James Taranto, a writer for the Wall Street Journal and tireless General in what he calls a “war on men,” wrote a column on Monday that suggested college women who drink alcohol are inviting sexual assault by their behavior.

This isn’t the first time, Taranto has explored the nuances of sexual assault. It’s kind of his thing. For years, Taranto has had one goal: to convince the world that sexual assault is largely made up by women and disproportionately harms men.

As Jezebel has helpfully pointed out, where ever there is an opportunity to shoehorn his misogynistic agenda into the national discussion, Taranto will jump on it. Making matters worse, The Wall Street Journal is complicit in the crime. It’s been a symbiotic relationship between a writer who has an axe to grind, and a newspaper that simply doesn’t care. It’s one thing to have a editorial section that displays a diverse range of opinions and viewpoints, its another to let a belligerent woman-hater have a credible platform to spread his nonsense.

In the op-ed piece, he explains that if alcohol is involved, then shouldn’t both genders be equally blamed for any sexual misconduct? To make his point he employs this analogy:

If two drunk drivers are in a collision, one doesn’t determine fault on the basis of demographic details such as each driver’s sex. But when two drunken college students ‘collide,’ the male one is almost always presumed to be at fault,” Taranto writes. He goes on to conclude that efforts to address sexual violence on college campuses are creating a culture in which “women, but not men, are absolved of responsibility by virtue of having consumed alcohol.”

In Taranto’s mind, sexual assault is like a fender bender. People just “collide” sometimes. Never mind that in this analogy some cars are both physically and socially more powerful than other ones. Never mind that one type of car is almost always the instigator of these collisions.

He also warped a recent article by The New York Times on campus sexual assault to his own world view.

The article mentions a young man named Matt Martel who prevented his intoxicated male friend from having a sexual encounter with drunk female student. The young woman said the next day that she was grateful to Martel. Taranto doesn’t like this story,

The question arises here: Whom exactly did Martel save from danger? The answer is quite possibly both the young woman and his friend. Had she awakened the next day feeling regretful and violated, she could have brought him up on charges and severely disrupted his life. Both of them were taking foolish risks, and it seems likely that he as well as she had impaired judgment owing to excessive drinking.

The “foolish risks” aren’t equal. The woman’s “foolishness” is that she thought she could drink alcohol without being assaulted. The man’s is rape.

Taranto’s arguments are nothing new or original. People have been trying to blame women for rape for roughly as long as there has been rape. The thinking goes that if women would just dress the right way, stay in the right areas, and socialize the right way, rape wouldn’t happen. That has never been the case. Rape occurs regardless of behavior.

Further, Taranto’s concern falls squarely on the men he worries may someday be falsely accused of sexual assault. While that has happened, of course, the rates are incredibly low. A conservative estimate puts it at around 2.2 percent. The women’s advocacy blog Fem2.0 helpfully puts it this way: men are 32 times more likely to be struck by lightning than to be falsely accused of rape. Compare that incident rate with the number of women who will be raped in their lifetimes. Again, a conservative estimate puts that number at around 1 in 5. Put another way, there are more women alive today who have been the victims of rape than the number of humans ever killed by lightning in all of human history.



About The Author

I let my curiosity take me for a walk. My job is to describe what I find under the rocks.