More rape culture and media: James Taranto claims efforts to curb sexual assault is a war on men  

Apparently I, along with the other members of my gender, am under attack, a fact I was unaware of until the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto was kind enough to enlighten me.

He claims that efforts by Sen. Claire McCaskill to block the promotion of Lt. Gen. Susan Helms over the details of a sexual assault court martial amount to an effort to criminalize male sexuality. Capt. Matthew Herrera, the officer in question—who was convicted in a court martial, but granted clemency by Helms—was accused of sexually assaulting a lieutenant, and in another case—in this one he was acquitted—of sexually assaulting a non-commissioned officer.

The facts of the case really aren’t the issue here, though. What matters is that Taranto said that the women in both cases acted recklessly, and that to hold the man responsible while calling the woman a victim “makes a mockery of any notion that the sexes are equal.” Let that one sink in for a second, as it’s a new—if ultimately uncompelling twist on blaming the victim. Neither of the women were accused of sexually assaulting the officer, after all. Their cases hinged not on their actions, but whether they had consented to Herrera’s advances.

The military has a huge problem with sexual assault, with 26,000 victims of sexual assault in 2012, and with 62 percent of those who reported sexual assault facing retaliation. Those numbers should disgust us. The entire military needs to take swift action to stop sexual assault, as one of the reasons the majority of cases go unreported is the stigma that pieces like Taranto’s only help reinforce.

But the problem at the base of Taranto’s argument is that efforts to stop sexual assault would somehow impinge on the sexual freedom of men. That completely retrograde idea about men and male sexuality is part of the reason a culture where some men feel entitled to women’s bodies still exists. Add that to his victim blaming you have another excellent example of how far the media needs to come on matters of rape and sexual assault.

 
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