Owen Lloyd: Steven Pinker and the Depoliticization of Rape

By Owen Lloyd / Deep Green Resistance News Service

Trigger warning: This essay includes detailed accounts of sexual violence and may be triggering to some readers.

There has been a lot of talk recently about rape culture. In the aftermath of the Steubenville rape case, reporters used flowery language to describe the malicious victimizers of a sixteen year old girl. Immediately after their conviction, CNN’s Poppy Harlow described them as “two young men that had such promising futures, star football players, very good students.” [1] NBC’s Ron Allen lamented that their entitlements to “promising football careers” and “dreams of college” could be jeopardized by their short sentence to juvenile corrections and placement on a sex offender registry. [2]

By contrast, mainstream coverage of the woman who was raped has been almost universally hostile. The Associated Press referred to her simply as “a drunken 16-year-old girl,” [3] dismissing testimony that she had been drugged, and placing the responsibility for the rape on the victim. On social media, many people echoed this victim-blaming approach, making comments such as “not saying she asked for it but why did you consume so much alcohol in the first place?” and “I guess the lesson she should learn is do not get so drunk where you have no control of yourself.” [4] Numerous networks including CNN, MSNBC, and FOX also publicly aired the name of the victim, setting her up for reprisal. [5]

This widespread humanization of the victimizers, and dehumanization of the victims, provides a powerful support network for men who rape, and threatens those who seek justice for the abuses they have suffered.

Corporate journalists have not been the only professionals to come to the defense of rapists, however. Pop psychologist and best-selling author Steven Pinker has long been on a scientific crusade to depoliticize and naturalize rape. In his book The Blank Slate, he writes:

I believe that the rape-is-not-about-sex doctrine will go down in history as an example of extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds. It is preposterous on the face of it, does not deserve its sanctity, is contradicted by a mass of evidence, and is getting in the way of the only morally relevant goal surrounding rape, the effort to stamp it out. [6]

Does Dr. Pinker believe that when Pinochet’s police trained dogs to rape women, this was primarily about sex? [7]

When hundreds of thousands of women in Bangladesh were “tied to trees and gang raped, breasts hacked off, dumped in mass graves, [and] held in Pakistani rape camps,” was this primarily for sex? [8]

When Roy Norris and Lawrence Bittaker raped and mutilated an adolescent girl “with a pair of locking pliers, hit her with a sledgehammer, and jabbed her ear with an ice pick,” recording the whole scene on audiotape, was this primarily about sex? [9]

When a journalist friend of mine received rape and death threats from “men’s rights activists” for publishing a story about male privilege, did they do this because they wanted sex?

When the nun Dianna Ortiz was kidnapped by Guatemalan police, who then raped her, burned her more than 111 times with cigarettes, and lowered her into a pit, filled with rats and the bodies of children, women, and men, some of them decapitated, some of them alive, and forced her to thrust a machete into a woman, was this mostly about sexual access? [10]

It seems to me that if rape is primarily about sex, then the purpose of sex for men is to violate, humiliate, intimidate, shame, silence, and express hatred for women, rather than to unite in love and affection for another human being. Moreover, it would seem that men have sex with women for the same reasons they rape them: to feel the sadistic pleasure of dominating another human being, and ritually bulwark the system of male supremacy. And I would not disagree if he had said this. For men in the dominant culture, this violation imperative is our political mandate. However, Pinker doesn’t equate rape with sex to politicize sex; instead, he does this to frame rape as apolitical. And beyond apolitical, biologically normal and neutral:

First obvious fact: Men often want to have sex with women who don’t want to have sex with them. They use every tactic that one human being uses to affect the behavior of another: wooing, seducing, flattering, deceiving, sulking, and paying. Second obvious fact: Some men use violence to get what they want, indifferent to the suffering they cause. Men have been known to kidnap children for ransom (sometimes sending their parents an ear or finger to show they mean business), blind the victim of a mugging so the victim can’t identify them in court, shoot out the kneecaps of an associate as punishment for ratting to the police or invading their territory, and kill a stranger for his brand-name athletic footwear. It would be an extraordinary fact, contradicting everything else we know about people, if some men didn’t use violence to get sex. [6]

This is, of course, a tautological argument. He states “obvious facts” about men that are obvious to us because we live in a particularly violent rape culture, and then uses these as evidence that rape is natural. However, we should recognize that rape culture is by no means a universal condition among human beings. In an exhaustive study of 102 cultures by anthropologist Peggy Reeves Sanday, she found that people in 49 (48%) of these cultures did not practice rape or wife-raiding. [11]

Furthermore, he naturalizes men’s objectification of women:

Rape is not exactly a normal part of male sexuality, but it is made possible by the fact that male desire can be indiscriminate in its choice of a sexual partner and indifferent to the partner’s inner life– indeed, ‘object’ can be a more fitting term than ‘partner’. [6]

In another book, The Better Angels of Our Nature, he adds:

The difference in the sexes’ conception of sex translates into a difference in how they perceive the harm of sexual aggression. A survey by the psychologist David Buss shows that men underestimate how upsetting sexual aggression is to a female victim, while women overestimate how upsetting sexual aggression is to a male victim. The sexual abyss offers a complementary explanation of the callous treatment of rape victims in traditional legal and moral codes. It may come from more than the ruthless exercise of power by males over females; it may also come from a parochial inability of men to conceive of a mind unlike theirs, a mind that finds the project of abrupt, unsolicited sex with a stranger to be repugnant rather than appealing. [12]

So let’s put this all together: according to Pinker, men “obviously” like to rape women, and have no serious qualms about using torture and violence to do so. Men are totally “indifferent” to what women feel, think, experience, or say, and rather see them as objects for sexual gratification. Psychological studies (conducted on men socialized into a rape culture) have shown that men have a poor capacity to feel or understand what torture feels like to a woman. And unlike women, men naturally find “abrupt, unsolicited sex” (Pinker’s euphemism for rape)  “appealing” rather than abhorrent.

If anyone has ever bashed men more thoroughly than this, I have never heard of it. Given this portrait, one might think that Pinker would advocate drastic measures to keep men under control: mandatory castration, perhaps, or keeping men under permanent house arrest. But the reality is not that he has taken this extreme stance to vilify men. Rather, he took this stance to silence feminists who, in the words of Andrea Dworkin, “believe in [men’s] humanity, against all evidence.” [13] Whereas if men are irredeemable as human beings as Pinker suggests, then our behavior as men is conveniently off the hook.

The psychologist Diana E.H. Russell wrote about this sleight of hand in her book The Politics of Rape:

If it is seen as in men’s nature to rape, then it becomes too easily the female’s responsibility not to give them the opportunity. And then the only control the woman has over what happens to her is to stop taking risks. [14]

If rape is determined by biology rather than political structures, then feminists are unfairly criticizing men for acting like the natural rapists that they are. Thus, Pinker claims that the feminist analysis of rape “slander[s] all men as beneficiaries of the rape of the women they love” and “elevate[s] rapists to altruistic troopers for a higher cause”.

First of all, I find it absurd that he can suggest I am a natural sadist, that I can’t help but treat my partner as an object, that I’m incapable of feeling empathy for women, and that I find the idea of rape appealing rather than repugnant, and then go on to accuse feminists of slandering me. Beyond that he willfully misunderstands the point feminists are making, which is that men as a class benefit from the rape of women as a class, not that men as individuals benefit from every individual rape. The second statement is equally insensible, framed as if supporting a rape culture is an act of “altruism” and male supremacy is “a higher cause”.

So why, according to Pinker, do feminists believe that rape is largely about power?

[I]f I may be permitted an ad feminam suggestion, the theory that rape has nothing to do with sex may be more plausible to a gender to whom a desire for impersonal sex with an unwilling stranger is too bizarre to contemplate. [12]

So there it is. Women find rape “too bizarre to contemplate”. They’re simply too prudish to understand how “appealing” rape is. In other words men, with their rapist-eye point of view, are the only ones capable of examining rape honestly and objectively.

Pinker also advocates depoliticizing rape crisis programs:

When [far right commentator Heather] MacDonald asked the associate director of an Office of Sexual Assault Prevention at a major university whether they encouraged students to exercise good judgment with guidelines like ‘Don’t get drunk, don’t get into bed with a guy, and don’t take off your clothes or allow them to be removed,’ she replied, ‘I am uncomfortable with the idea. This indicates that if [female students] are raped it could be their fault– it is never their fault– and how one dresses does not invite rape or violence… I would never allow my staff or myself to send the message it is the victim’s fault due to their dress or lack of restraint in any way.’

Fortunately, the students whom MacDonald interviewed did not let this sexual correctness get in the way of their own common sense. [12]

This victim-blaming approach suggests that if a woman gets drunk and is raped as a result, she failed to exercise “good judgment” and is responsible for what happened to her. In other words, women should give up trying to wipe out rape culture and learn to adapt to it instead. Had Pinker been alive 100 years ago, perhaps he would have advocated “good judgment” lynching prevention guidelines for black people: “Always call whites ‘sir’ or ‘madam’. Don’t make eye contact with white women. Don’t whistle under any circumstances. Don’t go where you aren’t supposed to. And always remember that lynching isn’t about propping up white supremacy; white people simply have a biological urge to engage in violent mob murder from time to time. It is your responsibility to adapt to it.”

Having spent so much time writing about the motivations for rape, Pinker finally just dismisses the subject entirely: “The ultimate motives of the rapist are irrelevant.” [6] In other words, we should deal with rape as a problem located in individual men affecting individual women, rather than as a full-scale war being waged by men as a class upon women as a class. Such an approach is to say, in effect, that rape culture is here to stay, and we should just accept it. I will not.

[1] http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1303/17/rs.01.html
[2] http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nightly-news/51218926/#51218926
[3] http://www.nhregister.com/articles/2013/03/17/news/doc5145de1d9ab64812519831.txt
[4] http://publicshaming.tumblr.com/post/45608534736/the-news-out-of-steubenville-today-is-a-small
[5] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/18/fox-news-steubenville-rape-victim_n_2901635.html?ir=Media
[6] The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, by Steven Pinker
[7] Voices of Resistance: Testimony of Cuban and Chilean Women, edited by Judy Maloof
[8] http://www.forbes.com/sites/worldviews/2012/05/21/1971-rapes-bangladesh-cannot-hide-history/
[9] Jane Caputi and Diana E. H. Russell, “Femicide: Sexist Terrorism against Women” in Femicide: The Politics of Woman Killing, edited by Jill Radford and Diana E. H. Russell
[10] State Terrorism and the United States, by Frederick H. Gareau
[11] Female Power and Male Dominance, by Peggy Reeves Sanday
[12] The Better Angels of our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, by Steven Pinker
[13] http://www.nostatusquo.com/ACLU/dworkin/WarZoneChaptIIIE.html
[14] The Politics of Rape: The Victim’s Perspective, by Diana E. H. Russell


24 Responses to “Owen Lloyd: Steven Pinker and the Depoliticization of Rape”

  1. March 19, 2013 at 8:12 pm #

    Amazingly written Owen. And thank you for the triggerwarning in the beginning.

  2. mnm
    March 20, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

    I think you’re being unfair to Pinker here. He never said that all men are violent rapists. You are not a “natural sadist” according to any of his books, and it’s a distortion to infer otherwise.

    Pinker also never said that feminists are “unfairly criticizing” rapists because rape is biological. See any of the many things he’s written on the naturalistic fallacy: to suggest something may be evolved is not the same as codoning it. This is something he’s stressed again and again, but that you chose to ignore for the purposes of your argument.

    Your rape anecdotes are horrifying but can’t refute the claim that the violation, humiliation, etc. are byproducts of a violent desire for sex, and not ends in themselves. I personally don’t see why it matters whether it’s about sex or power. Rape is bad either way.

    We’d all rather have zero rapists. But until then, is it not an eminently good idea to caution college students against getting extremely drunk? It’s absurd that out of all the ways we can attack rape culture, you choose the one that must simultaneously encourage women to care less about their safety.

    Let’s have a more reasoned approach. Whatever you believe about rape culture, drunkenness increases the probability of sexual assault. To censor that fact is probably dangerous.

    • curiouserandcuriouser
      March 22, 2013 at 7:57 pm #

      Thank you. I was going to say the exact same thing.

    • May 1, 2013 at 4:32 pm #

      Quite. In fact Pinker says that even if men are especially prone to rape, that’s an argument that you need a stronger deterrent, i.e. harsher penalties.

      I do think Pinker’s ideas of “precautions” could shade into victim-blaming (though he himself blames those who fail to give the precautions). I know of no evidence that a woman’s state of dress influences her likelihood of being raped. Alcohol on the other hand is a known risk factor. Still, I wouldn’t be comfortable about cautioning women not to get drunk or not to relax too much around male strangers. If I walk barefoot on the beach, and step on broken glass, then technically my choice not to wear shoes is one of the causes of my injury, but that doesn’t make it reasonable to recommend that no-one take their shoes off on the beach. What you do is, you go after people who break glass in public spaces.

      I think Pinker is right, however, about the motivations of most rapists — obviously rape can be used as a weapon for revenge or dominance, and presumably some rapists are sadists who actively get off on causing pain and humiliation; but most rapes are predatory, in that the rapist completely objectifies the victim. She is, in his mind, merely a necessary piece of equipment to achieve the sensations he wants to enjoy. In most cases, he’s not trying to assert dominance — as far as he’s concerned, dominance has already been established. I’m saying “he” and “she” because most rapes are gendered that way, and very often rapists are men who believe reflexively that men are naturally superior to women.

      And I think this distinction matters politically. If rape was mostly about asserting dominance, then fighting for equality would be a bad idea, because it would threaten men’s dominance and so provoke them to rape. I haven’t seen anybody actually argue this, but I have seen claims that feminism is hurting men’s self-esteem, and this would be a natural extension of that argument. On the other hand, if (as Pinker would claim) rape is about exploiting other people on the assumption that dominance is already established — especially, that dominance is established by gender — then challenging that assumption, i.e. fighting for equality, becomes a winning strategy.

      • May 1, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

        Excellent comment, Daniel. I’ve noticed when facing down men who assume dominance, they aren’t necessarily angry, or primarily angry. It confuses them, it confounds their expectations. While they may work out ways to go after the woman after the fact (often via slander) there is an element of slight astonishment in the initial reaction.

  3. jjice
    March 20, 2013 at 5:32 pm #

    Shorter mnm, “Men don’t rape women, alcohol rapes women.”

    • mnm
      March 20, 2013 at 6:36 pm #

      Haha no! That’s not a shorter version of what I said! You guys are so mean when you paraphrase. An actual argument would be great.

      I don’t blame rape victims any more than I blame a pedestrian who got hit by a car that ran a red light. The pedestrian could have looked left, right, and left, or worn reflectors, or any number of things. But the car ran a red light and is entirely at fault. Unfortunately, I can’t snap my fingers and get rid of all light-running cars on the road, so as part of my program to end pedestrian deaths, I’ll discuss the values of being extra vigilant when crossing the street.

      This isn’t meant to condone red-light-running or cast it as a natural tendency of vehicles. It’s just meant to lives.

      • March 20, 2013 at 9:07 pm #

        It’s still not a perfect analogy, because one can assume that a car running the red light still hit the pedestrian carelessly or accidentally, even if the driver was still being willfully dangerous and disregarding the laws of the road and safety. To be a better analogy, the driver of the car running the red light would need to be deliberately trying to run down a pedestrian; in which case, what amount of looking both ways and wearing reflective tape is really going to stop them?

        Men do not rape by accident or carelessness. They decide on a target, ignore their personhood, and then rape that victim. It’s not like they were being publicly indecent (running red lights) and then accidentally fell crotch-first into another person’s body.

  4. mnm
    March 21, 2013 at 5:38 am #

    Fair point. Of course I agree that men don’t rape by accident or carelessness. But I do think that in some at least cases it’s a crime of opportunity.

    This article provides precautions for avoiding assault even in the most extreme instances of targeting: http://www.cosmopolitan.com/advice/tips/how-serial-rapists-target-victims-4.

    I can’t speak to their effectiveness, but it shouldn’t be controversial to say there are things one can do to reduce the probability of being raped (or mugged or hit by a car) because, after all, you can just lock yourself up in your house all day, or, as the cosmo article suggests “vary the path you take to and from work.”

    These are extreme and distressing suggestions! But they probably do reduce the chances of something bad happening. No one is at fault for not following them, but reminders that drunkenness is dangerous strike me as only a good thing.

    Suggesting that drunkenness is dangerous, or giving any of those draconian tips from the cosmo article, or telling people to look both ways before crossing the street, does not exculpate perpetrators.

  5. March 21, 2013 at 6:10 am #

    Steven Pinker does seriously not seem to understand the culture in which he is raised and lives in.
    And that he seems ot be a good friend with Dawkins, the man that belives in selfish genes doesn’t make the situation better.

    • curiouserandcuriouser
      March 22, 2013 at 8:00 pm #

      What’s wrong with Dawkins’ selfish gene idea? I didn’t read all of the book but the idea itself makes plenty of sense.

  6. Lilly
    March 21, 2013 at 6:36 am #

    @mnm, did you really just reference Cosmo to support your argument?! wow.

  7. Lodo Grdzak
    March 21, 2013 at 7:56 am #

    Think its a little ridiculous to compare something like the rape of the girl in Ohio by drunk H.S. athletes and the rapes of political intimidation by Pinochet or other political leaders. Two very different things and goals. There are all kinds of rapes, just like there’s all kinds of murders (planned assassination; drunken gun-fights; etc). One thing I know about Pinker, he documents all his research very thoroughly. He doesn’t just throw an emotional comment or claim out there without some data backing it up. With all due respect, there’s no justification for rape; but there are drives and motivations behind our behavior. Dont shoot the messenger because you dont like your species.

  8. J
    March 21, 2013 at 9:19 am #

    “Men do not rape by accident or carelessness. They decide on a target, ignore their personhood, and then rape that victim. It’s not like they were being publicly indecent (running red lights) and then accidentally fell crotch-first into another person’s body.”

    Completely correct, Rune. Good to point that out.

    I’ll offer another analogy:

    Let’s say there are malicious drivers trying to kill people on a road outside of town. These drivers ignore others personhood, and decide to run them down with some malicious intent.

    These drivers are entirely at fault for their actions.
    Stopping these drivers should be a top priority.

    Advising pedestrians to avoid the road, or to use a buddy system, or some other defensive action is still good advice, and not the same as blaming them for the drivers behavior.

    People can take steps to avoid becoming victims, and would benefit from doing so. Aggressors are also totally responsible for their behavior and should be held accountable.

  9. mutualist
    March 21, 2013 at 1:05 pm #

    The entitlement of men to access unwilling women’s bodies for their pleasure is an attribute of our violent culture that represented in the Steubenville situation. These boys, young, naive and very impressionable to the messages of our culture were merely acting on the prompting of the objectification of women that is rampant in popular culture. Pinker’s association of rape and sex is the epitome of this horrific popular delusion, far from natural these power-relationships may not individually benefit the parties involved (i.e. HS students taking advantage of a drunk girl) but are representative of a culture which legitimizes male violence and promotes the idea that rape is the result of female negligence.

  10. March 21, 2013 at 6:33 pm #

    I’m a straight guy. I’ve never raped and never will. I ask for consent. Usually I get it, and a couple of times I didn’t, and left it at that. bell hooks is one of the best speakers I’ve seen, and I uphold most expression that is associated with feminism.

    On Pinker: he said “male desire can be indiscriminate in its choice of a sexual partner and indifferent to the partner’s inner life.”
    1. He’s talking about one aspect of the male mind, not the whole thing.
    2. He says the indifference can sometimes happen, not that it always does. His statement is factual. Most guys don’t do the other acts of violence he lists, and he doesn’t imply they do. He’s saying that some guys commit various crimes in various circumstances, and it’s often to get something they want, not just as a power thrust.

    Owen Lloyd lists some horrific cases of rape that were obviously not about sex. To draw a conclusion about whether rape is usually about sex, a broader survey is needed.

    mnm is correct that Pinker has repeatedly argued against the idea that genes are destiny.

    @Sundazed: Dawkins does not claim there is any gene or combination of genes that makes people more or less selfish. His title The Selfish Gene makes an anthropomorphic analogy; the idea is that genes often seem to act like selfish people, because they often tend to promote behavior that helps the genes spread but hurts or kills the organism they are a part of. By the way, Dawkins has retracted his assertion that the basic unit of selection is the gene, and he now says that selection happens at the group level too.

    I’ve read Pinker’s How the Mind Works and Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene, and recommend both. Evolution is under attack by religion and these books are good for showing why evolution is true.

    • March 21, 2013 at 7:02 pm #

      I almost got Steubenvilled once when I was fifteen. I wasn’t drunk and roofies hadn’t been invented, but I was otherwise under the influence and definitely trapped.

      I caved. I would have let them go through with it, but one guy got up and turned on the lights and said it was time for me to go home now. And he drove me home.

      It was planned, they all were in on it, sending me this “message.” And it was definitely gone out of hand, and one guy suddenly decided that enough was enough. I don’t think that part was planned.

      The one guy was considered pretty dumb, kind of inferior to my “friends,” who were smart jocks.

      Peer pressure is an expression of the larger culture.

      And even though I didn’t actually get gang-raped, the rest of my high school experience and indeed much of my later experience was substantially colored by this little “non-event.”

      I was fifteen, and one of these jocks thought I was playing hard to get. I had no idea he was even interested. I though we were friends. I had no sexual experience whatsoever. I was absolutely and utterly clueless.

      To steal a simile, it was like torturing a kitten because she scratched you.

    • curiouserandcuriouser
      March 22, 2013 at 8:02 pm #

      You do realise bell hooks is a woman, right?

      • April 25, 2013 at 9:51 pm #

        Like I said, I saw her speak. She was outstanding.

  11. March 27, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

    Reblogged this on .

  12. Ahriman42
    October 5, 2013 at 10:06 am #

    Uuuhhhh…not seeing the huge deal here. I think you’re missing Pinkerton’s whole point; a big part of his deal is “Facts, regardless of the politics” and “you can’t get an aught from an is.” If rape did turn out to often be about sex, that doesn’t make it any less bad or more justifiable. If reality is inconvenient for your political philosophy, that’s too bad, and continuing to distort reality will only make said philosophy untenable in the long run. I don’t think we need to re-write reality and human biology in order to philosophically vilify rape.

    There are lots of different types of rape and sexual assault, and they may happen for different reasons. There’s Creeper Mc-ski-mask, who probably IS mostly about power and domination. And then there’s Broseph Mc-roofie or Jocky-Mc-Daterape. They probably ARE mostly about sex, and I fail to see how insisting otherwise helps your case.

    Look: drunk girls dressing in ways that attract male attention are going to get male attention. Some of those males will be assholes or sociopaths. Women have known this forever; they all have to fend off pushy assholes

    Here’s an analogy that I think works better than the car: your home getting burgled. If someone really wants to break into your home and steal your stuff, there isn’t much you can reasonably do to stop them unless you know they’re planning it (and even then, what are you going to do, stay up all night with a shotgun at the ready?). Yeah, you could have a house with no windows and deadbolts on every door, but then the guy would just use some sort of drill or circular saw to enter. But very few criminals actually have drills, saws, or the know-how and drive to use them. We just go through life assuming that we’re not going to get targeted by a determined crazy master-burglar.

    But that doesn’t mean you can leave all your doors unlocked and wide open, valuable objects plainly visible through the windows, and loudly say to your entire neighborhood that you’re leaving for the weekend, and not expect the possibility of someone trying to get into your house.

    Now, please note that this in no way makes the burglar not a criminal. He still broke the law, and deserves to be punished. But other people’s sympathy for you will be reduced. It would have been less likely to have happened if you kept your damn door closed and locked. This is basic stuff here. It keeps random dipshit teenagers from wandering in and stealing your TV, because there are a lot more dipshit teenagers and hoodlums than there are professional burglars. Professional burglar and dipshit teenager both engaged in larcenous activities and will be prosecuted as such.

    I think you’re taking issue with the wrong person here. The sort of people who still try to victim-blame are not the sort of people who listen to the opinion of “scienticians.” But they ARE the sort of people who, when they hear delusional bullshit that flies in the face of all their personal experience, are going to dismiss it as “out-of-touch postmodern feminist intellectualism.” And engaging in this level of witch-hunting just makes you look like and ideological piranha.

    Seriously, I say again, “you can’t get an aught from an is.” In his damn book, Pinker had a bunch of examples of people reacting in just the way you’re doing now; misrepresenting, maligning, making leaps of logic, and interpreting everything through the lens of political dogma.

    If we want to reduce sexual violence, having good data on what actually causes sexual violence will be a lot more useful than endlessly repeating “Rape culture rape culture, rape isn’t about sex, man-o-centric maleocracy, rape culture rape culture.”

  13. December 28, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

    “It seems to me that if rape is primarily about sex, as Steven Pinker contends, then the purpose of sex for men is to violate, humiliate, intimidate, shame, silence, and express hatred for women, rather than to unite in love and affection for another human being. Moreover, it would seem that men have sex with women for the same reasons they rape them: to feel the sadistic pleasure of dominating another human being, and ritually bulwark the system of male supremacy.”

    This is true.

    PIV is about invading females, and dehumanizing them. It’s not an act of uniting or love. It’s an act of colonization of the female body.

    Piv, if that’s your definition of sex, is rape.

  14. jefscott
    June 10, 2014 at 12:58 pm #

    The author makes the the basic misunderstanding in believing that Pinker’s attempt to understand rape at the level of brain somehow means that pinker isn’t interested in preventing rape. These types of misunderstandings happen all the time – when people started trying to understand the minds of psychopaths, people exactly like Lloyd made noises of the same kind: ” Professor Y says that psychopathy is a natural part of the human brain and therefore believes it isn’t a problem.”

    No. We want to understand the reality of things precisely because that is the best way to manipulate it – either in preventing something we know is hurtful or promoting something that is beneficial.

    Look, we get it. You’re angry. We are all angry. We all hate that people we love experience the agony of rape. But your anger is misplaced. You are so tragically mislead in your thinking that somehow pinker is the enemy. In reality, he has spent huge portions of his life, including writing a best-selling book trying to understand and explain rape precisely so we know how to reduce its incidence.

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