Sunday, June 02, 2013

Rape deniers admiration society

There are few public intellectuals who are more absurd than Katie Roiphe, who made a name for herself by sucking up to the male media and literary establishment as their go-to female feminist-basher. Or as Alex Pareen so perfectly says in his Salon Hack List 2011:
Katie Roiphe discovered long ago that the secret to perpetual employment in the world of ideas is to be a vocal dissenter from the perceived stogy liberalism of your non-white male demographic group. Thus, the success of the Black Republican Pundit and the anti-feminist woman author. No editor ever got fired for printing a “provocative” piece in which a woman — a woman! — trashes feminists.
One of Roiphe's most grotesque attempts to avoid unemployment was to deny rape, especially date rape. Although one good thing came out of it - Katha Pollitt wrote one of her best pieces, a superb take-down of Roiphe in The Nation called "Not Just Bad Sex."
...Be that as it may, what happens to Koss's figures if the alcohol question is dropped? The number of college women who have been victims of rape or attempted rape drops from one in four to one in five. 
ONE in five, one in eight- what if it's "only" one in ten or twelve? Social science isn't physics. Exact numbers are important, and elusive, but surely what is significant here is that lots of different studies, with different agendas, sample populations, and methods, tend in the same direction. Rather than grapple with these inconvenient data, Roiphe retreats to her own impressions: 
"If I was really standing in the middle of an epidemic, a crisis, if 25 per cent of my female friends were really being raped, wouldn't I know about it?"  
(Roiphe forgets that the one-in-four figure includes attempts, but let that pass.)  
As an experiment, I applied Roiphe's anecdotal method myself, and wrote down that I know about my own circle of acquaintance: eight rapes by strangers, (including one on a college campus), two sexual assaults (one Central Park, one Prospect Park), one abduction (woman walking down street forced into car full of men), one date rape involving a Mickey Finn, which resulted n pregnancy and abortion, and two stalking (one ex-lover, one deranged fan); plus one brutal beating by a boyfriend, three incidents of childhood incest (none involving therapist-aided "recovered memories"), and one bizarre incident in which a friend went to a man's apartment after meeting him at a park and was forced by him to spend the night under the shower, naked, which he debated whether to kill her, rape her, or let her go. The most interesting think about this tally, however, is that when I mentioned it to a friend he was astonished - he himself know of only one rape victim in his circle, he said - but he knows several of the women on my list. 
It may be that Roiphe's friends have nothing to tell her. Or it may be that they have nothing to tell her. With her adolescent certainty that bad things don't happen, or that they happen only to weaklings, she is not likely to be on the receiving end of many painful, intimate confessions. The one time a fellow student tells her about being raped (at knifepoint, so it counts), Roiphe cringes like a high-school vegetarian dissecting her first frog: 
"I was startled... I felt terrible for her, I felt like there was
nothing I could say." 
Confronted with someone whose testimony she can't dismiss or satirize, Roiphe goes blank...
The New York Times T Magazine editor knew that in order to find someone to write a glowing hagiography of Bernard-Henri Levy of course they could count on patriarchy's staunchest defender, Katie Roiphe, to do the job right. Just how glowing is this piece? Hysterically so:
One imagines that the scuffle Lévy describes between art and philosophy over the centuries is taking place in some tiny way in the making of the films. Here is Bernard-Henri Lévy in all of his magnificence coming into studios and handing artists texts to read that he thinks are relevant to their work. Do they agree? Do they have their own ideas of what they want to read? Does this bother Lévy, who is, for a writer or intellectual, used to a fairly high level of power in the outside world? He says it does not bother him at all. He says the collaboration is part of the “Borgesian fiction” of the experience. He also says, “Sometimes there is quite the discussion.”
Who is Bernard-Henri Levi, in all his magnificence? Well conveniently that very same Hacks of 2011 article by Pareen also includes Levi:
As if being pompous, self-serious, self-important and lazy weren’t enough, he’s also the public face of not one but two campaigns dedicated to defending powerful men against rape accusations. He organized a petition decrying Roman Polanski’s extradition to the United States to face prison for jumping bail after being convicted of raping a child years ago. Polanski didn’t deserve to go to jail, according to BHL, because he is a very good filmmaker. 
Then BHL’s dear friend Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested for raping a hotel maid, and BHL wrote a truly astounding column defending his friend by attacking the victim and decrying the American justice system for not providing adequate special treatment to a man as rarefied and well-respected as Strauss-Kahn. 
“What I do know is that nothing in the world can justify a man being thus thrown to the dogs,” BHL said of the totally standard treatment of Strauss-Kahn following his arrest for rape. 
After the charges against Strauss-Kahn were dropped due to unknown inconsistencies in the accuser’s story, BHL declared victory and claimed that Strauss-Kahn was the victim of “torture” due to his class, and his being French.
I must state, to be clear, that I don’t think it has much to do with this worldwide religion and delirium that is anti-Semitism. But what I do believe is that this is the appearance of a new variation on Maurice Barrès’s phrase that has become, “That X—in this case Dominique Strauss-Kahn—is guilty, I deduce not from his race, but from his class.” 
Hm, yes, Americans, always throwing rich powerful white men in jail. Our rich white male prison population is truly our national disgrace.
So of course it's only natural that two such egregious hacks should find common cause in publicizing the magnificence of Bernard-Henri Levi. I guess rape deniers need to band together for moral support.