Dr. Helen

How Do You Cope with a "Friend" Who Thinks All Men Are Rapists?

I received an email from an academic who was dismayed to learn that a female friend who is a professor believes that all men are rapists. He wrote to ask for my help in how to cope (I have abbreviated and changed some of the wording for privacy) :

Dr. Helen,

I am in an online group of professors and academics and a female professor who I am friends with posted on an internet meme about “Teaching Men Not to Rape.” The gist of this document was something along the lines of :

1. Don’t put drugs in women’s drinks.

2. When you see a woman walking by herself, leave her alone.

3. If you pull over to help a woman whose car has broken down, remember not to rape her.

4. If you are in an elevator and a woman gets in, don’t rape her.

5. When you encounter a woman who is asleep, the safest course of action is to not rape her.

6. Never creep into a woman’s home through an unlocked door or window, or spring out at her from between parked cars, or rape her.

I linked to articles to try and give her information on the rape statistics and how most men are decent guys but her response was that she gets near men in public and feels that they could overcome her physically.

Do you have any advice on how to deal with this kind of stuff for fathers, fathers who are professors, and folks who would like to be able to take this stuff on at work without risking losing their job? Any thoughts would be appreciated.

My response to this reader was:

You are too kind. You are trying to engage in an intellectual discussion where there is none. These ideas are based on what makes women feel good and gives the Uncle Tims of the world a chance to strut their stuff by playing along with the game in the hopes of accolades. I think the disconnect here for you is “how can you engage with such a person?” How do you deal with someone who thinks you and your son are rapists while being a “friend” to you. Whether she is a parent or not matters none. Many nasty people who hate men have sons. The goal here is to let “friends” or colleagues know that their prejudices may have consequences. How do you do that?

It sounds like you tried to use logic but you were not satisfied with the results of her response. One way to fight back is by using their own words against them. How about this:

“I can’t believe someone with your open-mindedness would buy into this propaganda. Your open expression of such views as a professor may make male students feel uncomfortable producing a hostile learning environment for male students. I am sure that 50 years ago there were women who were afraid to be in a crowd of African Americans but we didn’t design our society to accommodate their prejudices. You need to think about whether it is fair or legal to stereotype a whole group of people based on gender.”

She will go onto deny profusely that this is not the case and maybe call you a “rape apologist.” Response? Was Atticus Finch a rape apologist?

Anyway, you get the idea. Use their own progressive ideas against them and often that will shut them down by using a bunch of Title IX rhetoric.

Helen Smith

Dear readers, do you have some more tips for our distressed dad on how to deal with a “friend” or colleague who thinks all men are rapists?