Men talking to Men: Only Yes Means Yes
Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

I wanted to respond to two specific things in this article, one minor, one major. First, this line:

our culture […] excuses rape and sexual assault as a less heinous crime than other types of bodily harm

Now, this isn’t true at all and nobody believes it to be true. The only reason there isn’t a death penalty for rape any more in this country is a series of tendentious Supreme Court decisions striking down existing laws. If a plebiscite could be held, capital punishment would be reinstated tomorrow as the default punishment for sexual assault.

When a wealthy boy who had raped an unconscious classmate was let off with a slap on the wrist, the country resounded with anger. The rapist was and remained in very serious danger of his life.

Every time a rape is reported on a college campus, it is a gigantic scandal. The pack-press descends, howling; there are demonstrations; deans resign.

Rape is treated extremely seriously in this country.

The author knows that, everyone knows that. Why the obvious lie? Why such a ubiquitous lie?

Because, I suspect, the lie is convenient. It creates an ongoing and unaddressable grievance. It signs a blank check that the liar believes can be cashed for endless social change.

That belief is false. Dishonesty will out. Lying about rape just makes things worse.

And then there is this line, already popular to highlight in the article:

The onus of owning up to the disruption of a woman or gender minority’s bodily integrity, or that of any partner in a weaker position of power (whether social, cultural, or any other system of power), falls upon the instigator and the person who failed to secure the affirmative consent.

To quote a great philosopher, that’s just, like, your opinion, but it is an opinion shared by a vanishingly small fraction of the population.

As policy, it is a viewpoint that could not possibly be enacted in law. It goes against basic principles of American justice to put an “onus” on anyone because gender or background. It could not be a Federal law, a state law, or a policy of any school or employer. Most Americans reject even the idea out of hand as racist and sexist.

So why assert an opinion that most people reject so vigorously? Why does the author weaken the position by including such an untenable argument? And why do the readers embrace this poison-pill so readily?

I cannot prove it, but I suspect that it is just another blank check, but this one solely for themselves. If they can redefine, if only in their own heads, every relationship so that the male — or in a homosexual coupling, the white partner, the rich partner, whichever partner is the official pariah — is endlessly in the wrong, endlessly the potential rapist, the apologist, the one to blame, then they have justify, again only in their own heads, their own ceaseless struggle.

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