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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Rape Scare

It’s fashionable to fantasize about all sorts of campus horrors. I think we all know why such fantasies are increasingly attractive to many people. 

In order to cater to these needs, “data” is manufactured to unleash regular bouts of media frenzy. One of the subjects of college-related horror fantasies is the supposedly high incidence of rape on college campuses. The stats for this brand of fantasizing are manufactured in a particularly shameless way

There’s been, for instance, a lot of outrage over the survey that “proves” that 15% of female students at University of Austin have been raped. The makers of the survey went out of their way to expand the definition of rape into the infinity:

This is shameless fishing for a predetermined result, yet the narrative remains popular because there’s demand for it. 

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16 thoughts on “Rape Scare

  1. “I think we all know why such fantasies are increasingly attractive to many people”

    Uh… actually no, I don’t. I’ve heard some weird theories, but it all seems insane.

    What family would send their daughter to college if there was even a 10% chance that she would be sexually assaulted? Is the goal to end female higher education because that seems like a likely side effect.

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    • The word “college” produces unease. It’s expensive, too many jobs require a college degree. The whole thing lies too close to the transformations in the job market. People displace this sense of unease onto such scary stories.

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  2. Shakti on said:

    That screenshot shows that stuff which violates Texas Penal Code (1st column), Student Judicial Code (2nd column) or Title IX (3rd column).

    They determined prevalence of rape by looking at Title IX (what exactly happens under Title IX?: nothing criminally), not by looking at criminal law.

    Further if you look at the little superscripts there are caveats under the Texas Penal code:

    1 If submitted due only to continued pressure, rather than use of threat of force/violence and/or if accused knew or reasonably should have known person would find act offensive/
    provocative.

    3
    If unconscious, unaware that sexual assault is occurring, physically unable to resist, or actor intentionally administered a substance.

    What is the gap between their Title IX and state penal code rates? And do you think the criminal code is unreasonable? I don’t.

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    • I don’t understand what “continued pressure” is. If you don’t want something to continue and you are not physically restrained, then how can it possibly continue? I also don’t understand what “reasonably should have known” means. There should be no place for mind reading in penal codes.

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      • Shakti on said:

        I don’t understand what “continued pressure” is. If you don’t want something to continue and you are not physically restrained, then how can it possibly continue?
        Yeah, it would be difficult to prove, so that’s why the first two questions read as “No” under the state penal code.

        I also don’t understand what “reasonably should have known” means. There should be no place for mind reading in penal codes.

        Criminal intent is a cornerstone of criminal codes in the US. You won’t avoid it.

        That’s why there’s a difference between say, involuntary manslaughter and first degree murder. In the eyes of the law, if your brakes fail suddenly and you hit a pedestrian that’s different than you gunning your engine, speeding up and running over the person.

        Also, the “reasonable person” standard is embedded in and subject to debate and cultural context.
        For example, would it be “reasonable” if the woman being showered with expletives in this video decided to smack this woman? Or is being a called a prostitute not “fighting words”? (video of woman screaming at this couple, telling them to “get a room “and “to stop having sex” and calling someone a “prostitute” repeatedly because she saw the guy give his girlfriend a peck on the forehead).(Maybe it’s staged, lmao.)

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        • “Criminal intent is a cornerstone of criminal codes in the US.”

          • I know. And I find it preposterous. Also, the American justice system relies excessively on confessions, which brings it dangerously close to the standards set by Stalinist jurisprudence that considered a confession to trump all other kinds of evidence. We all know what the result was.

          The greatest problem with the American justice system, in my opinion, is that it’s too skewed to wards the subjective, the emotional and the verbal and away from the provable and tangible.

          “In the eyes of the law, if your brakes fail suddenly and you hit a pedestrian that’s different than you gunning your engine, speeding up and running over the person.”

          • In this case, there will be a lot of real, tangible evidence. It’s definitely not just speculation over what is reasonable to anticipate and what’s not.

          “For example, would it be “reasonable” if the woman being showered with expletives in this video decided to smack this woman? Or is being a called a prostitute not “fighting words”?”

          • I seriously hope that nobody is arguing it should be legal to hit anybody in response to any words.

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          • Yeah, the U.S. legal system could afford to be more methodically fact-based and less hysterical and biased toward the most-favored individuals.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Shakti on said:

            I seriously hope that nobody is arguing it should be legal to hit anybody in response to any words
            No, nobody says it’s legal. But it is recognized that certain words or phrases are almost instant physical fight starters and a jury is unlikely to have much or any sympathy for someone who says them and then gets attacked. Calling someone a “cunt” in Britain seems like a mild expletive. It’s not so in the US….
            For that reason, “fighting words is very narrowly construed.

            That video is a great example of someone who is clearly deranged and not meeting the “reasonable person standard” (or acting like it), because nobody thinks it’s reasonable that she’s being “stalked”, “harassed” or that whomever she’s haranguing is “having sex”.

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            • Another concept I find incomprehensible is that it’s OK to kill somebody “in a heat of passion.” What are we, wild animals in the forest? And hey, the victim is no less dead, so who cares?

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            • “Calling someone a “cunt” in Britain seems like a mild expletive. It’s not so in the US….”

              On the other hand, “wanker” in the US seems like a mild, joking kind of word in the US while it’s very much a word that will get (a man) into a fight in the UK.

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              • I’ll add, that watching Spanish movies/tv and hearing actors casually throwing around ‘joder’ was very weird, since for most Latin Americans it’s very strong and not a word to be used in prime time.

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              • Colombians, especially, freak out over every swear word. This is why I love bringing together Colombians and Argentineans.

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              • I need to stop saying wanker, then. I really like this word.

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  3. Jonathan on said:

    Since the common notion is that the rate of rape is 25%, I’m a little puzzled why this story is being framed as “look how high the rate is” rather than “Oh, it’s only 15%. This suggests that nobody actually believed the 25% number in the first place.

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  4. “I need to stop saying wanker”

    Use it all you want with Americans (it sounds funny) just don’t use it with men from the British Isles (I don’t know if it’s an insult for women too or gender specific).

    I don’t know where Canadians stand on the wanker issue but you’ll probably find out soon enough…

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