A twitter conversation with Cathy Young about rape, sex, and consent.

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108 Responses to A twitter conversation with Cathy Young about rape, sex, and consent.

  1. 101
    Charles S says:


    Given that you are reliably highly concerned with what is legally chargeable, it is actually an egregious error on your part to have limited your point to rape rather than sexual assault. Trying to force the conversation to be about what is chargeable specifically as rape is recklessly and irresponsibly creating the appearance that if it isn’t chargeable as rape then it isn’t chargeable (see, again Ben’s point that sexual assault and rape are synonyms in common usage, and that there was no reason to limit the discussion to a charge of rape).

    So not only have you constantly tried to force the conversation to be about what you wanted it to be about, rather than what the original post was about, but you (carefully or sloppily) limited what you wanted it to be about in a way that spread misinformation.

    [Edited to add: indeed, even in this thread, your jumping in with the legal definition of rape early on is probably what pushed the discussion in the direction of a discussion of sexual ethics, since you had made the claim that it didn’t meet the legal definition of rape (while neglecting to mention that it probably did meet the definition of sexual assault).]

  2. 102
    Ruchama says:

    I thought this was really powerful, in terms of not acting like a victim “should.” https://medium.com/the-nib/trigger-warning-breakfast-c6cdeec070e6

  3. 103
    kate says:

    Excellent link Ruchama. A lot of people auditing reactions of people reporting sexual assaults seem to forget that the assailant is usually a person who is already in the victim’s life, someone who they might live with or in close proximity to, have lots of mutual friends with, go to school with, work with, be related to by blood or marriage. In these cases, the sexual assault being a real thing will disrupt other aspects of the victim’s life profoundly – relationships, school, career, etc.. In the vast majority of cases, no one in their community wants to believe the assault happened, including the victim, because they actually like the assailant for a variety of reasons and it makes so many other things more complicated, including for the victim. This is further complicated for the victim because in society as it is now, people err on the side of believing the perpetrator innocent until proven guilty. That is the proper course of action in a court of criminal law. However, in day to day life, this essentially means judging the alleged victim guilty of lying until proven innocent. This is especially egregious because it is, in fact so very unlikely that the alleged victim IS lying. The rate of false reports of rape is about 2%, and most false reports are not false accusations (since they do not name a particular perpetrator, but rather blame a vaguely described stranger). This does not mean that we should convict all accused rapists. We should not. The standard for conviction in a court of law is proof beyond a reasonable doubt and it should remain so. However, it should impact our estimation of how reasonable it is to doubt an alleged victim’s sworn testimony in rape cases. Moreover, we do not have to use the ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ legal standard in schools, workplaces or our social lives.

  4. 104
    KellyK says:

    Ruchama, when I saw that comic, this discussion was exactly what I thought of.

  5. 105
    kate says:

    Sorry, I went off on a bit of a tangent. My point was that, for very good reasons, denial is a very common reaction to being the victim of sexual assault. Therefore, showing signs of denial, like continuing to be on friendly terms with the attacker, should not be considered to be evidence against the accuser.

  6. 106
    Ampersand says:

    Ruchama, when I saw that comic, this discussion was exactly what I thought of.

    Me too!

  7. 107
    Harlequin says:

    Also on this topic, there was a first-person account from a rape victim in the Washington Post last week that might be relevant. But be warned, it is extremely explicit about the events.

  8. 108
    Ampersand says:

    A few posts discussing false rape accusation prevalence have been moved to the open thread. — Amp