Is feminism needed anymore in a modern Western society?
Debate Rounds (3)
I am arguing that feminism is no longer needed in a modern Western society. Women have fought to have the same rights as men, and I think that now, women have finally gotten them, and that's fantastic! However, many modern, third-wave feminists will tell you that the feminist movement is still needed in our society, and I completely disagree with them. Of course, I'm not saying that sexism and misogyny have been abolished from Western culture; sexism towards both of the sexes will always exist. I also think that places in the Middle East, the Congo, and many others are desperately in need of feminism; women are being horribly mistreated their and are victims of endless violence. But this debate will specifically focus on if feminism is needed in Western society anymore.
Returning back to what I was saying earlier, modern feminists think that Western society still oppresses women, whether they realize it or not, and two of the major "facts" that they tell you to prove this are the gender wage gap and the "1 in 5 women are raped" statistic. This debate won't only focus on those points; those are just starters so I can get the conversation moving.
Now, the wage gap myth has been debunked several times, but here's the basic explanation as to why it's false; yes, it is true that if you add up all the annual wages of men and women and compare them side by side, women make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. However, this is not because of some patriarchal misogyny woven deeply into Western society. It's simply because men tend to pursue and succeed in higher-paying jobs than women. While men tend to go after jobs in engineering, medicine, and law, women tend to go into jobs like teaching, nursing, and becoming secretaries. Also, while men tend to be more dedicated to working, women often become stay-at-home moms and focus on helping raise and nurture the children. There are exceptions to both sides; one of my friend's moms is a lawyer, and another one of my friends is raised by a stay-at-home dad. Heck, my doctor is a woman. However, even though there are exceptions (who are perfectly acceptable, by the way), most men and women tend to pick different jobs, if they even pick jobs at all. If you think that this is a sort of hate speech, then talk to the economists, no of which take the wage gap seriously, even the feminist ones.
The whole rape statistic, as we'll call it from now on, has a slightly shorter and easier to explain reason that it is false. When the collectors of the data went out and asked women questions, they didn't only count being raped or molested (both of which are horrible things and nobody, woman or man, should ever be ashamed of theirselves if it happened to them); rather, they counted any unwanted sexual contact or regrettable sexual experiences as well. The drunk guy that was hitting on you is now rape; and having consensual sex and then waking up hurting is also now rape. You weren't raped because you regretted it afterwards; you just had bad sex. With these types of qualifications for what constitutes as rape, it's no surprise that Western society (or in this case, specifically college campuses) seem to be just as bad as the Congo, where rape is used as a weapon of war!
Well, that just about sums up my beginning arguments. Please, if anybody has differing opinions on the subject of feminism, feel free to join the debate! I'm severely lacking in any good, constructive debate in my real life, which is the main reason I got an account on this site. If you want to see some resources, here is a good one (My iPad is not cooperating with me, so please check out her video on the rape statistic as well):
Thanks for reading, and may the best debater win!
Perhaps disappointingly, I agree with the instigator on the matter of the wage gap (and likely other problems with third-wave feminism), so I will not debate it. I disagree that feminism is unnecessary with regards to rape and sexual harassment, and since I only need one valid reason for feminism to exist in order to win the debate, I will hold the line at this topic unless my opponent raises further issues (which I'll only rebut if I happen to disagree).
Lest my opponent ("333" from now on) find this unsatisfactorily narrow, I'd remind him (or her) that this topic is of tremendous importance in comparison with all the other issues advanced by modern feminism--even by feminists' own account.
Feminism is necessary in modern Western society, then, in order to combat the widespread social / cultural attitudes with regard to sexual harassment and rape (provocatively dubbed "rape culture," though I will try to avoid the use of this term). These attitudes are pervasive--chiefly among men--and they contribute to a climate in which rape (and harassment) is much more likely to occur, and much less likely to be punished once it does occur.
So far 333 has said nothing more than that "the 1 in 5 rape statistic" cited by feminists is misleading or false. But feminism would still be necessary if this number were 1 in 10, or 1 in 20 (for "true" rape). According to an oft-cited NVAWS survey, using a definition of rape such as "[an event occurring] without the victim"s consent that involved the use or threat of force in vaginal, anal, or oral intercourse" still gives us a result of 1 in 6 (for completed or attempted rape). Rather than cite all the statistics, however, I will leave it to 333 to prove that rape is acceptably rare or uncommon. Even on more stringent definitions of rape, it is very common for a traumatic violent crime.
Perhaps the most telling fact is that the vast majority of rapes are not reported to police. Why is this the case? It is because they (correctly) doubt that they will be believed, or that they will succeed in the justice system. Women are widely disbelieved and vilified when they allege rape, before any facts come out--despite the consensus that false rape claims are a very small percentage of total claims. Women who go to court often lose cases based on incorrect assumptions about how rape victims "should" behave.
Of secondary concern is the threatening kind of sexual harassment that is widely reported by women just minding their own business. Again, here, women are often not believed when they report the prevalence of these things, or they are told that they ought to put up with it and respond to men who accost them in a particular, amiable way.
Feminism will not stop rape or sexual harassment, but it is necessary to change cultural attitudes that greatly abet these things at present, and without which they might be drastically reduced.
So far, we both agree on the wage gap, which is a promising start, but the opponent has said later in his or her argument that feminism is needed to help prevent rape among women, and yes, rape is still a problem in the United States, and women are also more likely to be raped than men.
Now, the opponent has stated an NVAWS study, which I am not too familiar with, but he or she goes on to say that feminism would still be needed if rape were 1 in 10, 1 in 20, and so forth, and later says that it is up to me to argue that rape is acceptably rare or uncommon. I will say that the rape rate has gone down over the years, but in the end, no amount of rape is acceptably rare and uncommon. You said it yourself that rape is very common for a traumatic crime. Why should any society accept it? So far, just by the looks of where this debate is going, I'm going to have to be defending the cold, hard fact that feminism can't do anything to stop rape. While the opponent also said that feminism, while it can't stop rape, can change cultural attitudes about it, I cannot find any evidence stating that somehow, our culture or society promotes rape or that we live in a "rape culture" (it would be great if you could find some statistics that say it does).
So, here's my case; rape isn't a cultural problem. It's isn't a societal problem. It's not a gender problem. It's a personal problem. Rape happens because the rapist is, for whatever reason, very corrupted, and will force sexual intercourse upon the someone. The victim, even in an attempted rape, is overpowered by the rapist, and is traumatized and even physically harmed during or after the experience. So, if rape is a personal problem, then what we need is more anti-rape programs and anti-rape awareness. I guarantee that rapes would go down lower if we simply encouraged people to better protect themselves from rapists. Now, let me be clear here; I am not saying that rape victims are responsible for being raped. That is absolutely disgusting to say and it does no good. However, if you were going to try to rape someone, would you keep trying to after they pepper sprayed you in the face, pulled a gun on you, or maybe just beat you up? With rape being a problem even in the Western world, it's important that we focus on ways to minimize rape, especially in women, but with men as well (actually, if you factor in prison rape, more men are raped than women, so we have to do something in our prison system as well). And feminism can't do that for us! Saying that both sexes deserve equal rights is pretty much a fact of life for most civilized people now, and saying it isn't going to prevent rapists from going out and terrorizing innocent people for their own selfish gains!
Well, that was most of my second argument, and like I had said before, it would be great if you could prove that rape culture exists with a link or two. In reply to the part where you talk about women and men not reporting rapes, that's not caused by society either; that's another personal problem and it is a personal obstacle to overcome. Though many people have reported false rape (Zoe Quinn, Brian Banks, etc), I would just say as a part of the whole anti-rape as opposed to anti-sexism mindset that reporting rape to the police should also be encouraged. I would also like some proof as to if our justice system purposely discriminates against rape victims of both genders.
Well, that was my rebuttal, and to sum it all up, feminism won't stop rape; anti-rape attitudes will, and there is no evidence whatsoever of a rape culture existing in Western society. I look forward to my opponent's counter-argument!
I should offer a caveat: It is difficult to prove social causation in the space provided. I will offer some statistics and examples, but I will also be forced to make generalizations that I consider logical and broadly verifiable.
The topic is feminism, so I will not discuss men's issues. I am not making comparisons or defending feminist behaviour.
My case stands if I can show that significant social forces abet rape. For brevity, social forces that abet rape ("rape culture") are denoted [SF+] and those that stymie it are denoted [SF-]. Sources are [S1], [S2], etc.
333 characterizes rape not as a social problem, but as a personal problem, which occurs because "very corrupt" people wish to rape. On this view, rapists cannot be deterred by [SF-], just as serial killers cannot. Therefore, women can only be helped by taking precautions. The situation is compared to telling thieves not to steal, or telling dogs not to eat a steak.
In reply, here are my central claims:
[I] Most rape is not committed by "very corrupt" people. It is committed by ordinary people. Many of these people are influenced by [SF+], which consists of rationalizations for their actions, also shared by others.
[II] Moreover, [SF+] subsists in misapprehensions of rape by non-rapists (most men). Most men underestimate the prevalence of rape, believe that rapists are innately different, refuse to believe rape reports, incorrectly predict the behaviour of victims, and incorrectly estimate the psychological trauma of rape. The impact is that deterrence for this crime is tremendously reduced. More rapes happen because rapists know that they will get away with it, without legal or social consequences.
Here are the warrants for the claims:
[I] Consider the Stanford prison experiment, the Montreal police strike, Nazi Germany, and other examples. We know that ordinary people behave in "corrupt" ways if they are permitted. Selfish, violent impulses are natural--and they are only restrained by social and physical forces. During wartime, soldiers routinely raped millions of women. Were all these soldiers special types of people? No. Only the circumstances were special.
A survey of 1,882 men found that 120 were rapists (that's over 1 in 17 people) and that they committed a collective 483 rapes and attempted rapes [S1]. This is an enormous figure. Similar surveys show similar prevalence. The trick is to frame the questions without saying "rape" (e.g. "have you ever used or threatened to use physical force to make someone have sex with you, even though they didn't want to"). A survey of high school students shows that 39% of males thought it was OK to "[hold] a female down and physically [force] her to have sex" if the male "spent a lot of money on her" [S2]. Research by Mary Koss found that nearly 1 in 3 (that's the number three) men admitted they would "force a woman to sexual intercourse" if they knew they could get away with it. But when the word "rape" was used, the numbers dropped. She also found that 7.7% of college men admitted to forcing sex, meeting the definition of rape, but that very few of these men considered it to be "rape."
So, a key aspect of [SF+] is that large numbers of men consider some types of rape acceptable, redefining "rape" so that some rapes don't count. Most rape is committed by ordinary people known to the victim, and surveys show that these people have rationalizations for their actions, which intimate that women can "owe" sex, or somehow deserve it. Normative claims about what people owe and deserve are cultural and social, and they are amenable to reversal by [SF-].
A man on the train once groped a friend of mine as she slept. She woke, and the man said, "don't wear tights, then." It is one thing to suggest clothing can attract rapists (there's no evidence of this), but past a certain amount of causal attribution, it becomes an unwritten excuse for the crime. If a woman was wearing Spanx underwear at the time of a rape, for example, the lawyer may not pursue the case [S3].
[II] I have shown above that rape is common, and is not committed by rare criminal minds, as the average man imagines. Additionally, men show hostile skepticism of rape claims that belies the data. The United States Justice Department estimates false accusations at around 2%, and other sources give similarly low estimates. But if you look at the reaction to rape allegations (comments sections, Youtube dislikes, friends), it is very hostile and negative. Before any facts come out, the woman will suffer verbal and social abuse. Examples abound [S4]. This social reaction is unjustifiable. It deters many women from reporting rape. In court, the type of scathing questions faced by rape victims are dissimilar to that faced by victims of other violent crimes [S5]. Their behaviour is invoked as evidence in ways that are incompatible with known psychology. One woman--who lost her case--had a few acting classes used against her, as evidence that she was acting.
Evidence suggests that women overwhelmingly tell the truth when they report rape. But they are overwhelmingly disbelieved. This is a social attitude.
Finally, men underestimate the psychological consequences of rape because they compare it to their own feelings about sex. In London, in 2008, BNP's Nicholas Eriksen said: "Rape is simply sex. Women enjoy sex, so rape cannot be such a terrible ordeal" and compared rape to force-feeding a person chocolate cake. This may be an extreme view, but the fact is that men will naturally underestimate the impact of rape, because they imagine themselves in the same scenario, and men are not identical to women in this regard (I will not discuss the reasons for this).
Overall, a form of social initiative (feminism) is still necessary to bring unquestioned, uninformed attitudes into line with the facts, thereby increasing the deterrence for sexual crimes, and serve justice for rape victims (which makes them happy and also in itself increases deterrence). I have had my own attitude changed in this way, even though I do not like the people who constitute the feminist movement.
S1 - http://www.upworthy.com...
S2 - http://www.lisashea.com...
S3 - http://www.telegraph.co.uk...
S4 - https://www.washingtonpost.com...
S5 - https://www.theguardian.com...
In the opponent's counter-argument, the opponent failed to establish any convincing argument that rape culture exists in any way, shape, or form in Western society by using biased, unspecific claims and broad, unreliable sources. First, I will shortly rebut the two points, then establish another point afterwards:
[I] A good amount of the first claim was dedicated to saying that rape is not committed by corrupt people; ordinary people ar rapists. They then go on to use examples such as the Stanford Prison Experiment and Nazi Germany. However, the opponent then says that "ordinary people behave in 'corrupt' ways." Is this not a direct contradiction of the argument? Nowhere did I ever say that, as the opponent puts it later on, "rare criminal masterminds," are the only rapists in the modern day. I even gave sources showing that about half the time, rape is committed by a friend or loved one. If I had thought that the only rapists in Western society are rare people like John Wayne Gacy or Ted Bundy, I wouldn't have ever put a link to an article directly contradicting that statement.
The opponent then goes on to state statistics that have vague definitions of rape, and many although some may be flat-out rapes, many have exceptions (eg. in S3, it talks about intoxication; this could be interpreted as drunk sex). I'm not going to focus on them too much; that's what the sources are for. As for the opponent's friend, well, she was sexually harassed, and there's no denying it. Though the opponent may try to make a counter saying that some of my sources say that dressing in a sexual manner promotes rape, that's not at all what they are saying; instead, they are saying that Slutwalks do nothing to help the rape problem and instead just make a lot of noise and allow perverts to look at all the girls twerking at the Slutwalks. The man on the train used that logical argument as an excuse to creep on the opponent's friend.
[II] Since I also need to throw another argument into this, I will make this part short and simple:
In regards to the "denial of rape," I will ask the opponent two simple questions:
1. Have you ever heard of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf?" Because there is almost definitely a "Girl Who Cried Rape" situation happening here (look at people like Lena Dunham and Zoe Quinn, who gained huge amounts of attention from faking rape).
2. Have you ever heard of a good lawyer? You know, someone who can make a good case and convince the judge to maybe help out whoever the lawyer is defending?
I will also break down something that should be quite simple to understand;
Most men are heterosexual. Most women are heterosexual.
Most men are sexually dominant. Most women are sexually submissive.
Most men have higher sex drives. Most women have lower sex drives.
I think Nicholas Eriksen, the psychologist whom the opponent cited, was actually very correct; men like to have sex more frequently than women, which results in "force-feeding" (by the way, that man actually proves my case, because he shows that rape is a personal problem, not societal).
Now, finally, I can make the last argument. What the opponent did in his or her counter-argument is exactly what the cited sources did; they both said a bunch of stuff about rape, and then said that somehow, in some way, feminism can fix it. The opponent also stated that the whole debate hinged upon whether or not the opponent can establish rape culture's existence, and completely avoided what the debate is really about; if feminism is necessary. While I did as much as I could to say that feminism is not necessary to get the rape rate down; encouraging potential victims to arm themselves, with weapons or martial arts, will help. The opponent compares this to telling dogs not to eat a steak; it's more like taking the steak away and scolding them if they try to eat it. I said it in my in round two, and I'll say it again; saying that the sexes are equal and that women have rights too won't do anything to deter rapists. In fact, using feminism instead of encouraging self-defense much more similar to telling dogs not to eat steak. If the opponent still tries to exclusively establish rape culture without saying how feminism will help with rape at all, the it will be very apparent that the opponent has no reasoning as to if or why feminism will help and has been avoiding it the whole time.
Well, this concludes my section of the debate, and for one last time, I would like to give my thanks to RWZero for accepting the challenge and making some great arguments. Hopefully, the results of the debate will be discovered soon (I would ask my opponent not to vote, because I don't have voting privileges yet). Thanks again to RWZero and I wish everyone who sees this debate the best of luck.
None of the statistics I cited were demonstrably biased or unspecific. My statements are no less broad than my opponents, but I did warn that space limitations necessitate a few generalizations.
[I] The purpose of the "ordinary people" argument was to show the enormous prevalence of rapists and rape-justifying attitudes. This prevalence constitutes a culture, or social attitude. Furthermore, it suggests that most rapists are ordinary, with ordinary guilt complexes and responses to peer pressure--therefore they are vulnerable to the kind of lower-strength deterrence that is effective on low-level criminals, but not on rarer, hardened criminals (c.f. locking car doors). The "you can't deter rapists" argument assumes that most rapists have rarer psychologies, with attenuated sensitivity to social forces.
The definitions in my surveys are crystal clear. To allege that they are "vague" is a case in point of the rationalization I am describing. The only example of ambiguity my opponent cites is S3, which was not a survey. Maybe he meant S1, which read: "had sexual intercourse with someone, even though they did not want to, because they were too intoxicated [...] to resist [...]." If you think this is vague, we should be having a different debate.
The premise is "feminist social initiatives can help," not that any particular feminists or feminist actions (Slutwalk, saying the sexes are equal) are helpful. I won't repeat this distinction again.
1. I showed that false rape claims are extremely rare (est. 2%). I then contrasted it with a widespread, hostile social attitude (a "culture") that treats rape claims more like they are correct 2% of the time. The proportions of this attitude should be reversed. In response, my opponent asks if I have read an Aesop's Fable and names two false rape claimants. This is irrelevant.
2. My point was not that the lawyer's argument was bad, but that such arguments successfully convince male trial judges in rape cases, since their intuition is based upon widespread assumptions rather than evidence. Although this is changing.
My opponent argues that rape is caused by natural forces. I already agreed. My point is not that social forces directly cause rape--they justify it, fail to deter it, and fail to punish it, in comparison with other violent crimes.
This alternative plan to stop rape with self-defence is irrelevant, since we are discussing whether it can *also* be helped by changing social attitudes with a social movement. These are not mutually exclusive. I agree that preventive measures exist and are helpful.
[Since my opponent brought up "arming women" twice, though, I'll comment: This is divorced from real life experience. Most rapes are committed unexpectedly by friends or acquaintances in situations where there's no chance of having (or reaching) your pepper spray once it starts. And if you think woman can just take martial arts and make up for the male-female strength differential, you've been playing too many video games.]
My opponent says I'm avoiding explaining how feminism can help. But I did explain. Feminism denotes a social initiative to change social attitudes. If men receive negative social reinforcement against the idea that some types of rape are "not really rape," (and my surveys showed that they do think this) they may hesitate more often, since they are common people vulnerable to peer pressure, circumstance and guilt--not rare criminal types. If people stopped being so hostile towards rape claimants--threatening them, insulting them and assuming they're lying 98% of the time, contra the evidence that they are truthful 98% of the time--more victims will come forward. If rape victims are believed and come forward, deterrence is greatly increased, since rapists will no longer see rape as a crime that will have no consequences (c.f. bike theft). If police and male members of the legal system are aware of the evidence for how victims behave, rather than their own assumptions about these things, they will rule more in line with the truth. If men are made aware of how traumatizing rape is to women, and how negatively it affects their lives, this will affect rapists who choose to inflict the suffering (we are all willing to inflict certain amount of suffering to get what we want, but if our estimates of the suffering are badly off, it may change our calculus) and, moreover, it will affect how seriously everyone takes the crime, or how easily they believe someone deserved it, which affects the consequences it brings on, which affects deterrence.
All of these things are the result of social initiative like feminism--talking to people, posting things, "raising awareness." I had my mind changed about all of the above due to feminists influencing me through social action, even though I have rejected most of the other ways feminists have tried to influence me (including some of their views on this very topic).
I don't have to prove that feminism could achieve all these results. It is just plausible that it could (and is already achieving some results, despite the dubious state of it) and therefore there is a need to try. There are no negative effects to any of the specific social initiatives I have mentioned.
Sequential comments on sources:
- This is mostly about feminist actions I didn't defend. It claims pro-rape psychology is rare and not "average"; I disagree, per stats above, and per the "average" hostility shown to claimants.
- Says the rate is 1 in 40, not 1 in 5. That's for college. My statistics are about total rates. 1 in 40 just in a 4-year span is absurdly high and justifies all the attention given to the issue. Also, this lists more negative things feminism has done. Overreactions on campus are not mutually exclusive with the opposite results in courts or experiences with police. Both are bad.
- Discusses criminalizing of vague definitions of rape. Again, the bad decisions of feminists are irrelevant. I showed that lots of unambiguous rape occurs and I did not use vague definitions or support the criminalization of such.
- Contains no points not addressed above.
- Also contains no points not addressed above
I'd address the videos, but I'm out of time. Though I see that the last one is again about feminist behaviour, and is not on point.
I encourage my opponent, and readers, not to be influenced by negative feelings towards feminists. The point is that a handful of crucial observations, as above, merit some social action. You do not have to agree with feminists on 95% of their points, to admit that 5% of their observations have merit. You don't have to agree that they are doing a good job of dealing with that 5%, either--just that they could be, and should be.
Thanks to 333 for a comprehensive treatment of the issues, and farewell.
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Vote Placed by Letsdebate24 6 months ago
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