Something has been annoying me on the internet, definitely a SIWOTI problem. So rather than waste my time saying this over and over in comment sections, I’ll lay it out here… One example of the phenomenon I’m taking issue with ->
“Theory” implies that the hypothesis of a systematically-endemic effort to rape women native to the culture has been proven via multiple experiments. I have yet to see any of this compelling evidence from the Women’s Gender Studies majors that propagate this belief on campus. I ask to see their evidence on the matter, and they just get outraged.
I’m all for equality, but in my experience Social Justice types tend to be rather intellectually dishonest. They can’t blame the moderates for not jumping on board the bandwagon, especially if they can;t even back up their claims with evidence of said claims.
So many of these, usually from self identifying “skeptics”, or members of the atheist community who supposedly pride themselves on evidence based beliefs derived from skepticism. So what is wrong with this comment?
…hypothesis of a systematically-endemic effort to rape women native to the culture…
Much easier to take down a corrupt or simplistic rendering of your opponents argument, this is a very popular technique and to be fair often people are accused of it when they are just trying to fairly paraphrase or restate their opponents arguments. Here our friend is just going for a total fantasy of his own making. Please, find me a definition of rape culture that comes close to this! I guess taking the top Google search result will suffice, even if it is Wikipedia and not necessarily what feminists themselves actually say –>
Rape culture is a phrase used to describe a culture in which rape is pervasive and normalized due to societal attitudes about gender, sex, and sexuality.
Examples of behaviours commonly associated with rape culture include victim blaming, sexual objectification, trivializing rape, denial of widespread rape, or refusing to acknowledge the harm of certain forms of sexual violence that do not conform to certain stereotypes of stranger or violent rape. Rape culture has been used to model behaviour within social groups, including prison rape and conflict areas where war rape is used as psychological warfare.
So basically a culture where sexual violence (I wouldn’t say just rape and neither would feminists in general) is pervasive and normalised. Both raw claims, so what does pervasive mean? “(especially of an unwelcome influence or physical effect) spreading widely throughout an area or a group of people.”, not quite the posters characterisation as systemic/endemic, it just needs to be widespread. Certainly not everyone needs to enact rape culture everywhere at all times for it to be a valid description of a subset of behaviours and attitudes in our culture. Although you wouldn’t know that if you argued with the “skeptics” who say it isn’t real.
So what would a Skeptic do when presented with a claim? First they should construct a steel-man, or at least a good set of descriptions and definitions widely accepted by those making the claim. The subject in this example has failed, massively. Although depressingly I’ve never seen someone arguing against rape culture actually get close to a reasonable description of what it is. When the first Google result returns a passable description and links to many feminist primary sources there is no excuse for this.
Secondly they should look for evidence that props up the claim or claims made. So here there are a number of claims from the above definition – “…behaviours commonly associated with rape culture include victim blaming, sexual objectification, trivializing rape, denial of widespread rape, or refusing to acknowledge the harm of certain forms of sexual violence“.
Usually MRAs and “Skeptics” are embodiments of rape culture themselves when they argue against it. I’ve lost count of the times (MRAs especially) kick off by saying false rape claims make up 80% (Or some made up number, this is the most recent) of all rapes, with little beyond some poorly executed study from 20 years ago on a handful of subjects, if that, the 80% claimer on Twitter cited nothing. ALL the reliable studies and statistics I’ve seen (And by that I mean large samples, UK MoJ, FBI, CDC studies, y’know sort of data a skeptic would accept), show the number is in line with any other crime, <8% (As an absolute maximum, many reliable stats put it as less than 1%). So there you have it, from the very people arguing it doesn’t exist, evidence it does indeed exist. But that’s not it!
Who knew? Feminism isn’t bloggers and Twitterers and personalities online alone, it is backed by decades of research in Psychology and the Social Sciences in general. This observation sometimes results in our rape culture denialist becoming a science denialist as a popular tactic is to at this point dismiss all of the Social Sciences, including Psychology, in one broad dismissive sweep. Unfortunately skepticism doesn’t work like that chaps, you need to look at the studies, criticise their methods, explain their conclusions to fit your assertion rape culture doesn’t exist, and boy do you have a challenge!
This is a good post on rape culture linking to many many studies that back up the claims made. Highlights (?) include “1 in 3 (30-35%) of men would rape if they knew they’d get away with it. “, backed up by a study, since replicated more recently. “Only 27% whose assault met the legal definition of rape consider themselves rape victims”, compare that to victims of other crimes, is there the same confusion when I’m physically assaulted or burgled?
But that is the tip of the iceberg, that post doesn’t even mention rape myths and their effect on these attitudes. Just look at the vast amount of evidence in Google Scholar!
…they can’t even back up their claims with evidence of said claims.
Ha, much skeptic! But what about the debunking!? I hear you cry, surely these “skeptics” have mountains of posts and articles debunking the claims of rape culture? So I decide to check for “rape myths”, one of the most established bits of research underpinning rape culture. Surely those hundreds/thousands of papers establishing it as a very real effect have legions of blog posts where they are carefully de-constructed, their methods called into question, their conclusions shown to not follow from their data? I mean I’d find it impossible to do a search of “bigfoot skeptic” and not come across a legion of good skeptics debunking claims. Not to mention “Homeopathy skeptic”, plenty of “research” on homeopathy, not one paper has slipped through the skeptical movements fingers and been left un-addressed. Well try it for yourself, Google ““rape myths” skeptic“, what do you see? ** I see lots of feminists and researchers talking about rape myths. I don’t see these legions of anti-feminist “skeptics” doing even the tiniest bit of leg work to debunk the claims feminists make. Debunk the evidence for those claims “skeptics”, come on, surely not hard for you?
Now I know the anti-feminists arguments quite well, they’ll assert the claims are obviously ridiculous, they don’t need to waste their time on debunking silly bitchesfeminists claims. But they will devote all their time to debunking bigfoot, spend hours upon hours debunking homoeopathy, let alone the atheists who devote their online lives to debunking the claim that the earth is 6000 years old. Not convinced dudes, put up or shut up.
A Suggestion For The Skeptical Anti-feminist Skeptics
Write a series of blog posts. First, write a steelman defence of rape culture, what do feminists say it is? What is the most reasonable definition currently accepted by feminists? Then how about a series on each claim above ->
1. Victim blaming, 2. Sexual objectification, 3. Trivializing rape, 4. Denial of widespread rape , 5. Refusing to acknowledge the harm of certain forms of sexual violence.
De-construct each, what is the definition given by feminists? What is the evidence for each, do a review of the papers involved. Debunk them FFS. Then maybe you’ll be able to argue against rape culture on something approaching an intellectually honest footing. You do it for Bigfoot, for homoeopathy, why not for feminism? Some bias there … Maybe?
I’ll stick with feminism for now, it has a much better opinion of me as a man than any other “movement”, skeptic or otherwise.
** I did find this post about pornography and rape, although I’ve not seen pornography directly related to rape culture I’m sure plenty of feminists say it is and it contributes to it. Plenty would also disagree, there is a lot of disagreement and debunking of feminist theory, from feminists. The skeptic community on a whole manages to stick to arguing against strawmen and never addressing the evidence. Obvious case where that is not the case is Skepchick.org, but in a bit of horrible irony they’ve been dealing with floods of hate from their fellow “skeptics” for daring to even associate feminism with skepticism, even with a skeptical eye! So much for open discourse and debate….