The Columbia rape denialists are straight up conspiracy theorists
Some very dedicated (aren’t they all, though?) rape apologist has been hanging signs around New York City accusing Emma Sulkowicz, of mattress-carrying fame, of being a “pretty little liar”. The signs, with their Red Pill-style sexual hang-ups and condescending anti-feminism are self-refuting: You can immediately picture the misogynist malcontent who hung them, no doubt furious that pretty women he believes beneath him (“little”) are allowed to say no to him. But they do point to a larger problem. A few months ago, Cathy Young published her evidence-free insinuation-fest that was meant to make you believe that a coven of feminist at Columbia, high on their ill-gotten right to be educated despite their gender, conspired to accuse an innocent man of rape, no doubt because doing so helps them finish their witchcraft spells. Young had no evidence of the lies or conspiracies, so instead leaned heavily on two major rape myths: That sexually knowledgeable women are not innocent and therefore cannot be raped and that being confused about an assault after the fact means it can’t really be an assault. Spice it up with some misogynist insinuations about women conspiring to take men down because of the inherent evil of the female soul, and voila! An evidence-free but surprisingly effective effort to confuse a straightforward case.
Jezebel published a devastating and conclusive rebuttal to Young’s insinuation-fest, but the problem, and I suspect Young knows this, is that most people aren’t going to bother to read either Young’s piece or the Jezebel rebuttal. They’ll just know that there are “two sides” and that there was some story “casting doubt” and they won’t know that the casting-doubt story was misogynist garbage or that it was definitively rebutted.
They also won’t know that the author, Young, has some kind of weird agenda when it comes to sexual consent, as evidenced by a recent Washington Post editorial. While Young claims to oppose rape, where she frets and frets and frets that, should people start to accept this “only have sex with people who want sex” view takes hold, we will live a “dystopian nightmare”. (She presents zero evidence that feminists want to criminalize reluctant sex, but instead is really just railing against efforts to make enthusiastic consent an ethical standard people voluntarily adopt.) Men might have to wait if their wives aren’t in the mood for another night! You might have to actually go home and jerk off if your date isn’t into you! What kind of horrible world would this be if men felt bad about whining until they got sex and then fucking a woman who is staring at the ceiling, hoping you finish up so she can quickly start the process of never taking another phone call from your sad loser ass? What if people started to hold out for hot, enthusiastic sex? The world would end, I’m sure of it. Or at least men whose main seduction strategy is cornering women until they realize a blow job is the only way to shut him up would have to learn to be slightly smaller fucknuts.
But as fun as it would be to psychoanalyze why Young has made a career out of defending men such as the ones catalogued at this post (sample: “I’ve known some guys to say that they just chill with a girl and just ask her for some head so they don’t have to kiss her.”), the larger issue is that her hatchet job is working. There’s definitely been an uptick in rape apologists feeling emboldened to accuse Sulkowicz of lying. (Interesting how the same people who think “innocent until proven guilty” means you can never even have a private opinion on how likely it is that a man raped a woman then turn around and accuse women of perjury and slander without a shred of evidence. I guess “innocent until proven guilty” is a rule that only applies to men.) And now you have these signs.
Jezebel has gotten back into the mix, reaching out to one of the other women who has accused Paul Nungesser of sexual assault. This is incredibly important. Many people keep insisting on portraying this as a “he said/she said” issue, but that requires accounting for the fact that it’s a “he said/she said/she said/she said” issue. Young wiggles around this by insinuating collusion, but as this other accuser explains, that’s just not what happened.
There is a narrative spreading that pins me as “Friend of Mattress Girl,” filing a sexual assault complaint as part of a weird collusion among girlfriends. This narrative is entirely false. At the time, Emma and I were friendly; however, we were never friends. We had never hung out one-on-one and I’d never had her number in my phone. I also never knew the identity of Paul’s ex-girlfriend, who also filed a complaint against him, until two separate reporters let her name slip while interviewing me—assuming, maybe, that I knew her. But I didn’t. I still don’t even know what she looks like or what her last name is.
At this point, the “liar” narrative relies not just on assuming that these women were conspiring, but that they’ve gone to great lengths to cover up their conspiracy. You know what is becoming quite clear?
The “Emma Sulkowicz is lying” theory is a straight-up, 9/11 truther-style conspiracy theory. It requires believing not just in a conspiracy but a cover-up, one that involves not just these three women but many others as well, at least a dozen or two. For instance, the anon writer says, “I told a few friends and my boyfriend at the time how creepy and weird it was.” Which means she either colluded with Emma to lie to her friends and boyfriend, or that they are also in on the conspiracy.
Add to that there’s another accuser, male this time, who spoke to Jezebel. The number of alleged conspirators is getting really big!
Look, no one is saying conspiracies don’t happen. They do, but by their nature, they tend to collapse pretty quickly because keeping everyone in line is really hard to do. People let something slip or someone gets a guilty conscience. What the rape truthers would have you believe is that three women and a number of likely co-conspirators—all college kids, mind you—have colluded not just to create these accusations but to bring them in front of Columbia (successfully, in Anon’s case), stick to the story despite immense amounts of media pressure, and conceal any evidence not just to counter their stories but also that could prove that they knew each other well enough to conspire before the fact.
And that this is more believable than the claim that there’s a creepy guy who likes pushing himself on women and, when caught, lied about it. That requires believing one person is lying, not that multiple people are conspiring in a lie.
I mean, come on. It’s technically possible that this group of Columbia students are a bunch of criminal masterminds that need jobs in either organized crime or covert spying operations for the government, due to their ability to hold the line so well. But it’s really not likely. It becomes even more unlikely when you start exploring the question of why they would do this, because there’s not a single shred of evidence of anyone having a vendetta against Nungesser that would motivate this elaborate conspiracy and cover-up. Whereas the motive for his alleged behavior is simple: He likes bullying women and gets off on it.
So let’s stop pretending that both sides of this story have equally likely stories. It’s embarrassing, as well as sexist as all hell.