New Book Reveals Perils of Politicizing Campus Sexual Assault


May 4, 2016

“No matter what, a woman will never be able to rape a man…The only way to balance that equation – to create true equality – is to bring about a world where both men and women live in the same amount of fear. This is the essence behind hysteria…That’s why we need hysteria.” – Nicole Mullen, Thought Catalogue, 2014

How many times have you heard the emotion-laden claim that a wave of sexual assaults is sweeping college campuses? How often have persons insisted that the basic precept of “innocent until proven guilty” be suspended to curb this “epidemic”? When was the last time you wondered why persons claiming to be victim advocates are discouraging police involvement in these cases?

As a feminist who was herself a victim of rape, Wendy McElroy is uniquely qualified to address these questions. McElroy eloquently presents her case in the recent book, Rape Culture Hysteria: Fixing the Damage Done to Men and Women.

Politicizing Rape Harms Women

McElroy argues the politicization of sexual assault has been deeply harmful to women:

  1. Increases skepticism about rape claims – “victims who come forward will be increasingly dismissed rather than heard.”
  2. Prevents healthy sexual relationships – affirmative consent policies run counter to real world experience.
  3. Can prevent healing – politicizing rape encourages victims to focus on political activism rather than personal therapy.
  4. Endangers women’s safety – discourages women from taking common-sense measures such as avoiding binge drinking parties.
  5. Infantilizes women – the current focus on “safe spaces” and trigger warnings is hardly conducive to female empowerment.
  6. Short-circuits thoughtful debate – “Derision, rather than refutation, seems to be the norm of discourse.”

Proving her last point, McElroy cites feminist icon Susan Brownmiller, who once wrote: “You should know that when you are going into a fraternity party, something can happen.” Brownmiller also criticized the campus rape movement as “narrow, elitist, and ‘doesn’t accept reality.’” Brownmiller’s common-sense comments were ridiculed as “straight from a 1970s chauvinist” and she was demoted to the status of a “former feminist hero.”

All reasons why we should resist the politicization of campus sexual assault.


Rape Culture Hysteria: Fixing the Damage Done to Men and Women is available online: