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

December 12, 2012

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.

33 Comments leave one →
  1. December 12, 2012 6:11 pm

    “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.”

    Absolutely. I also tweeted about this issue and was critical of GMP because wasn’t assertive enough in saying that what the drunk rapist did was not an example of being a “Good Man” and I also have an issue with the post that says that “good guys rape”.. since rape automatically makes someone to be not a good person. Perhaps a better way would be to say that guys who rape may have seemed like good guys previously. (twitter handle lj4adotcomdan if you want to check it out).

    I did want to comment on this one part:

    ” 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?”

    I have read the feministe article, your previous article on the study, and Schroeder’s argument about the studies in question. I don’t think Shroeder is makign the point you are suggesting. I don’t believe she is suggesting that the number of rapes that are not accounted for are greater than the number of rapes accounted for. I believe she is just saying that the study can only be used to discuss those rapes that are accounted for and information about rapes that are not accounted for cannot be discerned by either study.

    Now, there is no difference in my mind between a rapist who rapes knowing that the victim doesn’t want it and a rapist who rapes who doesn’t know what the victim would want him to do. If you are uncertain about if the person would want to have sex with you in the situation and still have sex with the person, you are a scumbag.

    But perhaps the rapist of the latter variety who took the Lisak and Miller test would read the questions and say “well, I don’t know if she didn’t want me to, so the answer is no”. Such a person is still a rapist but, if they answered in that way, would not have been counted in the study. At least that is what I am getting from Schroeder’s post.

    To the guy in the anonymous story, I cannot imagine being that drunk to not know right from wrong. I remember having 6 drinks called ‘Hand Grenades’ down in the French Quarter. They are very strong. The female I was hanging around with had about 5. I know I was interested in her. I was fairly certain she was interested in me. But, even though I was very drunk, I was never tempted to take her home. I made sure she made it back to her dorm and let the night end that way. We spoke later. She couldn’t remember anything after the 4th drink. See? It is not hard at all to do the right thing when you are intoxicated.

    I wonder if this guy drinks and drives as well because, hey, it is a part of the party lifestyle and why should the lives he would put at risk get in the way of him having fun, right? Pretty pathethic.

  2. heldc permalink
    December 13, 2012 1:52 am

    I read the initial Royse article (not yet any follow-ups), and I don’t see how’s she’s excusing her friend. She says over and over what he did was rape. The point I got is that she wants to explore the social messages that lead to well meaning people committing rape without realizing they are doing/have done so, how societal messages can influence someone to think there is consent when there isn’t. It reads to me that she wants to talk about what leads people who don’t intend to rape, people who are horrified to realize/be informed they mistook consent, to rape.

    I think that’s a valuable topic to address, because it absolutely does happen, especially with younger people. Yes, there are people out there deliberately raping, knowing it, and cool with it. But there are also people committing rape who don’t know they’re doing so. I think talking about the societal things that lead to someone doing something so awful without realizing they’re doing so is important.

    It’s easy to say “If there isn’t consent, stop” but I don’t know anyone who hasn’t at least once misunderstood someone else’s consent to some degree. I’ve misunderstood and been misunderstood, but always in situations where the misunderstanding could be and was cleared up quickly. Why is talking about how people can end up thinking there’s consent when there isn’t “rape apology”? It’s rape apology to say that it’s possible for people to rape without knowing they’re doing so? I don’t get that.

    • December 13, 2012 6:13 pm

      The woman was sleeping. How is it you interpret this as social messages leading well-meaning people to rape?

      • December 13, 2012 6:59 pm

        Hmm. I came away from reading the article with the impression that her friend believed he had consent. On re-reading, I think I had read the later reference to “drunken party sex” to indicate that her friend thought that’s what the interaction was, which requires that the woman have been some degree of active. I read “she woke up” as indicating becoming aware of her actions (waking up from a drunken fugue), not waking up from sleep.

        The article is actually really unspecific on what led her friend to think he had consent, if he did in fact think he had consent rather than simply not considering that he might not have consent. I realize now Royse never actually specifically says her friend thought he had consent, she simply segues into talking about the ways people can misunderstand consent, implying that’s what happened with her friend.

        I still think that talking about what can lead to misunderstandings about consent, and the role our culture plays in those misunderstandings is really important. I don’t think Royse’s friend, or Royse, needs to be part of that discussion.

    • Jericka permalink
      December 17, 2012 7:48 pm

      This isn’t a misunderstanding of consent, this is a disregard for consent.

      This is the idea that a woman’s default is “Yes” because of her sexual history, her previous consent, or her being female and unable to resist.

      If someone were really interested in having a mutually pleasurable sexual encounter, I expect it to happen when they are both awake and sober enough to consent. If someone is really interested, wake her up or wait till she is sober, right? This isn’t hard.

      Except that we are still fighting the idea that once a woman has had sex, or talked about sex, or ventured into public in less than a chador, her default is “yes” unless she can fight the rapist off.

      • December 18, 2012 4:25 pm

        Awake, absolutely, but sober, eh. I’m not going to say people can’t choose to engage in sexual activity while altered. However, I had misread the original article, I read what Royse was implying rather than what she actually said, as I’m sure she intended to happen. I misunderstood and thought that the chain of events was such that there could have been a reasonable misunderstanding of consent, as I explained in my reply to Thomas above.

  3. DSJ permalink
    December 13, 2012 8:25 am

    I’m turned off by everything GMP has done here, but the recent controversy does make me wonder, is there a reason why you use the Lisak & Miller and McWhorter studies nearly exclusively? In my very brief experience working with academic papers, a summary of previous findings on a topic usually started with a literature review which yes, tended to cite the few biggest, baddest papers published on a given topic, but then tended to cite additional papers with a narrower focus on the topic at hand. I’m guessing that perpetrator behavior in rape is still a less established field than I was working in given the recency of the studies being cited.

    It’s true that it IS difficult for academics to study this concept of unintentional rape. That’s because most studies like the two you cited seem to be built on survey research asking retrospective questions to either men or women, without being able to ask the other party in the incidents being identified. For instance, a survey asking men whether they’ve perpetrated rape would only be able to guess at whether their victims consented through the knowledge and perceptions of the men asked, which might be flawed. To get at both parties you’d almost have to do a longitudinal study that included both from the beginning and ‘catch’ undetected rape in the act. Given how virtually impossible that is, it seems academics would have to get creative to get at this question. Have there been any studies of unintentional rape, its prevalence and characteristics specifically, that you know of, even just to show that its prevalence is very low?

    • December 13, 2012 6:08 pm

      The short answer is that the research Lisak and McWhorter have done, looking for undetected rapists, requires large numbers of respondents and is therefore really research intensive, so there are not a lot of papers. Lisak pioneered the area, McWhorter had similar results from a different sample. Prior to this research, a lot of rapist research was with clinical samples: those incarcerated or in treatment. I think we now know that those are not very representative, particularly in that they tend to have raped strangers or used overt force, which the bulk of the undetected rapists don’t because it tends to get rapists caught and convicted. On the concept of “unintentional rape”, I think we can say with some confidence that it can’t be a big part of the overall picture because the data on undetected rapists who know they act without consent roughly explains the size of the victim-report results. See the post.

      • DSJ permalink
        December 13, 2012 11:17 pm

        Thomas, thanks for your reply. I did read the post and I understand the argument based on inference from victim reports.

      • james permalink
        December 15, 2012 3:37 pm

        DSJ – you’re absolutely right. There was a wave of feminist scholarship about rape in the 70s and 80s, Lisak’s research is part of a new wave of criminological literature which is attacking the older feminist literature.

        Differences? Where 2nd Wavers would have said there’s a continuity between seduction and rape / normal men and rapists, Lisak thinks rapists are predators and different from other men. 2nd Wavers thought that sexual violence was different from other types of violence, while Lisak thinks people who rape are the people who commit other kinds of violent and other crimes. 2nd wavers thought that rape was caused by misunderstanding and miscommunication by ‘normal’ men (and proposed things like education), Lisak thinks it’s a knowing act by deviant predators. There are loads of these, they are both very different theories and perspectives.

        Frankly, I don’t know who’s right – and I don’t think the debate’s resolved yet. But Lisak’s not the only game in town, I wouldn’t say that his school isn’t the consensus or even dominant yet, it is an up and coming and increasing influential though.

      • Anon. permalink
        January 4, 2013 12:35 am

        In response to this I’d like to quote the original blog entry:

        “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.”

        The misunderstanding and miscommunication scenario may, perhaps, fit the *one-time* rapists who commit a small fraction of the rapes. This is unclear.

        But it seems *extremely* unlikely to fit the profile of the *serial rapists* who commit most rapes. They rape over and over again. Pretty quickly “misunderstanding” and “miscommunication” become completely implausible as explanations. As the prosecutor would say: How many misunderstandings and how many miscommunications, and this is the third time you’ve claimed that, sir?

  4. Alberich permalink
    December 13, 2012 12:01 pm

    I have a question regarding how you find out if your partner can give meaningful consent. If you answer my question please keep in mind, that I never had casual sex and never had sex with somebody who was drunk, so I have no practical experience.
    you write:
    “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.”
    How do you get to “unable to resist his advances” from
    “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.” ?
    I have been at a party where I had two drinks and forgot the names of people I was introduced to and interacting with, but I am certain that in all these cases I was able to “resist someones advances”.
    More generally, is there a proven way how one can determine whether a prospective partner (whom one doesn’t know very well) can’t give meaningful consent?

    • January 9, 2013 5:54 pm

      I don’t know if there is a “proven way” to determine if someone can give meaningful consent.

      But when it comes to potentially violating someone’s sexual boundaries, to me it would be the best bet to always err on the side of caution. If you think there might be the slightest chance that your prospective partner may not be able to legally consent, it seems to me the best course of action would always be to refrain from any contact with that person. (Because the sexual boundaries of another person should always trump your sexual desires).

      To put it more simply, when in doubt, don’t whip it out.

  5. John Anderson permalink
    December 14, 2012 9:55 am

    “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.”

    Except any statistician knows you can’t take a sample from purely from one segment of a population and assume that it is representative of the entire population. The CDC survey in 2010 surveying over 16,000 people, both men and women, and clearly states in their methodology that this doesn’t include incarcerated individuals is a more accurate representation.

    Page 18. Table 2.1 rapes of women in past 12 months 1,270,000. Table 2.2 Page 19 Men forced to penetrate 1,267,000.

    Page 24 of the NISVS

    “The majority of male rape victims (93.3%) reported only male perpetrators. For three of the other forms of sexual violence, a majority of male victims reported only female perpetrators: being made to penetrate (79.2%), sexual coercion (83.6%), and unwanted sexual contact (53.1%).”

    So is he really saying that the vast majority of the 1,000,000 or so estimated rapes perpetrated by women against men were caused by the same 150,000 women.

    Lisak’s data only has credibility when it comes to college hook up culture. If he suggests anything different and based on what you wrote it appears that he has, then he has no credibility.

    • December 14, 2012 11:54 am

      Your argument is significantly undermined by McWhorter’s research, which surveyed Navy entrants, not college students. If you’re saying that the theory may not be applicable to rapists other than cis het men, then I agree and I would love it if the research methodologies were expanded to other demographics. But if you’re just looking to breezily dismiss Lisak because you don’t like the conclusion, then you’re wrong.

    • Anon. permalink
      January 4, 2013 12:40 am

      Honestly, we haven’t studied female-against-male rape much, and we haven’t studied male-against-male rape much, and we haven’t studied female-against-female rape much…

      …but ALL the anecdotal evidence points to a “few bad apples” committing most of the sexual violence even in THOSE areas. Ever read descriptions by lesbians about “that one woman” who assaulted everyone they knew, along with being controlling and generally authoritarian… before moving to another city, and then doing the same thing again? There are quite a few stories of this sort in the literature about lesbian feminist communes and separatist gorups.

  6. December 15, 2012 11:54 pm

    Thank you for this. Trying to figure out why men rape by starting with the presumption (based on *their word) that it’s often a ‘mistake’ is… shitty social science, at best.

    My own date rape shared a lot of similarities with the one Royse wrote about, and I couldn’t help thinking “Well of COURSE he said it was a mistake.” My rapist would too. That doesn’t shed any light into how it happened, but viewing it from the other side can. I wrote about it here, if anyone’s interested in a more anecdotal takedown of this BS:

  7. December 16, 2012 12:59 pm

    Reblogged this on Consider the Tea Cosy.

  8. Egalitarian permalink
    December 18, 2012 2:04 am

    “To oversimplify and assume that no women rape, no men are victims. . .” is not a good assumption if you properly define rape. According to the latest CDC (US government) survey, 4.8% of all men have been “made to penetrate” and 79.2% of the perpetrators were women. Examples of “made to penetrate” are: a woman who has sex with a man who is passed-out drunk, or a woman who forces a man to have sex with her through violence or threats of violence. There is some confusion due to the fact that their definition of rape excluded “made to penetrate” and only included men who had been penetrated. That was far less common (1.4% of men) and was mostly perpetrated by men. However, if you include “made to penetrate” as rape, which you should, since it is forced sex, women are a significant percentage of rapists, and the majority of male rape victims were raped by women. You can read the report at: Here are direct quotes from the report:

    “Approximately 1 in 21 men (4.8%) reported that they were made to penetrate someone else during their lifetime”

    “For three of the other forms of sexual violence, a majority of male victims reported only female perpetrators: being made to penetrate (79.2%), sexual coercion (83.6%), and unwanted sexual contact (53.1%).”

    The above, lifetime stats do show a lower percentage of male victims (up to 6.2% of all men) than female victims (18.3% of all women) although this is far more than commonly believed. However, if you look at the report’s stats for the past 12 months, just as many number of men have been “forced to penetrate” as women were raped, meaning that if you properly include being “made to penetrate” in the definition of rape, men were raped as often as women.

    Here are some stories from male victims:

    • Jericka permalink
      December 18, 2012 9:24 am

      He didn’t say that it was a “good assumption”, but was rather attempting(I think) to simplify the math.

      You won’t actually find many people in this spot asserting that women don’t rape. There are rapists that are men, and rapists that are women…and the ones that do rape usually pick their victims and timing so as not to be accused.

      The arguments that a woman who rapes might use are that she thought he was into it(the myth that a man is ALWAYS looking for sex), or that he was hard and therefore HAD to be enjoying it(the body may be responding, but, consent is given by the person! Not the physiological reaction! ). These arguments can in our society make it hard to even accuse….just like the choosing of situations where a woman’s word wouldn’t be believed makes it easier for a rapist of women to get away with it.

      I’m not into having a reluctant partner, and most people aren’t into having sex with people who aren’t enjoying themselves as well. There are people out there of both genders, though, that are into the power of manipulation, or getting away with something.

      The story in itself was of a man getting away with rape, and so that is how it was framed this time.

      • December 19, 2012 2:45 pm

        Or in other words, don’t detract from the point being made about these particular stories of male rapists by saying “but women rape too”. Yes, they do. But it is irrelevant to this discussion.

      • Sasori permalink
        December 20, 2012 5:42 am

        @Liberal Dan, and everybody else. Forgive me for off topic’ing the discussion just once.
        But, where is the discussion being had about these female rapists and male victims.
        I cannot find it on this website, it is not on your website and as far as I can tell the coverage of this rather surprising information has been limited at best from feminist media (I assume there has been some in academic literature). I’ve seen debate about outlier cases and sexual violence in prison but nothing indicating that this kind of sexual violence may be as widespread as indicated by what @Egalitarian has posted. Are they waiting for confirmation from the next CDC study?
        I think many of the times this is brought up in comments sections it stems more from a desire to have this information acknowledged or publicised than to off topic the discussion.

  9. Dorkboy permalink
    January 2, 2013 5:28 pm

    Today’s college-age men grew up on “no means no.” That’s great and all, but it misses the point, which is how we got the name of the book that (I assume) this blog is named after. But “no means no” is still more common, and what does that mean? It means that’s the mentality that young men approach consent with. A huge chunk of young men think that it’s not rape if she doesn’t say no – and if she’s sleeping or passed out and can’t say no, well, that’s just a loophole. Combine the cultural idea of sex as something you do TO another person rather than WITH them, the idea that a man’s value as a human being is directly proportionate to his number of sexual partners, the pervasive cultural image of all rapists being Snidely Whiplash and “no means no” sex education, you get the guy that the original GMP article that started this clusterfuck was written about.

    There’s a great awareness campaign in Edmonton (and hopefully spreading) that cuts right to the heart of the issue and combats the idea that there’s such a thing as a loophole when it comes to consent. It’s probably worthy of its own article, and you can find it here:

  10. Robert permalink
    January 30, 2013 1:24 pm


    Aren’t there serious limitations to the conclusions we can draw from Lisak’s study? Lisak’s study relied entirely on self reporting and it doesn’t present a complete picture of the issue. I don’t believe that genuine misunderstanding are common, but Lisak’s study by no means disproves their existence. Lisak’s study relies on self reporting from admitted, INTENTIONAL rapists. If a genuine misunderstanding occurred, the man involved in such a misunderstanding would not answer “yes” to any of Lisak’s questions, and he would not be detected or accounted for in Lisak’s analysis.

    Lisak has identified a particular type of deliberate serial perpetrator. A type of perpetrator his questions were designed to detect. His study, however, does not preclude the possibility of other types of perpetrator, including perhaps “accidental” perpetrators. Because his questions were designed to only detect deliberate perpetrators, and any other type of perpetrator would be completely unaccounted for in his analysis. We should, therefore, be cautious in generalizing too much from his study, or claiming that his study “proves” that acquaintance rape is never just a miscommunication.

    That said, I find it very difficult to imagine that a completed sex act could result from a simple miscommunication. I’m sure it’s possible, and I’m sure it’s happened, but I’d wager that it’s vanishingly rare. What’s more likely are cases where someone INITIALLY thinks that they have consent, only to quickly realize that they were mistaken. I’m sure that there are a great number of cases of men thinking that they have a green light to touch or penetrate a woman, only to immediately realize that they were wrong and desist as soon as they see that their partner isn’t comfortable with what they’re doing.

  11. Robert permalink
    January 31, 2013 1:22 pm


    Don’t you think we should be cautious about trying to extrapolate universal truths from such a narrowly tailored study? The questions Lisak asked his samples were narrowly tailored to only identify men who’ve raped deliberately. It would be interesting to replicate Lisak’s study with a few additional questions added to his survey. Questions like: “Have you ever had sex with a woman who you thought wanted to have sex at the time, but later found out did not want to have sex with you?” Or some similar question(s). Even then it wouldn’t provide a complete picture, as there is undoubtedly some underreporting on these surveys, and men who were mistaken as to consent and never learned the truth would still answer “no.”

    The stereotype of acquaintance rape as a drunken misunderstanding isn’t convincingly debunked as fallacious by Lisak’s study. Such incidents may still happen. They may even be common. We have no way of knowing. Lisak, by virtue of the narrowly tailed questions he asks, and by virtue of his reliance on self reporting, has nothing to say on the question of whether genuine mistakes as to consent are actually a common occurence. When you only look for deliberate rapists, then that’s all you’re going to find.

    I also think it likely that Lisak’s survey underestimates the number of one time rapists. As someone who raped a woman a single time, identified his behavior as rape, and felt remorse for his actions would be less likely to answer “yes” to Lisak’s questions than a serial perpetrator who felt no remorse and didn’t identify his behavior as rape. Relying on self reporting always carries such limitations, as only men of a particular mindset would be readily willing to answer “yes” to Lisak’s questions. I don’t doubt that these serial predators exist and I don’t doubt that they are responsible for a substantial number of rapes, but it seems likely that they are overrepresented in Lisak’s study.

    I’m therefore skeptical of the some of Lisak’s conclusions. There’s no doubt that there exists a cadre of men who rape deliberately and repeatedly. This is something we’ve known for decades, but Lisak’s survey is so limited and narrowly tailored that we can’t generalize from it universal facts regarding the commission of non-stranger rapes. It’s a virtual certainty that his survey hasn’t identified the complete picture of sexual violence on college campuses. Relying on voluntary admissions from deliberate and unrepentant rapists doesn’t lend itself to reliable conclusions about the larger issue of sexual violence.

    Lisak’s predators exist, they are responsible for a great deal of harm, and they need to be identified and incarcerated. That said, we don’t anywhere near the evidence required to make bold sweeping claims like: “91% of rapes are perpetrated by deliberate serial predators.” It would be far more accurate to claim that: “91% of the rapes we learned of through the voluntary admission of deliberate and unrepentant rapists were perpetrated by those members of our sample who admitted to multiple rapes.” Doesn’t role of the tongue as easily, but it’s far more accurate.

    • January 31, 2013 6:02 pm

      I have more to say about this than I have the time to say it, but one thing I can say very quickly: you need to grapple with the math. Reread the post. The victim reports just don’t leave room for there to be another huge dynamic, bigger that the subjects Lisak identifies. There are, no doubt, other things that happen besides predators deliberately committing rape — there’s all those single-event rapists. But unless you’re assuming that Lisak’s bad guys are underreporting, then you really need to explain where in the numbers you find room for a lot of mistakes and miscommunications.

      • Robert permalink
        January 31, 2013 6:38 pm

        Right, I just skimmed over that part of the post. You’re clearly not a statistician.

        That analysis is absurd. I doubt even Lisak, despite merely being a social scientist, would be able to read that without chiming in. You’re comparing apples to pancakes when you compare the results of a small, non-representative case study to a national survey, and that’s just the start of it.

        I basically think that the serial predators are overrepresented in Lisak’s findings, for a number of reasons relating to his methodology. Even if they weren’t, that analysis still wouldn’t fly. You can’t just crudely extrapolate from a study like Lisak’s, and do a comparative analysis relating to an entirely different kind of statistic, for a variety of reasons.

      • Robert permalink
        January 31, 2013 6:47 pm

        Sorry, can’t edit posts.

        Just popped back in to add: Even if your analysis made statistical sense (which it doesn’t), it assumes that every rape victim was only victimized a single time.

        If, as we know, many rape victims are victimized repeatedly, then there is still plenty of room for a large “misunderstanding” dynamic.


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