Jessica Valenti has penned the most anti-intellectual piece I can recall reading -- but don't take my word for it, read it yourself here. She's done something I would not have thought possible on the topic of Woody Allen: she's topped Roxane Gay's piece for irresponsibility, hatefulness, and plain old forehead-slapping stupidity.
It is one thing to be respectful of a woman who says she was sexually abused and to insist that she not be dismissed as a liar or a fraud -- all persons of good will should insist on that. It is quite another to suggest, however so obliquely and coyly, that "we know" that a presumptively innocent man who has never been charged with, much less convicted of, any crime, and who certainly may be innocent, is guilty of sexually assaulting a woman more than two decades ago just because the woman says so.
Valenti's clear and palpable implication is that "we know" Woody Allen is guilty because other women -- who have no relevance whatsoever to the facts of this case or the parties at issue -- have been abused, a fortiori, this woman was abused.
The idiocy at work here is breathtaking, chilling, and laugh-out-loud funny, all at once.
Valenti's piece makes one especially outrageous statement. She says we need to "start to believe victims en masse . . .." What she really means, of course, is that we should believe that every accuser is a victim based solely on the accusation. In Valenti's world, there is no difference between an accuser and a victim. That, alone, should exile Valenti from the adult table on this very serious topic.
Valenti has a habit of writing things about rape that are, by any rational measure, inane, presumably to keep herself relevant in the feminist community without regard to how her comments play to the general public. For one thing, she believes that rape is normal for even decent men: "Rape is part of our culture; it's normalized to the point where men who are otherwise decent guys will rape and not even think that it's wrong. And that's what terrifies me."
Valenti is wrong, of course. Dr. David Lisak, a researcher on sexual assault whose work is widely touted by feminists, instructs that rape is committed by a relatively small group of repeat-offender sociopaths: "The silver lining is that only a small percentage of young men crossed the line, and the vast majority would never commit rape, he said." See here.
But why let the facts get in the way of a meta-narrative? Given Valenti's irrational, wholly incorrect, world-view, it's little wonder that she's suggested America follow the lead of Sweden, where "some activists and legal experts . . . want to change the law there so that the burden of proof is on the accused; the alleged rapist would have to show that he got consent, instead of the victim having to prove that she didn’t give it.” In other words, the act of lovemaking that has gone on around the world countless times a day since the beginning of time would be presumptively rape any time a woman cries rape -- guilty until proven innocent.
I have no idea if Woody Allen is guilty or innocent, and neither does Jessica Valenti. Accusations of this nature are troubling, and in these sorts of "he said, she said" cases where it's not clear who is being truthful, especially where decades-old allegations are concerned, the accuser should never be branded a liar, and the accused should never be branded a rapist. But one article after the next, all penned by persons with the same world-view as Valenti, seek to tilt public opinion against Allen by doing exactly what Valenti has done: ignoring the facts of the actual case they are writing about. One of the few articles that has bothered to analyze the facts is this one, and it makes a compelling argument for doubting the accusation. There is also this, which casts doubt on the accusation. We point out these sources not to endorse them but simply because the persons who dominate the public discourse on this issue don't bother to mention them at all. In fairness to the accuser, we have no idea if these sources paint an accurate picture. Questions of guilt and innocence in the sexual assault milieu should never be tried in news articles.
When writers like Valenti insist that a man is guilty of rape in a particular case because some other men commit rape in wholly unrelated cases, I wonder if they realize how foolish they come off.
Sadly, my guess is that the thought never occurs to them. Let's all be for gender equality and fairness and justice, but stick a fork in feminism, it's done. If this is a shining example of it, there is nothing remotely salvageable.