Michael Drew

Michael Drew is a Wisconsinite currently residing in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He enjoys thinking and writing about politics, history, and philosophy, listening to music and podcasts of all kinds, watching and occasionally playing sports, and playing the cello.

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213 Responses

  1. Avatar Christopher Carr says:

    I’m curious why Freddie didn’t mention the Duke lacrosse case. They mention it on Fox News all the time whenever this topic comes up.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew says:

      Probably because there are enough examples in the absolutely immediate present to make the point.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        Nope, because it doesn’t generally fit the narrative.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        It does fit the narrative @christopher-carr sees Freddie to be drawing. Which is, in fairness, not too far off. “Rolling Stone” or “Erdely” will soon be on par with “Duke lacrosse” as a phrase you cannot say from activists’ perspective when discussing the general topic of rape allegations, but for now it remains a topical story that no one acts as if it can’t even be discussed. That’s why Freddie can talk about it more freely than the Duke lacrosse case. (Though in fairness, I do suspect that my point that there are enough such stories that are live stories right now that searching for older examples wasn’t even necessary to suffice for Freddie’s purposes is largely explanatory. I’m guessing the Duke case didn’t even cross his mind.)

        I’m also not exactly sure what CC’s point is here.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Seriously, I don’t think Duke Lacrosse does fit the narrative. It was driven far less by public outrage than by an ambitious DA, who (rightly) got fired for his misdeeds.Report

      • Avatar Notme says:

        Duke didnt fit the narritive because the guys were white.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      Believing all claims of sexual assault is done to appease radical feminists, so why doesn’t Freddie bring up Munich?Report

  2. Avatar James Hanley says:

    Freddie’s pretty good there. Notice that one distinctive feature of this piece that doesn’t always characterize his writing, is that his moral outrage seems controlled. Unlike much of his writing, one doesn’t get the sense he had to wipe spittle off the screen after posting this one. My working hypothesis that the two facts are causally related.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew says:

      Whose writing is always characterized by control of moral outrage? If it’s constant, it’s a problem, but then being a one-note writer is a problem in general. One can be too restrained too often, too.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Thanks for missing the point and going off on an irrelevant tangent, Drew. I knew I could count on you.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        The point wasn’t that “much” of Freddie’s writing is spittle-flecked? The point is that his writing has evolved, and that, if we care to look we might find that the amount that is spittle-flecked may have moderated to pretty well within the range of what anyone who writes about anything they care much about tends to produce. So it’s time to simply update our facts.

        You can’t really make the point be just that better writing tends not to be the spittle-flecked stuff, because 1) that’s fairly clear in general not just in the case of Freddie, and 2) because it was hardly the main thrust of your contention before, when you said that he was so far gone that his writing – all of it – had no more value to you than click bait does. That’s the point I’m taking up here.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        None of that conflicts with my point here, which you are still missing even as you restate it in your own words: Freddie’s a better essayist when he’s not in the throes of moral outrage,* and if he’s evolving in this direction, that’s good, in my view.

        * Most people are, but I suspect there are some exceptions.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        It’s not a tangent to address the topic of the OP, which was also the topic of your earlier criticism, which was not a statement that in general writing is better if it is reasonably calm and charitable, but that indeed Freddie is almost exclusively rightly characterized as not that way (and therefore a writer of essentially no value). (That’s what you said.) The point is that, to the extent that was ever true, there are new facts that make that assessment wrong. That was your point that, and this is my point now.

        Your “point here” – that general observation about writing and when Freddie’s writing is better and when it’s worse (something we would have largely agreed on regardless from the outset) – is the tangent: the distraction from the fact that my point, which was responsive to your point about the actual facts of Freddie’s current output and how to characterize them, is right.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Drew, every commenr thread on this blog, and probably all blogs, contains tangents. If that’s something to whine about then we all jave an equal, but equally pointless, complaint.

        If I had directly quoted you, then gone on a tangent that unfairly represented your point, that be another matter. But I didn’t. But what did happen was that you responded directly to my comment with a comment that dudn’t address my point.

        And damned if that isn’t just like 75% of the discussions I get into with you, where you find some really minor point or detail, or just get a point wrong, and then you niggle it to hell and back. I doubt there’s anything truly mean-spirited in it, but damned if it doesn’t come across as you never really making an effort to understand someone’s point, but just latching onto some random bit and obsessing over your interpretation of it, regardless of what the other person actually says.

        I regret commenting on your post, and I’ll comment no more on it.Report

  3. Avatar North says:

    Oh I disagree with Freddie half or more of the time but he’s a damn good writer. Never let it be implied that I think otherwise.Report

  4. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    I don’t get this criticism of Freddie, he’s generally struck me as thoughtful.

    I do recommend the Yoffe piece in Slate.

    Also, to bolster the point Freddie was making about the injustice of just assuming rape allegations to be true, I recall a story (by Balko, I think) about some young black men in Florida back in the late 60s/early 70s who spent their lives in prison over a false rape charge. The story was representative of the time, not unique.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew says:

      Agreed with all of that. The Yoffe reporting on Michigan to my mind is a more important story than the “collapse of the Rolling Stone UVA story” aspect of the the whole UVA story. (Though the fundamental reality of rape culture in frats and outside of frats at UVA and other universities, and administration bungling and coverup thereof, remain the larger, most important facts in all of this.

      In fact, the Michigan story and the university administration aspect of the UVA story together form I think the most salient larger picture about the sexual assault issue on campus between those two journalism projects, with administrations catastrophically erring (or maliciously mishandling) the issue on both ends of the range of possible errors, from too protective of the accused to too disinterested in real investigation and process for the accused.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        Exactly right. University administrators are NOT trained or experienced as investigators, and have no business attempting to do so. If allegations surface, it should be handed over to local PD, and if charges are brought, then the school should move to suspend the accused until the criminal proceedings are concluded.

        School administrators can not be trusted to approach the investigation impartially, they’re too incentivized to try to protect the accused, or the accuser. And the Obama administration is being horribly irresponsible for pressuring campuses to try to take on the mantle of investigators.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        I don’t think that this mishandling is limited to administrators.

        In fact, one of the reasons administrators are being forced to deal with this is because law enforcement has so profoundly mishandled it for so long that women don’t go to law enforcement.

        So let’s cut down to the real problem: rape has never been taken seriously as a crime unless the victim was perfect in every way.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        The basic problem seems to be that the investigator, prosecutor, and adjudicator are all done by the same people, usually the college’s HR department. The HR department is also the people that report on these matters to the Federal Government. This creates many conflicts of interests and preverse incentives to either ignore the accuser and hope things go away or put the accused through the Court of Starr Chamber without any due process protections. Making matters worse are that the HR people are not lawyers and are not equipped to conduct any quasi-judicial hearing fairly.

        At the very least, the roles of investigator, prosecutor, and adjudicator needs to be separated. It would be better if colleges get actual lawyers involved in the cases because lawyers know about due process and standards of evidence. Since many universities have law schools, finding lawyers should not be that difficult. None of the rolls should be done by HR people.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      That Yoffe piece is long but 100% worth reading.Report

  5. Avatar Plinko says:

    I’ve found Freddie to be invaluable for the last couple of years in his postings at L^Hote and his personal page (I know he was posting somewhere else for a while but never got around to following it).

    I only have hazy memories of his tenure here back in the old days of yore so maybe I missed something.Report

  6. Avatar zic says:

    I am exhausted by this conversation.

    Yes, false accusations are horrible; they ruin lives.

    But I personally know more women who were raped and never reported it than I know of false accusations that have caused all this stir, too. So forgive me if I have trouble keeping perspective here.

    All I hear is a lot of concern trolling that will mostly keep women silent. I don’t want women claiming false rapes; but do you want women sucking it up and bearing it alone as most of us who’ve been raped have done for so long? Is that any better than a handful of false accusations?

    So the real question here is what’s missing from the discussion: the behavior of people who rape, for starters. Second might be a serious look at the consequences of rape to the victims of that crime. Like if it’s your wife, your daughter, your grand-daughter, your mother. I know I’ve struggled with forming trusting and intimate bonds; my husband has paid a price for my rape. He knows this, too, we talk about it.

    So much concern trolling, so little actual concern. Leaves me spittle flecked.Report

    • Avatar zic says:

      And I detect a real trend of lefty macho here, too; like the left’s attempts to prove they were tough on crime. Look where that got us. Or tough on terror. How’s that report sitting with you today?

      Freddie may be right; maybe we should have more suspicion when listening to someone report a rape. Maybe we should ask how short her skirt was, what she was drinking, why she was alone with him, didn’t she just have a change of heart? But just imagine that’s your daughter first, please. Your wife. And then think about how you’d answer that question. She says she’s been raped; someone has forced sexual intercourse on her against her will.

      Now tell me how you want her to be treated.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

        You done up on that high horse?Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        Maybe we should ask how short her skirt was, what she was drinking, why she was alone with him, didn’t she just have a change of heart?

        I am trying to imagine a more disingenuous and uncharitable interpretation than this of what Freddie is saying in his post. And I really cannot. I suppose that you could have accused Freddie of being a rape apologist.

        Also, you can choose to characterize concern for due process as “macho,” but I’m not sure that you want to do that. You are basically saying that rationally weighing evidence is somehow fundamentally male and that we all ought to lead with our feelings more.Report

      • Avatar JQP says:

        Imagine it’s your son that’s accused. How do you want him to be treated?Report

      • Avatar Dave says:

        Fuck you? Seriously?

        For crying out loud.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        When I was raped, it was in the back seat of a car, on a double date with a friend and her boyfriend. I did not know the man before, he was a friend of her boyfriend. First date. We were drunk and stoned. I was a few weeks before my 16th birthday.

        My friend and her boyfriend went for a ‘walk,’ presumably to have privacy. Me and my rapist stayed in the backseat, and he said he wanted to do it. I said no. He forced me down, ripped my panties off, and did it anyway. I remember laying there, barely able to breath, and in pain; my head banging into the armrest over and over. My friend and her boyfriend came back before he finished. He clamped his hand over my mouth and my nose, and I really couldn’t breath. They got in the car, and her boyfriend began clapping in time to his thrusts. I wished I was dead.

        Two days later, my friend gave me back my torn panties, saying her boyfriend thought I was a slut, and she never wanted to see me again.

        Within two weeks, my period didn’t show up. I wrote him a letter, at best, I can only describe it as a love letter, telling him I thought I was pregnant, and I expected him to marry me if I was; that I was a lousy housekeeper, a good cook, and I planned to take care of the kid, he would have to support us. I don’t know why I did this; the only thing I can see now is that I had to transform that act of violence into something else. I never heard back from him.

        At the time, the word ‘rape’ never crossed my mind; that I had been raped didn’t dawn on me.

        So I want you to seriously think on this: what would have happened if I had realized I’d been raped and reported it? Do you think given my lack of speaking out when my friend returned to the car (I couldn’t, my mouth was covered,) the letter (which I still don’t comprehend) would have been used as evidence of consensual sex?

        I don’t want any man to be falsely accused. Ever. But I think the incidence of false accusation pretty slim. The same handful of cases occur in every discussion. So what about those girls, like me? I said upthread this conversation exhausted me. That’s not quite true. It makes me want to vomit. Because I know what would have happened to me had I reported my rape. I think I have a lot of company, too.

        The thing that boggles here is that folks are all up in arms to protect innocent men.

        I see no similar arming to defend violated women.

        so yeah, fuck the high horse comment. I didn’t deserve that.Report

      • Avatar Dand says:

        The thing that boggles here is that folks are all up in arms to protect innocent men.

        All accused rapists need to railroaded like the Scottsboro boys!Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        @zic – so seconded.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog says:

        Wow – lot of posts between the thing I wanted to second, and my own post. To be clear – I’m seconding this:

        Fuck you, MRS.

        You don’t talk that way to a rape survivor discussing her experience. You just don’t.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        I am incredibly sorry for what you suffered Zic. There is nothing in the world that can make up for it but all I can offer is sympathy.
        What do liberals want with regards to women? Speaking personally and emotionally I want for them to never even have to think about being afraid of such abhorrent things happening to them. I also want any man (or woman) who would rape another person to be thrown in a deep dark hole never to be hear of again. I’d like an infallible column of righteous fire to burn the genitals off a rapist the instant they decide to commence with such a vile violation.

        I cannot, alas, get what I want. The world is real and wide and bleak and holy fire is in vanishing short supply. My sister is a terrifying fearless woman, she hitchhiked and dumpster dived across Europe with a group of similar insane fearless women. She joined the circus as a juggler. She beat up a bum once to keep her sherry (don’t ask). The thought of what this kind of violation would do to her, to the wild fearless amazing person she is makes me physically nauseous. I understand this impulse on the left to go down the illiberal path on rape accusation; it is all too understandable. So many people have been so fundamentally hurt and that hurt has been so inexcusably ignored by those that are supposed to prevent it or, at the very least, bring justice after the fact. All that said I still oppose the illiberal concept of guilty until proven innocent. It is wrong; I’m sorry.

        It’s wrong on principle; some guilty getting off free so that no innocent is wrongly punished is a cornerstone of liberalism. To invert it into some innocent being wrongly punished so that no guilty can get away free is perverse.

        It’s wrong on practical; our institutions are broken. We can’t give them this kind of power. Think of how they will use them to torment the poor, the minorities, the innocent. Think of what they’ll do to your children with this kind of unchecked power.

        It’s wrong politically; think about what this presumption will do for the cause of women’s rights in the minds of the masses. Permanently tethering it to the idea of punishing innocent people based often on another person’s assertion alone? It would be pure poison.

        It’s just wrong. There are other ways and they should be perused. I know the intentions are pure but this road we’re talking about may be paved in good intentions but that wouldn’t stop where it would lead. I must be compassionately and considerately resisted.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        “I also want any man (or woman) who would rape another person to be thrown in a deep dark hole never to be hear of again. I’d like an infallible column of righteous fire to burn the genitals off a rapist the instant they decide to commence with such a vile violation.”

        … um, wow. Such levels of vitriol from you, I find a bit awkward and more than a bit disturbing.

        Would you say the same thing if this was your child? What if they were unable to understand that what they had just done was wrong?Report

      • Avatar Dave says:

        Everyone needs to chill the fuck out.

        Not another word.Report

      • Avatar Notme says:


        What she means is that due process is good for most alleged criminals but not those accused of rape.
        Those men are automatically guilty.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        No, @notme that is not what I mean.

        What I mean is that a woman who accuses someone of rape is put on trail, even if all she did was get raped. His right to defense means her character is under attack.

        But, you know, because I’m a liberal, you’ve just got to be a jackass and attack any little thing you can. I’m sure it makes you feel big and strong, like you’ve conquered the enemy.

        So I hope with all my heart that none of the women you love are raped, because you’ll have to deal with this then; you’ll have to deal with the fact that their rape puts their entire lives up for critical display if the opt to go to trial. You’ll have to deal with the fact that if they don’t, their rapists will be walking around out there, free as a bird. Perhaps you’ll have to deal with the horrid notion that they’re spoiled now, and you won’t be able to love them as much.

        A fair trial for him pretty much means an unfair trial for her. He’s innocent until proven guilty; but she may still have been raped by him, and then raped by the system, too. What’s fair about that?Report

      • @zic Rather than feeding someone who should not be fed, I’m really curious as to what you think about my 3:15 comment below.Report

      • Avatar zic says:


        I’m sorry.

        This was traumatic for me; but I should have just shut up, and not lost my cool. I apologize for that.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        A fair trial for him pretty much means an unfair trial for her. He’s innocent until proven guilty; but she may still have been raped by him, and then raped by the system, too. What’s fair about that?

        Of all the complicated questions around this topic, this might be one of the easiest. You can certainly say, metaphorically, that rape victims are put on trial, but it is just that, a metaphor. A criminal rape trial is not Jane Doe Vicitm vs. John Doe Rapist. A criminal rape trial is THE STATE vs. The Accused. The State are the ones with guns and the interrogators and the medical examiners and the venue and so on and so forth. The Accused is the one with the lawyer and as much expert testimony as he can afford. There is a reason why our criminal justice system places the burden of proof on The State. And I happen to think that is a very good reason.

        A trial may err in finding an innocent rapist guilty, which is its own kind of injustice, but the victim gets to go home at the end of the day no matter what.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        JR, when people talk about the rape victim being put on trial they are talking about various types of accusations made against the victim as an attempt to blame them for what happened. How short was your skirt or, far more perniciously, how many sexual partners have you had? Those are irrelevant to whether a person was raped but are the type of question that has been asked of victims.

        There are difficult questions which are appropriate to ask victims like how much had they to drink as that relates to how reliable their factual memory might be. That might be hard but is reasonable.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        @jr, @greginak; this is what I talked about in my reply to @rtod. Rape is both a legal crime and an act of oppression and violence against people. As a legal crime, the victim of rape like victim of other crimes is kind of on the periphery of things. Its the accused thats the center of the show. Its all about whether or not the government can prove guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If the victim gets catharsis thats great but the main concern with governemtn is enforcing the law and the courts with making sure due process is observed not victim’s rights. The theoretical ideal that its better that ten guilty people go free than one innocent person get accused applies to sexual assault crimes as it does to all other crimes.

        This leads to conflict with rape as a tool of oppression because the victims and their advocates have an entirely different interest in prosecuted rape than law enforcement. Their interest ranges from catharsis towards social justice for all women. This can lead to a conflict of interests at times.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        jr and greg,
        no, it’s really worse than any of that. It’s any flaw in your testimony being used to prove taht you were a liar. And MOST witnesses have discrepancies in their testimony
        But only in a rape case is that used to prove that , essentially, you said yes.

        “you were drunk, and you didn’t admit that to your parents and the police!”
        “you said he had a blue checked shirt on and he had a red checked shirt on, LIAR” (yes, zic posted a police study where this was used in court — and falsely prompted by police, which makes matters even worse).Report

      • Avatar Dave says:

        Tell people to chill out and they still see fit to continue a conversation.


        That’s ok. My kids do this to me so I’m used to it.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        They apologize graciously, like Zic did? You’re a good father.Report

      • Avatar Dave says:


        I couldn’t tell if she was apologizing to me or to Mark. It doesn’t matter because I’m not annoyed with anyone save the person that decided to toss the hand grenade and resume things.

        If it was to me, I would graciously accept it of course.Report

      • Avatar Dave says:


        Disregard most of what I’ve said above. I see it.

        Don’t mind me. I’ve been up since 4 this morning. Took a 5:15 HIIT class and my brain has been in shutdown mode since.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        at least you aren’t trying to convince someone that “last time you did this, you got MRSA and Almost Died. PLEASE don’t do it again…”Report

    • Avatar LWA says:

      I’m not exhausted, yet. Because I feel compelled to bring up again, that race/ class has everything to do with this subject.
      By ignoring the vast disparity between how we treat accused rapists/ victims according to race and class, it allows people to draw any conclusions they want.

      It becomes particularly easy to pit two groups of oppressed people against each other- victims of rape versus people of color.

      I’ve written before, isn’t it remarkable, this handwringing over a rape allegation that turned out to be false?
      That this will forever taint any future allegation, destroying the credibility of future accusers and prosecutors?

      How come this same logic isn’t applied to property crimes, other crimes of violence, of which we have mountains of cases of false allegations, of people sitting in prison for decades only to be proven innocent?

      I want to see this on Fox News:

      “A black man was accused of shoplifting; However, given all the cases of false accusations of shopkeepers, and false convictions by corrupt prosecutors, we really need to be skeptical here and not rush to judgment.”Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        Aye, that’s the rub. I will be damned if I know how to solve it though.

        As far as I can tell, the Federal Government told schools to develop academic discipline procedures for dealing with sexual assault because the police and local prosecutors were not doing their jobs. Now everyone is wondering why the schools are not doing their jobs and going too far into unfair prosecution or too far into ignoring the incidents all together.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        the police, under the direction of the schools, were actively preventing prosecutions.
        fixed it for ya.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        There are two different wrongs here, and they easily get conflated into one.

        One wrong is rape itself; and the historic treatment of rape victims.

        The other wrong is the injustice black men receive in our judicial system, including rape cases where eye-witness testimony is a huge problem.

        You don’t solve either problem by minimizing the other; and Freddie’s conflating them into the same problem is wrong.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      Nearly everybody on this blog admits that the persecution women endure is a serious issue. That doesn’t mean its right to have an innocent man act as a sacrifice on the altar just because of how other men mistreat and harm women.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

        The problem @leeesq is all of the sudden, a bunch of men, especially those on the right, but frankly, a lot on the left as well, who seemed not to care about the issues of sexual assault beyond a simple “it’s bad”, have now spilled thousands of words in the last week about the horrors of false allegations.

        I think, a lot of women, like zic, are thing, “oh, now you care. But, only if it’s possible your ass is on the line.”Report

      • Avatar LWA says:

        Which is the false dilemma we don’t need to entertain.
        Does our current system hold a bias towards victims, or the accused?

        The answer is yes, to both. Its like those discussions about whether our government is too large and powerful, or too small and weak.

        Its both, at various times. It is powerful enough to force a woman to have a transvaginal probe even when her doctor sees no benefit; yet weak enough to be unable to punish HSBC for money laundering, even when HSBC confessed to the crime.

        If you are a rich man, particularly a rich white man accused of rape, the system works marvelously to defend your rights.
        If you are a black man, particularly a poor black man, your guilt is a foregone conclusion.
        If you are a poor woman, particularly a poor woman of color, the system works to discourage you from even filing an accusation.
        If you are a rich woman, particularly a rich (and pretty!) white woman, your allegations of rape will generate a week of hysteria on Nancy Grace.

        So the dilemma of trying to balance the rights of the accused versus the rights of victims is a dilemma only when we strip out the subjects of class and racial disparity and pretend that all victims and accused are treated alike.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        a bit of a corrolary, if you will. The rich white man is MUCH more likely to rape underage children than the poor black man. The rich white man can guarantee that prosecution will never happen (he’s got the hush money, and if the kid wants to squeal, their parents will “clean up the mess”).

        Welcome to the real world, where horrible crimes occur daily — and there’s little you can do about it.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        The problem@LeeEsqis all of the sudden, a bunch of men, especially those on the right, but frankly, a lot on the left as well, who seemed not to care about the issues of sexual assault beyond a simple “it’s bad”, have now spilled thousands of words in the last week about the horrors of false allegations.

        Yeah, that’s because a case that perfectly showcases the dangers of things moving to far in one direction came to light. Actions have reactions. Sometimes those reactions go overboard, but that’s the nature of the universe.

        Also, there are lots of people who have not made a sudden rush to reaction, but have been making the same case consistently all along: due process is important.Report

  7. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    I never thought of Freddie being a bad writer. When he punches, he punches well and that is probably why I get defensive when I disagree with him. His acid take-down of the New Republic was wrong but it also was very good rhetoric at putting New Republic likers on the defensive.

    My big issue with Freddie is that he is seemingly very good at diagnosing issues on the left but not seeing those same issues within himself. This is a very human fault thought and we are all guilty of it. I agree with Freddie when he talks about “magic words” leftism and that the left is not very good at talking to people who don’t share those axioms and basic education.* The problem is that his TNR takedown shows the same inability to talk with people who might disagree but be slightly less to the left than he is.

    *A lot of social justice rhetoric seems to come straight from graduate school seminars and requires advanced understandings of Derrida and Barthes and Fanon. I find this problematic.Report

  8. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    Re: False Accusations & Short Skirts

    Here is the thing, allowing for accusations of rape to be treated more credibly, or less credibly, than any other crime of assault is an injustice. Zic is right that for too long, rape victims have been put under a microscope & through a grinder that any common mugging or assault victim would NEVER have to endure, even the most unsympathetic ones.

    That is an injustice, make no mistake.

    However, allowing the pendulum to swing too far the other way just perpetuates the injustice with different victims. We continue to lose when the rights of the accused are ignored or disregarded for the sake of expediency, or in the name of justice for the accuser. There is no justice in that. And every single story of a false accusation that is allowed to destroy a person because the system is more concerned with the perception of caring, rather than the rights of those involved, will damage the true rape* cases that follow.

    *Why this attitude persists in rape cases when many other crimes are not afforded the same concern says a lot about how far we still have to go. Still, placing more credibility with the accuser over the accused is why we have cops injuring & killing hundreds of citizens every year. It’s why many were OK with Brown & Gardner getting killed, because in their mind, they were criminals anyway so at some level they deserved it. It’s why people have largely been OK with so many are in jail, because they are seen as guilty of something, even if it isn’t what they are in prison for. In these cases, usually the accuser is the state, but not always. Think about the SWAT raids that injure or kill innocent people on the word of an un-named informant. Again that whole mindset of “they were probably guilty of something” comes in to play to excuse the officers actions.

    All of that is wrong, it’s an injustice to all of us, it angers me everytime I hear about it. Our whole justice system is founded on the principle of Innocent Until Proven Guilty. It’s a foundation that we’ve allowed fear & prejudice to continuously undermine in the name of justice. It will contribute to the death of our free society, if we can not trust in that foundation. So yeah, when I hear people complain that prior, or even current injustice justifies a different injustice, I say no, YOU ARE WRONG!

    If that earns me a “Fuck you”, I’m good with that.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi says:

      just a very small thing:
      We don’t treat people with “lower back pain” as being pussies, even though in most people who have lower back pain it’s purely psychosomatic. We give them comfort, we accept that these (mostly men) now need to have “advanced back massages” for their pain.

      Being raped, being in a position where non-consensual sex has happened, or been threatened, is painful.

      I believe we owe rape survivors a bit more comfort, a bit more sympathy than we give to people who basically make up pain to get sympathy. But even if we don’t!! We give the back pain sufferers the benefit of the doubt.

      Now, this doesn’t lead to accusations of a crime. Acknowledging the pain, the violation, need not always lead to a criminal report either.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:


        No apology needed, I should not have been so snarky. I agree with you that the system is insensitive towards the treatment of rape victims, but that is not a result of the foundation of that system, but rather the prejudices & biases of the people running the system. Damaging that foundation won’t change the people, and is more likely to grant them greater license to entertain their biases & prejudice.

        Which is why I linked to that Slate article in Chris’s post about Reconstructing Trauma. Which dovetails into @kimmi comment. Undermine those prejudices & biases with facts & research, and you can turn people who were at best skeptical interrogators into compassionate ones who understand why things seem off. Even if there is not enough evidence to successfully prosecute a lot of the cases, building up a foundation of trust between victims & investigators so victims will be confident that they will be believed will go a long way toward getting the number of reported sexual assaults to align with the actual instances. And that will help to undermine the biases of the judges & juries, which are, ultimately, the problem (since they are the ones who allow & accept as evidence attacks against the victim).

        (Sorry if this has been said elsewhere, I just don’t have time to read all the comments here).Report

  9. Avatar Chris says:

    This was sort of what I was getting at in that subthread about Cosby a couple weeks ago. On the one hand, as the Rolling Stone case shows, our instinctive reaction to rape claims is almost always to not only question whether the accused is/are in fact the perpetrator(s), but whether a rape occurred at all, and any little hint that there might be inconsistencies in a story are taken as evidence that our initial skepticism about the very facticity of the rape itself is completely vindicated, and there was, in fact, no rape. At this point, you’d have a hard time convincing a lot of people that Jackie at UVA was raped, but we have no evidence that she was not (in fact, there are some pretty good reasons to think that she was). Because of this reflexive skepticism so easily made certain, I think it’s important to give women who say they were raped the benefit of the doubt.

    However, this does not mean automatically believing all rape claims, it just means suspending that reflexive skepticism. This is important for precisely the reason Freddie raises: we have, in this country, a very long history of accusing, trying, or until all too recently, lynching black men for rape with little or no evidence. Our reflexive skepticism seems to give way to a complete lack of doubt when the accused is a black man, particularly if the accuser is a white woman. Just as important as our need to suspend our reflexive doubt about rape accusations generally is our need to suspend our reflexive certainty that accused black men are rapists.

    In the Cosby case there may be little room for doubt, but our history with rape and race is still in the back of my head any time I think about his case.Report

    • Avatar greginak says:

      How much we should completely believe what any victim says is based on who the listener is. Advocates, mostly DV and rape center advocates, should completely believe the victim because their position involves offering unconditional support and help. They should not be questioning but helping, comforting and guidance. Cops should be empathetic and professional but should not be completely believing any alleged victim. They need to ask questions, some that are difficult or impolitic but still important to a good investigation. Judges and juries should be treating the alleged offender as innocent and not holding the victim as an objective truth teller.

      I’ve seen this happed a lot with DV advocates. They do a great job but to often the key insight about what their role is. The same thing creeps into rape debates. Advocates need to understand what they are good at and what they aren’t. Complete belief in allegations works for them but not for other parts of the system.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        This pretty much approximates my own view. We all have our role to play, from non-judgmentally comforting victims to rationally and coolly weighing evidence. There is no one answer.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        jr and greg,
        Yeah, this is a decent thing to say.
        I do want to say: “You’re being a pretty shitty friend if you don’t believe someone who says they’ve just been raped.”

        We can and should be telling folks “in a courtroom, you should give the defendant the benefit of the doubt. Outside of it, hugs all round.” (because one should remember that being accused of rape is traumatic, and even if one was a rapist, there’s at least some shred of a possibility that they weren’t aware).Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I think it’s important that, when someone reports a sexual assault, even the police go in with the assumption that something happened. The bias towards believing that the woman is lying is so great that anything less than assuming something happened will likely result in the investigation being biased against the woman.

        That is not to say that they should assume the accused is guilty, but they should assume that the woman is telling the truth about the fact of an assault. From there, they can gather evidence which may show that their initial assumption was incorrect, but they will at least be gathering evidence for the purpose of demonstrating a crime, rather than demonstrating the lack of one.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        I think the phrasing “something happened” is a great way to put it. It is a potential crime and should be treated as such. [Now, there are some things that we as a society ought to do when it’s not a crime, but…lesser issues.]Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        No doubt Chris. Police often do rape investigations poorly but there has a been an increase in SART teams and cops trained in how to investigate rape reports. Is that a panacea, no, but there is none. It is an improvement though and something that should be encouraged. Far better to have a SART team then a Uni board investigating a rape report. There are far more trained cops now then 30 years ago.

        I once sat in on a SART interview of a female client. She was pretty deeply disturbed young woman who i had worked with for years. I was the only adult she trusted to support her with making her rape report even though i was a guy. The local SART team were very professional and appropriate.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        greg, that’s good to hear.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        @chris A question for you, regarding this:

        “Is it possible that, from day one, Jackie was making things up? Entirely possible. Do we have any evidence that she was? No. Her story changing over time is not evidence that nothing happened. It might be the result of any number of things: PTSD, other mental disorders, her being drugged that evening, etc., etc., etc. The fact that some people take it as evidence that nothing happened is precisely the problem that I’m trying to point out.”

        What you say here is clearly and obviously true. In fact, I’m having a hard time thinking of any thing that could conceivably come out — including the woman recanting her story publicly, or the RS disclosing that they’d paid her, or E! announcing she had signed on earlier to do a reality tv show, or whatever — that would make what you say here any less true.

        My question, then, is at what point are we allowed to reasonably decide that something didn’t happen? And as a follow up to that question, if this were a different story (one not about rape) would we still be so critical of (and angry at) those who had decided they didn’t believe something had happened at this point?

        And FTR, I’m not attempting to push people toward either believing nor disbelieving the woman’s story. I think I am the last adult on the internet who has not actually read the RS story, so I really don’t know enough to speculate.

        I’m just curious how you would answer those two questions.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        My question, then, is at what point are we allowed to reasonably decide that something didn’t happen? And as a follow up to that question, if this were a different story (one not about rape) would we still be so critical of (and angry at) those who had decided they didn’t believe something had happened at this point?

        In answer to your first question, I’m not sure. If there were solid evidence that nothing happened to her that evening, we’d be justified in believing the story wasn’t true. If she said, “I made it all up,” ditto. What the former would look like, I’m not sure. The W-P article suggests a potential alternative narrative, though so far it’s clearly speculative and based on one person’s somewhat prejudicial account (the Randal guy).

        In answer to your second, it depends on whether in those other domains the overwhelming tendency to skepticism and questioning of the victim led to the vast majority of victims never reporting crimes, and led to many people getting away with such crimes even when reported because of something analogous to rape victim’s sexual history or the length of their skirts or whether they were in a relationship with the accused or whatever. If that were the case, then yeah, I at least would be just as critical.Report

      • @chris I have to say that my initial response to the story was that it was clear she had been raped, but that there were some particular details that the reporter overemphasized that seemed implausible. I thought those details were unimportant in terms of empathizing with Jackie, and likely were immaterial to her, but were important in terms of how the reporter framed the story. I did not for a second think that Jackie was simply making those seemingly implausible details up; instead, I assumed that she was suffering from PTSD. In essence, I thought that Erdely invited the criticism by emphasizing particular details. My skepticism was generated by my quite excellent knowledge of how fraternities function – both for good and ill – combined with the fact that, on the same day I read that story, I also read the Atlantic investigation of fraternities (which jibed well with my aforementioned quite excellent knowledge) and the Atlantic writer’s comment that she had never heard a story remotely similar to the story as recounted by RS.

        When the Washington Post published its first set of findings, my response was, “this sounds about right,” and stuck completely with my assumption that Jackie had been raped and was fully honest. In fact, I came to sympathize with her significantly more, to the point of being angry about what was happening to her.

        But that second WaPo story is a bombshell, even with the paragraph that Schilling posted, to the point that I think it’s almost overwhelming evidence (albeit largely circumstantial, but circumstantial evidence is a lot more relevant than we often assume in our vernacular) that nothing happened to her that night.

        What makes it a bombshell isn’t what the witnesses claimed – their memories, two years after the fact, are far from dispositive, and at most they would show that Jackie’s recollections had changed over the years. It’s the apparent physical evidence that the WaPo collected – namely, the text messages – combined with the fact that these witnesses each seem seemed to agree that Jackie had given them a name of the alleged rapist before the alleged rape, and that they had come to the initial conclusion – again before the alleged rape – that this person did not exist because he wasn’t in the student directory.

        They changed their minds when they saw Jackie that night. As well they should have, especially since the alleged rapist emailed them again the next day.

        The WaPo article contains direct quotes from all of these messages that make clear they’re not a mere recounting of the messages, but instead that the WaPo actually received copies of the messages.

        With just those messages, and without having done any significant investigation of this person beyond their initial questioning in 2012, they’d have had no reason to believe that the story was anything other than what Jackie told them from the beginning. As decent human beings, they had every reason in the world to make their continued support for that (2012 version) story as unequivocal as possible.

        But the WaPo has now done the investigation that the three friends never had a reason to do in terms of tracking the names and pictures down. And it was able to do this, from the looks of it, only after speaking with the friends, since they’re the ones who provided the WaPo with the emails and texts.

        As a result, it is only now apparent that the friends were being lied to about the date before it even occurred and that the friends were, in essence, being subjected to a catfish situation, which Jackie appears to have orchestrated. Remember, the text messages themselves say that the alleged guy knew Jackie from class, which was exactly what Jackie told her friends as well. The alleged guy, we only now know, turns out to not exist at all. If Jackie were the victim, rather than perpetrator, of a catfish situation, neither she nor the texts – much less both – would have any reason to claim that they knew each other from class.

        But that doesn’t quite get us to “she made it all up.” Maybe she was just lying about who she was going out with. Maybe she was trying to protect his identity before the date. And maybe this was because he was the sort of person to demand that she hide her date’s identity since he was going to rape her.


        Except that there’s another email, purportedly from the alleged rapist – the day after the rape. From a person that we only now know doesn’t exist, and that was quite clearly a person that Jackie invented. Unless the WaPo’s reporting on this email turns out to be even more inaccurate than Erdely’s reporting, this means that Jackie continued with the catfishing scheme even after she was raped by the person whose identity her scheme was designed to hide. That’s….inconceivable.Report

      • Avatar Jeff Lipton says:

        [[How much we should completely believe what any victim says is based on who the listener is]]

        Yeah, verily, yeah. +1000 to the whole comment.Report

    • Avatar j r says:

      On the one hand, as the Rolling Stone case shows, our instinctive reaction to rape claims is almost always to not only question whether the accused is/are in fact the perpetrator(s), but whether a rape occurred at all…

      I would argue that it proves exactly the opposite. The woman made her rape claim to three friends, who believed her. Even if you accept the RS version, the friends chose to react in about the most terrible and bizarre way imaginable, but the still believed her. The UVA administration believed her. Again, you can question the administration’s actions, but they largely accepted the story. Sabrina Erdely believed her and wrote a story almost comically one-sided. And Rolling Stone believed her and chose to publish that story without even doing some of the most basic fact-checking. And for the most part, the initial reaction to the RS piece was belief and outrage. It was not until people started pulling at the strings, did people start questioning the narrative.

      At this point, you’d have a hard time convincing a lot of people that Jackie at UVA was raped, but we have no evidence that she was not (in fact, there are some pretty good reasons to think that she was).

      Again, the facts point the other way. This is looking more and more like a story made up from whole cloth. Here’s the most recent WaPo story:

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Made up out of whole cloth?

        “She had very clearly just experienced a horrific trauma,” Randall said. “I had never seen anybody acting like she was on that night before, and I really hope I never have to again. .?.?. If she was acting on the night of Sept. 28, 2012, then she deserves an Oscar.”

        Next time, read something before linking it.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Mike I was going to say just that. Pretty much everyone who knows her seems to say something happened to her that night. What, we don’t know, but from the very beginning she’s said it was sexual assault and there were multiple men.

        But at least J R demonstrates my point.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Did Tawana Brawley deserve an Oscar?

        Crystal Mangum?Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Yeah, I have no patience for those two references, as they are pretty much automatic in any high profile rape case as evidence that the current accuser is lying.

        Look, starting the evening she says she was raped, Jackie began to behave as someone who had suffered a serious trauma. She told her friends that evening that she’d been assaulted, and while her story changed over time, becoming more elaborate and horrible (“irrational elaboration” is, as any therapist will tell you, a common response to the fractured and fragmentary nature of many traumatic memories, particularly in PTSD patients), there is absolutely no reason to doubt that she suffered a trauma that evening.

        Remember, Magnum and Brawley sought the attention they got. Jackie never did, and while after initial trepidation she was eager to talk to the reporter, she seems to have quickly regretted that, and she insisted that she remain anonymous. So even if you you want to raise the two most well-known cases of false rape accusations, this one doesn’t fit into their “pattern” (to the extent that two cases = a pattern, which is what so many people who use those two cases seem to think they represent).Report

      • Avatar j r says:


        If I am demonstrating your point, it is only because your point is circular and not-falsifiable. You made a statement that people did not believe this woman and that does not appear to be the case, at least at not until things started to come out that contradicted the story. I am about as skeptical as they come and I accepted the RS story at face value, reasoning that no publication would risk itself by publishing this kind of story without. Even the last time this topic came up here, I said that it looked like RS had effed up royally with the details, but was not questioning that something happened to this woman. If you’ve got links that show people questioning the RS story before the cracks started to show, I’d love to see them. Maybe I’m wrong.


        Nice to accuse me of not reading the link and then cherry picking that one part. Why didn’t you quote any of the links showing that it’s likely that she invented the upperclassman who had a crush on her and took her on a date, used a picture from a high school classmate, and sent fake text messages to herself from that made-up date?Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Chris, I am not using them as a “pattern”, and I fully stipulate that false charges are rare. I simply point to them as prominent examples of the sorts of things that have been known to happen from time to time. We could as easily talk about Conor Oberst’s false accusation, or Brian Banks’, if you’d like.

        Jackie began to behave as someone who had suffered a serious trauma.

        On Brawley:.

        On November 28, 1987, Tawana Brawley, who had been missing for four days from her home in Wappingers Falls, New York, was found seemingly unconscious and unresponsive, lying in a garbage bag several feet from an apartment where she had once lived. Her clothing was torn and burned, her body smeared with feces. She was taken to the emergency room, where the words “KKK”, “nigger”, and “bitch” were discovered written on her torso with a black substance described as charcoal.[8]

        A detective from the Sheriff’s Juvenile Aid Bureau, among others, was summoned to interview Brawley, but she remained unresponsive. The family requested a black officer, which the police department was able to provide. Brawley, described as having an “extremely spacey” look on her face, communicated with this officer with nods of the head, shrugs of the shoulder, and written notes.

        (emphasis mine).

        I mean, from her appearances and actions at the time it is seemingly clear that “something happened to her”. But in retrospect, it doesn’t appear to have been true. And Brawley wasn’t initially seeking attention either, her motivation appears to have been avoiding trouble with her mother and stepfather (themselves real pieces of work who may have been abusive to her, prompting Brawley to go to such lengths in the first place, and then helping her perpetuate the hoax as it grew ever larger and out of control).Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        j r, people on this site, including Glyph, have admitted to being skeptical of the story when they read it, equating it to the satanic ritual scare of the 80s, among other things. Skepticism of the report was all over the web from the moment it was published, with a lot of people, particularly men, saying that it didn’t ring true, while a bunch of women were saying precisely the opposite (though it’s not uncommon for women to be as skeptical of rape accusations as men). This initial skepticism, confirmed by facts suggesting that it could not have happened the way the Rolling Stone story says it did (and the Rolling Stone story appears to be consistent with the story Jackie told members of the campus rape support group), has led people to be pretty convinced, as you are, that nothing happened, despite the fact that even the people who are providing you with the evidence you’re using to confirm your pre-existing belief that nothing happened believe something happened.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        strangely enough, it was a multiple-stabbing incident (gang initiation) that had me giving credibility to the RS article.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Glyph, again, that case is irrelevant to this one. Does it suggest that people can fake things? Sure. Does it have any bearing on whether Jackie did? No, none whatsoever, and merely bringing it up is fallacious.

        Is it possible that, from day one, Jackie was making things up? Entirely possible. Do we have any evidence that she was? No. Her story changing over time is not evidence that nothing happened. It might be the result of any number of things: PTSD, other mental disorders, her being drugged that evening, etc., etc., etc. The fact that some people take it as evidence that nothing happened is precisely the problem that I’m trying to point out.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        @chris – But that doesn’t quite work (or rather, it cuts both ways) rhetorically, as I see it.

        People (including you) are making the perfectly-reasonable argument that “something happened” because Jackie’s subsequent behavior fits with what we know of people to whom “something happened”.

        The point *I* am making is that her behavior ALSO fits with what we know of (at least some) other people to whom “nothing” (at least, nothing remotely resembling their rape accusation) happened.

        I don’t see that one interpretation is any more or less valid than the other; neither automatically “wins” (I am NOT saying “nothing happened”, just that it is POSSIBLE that nothing happened).

        If my prior cases are completely rhetorically-inapplicable to this one, then so are yours, and that makes no sense to me (at least from where we sit in an internet combox, if not a court of law). We accept counterexamples all the time as, at least potentially, disconfirming evidence (with “evidence” here not used in a legal sense, but a rhetorical one) that can weaken the case we are trying to make.Report

      • Avatar j r says:


        This initial skepticism… has led people to be pretty convinced, as you are, that nothing happened, despite the fact that even the people who are providing you with the evidence you’re using to confirm your pre-existing belief that nothing happened believe something happened.

        Show me where I said that I was convinced of anything. I said that the whole story is beginning to look false. In truth, I admit to not knowing either way. To say, however, that there is no evidence against Jackie’s claim to have been raped is just false. There is evidence pointing in both directions. If I am saying that I honestly don’t know. And you are saying that yes, it happened until you see proof otherwise, which one of us is defaulting to our pre-existing beliefs? Maybe both of us are.

        Remember, Magnum and Brawley sought the attention they got.

        That is not really true. Brawley was 15 years old when this happened. I doubt that she was trying to turn herself into a national story. More likely she made up a story to cover her being away from home for a few days, her parents went to the police and the story blew up. At that point Brawley was locked into her story. When you look at well-known false rape charges, this is often the case. Someone gets caught in a situation and makes up a lie, not to harm anyone in specific but just to cover up something else. The lie spins out of control, but the alleged victim is locked into the story. This is what happened in the Scottsboro case. It happened with the Rosewood massacre. So on and so forth…Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        A few days ago I believed Chris’ take to most likely be the correct one.

        Right now, though, there may be no proof that it was a fabrication, but I am believing that it was, basically, most likely a lie that got out of hand, and a young woman that I am actually worried about and that I hope people are keeping an eye on.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        The point *I* am making is that her behavior ALSO fits with what we know of (at least some) other people to whom “nothing” (at least, nothing remotely resembling their rape accusation) happened.

        Yeah, this is true of anyone who’s suffered a trauma, to the extent that it is true (the differences between the two cases are myriad). That is sorta the point of all this: when it comes to rape, people see someone acting like a trauma occurred and assume they might be faking it because they can think of one or two other cases where someone acted like a trauma occurred but were faking it. If we went by this standard in any other domain, our justicie system would look very different: “His face showed extensive bruising, sure, but people can and in a few cases have hit themselves, so I’m not sure he was really assaulted.” “His house burned down, and there’s clear evidence of arson, but people have in the past hired people to burn their homes down, so I’m not so sure he’s a victim of arson.” “Sure, all of his electronics are stolen, but in the past people have gotten rid of their stuff and claimed it was stolen for the insurance money, so I’m not so sure it was stolen.” Do people usually go into cases like those and assume the person is faking an assault or arson or theft? Or do they start with the assumption that stuff was stolen and an assault took place and a home was burned down, and when the evidence begins to suggest that this is not the case, they change their minds? Because in this case, it’s quite clear that many people started from the assumption that no assault occurred, and their beliefs were confirmed by the inconsistencies in the story.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        @will-truman , I definitely see why you might think that. The WaPo story that J R links above provides enough of a narrative to make that seem true: Jackie wanted to get a guy’s attention, so she invented a suitor in an attempt to make him jealous, and when that didn’t work she tried something more extreme, perhaps to get his sympathy.

        My skepticism of that narrative, which the Wa Po article definitely seems to have steered its readers toward, is a.) that the Wa Po reporting on this has changed over time (e.g., she had never met “Drew” to she had met him but didn’t know him well and now back, it seems, to she had never met “Drew,” if “Drew even exists as an actual person), and b.) it’s a narrative that comes from one person’s itnerpretation and ignores all of the others.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        @chris – well, I can’t speak for anyone else, but as I said when I read the RS story originally my reaction was a mixed “holy crap, this is horrible” and “something doesn’t seem right”. But I wasn’t out there SAYING something didn’t seem right, because I wasn’t aware the story was being questioned by others.

        I think you raise an interesting point though: Obviously, mine weren’t the only antennae to go up. And someone, somewhere, had to be the first to act upon a feeling of “that doesn’t seem right”.

        In my old neighborhood, a house burned down, killing several people. At first, the assumption was “accident”; later it was found to be arson (and murder).

        If a cop on day 1 says, “hmmm, something feels fishy about this”, and he’s ultimately proved right and the truth is revealed, he’s a hero.

        If he’s ultimately proved wrong, he’s a heel, for harassing and questioning and disbelieving people who just had something horrible happen to them.

        But to get to the bottom of things, his default assumption often has to be, “things may not be as they seem.”

        That paranoia, in part, is what we pay him for.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:


        Yes, many of the details are at best questionable, but the people in the best position to know till think something traumatized her, as the story clearly states,


        Something did happen to Brawley

        Her clothing was torn and burned, her body smeared with feces

        Even if she was complicit in it, that would be enough to freak almost anyone out. No acting required.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Glyph, it’s good that they ultimately found out it was arson. Arson can be a difficult crime to prove, since it often requires interpretation of ambiguous evidence. Texas famously executed a man for arson because an investigator almost certainly wrongly interpreted evidence that arson had occurred when it did not. Rape usually works the other way: it requires interpretation of ambiguous evidence, and people almost generally assume the evidence points to no rape occurring.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      RE: Cosby specifically: When there is one accuser, or two, or three, I am going to be the guy saying “due process” and “innocent until” and “some claims are false, historically; people have been known to be mistaken, or dishonest, or mentally ill”.

      When there are enough accusers to field an entire soccer game…

      And it makes me sick. Yeah, yeah, art and artist, and you never know anyone, especially someone famous and all that, but Christ, those performances, those stories, they were part of MY childhood stories too. And I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to enjoy them again, or share them with my kids. That’s the disgusting taint of rape, specifically, as a crime. (EDITED TO ADD, since I kind of got sidetracked by memory: and jesus, all those poor women.)

      Which brings up another tangent that I would like to talk about – often, if you express any sort of skepticism about a rape claim, your interlocutors will stop just short of calling you a rape apologist (sometimes, they DON’T stop short).

      But what they fail to appreciate, IMO, is that part of that skepticism is generated by the fact that rape is just about the lowest of the low in terms of crimes as far as I am concerned; just above child molestation (itself, of course, a form of rape).

      Because the crime is so horrible, I am sometimes especially reluctant to facilitate a rush to judgement, since if it is established as true (whether in court, or simply in public opinion, due to airing the allegations) that perpetrator is persona non grata for me, and I would wager many people in our society.

      I’d probably have lunch with a murderer (hey, maybe he had some reason!) before I’d have lunch with a rapist.

      I think people would be well-served to understand that a little skepticism in rape cases is sometimes not a matter of disbelieving the victim, nor of wanting to protect the perpetrator, nor of perpetuating “rape culture”, nor of treating rape as a non-serious matter; rather it is sometimes precisely BECAUSE many people view rape as such a serious matter, that they wish to be slow to judge.

      For my son to be falsely accused of (let alone falsely convicted of) rape could have just as deleterious effects on his life, as my daughter being raped could have on hers; and so I remain steadfast that any changes we make to our laws or policies that run the risk of significantly increasing the incidences of false accusation/conviction need to be looked at very, very carefully.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        If I’ve ever done such towards you, I apologize. I continue to believe that there are better and worse ways to say things… and leaning on “It’s possible to have been raped without a rapist, it’s possible for harm that is beyond belief to have occurred, and yet not have a criminal…” is a good way to acknowledge someone else’s pain and suffering.

        “I’d probably have lunch with a murderer (hey, maybe he had some reason!) before I’d have lunch with a rapist.”
        … yeah, the dead sleep easy. It’s the living who suffer.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I appreciate that rape is so horrible that one should be hesitant to believe someone capable of committing it, but the result is, and has always been, that rapists get away with it in far greater numbers than they are convicted of it, not only because it is hard to convict accused rapists, but because the fact that this attitude ultimately results in the victim being on trial makes so many victims simply fail to report the rape in the first place.

        It is possible to give the woman the benefit of the doubt without convicting the accused in one’s mind.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:


        I appreciate that rape is so horrible that one should be hesitant to believe someone capable of committing it, but the result is, and has always been, that rapists get away with it in far greater numbers than they are convicted of it, not only because it is hard to convict accused rapists, but because the fact that this attitude ultimately results in the victim being on trial makes so many victims simply fail to report the rape in the first place.

        In fact, McArdle has made the explicit argument (if I’m not mangling it too badly) that, because of this, we should significantly lessen both the stigma and the criminal punishment attached to many forms of rape (not for the most violent forms nor for serial rapists). I’m not sure I buy into that, but I don’t think there is much doubt that the tradeoffs that result are essentially as you describe.

        It is possible to give the woman the benefit of the doubt without convicting the accused in one’s mind.

        It is. But it’s dicey; it requires care.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        @michael-drew I agree that it requires care, and a great deal of it. And I get Tod’s point about the teams, neither of which seem to be exercising such care. I hope it’s clear that what I’m arguing for here is precisely such care: assume something happened, but not that the accused is guilty, and work to gather evidence from there. As it is now, most people assume nothing happened, and gather evidence from there, and some people assume both that something happened and that the accused is guilty. Very few people take the middle ground that I’m suggesting. I’m not sure I ever really have, though that should not be taken as evidence that the position I’m advocating is the wrong one, just that it’s not a natural one.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:


        It is clearly clear that that is what you are suggesting.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I am chronically convinced of my own incoherency.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        I am terminally convinced of mine.Report

    • Avatar Guy says:

      our instinctive reaction to rape claims is almost always to not only question whether the accused is/are in fact the perpetrator(s), but whether a rape occurred at all, and any little hint that there might be inconsistencies in a story are taken as evidence that our initial skepticism about the very facticity of the rape itself is completely vindicated, and there was, in fact, no rape. At this point, you’d have a hard time convincing a lot of people that Jackie at UVA was raped, but we have no evidence that she was not (in fact, there are some pretty good reasons to think that she was).

      Well said. This is something I feel often gets missed in these discussions: the idea that there is a difference between believing the claim that a rape occurred and believing that some specific man is a rapist.Report

  10. Heh – thanks for posting this, Michael. I had mentally bookmarked that post to follow-up on when I had time. I’m quite certain I disagree with him – at the very least, I’ve had a half-written post in my head on the subject for the last few months taking the opposite position (ie, that there IS a difference between the two, and that we cause problems when we pretend otherwise). People insisting otherwise has in fact become a pet peeve of mine in the last few months (e.g., insistences that we wait for the verdict in Ferguson before coming to conclusions, or that we wait for “the process” to play out before coming to any conclusions about Greg Hardy/Adrian Peterson, etc.).

    But Freddie’s post got me rethinking that position, and I’ve been trying to figure out where I stand on it now. I think I’m still probably on the opposite side, but I’ve got to refine my position quite a bit.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew says:

      Yeah, I could come down on either side of that specific question, too. The point was Freddie’s thoughtfulness about his position, of course.

      To me the really difficult area is where we are still defining due process, namely such as in this case in educational institutions where expulsions or even just process records can lead to functional exclusion from all comparable educational opportunity. We clearly want process there, but that which we have is not of long standing, and pretty clearly it is even more susceptible to private pressures than is criminal justice process. It very clear to some that there is a major distinction to be made between process that’s due when criminal conviction and imprisonment are the stakes versus when “mere” exclusion from educational (or other) institutions to which you had no fundamental legal right (still some rights not to be deprived without due process, but less when those doing the depriving are in the position to make routine judgements about exclusion in the first place, i.e. selectivity). And it’s clear to me that distinction should be made. But it’s also clear (I would think) that we want some good process in place. So how much to push back against those who really see results as uniquely imperative (and results are imperative if campuses are as dangerous as some suggest)?

      As the Michigan case shows, it’s a really sticky wicket from where I sit.Report

      • Co-sign.

        There’s been a lot of thoughtful things written the last week or two about the different roles of advocate/ally, prosecutor (whether or not in the educational setting), and journalist, and why it’s important that those roles be kept distinct. I wonder how much of the seeming intractability of the tradeoff between process for the accused and support for victims is a function of the fact that we’re expecting universities to function as advocates/allies for victims, prosecutors of the accused, and fair adjudicators, even as they also have an assortment of PR/financial incentives to tend to favor one side or the other in any given case or type of cases.

        I strongly doubt that a university can both be an effective advocate/ally and an ethical but vigorous prosecutor at the same time – and that’s before getting into the problem of the perverse incentives universities often seem to have against being a vigorous prosecutor to begin with, which, when the roles are compounded, also means that they’ll be terrible advocates/allies.

        But I know that it’s not possible to wear all three hats at once and do a reasonable job at all three – if they’re unserious prosecutors because of conflicts of interests, they’ll be horrible advocates and unserious adjudicators. And if they attempt to be good advocates/allies, they’ll be overzealous prosecutors and prejudiced judges.

        I wonder if the answer is to more clearly separate these roles on campus. Here’s what I’d envision, more or less:

        1. Campus organizations whose leadership (or faculty advisor) goes through a certain level of training can become designated advocates with the ability and obligation to refer any case involving a criminal or disciplinary accusation by one student against another student to the university if – and only if – the victim (or in the case of other types of offenses, accuser) requests the referral. They also get to act as gatekeepers to the victim, controlling the level of access the prosecutors have to the victim (within reason).

        2. The university has an obligation to prosecute any claims referred to it by such an organization where the accusation, if assumed to be true, could result in a suspension or expulsion. It may, at its discretion, choose to prosecute any claims brought to it directly rather than referred by an advocate group.

        3. The case is adjudicated by an independent panel of federally-appointed arbitrators (I suspect that state governments would have too many conflicts of interests because so many schools are public). All proceedings are kept confidential and relatively informal, but adversarial between the university and the accused, and the panel can issue a decision of either innocent, guilty by preponderance of evidence, or guilty by clear and convincing evidence. Innocent means no punishment, obviously, while guilty by a preponderance of evidence means the student is suspended or expelled but without placing anything on their permanent educational record. Guilty by clear and convincing evidence means suspension or expulsion and that it gets placed on the student’s permanent record.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @mark-thompson I don’t know that I agree that universities can’t do all three roles; but my husband worked at a private boarding school, and the school filled all three roles constantly.

        But I want to flip the whole scenario a bit. Say it wasn’t rape, say it was violent fights. A student kept attacking other students; and none of those students wanted to press charges with the legal system. The school would still have an obligation to look out for other students safety, and to expel the violent student, wouldn’t it? What about some other thing; hacking into the schools computer system; where, perhaps, there wasn’t enough proof to file a legal case?

        One huge problem I have here is that we’re taking a universities action — to keep or expel a potentially troublesome student — and suggesting that this rises to the level of legal justice as meted out by our court systems. But universities are not courts, as so many people keep pointing out, and college is not a right, it’s a privilege, and one that can be lost by endangering other students.

        If a student was belligerent in class, disruptive and rude to professors, nobody would freak out if that student were expelled. Yet here, with rape, all of a sudden that student’s basic civil rights are being violated; and the complaints of that violation are not matched by her right to attend school without having to worry about being raped or having to sit in a class with her rapist.

        There are other schools. There are probably some hard lessons some boys/young-men need to learn about consent. I disagree with @j-r ; I think there’s a long and rich cultural tradition of getting girls drunk to get lucky, and that’s what’s really at risk here; something men have thought harmless for decades isn’t harmless, and they’re being asked to be held accountable for that harm that they’ve long been able to ignore or pretend isn’t harm.

        New rules discomfort. I have little sympathy.Report

      • @zic Part of the problem though is that as a practical matter, the mark of “expelled or suspended for sexual assault” acts as a complete bar to attending any other school, yet the level of proof required is merely “preponderance of evidence.” While this falls short of criminal punishment, it is incorrect to say that there is no “right” at stake here, particularly when we’re talking about public universities. It’s equivalent to, say, the now well-recognized rights to continue receiving government benefits or to continue working certain government jobs. Due process is still very much at stake, even if the amount of due process that is necessary is significantly less than what is necessary in a criminal proceeding.*

        Regardless, my suggestion is an attempt to address both due process and the need of rape victims to be taken seriously and not put on trial. I’m starting with the assumption that the system isn’t working for anyone right now – the lower preponderance of the evidence standard that’s now being put in place seems quite clearly to undermine even minimal due process for the accused when it’s tapped (e.g., the Ioffe piece), but doesn’t seem to do much to encourage proceedings to be instituted (i.e., schools, such as the other UVA stories and the delays in the Jameis Winston case, are still quite obviously being horrible about actually pursuing most cases brought before them). And this is very much what I’m trying to get at – it seems that universities are now either largely sweeping sexual assault cases under the rug or prejudging the accused in the cases that they willingly pursue (often correctly, perhaps, but certainly not anything close to always). There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground, wherein the universities take the accusers seriously but diligently pursue the truth in deciding the responsibility of the accused, and I’m trying to understand why.

        And I really strongly suspect that it’s hard to impossible to be a good ally – ie, one who uncritically listens and supports and asks no questions – while also being a good prosecutor and, in effect, trying to actually represent your interests in an adversary proceeding. To do that, the university has to ask you questions you might not want to have to answer; I assure you that there are few things that make it harder to represent someone in an adversarial proceeding than failing to ask them difficult questions. The only way to do those two things at the same time is to get rid of the adversary proceeding entirely, and just prejudge the case.

        It’s still incredibly easy, though, to be a terrible ally and a terrible prosecutor and representative of the victim’s interests – with or without due process protections.

        What I’m trying to figure out is how to put the victim in control of the process as much as possible, in essence, while still ensuring that there’s a process. Right now, the schools alone are in charge of the entire process – from support through prosecution and judgment – and I suspect therein lies the problem.

        Importantly, my suggestion would not be exclusive to sexual assault cases – I think it’s important to use for just about all cases where suspension is at issue, including the case of a student with a history of getting into fights. I apologize if that wasn’t clear from my above post.

        In terms of your counterexample of someone with a penchant for getting into violent fights, I don’t think that I’m treating that any differently. The school still needs to have evidence that the fight occurred. Maybe it just disciplines both parties to the fights, but otherwise, it still needs to find out what exactly happened. Similarly, if a student is disruptive and rude, it still needs to conduct a fair hearing before it can conclude that the disruptive and rude behavior actually occurred. It can’t just take the word of a professor and have that be the end of it. To my knowledge, this is how things already work; the only difference from my suggestion is that the adjudicator is not independent. But there’s still due process.

        *Also note that my suggestion does not prohibit schools from implementing lesser punishments, such as punishments regarding class and dorm assignments, without due process and without regard to any independent tribunal’s findings.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        First, I don’t know that schools have to disclose why students are expelled, and I believe they would also have an option of suggesting students withdraw; though I am not an expert on that.

        One of my kids was expelled from a private high school for threatening another student after his property had been stolen and trashed; it was made clear to us through that process that 1) attending the school was not a right, 2) the school had the right to act as judge and jury, that we surrendered our rights to due process when we signed the contract to allow him to attend, and 3) expulsion from that school did not curtail his right to apply for and attend another school.

        So I maintain that the conflation of a school’s process with legal process is problematic; and that’s what a lot of people are doing. Additionally, think carefully about how often we want to invoke the legal system. For a lot of young men, being expelled is one thing, traumatic though it may be. But it’s also private. Standing trial for rape? That’s a public process.

        I already know that a rape trial is pretty horrid for the victim. I think it might be worth a little thought about what would happen if we force colleges to report not just for women, but for men who are accused.Report

      • @zic It’s my understanding that any finding by a university that a student has engaged in sexual assault has to be put on their permanent academic record. Certainly the Ioffe piece seems to suggest that.

        Additionally, to be very clear – what I’m suggesting is not invoking the legal system, certainly not in any meaningful sense that it’s not already in place. What I’m suggesting instead is that there be some sort of standing federal body within the Department of Education whose sole responsibility it is to adjudicate expulsion-level offenses. If this sort of procedure exists only in state schools, I’m fine with that as well – there is no due process right to a private education, certainly. Just as long as private adjudications don’t wind up being on a student’s permanent academic record.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Not disclosing why a student was expelled or asked to withdraw, if it is in the case of sexual violence, is just as problematic in those cases where the student has been correctly ID’d as a sexual offender – after all, this is essentially what happened in the Catholic Church, with pedophile priests just getting reassigned to another parish with the “why” hushed up.

        If the sex offender is expelled from School A and then goes to School B who accepts him unaware of why he’s transferring, and he does the same thing there, we’ve failed to shut the problem down; simply shifted it to another venue.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Even if a school doesn’t disclose why a student was kicked out, most reputable colleges won’t take students who are not welcome back to their previous institution.

        My alma mater isn’t exactly Harvard, but it doesn’t accept people kicked out of other schools. I suspect if rape cases are concealed, more schools will do this.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        Glyph, Mark, Will:
        I’m pretty damn certain that a community college will accept pretty much anyone. And that you’re… not really just passing the buck, if you take the kid who was deliberately getting girls drunk to rape them in their sleep — by letting him go to a community college. Trust me, folks don’t do that sort of thing there.

        There does need to be a decent process. But, maybe we want more than one process.

        I wish there was some way folks could publicize the jerks, who do jerky behavior. Not, perhaps, rising to the level of rape. But they’re not the people you want to date, and may not be the sort of people you want to drink in the same room as.Report

  11. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    Part of the problem with discussing the topic of rape, I have long felt (and these threads aren’t exactly helping), is that we approach it like a team sport. I’ll be damned if I can think of another crime that we approach in this way as consistently as we do rape.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      By “teams”, do you mean “men” vs. “women”?Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        Sometimes, but certainly not always.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        I sort of see where Tod is coming from. Men v. women is not quite right. I posted the Yoffee article to facebook and had plenty of male friends disagree with some of her point or many of her more serious points. Their stance to the idea that the procedures might not be the best was more or less “cry me a river.”

        I am also not sure that Tod is right rape being treated more like a team sport than other crimes. I went to a liberal law school in a very liberal city and there were still serious issues of distrust among the people who wanted to be public defenders and the people who wanted to be prosecutors.

        You can feel this in how people are listening to Serial. There are some people who can say things like “I think Syed committed the murder but I wouldn’t vote to convict because of X, Y, and Z” but most people seem to think he is innocent or he is guilty and get very upset when confronted with dissenters.

        My belief is that a lot of people understand criminal justice and the rights of criminal justice on an abstract level. But when it comes to putting those abstract ideals into reality, that gets very hard. It is a very hard thing to act on “I think X is guilty but I need to vote guilty but need to vote not-guilty because the prosecution did not meet their burden of proof.”

        A few years ago I was at a bar night for law school and a two street kids (they looked like extras from Sid and Nancy) burst into the yuppie Irish bar. One kid was getting his ass kicked, he was getting beat up really badly. The bartenders separated the two guys and one began screaming “He rapped a little girl. He rapped a little girl.”

        This could be true and I can see why street kids would not want to go to the authorities. Or it could have been a pre-text excuse made up on the spot. I think most people want to believe that people are generally good at heart so they believe the accusation. It is worse to believe that someone could make up a horrible accusation as a justification for violence than it is to believe that the guy being beat up deserved it. People always look for excuses and ways to not confront unpleasant truths. So this both leads to the idea that false accusations and wrongful convictions never happen and that a woman deserved to be raped because of how she acted.

        I think one of the hardest acts is to say something like “Well X is bad but that doesn’t mean we should go all the way to Y or that Y is justified.” This makes you more likely to anger both “teams” rather than anything else.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:


    • Avatar Michael Drew says:


      I’m guessing more like “believe” versus “process,” though I think it’s a disservice to say that individuals on either side are not concerned with both. It’s more a question of which they’re most concerned about neglecting in pursuit of the other, both priorities being ones that people of good faith acknowledge can’t be neglected too much.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        @michael-drew – perhaps because of threading, I am not sure what you are responding to exactly?Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        Yep, messed up the threading, sorry.

        Was responding to what the teams are. Yoffe is a woman and is definitely Team Process. Which doesn’t mean there’s not a correlation between the teams and genders. But what I think the teams actually are is what describe.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        Glyph, I think Michael is referring to Tod’s post about rape dividing people into two teams. The basic issue is should rape be treated as any other crime or is there something special about rape that should shift the normal way criminal cases are supposed to go and put more of a burden on the defendant than usual.

        When California enacted its affirmative consent statue, it really split the left-liberal blogosphere. One side thought it was a great step forward in combatting college rape. You could call this side the “belief” side. They saw this as a proper way to deal with an epidemic of sexual assault. The other side thought that affirmative consent was a great ethical standard but a horrible legal one. This is the process side. They didn’t like how it lowered the standard of proof or put the burden on the accused rather than the accuser. It changed the entire notion of how common law justice was supposed to work. This is the process side, the basic belief is that we shouldn’t change the assumptions of criminal law to combat rape.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        @leeesq @michael-drew – Gotcha.

        RE: affirmative consent
        One thing that’s interesting in the Yoffe piece is that at least one of the young men being accused claims that he got exactly that – not that she didn’t say no, but that she was asked and said yes.

        Freddie has written about affirmative consent before:

    • Avatar morat20 says:

      Probably because, well, rape’s a sort of new crime.

      Bodily autonomy is a fairly new concept for women. I’m not saying rape apologies all consider women as property, but in times past rape wasn’t seen as a crime against the woman as against her…guardian, shall we say (if she was a properly chaste daughter or married woman). or not really a crime at all, if she wasn’t suitably pure. Nothing to get worked up over.

      Which has sorta lingered on, really. Rape victims tend to get shoved into two molds — chaste pure victim or slut with bad judgement.

      And THAT is the backdrop against which we talk about rape. It’s choke full of unconscious bias, Victorian (or older) mores about sexuality we don’t really think about, and the still lingering fight about equality — and that runs into innocent until proven guilty and an adversarial justice system. All about a crime that is often he-said/she-said — a crime that is an enjoyable past time if someone said yes, and a horrible abuse if they said no.

      It’s no wonder it’s a mess. You have people rightly fearing how easy it is to claim rape, people rightly talking about how filing rape charges is often a nightmare of disbelief and disdain by authorities….Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        That’s not a bad theory, @morat20Report

      • Avatar aaron david says:

        I think that there is a lot to be said for this @morat20Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        Remember, “it can’t be rape if you’re married to the rapist” was a perfectly valid statement not terribly long ago.

        Woman have only been in the workplace heavily for 60 years or so, we’re only thirty or forty years out from the notion (at least here in America) that sex is enjoyable for woman.

        And our standard, traditional views on dating and sexuality is that women play “hard to get” (gatekeepers of sexuality) while men “pursue and convince”. That is, women say no and men try to get them to change their mind.

        It’s rather infuriating that the same cultural elements that contribute heavily to date rape (“She wants to be convinced!”) undoubtedly help feed fear of false rape claims (“She’s regretting giving into my charm!”).

        Sex is, in my mind, something two people do together. (Or, you know, more than two). Unfortunately, standard cultural signals (movies, TV, tradition, what-have-you) basically say sex is something women own that men compete for, and when they win they get it.

        When people talk about false rape claims, they’re not talking about “she lied about some stranger, a knife, and being physically and sexual assaulted”. They’re talking about “She said yes, then she took it back later” — that is, they pursued according to the social rules and won, and now she’s claiming backsies.

        It’s this “chasing and winning” mentality that leads to date rape, by rapists who don’t ever realize they’ve raped anyone — and also fuels the fear of women “regretting it” in the morning.

        Men are just as trapped as women in this, but women bear the brunt of the negative impact.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        It’s this “chasing and winning” mentality that leads to date rape, by rapists who don’t ever realize they’ve raped anyone…

        This right here is the very reason that I dissent from the whole “rape culture” idea. I’ve been chasing women for most of my adult life, but I have always had a sense of boundary, respect for the choices of the women I was with, and a healthy amount of fear of being accused of something. Because of those reasons, I’ve never raped or assaulted anyone or even came close. In fact, I have stopped short in a lot of situations were a bit more effort would have led to sex. I made conscious choices to that end.

        I believe that rape is a crime committed by determined rapists, by predators who know that what they are doing is wrong but do it anyway, mostly because they think that they can get away with it. I do not accept the idea that there are large number of men blundering into sexual assault, because they are under the sway of the patriarchy.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        I believe that rape is a crime committed by determined rapists, by predators who know that what they are doing is wrong but do it anyway, mostly because they think that they can get away with it. I do not accept the idea that there are large number of men blundering into sexual assault, because they are under the sway of the patriarchy.
        I can see how that’d be painful to believe.

        You should listen to women talk about sex and dating, with an open mind. I found it quite enlightening, if highly disturbing. Especially how many will state they’ve been in a position where they thought saying no was risky. Some took the risk, others did not. Those were the edge cases.

        And if you really want to feel bad, ask them how the men in question acted later. Not one seemed to think they’d done anything more than chase a pretty girl playing hard to get.

        But hey, that’s all rape culture and patriarchy, right? Nobody needs to change a thing. The system is fine. It’s just feminists whining. Dumb girls, right?Report

      • Avatar j r says:


        I can see how that’d be painful to believe.

        That is not even close to a meaningful response.

        But hey, that’s all rape culture and patriarchy, right? Nobody needs to change a thing. The system is fine. It’s just feminists whining. Dumb girls, right?

        And that is not even close to what I wrote.

        It is fitting that this is a post about Freddie DeBoer, because this is a pretty perfect example of We Are All Already Decided. You and people who agree with you have decide about the patriarchy and rape culture. I offered a substantive critique of those ideas. And instead of trying to rebut the critique, you instead just assume that my opinions are grounded in some sort of failure to understand the concept or reactionary failure to consider the opinions of other.

        You don’t have to agree with me. And you don’t even have to offer me a rebuttal, but you should save the recriminations.Report

      • Avatar Jeff Lipton says:


        [[I have always had a sense of boundary, respect for the choices of the women I was with, and a healthy amount of fear of being accused of something.]]

        Good for you — you deserve a cookie.

        [[I believe that rape is a crime committed by determined rapists, by predators who know that what they are doing is wrong but do it anyway, mostly because they think that they can get away with it. I do not accept the idea that there are large number of men blundering into sexual assault, because they are under the sway of the patriarchy.]]

        You believe incorrectly. There is tons of evidence that you are wrong.

        But hey, you know better than the women who [claim they] have been raped. ([cliam they] set aside because they lie.Report

      • Avatar j r says:


        Your internet snark and phony outrage is boring. If you have a substantive argument, if you want to drop some of this evidence, I am all ears. Otherwise, what’s the point?Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        I offered a substantive critique of those ideas.

        You said that you don’t believe them.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        Right Mike, that’s exactly what I said… direct quote.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        I admit, I left out all the facts, figures, and peer-reviewed studies that were cited.

        Seriously, Morat said he believes that it’s possible for a man to sexually assault a woman without realizing that’s what’s taking place, and you said you disagree because you’ve never behaved that way. That’s fine, even admirable, but hardly a substantive analysis of how the rest of humanity behaves.Report

      • Avatar Patrick says:

        What Mike just said.

        You’re not exactly covering yourself in glory here, JR.Report

      • Avatar j r says:


        Let’s recap this. @morat20 made a claim:

        It’s this “chasing and winning” mentality that leads to date rape, by rapists who don’t ever realize they’ve raped anyone…

        I countered that I do not believe the chasing mentality is necessarily related to rape and that the overwhelming majority of sexual assaults are considered by determined predators, not by men who stumble into the act because they are insufficiently feminist. That is a substantive reply. Full stop.

        You can, of course, choose to ask me to back up my reply with some evidence. That’s fair. Although, I’ll point out that @morat20 has provided and no one has asked for evidence of the original claim. Again, that’s fair. We Have All Decided about the rape culture, so the onus is on me to offer evidence of the counter. I have no problem with that. The problem is that the three responses I got didn’t ask for any evidence, but instead were of the OMG! Why don’t you believe women!? variety. Again, all fair. Assume what you will.

        By way of support, how about this Slate article by Amanda Marcotte (someone I don’t exactly align with on these issues):

        Let’s be clear: No one is saying that the high rates of victimization among college women mean that all men are rapists. That 1 in 5 college women have been assaulted doesn’t mean that 1 in 5 men are assailants. Far from it. A study published in 2002 by David Lisak and Paul Miller, for which they interviewed college men about their sexual histories, found that only about 6 percent of the men surveyed had attempted or successfully raped someone. While some of them only tried once, most of the rapists were repeat offenders, with each committing an average of 5.8 rapes apiece. The 6 percent of men who were rapists were generally violent men, as well.

        I quoted the relevant passages just to make sure that you don’t go to the link and cherry pick the one passage that implies exactly the opposite of the piece as a whole again. I would post the link directly to the paper mentioned, and others, that I’ve seen, but don’t want to get stuck in moderation. If anyone’s get evidence that does suggest that there is a large percentage of men unwittingly committing rape, I’m all ears.


        I don’t know what you mean. I’m not here looking for glory. I’m here to have discussions about ideas.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        Sh@t! A little help on closing the blockquote after “anyone…”


      • Avatar morat20 says:


        When you have a dating culture that is heavily into one side pushing while the other offers resistance — token or not — how on earth can that NOT lead to situations where people have crossed the line?

        What’s the difference between ‘playing hard to get’ and ‘intimidated into sex’?

        Because I’ve heard women talk — I’m sure they’re all feminists and radicals and like to blame the patriarchy, and just pretend to be regular people — and they all seem to have at least one story of being someplace they felt a ‘no’ was risky. And according to them — again, I’m sure all rape culture warriors and feminists and man-haters and whatnot who just date rapists and scum (weird choice for feminists, but such is life) — well, it seemed they all ended with the guy not realizing he’d done anything than ‘chase’.

        Indeed, I got the impression that most of them just…never saw the guy again, because they inevitably acted the same way when confronted. She just ‘regretted it in the morning’ and ‘you were just playing hard to get’ and ‘you seemed to want it last night’.

        But again — feminists and liars and rape-culture warriors who undoubtedly fabricated all those stories so that one day, when I was on the internet, I could use it against you. They’re freaking cunning.

        I’ll be sure to let them know that you know better than they do.Report

      • Avatar j r says:


        But again — feminists and liars and rape-culture warriors who undoubtedly fabricated all those stories so that one day, when I was on the internet, I could use it against you. They’re freaking cunning.

        Whenever I respond to someone else’s comment, I like to directly quote that comment. This helps me to make sure that I am responding to what that person actually wrote and not to some comically overwrought caricature of what I think that that person might have meant. You should try it.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        On this very site, people have chosen to talk about “how to rape” guides being promulgated by “Seduction Experts.” Say, you’re a young, stupid guy, who hasn’t twigged onto how to be attractive to the other sex. You want to “chase” them, as you might say. Might you not pick up a book like that?

        “The UN researchers found that this attitude is pervasive among the rapists they surveyed. Among the men who acknowledged they had sexually assaulted someone else, more than 70 percent of them said they did it because of “sexual entitlement.” Forty percent said they were angry or wanted to punish the woman. About half of the men said they did not feel guilty.”

        I think that last statement is kinda key. People who feel honestly guilty have either 1) become more mature/ less desperate. 2) learned to actually have feelings (yes, it’s true! people can learn!).

        I don’t think most of the “serial rapists” (particularly the ones that go out of their way to commit legal rape), really think that what they’re doing is immoral. Naturally, they know it’s against the law.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        I think that there is a large portion of men who would argue that arousal equals consent, and that someone failing to say no automatically means they wanted it (whether or not they were physically capable of saying no.)

        Somewhere around 50% of first sexual encounters by girls will fall into this category. (see some of the comments in Will Truman’s article about cycles and withdrawal method). Guy tries to do something (probably using about the same technique he’s used ten times before), it seems to be making more progress than usual, so he “goes with the flow” and has sex with her. Does she want it? Often, no, and she may very well be trying to talk him into stopping (“this is such a bad idea” may be a “nice” way to say “stop”, but feverish teenage minds may not understand it that way).

        Young people do stupid things, inexperienced people do stupid things, and they don’t call freshmen girls “freshmeat” for no reason. (there’s a catchphrase, as well: “7th grade… that’s when babies get made.” Yup, young and stupid).

        All of this gets way worse when you’re talking marijuana and alcohol — the main reason folks use them is because they make it “easier” to have sex. (note: this is not discounting the girls who get drunk so that they can say “I was drunk”).Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        I think there are a lot of folks that would claim what they’ve done isn’t over the line, who know damn well what they’re doing is fucking over the line. You don’t write a manual that says “you might go to jail for some of these techniques” without knowing they’re well over the line.

        Then again, a guide to going to jail doesn’t sound nearly as fun as a “seduction manual”Report

      • Avatar veronica d says:

        Uh folks, @j-r is mostly correct about the nature of rapists:

        Second, the sometimes-floated notion that acquaintance rape is simply a mistake about consent, is wrong. […] The vast majority of the offenses are being committed by a relatively small group of men, somewhere between 4% and 8% of the population, who do it again … and again … and again. That just doesn’t square with the notion of innocent mistake. Further, since the repeaters are also responsible for a hugely disproportionate share of the intimate partner violence, child beating and child sexual abuse, the notion that these predators are somehow confused good guys does not square with the data. Most of the raping is done by guys who like to rape, and to abuse, assault and violate. If we could get the one-in-twelve or one-in-25 repeat rapists out of the population (that is a lot of men — perhaps six or twelve million men in the U.S. alone) or find a way to stop them from hurting others, most sexual assault, and a lot of intimate partner violence and child abuse, would go away. Really.

        Okay, so this does not mean that @j-r ‘s overall views of gender and dating are correct. In fact, I think his ideas on these things are broken. But nevertheless, the idea that well-meaning-guy easily stumbles into rape is mostly false. Which does not mean there isn’t some seriously fucked up shit with well-meaning-guy or that we shouldn’t push back against “sexual pursuit” culture [1], but let’s keep these ideas separate.

        [1] Personally I dislike the term “rape culture” cuz so much of what is wrong with our dating climate is about shitty stuff that falls far short of rape. For the same reason I dislike the term “schrodinger’s rapist.” I believes these terms describe real principals that men and women need to talk about, but making it all about the crime of rape is a mistake.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        I’m pretty hesitant to lump all the rapists together. That seems to be a poor practice when you’ve got multiple reproductive strategies at work.

        It makes a lot of sense to me that the person who commits child sexual abuse (possibly while still a minor), may go on to rape his spouse or his child. (Person who fails at learning how to attract mates is not generally a decent person to marry, and may expect things we consider immoral).

        I have a lot more trepidation lumping “intimate partner violence” in with everything else.

        I suppose my point is that there is a level of detail missing, and I think it neuters this study of a lot of analytical power (note: 120 rapists isn’t enough to go any deeper, I realize that).Report

      • Avatar veronica d says:

        Oh, and on the PUA stuff, keep in mind that we feminists like to cherry pick the worst shit and broadcast it. Which, some of that shit is in fact dreadful and rape-y as heck. We need to talk about that. However, most dudes who try out the PUA scene are decent guys who are shy and lonely and they need help and LITERALLY NO ONE ELSE IS OFFERING ANY REAL HELP SO WHAT THE FUCK!

        And yes, PUA culture morphed into this misogynistic hellhole cuz everything is terrible but most dudes who get involved try out some “game” (which mostly means actually talking to women), get a girlfriend, and then get on with their lives.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        at least one of the guys writing PUA is trying to be helpful, not just a rapeydouche. (he calls it fundraising and easy money — but at least it’s not a scam).Report

      • Avatar zic says:


        In part, that’s just a numbers game; if a serial rapists commits, on average, six rapes (a number I’ve frequently read,) and a bumbler just one, the serial rapists is obviously the bigger problem; but that does not mean that the bumbler isn’t a problem; and the serial rapists may have begun his or her sordid career as a bumbler.

        I recommend this Vox post on how studies that provide numbers are conducted too. This jumped out at me:

        Studies of college women find that a large proportion don’t define what happened to them as a crime. In Krebs’ survey of women at two large public universities, 56 percent of the victims of forced sexual assault who didn’t report their assaults to the police, and 67 percent of victims of incapacitated sexual assault who did not do so, said it was at least partly because it was not “serious enough to report.” Slightly more than one-third of women in both categories said it was “unclear if a crime or harm was intended.”

        This is a common reaction: knowing that something had happened, but being unsure how to define it. “The language we use for a given experience inevitably defines how we feel about it,” Susan Dominus writes in the New York Times magazine this week, about a man who had sex with her during her senior year in college, when she was drunk and had refused. “I could not land on language that felt right — to me —about that encounter. I still cannot.”

        A national survey from the Medical University of South Carolina found that 15 percent of college women who were victims of forcible rape would describe what happened to them as “unpleasant, but not a crime.” An additional 32 percent called it a crime, but not rape. For incapacitated rape, the proportions were even higher: 31 percent called it an unpleasant experience, and 40 percent a crime other than rape.

        “If you ask women ‘have you been raped,’ some of them will tell you, ‘No, I absolutely have not been raped,'” Krebs said. “But if you start talking to them about experiences they may have had, they tell you about an experience that absolutely would meet the definition of having been raped. And you say ‘Do you think you were raped?’ and they say ‘No, absolutely not.'”

        As I said elsewhere, after I was raped, I didn’t think I’d been raped; that took a while to understand. Given that in 1970, marital rape wasn’t considered ‘rape,’ it’s not surprising that we’re still working toward grasping just what the crime actually is.

        The accounting that goes undone, that disturbs me the most, is the impact of sexual assaults (not just rapes) on women’s lives and their ability to have solid relationships after; I still think that men pay a huge toll or other men’s aggression here, too. It’s not just a toll on women. I admit so some perverse self interest here; men’s self-interest of not having to bear the burden of other men’s violence might be one of the best ways to help decrease the amount of sexual violence women experience.Report

      • Avatar veronica d says:

        @zic — I don’t think that contradicts the point of that article. Myself, I find it quite implausible that predator guy is just bumbling guy after a few mistakes. Instead, I suspect that predator guy in on the psychopath spectrum and has probably been predatory his whole life.

        Bumbling guy needs education. Our criminal justice system will do a poor job providing that.

        Predator guy needs to be put away. Our criminal justice system, while broken, is all we’ve got for that guy.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        So you’ve got your butt standard “I’m entitled to sex from my property” guy (or entitle him “men are better than women, and women should submit to sex from men”). He’s inflexible, rigid, prone to shaming others — but well and truly not anywhere near the psychopath mindset. He may start out by fucking his sister, he may simply fuck his daughter when his wife says no.

        Then you’ve got your more personable guy who fucks his daughter (this is generally a guy who’s at least decent at being appealing, and nice and fun). The first time, it’s nearly always rape. After that, he provides enough incentives that it is mostly consensual (remember: mom doesn’t know (or pretends not to), so the girl could always squeal) — sometimes to the point where it continues after the girl has reached the age of majority.

        Then you’ve got someone who’s genuinely skilled at using arousal and surprise to obtain sex without consent (note: often, this isn’t actually rape. girl has fun, girl didn’t say no, girl would have consented, was expecting this from the getgo). He’s generally part of “the scene” at concerts and stuff. Still, do this often enough, and someone’s not going to be wanting sex.

        You have scavengers, who basically make sure that someone is passed out or otherwise incapable of saying no. They generally know what they’re doing — may not admit it was wrong, though.

        You have the guy who works on the level of “social pressure”. He’s helpful and reliable, and generally decent… but expects sex at the end. And, being generally older than the girl, is able to use a good few tricks to “convince” her to let it happen. Now, yes, some of the time this is consensual. Sometimes it’s contortions to get consent. And sometimes it’s not really consensual at all.

        … I think one of the main points I’ve got going on here, is that few guys actually make it their objective “to rape someone.” The point is to have sex and not have to go to jail.Report

      • Avatar morat20 says:

        With the culture of chasing and winning (and playing hard to get) women get screwed. And, to use Zic’s terms, the poor bumbler gets a pretty bad hand to boot.

        Without that culture, that notion that he has to chase (and she has to guard) and you ‘win’ access to sex, he wouldn’t have pushed past a line, he wouldn’t have done something that — if it ever becomes clear to him exactly what happened — he’d deeply regret.

        The way we view sex (and ‘sexual conquests’ — what a lovely term) and female sexuality is a problem, because it leads to a broad spectrum of moral and criminal issues — everything from entitled rapists to bumbling guys doing something they’d never do if they realized exactly what was going on.

        *shrug*. Chasing and pursuing sex, rather than viewing it as a mutual decision, is basically encouraging coercion and line-blurring. And while changing that culture, that antiquated view of sex, won’t stop predators — it will stop otherwise good-intentioned guys from crossing the line, because it will stop blurring the lines.

        Which goes back to the fear of false rape claims, which I think is pretty heavily rooted in the understanding that yes, that’s a blurry darn line at times.

        Which is why it’s weird some people seem so adamant against making social changes that clarify that line. What’s the downside there? The upside seems pretty obvious — it removes a lot of ambiguity over consent and prevents guys from unknowingly crossing the line into coercing sex (or, for the more predatory, exploiting that blurred line to coerce sex with little risk).

        Why so invested in chasing and winning sex? What the heck is wrong with normalizing the view that sex is a decision between equals, not some weird competition?Report

      • Avatar veronica d says:

        @morat20 — I very much agree. The problem of course is {obligatory XKCD cartoon:}.

        The thing is, even if we can diminish sexual pursuit culture, I don’t think we’ll eliminate flirting and sexual uncertainty, cuz people like these games, both women and men. A lot of people are good at them and they won’t stop just because some other people suck at them.

        Have you read Clarisse Thorn’s Confessions of a Pickup Artist Chaser? In it she talks much about how people enjoy the uncertainty of seduction culture, how the “game” is something people seek out and get value from. She also explains why BDSM developed more of a let’s-talk-openly-about-it culture.

        (It’s perhaps surprising to some, but many consent-culture principals emerge from BDSM.)

        But anyway, we probably won’t succeed at eliminating the bad parts unless we understand how and why people like this stuff. It is not all false consciousness and patriarchy.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        morat and v,
        We can actually keep the whole “uncertainty” etc, the whole “let’s make sex about getting lost in the moment”… we just need to get people to talk about what they want beforehand. And establish stop signs — preferably multiple and not all verbal (for both sexes!).

        As to why folks like this? It’s a bit of a fantasy, that a guy is so interested in you that he is willing to spend a long time convincing you to say yes. Well, that and most guys are REALLLY bad at foreplay, and worse at wanting to do foreplay. If you left sex up to most teenage guys, it would be 30 minutes at most (from first base on). If you asked most teenage girls, they’d probably say a couple hours — maybe more.

        So some of it is just “wait until I’m Really Ready, dammit!”Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:


        Thanks for the Marcotte link.

        Only 6% were actually or attempted rapists during college, eh? Only? Recall a group of people you knew then. For me, it’s the guys on my dorm floor my freshman year. There were about 30 of us. I remember those days fondly, and thought of almost every one as a friend, but apparently 1 or 2 of them were likely to be rapists. Damn!Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:


        According to the logic of the stat, they’re not just likely to rapists, but serial rapists.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        @mike-schilling and @michael-drew

        If you take any 30 people at random, there is a chance that one of them is a sh*tbag. In this case, though, you are misapplying the statistical evidence. The study in question ( sampled about two thousand college students, but that sample included lots of non-traditional students.

        Participants in this study were 1,882 students at a mid-sized, urban commuter university where students are diverse both in age and ethnicity. The mean age of the sample was 26.5 years (SD =8.28), with a range of 18 to 71. More than 20% were over age 30, and nearly 8% were over 40.

        The paper mentions that there was no statistical difference in reporting sexual/violent acts between ethnicities, but I did not see anything mentioning other demographic factors. I don’t know what school you went to, but you mentioned your dorm so it’s probably a traditional four-year college or university. In order to say with any confidence whether the rates are the same for your 30 friends, we’d either have to see how the data in this study breaks down or find another study that uses a pool of traditional college students.Report

      • Avatar veronica d says:

        It is unlikely we’ll ever have really good data on this simply because predators are not going to want to be honest about their predation. The studies we have were given to men who were kinda ignorant of their purpose. (They did not ask “did you rape anyone?”)

        That said, if you follow the link I posted above [1], you’ll find a separate study done on incoming Navy personnel that showed comparable results.

        Of course, neither “college students” nor “navy dudes” is the same as “men-in-general.” However, these studies are hard to do. Furthermore, as studies like this get talked about and people become familiar with this data, the possibility exists that the predators will become aware of their purpose and then lie. In fact, that seems probable to me. Predators are often smart.

        Let me add that scientific rigor is always desirable. However, it is not always possible, and despite its lack the world continues to turn. A demand for scientific rigor can appear principled, but in fact be a strategic distraction.

        So, have 6% of men raped or attempted to rape, and are 4% repeat predators?

        Well, yeah. I bet that’s pretty close, give or take a few points. Of course we’d love good demographic breakdowns, but we don’t have such a thing. We must do the best we can with what we have. For example, I work with about 800 male software engineers. What are the odds one or more of those men are serial predators?

        Given the data we have, I say there is a decent chance at least one of my coworkers is a serial predator. If he is smart, he keeps his behavior far away from work.

        But then, even if this guy exists, it is unlikely he is one of the guys on my team or among the folks I play boardgames with or have lunch with or whatever. My team is small, and among 900 engineers we self-select our friends.

        When I’m at a club and some dude is chatting me up, what are the odds he is a serial predator?

        I’m not sure, right. But “a few percentage points” seems reasonable. It’s consistent with the data. It’s also consistent with anecdote and my general observations of people.

        You might say, “But OMG you can’t say exactly what the odds are without more data!”

        Sure, but so what?

        So tldr: @mike-schilling , yeah, your wider college social circles probably included a serial predator. Chances are, if you could go back in time, knowing what we now know, you might guess who he is. If he is typical, he made a lot of jokes about getting women drunk and fucking them. You might have laughed along (I dunno; I didn’t know you back then, but lots of guys laugh at those jokes). The women probably kinda knew who he was, at least a few of them, but they might have been very hesitant to share their experiences cuz they get used to dudes ignoring them or blaming them for what dudes do.

        On the other hand, perhaps your circles did not include such a guy. We shouldn’t suppose they are evenly distributed.


      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Going by any studies I’ve read about, an 18-year-old is more likely to engage in violent crime than a 30 or 40-year old.

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        But a 40 year old was an 18 year old. And a 19 year old, and a twenty year old, and…, and…, …and a 40 year old. If he was a rapist at 18, he would still be a rapist at 40 for the purpose of the survey, and he definitely would have had more time to go from being one-time rapist to a serial rapist as well.Report

      • Avatar veronica d says:

        Interesting thing, I just read that Columbine book that @tod-kelly keeps recommending, and within they talk a bit about psychopaths (according to the theory that Harris was such). Anyway, one thing the author points out is that many folks on the psychopathic spectrum, who don’t go completely off the rails, end up pretty okay in their later years. They are a mess as young people, but as older people they figure out how to keep themselves on track.

        Which, I’ve actually known people like this. As teens and young adults they are really pretty terrible, obviously “not right.” As middle-aged people they turn out pretty decent.

        The theory is that these people don’t fundamentally change. Inside they still lack anything like empathy. However, they learn social decency as a skill, something to let them have a normal-ish life. (The author also notes that these skills can be taught to younger psychopaths, who then often stay out of jail.)

        Anyway, if my supposition is correct, that these predators are on this spectrum, then we should expect that many would stop offending as they aged. Furthermore, older men have a drop in libido, so there are multiple factors slowing them down.

        This seems right to me. I’d love to have more data.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:


        It’s a *very* different vibe than Columbine, but if I may I’d like to recommend that you checkout Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test. It’s undeniably on the “light” side of non-fiction, but no less fascinating for it. (Seriously; I picked it up one afternoon and didn’t look up until I had finished it.)

        Plus, it will point you toward a lot of the newer and the historical data you’re wanting to see.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 says:

        @Mike Schilling, yeah, your wider college social circles probably included a serial predator. Chances are, if you could go back in time, knowing what we now know, you might guess who he is. If he is typical, he made a lot of jokes about getting women drunk and fucking them. You might have laughed along (I dunno; I didn’t know you back then, but lots of guys laugh at those jokes). The women probably kinda knew who he was, at least a few of them, but they might have been very hesitant to share their experiences cuz they get used to dudes ignoring them or blaming them for what dudes do.
        True story. Guy I knew in college that was friends with — we were freshman, he seemed to share some interests, we hung out a lot. He was dating a girl — I had been interested in, but they started dating before I got up the nerve to ask her out.

        My whole freshman year I knew those two. The longer I knew them, the more…off..the man felt. I couldn’t put my finger on it, it was just a weird vibe. He was my friend, I never saw him do anything. Honestly, I just chalked it up to him being a bit quirky (he had a minor disabiltiy that left him with a weird limp, I just rationalized that his sense of humor and comments came from probably taking a lot of crap about it in High School. It was just enough of a problem for HS idiots to give him grief, without being enough to get sympathy. Nasty spot to be in).

        I lost track of him — he and the girl broke up after about 18 months, I had changed schools but remained friendly with the girl (platonic. I wasn’t holding a year+ torch. Good friends, but we’d have been awful in a relationship). Years later, I got bits of the story from her.

        In hindsight, as an adult, I can list chapter and verse as to why I felt he was off. Hearing her talk about him, their relationship, and the years of stalking after — it wasn’t a surprise. It was a case of me, ten years later, going “Oh, yeah. I saw that coming. I just didn’t know what I was seeing”.

        He was charming. He hid it very well, for an 18 year old. (Which is to say, fairly obvious to someone with a decade or more of life under his belt. But I’m sure when he was 30, he was equally better at covering it up).

        So yeah, in college — I was friends with an abusive guy. Stalker, controlling, ultimately violent — I have no idea if he raped her, but whatever was going on wasn’t entirely consensual by the time she fled.

        And I never knew. I’d probably never have known, if she hadn’t spilled enough for me to connect the dots. Why would I think on this guy, years later, and try to puzzle out why the longer I knew him, the more I had that feeling he was a bit off?Report

      • Avatar veronica d says:

        @tod-kelly — Thanks. Just downloaded the sample.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      I’d argue a bit differently. The problem with sexual assault crimes is that we are really talking about two different things. There is the legal crime being committed. Theoretically, government as law enforcer should treat sexual assault crimes no different than other crimes like larceny or murder. The police should do the investigaiton, arrest if probable cause exsists, and the judiciary conduct the trial with the normal due process rights. The feelings of the victims should be technically of little concern. Like all other crimes, its really all about the accused and whether the prosecution can prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. At least in theory, an accused rapist and accused car theif are supposed to be treated the same.

      Than you have sexual assault crimes as a tool of power and oppression with a history older than humanity. When dealing with sexual assault crimes as a tool of oppression than the victim becomes paramount for obvious reasons. It should be about helping the victim overcome her or his trauma and be able to continue living again rather than the rights of the accused or the needs of the government as law enforcer.

      One of the problems with sexual assault crimes is that the theoretic needs of the government as law enforcer and the victim diverge more sharply than they do for other crimes.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      Voter fraud.Report

    • Avatar j r says:

      I don’t accept this. I am on Team Due Process/Don’t Try People in the Court of Public Opinion. I can accept that sexual assault happens a lot more than gets reported and more then we’d like to admit, but I don’t accept that as a valid reason for abandoning liberal principles or skepticism in general.

      If some people want to take my beliefs and presume that it puts me on Team Reactionary/MRA/Rape Apologists that’s fine. It’s fine, but it certainly ain’t true.

      My guiding principle is this: if you want to talk seriously about stopping rape and sexual assault, let’s stop talking about this as an ideological issue and start talking about it in terms of criminal justice and risk mitigation.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        @j-r I’m not sure what teams you think I’m referring to, but whatever it is it’s not even in the right zip code of what I meant.Report

      • Avatar Jeff Lipton says:

        Yes, let’s.

        If I report a burglary, the police will believe my story unless there’s good evidence that no burglary took place. If I opine that Steve did it, the police will investigate Steve. If the DA thinks there’s a case against Steve, Steve will be arrested and tried.

        No one official starts with the assumption that Steve is innocent until he goes to trial.

        Let’s treat rape like that.Report

      • Avatar Jeff Lipton says:

        Or what LeeEsq said at 3:03 PMReport

      • Avatar j r says:


        That could be the case. I assumed that you meant that you meant that people’s responses on this topic tend to break down roughly along ideological lines, which is true, but I think that I view that dynamic differently than you do.

        Out of curiosity, what teams do you mean?Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        @j-r I would agree they do somewhat, in the same way I would agree that they do somewhat with gender. My main quibble with your response had to do with your characterization of one particular side. (e.g.: I don’t think there are enough MRAs in the word to be a “team,” despite Paul Elam and David Futrelle’s wishful thinking that there were; and outside of certain very rare and specific instances — such as fans of Kobe Bryant, Bill Clinton and Michael Jackson — I’ don’t know that a “rape apologist” is that much of a thing.)

        My point was rather that we tend to have predawn lines as to what we think occurred in any given case where someone is claiming to have been raped, even though we do not believe that we do — and that exposure to someone on the other side causes us to increase our belief/doubt in the accuser/accused, regardless of the specific circumstances.

        Political stripe certainly is a big factor, but I would argue that sex and gender is a far larger one — not the sex and gender of the person forming an opinion, but the sex and gender of the person claiming to have been a victim. One of the things I learned doing my MRM research is that those most likely to throw around the term “rape apologist” or “rape culture” are quite often the people most inclined to mock, denigrate, “victim blame,” and/or lobby for limited or no resources for male victims of sexual assault. Which is why I am coming to the view that when we have these public conversations (or shouting matches) about rape, we’re not often talking about rape so much as we are other stuff.Report

      • Avatar j r says:


        I am roughly in agreement with you and I admit to being more than a little facetious with that first comment. However, there is a reason for that.

        To some extent this about two teams and to some extent this is about one team, or one major team and a few minor ones. One team has decided that there is a rape/sexual assault epidemic, this is directly attributable to a set of forces that can be described as the patriarchy and rape culture, and that anyone who dissents on these issues is necessarily misogynistic and reactionary.

        I don’t agree with that. And it’s not that I am not concerned with sexual assault, but because there are several major flaws in the base assumptions and in the reasoning that flows from those assumptions. I’m not constitutionally oriented towards not believing women or minimizing the effects of sexual assault. In fact, I’m all for believing women, because I don’t think it costs much to adopt belief as the default. My main issue is what happens next. It’s how the forces of the law or administration or the media or random mobs of people treat those claims that concern me. That is where due process comes into play. Personally, I don’t think that is a very reactionary point of view, but for lots of people it is.

        Put another way, there are situations where two sides are drawn by people self-selecting into two different camps. And there are situations where two sides are drawn by one group of people outlining the acceptable parameters of that position. This feels an awful lot like the latter situation to me. Especially when I make a comment, like the one above, stating that I think rape is overwhelmingly a problem of determined predators, as opposed to unwitting bumblers, and people come back with comments accusing me of calling women liars.

        How else am I supposed to read this?Report

      • Avatar Jim Heffman says:

        jr: the issue is that the people accusing you of calling women liars do see rape as a problem of determined predators. They just have a much more expensive definition of “determined predator”.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        Cite the statistics more. it avoids flamefights. 😉
        When you don’t, it’s your opinion versus theirs.
        And you’re talking to people who have spent a long time gathering anecdotes — so they’re perhaps justified in thinking “Mr. Joe is wrong” based on their substantial anecdotal research.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        um, really? Did you not read anything of what zic said? Anything at all?
        I’m not on zic’s side on this, nor am I on V’s. I’m simply stating facts as I see them, and I did not call him a liar.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        One team has decided that there is a rape/sexual assault epidemic, this is directly attributable to a set of forces that can be described as the patriarchy and rape culture, and that anyone who dissents on these issues is necessarily misogynistic and reactionary.

        And who is that team? Who’s the captain? Just because a woman might say she thinks sexual violence is a problem because she’s experienced it or knows several woman who’ve experienced it, do you think that means that all women are in a conspiracy against men?

        It’s just a mirror reflection of thoughtlessness you so decry.Report

      • Avatar RTod says:

        @j-r I largely agree with you, but I think that many (most?) people who argue along these lines ask that they be allowed to do so in a vacuum. (Not to say that you, jr, are doing so.)

        A woman who has been raped who stepped forward truly is put on trial for doing so — both in her community and in an actual court of law. Is there another crime in our society in which we are allowed to decide that due to a victims alleged moral shortcomings they totally had it coming and deserve more scorn than the person actually accused of a crime? If so, I can’t really think of one.

        And you might well be that rare guy who can hold both truths in the same hand. But if so, you’re a pretty rare bird in my experience. And knowing you as I do, I belejve that you are such a rare bird. But that doesn’t change the fact that most guys who argue the points you do are closer to Heffman than you.Report

  12. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    I recommend the Slate Double X Gabfest that just came out on all of this.

    My take: The first section, which covers UVA, Rolling Stone, and the Yoffe piece to a lesser extent is fantastic.

    The second section where they talk to Yoffe was slightly disappointing, as everyone seemed a little nervous to dive in too far, especially the Michigan story. Also, for all my concerns with the process revealed at Michigan, Yoffe’s presentation of the events in question in the Michigan case she examines in her piece is truly disturbing here, in part because of her evident titillation (unique to the podcast), but (in common with the piece) mostly because she presents the accused’s account as unmediated fact when in fact it’s merely one side of the story, while her own piece notes that there is another side that the accuser wasn’t interested in recounting to her. Just because the accused has that preference doesn’t mean you drop the “according to Drew,”s (the name of the accused) when recounting his side. (There can be an argument about whether it;s right to even present his side if the accuser is not interested in providing hers for presentation.)

    The third section where they talk to an attorney who sues universities on behalf of victims of sexual assault left me feeling scummy, as all I heard was an attorney who had learned the best ways of collecting percentages of settlements form big institutions posing as an expert on victim psychology. It’s a bad choice of guest to be placed in the traditional space that an expert (contrasted to mere journalists) would be to speak on the topic they were actually interested in finding out about. Nevertheless, still somewhat insightful.

    That sounds a lot more critical tha I expected it to. I found it a really important hour of listening on this topic.

    Note re @tod-kelly ‘s observation: Rosin closes with a note lamenting that the issue breaks down so that there are clearly two teams of people who view the issue in contrasting ways.Report

  13. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    Pundits I like write powerfully.
    Pundits you like are shrill.
    Pundits neither of us like are batshit.Report

  14. Avatar Chris says:

    By the way, where the fish is Erdely? If ever there was a time for a reporter to do some explaining, this is it, but she has dropped off the face of the planet, apparently not responding to any requests for statements or interviews.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      Ever since they started fact-checking her, she’s been silent.Report

    • Avatar j r says:

      It could be that her explanation would simply be I saw a story that fit my pre-conceived ideas about sexual assault and that I knew would have a tremendous impact on an issue that I care deeply about and that led me to do know of the due diligence and corroboration that professional journalists ought to do.

      Her initial response to the criticism was that the real focus of her story was on the response from the administration and the wider campus community and not specifically about Jackie’s story, and since all of that was true she was standing behind the story.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Her initial response, in the interview I heard, was to completely misunderstand what the interviewer was questioning about her reporting. It was really kind of strange, considering the fact that she’s an experienced reporter. It was a weird interview.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Hmmm….what you read as “misunderstand” I read as “evade”, but…

        She’s probably hunkered down and lawyered up. The school and the frat (and hell, RS) are going to try to go after somebody for this reporting debacle, I assume….Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:


        Was that the (previous) Slate podcast? Or has she done other interviews than that about the reporting, since questions have arisen?Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Michael, yeah, the Slate podcast, which is where the shit began to hit the fan, so to speak.

        Glyph, that’s fair. It’s possible she was evading, though the way she answered the question was so awkward that I took her to be confused. I think she may have been thinking, “Oh shit, I fucked up,” though.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        This isn’t really hit on in the WaPo piece that I linked to above, but a separate WaPo blog post points out something pretty significant:

        The published RS story states the following:
        …Jackie fears the backlash could be big – a “shitshow” predicted by her now-former friend Randall, who, citing his loyalty to his own frat, declined to be interviewed.

        The implication here is that Erdely, or someone else from RS, tried to interview Randall and he declined. In the first WaPo piece, however, Randall and the other two friends explicitly state that neither Erdely or anyone from RS ever tried to interview them.

        I guess that Erdely could argue that the campus reaction was the story and that she was not there to fact check Jackie’s claims. That is a pretty big oversight, though.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Yeah, the latest WaPo report suggests that Erdely lied about who she contacted for the article, which seems like a really serious charge, the sort that, if it turns out to be true, will almost certainly end her career, if it isn’t over already.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        @chris “Yeah, the latest WaPo report suggests that Erdely lied about who she contacted for the article… if it turns out to be true, will almost certainly end her career, if it isn’t over already.”



        I don’t know how to respond to this, because even though it’s so patently the opposite of true with today’s internet and cable journalism, pointing that out to you feels like explaining to my young kid that I’m the guy who’s been leaving presents under the tree each year.

        Like, he *has* to be told eventually, but I feel like a s**t heel being the one to kill the innocence.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        You mean the way that covering Ronald Reagan’s campaign “objectively” while working as his debate coach ended George Will’s career? Or the way making a completely false accusation of racism against Shirley Sherrod that resulted in her losing her job ended Andrew Breitbart’s career? Or the way being revealed as a serial plagiarizer ended Ben Domenech’s career? Or the way that after that didn’t end Domenech’s career, being caught writing “objectively” about Malaysia while on its government’s payroll ended it?Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        Oooooooor, I could just wait for Mike to tell you there’s no Santa.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        She is a freelancer who does long investigative pieces. Who’s going to pay her to write that sort of thing now that we know she has the reporting skills of a six-year old, and the ethics of a sociopathic six-year old? I ask sincerely. Unlike Will, say, she doesn’t have a wingnut welfare system that sees itself as a necessary corrective to the liberal bias in media in place to help her. She’s going to be as much of a pariah on the “left” for creating another Duke lacrosse as she is on the “right” for just talking about rape on campus. I can’t imagine Rolling Stone will choose to remember her email or phone number. Who else will?Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        I have (as you might have gathered) little respect for George Will, but as a long-time columnist for Newsweek and the Washington Post, and a panelist on ABC political affairs shows, he’s hardly a beneficiary of wingnut welfare.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        (If it’s not clear, I don’t read those much. Or ever. Or Will.)Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew says:

      I would say Rolling Stone probably has her metaphorically wrapped up in bubble wrap, stuffed in a sound-proof closet.Report

  15. Avatar Jeff Lipton says:

    Ich. Seriously, just ICH!!!!!

    The Duke boys were not saints. They didn’t rape that one woman, but there was enough other conduct that was corroborated that should have had them expelled. Then they were charged with one specific charge, were tried and were found not guilty. So, for them, the system worked.

    For zic, and for the thousands like her, the system didn’t work. AT ALL.

    Jesus Fishing Christ.Report