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This concerted effort by conservatives effectively dampened public outrage and action around the issue.
Much like the backlash of the 1980s and ’90s, today’s rape apologia comes in four distinct, but interconnected, forms: denying the problem exists, blaming the victim, vilifying whistleblowers and turning perpetrators into victims.
In the spring, A Voice for Men, a website affiliated with original backlasher Warren Farrell, published an illegally obtained copy of a Title IX complaint against Emerson College that includes deeply private details about several sexual assaults/rapes.
The website included the names of the survivors but redacted the names of all of the alleged rapists, effectively scaring future survivors from filing complaints.
All 50 states [pdf] have laws that say an incapacitated party cannot consent to sex, with some variations on the definition of “incapacitation.” For example, “incapacitation” in Colorado is defined as being “physically helpless,” “unconscious, asleep, or otherwise unable to indicate willingness to act,” or “substantially impaired from any drug or intoxicant.” Florida defines “incapacitation” as “mentally incapacitated” or “temporarily incapable of appraising or controlling a person’s own conduct due to the influence of a narcotic, anesthetic, or intoxicating substance administered without his or her consent or due to any other act committed upon that person without his or her consent.” Victim Blamers There are many outspoken conservatives we’d consider “victim blamers”—including Slate advice columnist Emily Yoffe— who place the onus on young women to prevent rape in ways that are both damaging and distracting.This summer, FIRE published lawsuit documents filed by a student rapist expelled from Occidental that included the names of witnesses in the case.One witness spoke to The Huffington Post about the silencing effect of online harassment: “Future witnesses might not step forward or tell the whole truth because they do not want their friends and family—let alone the world—to know that they had been drinking or smoking the night of an incident, all important pieces to a testimony.” Turning Perpetrators into Victims The last major tactic of the backlash comes from “doublespeakers” who frame perpetrators as victims.Doublespeakers argue that alleged rapists are the real victims because they are seen as “guilty until proven innocent,” and the standard of evidence in campus proceedings is lower than a court of law (it is, it should be and it is widely misunderstood).Doublespeakers also argue that men are demonized by feminists on college campuses and plagued by false rape reports.
Only 12 percent of sexual assaults are reported to authorities, and of those that are reported, about half are found responsible.