Sunday, December 14, 2014

Are progressives hurting their own cause?

Freddie's piece on the Rolling Stone/UVA rape scandal one of the most nuanced I've read, particularly his take on how the progressive trope of "believe the victim at all cost" actually hurts rape victims:
In progressive online circles, particularly Twitter, a powerful social norm has emerged: Decent people have a moral obligation to believe all rape accusations, and failure to do so amounts to anti-feminism or worse. Recently, the writer and lawyer Zerlina Maxwell advocated for exactly that at The Washington Post. Others, such as Jessica Valenti, have suggested the same. Spend any time in the progressive corners of the internet and you'll see the power of this norm. [...] By creating the expectation that all rape accusations must be presumed true regardless of circumstance, anti-rape activists have tied the credibility of their efforts to every individual accusation, and in so doing perversely undermined our efforts to end sexual assault.
I'm not comfortable with the jettisoning of critical thinking often required for being seen as a good advocate. Notice I said "being seen as" instead of "being," because I don't believe those things or mutually exclusive. Quite the contrary. And there are probably quiet a few people who think the same way but don't speak out for fear of being called a rape apologist, anti-feminist, or gasp, a conservative. I'm being flip, but it has become increasingly difficult to write about rape with nothing less than 100% support for the accuser, even when there are significant -- and I'm talking significant -- holes in the story. Pointing those things out isn't the same as saying "she's lying," or that there's an epidemic of women lying about rape.

I'm also glad he brought up the accusations against Conor Oberst. It's easy to draw parallels between the two, though the consequences of the Rolling Stone debacle are wider-reaching. Not to minimize what happened to Oberst, who dropped libel charges after his accuser retracted the accusation, but Rolling Stone made a huge mistake running the story threatening not only their credibility, but giving fuel to MRAs salivating for some actual "proof" that women lie, en mass, about rape.