Favorite

Pro-common sense 

Not every fundamentalist is a right-winger. Crackpot utopianism and black and white thinking infect all social, political and religious movements. Indeed, it often appears that abandoning common sense for dogma is one of the main concomitants of a certain kind of liberal arts education.

Consider a recent bitter controversy involving Slate's Emily Yoffe and an angry swarm of self-described feminist detractors. As "Dear Prudence," Yoffe writes an online advice column for that magazine and the Washington Post. You know, "I had a one-night stand with my fiance's brother," or "my ex-wife is stalking me on Facebook." That kind of thing.

I'm a big fan and a friendly acquaintance. We had dinner in Washington some years back along with a mutual friend who was in town on a book tour. We've exchanged e-mails now and then, mostly about her column. Unpretentious, non-dogmatic, skeptical and compassionate, Emily's what my wife calls "real people," her highest encomium.

It's not necessary to agree with Dear Prudence every time to see her column as a useful antidote to a Washington disease I call "hardening of the categories." When you read about the astonishing messes people make of their intimate lives, the wonder's not that the world's chaotic, but that it's as safe and orderly as it is.

So anyway, writing under her own byline, Yoffe took note of a number of high-profile sexual abuse and rape cases in the news — the U.S. Naval Academy, Steubenville, Ohio, and Maryville, Mo. — and noticed something elementary: "A common denominator in these cases is alcohol, often copious amounts, enough to render the young woman incapacitated."

Friends warned her against saying so. "Talking about things women can do to protect themselves from rape is the third rail, they said."

Let's pause a moment to contemplate such an absurd situation. Warning college girls how not to be victimized is contrary to crackpot feminist ideology, which evidently holds that vomiting into the toilet while a football jock you met five minutes ago holds your hair is an empowering act.

Warning readers that fully 80 percent of sexual assaults on college campuses involve alcohol — with victim and perp alike getting wasted — Yoffee added that there are also disturbingly frequent reports about "shrewd — and sober — sexual predator[s] who lurk where women drink like a lion at a watering hole."

"Let's be totally clear," she wrote. "Perpetrators are the ones responsible for committing their crimes, and they should be brought to justice. But we are failing to let women know that when they render themselves defenseless, terrible things can be done to them...That's not blaming the victim; that's trying to prevent more victims."

Yoffe added that there are many things schools could be doing to educate young men and women: "Educating students about rape, teaching them that by definition a very drunk woman can't consent to sex, is crucial. Also important are bystander programs that instruct students in how to intervene to prevent sexual assault on drunk classmates and about the need to get dangerously intoxicated ones medical treatment."

So sane and sensible, in other words, as to be almost banal. Ah, but that was until the avant garde online thinkers caught wind of Yoffe's offenses against womankind. Writers at sites like Jezebel, Feministing, and Salon alleged that Yoffe had written "a rape denialism manifesto."

The Slate columnist had not only "blamed the victims" of sexual crime, but implicitly promoted something called "rape culture" — a catch-all propaganda phrase like something out of Orwell's "Animal Farm."

Four legs good, two legs bad!

Girls good, boys bad!

Some of the make-believe outrage was so over the top as to be downright comical. Salon's perpetually indignant Katie McDonough — she'd recently written an angry screed about a porn star famous for performing an anatomically improbable act who was having trouble finding respectable work in her Arkansas home town — basically accused Yoffe of writing that "women deserve rape."

There was no obvious evidence that McDonough actually read the Slate article. For that matter, none of Yoffe's detractors felt compelled to provide a halfway fair summary of her argument. To get the flavor of this absurd episode, it's important to understand that this is an essentially dogmatic and ideological dispute having almost nothing to do with the visible world.

Unless, that is, you can imagine a professor of Women's Studies actually urging her students to get blackout drunk at frat parties.

Actually, Yoffe may have found such a person. In response to her original article, she wrote, one professor wrote that "to reiterate the old Puritan line that women need to restrain and modify their pleasure-seeking behaviors is a big step backward."

Meanwhile, out in the boondocks where I live, it's reliably reported that most people admitted to hospital emergency rooms for snakebite are intoxicated. Apparently, booze makes them insensible to danger.

I do hope that saying so doesn't make me pro-copperhead.

Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Gene Lyons

  • Forget identity politics

    Amid the climate of disbelief and fear among Democrats following Donald Trump's election, a fascinating debate has broken out about what's called "identity politics" on the left, "political correctness" by the right.
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • Trump's first days

    Never mind that President-elect Trump and his keenest supporters have gone from boasting to whining in two short weeks.
    • Nov 23, 2016
  • Worth it

    My most recent one-to-one conversation with Hillary Clinton took place in October 1991, and I've been laughing at myself ever since.
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Killer's failure

    Has any murdering terrorist ever failed more dramatically than Dylann Storm Roof? Like any punk with a gun, he managed to slaughter nine blameless African-American Christians at an historic church in Charleston, S.C. Intending to start a race war, he succeeded only in shocking the moral conscience of the state and nation.
    • Jun 25, 2015
  • Obama takes long view

    Right now, it's beginning to look as if President Obama will end up deserving the Nobel Peace Prize he was so prematurely awarded in 2009.
    • Jul 23, 2015
  • Trump and political correctness

    So I see where candidate Donald Trump and former Gov. Sarah Palin are complaining about "political correctness," the supposedly liberal sin of being too polite to tell the unvarnished truth. Me too. I've always laughed at the follies of self-styled "radical" left-wing professors.
    • Sep 3, 2015

Most Shared

  • Labor department director inappropriately expensed out-of-state trips, audit finds

    Jones was "Minority Outreach Coordinator" for Hutchinson's 2014 gubernatorial campaign. The governor first named him as policy director before placing him over the labor department instead in Jan. 2015, soon after taking office.
  • Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist resigns

    Bob Scoggin, 50, the Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist whose job it was to review the work of agencies, including DAH and the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, for possible impacts on historic properties, resigned from the agency on Monday. Multiple sources say Scoggin, whom they describe as an "exemplary" employee who the week before had completed an archeological project on DAH property, was told he would be fired if he did not resign.
  • Forget identity politics

    Amid the climate of disbelief and fear among Democrats following Donald Trump's election, a fascinating debate has broken out about what's called "identity politics" on the left, "political correctness" by the right.
  • Lawsuit filed against ADC officials, prison chaplain convicted of sexual assault at McPherson

    A former inmate who claims she was sexually assaulted over 70 times by former McPherson Womens' Unit chaplain Kenneth Dewitt has filed a federal lawsuit against Dewitt, several staff members at the prison, and officials with the Arkansas Department of Corrections, including former director Ray Hobbs.
  • Lessons from Standing Rock

    A Fayetteville resident joins the 'water protectors' allied against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Latest in Gene Lyons

  • Forget identity politics

    Amid the climate of disbelief and fear among Democrats following Donald Trump's election, a fascinating debate has broken out about what's called "identity politics" on the left, "political correctness" by the right.
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • Trump's first days

    Never mind that President-elect Trump and his keenest supporters have gone from boasting to whining in two short weeks.
    • Nov 23, 2016
  • Worth it

    My most recent one-to-one conversation with Hillary Clinton took place in October 1991, and I've been laughing at myself ever since.
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Central Arkansas venues have a full week of commemorative events planned

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Viewed

  • Forget identity politics

    Amid the climate of disbelief and fear among Democrats following Donald Trump's election, a fascinating debate has broken out about what's called "identity politics" on the left, "political correctness" by the right.
  • Arkansas Democrats' rocky road forward

    No state political party in the modern era has had a more abrupt fall than Arkansas's Democrats

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Worth it

    • Alas, Gene's memory ain't what it used to be. He wrote a column some time…

    • on December 5, 2016
  • Re: Forget identity politics

    • Hillarys 'Stronger Together' nonsense failed because she failed to make it a reality. As Gene…

    • on December 5, 2016
  • Re: Fake economics

    • Trump economic proposals: Rates for Married-Joint filers: Less than $75,000: 12% More than $75,000 but…

    • on December 5, 2016
 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation