Posted on | June 25, 2014 | 24 Comments
When someone attempted to rape me my freshman year, I asked my college, Yale University, for help, but instead I was basically advised to keep quiet. I shouldn’t formally report the assault, I was told. Despite my clear and repeated “no”, school administrators cast the whole event as a misunderstanding among friends.
In other words, the administration at Yale is pro-rape. This is the point of her anecdote, and if you are skeptical of Brodsky’s implication that officials of this elite institution do not take attempted rape seriously, then you must be pro-rape, too.
Without any knowledge of the details of the incident Brodsky describes, I suspect that — contrary to her implication — Yale officials were (and are) enormously sympathetic to the plight of Brodsky and other students like her. The problem, however, is that these types of incidents are typically a “he said/she said” situation, where she says she was the victim of an assault, he denies it and, because there are no witnesses or relevant evidence, it is impossible to determine guilt as a matter of criminal law. What can school officials do in such a situation? Stipulate that Brodsky is telling the truth about her “clear and repeated no”; also, however, stipulate that the incident did not actually result in intercourse. What is the difference between “attempted rape” and “she said no, so I stopped”?
Again, I don’t know the details of the particular case, but if Yale officials who did know the details saw it as “a misunderstanding among friends,” why? This question remains unanwswered, but Alexandra Brodsky is one of several plaintiffs in a federal civil rights lawsuit against Yale, and she now writes about rape with such frequency that some might say she’s parlayed this one incident into a career.
In a recent column at Feministing, Brodsky recounted a series of morning-after complaints she says she’s heard from women:
I don’t know. I mean, it’s not that bad, but he did that thing where he kept trying to negotiate with me when I said I wouldn’t sleep with him.
It’s not that bad, but when I wanted to leave he called me a cunt and blockaded his door.
It’s not that bad, but he was really rough, like choking shit, even after I told him it was too much.
It’s not that bad, but he took off the condom without telling me halfway through.
Complaint Number One is not a description of a crime. “Trying to negotiate” after an initial refusal is not attempted rape; otherwise the prison overcrowding problem would be even worse than it is.
Complaint Number Two is probably not a crime, either. It might be evidence that you’re dating a dangerous psychopath, but as long as you escaped without physical injury, you are not the victim of a crime. Are we going to start locking up every guy who slams doors and says rude things when he’s angry? And should we also lock up women who do the same thing?
Complaint Number Three is evidence that the guy you’re dating has watched too much porn and also may be a dangerous psychopath.
Complaint Number Four is evidence that you’re dating a liar.
It seems to me that Miss Brodsky may be trying to tell us that guys at Yale are all lying psychopaths who watch too much porn. Something about those high SAT scores just makes guys weird, I guess.
She’s not willing to stop there, however. No, sir. Miss Brodsky works herself up into a paroxysm of feminist fury that concludes thus:
But this isn’t a contained infection. We can’t just cut it out. It’s a cancer, a pernicious proliferation of what we already are: the “not that bad” is cordoned off from “real violence” only for our own convenience. So we will have to disrupt the whole body, and though all men can help, most won’t want to. Today’s allies might think it’s easy not to be a rapist but find it harder to accept that their desires are not paramount. The flowchart is less appealing when it demands, in successive boxes, Do you believe you are entitled to the fulfillment of your fantasies? Do you believe the women who refuse to oblige deprive you unjustly? Do you believe sex is yours? You do. You do.
It won’t be pretty or comfortable to change not only what heterosexual sex looks like but who gets to judge it and who is allowed to be angry in the morning. Who is allowed to stop excusing and forgiving and so who is no longer–endlessly, endlessly–forgiven and excused.
Suggestion: Maybe you should get yourself some cats, Miss Brodsky.
As for you single guys out there — especially you porn-addicted psychopaths at Yale — let me offer some advice: Assume that every girl you meet is a radical lesbian feminist. This is a pretty safe bet at Yale, probably, but if you happen to encounter a woman who seems interested in you, despite the fact that you have a penis, act as if you are surprised. React with stunned disbelief.
“What? You’re heterosexual? You’re kidding me, right? I mean, sure, I find you very attractive, personally, but when I pointed you out to my friends, they all said you look like a total lesbian.”
Will that work as a pick-up line? I don’t know, but at least you’ll have some interesting conversations. And if she’s absolutely determined to prove she’s heterosexual — hey, that’s consent, buddy.