Good Men Project’s Rape Faceplant, Predators and the Social License to Operate

This is a guest post by Thomas Macaulay Millar. Thomas regularly blogs at Yes Means Yes, where this post originally appeared.

So by now many of my regular readers will know that Good Men Project first published Alyssa Royse’s piece about how her friend who raped a sleeping woman (both she and, in her telling, he call it rape) but she wants to discuss how he was confused by the mixed signals the woman allegedly sent (prior to sleeping). Then, Good Men Project published another piece by an anonymous rapist (he admits he is) who gets wasted and fucks people who are too wasted to consent, and he says he won’t stop because it’s just fun to get wasted and not give a shit what happens to other people. This predictably drew outrage, and lots of folks have been all over it, including Jill at Feministe in two posts here and here. Joanna Schroeder at GMP put up a post defending the decision to give the drunk rapist a platform, and in the comments one thing she’s done is try to distinguish the research that Lisak & Miller and McWhorter have done on “undetected rapists” — those who have not been caught or disciplined, but whose responses on surveys are concessions to having raped, though they don’t call it that. This is in part a discussion about that research, and I cover it in Meet The Predators, which is among the most cited posts here at YMY — I’ll assume familiarity with it.

As what lawyers call a “threshhold issue,” Schroeder thinks the studies don’t support my post, but she’s not just arguing with me. She’s arguing with Lisak about his own research. David Lisak has said:

“This is the norm,” said Lisak, who co-authored a 2002 study of nearly 1,900 college men published in the academic journal Violence and Victims. “The vast majority of rapes are perpetrated by serial offenders who, on average, have six victims. So, this is who’s doing it.”

I’m not putting words in his mouth when I say that Predator Theory (my term for the conclusions drawn from his and similar research) is the explanation for the vast bulk of the rapes that happen. That’s what he says his findings mean, too.

Next, I think Schroeder ‘s criticism doesn’t grapple with the math.

Let’s use Lisak & Miller’s numbers, with a population of a million men and a million women. If 2% of the men are single-offense rapists meeting Lisak’s definition, and a further 4% are repeaters with an average of 5.8 victims, that implies that 20,000 of the men are single-offenders with 20,000 victims, and the 40,000 repeat offenders have 232,000 victims. To oversimplify and assume that no women rape, no men are victims, everyone is either a man or a woman and there are no repeat victims, we then have 252,000 victims, or about a quarter of the population of women. If we believe the various victim-report data, that’s about what we would expect. So, while Lisak & Miller’s questions certainly will not capture every rape, they do capture the vast majority — they have to, unless she’s postulating a victimization rate much higher than the victim report data account for. If she’s saying that maybe half of all women are raped … well, you can say that, but where is the data to back that up?

Also, I don’t agree with how she reads a question. Look at Lisak & Miller’s Question 2, which Shcroeder puts a lot of weight on in her argument that Lisak’s and McWhorter’s questions capture premeditated rape only. Question 2 does not actually do that. It captures all situations where the respondent knows that consent was absent by reason of intoxication; not just those where he concedes knowing that at the time. McWhorter includes a similar question that allows for getting someone drunk or high and does not actually inquire about foreknowledge, an element she read in. She misreads “they didn’t want to” to mean premeditation, but if you take out “they didn’t want to” then why would it be rape? It’s only rape if one participant to the act does not consent and if they don’t ask that, then they are not asking about rapes.

If one actually goes back and reads the account from the rapist GMP published, he would be captured by Lisak & Miller’s survey, though maybe not McWhorter’s. Lisak & Miller asked:

(2) Have you ever had sexual intercourse with someone, even though they did not want to, because they were too intoxicated (on alcohol or drugs) to resist your sexual advances (e.g., removing their clothes)?

What did the guy whose accountin the GMP piece say? He said:

A friend of mine once told me about a girl who he knew for a fact had only had two drinks. He didn’t know she was on prescription medication that amplified those two drinks beyond all measure. He thought she was just very horny when she wouldn’t leave him alone or take “Are you okay?” for an answer. It wasn’t until she kept calling him by the wrong name and couldn’t remember the right one that he realized she was not able to consent, and called a halt to things before they went any further. He says he had to dissuade her from pursuing things further, because she was really into it, apart from not knowing who he was or where she was.

“Can you imagine?” he tells me in horrified tones. “I was almost a rapist.”

How do I tell him that I was in a similar position and made a different call? How do I tell him that I am what he’s terrified he almost was?

The fair read of what he said about “a different call” is that he’s been in a situation where he realized that his prospective partner was so out of it that she was in no position to give meaningful consent, i.e. unable to resist his advances, and went ahead and fucked her anyway. That satisfies Lisak & Miller’s question 2.

The other piece that has brought a recent storm of controversy on GMP, Alyssa Royse’s, has a similar story, and that one would not be captured by either the McWhorter or Lisak survey. But I don’t think that helps Schroeder’s argument, since her issue is that the Predator Theory deals only with premeditated (it doesn’t), deliberate (that’s correct) rape. The story in the Royse piece is a story of a deliberate rape. She was asleep. She could not give consent, and at the time, she was not giving any signals – none at all. Sleep is not a communicative state. Even if one assumes that he was certain she wanted to fuck him, he would have pursued that while she was awake. If he thought she consented, why wait until she is asleep? So this is a deliberate rape, maybe not a premeditated one but a decision to stick his cock in a person who was unable to express consent, and was in fact unaware of his conduct until his penis was in her.

I think Schroeder is starting from the premise that these “miscommunications” have to be the more prevalent scenario, and are simply saying that Lisak and McWhorter can’t be addressing the majority of rapes because they don’t address that. But that’s misguided as a matter of math, of reading their questions, and I think of how the world works.

I submit that, because the phenomenon that Lisak and McWhorter identify squares with victim report data in terms of overall numbers, while it doesn’t capture all rapes, it does capture the bulk of the problem. I reason from this premise to the conclusion that the sort of miscommunications that you seem to be talking about, are a much smaller dynamic. And that squares with other research, that outlined in the post Mythcommunications, which is another of the most-referenced YMY posts, and which has been picked up for republication in specialty publications for folks that deal with rape in professional settings, like law enforcement and medicine.

I think the folks saying that guys rape because they misread signals are mostly getting snowed by guys that are taking advantage of the wiggle room people are willing to extend them, even after recognizing that what they did was rape. This is what I’m talking about at the end of Meet The Predators when I discuss the Social License to Operate. If we start from the premise that the rapist is the guy in the bushes, of course, we can’t accept that what the people we know do is rape. But also, if we start from the position that the people we know are good people and we’re unwilling to reevaluate that, then we’ll forever make excuses for them.

The two pieces at GMP recently have the effect of erasing the rapists’ responsibility for the rapes. It’s the “weather” approach – guys just do this, they misunderstand signals, they’re drunk, sure it’s wrong but it can’t be helped, so all you women out there better change your behavior. It’s really telling that you used the words “for the record” – it’s terminology people use when they have to say something but they don’t really mean it, a formal acknowledgement of something they’re trying to undermine or amend or excuse. It’s the part that comes before “but.”

The guy whose account GMP published is, if not wholly a rational actor, at least a partially rational one. He knows what he’s done and he knows what he will do. He’s choosing this path because it hasn’t cost him enough yet, because the rewards in the fucked up feedback loop still outweigh the costs.

(He’s a drunk. My regular readers know that I know more about living with substance abusers than I wish I did. Drunks avoid the hard decision to get sober until the consequences motivate them. We don’t shrink from throwing drunks in jail for drunk driving when they hurt people because we just can’t have them crashing into people. Well, we can’t have drunks raping people either, and if there were consequences they’d have to make tough choices. As long as we focus on how women can change their own behavior, we’re not going to do that.

But he’s not every drunk. Every drunk doesn’t rape. Drunks rapists rape because getting drunk allows them to give themselves permission to do things they know are wrong, to push the conscience into the corner and keep it there. If rape just happened when people got drunk, all drunks would rape. This guy’s hard-partying friend does not say, “hey, it’s all good” when a prospective partner is too bombed to recall his name. But this guy does.)

A lot of well-meaning people are, in my view, acting as part of the problem by accepting as a stated or unstated premise that we should erase the rapist’s agency from the discussion. If we assume that rapists are like hurricanes, that we can’t stop them from forming and can’t control their movements, then the only thing left is to control the victims’ behavior.

That’s wrong for two reasons. First, rapists are not hurricanes. If we could dissuade hurricanes from hitting the coast by fining them or jailing them or kicking them out of the dorms, wouldn’t we? Of course we would. Second, to reference the Ben Franklin quote, “those who would trade essential liberty for a little temporary security deserve neither.” Or, as Golda Mier put it when a curfew for women was proposed to protect them from a serial rapist, why not give the men a curfew? Curtailing women’s freedom by policing their behavior has a cost. By making that the focus of prevention, we’re imposing that cost on women. That’s not a logical necessity. That’s a policy choice.

Amanda Marcotte said years ago that if we are serious about a problem we tackle it systemically, and if we just want an excuse to blame women we tell them its their individual responsibility. She was talking about recycling or food politics or some such, but it goes for rape, too. Men use alcohol and excuses to rape. If we were serious, we’d look at those dynamics and find a public policy solution to interrupt the cycle: increased policing, better rape reporting, consent education aimed primarily at men around their drinking – not so much to educate the rapists but to make them stand out; this is a major point in my Predator Theory writing. But we don’t do that. We tell women not to go out and drink so much. Well, we tell women what to do and not to do with their own bodies a lot, and I don’t think anyone thinks we can make a damned bit of difference by doing that more. We’re not going to stop any rapes by scolding women. But we are going to build in an excuse, an i-told-you-so that, however good the intentions, is going to be used to club rape survivors. Don’t we all know that by now? We must know.

I’ve said what we need to do. We need to strip away the Social License to Operate, the cover we give these guys.

Alyssa Royse says her friend is a rapist, but she doesn’t say he’s not her friend. She tells the story in a way that is openly sympathetic to him. While she repeats the verbiage of opposition to rape, it’s manifestly inconsistent with the tone – almost as if she made a series of flashcards of things I would say or Jaclyn or Jill would say, and made a set of flash cards of things someone says when they’re making excuses for rapists, and then shuffled them together and included them in her piece in whatever order they appeared in. (The cognitive dissonance between saying nothing excuses fucking her in her sleep and saying that she led him on by describing her history of sex work is so powerful that if we could harness it we could eliminate the need for hydraulic fracking.) We need to stop doing that shit. She said herself that the way she talked to the survivor had the effect of victim-blaming and alienated the survivor. That’s the problem. We know that some of the rapists are the people we know and like, we know that survivors get bomber with accusatory questioning, yet when it was her friend, she did exactly the same thing, and now instead of feeling angry at the rapist and mad at herself for falling into the same dynamics, she feels sad for him and wants to understand, and seems not to accept that her victim-blaming, however intended, was victim-blaming and made her part of the problem.

Whatever the intent, the effect is to excuse him, to create a rape that “just happens”, a rape without a “rapist” in the morally culpable sense, the kind that we all agree belongs in prison, the kind we can no longer be friends with or say nice things about.

And the drunk rapist GMP gave a platform to needs to stop. He certainly needs to get sober, and he needs to stop raping. But nothing GMP did helps put him in a position where he, or anyone like him, needs to make these tough choices. Their version of “understanding” has the effect, whatever your intent, of coming across as sympathy, making excuses for him as a poor drunk who isn’t really culpable the way the predators are. But he is them. He did it, he’ll do it again, he knows it, and he’s not willing to stop because he likes how it works out for him.

We need to stop being okay with rapists. Understanding is a word with multiple meanings. I am all about understanding rapists in the sense of being able to make policy effectively to affect them. But I don’t want to understand them in the sense of empathy. They’re not sob stories and they don’t need our warm fuzzies. They need to stop. We need to give them reasons to stop.


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93 Responses to Good Men Project’s Rape Faceplant, Predators and the Social License to Operate

  1. TomSims says:

    “We need to stop being okay with rapists. Understanding is a word with multiple meanings. I am all about understanding rapists in the sense of being able to make policy effectively to affect them. But I don’t want to understand them in the sense of empathy. They’re not sob stories and they don’t need our warm fuzzies. They need to stop. We need to give them reasons to stop.”

    I agree. We need much longer prison terms, like maybe 25 years to life.

    • Jadey says:

      That particular strategy has been tried and evaluated comprehensively. It doesn’t help keep people safe and it doesn’t end rape culture.

    • Esti says:

      When the vast majority of rapists are not prosecuted at all, much less successfully, then the length of the prison term doesn’t really matter.

      • Colin says:

        Yes. People respond a lot more to mild but certain punishments than they do to harsh but unlikely ones. For a potential rapist, even just the certainty of being told by all his pals that he’s done something inexcusable and they are not cool with it would act as a big deterrent compared to the current situation.

    • zuzu says:

      Vaccination is a better strategy than treating with medication after the fact.

    • Chataya says:

      I’m in favor of castration.

      • Fat Steve says:

        I’m in favor of castration.

        For rapists or just in general?

        Many studies say that castration (chemical castration at least,) does not decrease that person’s propensity to assault a woman, and in some cases may increase it. Remarkably, cutting off a persons genitals does not magically solve their anger issues, in fact, it makes some a little crankier.

      • Chataya says:

        Nope, physical castration. I’ll be sure to shed tiny tears for the unrepentant rapist and their issues.

      • Donna L says:

        Castration means removing the testicles. Which is hardly a foolproof method for preventing rape. It’s entirely possible for castrated men, whether that state was accomplished chemically or surgically, still to be able to have intercourse — or to rape someone.

        That said, although the thought of perpetrating physical violence against people like that can certainly be satisfying, I’m not in favor of advocating things like castration, even only half-seriously, any more than I like it when people advocate prison rape.

      • A4 says:

        I like your comments.

      • Marcie says:

        I’m in favor of castration.

        Of course you are.

        But going with the feminist trope universaly accepted fact that rape is about power and not sex what would that accomplish, besides satisfying your inner Valerie Solanas for a little while?

      • tomek says:

        dont think you have good understanding of male. for male, sex is about power and dominance. and power for male is directly translate to sex. so argue “no rape is about sex” “no rape is about power” is stupid.

        on the subject of the castration, this is violation of right. put rapist away where cannot rape anymore. do not violate body.

  2. Kristen J. says:

    Yes. This whole thing. Yes to the entire thing. +infinity

  3. William says:

    How do I tell him that I was in a similar position and made a different call? How do I tell him that I am what he’s terrified he almost was?

    Would it be poor form to suggest a forehead tattoo or an eloquent suicide not here?

    • Aydan says:

      In my opinion? Yes.

      I’m not trying to tell anyone how to feel about an abusive man being dead or a rapist still being alive, but this idea of suicide as a good outcome has popped up in the comments twice in about two weeks. (The other time was the Kasandra Perkins post.) Surely there are ways to talk about being glad someone is dead, or wishing someone were dead, if that’s how you feel, without holding up suicide as a Good Thing?

      • William says:

        I’m pretty comfortable, morally, with wishing someone was dead. When it comes to rapists I’m not terribly concerned what happens to them so long as it doesn’t involve some greater oppression like systematic state violence or the toleration of prison rape. I’m a survivor and I just plain refuse to be shamed or asked to feel bad because I wouldn’t mind seeing a rapist end up dead. The suicide note comment was a bit of wit and an attempt to avoid the inevitable accusation of vigilantism that seems to come up all too often when someone suggests that, maybe, rapists ought not be tolerated.

        I also don’t necessarily see suicide as a bad outcome even if someone isn’t a rapist. I mean, we don’t really have a claim on one another and if someone wants to take their exit I sure as hell don’t think I have the moral authority to tell someone they have to live a life they feel is unlivable. Thats especially true when the only way to prevent that suicide is necessarily going to involve violence and oppression of someone already likely to be pretty oppressed. I get that some people are sensitive about suicide because they’ve been affected but, at the end of the day, bodily autonomy isn’t negated by the feelings of others.

      • Li says:

        I get that some people are sensitive about suicide because they’ve been affected but, at the end of the day, bodily autonomy isn’t negated by the feelings of others.

        People’s experiences of suicide may not be an argument that suicide is necessarily a bad outcome, but it’s sure as hell an argument against flippantly throwing suicide suggestions into an unrelated discussion with a group which can reasonably be predicted to include a number of people with strong emotional reactions to the topic. I don’t care about the feelings of rapists but I do care about the feelings of other people in this space.

      • DouglasG says:

        Mr William – I’ve no quarrel with how you feel, nor would I want to deny anyone access to paths I’ve taken myself (however obviously incompletely), but you’ve been wittier, and the dimension of outside suggestion feels like a giant step in a dangerous direction.

      • William says:

        Li

        I don’t care about the feelings of rapists but I do care about the feelings of other people in this space.

        A fair point. I’ve some responses but they’d be a derail and, if I’m being honest, a big part of them would have to do with my own triggers and vulnerabilities. You’ve given me something to think about.

        DouglasG,
        I’ll own the fact that I’d have little moral problem inciting a rapist to suicide.

      • DouglasG says:

        I respect your feelings and experiences, and cannot say how I would respond if you were proposing using an entirely new weapon to reduce rape/the number of rapists.

        And I’ll own that, as a member of a group rather more vulnerable than your selected target to the weapon of incitement (and with personal experience), I hold firmly that any successful deployment of that weapon, however universally loathed the target, would only lead to a great increase in its being used against my people. Change the phrasing a little and the compared crime, and the Scalia argument in a later post would suit hatemongers to a T.

    • Stella says:

      Why was it his job to recognize her drunkenness? Was he sober at the time? What if they were both drunk would it have been each others job to recognize the other was drunk? Would it have been mutual rape then or would she have been the rapist if both were drunk, because she approached a drunk person for sex?

      Can we focus on people whom commit actual rape, like sexing women whom are passed out drunk instead of taking the bait by the good men project?

      • EG says:

        Since she was so fucked up that she actually didn’t know who he was, yes, that is actual rape, and it is on him to recognize it. If he had been that drunk, I doubt he would’ve been able to get it up.

      • STFU Stella says:

        Can someone please ban this chill-girl rape apologist already?

      • sophiefair says:

        Why was it his job to recognize her drunkenness?

        because you don’t penetrate someone without enthusiastic consent — and consent is not possible when someone is so intoxicated he or she does not recognise/remember the person he or she is with.

        simple questions, simple answers…

      • Stella says:

        My point is the bone the good men project threw distracts from people whom commit rape, like sexing girls whom are unable to talk and give consent. It makes it sound like when the talk of drunken rape comes up its some kind of gray area, where she sorta gave consent maybe.

      • Alex says:

        I’m dubious that this story actually happened — why trust anything a self-confessed rapist writes, especially if he’s positing a hypothetical situation where a man really could, at least in theory, commit rape without knowing it? Implicitly, the rapist-writer is asking us to imagine that the woman had not revealed her level of intoxication by calling his friend by the wrong name. If we assume for the sake of argument that the incident happened as it’s described in the GMP article, the woman wasn’t merely enthusiastically consenting to something the man initiated; she was enthusiastically pursuing a sexual encounter and seeking his consent. If she hadn’t exposed how intoxicated she really was by forgetting his name, there’s no reasonable way he could be considered a rapist for giving her what she had made it abundantly clear that she wanted, even if the next morning she didn’t remember how she’d ended up in bed with him.

        I doubt the veracity of this story because it’s a too-perfect set-up for the “buyer’s remorse” victim-blaming MRA meme. If someone wants to claim that some woman, somewhere, initiated a sexual encounter with a man, was an enthusiastic participant throughout the encounter, went to sleep next to him after they were done, and then accused him of rape after she woke up beside him the next morning with no memory of what she’d done or how she’d gotten there, they’d better be able to corroborate the claim with names, dates, police reports with descriptions of her behavior leading up to the encounter from disinterested witnesses, etc. Otherwise, I’m going to assume that they’re making it up, or at least distorting the facts of the matter.

        It looks to me as though the rapist and rape-apologist relating this story wants us to equivocate between this extremely unusual, possibly apocryphal scenario and his own crimes against women who were much more obviously incapacitated and not giving even the appearance of enthusiastic consent. Most people aren’t too intoxicated to give meaningful consent after only two drinks (although it is true the combination of alcohol and other drugs could do that). Furthermore, most people who are too intoxicated to give meaningful consent are not also fully ambulatory, talking coherently, and actively trying to get someone to have sex with them. Finally, I suspect that there are few if any women who would pursue an accusation of rape after being told by their friends that they were all over the guy during the party, practically dragged him off to bed, and showed no sign during those events that they were too drunk to know what they were doing or remember it the next morning.

      • Kim says:

        That question is exactly the victim-blaming rape culture that exists today and makes it possible for this so called “grey” area of rape to exist.

        Let’s educate men that it is NOT OK to have sex with a woman if she is clearly intoxicated. That it IS predatory behavior to specifically choose women who are intoxicated and try to have sex with them. Let’s *gasp* hold men to a higher standard. I believe in the decency of men and that they are up to the challenge. Any argument that “they can’t help it” is condescending and insulting towards men.

        We already do this to women. We already make them feel bad for their choices when they are VICTIMS of rape. We make them feel bad that maybe they are ruining a man’s life because she was drunk/leading him on/put herself in that situation and if she hadn’t been all of the above, the rape never would have happened.

        We all need to step up and say that it isn’t ok. Feeling remorse doesn’t excuse someone for committing a crime either. Good people do bad things all the time, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have to be held accountable for our actions.

        Let’s step up as women and tell our male friends it is not ok. Let’s take the step to educate them, because we care. Because we believe in their intelligence, their “goodness”.

  4. Jadey says:

    I am completely on board with this, except I would change the wording in your last paragraph from “empathize”, which can be quite useful as part of the understanding piece, to “sympathize”. I may try to understand a rapist and try to see where they came from and how they interpreted things (and then will take a long fucking shower after), but I will not sympathize for rapists about their rapes. I will not feel badly for them.

    (I don’t think everyone needs to empathize with rapists, god no, I just don’t equate empathizing with having the “warm fuzzies”. Quite the opposite sometimes.)

  5. EllieMurasaki says:

    If this man were half as ashamed of being a rapist as that quote makes him sound, he would be in police custody right now, having confessed to the crime.

  6. Bagelsan says:

    First, rapists are not hurricanes. If we could dissuade hurricanes from hitting the coast by fining them or jailing them or kicking them out of the dorms, wouldn’t we? Of course we would. Second, to reference the Ben Franklin quote, “those who would trade essential liberty for a little temporary security deserve neither.” Or, as Golda Mier put it when a curfew for women was proposed to protect them from a serial rapist, why not give the men a curfew? Curtailing women’s freedom by policing their behavior has a cost. By making that the focus of prevention, we’re imposing that cost on women. That’s not a logical necessity. That’s a policy choice.

    So well put. I was trying to get this idea across to my mom the other day; even if I dress/act/walk/drink so that I manage to never get raped (did I mention I’m magic in this scenario? I’m magic in this scenario) that just means some other woman gets raped that day. Because in our rape culture rapists are treated like acts of God that women can only try and steer away from themselves and can’t keep away from everyone. Some raping has to happen. Which is wrong, wrong, wrong.

  7. Thefish says:

    “This is the norm,” said Lisak, who co-authored a 2002 study of nearly 1,900 college men published in the academic journal Violence and Victims. “The vast majority of rapes are perpetrated by serial offenders who, on average, have six victims. So, this is who’s doing it.”

    … Not all men go to college. You can’t draw conclusions about the general population from college goers. This reeks of classism.

    • EllieMurasaki says:

      How would you design a study that accounts for that flaw, and how would you attract participants from a sufficiently broad cross-section of society?

      • DSJ says:

        Perhaps someone else has asked this question before, and also asked questions of other potential gaps in existing research. I have a comment in mod over at Yes Means Yes, basically asking whether there are other studies that more specifically look at this issue of unintentional rape.

        I mean I got curious and started looking at it after Joanna’s comment attacking YMY’s use of the study. Blogs are basically a form of entertainment, but if you really want to get serious there is more out there than just Lisak & Miller, McWhorter, and the communication studies we’ve been linked to in recent posts. I’m not qualified to parse through all of it, but perhaps Thomas or someone else here is. Or perhaps he already has, and what we’re getting shown is best way to present the sum of the research.

      • I basically disagree that blogs are only a tool for entertainment. In social justice work, blogs are incubators for ideas, networking tools for activists and public relations for ideas that are underrepresented in mainstream media. I’d expand on that, but it would be a threadjack. I’m not here to entertain myself and I’m not here to make money off of people seeking entertainment. I’m here to put ideas out there and change the conversation.

      • Tony says:

        Thomas- of course not. I don’t know why I said that and I’m sorry. What I was trying to express was that we don’t usually hold ourselves to academic standards of rigor in these discussions, there’s no one to hold bloggers or any writers to these standards but ourselves. Thats not to say writers shouldnt have an obligation to do some research, but I think its a sliding scale in practice. Nobody writing for these sites has a PhD in their topic as far as I know. And arguably, a lot of paid writers are there to maximize traffic for their publications, which means entertainment over accuracy. Perhaps that’s part of the problem here with GMP, part of why they didn’t think to look up your work. In any case, upon reading your posts, you shifted me from what I normally expect in online writing to what I would expect if professionally researching this topic, and that means much higher standards. Hence, my questions. Sorry for causing offense.

      • Pseudonym says:

        Are “DSJ” and “Tony” the same person? They share a Gravatar and the latter’s comment sounds like a response from the person Thomas MacAulay Millar responded to.

        At any rate, it’s too bad academia tends to be such an insular profession and community. Although (appropriately for a random blog comment) I don’t have any research to back it, I can guarantee that far more people learn to understand feminism and interact with the feminist movement through blogs and online discussion fora than through academic studies; those studies provide the raw material, along with people’s personal experiences. Feministe seems pretty prominent in the online feminist community, so should academic researchers like Lisak & Miller or McWhorter be encouraged to/coerced into commenting here and answering our questions? I guess it doesn’t count for much on a CV or when tenure committees start poking around.

      • EG says:

        Indeed, it would count for nothing, and possibly be harmful vis-a-vis tenure. Also, plenty of people just don’t enjoy interacting with others in this way, and encouraging/coercing them into commenting is unpleasant. If they wanted to do feminism in that way, they’d be doing it already.

      • jrockford says:

        While having them comment here might not be a solution, I’ve found many academics don’t mind answering short questions about their work via email.

      • Jadey says:

        In fact, there are academics in the commentariat, but mostly operating psuedononymously, for the reasons EG outlines.

        But +1 to jrockford – many academics are very keen to know that they are actually relevant (especially outside their discipline) and might very well welcome contact from interested members of the public. Just keep in mind that many are very, very busy, especially in exam season. Now would be a good time to contact an academic because most exams are over but people haven’t necessarily left for winter holidays yet.

      • Jadey says:

        You almost certainly can’t, by any realistic means, within a single study. The most plausible strategy is multiple surveys with comparable methodologies across a systematic range of samples, but that would take serious government-level funding and still have flaws.

        Thefish’s comment has merit regarding the absolute generalizability of Lisak’s findings, but doesn’t invalidate them by any means.

    • McWhorter’s sample was Navy entrants, so a population of about the traditional college age that mostly did not go to college. She had about 1100 respondents and broadly replicated the results, with some differences, the main one being that her repeat offender percentage was higher.

      As I said in Meet The Predators, I look forward to research that uses these techniques to expand beyond the limitations of the early studies.

    • Ismone says:

      McWhorter’s study dealt with naval enlistees, who need not go to college and usually do not. So that broadens the cross-section quite a bit.

  8. formersexworker says:

    Thomas I do think you are underestimating numbers of repeat victims. Being a repeat victim is really common. Which is not to say mistakes are common, either. Not, you know, mistakes of that kind of magnitude. And the proper response to making a mistake across those lines is to feel horrrified, offer her comfort and apologies if she wants it, and not to do it again. And if the problem is alcohol don’t have drunk sex. Like you don’t drink and drive.

    • I think, and I believe from my own observations, that mistakes about consent do happen. One area where I’m confident that this is a big issue — separate from rape and abuse but just a important to talk about — is in BDSM, and I wrote about that in the There’s A War On series at YMY, which is really long and primarily of importance to kinksters. I would agree that there is also a significant amount of repeat victimization and some mistakes about consent. What I take issue with is that Schroeder and Royse want to dismiss Predator Theory as not representing the primary narrative. (To be fair, Shroeder wants to limit its applications. Royse appears to want to discard it.) Well, if it isn’t the primary story, then there’s an equally large or larger story, and we’d expect a very different picture from self-report data.

  9. I was interested in your remark about “the cover we give these guys”. I hope it doesn’t seem like hijacking the subject if I point out that Wikileaks founder Julian Asssange raped a woman by commencing sex while she was asleep, and people the world over who agreed with his management of Wikileaks rushed to explain that he was guilty of, at most, “bad sexual etiquette” as Respect MP George Galloway put it, the remark causing his party leader to resign. Former MP Louise Mensch put it best in a remark which, going by your post, I think you’d agree with: “consent isn’t a season ticket”.

    • EG says:

      That’s a derail, and every single person I know on this website considers him to be a rapist. Because he didn’t “commence sex.” He raped her.

      • Esti says:

        I don’t know, I think the response to Assange is a pretty good example of the kind of rape-excusal the GMP was also engaging in. I know a lot of people (all men) who are generally progressive and not overt victim-blamers, but when it came to Assange they just. couldn’t. deal. with the possibility that he was a rapist. It looked a lot like Alyssa’s piece — lip service about how rape is wrong followed by a whole lot of “but she did all this stuff that made it look like she wanted it!” and “but regardless of whether he did it, I feel really bad for him and think we should look at how everyone else is at fault here!” And I think it’s caused by the same thing: not wanting to admit that this person you’ve invested in could be the kind of rapist that’s really to blame.

      • TomSims says:

        I know a lot of people (all men) who are generally progressive and not overt victim-blamers, but when it came to Assange they just. couldn’t. deal. with the possibility that he was a rapist. ”

        The progressives aka liberals claimed the affair was about right wingers in the US government wanting him jailed over his leaking US military secrets. If he had been a conservative, they would have called him the worst rapist on the planet.

  10. But he’s not every drunk. Every drunk doesn’t rape. Drunks rapists rape because getting drunk allows them to give themselves permission to do things they know are wrong, to push the conscience into the corner and keep it there.

    THIS THIS THIS.

    Urgh, and I got piled on for saying exactly this in a previous thread, even though I think it’s perfectly accurate. I’m more glad than I can say that you went out of your way to point this out.

    • Christina says:

      Actually, fwiw, macavitykitsune, I read you as saying the exact opposite in the previous thread. I actually scrolled down the comments in the piece looking for your name because I was curious how you would react to Thomas’ piece. So, at least for my part in that discussion, it looks like perhaps there was a misunderstanding?

  11. I’m just getting more and more upset that they’re enabling rape not just in the general, but in the extremely specific.

    An active serial rapist contacted them, they presumably have some kind of contact info for him, he’s announced very specifically his intent to rape again, and they’re… as far as anyone can tell, not doing a damn thing about it. (It would be great if they’re not saying anything because they’re trying not to tip their hand as they take direct real-life action, but I don’t have much reason to believe that.)

    If the GMP editors really want to stop rapists, they could start, by, you know, STOPPING A RAPIST.

  12. David says:

    Next, I think Schroeder ‘s criticism doesn’t grapple with the math.

    I think that the correct answer is important. Assuming that there are about 250000 rapes predicted by the studies, and assuming that the rapes occour at random, allowing for the same woman to be raped more than once. We would expect about 160,000 rape victims, or 16% of the population. Not 25%. Therefore the predator theory model does not explain 36% of rapes.

    Here is a quick script written in R that demonstrates this fact. http://pastebin.com/v6DVDuej

    The implications of this are for another post. However if we are to build models which explain the observed number of rape victims. Then use these models to inform policy and the law. These models must be rigorously tested. Otherwise our actions will be infective and not lead to a decrease in the number of rape victims.

    • EG says:

      Are you factoring in children, though? My understanding is that the 1 in 4 statistic counts girls who were targets of molestation as well.

      • David says:

        No I am not including children.

        This post was mainly a gut reaction of “No probability doesn’t work like that!” when I read the article.

        It is possible that the other 38% of rapes are perpetrated by paedophiles.

        There are questions like, does the predator theory cover children too?

      • David says:

        sorry, I meant rape of children.

        But this work should be done properly and quantitatively.

        We can use maths to build reliable models which accurately predict the propagation of sexually transmitted diseases through human sexual networks.

        There is no reason that we can’t use the same maths to work out which groups are doing the raping.

      • So, you’re agreeing that the math tends to infer that Predator Theory is the dominant explanation, and saying it leaves room for others to explain maybe a 30-40%. That’s based on Lisak’s numbers, which are the lower of the two; McWhorter’s Navy entrants were more likely to be repeat offenders. Still, I agree that there is room for rapes that don’t fit this profile. I would like the see future research on the single-offenders, and I’d like to see research that moves beyond the men-raping-women paradigm; there are plenty of other dynamics to explore. What I’m really standing for here is that Predator Theory explains the single largest piece of the picture and when we talk about other explanations and dynamics, that it by by way of understanding how to stop it, and not just more Social License to Operate for the repeat offenders who are the bulk of the problem.

      • EG says:

        I thoroughly agree, Thomas. I didn’t mean to imply anything else.

    • David says:

      Correction,

      Predator theory does not explain 36% of rape victims. Not 36% of rapes.

      Predator theory does not explain 38% of rapes, as to get 25% rape victims, the system requires about 400,000 rapes, not 250,000.

    • David says:

      Major Correction #2

      Correcting for multiple rapes actually predicts 22% not 16%, I made a big mistake in the script.

      So If you assume people are raped at random, and allow for the same victim to be raped more than once, then you can still say that predator theory accounts of almost all of the 1 in 4 statistic. The remaining 3% is probably noise, ie a 3% over read of the number of rape victims, or a slight underestimation of the number of rapists.

      This is how it should read. http://pastebin.com/TBrgHbEy

      Sorry.

      But my comment that we should be able to create a model that can’t be argued with still stands, as the real situation will be a lot more complex.

      • Jadey says:

        Well, there are no statistical models that can’t be argued with. Science is all about arguing.

        And in this area in particular, I think Thomas’s point was more illustrative than definitive – there are simply too many missing data points to say for absolutely certain, but we can present a reasonably likely picture that gives a sense of the scope of the problem, to counteract people (*cough*MRAS*cough*) who like to suggest that rates of sexual victimization are vastly over-rated.

    • Yeah, I was really responding to David. I’m not hostile to the notion that the Lisak and McWhorter research is an incomplete picture, but it explains so much that I think it needs to be taken as the main piece of the puzzle, the giant wedge of the pie chart, and then we can start filling in the rest. The problem, as I see it, it that alternative explanations are often deployed not to add to this understanding, but to undermine it and establish a narrative that removes the moral culpability of the rapist. Royse made it pretty clear she doesn’t want to complete the picture left unresolved by the existing research, she wants to toss it out and with it all of what she called the brand mane [sic] feminists who apply it.

    • Pseudonym says:

      I think that it can be very problematic to compute statistics across different studies with different methodologies. In particular, one shouldn’t assume that the predator theory necessarily doesn’t apply to the fraction of rapes that rape survivors indicate but that perpetrators don’t admit to.

    • Ismone says:

      The offenders probably don’t stop raping after they are surveyed at a young age, namely, in college or when they enlisted.

      These are not lifetime offense rates.

  13. Stella says:

    A friend of mine once told me about a girl who he knew for a fact had only had two drinks. He didn’t know she was on prescription medication that amplified those two drinks beyond all measure. He thought she was just very horny when she wouldn’t leave him alone or take “Are you okay?” for an answer. It wasn’t until she kept calling him by the wrong name and couldn’t remember the right one that he realized she was not able to consent, and called a halt to things before they went any further. He says he had to dissuade her from pursuing things further, because she was really into it, apart from not knowing who he was or where she was.

    “Can you imagine?” he tells me in horrified tones. “I was almost a rapist.”

    How do I tell him that I was in a similar position and made a different call? How do I tell him that I am what he’s terrified he almost was?

    Sure lets throw in an example of a woman not taking no for an answer, when the talk was about actual rapists whom did not just sex women whom were drunk, but passed out.

    • Jadey says:

      Your comment is so completely fucked up it’s basically impossible to respond to.

      I just want to make sure you aren’t assuming that the silence is any kind of support.

      • PM says:

        I can’t even parse it, honestly.

      • LC says:

        I think Stella is saying that it was a rhetorical choice in an article about having sex with someone who is passed out (which I think this article didn’t? That was the first article, no?) to make sure the example of the “almost rapist” included a *woman* who “wouldn’t take no for an answer.”

        In other words, it was more obfuscatory word choice.

      • Stella says:

        I am saying why isnt the good men project talking about rapists where there is no gray area, some kind of consent. Most drunken rapes are committed on girls whom are passed out drunk or so bombed they dont say yes or no.

        What is the point of throwing in an example of a girl whom “wouldnt take no for an answer”. Somebody who reads that thinks of a girl “who wouldnt take no for an answer” instead of rape. Rape is rape, not drunken judgment on her part.

      • Jadey says:

        The only gray area is in your mind, Stella. Our point is that *this is rape too*.

    • thefish says:

      Umm… whats your point? I’m seriously confused about the point you are trying to get across?

  14. Au Contraire says:

    Just wanted to say I think Thomas and Jill have done a terrific job of explaining GMP’s epic fail(s).

    I have read some posts in the past (on this site and others) about how call-outs can devolve into a toxic online culture. But I think this is an excellent example of calling out done right.

  15. thefish says:

    A friend of mine once told me about a girl who he knew for a fact had only had two drinks. He didn’t know she was on prescription medication that amplified those two drinks beyond all measure. He thought she was just very horny when she wouldn’t leave him alone or take “Are you okay?” for an answer. It wasn’t until she kept calling him by the wrong name and couldn’t remember the right one that he realized she was not able to consent, and called a halt to things before they went any further. He says he had to dissuade her from pursuing things further, because she was really into it, apart from not knowing who he was or where she was.

    “Can you imagine?” he tells me in horrified tones. “I was almost a rapist.”

    How do I tell him that I was in a similar position and made a different call? How do I tell him that I am what he’s terrified he almost was?

    Okay, I kind of get the implication from this that there is an expectation to stop highly intoxicated people from having sex with you. Now I’m assuming that Jill isn’t trying to imply this, but I would like to point out people to not have a duty to prevent someone from having sex with them. They are not responsible for the intoxicated person’s actions.

    • EllieMurasaki says:

      I would like to point out people to not have a duty to prevent someone from having sex with them. They are not responsible for the intoxicated person’s actions.

      You seem to imply that if someone offers one sex and one wants to sex that person, then one is obliged to sex that person. I assure you that this is not the case. And one is certainly obliged to not sex that person if there is any reason to believe that the offeror is not in control of their actions, which, in case it hasn’t been pointed out enough, someone too drunk to know who she’s with or where she is is certainly someone too drunk to know what she’s doing.

      • thefish says:

        And one is certainly obliged to not sex that person if there is any reason to believe that the offeror is not in control of their actions, which, in case it hasn’t been pointed out enough, someone too drunk to know who she’s with or where she is is certainly someone too drunk to know what she’s doing.

        So you are saying its my duty to stop them from having sex with me? If I’m lying in my bed and someone is trying to have sex with me, but they are highly intoxicated I have a duty to stop them? Is that what you are saying?

        I’m having trouble parsing your response.

      • EllieMurasaki says:

        I am saying that you are obligated to not sex someone you suspect of being incapable of consent. If someone who indicates wanting to sex you is unable to specify who you are, it is safe to assume that they do not in fact want to sex you-in-particular, and therefore you are obligated to not sex them, regardless of how much you want to sex them. How you go about not sexing them is entirely your concern.

      • So you are saying its my duty to stop them from having sex with me? If I’m lying in my bed and someone is trying to have sex with me, but they are highly intoxicated I have a duty to stop them? Is that what you are saying?

        YES, you goddamn sociopath, you have a duty to stop someone having sex with you who cannot meaningfully consent! How, how, HOW is this some revolutionary thing?

        O_O

      • Valoniel says:

        So you are saying its my duty to stop them from having sex with me?

        If we absolutely HAVE to work from the ego-centric ‘but I WANNA SEX’ framework you’ve set up, then:

        What we’re saying is that this intoxicated person may or may not be able to meaningfully consent to sex with you, and since you can’t possibly know which, going ahead with sexings may or may not make you a rapist.

        You have a duty, asshat, to NOT BE A RAPIST.

        If you can’t be bothered to give a shit about other people, you could at least be diligent about giving a shit about you.

      • Radiant Sophia says:

        Yes, that is what we are saying. Having sex with a person who cannot give legitimate consent is rape. Why is that hard to understand? I know you think it’s not your job to stop a drunk person from having sex with you, but THEY CANNOT CONSENT. Would you stop an underage person from trying to have sex with you? They cannot consent. It’s the same thing.

      • Thefish says:

        YES, you goddamn sociopath, you have a duty to stop someone having sex with you who cannot meaningfully consent!

        TIL, I had a duty to stop the person who raped me. :(

      • TIL, I had a duty to stop the person who raped me. :(

        …what? You realise we’re talking about raping, not being raped, right?

      • EllieMurasaki says:

        I think–I am not, of course, thefish, and may therefore be way off base and if so I apologize, but I think–thefish is saying that ze was raped by a drunk person and therefore we are victim-blaming. Which is…actually not an unreasonable position. When a sex act occurs and neither party has given meaningful consent, what words can we use to describe it? ‘Rape’ implies a rapist, which neither party can be because neither party consented, but that very lack of consent to sex is exactly what makes ‘rape’ an applicable term.

      • Valoniel says:

        I think–I am not, of course, thefish, and may therefore be way off base and if so I apologize, but I think–thefish is saying that ze was raped by a drunk person and therefore we are victim-blaming. Which is…actually not an unreasonable position.

        Unless, of course, thefish commented on a situation where the more sober party was clearly consenting, did not state a change to that premise, and then called us all victim-blamers for continuing on the premise that was originally given, ie: that one party would have consented, had the other party been capable of consenting as well.

        Nope, sorry, that’s disingenuous, misleading, and really just kind of asshat. Obviously, non-consent on the part of the more sober party for whatever reason makes the party ignoring that lack of consent (intoxicated or not) the one at fault.

        Thefish, I’m sorry that that happened to you, and clearly, you were not at fault. However, that little bit of misdirection on your part was incredibly unfair, and you should know it.

      • Valoniel says:

        Obviously, non-consent on the part of the more sober party for whatever reason makes the party ignoring that lack of consent (intoxicated or not) the one at fault.

        Sorry, that was badly worded. Non-consent under any circumstances. Relative sobriety was coded into the example, and so I carried it over where I shouldn’t have. Sorry.

      • thefish says:

        I think–I am not, of course, thefish, and may therefore be way off base and if so I apologize, but I think–thefish is saying that ze was raped by a drunk person and therefore we are victim-blaming. Which is…actually not an unreasonable position.

        More or less.
        If a drunk person is trying to have sex with you, you have a duty to NOT help them along with that.

        However, you do NOT have a duty to stop them.
        These are different things. Perhaps I could have worded it better in my first post…

      • Alara Rogers says:

        I agree with the concept that you are not obligated to refuse sex, or stop sex, even if the other party is in a state of invalid consent; if you yourself are not an enthusiastically consenting partner, it would be victim blaming to say that you were *obligated* to prevent sex from happening. I’ll say this, that if you are free of coercion and the appearance of coercion, and if you are abled to the degree that you are capable of physically extricating yourself from the situation without much effort, then yes, you’re obligated to prevent people in a state of invalid consent from having sex with you. But if you are physically overpowered, half-asleep, too drunk yourself to move, afraid of the other party, feel obligated because something like your shelter for the night or your ride home depends on not offending the other party, freeze up because of PTSD, or any number of other reasons why you might lack the ability to get away or feel unsafe in doing so, then no, you have no such obligation.

        To create an example, if a guy is lying there in bed and a drunk woman climbs on top of him and starts trying to have sex with him, if he’s awake and alert enough to help out, then he’s awake and alert enough to refuse. But if he’s semi-conscious and maybe he could wake up and push her off but he’s just so damn tired and it’s too much work… then she was the rapist, not him.

        Being a rapist involves being an active and willing participant in sexual activities. It is possible for people who cannot legally give consent to rape other people; adults have been raped by children, sober people have been raped by drunk people. If you didn’t consent to sexual activity, you were not a rapist regardless of who pushed sex on you and what their mental capacity was; you were raped.

        Frat boys and MRAs always like to bring this concept up in the context of “what if they were both drunk?” If both parties were equally intoxicated and equally enthusiastic in their not-legally-valid consent, then a rape didn’t happen, but when people say they were raped that is pretty much never the situation that occurred. A person who gave legally invalid consent, because they were totally drunk, to another person who was also shitfaced, will probably react with “Oh, god, what did we do last night?” A person who gave legally invalid consent to a person who was only mildly impaired, buzzed, or sober, is likely to feel that they were taken advantage of, and therefore, that they were raped. But women don’t go around calling everything that feels like a mildly unpleasant or annoying or embarrassing sexual situation rape.

        If both parties were drunk, and the woman says she was raped, odds are, she did not give legally-invalid consent; odds are, she was unconscious, semi-conscious, or actively tried to refuse sex. Nonconsent is always legally valid regardless of how impaired the person giving it is. And if a drunk woman who is still mobile and active has sex with an unconscious man, she’s the rapist, not him. Men don’t tend to call it that because the culture of masculinity prevents men from calling it rape even if it involved violence and threats of mutilation, if the perpetrator is female and the victim is male and over the age of 10… but that’s what it is.

        But often when this is brought up in discussion of alcohol and rape, MRA-types treat it like a magic bullet. “Aha, drunk women can rape unconscious men, therefore drunk men who force sex on semi-conscious women aren’t rapists!” Uh… no. Sex doesn’t, generally, happen between two sleeping people. (leaving aside situations like sleepwalking.) Someone has to start something. And the way our culture works, with the presumption that men pursue and women are pursued, typically the person who starts something is male. Drunk women can rape drunk men if the woman initiates sex and the man doesn’t consent, and this probably happens more often than we realize, but this is an edge case, probably happens less than 10% as often as the converse, and is *not likely to lead to the woman feeling as if she was raped.* So if she says she was raped… 99.999% of the time, it’s not going to be that she jumped on top of an unconscious guy while she was drunk. And it’s not going to be that she was totally into some guy who was every bit as shitfaced as her and now she thinks it’s his fault. It’s going to be that she tried to refuse, or was semi-conscious, or unconscious, or remembers that the guy in question was significantly closer to sober than she was.

        To be honest, I strongly suspect that if a drunken woman comes on to a man who’s more sober than she is, and she initiated sex and demanded it and he went along with it… she probably won’t consider that rape, though technically it is since she was too drunk to consent. She’ll probably believe that since she initiated it, she consented. So while you can talk about hair-splitting, angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin situations like “what if a drunk woman makes out with an unconscious guy”, the truth is that when we talk about people who were raped it’s almost always more cut-and-dried than that. We pretend it’s not because rape culture.

        So yeah. If someone who is impaired tries to push sex on you, you’re not obligated to stop them unless you are able to, and able in this context covers physical and mental abilities and situational factors. You *are* obligated to not consent to having sex with people who are more impaired than you are, and you *are* obligated to recognize other people’s level of impairment relative to your own, and if you are so impaired that you are unable to do that, and you voluntarily put yourself in that degree of impairment or if you knew that degree of impairment was likely and you did not warn others around you, you are still at fault. But if a drunk person forces sex on a sober person who did not consent to the sex, the drunk is the rapist, even if in another context a sober person initiating sex with that same drunken person would be raping the drunken person.

    • people to not have a duty to prevent someone from having sex with them.

      Well, by that logic if I’m holding out a giant knife and I see a blind person running straight at me, I don’t have a duty to warn them that they’re going to stab themselves to death. Or if I’m watching a toddler head towards an open incinerator I don’t actually have a duty to pull it away because hey, IT clearly wants to go there.

      What the actual what?

      • Lex says:

        You are actually legally required to both warn the blind person and stop the toddler (if you can freely do so without harm or injury to yourself or others (from my memory of the law, i am not a lawyer. It’s something like that.))

        You are obliged to refuse to have sex with someone who is unable to consent. You are only obliged to *prevent* them if you are able to do so freely without harm or injury to yourself or others.

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  17. CmE says:

    It infuriated me when Alyssa Rose talked about her long and “beautiful” conversations with her rapist friend that apparently led to him accepting culpability. But evidently not enough culpability for him to turn himself into the police. Instead he leaves town and goes somewhere else where no one knows who he is or what he’s done, and a whole new circle of women can become his prey, and doubtless some, tragically, will.

    The very story confirms the predator theory Thomas talks about here and that the GMP people are so eager to deny. I don’t understand why, to be honest. If I was in the business of trying to promote a positive masculinity I’d rather accept the reality that rape is committed by a very small minority of predatory semi-deranged repeat offenders, rather an offence committed “accidentally” by 50 % of men (!!), as Alyssa Rose did actually claim in a comment on a blog somewhere or other.

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