Susan Patton, a.k.a. Princeton Mom, is still out here with her nuanced take on gender and relationship issues. As you may recall, previous greatest hits included: date rape isn't real, sex work is gross, and, of course, spinsterhood is the single most terrifying fate that can possibly befall a woman. CNN did a segment on campus rape yesterday, and of all possible guests they could have chosen—a social scientist, a current or former campus administrator, someone with a law enforcement background—they went with Patton. She opined that a lot of rape in college is really just "a fumbled attempt at a kiss or a caress." At least she's consistent. Terrible, but consistent.
The Department of Justice released a new study yesterday on rape and sexual assault among college-aged females. It found that while the rate of sexual assault for non-students is slightly higher than for women enrolled in school (7.6 per 1,000 versus 6.1 per 1,000), college students were less likely to report their rapes: the DOJ estimates that 80% of those rapes went unreported, versus 67% for non-students. In both groups, the offender was known to the victim about 80% of the time, and a weapon was used only one in 10 times.
For Patton, the fact that rape victims in college know their attackers is enough to prove that we're not talking about real rape here.
"I think what makes this conversation so particularly prickly is the definition of rape," she said. "It no longer is when a woman is violated at the point of a gun or knife. We're now talking about or identifying as rape what really is a clumsy hook-up or a fumbled attempt at a kiss or a caress. How could that possibly —"
"You think that all it is?" asked CNN host Carol Costello, with barely restrained incredulity.
"In many cases that's what it is," Patton replied. "And we just heard the statistics. In many cases this is with a friend, this is in your own home."
"Most rapes happen between people who know each other," Costello pointed out. "Whether you're on campus or not."
No matter, Patton said. "It makes one wonder, why do you not just get up and leave. Or why do you not as a woman tell a man who's making advances that you're not comfortable with, 'You know what? Stop. Leave.'"
With keen insight like that, it's no wonder we can't get Sue off our televisions. Things only devolved further from there: when Costello asked if Patton had ever talked to a rape victim, and what that person had said, Patton revealed that in those instances, she believed that the rape victim in question simply "got very drunk and had sex with a man that she regretted the next morning. To me that's not a crime, that's not rape. That's a learning experience. That's a learning experience that has to do with making choices and taking responsibility for the choices that you make."
After a little detour into her theory that "antagonistic feminists" are to blame for false rape accusations on campus, Costello asked Patton why she didn't have any words about, say, teaching men not to commit rape.
"You can teach burglars not to steal," she replied. "But better advice: lock your door."
Costello's thoughts about that segment are pretty clear: she re-tweeted a Salon article calling Patton's rapesplanations "mind-numbing."
Here's the full video. Look upon S. Pat's works, ye mighty, and despair:
Image via CNN.