages the reporting of real rapes. I don’t see a way around that other than acknowledging that rape is something of a unique crime for the difficulty of proving it happened. If men were vastly more likely to be prosecuted for it, even if still unlikely to be convicted, that might cause them to do a bit more homework about what exactly does and doesn’t constitute rape.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to LWA says:

        @michael-drew Rape is (I think) uniquely difficult to prove. But don’t we want to deter it anyway?…I would be open to an examination of changing the standard around prosecution away from “likely conviction” for the crime of rape in order to increase the rate at which the deterrent effect merely of being prosecuted for rape is applied to people accused of rape. We already fail to weed out false accusations in many cases before they are pursued. That may increase some, and that would suck. But right now there’s a terrible dynamic wherein, because the crime is so inherently difficult to prove, the CJS is stuck being unresponsive to women’s reports of being raped, which discourages the reporting of real rapes. I don’t see a way around that other than acknowledging that rape is something of a unique crime for the difficulty of proving it happened. If men were vastly more likely to be prosecuted for it, even if still unlikely to be convicted, that might cause them to do a bit more homework about what exactly does and doesn’t constitute rape.

        I actually wrote a post on this very topic after commenter Mancheeze proposed something similar (I think I ultimately come down against it, but am willing to at least discuss it so long as there is a candid evaluation of the likely downsides of such an approach – that is That may increase some, and that would suck, ) but wasn’t brave enough to post it. I just wasn’t sure I was a good enough/clear enough writer to handle the topic with enough finesse and delicacy.

        Plus @j-r and Hanley and Kolohe had made a lot of my same points in the thread itself, by the time I finished writing it.Report

  8. Avatar Kim says:

    zic,
    In some parts of the world, alcohol was used to get women drunk, and then non-consensual sex happened. This continued for generations, and had a rather predictable effect on the genepool.
    (methods of acquiring non-consensual sex do seem to be somewhat inherited, though I’m not going to pin that on genes and not culture/upbringing without a ton more evidence than I have atm).Report

  9. Avatar zic says:

    Companies have long run Public Service Campaigns. Here’s Budweiser’s latest:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eubWYPhcEEo

    I’m taking bets on how long before we start seeing similar types of commercials for not raping.

    My prediction is around the end of the year, 2014.Report

  10. Avatar j r says:

    The issue of two drunk people having sex is an interesting one. And partly, it is interesting because it presents a certain conundrum to how we view male and female attitudes toward sex. I am perfectly comfortable holding men to a different standard of behavior when it comes to these sorts of encounters for the simple reason that, more often than not, the man is the aggressor. The fact that the man is just as drunk as the woman doesn’t really convince me otherwise.

    I have had drunken sexual encounters that involved me doing things that I probably would not have done had I been sober. There was one situation in particular where I was blackout drunk and, without getting too explicit, a woman used that to her advantage. I would never think of calling this sexual assault. For me, it was something to laugh about, a self-deprecating story about a time that I drank more than I should have. At the same time, I realized that had the genders been reversed, I would not have felt that way at all. I would not hesitate to call such a situation sexual assault. And that has everything to do with how I perceive casual sex versus how most women perceive it.

    All of these attempts to analogize with hypotheticals about people getting drunk and handing over the contents of their wallets and bank accounts are interesting, but they run into this same problem. If you are going to treat a man getting talked/tricked/cajoled out of his possessions as akin to a woman getting talked/tricked/cajoled into having sex, that says something about the nature of male-female relationships. In particular, it enforces a traditional view of sex as something that man is trying to get and to which the woman is trying to limit access.

    I don’t have particularly strong feelings on which on is right, or even if there is a right view. I will only say that we ought to pay attention to how these things actually go down in the real world and not simply posit some set of norms that we create from ideological priors. Ultimately, I agree that the answer is to get to a point where women feel comfortable giving enthusiastic consent. However, there are a lot of hurdles standing between that point and where we are now. Part of those hurdles have to do with what we might call misogyny and patriarchy, but a lot do not. A lot of those hurdles have to with the reality of gender roles in the sexual marketplace and the role of women as the gatekeepers to sex. It is unclear to me that most women wish to give up that role.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to j r says:

      @jr, I’ve been thinking about this, trying to parse it out properly.

      To do that, I have had to think about the term ‘gatekeepers.’ What does that mean? That women get to say yes or no?

      Because in the real world, men also get to say no. They do it all the time; some woman offers, in some way, what could lead to sexual access, and men say no. Sometimes, they just don’t dig her. Sometimes, they see it might harm her. Sometimes, it violates their own moral code. But women get spurned by men each and every day on this Earth, and the only reason we have this silly myth of woman as gate keepers is because they have, due to the problems of biology, been the ones left holding the bag; if they didn’t say no, and so become the gatekeepers, they got knocked up inconveniently; particularly when it came to who’s the daddy stuff for inheritance, etc.

      I guess I’m pointing out that you’re forgetting men, in every day life, have always held the right to withhold consent, to act as gatekeepers of their own intimacy, and nobody ever gives it a second thought.

      I think the meme of the hungry dude, always ready to bang any willing chick is degrading and sexist, to be honest; even really slutty men have some standards, for the most part. Isn’t that also part of gatekeeping? Perhaps the big difference here is that when men gate keep, girls don’t mope around complaining he’s holding out something owed her; they just feel rejected.Report

      • Avatar switters in reply to zic says:

        @zic,

        If its fair for you to say “Perhaps the big difference here is that when men gate keep, girls don’t mope around complaining he’s holding out something owed her; they just feel rejected”,

        is it fair for me to say “Perhaps the big difference here is that when men don’t gate keep the way they would have liked, they don’t mope around complaining they were taken advantage of, they just get over it”?

        For the record, I don’t think either one is fair.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

        Switters, I admit to some sarcasm.

        But.

        Since your objection uses ‘taken advantage of’ as euphemism for sexual assault, and my ‘gate keep’ is really just an indicator of someone maybe getting hurt feelings, I don’t really think you can say they are even in the same ball park, and your point doesn’t really seem all that pertinent to the conversation, other than to point out that sarcasm isn’t probably all that helpful. But I’m grateful for that.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to zic says:

        I think the meme of the hungry dude, always ready to bang any willing chick is degrading and sexist, to be honest; even really slutty men have some standards, for the most part. Isn’t that also part of gatekeeping? Perhaps the big difference here is that when men gate keep, girls don’t mope around complaining he’s holding out something owed her; they just feel rejected.

        This paragraph pretty much encapsulates my concerns. On the one hand you are ready to dismiss as myth the idea that women tend to be the sexual gatekeepers, but on the other you are ready to affirm the myth when it allows you characterize men as mopers and complainers. In other words, from my perspective what it looks like is that you want is to eradicate the elements of traditional gender roles that allow for men to victimize women (which I fully support and affirm as a moral imperative), but you also want to preserve enough of the elements of traditional gender roles that allow you to characterize men as perpetual aggressors in need of domestication and women as “sugar and spice and everything nice.” On this latter part, I am agnostic at best. I don’t have a problem with people trying to have their cake and eat it too. I just point out that it is not a moral imperative that I help you do it.

        Also, I never said anything about men being hungry or women not wanting sex. Some men are thirsty (thirst is a much better word to describe desperate male behavior) and some men are not. Not every man is at every point willing to have sex with every women. And on average, women want sex as much as men, often more. This is about population distributions not about essential characteristics.

        The key trait that tends to differentiate women from men is that women tend to want sex from a much smaller number of men than do men from women. There are lots of reasons why this tends to be the case. Some of those reasons have to do with the biological fact that women can get pregnant and men can leave or that the sexes tend to have different mixtures of hormones affecting brain chemistry. And some of those reasons are sociological, having to do with enforced prohibitions against the free expression of female sexuality. Regardless of the reasons, this is the case. And it does have implications when talking about how to get to a point where sexual encounters between men and women maximize the clear communication of consent.

        My main problem with the way that many activists talk about this issue is that it takes the very complicated set of social norms and interactions that compose the sexual and romantic relationships and boils it down to simple morality play in which men need to stop raping women and everyone needs to stop supporting rape culture. That is why I find the It’s on Us campaign vapid at best. This sort of thing is very good at signaling feminist street cred and getting shares on social media, but I doubt that it is all the effective at getting us to a better place in regards to sexual assault.

        Further, I question much of the underlying logic. If I say to a woman, “maybe you shouldn’t go out tonight and get black out drunk, because that might lead you to a risky situation,” I am a victim blamer. If I wait, however, until that same women gets black out drunk and is about to get into a risky situation, I am a part of the problem if I don’t physically intervene to save her. The only word to describe that sort of logic is incoherent.Report

      • Avatar switters in reply to zic says:

        I’ll be honest, Zic. I am generally sympathetic with many of the points of view and arguments you have made concerning this topic here. My thinking has evolved on the topic, in no small part because of this points of view, and for that I am grateful for your patience and perspective.

        So my objection, regardless of the term i used (and I did not mean to equate sexual assault and gatekeeping; call Virkram and issue the bad analogy alert), was to your generalizing shitty behavior by all of one sex based on shitty behavior by particular members of that sex. In no other topic I can think of do you allow yourself this liberty. And from the perspective of one who’s been impacted in precisely the manner I would assume you want, I thought it was useful let you know this hurts, rather than helps, your cause.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to zic says:

        jr,
        you assume that the woman intends to get blackout drunk. I can assure you that freshmeat knows nothing about drinking, and didn’t want to get more than a little tipsy.
        Know why wine coolers got so popular? Because it’s easy to forget you’re consuming alcohol, or not realize exactly how much you’ve consumed.

        Thirst is a far better analogy to sexual frustration in men, you’re right. People will drink another person’s blood if they’re thirsty enough (it’s about the strongest instinct we’ve got. But if thirst is a 10, sexual frustration is a 9.5). Get a guy sexually frustrated enough, and a good portion of them will go off the deep end. And, for the record, we’re talking things a lot more final than rape.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

        @switters, that was the sarcasm. Saying women are the gate keepers has a flip-side of men as sexual predators; I was not in any way speaking of actual people, so much as trying to unpack the term ‘gate keepers,’ and shine a light on what that suggests. It’s not a particularly helpful term for helping address the problem of sexual assault and rape, but a notion that reinforces the old ways where sexual assault happens because women got it and men have to storm the gates to get it. And it completely fails to recognize the every-day social dynamic that women do, in fact, approach men and get rejected; that men, too, have a right to have a right to withhold consent. I’ve heard some rather heart-wrenching experiences men have doing this, too.

        @jr pretty much everybody understands getting blotto increases your chances of getting raped. New drinkers also don’t yet have the experience to understand getting drunk, and we live in a world where they’re often not allowed that experience (and knowledge) in safer environments as a general rule. So while I get you think that the problem is your not allowed to offer what, to you, seems like logical advice, this also has a flip side: there has been very little in the way of actually explaining to young adults what consent means, and the social convention has been that ‘no means no,’ leaving someone unable to say out of the picture, and still reinforcing the notion of getting beyond ‘no.’

        This campaign, and others like it, will be very useful if they help shift our perspective here from one of ‘no means no,’ to one of ‘yes means yes,’ and without that yes being clearly understood by both parties, both parties are slipping into potential sexual assault territory. It’s no longer he trying to storm the gates to get what she withholds, it’s the two of them coming to agreement together.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to j r says:

      jr,
      I am sorry to hear that you were in such a situation. It is sexual assault, plain and simple. Now, whether or not you care about that? Different story. You may be willing to say “eh, it happened, nothing got broke.” I’m certain some women are capable of saying that too. But your autonomy was violated, and that is something serious — you may not have been hurt, but how about the next guy?

      The reality is that in our society we do perceive guys as the aggressors. Guys should be especially careful to gain consent because of this.Report

  11. Avatar j r says:

    @zic, you pulled out what may have been the smallest, most tangential part of what I wrote and completely ignored the larger point about wanting to have it both ways. No, I do not think that sexual assault persists as a problem because men are not doing enough lecturing of women on how to behave. The point of mentioning victim blaming is to show the fundamental logical contradiction at work.

    This campaign, and others like it, will be very useful if they help shift our perspective here from one of ‘no means no,’ to one of ‘yes means yes,’ and without that yes being clearly understood by both parties, both parties are slipping into potential sexual assault territory.

    We must have watched different videos, because the one posted above mentions nothing about consent or about what understanding exists between both parties. That might actually be a helpful campaign. The video in question is all about shifting the responsibility to people who happen to be in the vicinity of potential instances of sexual assault. Hence, the “It’s on Us” name.

    There is a fundamental logical contradiction between telling people that they should not be offering comment or judgment about certain kinds of risky behavior, but at the same time trying to tell people that they are collectively responsible for things that may result from that risky behavior. It is not an irreconcilable contradiction, but it is one that you would be better off acknowledging if you are sincere in your wish to bring more people around to your way of viewing this issue.

    This actually reminds me very much of the conversation surrounding the birth control mandate. On the one hand, the argument is that women are fully formed moral agents with the ability to make their own choices and decisions in life, but that we as a society have a collective responsibility to jump in and save the day when things might go wrong. Now, there is nothing wrong with trying to get people to look out for others, just as there is nothing wrong with trying to expand access to health care services. The problem is when you turn this from being a conversation about how best to get where want to be to being a hectoring lecture on our collective responsibility to make the world the place that you want it to be.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to j r says:

      jr,
      You’re a numbers guy. Let’s take the Asian numbers that zic posted a while back, showing that about 25% of guys had sexually assaulted someone, and about 5% were continual repeat offenders (more than four times).

      You think the frats can’t figure out who the rapists are? They don’t exactly go out of their way to hide, ya know, particularly the perverts who like doing the unconscious girls.

      Prevention is worth ten times what prosecution is.

      Are people still going to wind up raped, even if the parties stop inviting the troublemakers? Yeah, sure, it’ll happen. In elevators and bathrooms and in bushes and in the graveyard too.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to j r says:

      And this is not how appropriate social behavior is generally taught?

      I can see your point, but I had trouble with your whole line of thought because it was so highly role-gender rooted; deeply rooted in the traditions of boys gotta get sex, girls gotta withhold. That, also, rests on the expectations of others, it reinforces the notion that boys should be predatory and girls should be pure. The second-handedness here (it’s on us) that you see as shifting responsibility to bystanders I see as a way of safely communicating appropriate behavior without blaming.Report