I’ve encountered numerous labels attached to Western culture over the years – ‘individualistic’, ‘high tech’, ‘innovative’, ‘degenerate’ etc; the most bizarre characterization of Western culture, however, is ‘Rape culture.’ I had the opportunity to engage in a rather edifying debate with a couple of friends of mine which helped illuminate my understanding of this issue. Rape, as you can imagine, is a sensitive issue to to my friend as it is with the majority of women in society. She believes (in all earnestness) that Canada (and by extension the US) is a rape culture.
I stated that a rape culture is one where rape is socially and politically sanctioned. I quoted the rural tribunals of Pakistan and Afghanistan where rape is often a sentence meted out to women for flouting social customs. She countered that in our society rape is easy to get away with and this encourages more men to partake in this heinous activity. Her argument was that while rape isn’t imposed via formal channels (like South Asia), it is still enabled via societal insensitivity. This insensitivity then goes on to taint the very institutions that are tasked with protecting women. She elaborated by laying out the procedures that women have to go through when reporting a rape – having their sexual history put on trial, face character assassination ect… The gist of her argument is that reporting rape through legal channels is far from painless and the purpose of this is to discourage rape victims from coming forward and thus enable rape.
Before we analyze this argument I must point out that my friend insists that she does not identify with feminism in any way. The reason I preface my analysis with this comment is to demonstrate just how deeply entrenched feminist thought is within Western culture. We have a woman who refuses to identify as a feminist yet subscribes to feminist talking points without even realizing it. It goes without saying that this article is not an attack on my friend, but rather on the feminist ideology that has infected society at large.
Let us now turn our energy towards analyzing this feminist argument. The notion that ‘barriers’ to conviction indicate society’s culpability in the crime is utterly absurd. Certain crimes are undoubtedly harder to convict than others. Burglaries are a good example of such a crime and according to Wikipedia:
As of 1999, there were 1.4 million residential burglaries reported in the United States, which was a record low number, not seen since 1966. Though, up to 50% of burglaries are not reported to the police. The clearance rate for burglary is low, with only 12.7% of cases being solved in the United States in 2005,
Like rape, burglaries are on the decline. According to this data, burglary is a crime that is easy to get away with given its low clearance rate. It would also seem that, like rape, victims do not always come forward. Does this mean that larceny is socially acceptable? Does this mean that society encourages larceny? Are Americans living in a “larceny culture?” If not, then what makes rape so unique? If I had to hazard a guess, I would say that to feminists women are more equal to men, and hence any crimes directed at women are automatically more heinous. I’m not trying to denigrate rape victims and neither am I making light the trauma they endure; I’m merely pointing out feminist hypocrisy.
The second part of the rape culture argument states that rape victims are subjected to character assassination. I don’t know if this is truly the case, however, let’s assume that it is. If so, that still does not put rape in a class of its own. In any criminal charge it is up to the accuser and prosecution to make the case by providing evidence. Unjust job dismissal, for example, clearly violates labour law. Yet it isn’t uncommon for the defense to routinely pick on the character of the accuser by often labeling them “lazy” or “inefficient.” It is obvious that rape is the more serious crime and this is reflected by the more severe sentence for rapists compared to unjust employers. The point I am trying to make is that the seriousness of the crime ought to be reflected by the severity of the sentence, but should not affect the fundamental precepts of Western jurisprudence (namely innocent until proven guilty).
Another argument that one hears fairly frequently is that because not all rapes are reported, the crime is far more prevalent than is generally understood. This is indeed a rational argument but can be easily dismissed due to lack of evidence. As the late Australian philosopher David Stove pointed out, the existence of a possibility is no evidence for that possibility’s existence. The mere possibility of the existence of extra-terrestrial life does by no means constitute evidence of their actual existence. In other words, if we are to make rational judgements we are forced to ground ourselves in empirical evidence; for otherwise one could conjure up limitless possibilities and make a case for just about anything under the sun. It is possible (and indeed in many cases factual) that many rapes go unreported. However, to ascribe such an unreasonable degree of weight to such a possibility by no means strengthens the feminist’s case, and indeed, it is ludicrous to base an argument on it.
Speaking of empiricism and observation, let us look at the matter in another way. If one lives in a city which is part of a war zone that is routinely bombed, would one so readily indulge their fancy for a midnight stroll? Quite unlikely. Yet if feminists are to be believed, rape culture is in the very air we breathe. Despite this, North American women seem to suffer no restrictions to their mobility (voluntary or otherwise). In parts of rural South Asia and Afghanistan, this is clearly not the case. Humans have a finely calibrated antenna for danger. If the danger of rape were truly as high as feminists would have us believe, North American women would abandon their petulant rebellious posturing and modify their behaviour accordingly. This is precisely what the women of Cologne are now doing.
Interestingly enough, my friend also believes that rape is best tackled if women “do not put themselves in risky situations.” I was impressed with her clarity of thought. When I pointed out that she was engaging in what feminists call “victim blaming”, she didn’t deny the charge but still insisted that caution was still the most effective solution. Bearing her sage advice in mind, I’d like to wish all our readers a happy international women’s day.