Victimization Culture at Reed College

The core belief system of American progressivism is that the purpose of politics is to rectify race, sex, gender, economic, and other forms of victimization.  Progressivism focuses on so-called victim groups and draws its energy from the assumption that overcoming victimization is not a private, individual challenge, but a public, group responsibility.

Victimization-driven progressivism wields power through an injustice nosology that disregards individual differences and circumstances: women are victimized by men simply because they are women, and lower-income people are victimized by higher-income people simply because of income differences.  Non-white people and heterosexual males are born as privileged victimizers.  Further, justice for identity-based victims is accomplished through neo-discrimination such as legally compelled redistribution of wealth to and enhanced rights for "under-served" victim groups, as well as through cleansing language and culture of themes believed to promote victimization.

Higher education leads the progressive way in linguistic and cultural reformation.  It provides a pseudoscientific lexicon of words and phrases that either must be purged as victimizing or parroted as signifying justice and indisputable fact about victimization narratives. 

The powerful-sounding but meaningless phrase "rape culture" was recently added to victimization scripture by left-wing academic congeries.  An incident at Reed College in Portland Oregon, an emphatically left-wing institution, occurred when a 19-year-old freshman named Jeremiah True challenged the phrase "rape culture."  He also questioned the famous prog-speak statistic that one in five women is sexually assaulted on American campuses.  By exploiting these tidbits as specimens to reify progressive victimization culture, the True case illustrates the hypocrisy of the left wing and the harm leftists do to students who have actually been raped.

Mr.  True wrote to his professor, Pancho Savery, "I am critical of the idea of a rape culture because it does not exist[.] … We live in a society that hates rape, but also hasn't optimized the best way to handle rape.  Changing the legal definition of rape is a slippery slope.  If sexual assault [apparently referring to "groping"] becomes qualified as rape, what happens next?  What else can we legally redefine to become rape?  Why would we want to inflate the numbers of rape in our society?"

The correct answer to that question, Mr.  True, which you will not learn at Reed College, is that the life-blood of progressivism is widespread victimization.

In kicking Jeremiah out of the discussion class, Pancho Savery e-mailed: "Please know that this was a difficult decision for me to make and one that I have never made before; nevertheless, in light on [sic] the serious stress you have caused your classmates, I feel I have no other choice[.] ... You have made them extremely uncomfortable with what they see as not only your undermining incidents of rape, but of also placing too much emphasis on men being unfairly charged with rape."

There are four experiential and motivational histories that might lead students in Pancho Savery's humanities class to identify themselves as victims of offensive sexual behavior:

1. A student may have experienced the extreme and life-altering trauma of forced rape with penetration. 

2. A student may have experienced mistreatment such as being groped, fondled, stalked, photographed, or sexually verbally abused in an unforeseen way that student could not control, without giving consent.

3. A student may have been in a sexual relationship with unstable, poorly communicated boundaries of consent, and wanted to believe she had been raped.  Nineteen-year-old people like Pancho Savery's students have grown up in the age of "hooking up."  Hooking up is consent to be used like a thing.  Progressive educational institutions do not stand against this behavior. 

Typically, the female consents to an experience that is not only not enjoyable, but negative, even painful and distressing.  To rebalance mentally, she reframes the incident as rape.  She resolves her distress by convincing herself, or being convinced by others who weren't present, that she was assaulted.  "Rape envy" occurs when a woman, consciously or unconsciously, re-attributes a negative experience from having made a poor choice to being the heroine of her own personal and highly subjective recollection of events.  It is a psychological defense to avoid facing bad choices.  Rape envy culture results from progressive victimization socio-politics.  The male is always the victimizer, the female always the victim.  If she feels ill-used, she has been acculturated to believe that it is his fault and that she has been violated in some way. 

The Sulkowicz/Nungesser case at Columbia University appears to fit into this category.  The two young people seemed to care little for each other but had consensual relations numerous times.  After Miss Sulkowicz had a conversation with Mr. Nungesser's ex-girlfriend, she came to believe she had been raped by him.

4. The self-identified victim is lying.  Lying about rape is incentivized in many legal, social, and economic contexts.  Take the case of Lena Dunham, a leading slut-lit author of her generation.  She fabricated a lie about a campus rape to fire up sales of her autobiographical book Not That Kind of Girl.  The very title underscores her envy of virtue, because she is exactly the kind of girl who will do anything stark naked on national television for fame and money. 

If there is such a thing as rape culture, it is liberal progressivism itself.  For sixty years, the left wing has promoted libertinism and the mainstreaming of obscenity as solutions to sex and gender "discrimination."  This misunderstanding of the nature of freedom has increased the prevalence of victimization and pseudo-victimization.  Liberal-progressivist politics encourage promiscuity and concurrently indoctrinate the fallacy that if one practices "safe sex" and things still go badly, it must be an assault.  The "survivor" then pledges into a sorority of victims with special rights to discriminate against members of victimizer groups. 

Students in the humanities class who actually have been raped are experiencing a terrible disservice.  Their post-traumatic challenges are being mishandled in ways that may set them up to be less successful as professionals, employees, spouses, and parents when they have to face real life.  They are being taught that they are owed an environment that never makes them uncomfortable.  Then, the way to create comfort is to comb through their feelings and forcibly remove "triggers" (human or ideational) from earshot.  This is not the way life works in mature relationships and free societies.

But worse, liberal progressivism undermines post-traumatic recovery for category one survivors.  Victimization culture exploits trauma recovery as a political, "community" process, which misunderstands the needs of survivors.  Wearing victimization on one's sleeve impedes recovery. 

Rape is an experience that causes the brain to recalibrate the way it processes reality.  Recovery of social reality-testing, self-worth, and creative capacities involves a private path of courage, acceptance, and rehabilitated trust for one's few "mid-nighters."  These are people one can call in the middle of the night.  College faculty do not become one's mid-nighters. 

Maximally traumatic memory formations such as rape cannot be broadloomed into the consciousness of everyday life.  Ideally, in the context of specialized psychotherapy, the survivor develops a stabilized memory aggregate to be compartmentalized, kept in a private mental junk box.  In time, post-traumatic reactions can be accepted with poise.  Extreme trauma can provide a depth of wisdom and compassion compared to others whose road did not take them to a dreadful cul-de-sac called rape.

Jeremiah True is doing a service by questioning "rape culture" and the one-in-five college rape statistic.  Which is why the intolerant left will shut him up.