Dawkins and the Unscientific Arrogance of Mansplaining Rape

A recent column by Katha Politt, “Atheists Show Their Sexist Side: What is wrong with the men at the helm of the movement?” reminded me of this idiotic tweet by Richard Dawkins:

How does Dawkins know this? Did he examine survey data? Did he ask women? (STOP LAUGHING! STOP LAUGHING NOW!). Because I can invent–and invent is the key word–an alternative scenario in which the long-term effects of ‘knife-point’ rape are less harmful than acquaintance rape. A stranger rape, after all, is essentially a thunderbolt from a clear blue sky. Yes, the survivor might be hypervigilant at night, or might get really nervous in elevators. But she did manage to survive a potentially lethal situation–she did what she had to do to stay alive given an awful situation*. Unlike acquaintance rape, it doesn’t call into question her ability to judge character or intentions; she can still trust men she has ‘vetted.’

Admittedly, I’m talking out of my ass here: I made up this counterscenario. But the same can be said about Dawkins’ statement. He doesn’t present any evidence for his assertion (kinda like much of evo psych–the discipline that justifies older faculty sleeping with their younger colleagues. But I digress). But unlike Lord High Proclaimer, I have the sense and the decency not to argue the point. One can’t help but suspect that Dawkins is subconsciously influenced by the notion that acquaintance rapes, in some way, are her fault (SLUTZ!), and thereby not as ‘bad’ for the survivors.

But I don’t have any evidence to support that claim.

*Though this arguably occurs during many acquaintance rapes as well.

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11 Responses to Dawkins and the Unscientific Arrogance of Mansplaining Rape

  1. Thiên Cao says:

    I had no impression Dawkins’ topic was rape. He was illustrating sloppy thinking in a world rendered morally vacuous by relativism

  2. Stephanie Zvan says:

    No, Dawkins really has Thoughts About Rape(tm).

  3. anthrosciguy says:

    Dawkins was talking explicitly about rape, TC. He has now amassed a long history of attacking those who report sexual harassment and rape. His latest is joining in on a defense of Michael Shermer, who by many accounts is a serial sexual predator and harasser at conferences. And Dawkins repeatedly accuses anyone who disagrees with his nonsensical tweets as not being able to think, being incapable of logical thinking, and/or being interested only in driving web traffic to their sites for profit.

    He’s lost it.

  4. Delft says:

    “…the sense and the decency not to argue the point.”
    Wish you could pass that around to Dawkins, Harris & al.

  5. drjuliebug says:

    For the life of me I don’t understand what Dawkins is after when he harps on rape. When is it ever okay to bloviate at victims of crime or abuse, while making their experiences all about your own opinions? Is it okay to twitsplain to the family of a soldier killed in Iraq that it’s not that bad because the Civil War killed a higher percentage of combatants? Because that’s the kind of thing he’s doing when he tries to rank the trauma of other people’s sexual assaults.

  6. notk8 says:

    drjuliebug, whatever you think of Dawkins and what he says, the cases are not similar.

    Sexual assault law is something that both men and women must live with, for good or bad (mostly bad). It is not appropriate to assert that men are ‘arrogant’ in having opinions as to which sorts of assaults are likely to be more damaging. Certainly, we ought to be generally deferential to actual victims, but we all have a voice, not just victims.

    I have not seen if Dawkins has really been defending Shermer who by now has been proven to have engaged in behaviour that is at minimum deeply inappropriate. I hope not.

    But I’m really sick of this whole business. For what it’s worth (not much, I’m sure) I basically read nobody on either side of the Dawkins/Skepchick divide. I don’t read Myers (cheerleader of unfair accusations of sexism) any more, I don’t read Dawkins (doesn’t know when to shut up), don’t read Watson (privileged charlatan), and I’ll never read Shermer (asshole) after what I heard.

    We have conclusive evidence that an atheist ‘movement’ was a mistake from the beginning. It’s weird; it’s left me less interested in reading people I used to like. I know some people will think I’m a horrible, horrible misogynist for refusing to go along with Watson, but as I say, I don’t believe her. I have no interest in defending rape or sexual harassment; on the other hand, I think unambiguous defenders of rape and sexual harassment are far, far less common than is imagined by many Internet readers. And most of the ambiguous/jerky guys, when push comes to shove, will not defend rapists or sexual harassers. But I could be wrong.

    Middle finger to both sides, basically. If there was a gender problem with skeptical conferences, well, here’s one less man.

    • sunlessnick says:

      I know some people will think I’m a horrible, horrible misogynist for refusing to go along with Watson, but as I say, I don’t believe her.

      What don’t you believe?

  7. Gingerbaker says:

    More anti-Dawkins nonsense from the hyper-vigilant Omnimysogyny Crowd.

  8. Lymie says:

    Where is my misogyny bingo card? notk8 and gingerbaker are filling it nicely.

  9. notk8 says:

    Interesting what happens when your boyfriend doesn’t realize he’s not logged into his own account. Hmmm. FWIW, the boyfriend who wrote the above comment is a feminist. He is, however, extraordinarily sensitive to certain matters: 1. that words have very specific meanings and if you use them colloquially, they lose all meaning (eg. misogynist, literally, awesome,…); 2. what he calls “political correctness”. We have had many discussions about political correctness. I see it as simple politeness. But his version of “political correctness” (see 1) is more akin to what I would call “groupthink” in a way that leads to a rush to judgement – or just skipping past the facts to the judgement. Where one word or idea just automatically causes people’s brains to switch off, allowing them to behave like a herd in bulldozing a nay-sayer.

    What he seems to be saying (and I am abroad so I can’t ask him to clarify right now) is that everybody should be (for lack of a better word) allowed to have a say on any matter. You might say something stupid, but even events which are damaging to a particular segment of society ought to be open to discussion from other segments. Saying someone is arrogant for making a comment, is abhorrent to him. Saying the comment is fallacious or in poor taste, however, is A-OK. I respect his opinion on this but believe it can lead to unintended, hurtful, bull-in-a-china-shop behaviour from individuals in the real world.

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