Monday, April 05, 2010

Alex Knepper: Men Cannot Know What Women Do Not Tell Them

In March, an American University newspaper called the Eagle published an opinion piece titled Dealing with AUs Anti-Sex Brigade by Alex Knepper. Like too many other college opinion pieces from men who feel entitled to tell women what they are doing wrong when it comes to sex this one contains a rant based on a recycled mass false allegation with college women who report rape as guilty parties.

Sex isn’t about contract-signing. It’s about spontaneity, raw energy and control (or its counterpart, surrender).
In this view of sex, the control belongs to men and surrender is what women must do. Surrender is a word that in this context means that I should be denied my human right to limit who gets to be spontaneous toward me and in what way. When I and others speak up for this basic human right we are anti-sex. To be pro-sex according to Knepper I would need to abandon an important human right and spoilsport that I am, I refuse to do so.

According to Knepper, "Feminist religious dogma [...] states that men are essentially are born as eunuchs [non-sexually violent humans], only to have wicked masculinity [sexual bullying] imposed on them by [learned from] an evil society [social norms which support or excuse sexual violence]."

So feminists who do not believe that men are born sexually out of control must be condemned. The idea of all boys being born sexually out of control helps sexually violent boys and men to shift responsibility for their actions off themselves. Under this view, of course any woman who agrees to be alone with a man or catches his sexual attention should expect to be raped if she doesn't want to have sex with him. Of course, Knepper refuses to call this rape. This is merely men's right to control.

This perspective is very self-serving for boys and men who want the legal right to be sexually violent toward those who interact with them without negative consequences for anybody except those they target for violence.

Knepper wrote in his original column:
Let's get this straight: any woman who heads to an EI party as an anonymous onlooker, drinks five cups of the jungle juice, and walks back to a boy's room with him is indicating that she wants sex, OK?
This is positioned as an action which must be treated as if it were legal and irrevocable consent. And any woman who can be described this way must be viewed as making a false allegation if she reports having been raped.

It doesn't matter to Knepper that clear communication of non-consent can happen within this shorthand summation. His generic and stereotypical summation must trump the specific actions taken or not taken when assessing rape allegations, but only if that allows people to make false allegations against rape victims.

Pro-sex in this context seems to be a desire to maximize what is called sex and to minimize what is called sexual abuse or sexual assault or rape. And if you need to ignore individual criminal actions to do this then so be it.

In defending his work, Knepper of course has to provide a stock disclaimer to prove that his brand of pro-sex is not synonymous with pro-rape.

In an interview Monday he [Knepper] said that "real rape," which occurs when a stranger "thrusts sex into a non-sexual situation," is a heinous crime and rapists should be severely punished.

"I have a fun time stirring the pot," Knepper said. "I don't mind being hated for my views."
He may have fun but does he mind being loved by non-stranger rapists (the majority of all rapists) for his views which provide them much needed protective cover? He even protects those stranger rapists who attack in what Knepper would describe as a sexual situation. This definition turns all rightful accusations of rape against non-strangers into false claims of rape.

If the only sexual violence which counts as a real crime are a subset of stranger attacks, Knepper's admonishment in his original column that people "... embrace the fires of sexuality!" becomes a dangerous choice for women since doing so will cause people like Knepper to make false allegations against all these women whenever they rightfully report having been raped.

Once a woman is in a sexual situation, whatever a man does to her cannot be real rape according to Knepper and many others. This enablement of not real rape blocks the freedom of women to embrace their sexuality.

By Knepper's definition of "real rape" he has proven that his definition of what counts as rape is much narrower than the legal definition. This means that who he hurts could extend to boys and men who believe that anything outside of Knepper's definition of rape is legal and they could make decisions which lead them to earning their way onto the sex offender registry. It will also hurt non-violent men when women who are lectured on what doesn't count as rape believe the lectures and then apply this standard in how they get what they want from men.

After the backlash began Knepper went on The Early Show on CBS and said:
"Men cannot know what women do not tell them," he said, adding that "there are so many men out there whose lives have been devastated by false claims of rape."
This first statement is used as a red herring to allow the baseless presumption by men that women are consenting. Yet if Knepper truly believes that "men cannot know what women do not tell them" then that means that men can never presume they have a woman's consent. Any man who makes a presumption of consent cannot therefore claim to be the target of a false claim of rape.

If what women tell men matters in determining whether a man committed rape then Knepper must believe that real rape can be committed by non-strangers in a sexual situation. This directly contradicts his statement about real rape.

In Knepper's original column he writes: "Don’t jump into the sexual arena if you can’t handle the volatility of its practice!" But he is not including men in this admonishment. If men cannot or will not figure out when a woman is not consenting Knepper makes it clear those men don't need to stay out of the sexual arena and he is making it clear that they should not be held accountable if they rape women.

Using his own statement of fact about what men don't know Knepper should be an advocate for all men using the most extreme version of the affirmative consent requirement in every sexual situation. All men who refuse to use this standard must be considered by Knepper to be unable to handle the volatility of sexual interactions.

According to the logic behind Knepper's own statement about what men do not understand, any man who was not given explicit consent to specific actions cannot validly claim consent as his defense. Every accused rapist who says, "She didn't say no," must, by Knepper's own claim, be viewed as someone who has confessed to being a rapist.

So using Knepper's quoted statements of fact, a huge number of men must be considered simultaneously to be rapists and non-rapists. For too many people their solution to this contradiction is to ignore most rapes rather than to look critically at what statements of fact Knepper and others put forth which are not facts at all.

By Knepper's own definition of real rape he wants to deny all women our legal right to be protected from rapists who are known to us or who will falsely claim to be known to us or who will claim they were in a sexual situation. He not only wants to deny us our human rights, he wants to be able to make a mass false allegation against women whose rapes he chooses to deny. Women who make allegations of rape are repeatedly told that we must have proof, but men who make allegations against those who disclose or report having been raped only need speculation and stereotypes to be considered reliable.

Those beliefs make everything Knepper writes or says about sexual violence non-credible.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:24 AM   5 comments links to this post


At April 05, 2010 11:55 AM, Anonymous Kali said...

Knepper has such extreme rape-supportive views that authorities need to investigate his sexual history regarding rape. The same way that a person making public violent threats against another person or a group of people would be investigated.

At April 05, 2010 12:12 PM, Blogger JENNIFER DREW said...

Pro-rape apologist Alex Knepper is not saying anything new because our male dominant society has for centuries maintained it is men's right to have unlimited sexual access to women and/or girls. Under this system women and girls are 'fair game' to men and boys unless a female is 'owned' by a male.

I wonder how Knepper would react if a male subjected another male to rape because the male rapist believed he had the right of sexual conquest and it was for the male victim to 'surrender' to the more powerful male's demands.

Knepper is claiming women's bodily rights and their human rights are irrelevant because pseudo male sex right to women and girls always trumps women's and girls' human rights.

Knepper also promotes the misogynistic view that men always tell the truth and only women are innately untrustworthy. This particular rape myth continues to be very much alive and is always used to justify/excuse those men who choose to rape a woman/women.

However there is a wealth of factual evidence proving that men who commit sexual violence against women routinely minimalise and/or portray themselves as 'passive victims' who are somehow the 'victims' of women's sexual aggression. Male minimalisation of the sexualised violence they commit against women is common but is accepted as 'fact' because of the continuing misogynistic lies concerning women's sexuality.

Knepper demonstrates one myth - wherein he claims it is women's role to 'surrender' to the male sexual predator/male rapist. It is not 'surrender' it is rape.

At April 06, 2010 11:55 AM, Blogger m Andrea said...

He must have read a lot of Orwell. For a man like Kepper, "RAPE IS LOVE".

Which is why men like him are psychopaths. There was a man last night who left a comment on my blog, who said (among other things) "aw shucks, men do suck at relationships". I'm still so traumatized I had to come over here and whine to Marcella. Here's what I said to him and don't post it if you don't want to:

"No, it isn’t that men “suck at relationships”, it’s that they harm those they claim to love. Which is sadism. Men are sadists. SADISTS. Then men deny human rights to those they claim to view as equals, which is even more seriously fucked up shit on top of the SADISM. I’m asking — What is the term for people who treat those they claim to love like total shit and then demand that their abusive behavior is the way things ought to be and normal and want a fucking cookie for their good behavior? Psychotic ring any bells? Psychopath more accurate?

That kind of dynamic is guarantee to make women insane. Men have created a hell on earth and torture everybody they come into contact with. No, I don’t respect that, ya fucking fool. Psychopaths always straighten up and plead ignorance and demand forgiveness when their pathology is called out."

And feminists just can't understand why I have contempt for men...

At April 06, 2010 12:09 PM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...

m Andrea,

It's disgusting that violence against women is dismissed as, "men do suck at relationships."

This and other narratives given by men which are meant to excuse violent men helps to create the negative view of men that these same men then complain about when this view is believed by women.

When men who clearly tolerate violence against women claim to be just regular guys they are slandering all the men who reject their violence and their lies about how all men are. Unfortunately, most men who don't commit or tolerate violence against women are largely AWOL and therefore largely invisible in discussions about violence against women.

At April 06, 2010 7:12 PM, Blogger m Andrea said...

Thanks Marcella. In some ways, that's the same problem with racism. Lots of people displaying racism-permissive beliefs but few people turning around to say, "uh that was kinda racist". Except that in my circles at at least, nobody does say the kind of blatent racist crap which is taken as normal for sexism. It's more likely that a white person will ask (when no POC are around) "Is this statement or idea racist?" In many ways, racism has morphed into and is hidden by classism.

But most importantly, we don't have a society where the cultural message is "oh we're all one big happy family and white people really luv luv lub Blacks". To hurt the one you claim to care about creates such a gross dictonomy, it's crazy making.

Hmmm, no wonder I didn't want to become a mother... Motherhood has more cognitive dissonance thrown at it than any other woman-gendered role. On the one hand, motherhood is held up as a woman's most important job, but then mothers are told to suck up all the associated problems and extra work, and told to cope all by herself.


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