Sexual Assault Plus

Yesterday, Richard Dawkins issued an apology. In talking about his own sexual assault at a young age, he had generalized their experience from his. He was relatively unaffected by the experience and expressed his opinion that the same was true of “all of us”. He apologized for doing so.

Dawkins’ apology was very welcome, if incomplete, as was his admission that he should not speak to the experience of other victims of sexual assault. Alex has a pretty good take on what it missed. I don’t agree 100%, but I’m close enough not to quibble. Instead, I’d like to dig into this idea of degrees of assault. What Dawkins has had to say on the topic isn’t entirely wrong, but his naive take on the topic obscures as much as it reveals. [Read more…]

It’s Not the Libertarianism

When someone says something particularly dumb about sexual harassment or assault, something that looks like that person is trying to justify doing nothing about the problems, I brace myself. It doesn’t always happen, but frequently these days, someone will pop up to declare that this person must be a libertarian.

Well, no. Not quite. [Read more…]

One More Defender

It’s hard to avoid these days. You’re wandering around the internet, looking at other things, and there you find someone expressing their thoughts on the Michael Shermer rape allegations. Take this guy, for example. He’s very clear on where he stands.

Screen shot of tweets from @miserere22. Text provided in the post.

@michaelshermer pz meyers is accusing you of rape rape. please sue the shit out of him.

Nor is he afraid to take it to the source. [Read more…]

Dear John Loftus (Update)

Your recent post on the allegation of rape against Michael Shermer that was posted on PZ’s blog is everything I’ve come to expect from you–self-important, disingenuous about being “forced” to come to the conclusion that people you don’t like are bad people, containing the conclusion that “important” people should be granted deference, self-contradicting–except for one thing.

In a personal email to me Shermer categorically denies these accusations. If what he said about his accuser gets out, it will be apparent to most all reasonable people that PZ Myers published a bold-faced lie. He recklessly tried to destroy another person’s reputation without regard for fact-checking.

When did you decide that there was something someone could tell you about a woman that would make that woman unrapeable?

Update: First, Loftus walked back the claim that this information was so stunning everyone would be convinced. From his comment section:

I have read Shermer’s response, as I said. Had PZ asked Shermer like I did he would not have published this unevidenced accusation. Shermer knows the accuser and presents a more likely scenario than hers in my opinion.

Then he told us Shermer didn’t know who this was after all:

Initially he didn’t. Then he thought about it and thought he did. Now he tells me he doesn’t. Don’t make too much of this. He’s trying to guess, that’s all, just as anyone would.

For the record, I tend to agree with Jason on the question of whether “anyone would”.

I Am a False Rape Allegation Statistic

Commenter EEB wrote this in the comments on one of Jason’s posts. With her permission, I am reprinting it here as a guest post because more people need to know that this can and does happen.

OK. In all of these discussions the past few days, on various blogs and various inter-related topics, I’ve been thinking about saying this. I never felt it was quite the right place, or time. But I think now is the right time. This might be egotistical, and I’m sorry, but I feel it needs to be said.

[Putting a big TRIGGER WARNING for graphic description of rape & aftermath, victim blaming.] [Read more…]

In Which I Falsely Report a Rape

…according to the slime pit. Expect to be hearing the story passed around, since people are working very hard to distract from Shermer right now. They’re doing their best to turn the spotlight around and put us on the defensive.

I’ve written four times, I think, about various aspects of having been sexually assaulted at age 15 by the father of the young man I intended to “lose my virginity” to.

The short version: [Read more…]

Two Quick Tests

Have a couple of quick heuristics to make your life easier.

Test One: Are you blaming victims?

Sure, sometimes you do have to explain how to do some basic things. I have friends who didn’t grow up in the U.S. I have friends who were very sheltered for religious or other reasons. Sometimes you say things that some across as condescendingly obvious for a good reason.

When these things are about not, say, getting drugged by someone who may want to rape you, you may be told that giving that kind of advice is victim-blaming. You may be tempted to shrug off that idea. Before you do that, ask yourself one question: [Read more…]

Shermer Speaks

Note to self: Self, if you ever want to keep something quiet, and you see an email–hell, any kind of communication–from Ian Murphy, delete it unread. Unplug the phone. Smother the pigeon. Whatever.

I’m just going to point you to the interview and let you read for yourself how Murphy got Michael Shermer to comment on the current situation (and, oh, you should read it), but here’s the relevant quote:

I haven’t been charged with anything. An anonymous woman told another anonymous woman to tell PZ Myers that I raped her at some unspecified time in the past at some unspecified conference which was alleged reported to unspecified persons who allegedly covered up whatever it is I allegedly did. You print that and you are party to defamation along with Myers. My attorneys are keeping track of everything that could amount to damages to my reputation, and in the court of public opinion it doesn’t matter if the claim is completely made up, people will just believe it. That’s why we have laws against libel and defamation and why no good editor at Salon or anywhere else you would submit such a story would ever run it because they would then open themselves up to libel. In any case, any publication of any substance would have it vetted by an attorney first, who would remind them and you of the ethics of journalism and the law against defamation.

Well, no. A woman PZ has met and finds trustworthy asked Carrie Poppy for a reintroduction by email to PZ. Carrie did that and bowed out. Then this woman, whose identity is being shielded by PZ (from someone who, as we can see, doesn’t have the strongest dedication to getting the details right) told PZ her story of being raped by Michael Shermer. PZ published the story as is. You can read it in her own words.

So that’s Shermer’s take on things. I just have to wonder, does it really matter to Shermer that the conference isn’t specified? How many different places does he think stories like this could have come from?

Updated to add a second bit of musing: How hard is it, really, to say “I’ve never done any such thing and I resent the living hell out of the accusation”?

Girls: Missing Victims of Religious Sexual Abuse?

The classic picture we have of a child victim of sexual abuse in religious institutions is a boy being abused by a Catholic priest. There are a couple of good reasons for that.

The first is that the hierarchy of the Catholic Church has given us a central group of people we can point fingers at for the decades of inaction (or action against victims) in their churches. The victims of Catholic priests have a powerful central authority to deal with, and it’s given them reason to band together and reason for news media to report on their immense struggle to be acknowledged.

The other reason is that, again because the Catholic Church has a central authority, it has made it easier for researchers studying church-facilitated abuse to use the Church as a proxy for religious institutions more generally.

The Catholic Church, however, is unusual. It is extreme both in the degree of organization and in the degree to which it limits the role of girls in the church. This means that stereotypes of child sexual abuse in the church are likely going to be misleading. Not surprisingly, a new study and report has found just that. [Read more…]