Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Bad Writers Poison The Well

"Trial By Facebook," an article in the Willamette Week describes how students at Lewis And Clark college used Facebook to warn of a student at the school who's apparently a rapist and the sine qua non of collegiate douchbags to boot. It's a rather interesting article, I guess - though it speaks volumes that Facebook is seen as something as a substitute for a proper, institutionalized moral authority. It more or less reinforces all of the ingrained problems we have prosecuting the crime of rape.

And, speaking of, it brings up another ingrained problem that we've mentioned before. Let's look at how the victim describes the events of the evening that led to the rape. Forgive the length, and because this is America, everything is alleged:

On Oct. 10, 2007, a year had passed. Hunter and Shaw-Fox no longer shared a dorm, and they saw each other on campus only occasionally.

That night, Hunter had been drinking beer in her friend’s dorm room and watching movies when she impulsively sent Shaw-Fox a text message. She wanted to know what he planned to do for fall break, which started the next day. It was out of the blue, but Hunter says her intentions were “friendly.”

The two text-messaged back and forth until midnight, when Shaw-Fox invited Hunter to his dorm.

“I whispered to Alexa, my roommate, and I was like, ‘I’m going to go over to Morgan Shaw-Fox’s,’” Hunter recalls. “As soon I got to the door, Mike, her boyfriend, was there, and he was like, ‘Don’t go, he’s an asshole.’ I was like, ‘No, it’s OK, I know he’s an asshole.’

“I was like, ‘I’ll be OK,’ and then I went over there, and it wasn’t OK.”

When she arrived, it appeared Shaw-Fox had also been drinking, she says. He was watching a DVD of the FX television series It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia , with Danny DeVito.

“His roommate went to sleep, and we went into [Shaw-Fox’s] room,” Hunter recounts. (Shaw-Fox had his own bedroom in the suite he shared with a friend.) “I was wearing a tube top. He just, like, pulled it down, and I kissed him.”

He wanted her to take his clothes off, so she did, she says. She was naked, too.

“And then we were making out, and he started pushing my head down.… He wouldn’t really stop doing that,” Hunter says. “So eventually I was like, ‘All right.’ But I said to him, ‘I’m still a virgin, and I want to keep it that way.’ And he said ‘OK,’ and he was like, ‘You know, I’m not interested in any relationship.’”

Shaw-Fox’s mattress was on the floor pushed up against a wall, Hunter says. “I’m sitting up against the wall on his mattress, and he’s standing over me,” she continues. “It started happening, and then he, like, twisted his fingers around my hair and started pulling it and being just kind of violent. I started choking because he was just, like, pushing my head.… I started gagging and choking, and I couldn’t really breathe.”

She says she started pushing on Shaw-Fox’s abdomen to tell him to stop. “And he was like, ‘Yeah, that’s right, choke on it.’”

Eventually, Hunter was able to get up and put her clothes on, she says, because Shaw-Fox had to leave the room to vomit.

I think that anyone equipped with the gift of reason can accept the fact that round about paragraph ten, an uncomfortable encounter defininitively veers into the area of criminality. There's really no other way to view it. Yet Hunter says: "I knew something was wrong, but I couldn’t categorize it."

Huh? The actions described are a clear cut case of attempted rape/sexual assault. Whatever does she mean? I think you know:

Hunter calls what happened to her something akin to “gray rape,” a term she learned from an article in Cosmopolitan written by Washington Post journalist Laura Sessions Stepp. Hunter admits she initiated the encounter. But she eventually withdrew her consent, she says. “The whole thing was very confusing to me, and I didn’t know what to do about it for such a long time,” she says.
I blame Laura Sessions Stepp for Hunter's confusion, because that's what her "gray rape" nonsense does: foster confusion. But once consent is withdrawn, criminality begins. That shouldn't be confusing. But Stepp's revolting, backwards, inane ideas add nothing but confusion, and we can see how the deleterious effects of her writing on the subject of rape has spread itself far and wide.

One day, someone who belongs in jail is not going to end up there because of this "gray rape" nonsense. So now one thing Laura Sessions Stepp can never say is that she hasn't been told.

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