James Taranto of the WSJ: Drunk women who are raped may be as guilty as their rapists

James Taranto, saying something annoying

James Taranto, saying something terrible

Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto is probably the closest thing to an authentic Men’s Rights Activist there is operating in the mainstream media today, by which I mean he regularly puts forth “arguments” on gender issues that are breathtaking in their backwardness.

His latest, er, contribution to the gender debate? A column in which he suggested that drunk women who are raped on college campuses by drunk men are as guilty as their rapists. No, really. Here’s his argument, such as it is:

If two drunk drivers are in a collision, one doesn’t determine fault on the basis of demographic details such as each driver’s sex. But when two drunken college students “collide,” the male one is almost always presumed to be at fault. His diminished capacity owing to alcohol is not a mitigating factor, but her diminished capacity is an aggravating factor for him.

Huh. I’m pretty sure we determine the victim of a rape not on demographics but based on WHICH PERSON RAPED THE OTHER PERSON. Much in the way we would charge a drunken person who shot another drunken person with shooting that person, rather than simply throwing up our hands and saying, well, they were both drunk, so no harm no foul, right?

For a longer take on the issue, check out this piece over on Media Matters.

Media Matters has also assembled a nice, and mercifully rather brief, media montage of some of Taranto’s other pronouncements on gender issues. See if you can make it to the end without pulling out all of your hair.

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Posted on February 12, 2014, in antifeminism, mansplaining, men who should not ever be with women ever, misogyny, MRA, oppressed men, playing the victim, rape, rape culture and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 244 Comments.

  1. Plus the notion that someone can only be aroused when they’re willing – an argument used against both female and male rape victims.

  2. A lot of the modern attitude of “women can’t rape men” (which unfortunately does exist) comes down to “men are always willing anyway” or “what men would turn down sex” and so on.

    I disagree. I think that the erasure of female-on-male rape victims and female-on-female rape victims results from the phallocentric aspect of the patriarchy – women are incapable of rape because they don’t have a penis. Granted, men can face attitudes like the ones you’ve described, but I don’t think that’s the main form of marginalization there.

  3. What I mean about “main form of marginalization” is that the phallocentrism I described leads to the complete erasure of victims of female rapists, but attitudes regarding the victim’s so-called inherent willingness usually engenders incredulity rather than erasure.

  4. While that attitude is arround (that all sex requires a penis, that women cannot be the active part in sex because they lack one etc.), I’ve never actually seen it applied on the erasure of female-on-male rape, not even by the ethically challenged or the biology knowledge challenged. Literally never. But I have seen the attitude I described plentifully by those people. I think by and large people do acknowledge that acts being initiated and also acts forced by women are still sexual acts; it’s just that way too many think sexual acts is what men want anyway, so why would a “real man” ™ complain? If he does, he’s no “real man” ™, and really, that “lucky guy” should just shut up.

    Also, I think “phallocentric” is one of those terms that give ammunition to those people ridiculing feminism…

  5. I hear the erasure of f-on-m rape quite a bit actually. Usually in real life conversations about rape, there’s some asshole who brings it up literally as a joke, and a few laugh about it. These guys are usually really conservative.

  6. @Octo

    I really don’t care if the usage of the term phallocentrism allows anti-feminists to ridicule feminists. It describes an essential aspect of patriarchy, and beyond that, even more commonly accepted terms like intersectionality serve as ammunition for ridicule. Anti-feminists will ridicule us regardless of what terms we use.

    Anyway, the prevalence of the forms of marginalization we are discussing is besides the point. I’m just saying that phallocentric assumptions about sexuality tend to completely erase the existence of female perpetrators, whereas assumptions about the victim’s “willingness”, while also capable of causing erasure, usually just cause incredulity. It’s true that forced sexual acts perpetrated by women are seen as sexual, but rape is regarded as a crime perpetrated by men only because men are regarded as the only people who have penises. Think about how often people recommend castration of rapists as a punishment for rape – as if the absence of a penis precludes the possibility of raping altogether.

  7. Personally, I think that has to do with statistics. Which of course are skewed because rape with women as perpetrators is probably even more under-reported than rape with men as perpetrators, but still I’d say it’s a fairly secure assumption that a considerable majority of rapists are men. So if there are calls for castration of rapists, it’s IMO because of that.

    “Incredulity” or “erasure” are in effect pretty much the same here: The victim is left alone with what happened to him. The former merely has the added side-effect that he’s getting ridiculed as well. So I think you’re arguing too fine a division in terminology here.

  8. Is your under-reporting comment based only on male rape of females and female rape of males? Because that ignores some other combinations.

  9. Well, rape is underreported in general. What I meant is that rape committed by women is probably *even* more underreported than rape committed by men. But you’re right, it’s also true that male on male rape is more underreported than male on female rape. And probably also female on female rape, but I’m less sure in that area… Anyway, these things were not relevant to either mine or Ally’s argument (which were about comparing men and women as perpetrators of rape), but yeah, they’re true.

  10. @kiwi girl, from previous conversations on that topic, I’ve gathered that men’s are only unable to control themselves around attractive women, so theoretically they could be raped by ugly women (why, just look at Diogenes’ comment).

    They could also be raped by other men, but that is apparently funny, so…

  11. I’ve had sex while blackout drunk.

    Well, bully for you! I’ve never even been blackout drunk, mostly because I can’t physically put that much away in the first place. And even if I could, I’d still avoid it, because the last thing I want is to “have sex” in that unsafe (and unsavory) condition.

    Had I seen her sober I wouldn’t have done it, but I don’t consider that instance rape.

    So, you’re saying that it might be rape if the other person isn’t good-looking enough to boink while sober? What fucked-up point are you trying to make here, exactly?

    Now, if she got pregnant from that, that would be another can of worms.

    Oh, so you getting her pregnant = she raped you. Got it.

  12. @emily, and I know you’re repeating what others have said and this isn’t what you think:

    from previous conversations on that topic, I’ve gathered that men’s are only unable to control themselves around attractive women, so theoretically they could be raped by ugly women

    That would be a necessary and sufficient condition, however the fact that women of varying degrees of attractiveness* get raped clearly means that menz are unable to control themselves around *all* women. The argument fails on the basis of sexual assault statistics, m’lud.

    *by whatever measure/s are used, there are numerous.

  13. Diogenes really wants to be careful about sexytimes while he’s blackout drunk. He might find himself doing oral sex with a woman with pubic hair – OH NOES THE HORROR!

  14. And then, by extension of this same logic, womenz are incapable of raping menz. Because menz cannot control themselves around womenz, with respect to their sexual behaviour, clearly the act was consensual.

    Hooray for feminism, where we don’t believe this type of crap at all.

  15. /wipes screen after reading kitteh’s comment.

  16. Diogenes really wants to be careful about sexytimes while he’s blackout drunk. He might find himself doing oral sex with a woman with pubic hair – OH NOES THE HORROR!

    Oh, is THAT what he meant?

    Hey you guyz, women with pubic hair are man-rape! Or MISANDRY! Or something like that!

  17. When I was in high school in the (cough) early ’90′s, we had people from a rape crisis center come talk to our church youth group. One of the students asked a question about male rape and one counselor said, with a perfectly straight face, “men can’t be raped.” The talk pretty much devolved into an argument from that point on. In our naivete, we thought that we had somehow gotten the stupid counselor and it was many years before most of us realized that this was not an uncommon attitude in the least. Even with years of exposure to these sorts of attitudes, I’m still saddened that someone who worked in a rape crisis center could have such an ignorant outlook.

  18. I know that aubergine.

    He’s Bobby Ghanoush.

  19. /chortle that was quite a fine pun.

  20. Here’s a really clean shiny screen for everyone:

    For everyone who was’t around then, Diogenes the Dumbass pronounced a while back that it’s impossible to do oral on a woman who doesn’t trim well. There was much laughage, and his idiocy led to the Pube Terror thread (saved for posterity by cloudiah) and a lurvely Pierre cartoon (so I guess Diogenes has inadvertently done something worthwhile with his existence).

  21. Is it impossible to do oral on a woman who doesn’t trim because the other party gets stampeded by elephants as soon as they start moving the bush?

    Not getting this concept of impossibility at all….

  22. Having a herd of elephants on call to stampede MRAs sounds like an excellent idea.

  23. I can see another David Attenborough film clip….

  24. Pube terror? Is this anything like the panic that allegedly broke out over War of the Worlds? Because that one turned out to be a terror in a teacup…

  25. “Tarantosaurus sex”.
    Sure. I can see that. “I’d like to give you foreplay, baby, I just can’t reach your clit with my tiny useless forelegs.” Waves said legs, roars.

  26. Yep, because I would want those teeth anywhere near my genitals.

  27. RE: vaiyt

    What if the man is being compelled to get the woman drunk by a Venusian mind-control entity,

    AAAAAH CHRISTIAN GREY (sorry, in-joke)

    RE: Sam

    Citation please.

    …I don’t even know what you’re wanting a citation FOR. Me being raped, me being male, or me being ignored?

    RE: Diogenes

    I’ve had sex while blackout drunk.

    Had I seen her sober I wouldn’t have done it, but I don’t consider that instance rape.

    I am very sorry that happened to you. It should not have happened.

    RE: Octo

    I’ve never actually seen it applied on the erasure of female-on-male rape, not even by the ethically challenged or the biology knowledge challenged.

    I have. My Sexuality professor back in college. He defined rape as being penetrated, and so he figured unless a woman used a foreign object, she COULD NOT rape someone. I tried to call it out, but being a shaky rape survivor who wasn’t in control of my emotions, I lost that argument and he got to think I was just a hysterical little child. So oh, I assure you. It exists.

    Also, I think “phallocentric” is one of those terms that give ammunition to those people ridiculing feminism…

    Long as you define it so everyone knows what’s being talked about, I don’t see the problem, except as a general issue where jargon and academese infests social-justic talk. And really ‘phallocentric’ is just a drop in the ocean of that shit.

  28. LBT — “Thomas: Hey, there’s kinky sex, and then there’s MEETING HIS MOM.”

    TRUFAX!!

    Seriously, if my pharm student can make pecunium’s wedding, THAT’S the part that worries me. Not the wedding, not the hotel chaos, not me dealing with A Those People at his wedding, not it being way to warm in May for a turtleneck and having to deal with visible bruises, nope. It’s my pharm student meeting my parents (and brother!! *pulls hair, gnashes teeth*)

    /totally OT randomness

  29. @LBT This reminds me that unfortunately, it seems to still be defined this way legally in a lot of jurisdictions as well :/ . It’s still a dicking thing to claim or say for anybody… But anyway, yeah, I admit, you and Ally have a point.

  30. Long as you define it so everyone knows what’s being talked about, I don’t see the problem, except as a general issue where jargon and academese infests social-justic talk. And really ‘phallocentric’ is just a drop in the ocean of that shit.

    Yeah, I ran into that a little while back. My brother and his wife are both academics who are strongly in the academic social justice fields. He started talking about “Eighth-wave feminism” and my response was basically ‘lolwhut’.

  31. RE: Argenti

    Well, I hadn’t figured out kink back then, but I know that banging my husband was way less scary than introducing him to my folks. And that’s even WITH rape triggers and such holding me down!

    RE: leftwingfox

    He started talking about “Eighth-wave feminism” and my response was basically ‘lolwhut’.

    Uuuuugggggh what the fuck. I don’t understand what it is about folks that they feel the need to make their topics so fucking inaccessible, but I wish they’d stop.

  32. I noticed LBT slyly linked to the MSTed 50 Shades of Grey at Loony-Brain, which should be read by one and all, because it’s very, very funny. Just a Public Service Announcement.

  33. Indeed! And if anyone wants the whole damn thing, here’s the index.

  34. James Taranto asks whether she wonders why he is not married? Well, I can certainly imagine why no woman would want him…Bleah! What he knows about women would fit, with plenty of room to spare, on the head of a pin. His unsubstantiated and delusional assumptions, on the other hand, would fill the encyclopedia Brittanica.

    Just ickiness!

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