FISHER: Not a rape culture, just a PC one

School of Fisher

Let’s make this perfectly clear: there is no rape culture at Yale.

If Yale had a rape culture, there would be students and faculty speaking in favor of rape. Rape would be a common practice; it would be routine to hear someone talking about raping or being raped by someone last weekend. People would discuss what styles or methods of rape they prefer. Obviously, the existence of a rape culture is a farcical idea. These things just don’t happen at Yale.

There are isolated incidents of rape, and that is surely a severe problem. Beyond the physical harm the victim suffers, rape erodes trust. Like any crime, it arouses fear.

Rape falls somewhere on a wide spectrum between murder and robbery. The number of people who commit rape is a tiny percentage of the population at large. The vast majority of people are not criminals.

When we talk about a rape culture, when we look at everyone as a potential criminal, and when we condemn different opinions as promoting rape, we create an environment of suspicion. This suspicion, like crime, erodes trust and arouses fear.

People are afraid to express opinions because they might be called sexist or even, as we have seen recently, supportive of rape. They may not fear bodily harm, as they would after a rape. Instead, this fear in the world of ideas is expressed more often as a dark, pervasive sense of irony.

We recognize our overwhelming need to identify poisonous views, but we couldn’t possibly live in such a tight, constricted world. If you want to say something seriously but know you’ll be labeled a bigot for it, you might say it as a joke. If you say it ironically, you might get away with it.

When all views are subject to condemnation, when an idea we disagree with becomes, in our newfangled, extra-sensitive language, a call for rape, we enter a world of farce. We’re ingrained in our views of what is acceptable and what is offensive. Regardless of what we say, we know what we will hear in opposition. When a person comes to expect to be called a bigot at every turn, reasonable discourse becomes a mockery. We cease to be able to take anything seriously.

On both sides of the perpetual debates about last year’s DKE chant, the Title IX complaint and Sex Week, people are quick to call their opponents hateful, dangerous or bigoted. None of this labeling is productive.

It’s about time we stop going out of our way to try to be offended. We live in a world and on a campus where open discussion is publicly encouraged, where every voice is considered equal, and where men and women are treated equally. As far as sexism goes, we’re doing pretty well.

As the News reported earlier this week, women at Yale hold many leadership positions. Was this supposed to come as a surprise? The vast majority of women quoted in that story didn’t think so — their comments were mostly about leadership in general, not specific to gender.

In The Atlantic this week, Thomas Chatterton Williams painted a portrait of “racism without racists.” The same case can be made about sexism; what Williams calls “the centuries-old residue of systematic … oppression” creates an internalization of the problem. We are taught that women are a historically oppressed class, so we look out for sexism. We want to correct the wrongs of the past, but we can’t — the past has already happened. Frustrated, we try to correct those past wrongs in the present.

It’s a genuine concern, then, that leads to today’s farce. It’s hard to realize that the world has changed. It’s especially hard because, on rare occasions, real sexism is still alive. It’s our job, though, to separate those cases from the general atmosphere of our world. Once we can tell the difference, we can devote our outrage to incidents that really deserve it — real acts of sexism and real acts of rape.

But when we can’t tell the difference, when we let our old expectations govern our current perceptions, we cry sexism and hate when what we really ought to do is have a civil conversation about divergent opinions. Sex Week does not encourage rape; neither does opposing Sex Week. That debate is a good one to hold, but it has nothing to do with rape or sexism.

We don’t have a rape culture at Yale, but we do have a politically correct culture. It’s time to recognize when an argument is really just an argument and not a call to violence. It’s time to let rest old fears. It’s time to give words their meaning back.

Julia Fisher is a junior in Berkeley College.


  • fools2234

    Lets be clear here, it is feminists who cry about “rape culture” and it is feminists who call anyone who disagrees with them sexist. AND it is feminists who have continued to push for more “rape” reforms where the accused is not given a fair trial.

    Bottom line is feminists are the problem and need to be dealt with.

    • Yale12

      A feminist is a person who “advocates equal rights for women,” according to just about every dictionary. Do you not support equal rights for women? Is supporting equal rights for women a “problem”?

      Don’t you think rapists have a bit more of a role in the problem than women who support equal rights?

      • CrazyBus

        I’m pretty sure she means the new age radical feminists, and not the traditional meaning of feminism…there is a clear difference between advocating equal rights and indiscriminately condemning all opposing views in the name of equal rights. Are you being deliberately obtuse?

        • Yale12

          No, I’m objecting to the co-option of the word feminism by conservatives to mean “crazy women who think that all men are evil,” when in fact, it simply means women who want equal rights. All Yale women are feminists.

          • River_Tam

            Yes, and when I say “Barack Obama is gay”, I just mean that he’s really happy.

            Feminists *themselves* have coopted the term feminism. I believe in political equality for women. I don’t believe in anything past first wave feminism, which makes me not a feminist by the modern definition.

            It would be like me claiming that “liberal” really refers to Adam Smith free marketers.

      • Kratch

        Equal rights for women does not equate to equality. It ensures women have all the rights men have, it says nothing about what rights men get, what rights they already have, or what rights they will be denied. And the fact you ether don’t realize that, or don’t care, speaks a lot about you, and it’s not good.

        And the fact remains, there are feminists, such as Jessica Valenti, that would deny men the basic constitutional rights, such as the presumption of innocence, and due process. Challenging this kind of thinking in no says anything about how a person feels about what rights women get. I’m curious, in your opposition to Fools2234, are you suggesting men don’t deserve the same rights to protection under the law that women have?

        Oh, and lets also be clear, those wo continually advocate that rape happens to 1 in 4 or 5 women on college campus’, but that most go unreported because police don’t take rape seriously, and then point to all the failed prosecutions (due to those cases being false accusations, but that part is ignored in favor of believing women don’t lie and all accused are actually rapists) as proof… yes, they do do significant harm, as they deceive women out of getting help by instilling fear of the system in them. And the reason they are such a problem, is because of just how many people they instill that fear in.

      • innocentbystander

        > A feminist is a person who “advocates equal rights for women,” according to just about every dictionary.

        This is a *dishonest* argument that is often repeated. You cannot deduce a fact about the real world from the definition of a word. While dictionaries may well define feminists in this way, it tells you nothing about real existing feminists.

        Real existing feminists seek female advantage at the expense of men; seek better than parity in outcomes versus men rather than equal rights; and generally behave as female supremacists rather than supporters of equality.

        As anyone with eyes and ears open will have noticed, real existing feminists are about anything but equal rights.

        Some examples

        * Women live far longer than men. “Feminist” response: more health services for women.

        * Women outnumber men at college. “Feminist” response: keep preferences for women such as women-only scholarships.

        * Women do better than men at school. “Feminist” response: this is evidence that women are better than men and is not a problem to be fixed.

        * Women are under-represented in computer science and engineering. “Feminist” response: it must be due to discrimination.

        * Men outnumber women in prisons 10:1. “Feminist” response: this is evidence that men are bad and women are good, and is not a problem to be solved.

        * The vast majority of workplace deaths and murder victims are men. “Feminist” response: is there a problem here? Let’s talk only about women as victims of violence.

        * Women get automatic custody of children after a breakup. “Feminist” response: let’s keep it that way.

        * Studies show a high incidence of false rape reports motivated by revenge, etc. “Feminist” response: make it easier to convict the accused regardless of evidence.

        * Alimony remains alive and well in many states. “Feminist” response: keep it that way.

        * Female genital mutilation is banned in the US while male genital mutilation without anesthetic is routine. “Feminist” response: stop whining.

        I consider myself a feminist in terms of the dictionary definition. But I find contemporary real existing “Feminism” totally abhorrent. And it is real existing feminism that we have to deal with in the real world, rather than the world of dictionaries and their obsolete definitions.

  • alsoalsoanon

    Julia, how are you so sure rape is not a common practice at Yale? Do you secretly have eyes in every room on campus? According to statistics used by the White House, 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted while in college.

    I cringe when you say “These things just don’t happen at Yale.” The truth is, there are many Yales, and just because in *your* Yale you don’t encounter these instances and stories doesn’t mean they aren’t happening. Rape flourishes around a culture of silence, we know much violence goes unreported, and you should not use this space to make such a glaring mistake.

    • River_Tam

      Yale has a secret pink unicorn culture.

      • uncommons

        6/5 pink unicorns will be aborted at Yale

        • Frashizzle

          (sigh) … “current research suggests that 6/5 pink unicorns are aborted nationally.” That’s all one can reasonably claim… although I think that the number is more like 5.5/5.

      • lolzipan

        What the hell does this comment even MEAN.

    • Frashizzle

      The first rule of interpreting any sort of statistical research is to not use the phrase “according to statistics, one in five WILL.” That’s a fallacy of interpretation, especially when applying national statistics to a single college.

  • MsMoneypenny

    I never encountered any overt sexism while attending Yale in the ’80s. I’m not generally easily offended and can draw the line between guys who have obviously had a couple too many beers and guys whose actions bear watching. I’ve encountered far more threatening behavior in the real world outside the Ivy walls.

  • River_Tam

    I’m liking Ms. Fisher more and more.

    Heather MacDonald writes:

    > If the one-in-four statistic is correct—it is sometimes modified to “one-in-five to one-in-four”—campus rape represents a crime wave of unprecedented proportions. No crime, much less one as serious as rape, has a victimization rate remotely approaching 20 or 25 percent, even over many years. The 2006 violent crime rate in Detroit, one of the most violent cities in America, was 2,400 murders, rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults per 100,000 inhabitants—a rate of 2.4 percent. The one-in-four statistic would mean that every year, millions of young women graduate who have suffered the most terrifying assault, short of murder, that a woman can experience. Such a crime wave would require nothing less than a state of emergency—Take Back the Night rallies and 24-hour hotlines would hardly be adequate to counter this tsunami of sexual violence. Admissions policies letting in tens of thousands of vicious criminals would require a complete revision, perhaps banning boys entirely. The nation’s nearly 10 million female undergrads would need to take the most stringent safety precautions. Certainly, they would have to alter their sexual behavior radically to avoid falling prey to the rape epidemic.

    • alsoalsoanon

      Nothing MacDonald writes disproves this statistic.

      • Frashizzle

        Again… you can’t really [sic] prove a statistic. The phrasing of your sentence presents a fallacy.

      • River_Tam

        “Koss’s study had serious flaws. Her survey instrument was highly ambiguous, as University of California at Berkeley social-welfare professor Neil Gilbert has pointed out. But the most powerful refutation of Koss’s research came from her own subjects: 73 percent of the women whom she characterized as rape victims said that they hadn’t been raped.”

  • kk_12

    …you have **GOT** to be kidding me.

    I don’t think Julia understands the Title IX complaint and the inappropriate ways that Yale has dealt with sexual assault victims in the recent past.

    One day, when she attends a party for the first time, she’ll get a grasp of the situations she’s downplaying.

    • Frashizzle

      The problem with the Title IX complain is that the university downplays EVERYTHING (in order to minimize bad press and keep our graduation rate high). The Title IX complaint makes it seem like the university is specifically downplaying sexual assault, which is not the case! I’d agree that it’s bad that the university is downplaying sexual assault, but to claim that we live within a culture of rape implies that the university specifically covers-up sexual assault cases and nothing else, which is just not true. Maybe we’re living in a culture of pandering to USNews rankings, but we are NOT living in a culture of rape.

      • lolzipan

        Rape culture doesn’t mean that. I know ‘rape culture’ sounds offensive but like stuff like this, where a comedian makes a jokes involving crawling into a women’s room against her will and having sex with her even when she says ‘No’ and expects everyone to laugh exemplifies rape culture. I mean, it sounds kinda rape-y, right?

    • River_Tam

      > One day, when she attends a party for the first time, she’ll get a grasp of the situations she’s downplaying.

      If it is demonstrated that the author has indeed attended a party during her 2+ years here, will you admit she may have a point? Or are you just blowing smoke?

      • Kratch

        She is just reiterating the standard response. If it is an idea that opposes her viewpoint, Start by producing a demeaning or condescending opening statement, insist that it is her opposition that does not understand, she skipped the reiterate the standard claims (IE, 1 in 4 women are raped on campus) and then finally, wish the very thing she claims to be against upon her opposition (ether subtly or overtly, this depends on at what point of conflict you are at).

  • eli1

    Thank you for writing what the majority of rational people are thinking, but too afraid to say on this campus. Let it be known that, despite what a very vocal minority of feminists say about your article, much of the campus agrees with you.

    • Frashizzle


    • roflairplane


    • uncommons


    • River_Tam

      Preach it.

    • CrazyBus

      That’s just because if anyone says it publicly, they get trashed in public. Feminism has changed a lot…

    • geodude

      Thank you. Speak truth to power.

      • River_Tam

        You might be more annoying than Zubat.

        • CrazyBus

          Nothing’s more annoying than Zubat and its supersonic. Except maybe Golbat and its 100% accuracy confuse ray

        • Yale12

          River Tam accusing somebody of being annoying? lawl.

          • River_Tam

            It’s a Pokemon reference. Or are you not down with the ‘mon?

    • frenchconnxn

      I’ve been lurking on the YDN comments pages for ages but just decided to make an account today to agree with this comment/article. Thank you for writing this Julia.

      Also, ^isn’t that a bit rich coming from you, River?

      • River_Tam

        Pokemon – gotta catch ‘em all.

    • MsMoneypenny

      Totally agree!

  • yale_undergrad

    lol wooooooooow Mizz Fischer is clearly missing the point.

    yeah, like people are gonna openly acknowledge rape when they talk about how awesome it was when they f’d that girl last saturday when “we were sooooooooo drunk”

    most people, even yale students (even though we have that 3 hour or something dialogue abotu sex, consent, rape, relationships during freshmen preorientation) don’t really know the correct definition of rape.

    MsMoneyPenny, that’s great and all that you didn’t feel a lot of sexual harassment when you here in the 80s but by excusing those dudes who have “a couple of beers to drink” and think its ok to harass women is symptomatic of a greater issue.

    If we want anything to progress, our terminology must be questioned. it seems like ms. fisher is pretty content with the way things are, so stfu feminists. I don’t identify as a “feminist”, i guess, (whatever that really means), but i do know that a lot of people (mostly women) on campus have faced uncomfortable, sometimes traumatic situations and have been silenced because they’re “making a big deal out of it.” Maybe “real” rape should expand its definitions. If I see another girl get aggressively hit on by a dude when she clearly doesn’t want it, or is forced to dagger/dub/grind with some dude at a party when she doesn’t want to, I’m going to f’ing hurl. One thing is for sure: we’re not getting anywhere by saying “everything is all good, yale is like, SO PC!” when a too-large portion of people feel uncomfortable here.

    • lolzipan

      Exactly. This is the point.
      While grind/hardcore uncomfortably hitting on someone/Toad’s isn’t rape, I don’t know how any times my friend’s have felt like they’ve had to run away from some guy on the dance floor who wasn’t picking up the hint. And don’t get me started the guy who, after I shook him off my leg like a horny dog, came up to me after he found out I was a lesbian and pointedly said, “Do you feel like being straight for a night?”

      This isn’t okay, this isn’t cool, women aren’t objects to be won over with such ‘smooth’ lines, and men don’t transform into crazy animals upon the site of cleavage. Talking about rape culture, which supports these things, will help us dispel all of this nonsense.

      • River_Tam

        And yet you still go back to Toad’s.

        I don’t go back to places where I’m sexually harassed, but maybe that’s just me.

        • lolzipan

          Oh my God, really?

          First of all, thanks for assuming this was at Toads, ’cause it wasn’t. Second I’ve been there twice. Third, you can get sexual harassed ANYWHERE. On the street, at the supermarket, in class. Do you not go to those places, either? And I should go to a party just EXPECTING to be sexually harassed, right? So if I grind once or twice during a foam party with someone who I liked, this guy still had the right to talk to me like that? If I do something to someone I MUST want to do it to all people, of course! If I want to be respected at all, I should just stay at home with a good book and a chastity belt, right?

          I don’t see your point.

    • Frashizzle
  • Ray2447

    False accusations of domestic violence and/or rape against men by women are common. The flimsiest of false accusations by a woman can cause a man’s arrest. False accusations can be devastating to a man’s self-worth, his career, and his well-being. Such false accusations are a crime, and also a form of domestic violence and/or sexual assault, yet police and prosecutors almost never prosecute false accusers. Men wind up gender profiled and falsely accused by the taxpayer funded, domestic violence/rape witch-hunt industry, because of gender feminist ideology controlling that industry. Domestic violence and/or rape will never end as long as “the whole truth” is misrepresented to comply with gender feminist ideology. As long as false accusers of domestic violence and/or rape are not prosecuted, domestic violence and/or rape laws will lack integrity as shown in “Witch-Hunting Males” at Youtube And as shown in “Los Misandry” at Youtube,

  • avoiceformen

    Well, Ms. Fisher, you have done it now. Rape culture isn’t just some canard du jour that feminists will allow you to trample on with impunity. It is a grand lie of huge importance and now they will be coming for you. You will be subject to attacks and personal derision and any other form of malice they can bring against you.

    Feminists and other agents of the sexual grievance industry do not well tolerate the light of day or reasoned discourse. In other words, Ms. Fisher, good job.