SYNDICATED COLUMN: Why Are “Feminists” Telling Women Not To Protect Themselves from Rapists?

Identity politics, a writer friend reminds me, is where liberalism goes to die.

The oceans are boiling, freelance journalists’ heads are getting lopped off, and there’s not the slightest sign of resistance to income inequality so out of control it would worry Cornelius Vanderbilt. Yet the Internet’s politically-correct “social justice warriors” are dedicating their formidable energies into attacking pissant trivialities.

Anyone who doubts that online slacktivists have their heads so far up their collective asses that they can’t see daylight need only read up on the controversy over Undercover Colors, which is a nail polish that allows women (or men, but they’re not the target audience) to discreetly discover whether their drink has been spiked by one of several common “date rape” drugs.

(My advice to women: if you’re at a party or with a guy so sketchy that you think you may have been slipped a mickey, don’t bother with the fancy polish. Just scoot. You don’t want to be there anyway.)

Better safe than sorry, right?


“Anything that puts the onus on women to ‘discreetly’ keep from being raped misses the point,” writes Jessica Valenti, a once-influential feminist blogger whose hammer-to-the-skull-obvious post-motherhood columns for The Guardian add to the case for automatically censoring any piece of writing by a parent about their children. “We should be trying to stop rape, not just individually avoid it.”

Um, what?

Valenti is serious about this: “So long as it isn’t me isn’t an effective strategy to end rape. ‘Undercover Colors’ polish and products like it only offer the veneer of equality and safety. And that’s simply not good enough.”

Which is true. And stupid.

Like: wearing shoes isn’t an effective strategy to stop assholes from breaking glass bottles on streets. Since assholes do leave shards of glass all over the place, however, walking barefoot isn’t smart.

Installing a car alarm or using an anti-theft device like The Club is an example of “individual avoidance.” One wishes that it were possible to leave one’s automobile unattended free of fear that someone might steal it. But reality dictates that, if you park in a high-crime neighborhood, you take measures to deter thieves. True, it’s a “so long as it isn’t me” strategy. But what else can you do? We’re not likely to see an effective strategy to eliminate car theft any sooner than “an effective strategy to end rape,” a crime endemic in every culture throughout history.

How removed from the real world are writers like Tara Culp-Resser of Think Progress, who also criticized the entrepreneurs who invented the anti-date-rape polish? “It would likely be more effective to focus on larger efforts to tackle the cultural assumptions at the root of the campus sexual assault crisis,” she wrote. “Like the idea that it’s okay to take advantage of people when they’re drunk.”

To my horror, I have known men who bragged about having raped inebriated women. (Since their accounts were devoid of details, it would have been pointless to report them to the police.) They didn’t violate women because of “cultural assumptions.” They did it for the same reason that CEO pigs issue themselves huge raises the same day they fire thousands of employees: because they can.

This reminds me of the complaint against liberals who claim to support public education, yet send their kids to private school. If your local public schools are decrepit or dangerous, it’s unconscionable to subject your children to them if you can afford not to. Obviously, we should fight to ban private schools, and for that matter the capitalist system that separates American kids into pre-poor and pre-rich educational systems — but until the revolution is achieved, it’s every man and woman for himself and herself.

Feminist propaganda can’t stop rape. No marches, no poster campaign, no hashtag bullshit. Men will stop raping women when they no longer can.

Neither I, nor the social justice types, know how to achieve that better society. Until someone comes up with that Big Idea, anything women can do to protect themselves — self-defense classes, carrying pepper spray, even a nail polish — is just common sense.

(Ted Rall, syndicated writer and cartoonist, is the author of “After We Kill You, We Will Welcome You Back As Honored Guests: Unembedded in Afghanistan,” out this week. Subscribe to Ted Rall at Beacon.)




26 thoughts on “SYNDICATED COLUMN: Why Are “Feminists” Telling Women Not To Protect Themselves from Rapists?

  1. Ted, I am really having difficulty, and expect better of you… with this and your assertions and comparisons…AS IF: rape is in any way shape or form akin to; “Like: wearing shoes isn’t an effective strategy to stop assholes from breaking glass bottles on streets. Since assholes do leave shards of glass all over the place, however, walking barefoot isn’t smart.” SAY WHA’? or using car alarms or sending your kids to private schools. Say, say WHA? I don’t know you personally Ted Rall, but you do have a wife, I think and maybe a daughter? or at least a mother, right? This YOUR ADVICE to them? This is your take on men? that “Men will stop raping women when they no longer can.” WTF? Please rethink this. i understand the neo-liberal BS echo chamber is really wearing and has a load of crap to say about a lot…but this qusi libertarian stance is just crazy…and INSULTING TO GOOD MEN EVERYWHERE. i won’t address what you did when with the ‘horror” you supposedly felt when others in your presence bragged about it…unless YOU want to…ahem…SAY what you did.

    • Yes. That is my advice. Until we unify other people and start renewing our societal relations through revolution or a revolutionary process, we have to protect ourselves. We have to lock our doors. We have to protect ourselves against criminals. We have to distrust trust one another. That’s just reality.

      • Didn’t see this until just now. “We have to distrust…one another. That’s just reality.”

        Ted, I have to disagree. The truth of it is that almost all of our transactions as people interacting with other people are based on trust and are, to a very high level, successful.

        When I hand my $20 (I stole it from an old woman) to the clerk behind the counter, he gives me the correct change. (I always count my change.) When I stand on the subway platform, no one slashes me in the face with a knife and throws me onto the tracks (so far).

        I’m not saying mindlessly go along with the guy in the panel van to help find that lost puppy, but if the human tendency to being trustworthy was NOT nearly absolute, we couldn’t function as a society.

  2. You neglected to point out the obvious solution: Every male child born into this world must have his penis surgically removed! That would do it. 😀

    • My suggestion along that line: remove one testicle per conviction. I do believe people can change their behavior, and should be given a chance to do so – but two strikes is enough in this case.

      • @ CrazyH –
        Removing testicles has no effect upon sexual urges. Case in point: Eunuchs in charge of the harem have been known to engage in sexual relations with the women. It simply removes the possibility of impregnation.

      • Testicles produce testosterone, which does indeed have an effect. However, I’m willing to go about this scientifically.

        First we’ll have to find some volunteers…

      • Thanks for the link – I note the line, ” Based on the small amount of data that exist on this subject, it appears between zero and 10 percent of sexual offenders who are surgically castrated repeat their crime.”

        At least that’s better than the usual recidivism rate. But I’m perfectly willing to disarm the rapist on the second conviction anyway. I’d even do the honors myself if the victim was someone I knew.

      • BTW, did you also pick up on this?
        “Also, rapists aren’t necessarily driven by sexual desire; a lower sex drive won’t prevent attacks that are motivated by a desire for power.”

      • I was under the impression that both our original comments were somewhat tongue-in-cheek.

        It’s true that rape is a crime of violence more than a crime of passion. And the threat of castration would probably result in more victims murdered to keep them silent.

        OTOH, our current approach doesn’t work so well, either. Prevention is the best I got. Teach boys to respect and cherish girls, teach them that rape is the lowest act a man is capable of. Teach them that it is unacceptable, animalistic behavior.

        Teach girls how to say ‘no’ and how to defend themselves. I’ve read too many accounts of girls who were raped, but where the boys probably had no idea they saw it that way.

        Mike Tyson committed rape and was allowed to resume his boxing career. That’s shit. We don’t let football players onto the field after being busted for pot – yet we’ll let a rapist go on. What kind of message does that send? He should have been held up as an example of human scum, ridiculed and shunned.

  3. that’s why rapists rape people? because they can? what does that even mean? because they are physically capable? or because they know they can get away with it? or is it because they know they can brag about it without worrying that any of their buddies will call the cops? (what exactly did you do when these men (plural!) admitted to raping intoxicated women? what if they had admitted to murdering them as well? but left out the details? would it still have been pointless to report them to the police?)

    i don’t think any of these people are saying that people shouldn’t do whatever they have to do to protect themselves. any more than they would suggest that people shouldn’t lock their doors. they’re just saying that it’s not enough. that we have to keep fighting. until we achieve that better society. why would you try to undermine that goal?

    • Calling the cops probably is pointless unless you have either the woman’s name or the date and venue.

      What you can and should do is express your contempt for the behavior they’ve admitted to and then leave and not associate with them again.

      The articles point out that drugs are only used in 2-3% of rapes, so the polish does seem a bit of a gimmick.

      Ted’s right about one thing. Like theft and murder, rape is here to stay. I sympathize with the woman who doesn’t want to live in that world but the best we can do is make it less frequent.

  4. Well Ted, you’re walking into the Idiot’s Hornet Nest with this one. Don’t you know that telling women to protect themselves is the equivalent of telling men it’s ok to rape? So sayeth the self-proclaimed internet bloggers and idiocracy, who are the modern-day McCarthyites. They will try to ruin you and your reputation if this op-ed gains traction. You think the Kos Kids were bad? Just wait until this group of idiots gets ahold of you.

    You see, logic doesn’t work on them. Why? Because this has nothing to do with rape, nothing to do with violent crime or how to protect yourself. It’s all about OWNING THE NARRATIVE. The extremist feminists feel empowered online (for some odd reason), thinking that blogging on XOJane or being commenter 945 on some stupid story is “empowering”. But, that’s the REAL damage men have done to women over time. Men have so disenfranchised women over the centuries and into the modern age, that these women deign controlling the narrative over rape “empowering”, even if that means making women LESS safe by attacking men (and women) who offer logic and common-sense approaches to protecting one’s self. From ANY violent crime, rape or otherwise. More’s the pity.

    • > Don’t you know that telling women to protect themselves is the equivalent of telling men it’s ok to rape?

      What a bizarre statement. Would you be so kind as to cite examples to back it up?

      • I knew you were an idiot, but now it’s confirmed.

        Note to DummyH — that statement from my post is called “sarcasm”. It’s a common technique used in writing to draw attention to and ridicule a proposition by another. In other words DummyH, I was AGREEING with Ted’s assertions. You’d know that if you knew how to read, and to understand this little thing called context.

        Here’s smother example of sarcasm, just to help you get the hang of it: DummyH is such a brilliant guy as evidenced by his tenure at Microsoft.

        You see — that’s sarcasm, because you’re clearly a friggin’ idiot. As evidenced by your tenure at Microsoft.

      • Of course it’s sarcasm, but I took it as aimed at women because the context was a post made by a RW fucktard with a track record of blaming the victim. I remember the article about the porn actress who was outed, you were all over blaming her. If you’ve been housebroken in the interim, well then, Pryvet Comrade!

        So, if a woman wears a short skirt, shows a little cleavage that’s not “asking for it” … right? If she gets drunk at a party and gets raped, that’s 100% the fault of perpetrator … right? It doesn’t matter whether she’s promiscuous, it doesn’t matter if she was voluntarily engaging in heavy petting, it doesn’t matter if she’s a prostitute, all that matters is that the rapist put his dick where it wasn’t wanted …

        … right?

    • I remember back when I was … oh … six or so. The boys in the neighborhood would all get together to play. There was this one kid who was always telling the other boys how stupid they were, challenging them to fights, etc.

      But any time you talked back to him, or took him up on his challenge, he’d start crying and run off to hide behind his mommy’s skirts.

      Sound like anyone you know, Exidexi?

      • Let me offer as prelude to my comments that long ago I decided to treat *exiodexian* as a Troll, and – since I don’t feed trolls – I read his posts but will not respond to them.
        That being said, I must grant that his post above was an obvious representation of what Ted’s *opponents” might be able to use against Ted. In other words, it was sarcasm and obviously so and not deserving of attack in any fashion.
        With that, I am currently confused regarding the description of a school-yard bully. (?)

      • IMHO that’s Exi’s MO.

        He posts a lump of RW excrement – when questioned he won’t back it up or defend it but rather throws a temper tantrum.

        Them’s fighin’ words, but he’ll never stand up and fight like a man. Instead, he’ll just run away.

        Watch – for the next couple of weeks, he’ll “reply” to my posts with, “You’re Stupid! You’re so stupid you’re stupid! You Stink! You’re a poopy head! Poo poo! Pee pee! Kaka! I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!”

        I find him to be a useful idiot. Without him I’d have to resort to straw man arguments, “Conservative are sooo stupid they believe ….”

        But with ExiWTF we’ve got someone who really is stupid enough to believe…

      • oh, in case you missed it, “… offer logic and common-sense approaches to protecting one’s self” is whacko-speak for, “It’s your own damn fault you got raped because you weren’t wearing your burqa”

  5. Ted

    I think it’s very hard to for a lot of people to wrap they’re heads around this. What Jessica Valenti says is true, as you point out. But that doesn’t mean it’s the right point of view. What would have made more sense, if you want to take her perspective, would have been to say “I really wish these nice guys had put they’re energies into something like coming up with a strategy to stop men.” It’s really the same old argument as women being responsible for birth control. It is true that society has not put any real effort into coming up with a good method of male birth control, but that doesn’t mean women should not use they’re own method. Your analogy with private schools hit home with me, since I have thought about sending my kids at times, despite the fact that I, like you, think they should be illegal. But why should my kids pay for my politics? My sending them wouldn’t directly hurt anyone else. It would be wrong if it did, same as it would be wrong for a woman to protect herself from rape by offering up another woman in her place. But protecting yourself without harming anyone, that’s just a duh. Till the revolution comes, we’re screwed.

  6. Again, let’s go back to the first premises.

    The notion that this was developed to “help” anything other than the bank accounts of the people who make this nail polish is laughable. You are far more likely to get raped after being loaded up with booze (whether you’re male or female) than you are because someone happened to have a roofie on them.

    This is just one more “shit, everyone’s a threat” product being marketed by people who don’t care how fucking terrified they make you, just as long as you buy. The truth is … Rule 34. Somewhere out there is someone who wants to rape you. No matter who you are, somewhere, there’s someone who is “into” your type. You could be in the process of being stalked by a rapist right this second. No one can be constantly vigilant; every guard slips at some point.

    A big step in not being raped? Don’t drink yourself into a stupor. (I wonder how many frat boys have woken up the next morning after being sodomized while drunk and simply kept quiet about it because, shit, that’s not really something you’d post to Facebook, is it? “Got boned in the ass when I passed out at the party last night. Anyone know who did it?”)

    Don’t want to get accused of rape? Don’t drink yourself into a stupor and then climb into bed with drunk women (or men). Why? Because the big problem with alcohol is that it lowers inhibitions but it doesn’t do so consistently or with any degree of duration. Your partner might be begging you for “THAT” at 12:04 a.m., but by 12:10 a.m., when “THAT” starts, your partner’s inhibition levels have changed, and, oh no, “THAT” is off the table.

    Camille Paglia covered this about three decades ago (and got crucified for it, IIRC).

  7. “…writes Jessica Valenti, a once-influential feminist blogger whose hammer-to-the-skull-obvious post-motherhood columns for The Guardian add to the case for automatically censoring any piece of writing by a parent about their children.”

    Thank you for perfectly articulating how I feel about Jessica Valenti and parent bloggers.

    • Bleary,

      In the more, um, adult-run newspapers of the dead-tree era, a standard rule of thumb was that parents were forbidden to write about their children or parents. Period. Why? Mainly because it was lazy. Quick, come up with 5,000 words about something in your family dynamic that makes you miserable. Just 5,000 words? I can give you a summary in 5,000 words.

      The New York Times ran several tongue-up-the-ass-crack articles concerning one of their high-up editors having written a book about her dog.

      The retching noise is every journalist who ever did an honest day’s work writing something that mattered.

      Regrettably, the death of editing and the gatekeeper function has allowed the standards to slump. Additionally, the die off has allowed the rise of the “righteously indignant.”

      It is now, with very few exceptions, impossible to make anything even remotely like a genuine argument without a whole volume of clarifications. The shortest version of this is the following: “Now, I’m not supporting child molestation. …”

      It used to be UNDERSTOOD that if you were writing a piece that said something like, “I don’t think child molesters should be set on fire because …” you didn’t have to take the extra step of declaring that you were not, yourself, a child molester. The presumption was that your argument would, in and of itself, make a case (which the reader could then accept or reject).

      But now, hammer-to-the-head predication is obligatory. If you write an opinion about date rape without mentioning at some point early on that you are against date rape, why, you might as well tattoo “date rapist” on your forehead and save your opponent the trouble. Because that’s exactly how the other side with commandeer the debate: “I realize X, who doesn’t quite come out and admit that he supports date rape, hasn’t yet been found guilty of rape …”

      I suspect that conversations on the topic of rape will become more and more difficult to successfully execute.