Andy Kopsa responds to Harvey Mansfield’s article in The Weekly Standard that says rape culture is a product of feminism.
Harvard professor Harvey Mansfield has penned the latest in a series of articles by old white men addressing “rape culture” (I use quotes because Mr. Mansfield uses quotes—quotes indicate, in my world, something that is theoretical or a farce, for example FOX “News”). The article in the conservative magazine The Weekly Standard, titled Feminism and its Discontents, ‘Rape Culture’ at Harvard, could very well have been produced while Mr. Mansfield sat in a cave tearing at a mutton chop (he killed with his bare hands) with his gnashing teeth wearing a Tarzan getup around a stone table with other old white men in a prehistoric writer’s workshop hosted by George Will.
I admit when I first read this article I thought I was reading from The Onion; as I kept reading getting deeper into this sad man’s psyche, I wished I were.
We have been inundated with disturbing reports in the national news media about the true number of rapes, the great number uncounted, those which go unreported, those that occur on college campuses or off, and the disturbing number of rape kits that have never been processed. Feminists have long known this and have been beating the drum of justified outrage and activism to bring it to the nation’s fleeting attention.
Now that we have it, men don’t like it.
Men like Mr. Mansfield long for a day when men were held harmless for their transgressions. As a result, Mansfield follows a familiar tack in his article: Blame the victim, blame feminism, blame feminists. After he tears down an anonymous rape victim who came forward and wrote about her attack (the young woman’s hopelessness he noted due to the scourge of gender neutrality and the Obama administration), Mansfield writes, “Today’s feminism decided to demand that women be entitled to sink to the level of men.”
This is what I call The Strategy. The Strategy is to tell women they are better then men—not actually equal to them, to curry favor, then, instruct them on how to return to being feminine, not feminist (as though those two things cannot possibly coexist).
The tactics of the Strategy are many. Here are a few:
First, rape isn’t really rape. Off the bat Mansfield writes, “The ‘rape culture’ in colleges does not produce rape typically but rather instances like that of a woman cajoled into something they did not feel they consented to, either at that moment or later.” Newsflash: If women don’t give consent they didn’t consent—that is rape. Cajoled into something they didn’t want to do? Did Mansfield not catch his breathtakingly asinine assertion in edits? Nope he meant it—he goes on to say under patriarchy women may have had less freedom, but more protection from non-rape cajoling.
Another tactic is expressed through abstinence-only until marriage programs. These are programs taught (with federal tax dollars) in public schools around the country. During these classes girls are told (literally) to not dress “provocatively” as boys can’t control themselves—their hormones are raging. Girls have all the control, you see? Just dress appropriately and you won’t make a boy attack you. Virginity pledges and purity pledges are also staples of ab-only programs, a young girl promising to stay chaste. For show, the teacher encourages the boy to sign too, but the hard sell is on the girl—purity is prized above all. Inculcating a sense of fear around sex into young girls’ heads is paramount.
Mansfield ticks all these boxes. Most college women “lament the loss of dating” in exchange for the “hook-up” culture that feminism created. The majority of men, he claims will not turn down the “offer of an available woman,” but “what they really want is a girlfriend.” The predatory male, he says, is in the minority, who are, it turns out, the “beneficiaries” of feminism.
Feminism created a sex and booze crazed pack of wild women running around spreading their legs only to cry rape when not satisfied. What are these poor men to do? “Without feminine modesty [don’t dress provocatively!], however, women must imitate men.”
Mansfield then employs another tactic of The Strategy: Women aren’t victims of rape they are the victims of permissive feminist culture—and so are men, y’all. Because as noted above, feminism has forced women into equality with men, and stripped them of their modesty and femininity to the point that “it’s not the fault of men that women want to join them in excess rather than calm them down, for men too are victims of the rape culture.” Women, to become fully realized equals to men, must become sex crazed animals (like men). To do so, Mansfield laments, to overcome their natural modesty, women must not just have a social drink but get “blind drunk,” which gives “drunken consent.”
Who better to lecture women on rape than the author of 2006 tour de force “Manliness”—a book that encourages men (and especially women) to understand and embrace manliness.
This article would be laughable if its authors’ beliefs weren’t so widely held by men and women. He rounds out his article with a question, dripping in the putrid syrup of old white man nostalgia, “How can we recover some sense of feminine modesty and male restraint” to solve this rape problem?
I have an idea, get in your time machine and go back to whatever century you like where women wore corsets, bore children like brood mares, and demurred behind fans at cotillions, then when you come back to 2014, teach young men and boys not to rape.
Andy Kopsa is a freelance investigative reporter based in New York City. She has written for Al Jazeera, The Atlantic, Talking Points Memo, Ms. magazine, and many other publications. She was awarded a 2012 Society of Professional Journalists Award for investigative reporting and was a 2013 recipient of a Knight Grant for Reporting on Religion in American Public Life from USC Annenberg. Follow her on Twitter @andykopsa