If prostitution is the world’s oldest profession, rape may well be the second oldest crime. But this ancient crime received, so to speak, a new lease on life about thirty-five years ago, when (as we learn from a scholarly paper written jointly by the “sexuality educator” Laurie Bechhofer and Professor Andrea Parrot of Cornell1) a sociologist at Purdue named Eugene Kanin “documented the existence of sexual aggression within courtship relationships. Of the women he sampled 30 percent had been victims of rape or attempted rape while on a date.”
To be sure, Bechhofer and Parrot do not believe that this was a brand-new phenomenon. As they see it, “Forced sex between acquaintances has probably occurred as long as people have been involved in relationships with each other.” This would seem to take us all the way to Adam and Eve, but Bechhofer and Parrot more modestly trace it only as far back as the rape of Tamar by her half-brother Amnon, the story of which in the biblical book of Samuel shows that its “dynamics . . . have not changed significantly over the past 2,000 years”2:
Amnon forced Tamar to have sex despite her wishes. He got her into his bed through manipulation and then rejected her after the rape. Tamar was emotionally distraught by the rape, yet others simply trivialized her feelings.
“Despite its long history,” however, it was not until Professor Kanin’s pioneering research that this particular form of rape was “reported in the scholarly literature.” Even then, according to the chronology supplied by Bechhofer and Parrot, another twenty-five years passed before it acquired a name. In September 1982, Karen Barett, a journalist, wrote an article for the feminist magazine Ms. in which (apparently ignorant of the book of Samuel) she drew attention to a “new and unusual” form of sexual aggression and called it “date rape.”3 The problem was that this name narrowed the field to couples actually going out together, and so a broader designation was needed to cover the many instances in which the aggressor was previously known to his victim but had not taken her to dinner or whatever. Out of this necessity the term “acquaintance rape” was born.
The “experts,” as they are always described in newspaper stories on the subject, persist in referring to acquaintance or date rape as a “hidden crime.” Well, hidden it may have been for several thousand years, but hidden it is no longer. In an amazingly short time, a vast literature has sprung up, much of it emanating from the women’s-studies departments now enshrined on almost every campus in the country, but more and more of it also appearing in popular magazines and daily newspapers. Inevitably Oprah and Geraldo have also chimed in, and by now there can hardly be anyone left in America who has not been alerted to the existence of a problem which, though supposedly coterminous with the human race itself, and though now said by the feminist journalist Robin Warshaw to be “more common than left-handedness or heart attacks, or alcoholism,”4 was not even recognized as a problem until practically the day before yesterday.
It is reasonable to ask why such recognition should have been delayed until our own time. After all, rape is not only among the oldest of recorded crimes; as Susan Brown-miller, the Founding Mother of the antirape movement, documents in detail in Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape,5 it has also and always inspired horror and been punished with the greatest ferocity.
For example, in the 10th century, during the reign of the Saxon king Athelstan, a rapist not only incurred “the loss of his life and members,” as well as his property; it was even decreed that his horse be “put to shame upon its scrotum and tail.” In the 13th century, the sentence was reduced to castration and blinding, under the following rationale:
Let him lose his eyes which gave him sight of the virgin’s beauty for which he coveted her. And let him lose as well the testicles which excited his hot lust.
Brownmiller is careful to emphasize that such gruesome punishments were restricted to rapists of virgins. Yet she acknowledges that commentators also spoke at the time of “severe” punishment for rapists of “matrons, nuns, widows, concubines, and even prostitutes.” Furthermore, she herself hails as a great advance a late-13th-century English statute decreeing the death penalty for the rapist of “a married woman, dame or damsel.” And she notes that the maximum penalty for rape is still life imprisonment.6
It is essential to Brownmiller’s polemical purposes, and commanded by her quasi-Marxist ideology, that she attribute the seriousness with which rape has always been taken to the basest economic motive (males protecting their property). Nevertheless, the fact remains that the world did not need to wait upon the publication of her book or the birth of the modern feminist movement before learning to regard rape as a heinous crime. Nor, as the story of Tamar does indeed reveal, was the world oblivious to the possibility that rape could occur between acquaintances. Yet neither the Bible nor any other source found it necessary to distinguish between what today’s “experts” designate as “stranger rape” on the one hand and “date rape” or “acquaintance rape” on the other. The rape of Tamar by Amnon is no different in the eyes of the Bible from the rape of Dinah by Shechem, since in both instances the key element of physical force is present. And far from “trivializing” the episode, as Bechhofer and Parrot puzzlingly allege, the father of Tamar and Amnon, King David, is “very wroth,” and her other brother Absalom is so distraught that he avenges her by contriving to have Amnon killed.
But if everyone has always understood that it was rape when a man used a weapon and/or physical violence or the threat of it to force a woman into sex, whether she had met him previously or not—and let me state here for the record that I myself consider life imprisonment none too harsh a penalty for any such man—why introduce the new category of date or acquaintance rape? The answer is that this is a way of applying the word “rape” to a multitude of situations in which, as Bechhofer and Parrot (and all other “experts”) freely admit, “Assailants are more likely to use verbal or psychological coercion to overpower their victims than guns or knives.”
Now, if we pause for a moment and remind ourselves that overcoming a woman’s resistance by “verbal and psychological” means has in the past been universally known as seduction, it will immediately become clear that we are in the presence here of nothing less than a brazen campaign to redefine seduction as a form of rape, and more slyly to identify practically all men as rapists. “Acquaintance-rape educator” Py Bateman, who once edited the Journal of Sexual Assault and Coercion, more or less lets the cat out of the bag when she declares:
Rape is not some form of psychopathology that afflicts a very small number of men. In fact, rape is not that different from what we see as socially acceptable or socially laudable male behavior.
(Incidentally, the “we” who see rape as “socially laudable” are especially prevalent, it seems, in America: “. . . every man who grows up in America and learns American English learns all too much to think like a rapist. . . .”7)
It is no wonder that the “experts,” armed with the new category of “non-violent sexual coercion,”8 are able to estimate that at least one out of four, and as many as one out of three, young American women are victims of rape or attempted rape by a date or acquaintance.9 The only wonder is that they come up with so low an estimate. Why not 100 percent?
And indeed there are feminists who do not shrink even from that. Brownmiller is sometimes seen as one of these, but she is not quite of their company. True, she walks up to the edge in the most famous sentence of her book—“[Rape] is nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear” (the italics are definitely her own). But she also denies believing that heterosexual coupling is itself a species of rape. And she even gives her endorsement (albeit, one might say, against her will) to this form of intercourse:
Anatomically one might want to improve on the design of nature, but such speculation appears to my mind as unrealistic. The human sex act accomplishes its historic [sic!] purpose of generation of the species and it also affords some intimacy and pleasure. I have no basic quarrel with the procedure.
The radical feminist critic Andrea Dworkin, on the other hand, does, to put it mildly, have a basic quarrel with the procedure. In her book Intercourse (1987),10 she denounces the “simple-minded prosex chauvinism of Right and Left,” and in effect extends Brownmiller’s definition of rape to the sex act itself:
Without being what the society recognizes as rape, [intercourse] is what the society—when pushed to admit it—recognizes as dominance.
One of Dworkin’s favorite metaphors for sex is “wartime invasion and occupation,” and she describes it as
evil up against the skin—at the point of entry, just touching the slit; then it breaks in and at the same time it surrounds everything. . . .
In this nightmare inversion of D.H. Lawrence, even the element of coercion is irrelevant; the woman’s consent only makes her a “collaborator” with her “rapist”:
Physically, the woman in intercourse is a space inhabited, a literal territory occupied literally: occupied even if there has been no resistance, no force; even if the occupied person said yes please, yes hurry, yes more.
But Dworkin, believe it or not, goes even further:
. . . occupied women [are] more base in their collaboration than other collaborators have ever been: experiencing pleasure in their own inferiority, calling intercourse freedom. It is a tragedy beyond the power of language to convey when what has been imposed on women by force becomes a standard of freedom for women: and all the women say it is so.
At one point, Dworkin (in one of her gentler characterizations) describes intercourse as “the pure, sterile, formal expression of men’s contempt for women.” But however great men’s contempt for women may be, it could hardly match the contempt for women exemplified in the above quotations and pervading the literature which has been spawned by the antirape subdivision of the contemporary feminist movement.
To read this stuff—not just outspoken radicals like Dworkin herself but mainstream academics like Andrea Parrot, who teaches not only at Cornell but also at SUNY,11 and liberal journalists like Robin Warshaw—is to be presented with a picture of women as timorous, cowering, helpless creatures who are at the mercy of any male they may be unfortunate enough to run into. Those young women who still feel no fear upon meeting the boy next door are portrayed as naive and are sternly (but compassionately) lectured on their need to recognize that this clean-cut fellow, or any other “regular guy,” is far more likely to rape them than (in Warshaw’s words) the stereotypical “stranger (usually a black, Hispanic, or other minority) jumping out of the bushes . . . brandishing a weapon. . . .”
The women we meet here often blithely accompany their dates or acquaintances into empty houses or apartments, proceed to engage in “certain behavior, like kissing or heavy petting,” and are then shocked—shocked!—to discover “men assuming that [this] behavior . . . is an automatic precursor to intercourse.”12
So widespread among the male sex is this outlandish “behavioral assumption” that a girl cannot even sleep in the same bed with a man without being pressured to go all the way. Here—direct from the pages of Robin Warshaw’s I Never Called It Rape—is Carol, age 18, who attends a fraternity party with “some nice boy from the next suburb,” where she does a little drinking. The next thing she knows,
We went back to the guys’ apartment and my friend Terri went too. It never occurred to me that anything was going to be going on. We were just going to be sleeping there.
But as Warshaw, in reporting on this case, comments ominously,
just sleeping together is not what Carol’s date had in mind. After they got into bed, he started kissing her, then escalated his sexual attention. Despite her repeated “No, no, no” and her physically pushing him away, he used the advantage of his six-foot-three body to overpower her five-foot frame.
Carol, incorrigibly innocent to the end, did not realize she had been raped. But thanks to the antirape movement, she realizes it now.
Thanks to the movement too, she also realizes that she bears no responsibility whatever for what happened to her. For from earliest childhood, writes Warshaw, Carol, like all girls, had been “taught directly and indirectly (by parents, teachers, playmates, and pop-culture role models) to be passive, weak, and opinionless.” Even after she became a young adult, she was “expected to be fearful and inhibited” and was not “encouraged to develop independence and self-reliance.” (This, in 1988!) Now, having had her consciousness raised by what is perhaps the most important precept of the movement, she understands that in no way and under no circumstances does any blame attach to the victim of a rape. According to an exquisitely delicate formulation of this precept, “It’s his penis, and only he is responsible for where he puts it.”
Admittedly, Carol might have been more careful, and from now on, some other, more fortunate, Carol, tutored by such books as Andrea Parrot’s Coping with Date Rape & Acquaintance Rape, will adopt certain “strategies” the “experts” have developed to lessen the risk of being raped. She will try to “feel good” about herself, perhaps by getting professional counseling. She will lay off alcohol and drugs. She will even avoid “being isolated with a man.” If by some unhappy chance, however, she should find herself alone with one of these brutes, she will send him a “clear message” both in words and in “body language.” For instance, she might announce, “I don’t go to bed on the first date,” or “I want to wait until marriage.” Also, she will not make the mistake of letting him unbutton her blouse while telling him that she just wants to be friends. If (or rather when) he refuses to get the message and forges ahead anyway, she will yell something like, “I don’t want to have sex with you; if you force me, it is rape.” In the, alas, almost inevitable event that even this fails to scare him off, she will (having already taken a self-defense course and done a lot of practicing) go after “the vulnerable target areas on [his] body (such as eyes, knees, ribs, neck, nose, instep)” with her most “effective weapons (such as fists, feet, elbows, head).”
“Sexual intercourse began/ In nineteen sixty-three/ (Which was rather late for me)—/ Between the end of the Chatterley ban/ And the Beatles’ first LP.” For any man old enough to know at first hand what those famous lines by Philip Larkin mean (and, I suspect, even for many younger men who grew up under the auspices of the sexual revolution of the 60’s), reading the literature on acquaintance and date rape is bound to be a bewildering experience.
There is, for one thing, that endless parade of helpless and stupid females who pass through this literature. Where, the male reader is likely to wonder, have such females been hiding all his life, and what has become of all the others—those swaggeringly self-assured women flaunting their sexual allure—he sees everywhere he goes? If these women are terrified of men, they give off not the slightest whiff of it. On the contrary, what they communicate, in their dress, in their bearing, in their carriage, is a serene confidence in the great power they have over men. And as almost any male reader can confirm, it is a confidence to which they are richly entitled. “Where do they all come from? What do they want from me?” cries a middle-aged character in a Paul Mazursky movie as he sits ogling this parade from the table of an outdoor café in Los Angeles.
But if middle-aged men still feel this way, it is at least not as bad for them as it is for the adolescent male. An adolescent male is typically a creature in a state of perpetual sexual anguish. The sight of just about any girl at any time in any place can plunge him into a fever of lust, and what makes his plight even more maddening is the unfairness of it all. He may be in a state of endless turmoil over sex, but girls, the same girls who do this to him just by being there, seem able to take or leave sex at will. Though their very existence is a provocation even when they are not (or are they?) deliberately taunting and teasing him, neither he nor any other boy seems to have a comparable power over them. For them it is evidently as easy to say no to sex as it is impossible for him. From which he learns very early on that his only hope of ever breaking through this incomprehensible indifference is by not taking their no for an answer at any stage in the process of courtship—which, as he also learns very early on, is precisely what some (and probably most) of them want him to do.
Realities like these are not entirely absent from the literature on acquaintance rape, but they are presented in terms that are again bound to bewilder any normal male reader. According to Robin Warshaw, expressing the movement’s party line on this matter, the whole thing is a “myth,” a “dogma of what . . it means to be male” into which boys are “indoctrinated” by “fathers, uncles, grandfathers, coaches, youth group leaders, friends, fraternity brothers, even pop stars.” This, it appears, and not their bitter experience with girls, is why they come to “view their relationships with women as adversarial challenges,” and why they end up believing
that they must initiate sexual activity, that they may meet with reluctance from girls, but if they just persist, cajole, and refuse to let up, that ultimately they will get what they want.
So far as the feminist movement is concerned, any man who acts on this “myth” is on the road to becoming a rapist, if indeed he is not already there. For in the movement’s eyes a woman’s no always means no, her maybe always means no, and even—I do not exaggerate—her yes often means no: “Many feminists,” writes Susan Estrich, late of the Dukakis campaign and now a professor at the Harvard Law School,13 “would argue that so long as women are powerless relative to men, viewing ‘yes’ as a sign of true consent is misguided.” Or, as Muehlenhard and Schrag explain it in “Non-Violent Sexual Coercion”:
There could be many reasons why a woman might not resist a man’s advances so that unwanted intercourse could occur without force. The woman may fear that resisting will make the man violent. She may be confused. Her socialization may make it difficult for her to resist.
Not only, then, is there never any justification for pressing ahead when the woman protests or resists, even mildly; if the “experts” get their way, any male who has intercourse with any female, including his wife or a girlfriend with whom he has been sleeping all along, without first practically getting a signed and notarized consent form to cover that particular episode, will wind up in jail.
What on earth is going on here? Why should the feminist movement be promulgating a conception of rape that comes so close to turning seduction, and even heterosexual intercourse in itself, into a criminal act?
One possible explanation is that the influence of lesbian and other man-hating elements within the movement has grown so powerful as to have swept all before it. No doubt lesbians are only a small minority among feminists, but like other radicals in other political movements they tend to be more passionate, more energetic, and more ideologically coherent than the moderates, whose waverings and ambiguous feelings make them easy to manipulate. Once the moderates have been subjected to “consciousness raising,” they begin to find more and more truth in the radical deconstruction or demystification.
Where sex is the issue, this takes the form of putting what is natural to male sexuality in the worst possible light. The ever restless masculine sex drive (so strange and frightening to so many young, and even not so young, women, ruled as they are by much more quiescent erotic impulses) gets to be seen as sheer aggression; its normally indiscriminate and promiscuous character (again very different from the much more focused erotic impulses natural to the female) becomes a deliberate insult to women; and the masculine need to conquer—a need obverse to and symbiotic with the natural motion of female sexuality from resistance to acquiescence—is interpreted as an expression of contempt for them.
To make things even easier for the lesbians and other man-haters, there was the sexual revolution of the 1960’s, which wound up giving women in general new reason to fear and resent men.
For men the sexual revolution meant that the war between the sexes had suddenly ended, and it had ended, moreover, on their terms. (Larkin: “Then all at once the quarrel sank:/ Everyone felt the same. . . .”) Now, mirabile dictu, sex could be had exactly as men had always dreamed: promiscuously and with no conditions attached. Of course the reality turned out to be rather different from the dream, and once the novelty of meeting little or no resistance had worn off, the kick began to go out of the entire experience. (One hopes that Larkin, who lived just long enough to see this happen, derived some consolation from it.)
But for women it was worse, much worse. To the degree that they embraced the sexual revolution as a new dawn of equality which (in what Larkin mordantly described as “A brilliant breaking of the bank,/ A quite unlosable game”) would make them as free as men had always been to jump happily into bed with anyone and everyone, they unilaterally disarmed themselves in the war between the sexes. No matter how ideologically committed they may have been to their new sexual freedom, and no matter how enthusiastic they may have thought they were about the abolition of the old double standard, it was soon borne in upon them that the game was not quite so unlosable as they had imagined, and that they were the losers. For the truth was that they did not feel the “same” as men, and there was no satisfaction to be had in striving to imitate the masculine sexual drive.
Nor, for all their emancipation from the puritanism of the past, did women who did this, or tried to do it, quite escape feeling cheap and even—though the word would never have been permitted to enter their minds—immoral. They also felt cheated and exploited and abused; and the fact that they themselves were the main authors of this predicament did not prevent them from blaming it on men.
About twenty years ago, Midge Decter14 interpreted the rise of the women’s liberation movement in the late 60’s as (among other things) a covert revulsion against the sexual revolution. Wanting to say no again but having signed on to an ideology that deprived them of any reason or right to say it, women were desperately looking for a way back that would not seem regressive or reactionary, and they hit upon it in a counterrevolution which posed as a new and higher stage of revolutionary development.
This new stage arose out of the announcement that the sexual revolution had been no revolution at all but rather another in the long history of male conspiracies to degrade and dominate women. From here it was but a short and easy step to the conclusion that sex itself—heterosexual sex, that is—was the mother (or rather the father) of all these conspiracies. For some women the solution was to shun men altogether in favor either of abstinence (the “new chastity”) or lesbianism. But this being too radical for most women, the movement adopted what appeared to be a more moderate objective: to work toward a wholesale change in the relation between the sexes.
As a delicious historical irony would have it, a prophet of the new sexual order envisaged by the movement was discovered in the formerly despised Victorian age in the person of one Victoria Woodhull, “the first publisher of the Communist Manifesto in the United States and the first woman stockbroker on Wall Street,” as Andrea Dworkin, her leading disciple, informs us. It was not, however, in these capacities that Woodhull commended herself to contemporary feminist attention. It was, rather, in her role as, in Dworkin’s words, “the greatest advocate of the female-first model of intercourse” (also known as the “female-supremacist model”). Woodhull insisted, Dworkin continues,
that women had a natural right—a right that inhered in the nature of intercourse itself—to be entirely self-determining, the controlling and dominating partner, the one whose desire determined the event, the one who both initiates and is the final authority on what the sex is and will be.
Thus, having been bruised and disillusioned by their effort to end the war of the sexes through unconditional (if inadvertent and unconscious) surrender to the masculine principle, women would now move in the opposite direction and demand (this time in full consciousness) that the war be ended through unconditional surrender to the feminine way. Women would now have (again Dworkin, paraphrasing Woodhull)
real and absolute control in each and every act of intercourse, which would be, each and every time, chosen by the woman.
It is here that we run smack into the main purpose of the campaign against date and acquaintance rape. To further the establishment of the new sexual dispensation, it becomes necessary to delegitimize any instance of heterosexual coupling that starts with male initiative and involves even the slightest degree of female resistance at any stage along the way. Hence almost the entire range of normal heterosexual intercourse must be stigmatized as criminal, and both women and men must be educated to recognize it as such. But to make sure that normal people are not put off by so weird a project, the new conception has to be framed in language that does not betray the antinomian radicalism behind it.
Here, then, is how Robin Warshaw translates the lunatic prescriptions of an antinomian radical like Dworkin into relatively bland “guidelines for change” that men are exhorted to follow if they are to avoid becoming rapists. Among these 11 guidelines are the following:
1. Never force a woman to have sex—even if she has “led” you on, even if she has slept with your friends, even if she at first said “yes” and then changed her mind before having sex, even if she had sex with you before. This includes all unwanted sexual contact—from kissing to “copping a feel.” . . . When partners’ desires conflict, the one who wants more activity has to yield to the one who wants less. . . .
2. Don’t pressure a woman to have sex. Men often see their verbal pressuring as being less forceful than women do. Even when the words you use are not threatening, the woman may feel that she is in danger. . . .
6. Do not confuse “scoring” with having a successful social encounter. . . . You can have intercourse with 100 women and still not know anything about good sex or what it means to be a “real” man. Ejaculating is no big deal; having a mutually agreed-upon and sustained relationship is. . . .
8. “No” means “no.” . . . When a woman says “no” that means “no.” Stop. . . . Do not try to cajole her or argue with her. . . . If you think she’s saying “no” to protect her “reputation” (even though you know she really wants to have sex with you), so what? When (and if) she’s ready to have sex with you, let it be her choice to make. If a woman says “no” and really means “yes, but you have to convince me,” then you don’t want to be with her anyway. . . . Just walk away.
Which is to say (because “You can’t fool Mother Nature”) that the date-rape campaign has a very hard row to hoe. As the “experts” themselves are only too aware, what they with their usual elegance call “rape-supportive” attitudes remain almost as stubbornly in place as ever. In fact, they estimate that a whopping 84 percent of the men who are guilty of raping a date or acquaintance according to the new definition (that is, men who do not physically harm their “victims” but only ignore their protests and press on) refuse to regard themselves as rapists. As Warshaw informs us, some of the same “hyper-masculine” or macho “male zealots” even
become oddly tender immediately afterward and try to dress the women or cover them. Some gallantly insist on walking or driving their victims home, telling the women that it’s dangerous for them to be out alone. Others profess love and talk about having an ongoing relationship. Another type kisses their victims good-bye and says they will call them again soon.
This is exactly what the “experts” would expect of the male sex after thousands of years of “socialization” by a “rape-supportive” culture. To their horror, however, women too are still resisting the new concept of rape.
Thus, in a paper for Acquaintance Rape: The Hidden Crime, two professors at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Jacqueline W. White and her collaborator (in both senses of the word), John A. Humphrey, are appalled to report that adolescent girls (including Los Angeles teenagers, “a group that might be expected to hold egalitarian sex-role values”) are still reluctant to attach the label rape to “nonconsensual sex” on a date unless a significant amount of force was used. Furthermore, a majority (56 percent) of girls (as compared with 76 percent of boys) believe that a boy has a right to ignore a girl’s protests under certain circumstances—when, for instance, she has gotten him sexually excited.
As for adult women, they are even more retrograde than the teenagers, to the point where “women jurors are often especially harsh” in cases of alleged acquaintance rape. To Pauline B. Bart, co-author (with Patricia H. O’Brien) of Stopping Rape: Successful Survival Strategies,15 this has nothing to do with understanding born of experience. It is all a matter of “denial”:
To live with the knowledge that not only are all women vulnerable to rape, but that frequently they are raped by men they know is difficult. If, however, women believe . . . that only bad women can be raped and only crazy men who are strangers are rapists, then they can feel safe.
The same mechanism of denial is hauled in to account for the fact that the vast majority (73 percent) of women who in feminist eyes have been “victims” of “rape” by a date or an acquaintance persist in refusing to call it rape on the ground that, while they offered resistance of one kind or another, they were neither threatened by nor subjected to real physical force. Robin Warshaw, as usual providing a convenient summary of the movement’s party line, is equally quick to dismiss as “typically self-blaming female explanations” such statements by these “victims” as “I must have misunderstood him,” “I didn’t make myself clear,” or “I’m wrong for feeling bad about this.” But neither the “rapists” nor their “victims” agree with the “experts.” The much-cited survey done for Ms. by Mary P. Koss even showed that somewhere in the neighborhood of half of the women who were considered victims of rape by the “experts” were willing to have sex again with the dates or acquaintances who had “assaulted” them.
Of course, these surveys were conducted before the date-rape campaign really got rolling, with all its attendant publicity and with all the workshops and seminars and other “acquaintance-rape awareness” educational programs now being set up in high schools and colleges (they are especially necessary, says Warshaw, “during the most dangerous period—from the first day of classes to Thanksgiving break”). It is therefore safe to predict that future studies will yield results more heavily influenced by the new conception of rape. A larger percentage of men, and an even greater percentage of women, subjected to all this brainwashing, will no doubt apply the term rape to situations in which minimal or no physical force was used, or in which the only “coercion” consisted (as Neil Gilbert succinctly describes it) of the
conventional script of nagging and pleading—“Everyone does it,” “If you really loved me, you’d do it,” “We did it last night,” “You will like it.” . . .
Yet if this will represent a triumph for the feminist movement, and most of all for its man-hating and lesbian sectors, it will only be another case of ashes in the mouth for the women to whom that movement, speaking in their name and presuming to act in their interest, has already done so much damage.
To the extent that men are bullied or persuaded into following, or at least trying to follow, the “guidelines” of the new sexual dispensation, the number of “wimps” about whom women have been complaining ever since women’s lib was born (though without ever seeing any connection between the two phenomena) will multiply apace. So—to the great joy of Andrea Dworkin and those “experts” like Muehlenhard and Schrag who believe that “discrimination against lesbians continues as a form of indirect sexual coercion,” and constitutes “one more source of pressure for women to be in sexual relationships with men”—will the incidence of male impotence. The search for husbands, already so difficult that hordes of young women have taken to advertising in the personals columns, will in consequence grow even more desperate, and the already familiar female refrain, “Why are all the men I meet either wimps or married or gay?” will swell into an even mightier chorus. And yet, nature still being stronger after all than its antinomian enemies, most young men and most young women will not be repelled or frightened off and will play their naturally ordained parts in the unending and inescapable war between the sexes, suffering the usual wounds, exulting in the usual victories, and even eventually arriving at that armistice known as marriage.
Even these lucky ones, however, will have a harder time of it because of the lethal new poison which has been sprayed by the anti-date-rape brigades onto the battlefield of the war between the sexes in general and the struggles of courtship in particular. As for the unlucky ones, those young men and young women who will be too impressionable or too frightened or too weak to hold out against the imperatives of the new sexual dispensation, they will have its feminist authors to thank for a life of loneliness, frustration, resentment, and sterility.
1 “What is Acquaintance Rape?,” in Acquaintance Rape: The Hidden Crime, edited by Andrea Parrot and Laurie Bechhofer, Wiley (1991), 401 pp., $39.95.
2 Actually it is about 3,000 years, but let that pass.
3 Actually the term “date rape” had already appeared in Susan Brownmiller's Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape, which was published in 1975, but let that pass, too.
4 Warshaw's book, based on a survey done in 1985 for Ms. by Professor Mary P. Koss, now of the University of Arizona, is entitled I Never Called It Rape: The Ms. Report on Recognizing, Fighting, and Surviving Date and Acquaintance Rape, Harper & Row (paperback, 1988), 229 pp., $8.95.
5 A paperback edition came out in 1976 (Bantam, 541 pp., $6.95).
6 As an interesting measure of how seriously rape is taken by men today, just this past summer two men who were in a Connecticut jail on a charge of having raped a 19-year-old woman and videotaped the proceedings, were beaten up by other inmates. This is the kind of thing that used to happen in prison only to child molesters. (To complicate matters, the woman later denied that she had been raped.)
7 This lulu (quoted by Warshaw) comes from a man, Timothy Beneke, author of Men on Rape, St. Martin's Press (1982), 174 pp., $5.95.
8 This phrase is the title of a paper by Professor Charlene L. Muehlenhard of the University of Kansas and one of her students, Jennifer L. Schrag, which is included in Acquaintance Rape: The Hidden Crime.
9 Professor Neil Gilbert of Berkeley—using the FBI's definitions of rape and attempted rape, and basing himself on the FBI and Bureau of Justice Statistics data—shows in an excellent piece in the Spring 1991 issue of the Public Interest that the actual figure for rape and attempted rape of young women by dates and acquaintances is a tiny fraction of the figures thrown around by the “experts,” and has moreover been declining since 1980.
10 A paperback edition was published in 1988 by the Free Press, 257 pp., $10.95.
11 In addition to editing the weighty academic tome Acquaintance Rape: The Hidden Crime, she is the author of a popular handbook aimed mainly at teenagers, Coping with Date Rape & Acquaintance Rape, Rosen (1988), 134 pp., $12.95.
12 New York Times, January 2, 1991.
13 Real Rape: How the Legal System Victimizes Women Who Say No, Harvard University Press (1987), 160 pp., $15.95. (Quoted by Gilbert.)
14 In The New Chastity and Other Arguments Against Women's Liberation, Coward, McCann & Geoghegan (1972), 188 pp., $5.95.
15 Pergamon Press (1985), 216 pp., $27.50. (Quoted by Warshaw.)