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When I was in university, I tended to give the woman-only
self defense groups a bit of a wide berth mostly because
of the man hating propaganda that went with it. I found those
groups to be largely populated with vicious, bitter women.
I found many of their ideas to be self perpetuating,
self indulgent, unrealistic and exclusionary. Men are not all rapists
and pigs and I got tired very quickly of the rhetoric. Essentially,
I believe that violence against women and violence
against men are not that far apart and that *everyone*
needs to be a part of the solution(1).
                                    Anne Barkema


Rape Agenda

On this page:
Your Right To Never Lose | Anyway you cut it, it's going to be ugly | Agendas, slants and bias | The Appeal of Gross Simplifications

Let us start out by saying that we are firm believers that women can think for themselves. They have free-will, personal choice, independence, personal needs, equality and rights. That having been said, along with those comes a certain degree of personal responsibility.

It is that last belief that so often puts us at odds with rape advocates.

That's because we don't agree with their approach. Admitting that we are overstating it, we particularly disagree with the underlying message they seem to be promoting. Specifically that you can have all those rights, powers and freedoms without taking some responsibility -- especially if things don't turn out how you wanted them to.

Does that sound like we're misrepresenting and twisting the ideology of these organizations? You'd might be right, IF on so many occasions we hadn't been told BY REPRESENTATIVES of these organizations, such pearls of wisdom as

  • A woman should have the right to walk naked into a biker bar and not be molested.
  • In response to our statement that getting drunk and passing out at a frat house party that -- and we quote -- "A woman has the right to have fun."
  • A woman shouldn't have to change her behavior, it's the man's responsibility to show self-control.
  • That drug addiction, alcoholism, criminal behavior and other questionable behaviors that lead up to the sexual assault are of no concern and not relevant to the end result.

We really do wish we were making this up. More than that, we wish these were isolated incidents. The fact that the quote at the top of the page was made by a woman is very telling about what kind of message these groups are actually sending.

Call us whatever you want, but in our world view, actions have consequences. What's more you don't always get to pick and choose those consequences. And now to really get your knickers in a knot, just because the consequences were 'unintended' doesn't mean you weren't involved in their creation.

Responsibility -- not blame --  is accepting that your choices and actions have consequences. This whether you intended them or not.

As such you have great control over what happens to you because of your choices and actions. And that is another point that puts us in ideological opposition to many advocates.

Your 'Right' To Never Lose
Let's use gambling as an analogy. Many advocates want you to believe that it is your right to gamble and never lose. In their ideology, you have the right to always walk away a 'winner.' This idea might be summed up as 'safe high stakes gambling.' In this fantasy, if it works you win big, if you lose then NOTHING happens. Apparently losing has been redefined means you break even and don't gain anything. You don't actually ever lose anything.

Our attitude is if you choose to gamble, yes, you might win, but you also have to accept you risk losing. And maybe more than you can afford to lose. If you can't accept these consequences -- both good and bad -- then don't gamble. That is your choice and the first step in your ability to control what happens to you.

A concrete example of 'safe high stakes gambling' would be that an underage girl should be able to go to a party, get so drunk she passes and nothing happens to her. She's not sexually molested. Nobody drags her out and dumps her on the lawn all night. She doesn't asphyxiate on her own vomit. She doesn't die of alcohol poisoning. According to this ideology the only thing that should happen to her is a hangover.

The reality is incapacitating yourself in the presence of a bunch of young, inebriated, horny party goers is a really good way TO GET sexually molested. The dying from excessive drinking is another unpleasant reality, but binge drinking has other dangers than just getting raped.

As you can imagine we were shocked when, in a rape crisis center, the head counselor responded to this scenario by stating "Well, a girl has the right to have fun."

Since when is illegal (under-aged drinking), excessive (passing out) and -- in light of alcohol poisoning deaths on college campuses -- dangerous behavior, a "right?" 

Apparently, the advocate felt women should be able to gamble and never lose. To us, she gambled and lost. She knew what she was doing was wrong, she chose to do it anyway and it had unintended consequences. As the saying goes: Live and learn. That is just one of the many reasons why that high-risk behavior is unacceptable.

The truth is rape is a very serious and real problem. There are legal advocates who specialize in putting rapists behind bars and we salute their work. And there are therapists who specialize in helping people overcome the trauma of being raped. We applaud the work these people do.

Having said that though, there is also a very big bandwagon attached to the subject of rape. A bandwagon that runs on encouraging victimhood, unrealistic expectations, personal vehemence, agendas and lots and lots of money.

And funding comes from making rape a 'crisis.' Because once it becomes a crisis, then it also becomes a business. It is in this light that we must start looking at the behaviors, information and attitudes related to rape advocacy and their effect on both public perception and our legal system. Propaganda is an ugly thing because even if it starts out for a good reason, usually it quickly becomes self-serving.

When that happens, truth is just one of the topics that suffer. Important issues are glossed over, ignored or outright denied to enforce a limited perspective.

Anyway you cut it, it's going to be ugly
The reason we so strongly stress avoidance is that once a woman finds herself in a rape situation, no matter what happens, it is going to have life long consequences.

As such, we approach this subject with the attitude that once you reach the point where you are about to be raped, any way you go is going to be ugly. That is what makes this subject far more complex than how most advocates approach it.

There are no good answers to be had.

Any approach to the topic of rape is likely going to leave someone profoundly upset, outraged, vulnerable to being raped themselves or totally out of sync with how society operates. If you take a more cautious, common sense approach that suggests certain behaviors are foolishly dangerous, you'll be accused of trying to deny the rights of women. If you take the approach that a young woman has the right to engage in foolish, often illegal behavior and be indemnified against any negative repercussions then you are seriously out of sync with how the world really works. Others take the approach that a woman has the right to act however she wants and then engage in violence in order to handle whatever problems arise. Unfortunately, the quality of physical training these programs offer is dangerously flawed for anything other than beating up an accountant. It isn't going to work against someone dedicated to hurting you. No matter how you approach the subject it's not going to cover the full spectrum of what is involved. Unfortunately, a lot of what is involved isn't about rape at all... which really makes things complicated.

Agendas slants and bias
Unfortunately, rape prevention and Women's Self-Defense are the last two bastions of "gender" or "radical feminism." This is the direction the women's movement took that basically tanked the feminist movement's credibility with the mainstream of both sexes. In short, this is the ideology that gave feminism a bad name.

Recognizing this negative association with extremism, the rhetoric of rape advocacy has been repackaged and mixed with other fields to lend it credibility. This makes it seem like these other fields are the source of the information. So what you end up with are statements that sound like they are tested scientific theory, but are, in fact, still based on an extremist creed. And something that extremists like to do is come up with pithy sound-bite slogans that promote their extremist ideology. For example, it is often claimed by advocates that: Rape is not about sex, but power and control.

We tend to call such sound bite statements/slogans "puddle profundities." These are ideas that initially sound deep and profound. However, upon closer examination, even experienced laypeople begin to find such statements to be gross simplifications.

Simplifications that leave out -- or allow people with agendas to ignore -- complicating factors. While professionals who've made a name for themselves by taking a stand on one side of an issue often use puddle profundities, unbiased professionals know the subject is way more complex.

But doesn't "Rape is not about sex, but power and control" sound like something a psychologist would say? 

Except for one thing; a psychologist knows that there is never anything simple about the human psyche and motivation. That is why they don't make blanket statements about the subject. If they have to make a generalized statement, they will qualify it as such. Comments like "generally," "often" and "usually" may sound wishy-washy, but they accurately reflect many different complicating factors.

This includes a realistic understanding of the limitations of their field. They know that they are not mind readers and cannot state with 100% certainty what is going on inside another person's head. Therefore a  professional in the psychiatric fields, having greater familiarity with the complexities of the subject will just shake her head in despair when someone starts up with puddle profundities.

Still, when you hear someone from a rape crisis center say "Rape is about power and control," it sounds like it comes from a credible, psychological source. Even though it is pretty big and gross generalization.

The Appeal of Gross Simplifications
These gross simplifications do appeal to a
certain mindset. Often because they support what the person wants to believe. When that's the case logic has little to do with the process(2). Understanding this, we must remember: emotionally charged topics tend to be reduced to gross simplifications.

And rape is definitely a hot button topic -- especially to women who were raped in the past.

Sorry folks, but the subject is not that simple. Nor is it black and white (Innocent girl and evil rapist). Puddle profundities are often agenda-driven and parroted by people who -- while passionate about the cause -- have no scientific or professional objectivity. In fact, it can be quite the opposite. And that is assuming there isn't something else going on.

Take for instance the 2007 Duke University Lacrosse Team rape case. The event was driven by issues of racism, politics, wrongful press conferences, selective prosecution, DA misconduct, evidence tampering and "The Group of 88"  fanning the flames. Despite the accuser's ever changing story, history of mental illness, alcoholism and probable prostitution, advocates were screaming not only for the "rapists" to be punished, but the entire team to suffer as well. It was a media frenzy and those boys were convicted in the minds of many. The woman lied about being beaten and raped by three large men in a small bathroom. This however, doesn't matter to those who still want to see some rich white jocks get lynched.

And yet -- even though the Attorney General of North Carolina came out and said the accused were innocent, (not that there was a "lack of evidence," he actually spelled I-N-N-O-C-E-N-T to the press before reading them the riot act), the DA involved was disbarred for professional misconduct and an ATM photo of one of the accused showing he was elsewhere when the supposed incident occurred -- there are those who still believe the Duke Lacrosse team members did it. This is how dogmatic advocates can be about the subject of rape. Who needs a court of law? If you are accused, you are -- in their minds at least -- guilty! In fact, in many cases you don't even have to be accused just being male is enough to make you a stealth rapist.

Unfortunately, this kind of thinking is not unusual in these circles. Guilty until proven innocent doesn't even apply here, it's guilty, guilty, guilty all the way. This is based on an oft stated assumption that all rapists are serial rapists but they just haven't been caught. Advocates even have specific numbers about how many rapes such people commit before they are caught. (Did you catch the glaring flaw in that last statement? If not, keep it in mind, we'll come back to it)

This kind of thinking is enhanced in the organized training one undergoes to become an "advocate." Yes, there are both local and nationwide organizations that provide training on how to become an advocate. It is during this "training" that many of these puddle profundities are promoted as "facts" by the organization and so-called experts!

Are there hard facts, stable data and real studies out there? You betcha. But there is also misinterpretation, spindoctoring, over-exaggeration and outright lying too. As such, even though advocates claimed these statements are backed by credible sources, we need to take a good hard look two very interconnected points.

First, you really want to see the actual findings of the ' studies' that these statements are supposedly based on.

Second, the puddle profundity itself. Does it make sense?  

The reason that we say these two points are interconnected is that often the puddle profundity blows things out of proportion and drops inconvenient terms like "estimated" and "unknown" (remember those terms that slow professionals down?). For example "All rapists are serial rapists" is a common statement by young advocates. They claim that this statement is proven by a study by David Lisak that appeared in Violence and Victims, Volume 17, #1 Feb 2002. (Yes, we not only have read the report, but we own a copy).

First off, Lisak did not survey convicted inmates. He surveyed college students. Of the 1882 students interviewed 120 answered questions that met an expanded criteria for rape/attempted rape. A criteria that may or may not have stood up in court (i.e. the individual may or may not be found guilty). Basically the survey asked people to admit to criminal behavior without using terms that would identify it as such. Then, without the benefit of a court trial, the study proceeded to identify the individuals who answered 'yes' as rapists.

Of the 120, 76 admitted to multiple incidents that were deemed "rapes" by the study. That is to say the individuals who had behaved thusly had done so on more than one occasion. We have no problem with this number, a selfish individual who finds a working strategy is likely to repeat it. 76 is 63% of 120. (This number is directly from the study). That means even among individuals who were deemed "rapists" by this study only slightly more than half admitted to multiple events. And among them, the numbers of incidents varied.

This is where we start to have a problem with how this study is used as a 'credible source' for insane statements. First off 120 of 1882 is 6.4%. That means 1762 (93.4%) of the men interviewed weren't rapists -- identified or not. (Even if advocates tend to forget that number, we suggest you keep it in mind when looking at this subject).

76 is 4% of 1882 (0.04038 to be exact). But doesn't 63% sound more impressive than 4%?  That's why it was used. But still, even accepting the idea that the 120 were rapists (this despite the lack of a trial and guilty verdict) we have to ask...

 When did 76 become 100%, not just of 120, but of every rapist on the planet?

This is what advocates are saying when they claim that Lisak's study the basis for their statements of "All rapists are serial rapists." But they don't stop there. We particularly liked it when an advocate told us -- with utter certainty -- that a serial rapist has 16 committed sixteen rapes before being arrested. Again, citing the works of Lisak as the source.

Our problem with 'unidentified rapists' is:
       1)  How can you provide a precise number on previous assaults
           based on an unknown number of assaults?
       2) How can you state as a fact who committed an unsolved --
           much less an unknown -- crime?

And yet, when advocates tell you how many rapes a rapist has gotten way before he is caught, that is exactly what they are doing. (When we asked this particular advocate where she got her numbers of 16 prior rapes, she told us that it had been told to her in her advocacy training. When pressed further, it turned out these numbers were supposedly based on the study by Dr. David Lisak. Odd, but the 76 individuals only admitted to a total 436 rapes If we're being egalitarian, that's 5.8 each. But that's statistics, not the actual numbers. (Lisak himself tends to report the 5.8 numbers).

It's when the advocate spin machine kicks in that suddenly, 63% becomes every rapist and every rapist becomes a serial monster with 16 rapes he got away with before he got caught. Using this logic, we discovered that the 94,634 reported rapes committed in 2002 were committed by only 5,914 serial rapists (busy little bees). That number is what you get when you divide the Uniform Crime Reports number of reported rapes by 16.

Somehow, we don't think so.

A final issue we have with this so-called "resource" rape advocates base much of their misinformation on. Lisak is a very big name speaker on the subject. Large organizations bring him in to report on his findings and his research is funded. Putting our feelings into into layman's terms, we suspect he knows which side his bread is buttered on.

Remember how we kept on emphasizing that the surveyed individuals had not been convicted? In a country founded on the idea of "innocent until proven guilty" a point about the study's findings sticks in our craw. At first the report referred to these individuals as 'unidentified rapists' but later the findings began to simply refer to them as 'rapist(s).' That is a very subtle, but very powerful spin -- especially to someone who wants to believe the worst. At least the media has the class to refer to individuals as "alleged" or "charged" before conviction.

This is why you need to exercise a little common sense around puddle profundities -- even if they are sourced back to some expert. And this finally brings us back to the second point you must always consider when dealing with slogans/statements/sound bites: Does the puddle profundity make sense?

Slogans and talking points are often nasty sound bites designed to induce terror, but quite frankly often the numbers just don't add up. As the previous example demonstrates thunderous and resounding sounding numbers that these statements inform you are often seriously skewed.

What's even more problematic is how often these 'revealed truths' about the subject often contradict each other. If "all sex is rape," "all men are potential rapists" and "all rapists are serial rapists" ... does that mean all men are serial rapists? Some of the more extreme advocates would say 'yes.' This, even though Lisak's number come in around 4%.

Are we supposed to let these little discrepancies slip by because it is such a good cause? Maybe a quick trip to the logical fallacies page is in order here.

Here's the problem, many of the more popular advocate slogans have never been subjected to critical psychological or professional review. In science there is a term for this, it's called "Junk Science(3)." In real life, it's called "having an agenda."

Let's go back to the pithy little statement of "Rape is about power and control."  No responsible psychologist is going to make such a unsupported, speculative and blanket statement as to the absolute and sole motivation of another person -- much less insist that the same categorically applies to thousands of people.

It cannot accurately be done. Nor would it pass peer review. Will they admit that power and control are factors in many rapes? YES! But a factor is a far cry from the complete and total motivation.

And yet this sound-bite slogan is gospel to advocates and women's self-defense (WSD) instructors.

In one pithy statement they honestly believe they have summed up the absolute motivation of every male on the planet. Does that statement about "every male" sound ridiculous?  Why should that be absurd when "all men are potential rapists" is also a commonly accepted and unchallenged slogan in those same circles?

What we find amusing is the intellectual tap dance we encountered when we enquired how this model applies to "date rape." The response was "Date rapes start out about sex, but they transform into being about power and control."

Wow, that was a slick turn around. Admit sex into the equation then bring it back to the the same old saw.

Basically what we are saying is every time an advocate parrots "power and control" that person might as well put on a turban and cape. The premise that all rape is about only two things is an act of mind reading. It it isn't a psychic ability, then it is something else, often a social agenda. And that is where we  start to have problems.

What crusaders using that slogan fail to understand is that they are talking about these women's family, friends, acquaintances, dates, boyfriends and lovers. Men the woman know and, even if she doesn't love them, she at least deals with them every day! We feel the attitude expressed in "all men are potential rapists" is paranoid and extremist. Nobody except fanatics want to live such a paranoid, fearful and angry lifestyle. No bloody wonder most women ignore such advice. It's too extreme and out of touch with the reality they live in. Who wants to be constantly afraid of half the human race? (And maybe we're missing something, but if every man is a potential rapist, what happened to the 5,914 professional rapists?)

Here's something else to consider. Despite the advocate's dire warning about men's motivations, more women are NOT raped every year than are raped. In fact, a majority of women somehow spend their entire lives without being raped (the exact numbers are hotly debated). Just call us pragmatists but to us that means these women are doing something right. What's more interesting is somehow they manage to do it without adopting the advocate's philosophy that every man on the planet is out to rape, abuse and oppress them.

Now here's the real freaky thing: not only are these women not engaging in high risk behavior, but a majority of women over the age of 25 tend to frown upon such behavior. Advocates may insist that an underage girl has the right to get drunk and pass out at a frat house part without getting sexually molested, but most mature women tend to think it's really stupid to test that contention.

This is where it gets real ironic. For this commonsense opinion these same women are dismissed by the advocate with the following puddle profundity: Society blames the rape victim.

Unfortunately, brilliant statements like "A woman should have the right to walk naked into a biker bar and not be molested" abound in the women's self-defense world. And they do so without contest! To the point where you literally could not find a differing viewpoint in said circles. That is until now ...

Our refusal to toe the party line is a big reason why we get so many "love" letters from people over what we say here.

We disagree with many trends in WSD programs, and we certainly disagree with blanket statement about the motives of rape. Is power and control a factor in rape? Yes, it can be. Is it the primary motivation in certain kinds of rape? Absolutely. Is rape and violence used as a means to control women in extremely patriarchal countries and cultures to this day? Yes. Is anger and frustration a common factor in many rapes? Yes. But so too is intoxication, miscommunication and high emotion.

When you look at the numbers, you will see that most rapes occur within predictable parameters. And usually the two most common components are young age (16-25) and in tandem with high risk behavior. We're talking about the majority of rapes now. We aren't talking about serial rapists, sadists or sexual predators here. While those definitely exist, they are comparatively speaking rare. However, you don't get funding for a battle against drunken college kids, you get funding by telling stories about  monsters.

Are there monsters out there? Hell yes. And you're right to fear them. But they are not who are committing the majority of rapes.

Without getting into a heated debate over definitions, we present that the kind rape a women is most likely to face can be loosely called, "date rape." While a jump out of the bushes rapist can be handled with the same measures as a robber, the dynamics of date rapes tend to be less cut and dried. And that makes much harder to see them coming. They are further complicated because the woman knows the attacker and there is often sexual interest -- commonly on both sides. This is why we maintain in civilized countries, a majority of date rape is primarily about sex.

But more than that, it is about selfishness and stupidity. Once we accept that we can start to do something to prevent it from happening to you. But before you can do that, you might want to take a look at your own motivations and why such dangerous misinformation sounds so appealing to you.

In closing I'd like to leave you with this quote from Dr. Ofer Zur

While it is clear that abuse of women by men
is unjustifiable under any circumstance, still it is important
to differentiate between relative degrees of responsibility.
To adhere to a victim ideology which states that victims
are always and completely innocent is absurd.
It has yet to be widely understood that by alleviating
all women or any victim from any and all responsibility
to predict, prevent, or even unconsciously invite abuse,
is to reduce them to helpless, incapable creatures,
and in fact, re-victimizes them.

Return to top

1) Ann's statement was in the context of WSD training, here's the rest:
That's not to say that there might be some good courses out there. Personally, I prefer mixed groups with the understanding that it takes *years* of good training and practice to develop a viable physical skill set. I have found these groups tend to have a much more level headed approach to dealing with conflict and understanding the complexities of human relationships, legal issues, and the importance of de-escalation and mutual respect. Any group that doesn't embody these attributes is not worth the time. Return to Text


2) There's been a recent trend in psychological study where subjects are put into MRI machines and their brains scanned while the psychologists run tests. One such test at Emory put individuals -- who identified themselves as either liberals and conservatives -- into the MRI machine and then asked them political questions. Interestingly enough, the parts of their brains that "light up" (showing activity) were the emotional parts, not  the logical parts (frontal lobes). And yet despite this, the subjects were convinced they were being "rational" about their political views. This is a factor of why individuals with entrenched positions don't just believe that the opposition is wrong, but also often believe they are ignorant, evil and likely involved in a conspiracy. Return to Text

3)That refers to popular, politically driven movements that claim to be based on science, but the science isn't science. Actual science has steps and stages where not only the facts are tested, but the testing process is reviewed as well. (Bad process equals bad results). Long before something is presented as a "truth" in science, it has been hammered upon by thousands of people trying to find where it isn't true. Junk science isn't a scientific law. It isn't even a theory, it's a hypothesis. (That's an idea that hasn't been tested to see if it even could qualify as a theory). The so-called scientists these movements use have done an end run around the scientific process by presenting their hypothesis's to the public as proven science. Then advocates take this and run with it claiming that their position is based credible sources. Return to Text


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