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Not all sexual assaults equal


Not all sexual assaults equal

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Recently, University of West Indies (UWI) has established a gender policy that, inter alia, insists that “sexual harassment, predatory sexual behaviour and a range of sexually coercive actions not be used to intimidate students and colleagues”. While no one could possibly argue such a policy, caution is required in the implementation.

At the risk of being labelled a rape apologist, I’m going to say what many reasonable people have been thinking for some time. Not all sexual assaults are equal. Violent rape is not the same as psychologically coercive sex, which is not the same as regrettable sex, which is not the same as fielding an unwanted touch or kiss at a party. All these experiences are bad, but they lie on a spectrum ranging from truly horrific to merely annoying.

In today’s grievance culture, though, we’re taught to believe that a drunk college student who has sex she neither exactly consented to nor exactly resisted is as much of a victim as the clearly brutalised woman. Campus activists argue that it’s wrong to “privilege” one kind of trauma over another.

But it’s insulting and dangerous to liken the fight against rape culture – a phenomenon that is terrifyingly and appallingly real – to the petty complaints of grievance culture. By shaking so many individual trees, its adherents create distractions from the perils of the big, terrifying forest. And we can’t afford such distractions any longer.


– Charles Knighton