Wednesday, November 01, 2006

white knuckles

in charles taylor's los angeles times review of a book called the female thing, written by laura kipnis, he writes this paragraph:

And her discussion of the troubled last days of radical feminist writer Andrea Dworkin allows Kipnis to address the way that the possibility of rape is ingrained in the female psyche -- even, Kipnis argues, as figures suggest that, thanks to America's burgeoning prison population, men are just as likely to be victims of sexual assault.

there are just so many things wrong with this paragraph. first off, he does not explain anything more about the "troubled last days" of dworkin -- hey, thanks for letting readers in on the details, dude. not one phrase to enlighten us as to how dworkin's last days are related to the way that the "possibility of rape is ingrained in the female psyche." i really do not know what he means or what the book's author might have meant. is it something to do with dworkin's writings about rape? about her allegations -- and the subsequent controversy over said allegations -- made in 1999 that she was drugged and raped in paris? but what would any of that have to do with her "troubled last days"? she died in 2005. so, color me confused. and i actually have an inkling of dworkin and her world. most readers would barely even recognize the name.

anyway, the real problem with this graf is the reviewer's apparent total belief in the author's bullshit notion that men are just as likely to be victims of sexual assault as women are. first of all, they aren't. even factoring in prison rape, the numbers don't add up to anything remotely approaching "just as likely."

but more to the point, once again we have a writer -- actually, two -- focusing on who is the victim of sexual assault, rather than who is the perpetrator. we can all agree that both women and men are the victims of rape. mostly women, of course. but just who is overwhelmingly most likely to be raping both genders? why, men! according to the NCICP report:

Most perpetrators of sexual violence are men. Among acts of SV committed against women since the age of 18, 100% of rapes, 92% of physical assaults, and 97% of stalking acts were perpetrated by men. SV against men is also mainly male violence: 70% of rapes, 86% of physical assaults, and 65% of stalking acts were perpetrated by men (Tjaden and Thoennes 2000).

this is important, b/c the only way to stop rape is to stop the people who commit it. who are, almost always, men. (yes, yes, i know: most men don't rape. but that doesn't negate the fact that most rapists are men.) the author also says this in the article:

"Obviously, I'm a feminist. I feel I know these debates fairly well and felt like there were certain things that don't get said because there is such a focus on saying the positive, saying the progressive thing. I would like to think I'm a progressive. But I also felt that there's an element of dishonesty and bad faith in only articulating what's progressed without talking about what's impeded."

hmmmm ... ya mean, like asserting that figures suggest men are just as likely to be raped as women are? thus impeding an increasingly essential discussion about how to stop men from sexually assaulting their fellow human beings? maybe the times ought to review a book about that.

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