May attention was sadly drawn to the musings of one Brendan McGinley of Acculturated who believes that he website Gawker "promotes rape culture" because editor John Cook made a funny at notorious National Review Online prude Kathryn Lopez on the Twitter.
"In college, I thought rape culture was just another scary phrase made up by feminists further to guilt and to demonize men. And then I found out a friend had been raped."
I love how the personalized rape experience somehow leads one to not realize the harmlessness of Twitter jokes in a world full of real violence. But, says McGinley, it's all about "thoughtless sexual boundary-crossing," which is a great way of enforcing that we all behave in such a way as to not run afoul of other people's hang ups. Cook's joke was that he had noticed Lopez following him on Twitter and so he welcomed her with a litany of sexual terms. We do not know how Lopez reacted. My bet is that she snickered, if she noticed at all. But if she fainted to the hardwood floors of National Review Online headquarters and had to be brought back to consciousness by the concentrated scent of Jonah Goldberg's sweaty J.C. Penney button down shirt, I do have to ask why in the heck we should care. These are Lopez's hypothetical hang ups and they have no bearing on how the rest of us conduct ourselves, even if we happen to find ourselves dealing with Lopez.
McGinley believes that Cook should have been censured by some sort of media watchdog. Somebody call Howard Kurtz!
"The message sent by this silence was clear: sexual boundary-crossing is A-OK if the woman in question is religious—that is to say, if she adheres to a sexual ethic considered by "enlightened" people to be irrational."
Well, yes. There are a few reasons for this. First, if we let everybody's sexual hang ups define our cultural boundaries, there will not be very much that we can say. McGinley's standard for rape culture behavior is "the purposeful transgressing of perceived sexual boundaries." That makes D.H. Lawrence and Jean Rhys both, in the contemporary parlance, "rapey." That makes Anais Nin rapey. That's hot. But, I digress. Second, Lopez is a fair target because she writes about sexual politics. She tells other women and men what they can or should do with their bodies and she does it all the time, without apology. She transgressed the boundaries first. It's how she makes her living. She has no regrets (nor should she) so she should be able to... take a joke.
Now, McGinley gets real with us about John Cook, the Twapist:
"I personally know two people who suffered this type of sexual transgression, but rather than experiencing it through the intermediary of the Internet like Lopez, it was for them very present and very, very real."
We have no details here. But if this is akin to Cook's sin without the Twitter, if it's just some harsh words for some people who were, themselves, openly charting a moral and ethical course for their fellow human beings then get a grip, folks. It seems like McGinley is just the most recent practitioner of the conservative tradition of co-opting a civil rights notion (in this case "rape culture") in order to make it seem as if religious people in America, though they are dominant in society and politics, are victims.
In which case, Brendan, I invite you to:
I'll sign my real name to this,