Education

The Corner

Do Some Feminist Professors Even Know What the Word ‘Rape’ Means?

Last week Inside Higher Ed published an essay from an anonymous feminist professor that truly has to be read to be believed. In it, she describes being triggered into literal hysterics by a male student’s essay (at one point saying that she screamed at her computer screen, “Zero! You get a f**king zero!) This student, who allegedly rather bluntly questioned the existence of “rape culture,” caused her to compare the student to the man she claimed raped her many years ago. Here are her exact words:

I imagined him being friends with my rapist (though the man who raped me is now significantly older than this student, he is frozen in the 18-22 age bracket in my mind). How, I wondered, could I possibly evaluate this student’s work in an “unbiased” fashion? Such a request would involve me living an entirely different life than the one that I have had.

It’s worth highlighting her essay not so much because of one professor’s unbalanced reaction to one student’s essay but because of something else — something far more indicative of campus propaganda on rape and sexual assault. Here’s her description of teaching about “rape culture.”

It was the middle of the semester, and we were covering rape culture. As any feminist instructor who has ever taught about rape culture probably knows, covering this topic is challenging for a multitude of reasons. Sometimes we encounter students who realize that they have been raped who come to office hours looking for resources. Other times, students learn that they have actually perpetrated rape and struggle to reconcile that with their images of themselves as “good people” and “not one of those (usually) guys.” And many feminist instructors, especially those who are women, know all too well what it is like to navigate the “mansplaining” of a few men students who would like to ardently deny that rape culture exists. (Emphasis added.)

Read the italicized portion again. She’s claiming that thanks to feminist instruction, some students actually “realize” that they’ve been raped, while others “learn” that they’re rapists. This is extraordinary. Rape is not difficult to define — unless, of course you’re redefining it. And if she is describing people who “learn” that they’ve committed actual rape, why is she not calling the police? If she’s not calling the police, is she placing other women in danger? After all, didn’t she just “learn” that a sexual predator is on the loose?

Here’s a fundamental problem with campus “rape culture” arguments. On the one hand, campus feminists argue that colleges are in the grips of an extraordinary crime wave — with women at astounding risk of experiencing sexual violence. On the other hand, these same feminists will argue that it’s entirely fine if women choose to leave these crimes in the hands of campus tribunals – that people they believe to be actual criminals should receive academic discipline only, leaving them free to rape again.

Do feminists want to take rape seriously? Then they should define it according to the law and refer every single rape claim to law enforcement. But if they’re really talking about drunken hook-ups or radical new concepts of consent, then they should speak the language of morality and manners, not crime and punishment. Otherwise, they drain the word of its real meaning and contribute to the skepticism they so loudly condemn. 

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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