Monday, March 29, 2010

What to do with the American University rape apologist

(Trigger warning: major rape apology forthcoming)

Honestly, when someone says this:
Let’s get this straight: any woman who heads to an EI party as an anonymous onlooker, drinks five cups of the jungle juice, and walks back to a boy’s room with him is indicating that she wants sex, OK? To cry “date rape” after you sober up the next morning and regret the incident is the equivalent of pulling a gun to someone’s head and then later claiming that you didn’t ever actually intend to pull the trigger.
I have no idea how to respond. But I will tell you what the first thought was that popped into my head: "I wonder how many women he has raped?"

Clearly, this person (Alex Knepper, a sophomore at American University), has NO IDEA what rape is. None. I mean, ZERO. Not in theory, not in law, not in reality. First of all, rape and sex are two entirely different acts, which should never ever be confused, and the terms of which should never be used interchangeably. Second, in his frat-party scenario, if that girl is drunk, it's possible that in the eyes of the law she cannot consent to sex. Third, a girl "crying 'date rape,'" even if she was not raped, is not even a little bit like putting a bullet through someone's head. Now, actually raping someone, that might be a little like putting a bullet through someone's head. Fourth, it is ENTIRELY possible to be raped at a frat party, in boy's bedroom, even if you have dared to have a couple drinks before you went to his room.

For fun, here's a couple non-sex (or, according to Alex, "non-rape") reasons why I might go back to a boy's room with him after having a couple drinks:
1. I'm ready to crash. As in pass out. After all, I am DRUNK!
2. To eat something.
3. To drink more!
4. To hang out.
5. To use his phone (I probably drunkenly lost mine)/have a quiet place to use my/his phone (especially if at a frat party).
6. To borrow a sweater/jacket/hoodie for my walk home.
7. To (eventually) throw up, because I'm not feeling well, since I'm drunk.
8. To accompany him while he gets something he needs before walking me home/going to get some food/go out to wherever.
9. To get away from that really annoying person who won't leave me alone.
10. To be somewhere safe so I DON'T GET RAPED.

But according to Alex, the mere act of going to a boy's room after a few drinks implies consent for sex. Forget things like how intoxicated the girl is (Hey Alex! If the girl is literally passed out and you have sex with her, THAT IS RAPE), whether or not she wants to have sex, etc. Going to a boy's room = sex, no matter what. So girls, DO NOT EVER go to boy's rooms unless you want to have sex, because Alex said that if you do, you can't be raped.

I don't know why I'm fucking bothering with this guy. He obviously Knows Everything And Can't Ever Be Wrong. Except he Is Wrong, and it's not in my nature to let people be This Wrong without attempting to correct them, especially when it comes to rape, rape culture and rape apology.

I'll leave it to you, readers, to read the rest of his bullshit, if you so choose. (You might learn things like "feminists don't understand history, psychology, biology or sexuality"!) I fear I've already wasted too much time on him. But I will say this one last thing, to him and all men:

If you're not sure if a woman (or man, if applicable) has consented to sex, don't have sex. See how that works? "Hmm, she doesn't seem into it and she's pretty drunk ... should I have sex with her anyway?" NO. If consent isn't clear, ASK. Make sure. It takes two seconds! "Do you want to do this?" "Is this OK?" "Do you want me to stop?" Those are just a few examples of ways you can double check that you aren't date raping someone. This is especially important when alcohol is involved. If you don't want to become a rapist, don't rape. No matter what Alex says, it really is that simple.

Oh, and Alex? I hope that every girl you ever date and that every employer you ever try to work for Googles your name and finds this article you wrote. Especially the girls. Because, guess what? They probably don't want to be raped. And they should know before getting involved with you that you not only know nothing about rape, but think it's not even possible in some circumstances ... like if a girl has a few drinks and comes back to your room. (Ladies, you can see Alex here. Scroll down.)

Update/Note: See comments below, as a couple of commenters have made me aware that Alex is gay, confirmed by him in this article. I was, obviously, not aware of his sexual identity when I wrote the above. But. He is still Utterly and Completely Wrong. And quite possibly Completely Talking Out of His Ass, because at this point I don't even know what his life experiences are/have been that has formed his date-rape-isn't-possible opinion. Also. I see that I'm getting a lot of traffic to this post from American University, which is to be expected, I suppose. To students on campus: I'm sorry you have to share space with this guy. For what it's worth, I don't think this reflects on your university. It does, in my opinion, reflect on the Eagle. Alex's column, if taken at face value, with emotion removed, doesn't even make any sense. He jumps from topic to topic, with no coherent transitions, all to (apparently) try to say ... I don't even know what. Because it's nonsensical. And given how factually flawed the column is, one is left to wonder if any editors there know anything about 1. rape and 2. journalism. Here's a clue, Eagle editors, from someone who's been in the newspaper biz for 15 or so years now: Just because someone writes something does not mean you have to publish it. At all. If you're worried, that isn't censorship. See, you, the editors, are allowed to set journalistic standards for your paper, and to follow them. Now, if you want to say "write whatever you want and we'll publish it," that's fine. But don't expect your readers to fall for it as "journalism," because it's not. Unless you, the editors, just think the entire student body is that stupid? (Which they aren't, judging from the reactions I've read.) Also, sticking an "editorial" label on it doesn't remove you, the editors, from any responsibility for the column. You still chose to publish it. That is your decision, and yours alone. You, the editors, are the ones that decided "yeah, it's OK to publish something in our paper that says completely and unequivocally false things about rape." Also. Date rape and what it is or isn't is not an opinion. There are things, like, you know, laws, that specify what is and isn't rape. FYI.

More information:
  • You can see some letter to the editor regarding this column here, uncluding one written by Sarah Brown, Director of Women’s Initiative at AU.
  • Also, if you want to let Alex and/or the Eagle (newspaper) know how you feel about his column, you can send e-mails to edpage (at) theeagleonline (dot) com. And here is the contact page for American University itself, should you find a use for that information.


Anonymous said...

I think this editorial by the new independent news site at AU, , sums the issue up nicely.

Anonymous said...

Pssssst Alex Knepper is gay... like I mean homosexual not like "gay" in the frat douchy way. You should have possibly done a little bit more googling before you wrote this?

I mean I agree with most of what you said (although you really did rant, I'm sorry it's true.)

Otherwise, kudos.

Anonymous said...

The real problem with this is Knepper is just using this to incite the "neo-nazi feminists" (what he calls women on AU's campus) and cause issues. The conversation isn't about what rape is or isn't, it's about Alex Knepper is an idiot and should or shouldn't be banned from writing for The Eagle.

placenta sandwich said...

Yeah, he is gay man, and also has supposedly never drunk alcohol, both of which kinda make it even MORE really annoying that he Knows Everything about (a) fucking women, (b) being a woman, and (c) drunken behavior. I hate to say this and don't often jump to conclusions, but it sounds like he is just being inappropriately judgmental from the perch of having done none of these and probably having some false impressions of them.

(You can find some steaming piles of Knepper in this article following up with him about what "the yin and yang of femininity and masculinity are essential to satisfying sex" means in the context of a gay relationship - it's actually yet another load of misogyny, surprise: )

Rosie said...

Obviously I was not aware he is gay, because when responding to his column the last thing on my mind was his sexual identity. I should not have assumed he was heterosexual; that's my bad. But overall, I think my post is still on point. Even if he himself doesn't rape a woman, he still thinks rape can't happen in certain circumstances. (And, you know, all the other things he's wrong about. Like every single thing he says about feminists.) Gay or straight, he is still a rape apologist. Women in general should be on guard, despite his sexual identity, because something as full of shit as this column cannot stand.

I will update the post though, when I can. Thanks for the information.

Anonymous said...

Well I have to say, this column, whoever wrote it, is choppy, and just a plain old rant.

Criss L. Cox said...

So what if he's gay? He can still rape men he dates. Just change "girls" to "guys" in the post and it all applies.

And he's still a piece of excrement who can only get attention by writing utter sh!t for the sole purpose of being inflammatory.

Anonymous said...

we are a group of women's studies students doing an in-depth analysis of the feminist blogosphere and specifically blogs related to violence against women. after reading your blog and many others we have noticed that there is a lack of solutions suggested for these problems. for example your blog is addressing the issue of date rape and one student's assumptions; however, as you do list other reasons for why girls may go back to boys rooms you do not list any other solutions to this problem. a problem that is much larger than just this one college campus. just an idea for further blogs, suggestions on how to prevent violence against women (date rape) may be more helpful than just talking to one person.


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