The Girl told me a story a few months ago that on one of the first days of Criminal Law there was a discussion of what constitutes rape. The professor grew frustrated because the students were not as talkative as he had hoped. How is this a surprise? Even a volunteer offering a definition of rape is bound to not be inclusive enough for everyone and hence be potentially seen as a misogynist. Zizek offers the lesson to be drawn on page of 50 of In Defense of Lost Causes:
[T]he sign of progress in our societies is that one does not need to argue against rape: it is “dogmatically” clear to everyone that rape is wrong, and we all feel that even arguing against it is too much. If someone were to advocate the legitimacy of rape, it would be a sad sign if one had to argue against him – he should simply appear ridiculous. And the same should hold for torture.
For Zizek the torture comment was not a non-sequitor, you can thank my politics for its inclusion. Anywhoo, I think there is a sophisticated criticism of the way the law applies rape. Rape is not about the relationship of two people compared to a standard rather rape is about the relationship of the two people involved (I recognize that rape can sometimes involve more than two people). William Volmann provides an example of this notion: if on a public bus in Riyadh a man approaches a woman and removes her hijab then that is a form of violence and public humiliation which should be considered a form of rape. Even if it happens in Detroit it ought to be considered a form of rape. Our law, however, is invested with a blind spot. In its efforts to prosecute the worst forms of rape it allows other forms which are deemed by society to be less reprehensible. I am not illusioned to think this is a failure of our legal system, rather it is a problem with law as it is administered by bureaucracies.
The ridiculousness of arguing against rape seems to be almost on par with an event that happened during the Republican Primary debates. Arianna Huffington is correct to say that when five of the candidates raised their hands to say they did not believe in evolution they should have been escorted from the stage and consideration as President. Evolution is not an atheist belief, it is entirely consistent with religion. And there is a wealth of scientific proof of it as a theory to explain variation among species. It is akin to not believing in gravity. I do not want to be all doom and gloom but I find it sad that someone who si so fundamentalist can even gain enough constituents to make a run for the nomination of the incumbent party. My lachrymose mood should not be read as a Democratic rant, rather it should be read as a bipartisan rant about where we are as Americans. Being raised in Texas by a family proud of its country-folk status I am saddened by the theme most unifying of rednecks, a disavowal of education and “high falootin nonsense”. Not that I believe higher education is devoid of nonsense, there is plenty to go around, but an altogether denigration of education seems to be a growing trend. And these are the same people that tend to have the largest families.