"It is to kill a cub before he becomes a beast."
October 23, 2018 1:40 PM   Subscribe

 
As a person of color, a survivor of both sexual assault and racist violence, and someone who has personally witnessed how racialized false accusations have mobilized white communities to destroy POC lives, it is difficult for me to find a place in much of the hyper-polarized (and near-totally white) conversation around #MeToo. It is particularly ironic and frustrating given that the movement was started by Tarana Burke, a black woman.

Along with this piece, I think Emily Yoffe at the Atlantic has done some of the most compelling reporting and writing that complicates #MeToo in ways that are completely necessary when we live in a world of white supremacy, patriarchy, and mass incarceration. The statistics she has written about are staggering:

> But the report did bring those statistics to light, a rarity. In the 2013–14 academic year, 4.2 percent of Colgate’s students were black. According to the university’s records, in that year black male students were accused of 50 percent of the sexual violations reported to the university, and they made up 40 percent of the students formally adjudicated.

During the three academic years from 2012–13 to 2014–15, black students were accused of 25 percent of the sexual misconduct reported to the university, and made up 21 percent of the students referred for formal hearings. Fifteen percent of the students found responsible for assault in those years were black. During that same three-year period, Asian students, who constituted a little more than 3 percent of Colgate’s student body in 2013, were more than 13 percent of the accused, 21 percent of those referred for hearings, and 23 percent of those found responsible.

God, the world sucks so much.
posted by Ouverture at 1:52 PM on October 23, 2018 [67 favorites]


The crux of this piece is towards the end, where the claim is made that racism is misandristic. I'm not sure I buy that - racism hurts women as much as it does men. (See eg the recent PBS documentary about eugenics in the US, where it's pointed out that involuntary sterilization overwhelmingly affected women of color.) Racism and misogyny certainly intersect, and there's no question that the issues brought up in this piece need to be addressed, but this article doesn't make a strong case that #MeToo is the correct movement to address them. Put another way, I'm not convinced that "believe women UNLESS...." is a needed amendment to #MeToo.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 2:21 PM on October 23, 2018 [12 favorites]


Emily Yoffe at the Atlantic

The same Emily Yoffe who during her tenure as dear prudence and at slate reguarly argued that date rape doesn’t exist and that rape victims derserve some of the blame for drinking?
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 2:23 PM on October 23, 2018 [62 favorites]


Mister Finch, you'd run too.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 2:33 PM on October 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


Frobenius Twist, I don't think she is saying that racism is misandristic. I read that as she is talking about how this specific fear of hyper-sexualized boys and men of color involves both their race and their gender.

I see racism hurting women and men of color in different ways. Like you said, forced sterilizations overwhelmingly affected women of color. In other avenues (like lynchings and up until recently, mass incarceration), men of color were the ones who were more likely to be affected. Abroad, we can see how the racism of America's neoconservative foreign policy has turned every man of color in the wrong country into a presumed terrorist.

And on the point of amendments to this movement, I think the entire history of how people of color have been treated in this country is a clear example of why #MeToo has think way more seriously about race, incarceration, and criminalization. Otherwise, Carolyn Bryant's legacy lives on, albeit with a way more woke gilding.
posted by Ouverture at 2:46 PM on October 23, 2018 [5 favorites]


The same Emily Yoffe who during her tenure as dear prudence and at slate reguarly argued that date rape doesn’t exist and that rape victims derserve some of the blame for drinking?

Yeah she's not really the best messenger on this particular point, unfortunately, because sexual assault is reeaaally a hobbyhorse for her.

I think this post is good, though. As a white guy I have difficulty coming up with the right words even to describe the phenomenon, but I've heard guys I generally really respect (black and brown men) saying things like this:

Curry predicts things will only get worse. “Racism is a misandric aggression. It is used to manage populations and control reproduction. Racialized males have historically been the largest casualties of these endeavors, so we will continue to see rape and the rapist as justifications to hunt racialized males in the U.S.”

or that they think white/upper-class feminism is going to sell out people like them, or evincing a very personal distrust of white women. And I tend to think shit dude, that's far but I can't say it's pure paranoia either. At the same time I have also seen a lot of women saying things like corb's post. How can this divide be bridged?
posted by atoxyl at 3:17 PM on October 23, 2018 [5 favorites]


The same Emily Yoffe who during her tenure as dear prudence and at slate reguarly argued that date rape doesn’t exist and that rape victims derserve some of the blame for drinking?

Way to prove the point of the article. Wouldn' it be more productive to engage with the extremely disturbing statistic Ouverture cited rather than unleashing ad hominem about its (admittedly awful) author?

I'm about as left as it gets but this isn't a sporting game where we refuse to concede a single point lest we give succour to our political opponents. This is a safe space where we can discuss the shortcomings in our movements towards a more just world.
posted by smithsmith at 3:22 PM on October 23, 2018 [18 favorites]


Wouldn' it be more productive to engage with the extremely disturbing statistic Ouverture cited rather than unleashing ad hominem about its (admittedly awful) author?

It is very easy to lie with statistics and if the compiler of the statistics is someone who has a reliable history of minimizing rape- that's not an ad hominem, that's a realistic mistrust of the source and the source's angle.

Besides- less than 2-8% of rape accusations are false. If true those statistics are disturbing, it shows that white rapists are getting away with it.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 3:28 PM on October 23, 2018 [35 favorites]


hypervigilance as the result of trauma

Hypervigilance being justified doesn't mean that we'll perceive incidents in a race-neutral way. The incident with "Cornerstore Caroline" is a perfect example of this. A black boy accidentally brushed her ass with his backpack as he passed her in a crowded convenience store, and she jumped to the conclusion that he groped her. I seriously doubt that she would have reacted the same way if he had been a white boy. Her perception of what happened, and how she reacted to it, was influenced by the boy's race.

(I mean, I'm assuming that she didn't deliberately lie.)

We can't just ignore that this is a problem because women are really harassed, and sometimes by men of color.

We can't ignore either side of it - not that harassment is a real problem, and not that white women have made false allegations of harassment against men of color. There are definitely people who would love to use one side to discredit the other, but there has to be a way to discuss it without doing that.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 3:36 PM on October 23, 2018 [28 favorites]


It is very easy to lie with statistics and if the compiler of the statistics is someone who has a reliable history of minimizing rape- that's not an ad hominem, that's a realistic mistrust of the source and the source's angle.

If you have evidence that the statistics are incorrect then you should present it.

Besides- less than 2-8% of rape accusations are false. If true those statistics are disturbing, it shows that white rapists are getting away with it.

Well, it doesn't just show that though, does it? It shows that black people are much more likely to be reported to authorities for sexual assault than white people.
posted by smithsmith at 3:36 PM on October 23, 2018 [8 favorites]


If you have evidence that the statistics are incorrect then you should present it.

I seriously doubt that you would be asking a critic of, say, Steve Milloy for proof that he should not be taken as a credible source. As was pointed out, this particular topic has been a routine bugbear for Yoffe, who has had a very poor track record regarding it, thanks to her neo-temperance views. This in turn makes her a non-credible voice when it comes to this particular subject.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:53 PM on October 23, 2018 [15 favorites]


I seriously doubt that you would be asking a critic of, say, Steve Milloy for proof that he should not be taken as a credible source.

We're talking about statistical data, not feelings or political opinions. Yoffe isn't credible but she also isn't the source of that data; Colgate University and Office for Civil Rights are. If your assertion is that the figures are falsified, manipulated or incorrect then you should present that here. Otherwise, to paraphrase Hitchens, that which has presented without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.
posted by smithsmith at 4:11 PM on October 23, 2018 [9 favorites]


I know we love to talk about literally anything other than TFA around here, but it seems like these comments are 99% fighting about someone who as far as I can tell is neither the author of TFA nor cited in it prominently?
posted by tobascodagama at 4:25 PM on October 23, 2018 [12 favorites]


The entire paragraph from the Yoffe Atlantic article, which Ouverture quoted the last few sentences of, reads:
Colgate University was recently investigated by the Office for Civil Rights for potential race discrimination, a Title VI violation, in its sexual-assault adjudication process. The university was cleared in April, on the grounds that the numbers did not allow OCR to conclude that race was a statistically significant factor in Colgate’s adjudications—in any given year the number of men of any race referred for formal hearings was in the single digits. (The investigation does not appear to have examined any individual cases or otherwise reach beyond this statistical analysis.) But the report did bring those statistics to light, a rarity. In the 2013–14 academic year, 4.2 percent of Colgate’s students were black. According to the university’s records, in that year black male students were accused of 50 percent of the sexual violations reported to the university, and they made up 40 percent of the students formally adjudicated.
If “the numbers did not allow OCR to conclude that race was a statistically significant factor” when the rates of accusation and adjudication were around 20 or 25 times higher than the proportion of black male students (depending on the gender ratio of black students) that makes me wonder in what way the overall statistics weren't significant.
posted by XMLicious at 4:25 PM on October 23, 2018 [3 favorites]


Well, as we saw it demonstrated earlier this month, sexual assault by college age white men is viewed culturally as being something "minor". Also, note that the numbers from Colgate are all percentages, with no concrete numbers of cases given, leaving us with no way to judge what the actual situation is - if the number of such cases overall is low (which given the statistics on the reporting of rape is likely), the percentages may, in fact, be statistically insignificant because of a small sample size.

(By the way, this is a classic means of lying with statistics, by giving percentage values without any further context.)

I am a firm believer that #MeToo and Black Lives Matter are not in opposition with each other. And many of the people who are pushing to present them in opposition are doing so with ulterior motives.
posted by NoxAeternum at 5:11 PM on October 23, 2018 [29 favorites]


... that makes me wonder in what way the overall statistics weren't significant.

It's probably because "in any given year the number of men of any race referred for formal hearings was in the single digits." 50% of 100 reports means something. 50% of 2 reports doesn't.

Colgate's 2016 security report lists 7 reported rapes on campus in 2013 and 10 in 2014. "Fondling" adds another 4 in 2014 (with a footnote on that number mentioning rape, which suggests something on that page is inaccurate). I don't know how many of these occurred in the 2013-14 school year, not all of those reports necessarily name an individual, and not all of the individuals accused were necessarily students. So the 50% statistic in 2013-14 is calculated from a small total. Small samples make statistical significance harder to come by.
posted by whatnotever at 5:13 PM on October 23, 2018 [8 favorites]


What a great article. I appreciated this discussion about the centuries-old white woman alarm and how white women specifically are actors in anti black male violence, but then she took it even farther to talk about the ways black boys are both victimised themselves and framed as impossible to victimize. This was really interesting and important. I'll be looking to read more by Stacey Patton.
posted by latkes at 5:19 PM on October 23, 2018 [21 favorites]


At its roots, rape is a property crime. It literally comes from the Latin word for 'take'. Women would be stolen from their homelands as just another spoil of war. The consent denied wasn't from the woman, but the community from which she was stolen.

It's still treated as a property crime. That fuels the fact that we don't believe women, and we disproportionately accuse and convict men of color. Women are community property. So the only transgressions that matter are those when men outside the community prey on women.

It's part of the same system. And indicting #MeToo readily relieves abuse of power out of the hands of police officers or a male lynch mob and places responsibility with the white woman for speaking up.

I am all for reminding white women of the dangerous consequences marginalized folks can suffer when we escalate matters to authorities that don't value those lives. But I am not down for the fact that To Kill a Mockingbird and Emmitt Till were plastered all over my dad's Facebook feed during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, only to be replaced by the fears of the All Rapist Caravan marching towards our borders. These stories are not being used to elevate marginalized people, they're being used to drown out dissent.
posted by politikitty at 5:44 PM on October 23, 2018 [39 favorites]


I am a firm believer that #MeToo and Black Lives Matter are not in opposition with each other. And many of the people who are pushing to present them in opposition are doing so with ulterior motives.

I think there are valid ways to view the topic of this post that don't boil down to "#MeToo and Black Live Matter are in opposition".

Anyone else a bit weirded out by how the article which is the main focus of this post - written by a black woman no less, who I would assume doesn't have that many "ulterior motives" to be turning black people and women against each other - has been so completely sidelined here?
posted by AdamCSnider at 5:58 PM on October 23, 2018 [26 favorites]


In addition to the points others have brought up, I also wonder if reporters of sexual assault are discouraged from reporting when the accused is a white male (don’t ruin his life!), but encouraged to report when the accused is a male of color. Or if reports are investigated based on similar factors.
posted by Autumnheart at 6:52 PM on October 23, 2018 [9 favorites]


I don't know, and would be interested to know, what percentage of sexual violence against black men and boys is perpetrated by white people (an issue raised by TFA). I would guess that the significant majority of it is carried out by other black people, for the same reason that most homicides of black people are carried out by other black people--people of the same race (any race!) tend to live, work, and associate together and therefore simply have far more opportunity to commit crimes against each other than against members of other races. But does it turn out that whites are actually disproportionately perpetrators against blacks in this particular area? I recently read Sherman Alexie's memoir and am in the middle of Kiese Laymon's and it's been striking that for both of them the sexual violence they and their friends experienced was primarily, maybe exclusively, carried out by members of their own race. But that of course is anecdote.
posted by praemunire at 6:56 PM on October 23, 2018


But I don't think its especially relevant to the points made in the article who is perpetrating sexual violence against African American young men and boys.

This seems to me to be largely about what narrative white women are creating and contributing to - which impacts what then gets excused vs what gets policed. White women create and amplify the message that black boys cannot be victims because black boys are automatically perpetrators. When white women frame black boys and young men as perpetrators they (we, in my case) are setting them up to be targets of state and vigilante violence. When white women frame black boys and young men as automatically perpetrators, or at least impermeable to harm, then the harm they encounter can be ignored (and the stats about Florida teachers imply that these harms are routinely ignored).
posted by latkes at 7:03 PM on October 23, 2018 [10 favorites]


But I don't think its especially relevant to the points made in the article who is perpetrating sexual violence against African American young men and boys.

She talks about "white women['s] continued sexual victimization of Black boys" and quotes someone, apparently approvingly, that "[w]e need to talk about the erotic projections white women have of Black boys when they hit puberty." I'm just saying that, if we are going to talk about it, it would have been interesting and strengthened the article for me if there was information provided about incidence (or explaining why we don't have reliable knowledge on the subject, which also seems possible). This is truly not a stealth argument against the phenomenon existing; and even one such case is unacceptable; I just wonder what the stats are (and am frankly scared to try amateur googling on a point like this). Both Alexie and Laymon are pretty explicit about the violence against them being in significant part a refraction of the violence visited on their communities by white people, but probably intra- and intercommunity violence need to be disentangled in different ways? (It's painfully obvious that racial minority creative figures like Alexie are more vulnerable to charges of sexual misconduct and experience more lasting repercussions from them than J. Average White Writer, for instance.)

White women create and amplify the message that black boys cannot be victims because black boys are automatically perpetrators. When white women frame black boys and young men as perpetrators they (we, in my case) are setting them up to be targets of state and vigilante violence. When white women frame black boys and young men as automatically perpetrators, or at least impermeable to harm, then the harm they encounter can be ignored (and the stats about Florida teachers imply that these harms are routinely ignored).

Completely agree with all this...but the stats about the Florida teachers, awful as they are, are all about punishment, not about incidence.
posted by praemunire at 7:26 PM on October 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


It seems basically impossible to me that we'd have Emmett Till and all the things described quantitatively in Stacey Patton's article, such as dozens of charged and convicted assaults on black boys by teachers each decade in the single state of Florida, and there wouldn't be an extremely substantial and persistent white supremacist phenomenon underlying everything.

A complex phenomenon, as Patton illustrates, but from a very high-level perspective the same mechanism of oppression as lower-social-class whites enjoying and exploiting privilege over blacks and other PoC. Different oppressed groups turned against each other and become complicit in the system of oppression.
posted by XMLicious at 7:40 PM on October 23, 2018 [6 favorites]


The mobilization of and protection of white women's sexuality as justification for violence is one of the easiest and scariest ways to link White Supremacy and White Feminism. Disentangling sexual violence experienced by white women, imagined or perceived threats of sexual violence, racism, violent white supremacy, and American history is so much more complex than I can really comprehend. But it needs to happen.

I just know that the way to disentangle these things is not for white women (like me) to cover our eyes and point to our victimhood as a way to absolve us of grappling with the ways these things are linked. I think we're at a point in the cultural conversation about sexual violence that we can start to consider whose reports of sexual victimization are heard (even if they're not always believed or taken seriously), which victims are believed and which perpetrators face consequences - and I think we can have this conversation in a nuanced way, as this article does.

I've said on here previously that I was raped by someone who was not white. It doesn't make my experience any less real or painful to acknowledge that there is racism inherent in the US "justice" system; that there are power imbalances that play out at levels beyond the interpersonal violence I experienced that need to be considered; that if I were to report my rape even though it probably wouldn't have been prosecuted, the fact that I was raped by a Latino man would have shifted the balance of the scales in a way that wouldn't have happened had our races been reversed. I can desperately want justice, desperately want an end to sexual assault, desperately want to punish sexual offenders and still recognize that the US is so bound up in white supremacy and the racist baggage of slavery and everything it said about black male sexuality that there is no way for things to work out square and minimize harm.

White women are sometimes still so bound up in our own tears from our very real and valid traumas that sometimes we can't acknowledge the pain and inequality inherent in the ways we move through the world aided and abetted by white supremacy. I hope we can change, because everything needs to change to really and truly fix everything MeToo and BlackLivesMatter and all the things are trying to really and truly fix.
posted by ChuraChura at 8:04 PM on October 23, 2018 [51 favorites]






White Women Aren't Afraid Of Black People. They Want Power, Stacey Patton

I think of it as "Being in the middle, and punching down", since they're not at the top of the hierarchy, nor at the bottom, they take what they can get.

They're not the only broken people. The whole fucking system is broken.
posted by mikelieman at 8:01 AM on October 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


Anyone else a bit weirded out by how the article which is the main focus of this post - written by a black woman no less, who I would assume doesn't have that many "ulterior motives" to be turning black people and women against each other - has been so completely sidelined here?

Not to be entirely glib, but no? I mean, if it's said by a black woman, it's unhearable and irrelevant. If you're black yourself, you need to be constantly aware of this as to not drive yourself crazy over thinking that being better will ever actually make you more effective.
posted by blerghamot at 8:21 AM on October 24, 2018 [3 favorites]


I find it troubling the way that this article leaps from the very real problem of accusations against Black men to what it portrays as "white womens' roles as pedophiles and rapists" and the argument that Black men are equally vulnerable to and victimized by sexual violence -- from women -- as the reverse.

I don't know the history of the "made to penetrate" category of sexual violence, but the definition in that report (on page 17) is very ambiguous. Depending how commas are parsed, it arguably could include any sexual activity while drunk or high. Not too drunk to consent or physically incapacitated, just drunk or high. That doesn't seem like a useful statistic, especially when equated with rape as the article does:
"over a 12-month period Black males reported 272,000 cases of being made to penetrate and Black females reported 264,000 cases of rape. In short, Black males are just as vulnerable to sexual violence and report similar numbers of contact sexual violence as Black females over a 12-month period, 865,000 and 849,000 respectively."
posted by msalt at 9:52 AM on October 24, 2018


I don't read the definition as ambiguous? Especially since the same language is used in the definition for rape right above it.
Being made to penetrate someone else includes times when the victim was made to, or there was an attempt to make them, sexually penetrate someone without the victim’s consent because the victim was physically forced (such as being pinned or held down, or by the use of violence) or threatened with physical harm, or when the victim was drunk, high, drugged, or passed out and unable to consent.
Compare to the definition for rape:
Rape is defined as any completed or attempted unwanted vaginal (for women), oral, or anal penetration through the use of physical force (such as being pinned or held down, or by the use of violence) or threats to physically harm and includes times when the victim was drunk, high, drugged, or passed out and unable to consent.
I think a lot of people really don't understand just how many male sexual assault victims are out there because of this racialized and gendered perpetrator/victim binary.
posted by Ouverture at 11:00 AM on October 24, 2018 [9 favorites]


The ambiguity comes from the "or"s and commas, and it's especially important because this is purely a survey. Sometimes I wish language used nested parentheses like SQL statements or arithmetic operations: (5 * (4/3))

So does this mean:

made to … sexually penetrate someone (without the victim’s consent because the victim was physically forced (such as being pinned or held down, or by the use of violence) or threatened with physical harm), OR (when the victim was drunk, high, drugged, OR (passed out and unable to consent).)

(I.e. any one of those conditions separately meets the definition) or does it mean

made to … sexually penetrate someone without the victim’s consent because (the victim was physically forced (such as being pinned or held down, or by the use of violence) or threatened with physical harm), OR ((when the victim was drunk, high, drugged, OR passed out) and unable to consent)).

i.e. drunk, high or drugged only count when the victim is specifically unable to consent because of the intoxication.

The commas imply the former, which means that a guy who feeds a woman drinks or gets her high in order to seduce her, is also himself a victim of being "made to penetrate". And if the question was confusing, which seems likely, then this purely survey-based data is suspect.

Also, note that rape "is defined as" while "Being made to penetrate" someone "includes" (leaving open the possibility of other options.)
posted by msalt at 11:19 AM on October 24, 2018


Given that the language around "when the victim was drunk, high, drugged, or passed out and unable to consent" is the same for both rape and made to penetrate, I'm still struggling to see how this definition of victimization also somehow includes perpetrators.
posted by Ouverture at 2:09 PM on October 24, 2018


The commas imply the former, which means that a guy who feeds a woman drinks or gets her high in order to seduce her, is also himself a victim of being "made to penetrate". And if the question was confusing, which seems likely, then this purely survey-based data is suspect.

I really don't understand where you're getting that. Nothing in the language implies that. It is saying that a person can be forced to have sex without their consent due to intoxication.

Are you suggesting that someone might have accidentally self-reported that they were a victim of rape, when in fact they were the rapist?

I want to give you the benefit of the doubt, but it really doesn't sound like you believe someone can be made to penetrate without their consent.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 2:34 PM on October 24, 2018 [7 favorites]


The commas imply the former, which means that a guy who feeds a woman drinks or gets her high in order to seduce her, is also himself a victim of being "made to penetrate".

The only way I can make sense of your question is if you are reading "victim" to mean the person being penetrated. The scenario you describe is not a "made to penetrate" because it is the woman who is drunk, not the man. In a case of "made to penetrate," the person doing penetrating would be the victim, and the person being penetrated might well be the rapist.

There is a terrible misconception that men cannot be raped because by definition the person doing penetrating must be the rapist. See, for example, this AskMe, which I hope you'll agree is clearly a "made to penetrate".
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 7:56 PM on October 24, 2018 [4 favorites]


I'm particularly sad to see this thread go the way it has because a woman accused my father of touching her inappropriately.

They worked in a large shared space with several other people, all of whom submitted written statements that they were in the room at the alleged time and saw nothing untoward. In fact, they saw that my father and this woman were on opposite sides of a see-through barrier. Apparently, this woman is pretty unpleasant, and she was in particularly fine form that day. They were all keeping an eye on her so that they could stay out of her way.

After my father sent HR their statements, the woman changed the date. Luckily, people have to swipe in and out of the room, so my father was able to figure out who worked that shift with him. They also couldn't remember anything happening, and told HR so.

At this point the woman claimed that she couldn't remember when my father had touched her. We didn't know what to do about that.

Eventually, someone from HR verbally told my father that the woman had withdrawn her accusation. My father was not able to get that in writing. In theory, he is still being investigated for sexual misconduct a decade later.

It's been really awkward for us because he could hardly have changed jobs with this hanging over him. It was almost a relief when his whole department got laid off a few years ago during the recession.

We still have absolutely no idea what happened. The most charitable explanation we've come up with is that she did get molested by someone, at work, in that room, who looks like my father. It's a stretch, given that she addressed my father by name multiple times a day, but it's all we've got.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 8:40 PM on October 24, 2018 [3 favorites]


I want to give you the benefit of the doubt, but it really doesn't sound like you believe someone can be made to penetrate without their consent.

Clearly you're not giving me the benefit of the doubt, and you're wrong. And yes, meaty shoe puppet, that Askme is clearly an example of being "made to penetrate."

Ouverture: I think a lot of people really don't understand just how many male sexual assault victims are out there because of this racialized and gendered perpetrator/victim binary.

But this is exactly my point. Our societal conceptions of agency, etc. are very gendered. "Made to penetrate" is a concept that almost no one had heard of when this survey was administered, and it is still difficult for many to wrap their heads around. (Even on Metafilter -- look at the responses to that AskMe.)

So this survey asked a novel and confusing question that avoided the word rape and leaned heavily on intoxication. This also fits into a right-wing narrative about consent and intoxication, "What if they are both drunk? Did they rape each other?" Surveys are asked of conservatives as much as liberals.

It's possible that I am dismissing evidence I don't want to hear. But it's also possible that this result, which says women rape men more than vice versa just by using their feminine wiles, is bad data. That's my point, and I think the latter is far more likely.

Certainly women asked whether they have been raped aren't including all the various times that men used various forms of pressure, or offered drinks or drugs, to overcome their reluctance toward sex. If they did I daresay the percentage raped would be over 80%. This study seems to be comparing apples and oranges.
posted by msalt at 12:57 PM on October 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


How is the study comparing apples and oranges when both are asking about drinks/drugs/passed out?

It is difficult to give someone the benefit of the doubt when they think it is "far more likely" that people who have experienced sexual assault are making it up. For all your talk about right-wing narratives, I am surprised you don't recognize the truly messed up one of "women are always victims and men are always perpetrators and so, men can't be sexually assaulted".

Meanwhile in Detroit:
Throughout 2017 and early 2018, three white women called police dozens of times, making increasingly serious allegations against Marc Peeples, a black man.

Peeples was building a community garden on the vacant Hunt Playground on Colton Street adjacent to the State Fairgrounds. One of the women, Deborah Nash, lives across the street from the park, while the others live nearby.

Peeples said the women didn't like his project, so they began calling the police, fabricating serious charges when police wouldn't come out for illegal gardening allegations. Those culminated with allegations that Peeples was a pedophile, was in the park threatening Nash with a gun, and participated in a drive-by shooting.

Eventually, the Detroit Police Department and Wayne County Prosecutors Office filed and brought three counts of stalking against Peeples.

However, he and attorney Robert Burton-Harris said most of the allegations were false, and characterized Peeple's crime as "gardening while black."

36th District Court Judge E. Lynise Bryant agreed. She tossed the case on Tuesday, calling it "troubling" and "ridiculous."
posted by Ouverture at 1:29 PM on October 25, 2018 [3 favorites]


How is the study comparing apples and oranges when both are asking about drinks/drugs/passed out?

Because one asks about a very well known concept (rape) and the other asks about a completely unheard-of concept in a blizzard of words that ends with "drunk, high or on drugs." In a survey unconnected to any other data, that matters a great deal.

It is difficult to give someone the benefit of the doubt when they think it is "far more likely" that people who have experienced sexual assault are making it up.

I have never said anything remotely like that, and your mischaracterization is despicable.

Let's get to the point that this statistic was used to justify, in the original article. Do you think more Black men are raped by women than Black women are raped by men? That is precisely what the article said, if we agree that being "forced to penetrate" is rape, and that is what this survey reports
posted by msalt at 8:50 PM on October 26, 2018


I'm sorry, but I think you are misunderstanding the article and the study it cites.

The article does not state that more Black men are raped by women than Black women are raped by men. The two different terms, "made to penetrate" vs "rape," come directly from the CDC report linked in the article. The terms used in the report are "rape" for women, and "made to penetrate" for men. If you look at the report, they refer to the same statistics.

If you look elsewhere in the CDC report, you will see that 78% of cases in which Black men were made to penetrate were committed by a woman. Whereas in 95% of rape cases with women, the perpetrator is a man. However, the article never claims that women are raping men at the same rates that men rape women. It is only stating that Black men and Black women experience similar rates of penetrative sexual violence, which is supported by the CDC statistics.

The reason the article quotes the CDC is to point out that Black men experience penetrative sexual violence at the same rates that Black women do. The article mentions this because of the dominant social narrative that Black men are not victims of sexual violence, when in fact they experience quite a lot of it.

There are a number of separate, but related statistics about sexual violence against Black boys. These include statistics about white women who sexually abused Black minors, with almost no punishment. Other information looks at how Black boys are seen as sexual objects from a young age. At the same time, they are also seen as perpetrators (note the 9 year old boy accused of public harassment).

All of this information combines to paint a picture of Black male sexuality that differs strongly from the dominant cultural assumptions. Black men are seen as rapists and hypersexual, but never victims. The reality is that Black men are frequently victims of sexual violence, which is often ignored because of how those dominant cultural perceptions operate.

The point of the article is that white people, and white women in particular, need to be aware of how their racial biases influence their perceptions of Black men and Black boys, because those same men and boys are experiencing sexual violence that are concealed by white fears. There is a long history of white women's simultaneous fear and sexual objectification of Black men playing a role in the continued subjugation of Black people. The author is arguing that #MeToo needs to reckon with the power that white women have relative to Black men, because we are already seeing children accused of sexual violence.

It is deeply frustrating that every aspect of this was so picked apart in this thread. This is an article written by a Black woman about the ways that efforts to address sexual violence have overlooked a large number of victims and potential victims. She is asking that people consider the ways that racism intersects with sexual violence. Instead, her claims were met with deep skepticism, and she was treated as if this kind of writing will only serve to undermine something valuable.

The reception in this thread has been very disappointing.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 1:38 AM on October 27, 2018 [8 favorites]


I should add that that of course the article is also concerned about Black boys being sexually abused with no recourse. Their status as Black boys renders their victimhood invisible, which is supported by white fears of Black boys and men as rapists -- when they may actually be rape victims themselves. This is another way that white supremacy works.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 2:37 AM on October 27, 2018 [5 favorites]


Also, I'm sorry for the triple posting, but I need to point out that "made to penetrate" is not an "unheard-of term." It is the term used in the report itself to summarize the data. I imagine the CDC used that term to distinguish cases in which someone was made to penetrate from cases where someone was penetrated.

It was not the term used in the questionnaire that people filled out. Here are some of the actual questions that were asked of men who took this survey, taken from Appendix C of the CDC report:
When you were drunk, high, drugged, or passed out and unable to consent, how many people ever...

-- had vaginal sex with you? By vaginal sex, we mean that a woman or girl made you put your penis in her vagina?

-- made you perform anal sex, meaning that they made you put your penis into their anus?

-- made you receive oral sex, meaning that they put their mouth on your penis or anus?
So there you have it. There was never a risk that survey participants would be confused by the terminology. There was no effort to fudge the numbers. If anything, the report might have underreported the numbers, since the questionnaire appears to limit its scope only to penetration with the penis, but no other body parts.

These statistics are real, and they show that, as the article puts it, "Black males are just as vulnerable to sexual violence and report similar numbers of contact sexual violence as Black females over a 12-month period."

It's about time we take that fact seriously.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 3:19 AM on October 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


The best thing about this article is its point about how our culture denies the ability of men to be sexually victimized, and how that intersects with race. I do see that, and agree.

But it also veers into both-sides-ism and misogyny, as when it criticizes "the hyper-vulnerability" of white women and how they "gain power through vulnerability." White women are not pretending to be vulnerable of sexual assault to gain power over men of color. Women of all colors are vulnerable to men of all colors (and some women).

This article could have been very important and on rock solid ground if it focused on the reality that men (and especially Black men) are sexual victims more often than our culture is ready to admit, and connecting that to the history of false sexual accusations against Black men. I applaud that.

There was no need to leap to the absurd conclusion you just quoted, that Black males are just as vulnerable to sexual violence -- and just as often victims -- as Black women. Size and physical strength isn't the only thing, but it is a thing. So is a misogynist rape culture, including defensive justifications that the victim "made me do it." She was wearing slutty clothes, she was dancing provocatively, walking after dark in this neighborhood, what was he supposed to do? She forced him to penetrate! This article is blurring into the tired tropes of rape denial and that makes it a real missed opportunity IMHO.

It's interesting that statutory rape -- which is no doubt the most common way that men of all races are sexually victimized -- is not included in those stats that purport to show men have it worse than women.
posted by msalt at 7:09 PM on October 28, 2018


As for the questionnaire, thanks for digging out the actual question. I had not found that in the report. But to my eye, the ambiguity is right there:

When you were drunk, high, drugged, or passed out and unable to consent,

On the face of it, "passed out and unable to consent" is one of four options, along with "drunk," "high" or "drugged." It could have easily clarified. Compare:

"when you were unable to consent because you were so drunk, high, drugged, or passed out"

The problem is that "I was drunk or high" is one of the go-to excuses for rapists. This question almost actively invites perpetrators to given the surveyor an alibi for their own crimes. "Yeah, I was drunk, and she forced me to penetrate."
posted by msalt at 7:17 PM on October 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


There was no need to leap to the absurd conclusion you just quoted, that Black males are just as vulnerable to sexual violence -- and just as often victims -- as Black women.

That is literally the finding of the CDC report. It is less a conclusion than literally the exact numbers quoted from a public health survey on sexual violence.

The language in the questionnaire regarding "drunk, high, drugged, or passed out and unable to consent" is exactly the same for women.

Rape denial is the refusal to accept that someone was raped -- surely the report must be mistaken, Black men couldn't be sexually assaulted at such high rates. It must be a problem with the survey -- look at those questions, the language is so confusing, they must not have understood what they were reporting. Men, on average, are too strong to be raped, they couldn't be forced to penetrate someone, there must be some other explanation for why so many of these men said they were forced to penetrate -- they must have drugged women in order to rape them and then misunderstood the questionnaire. Look closely, dig deep. We know Black men are not just as vulnerable to sexual violence as Black women. We know those statistics are wrong, and it's absurd to accept them at face value.

I've tried to clarify as much as I could, but there is nothing else for me to say.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 1:26 AM on October 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, not a single outlier survey and some cherry picked numbers about teacher molestation in Florida (that are not compared to teachers who victimize girls, or boys of other colors). This article leaps from a valid and important point -- that men are vulnerable, and victimized more often than we want to admit -- to literally What about the menz, they have it worse than women, and in fact "rapist pedophile" women are just seeking power through "hyper-victimization."

I've tried to clarify why I find that problematic, and I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.
posted by msalt at 3:33 PM on October 29, 2018


The article claims that there are “blind spots in feminist activism around sexualized violence in a racialized context” and that “[w]hite women have always oiled the machine of white supremacy,” the latter being a quote from one of Patton's interviewees.

Amidst discussion of the many high-profile cases of black American boys and men being falsely accused of sexual aggression and violence (like, for example, one that the current President of the United States was involved in) it points to data showing a consistent racial disparity in the “age of sexual debut” in the scientific study of sexuality from the 1950s into the twenty-first century, and matches this up with the quantitative data you list there.

None of what the article is saying involves extraordinary claims. I mean, is “white men’s claim of power in a white republic” an extraordinary assertion, later on in the sentence “hyper-vulnerability” appears in? (I assume that this is what you're referring to given that my browser's page search indicates that the term “hyper-victimization” does not appear in the article at all.)

It's utterly crazy that you can arrive at a characterization of the article's claims while almost completely leaving any mention of race out and—to be honest—the ability to do so is by all appearances part of the phenomena the article is trying to analyze.
posted by XMLicious at 4:47 PM on October 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


My precise complaint about this article was this statement:
In short, Black males are just as vulnerable to sexual violence and report similar numbers of contact sexual violence as Black females...
So I don't think it's reasonable to accuse me of leaving any mention of race out, though I didn't repeat it in my very last comment. (Intersectional discussions, by definition, have multiple axes.) Look, there's a lot we could discuss about these studies but things seem pretty entrenched here, so I'm bowing out. Happy to continue the discussion in memail.
posted by msalt at 6:41 PM on October 29, 2018


The reception in this thread has been very disappointing.

Quoted for truth.

Good grief.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 7:53 PM on October 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


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