Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

On @RichardDawkins – The Religion of Logic As Used to Erase Victims Experience

Richard Dawkins believes that the severity of individual cases of rape and abuse can be gradated, and he doesn't like people to point out to him that there are many reasons why he is wrong about that. He has clearly been mulling on this for some time, because this morning he took to twitter with this:

"X is bad. Y is worse. If you think that's an endorsement of X, go away and don't come back until you've learned how to think logically."

"Mild pedophilia is bad. Violent pedophilia is worse. If you think that's an endorsement of mild pedophilia, go away and learn how to think."

"Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse. If you think that's an endorsement of date rape, go away and learn how to think."

"Whether X or Y is worse is a matter of opinion. But it is a matter of LOGIC that to express that opinion doesn't mean you approve of either."

(@RichardDawkins 29.07.2014)

Dawkins would, I know, like us to believe that he is not a rape apologist. And in his fervour to apply logic to absolutely everything, he has created an equation which - he thinks - proves that not only is he right, but that those of us who state that his position is one of ignorance (to put it mildly) are emoting not debating.

It is clear that he does not understand what sexual violence is - he reproduces common myth and misconception immediately, working as he does from the false premise that rape and abuse have any gradation of severity at all. His formulae (which I am sure he feels is terribly logical), in fact is not; in not accounting for the most important factor - the effect of the sexual violence on the victim - he erases the voice, knowledge and experience of the victim, thereby excusing one or other form of rape and abuse. Which is exactly what his supposed fevered logic purports to disavow.

Logic is an important tool which humans use, as we navigate through our lives, trying to figure out the world in which we live and our place in it. But it is not more than that - used incorrectly it is, at best, a blunt object that mangles, obfuscates and erases (as in this case).

Rape and abuse are not logical - those of us who have suffered at its claws, or who work in support and advocacy of those who are, do not learn to navigate the violent landscape in the wake of an attack with logic, because logic is useless to us in those circumstances. We understand and know better than Dawkins the facts and realities, because he chooses to remain ignorant of our knowledge; he does not value it because it does not fit in to any 'logical' box.

Your over heated (dare I suggest religious) fervour for logic Mr Dawkins is useless: you do not understand the subject on which you speak. Let those who know, speak. Let those who don't, shut up and listen.

(Posted at http://incarnationalrelational.wordpress.com/2014/07/29/on-richarddawkins-the-religion-of-logic-as-used-to-erase-victims-experience/)

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5 thoughts on “On @RichardDawkins – The Religion of Logic As Used to Erase Victims Experience

  • Hecuba says:

    Richard Dawkins is suffering from that common male syndrome named ‘male myopia.’ Male myopia means men believe their male experiences of their world are the absolute definitive truths and this is why rape apologist Dawkins is claiming ‘Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse.’ Dawkins and his male buddies view the world horizontally meaning they only accept other males’ lived experiences as real since women aren’t human so therefore women’s lived experiences are irrelevant.

    This is a common male lie expressed so many times that many women believe these male propaganda lies. This is despite the fact males are not the ones being routinely sexually preyed on and ‘date raped/or raped at knife point by other males.’

    Dawkins believes only these two scenarios are real rapes’ and he conveniently ignores the fact innumerable males rape females but these male rapists always claim ‘wah I didn’t rape her ‘cos she didn’t say no loud enough or she didn’t fight back etc. etc.’ Males constantly create new excuses/justifications for their continuing male pseudo sex right to sexually prey on women and girls.

    Males have no idea of womens’ lived experiences wherein all women have to daily navigate their lives around constant male threats of violence being levied against them if they are presumed by men not to demonstrate due deference and subservience to those supposedly definitive beings who are male.

    This is why males continue to deny male violence against women is a pandemic because the male deniers are not routinely subjected to male sexual harassment/male sexual violence or even lethal male violence because their sex is male!

    Keep on claiming your illogical male logic is rational Dawkins because your own words prove you are a misogynist and believe mens’ experiences are the supposedly definitive truths!

  • I have no direct experience of the heinous crime that is rape yet I do understand that it is about power and control and therefore no gradation or formulaic obfuscation can be applied. All the victims are individuals with minds and bodies that have been violated be it at knife point, be it on a date, be it in a war zone. The violation and the impact I can’t even begin to imagine but I do not think Richard Dawkins and his intellect can even begin to empathise and that is his downfall. Living a cosseted and sheltered academic existence far removed from reality has left this poor man blind to human emotion and trauma it is ultimately very sad.

  • Ali says:

    This kind of statement glosses over the fact that rape and abuse are inherently violent crimes – that is to say, a person has been violated. Such a crime carried out with physical violence may be shocking in its brutality, but it isn’t “worse.” Perhaps Dawkins, and others who think this way, forget that the majority of these crimes are carried out by men known to the victim; the betrayal of trust involved often serving to heighten incomprehension and distress.   
    This kind of ‘logic’ creates something of a ‘hierarchy of legitimate hurt,’ within which, as you say, the experience of the victim is completely erased. It is instead for the observer to apply ‘logic’ and no doubt ‘objectivity’ to the situation, to determine the severity of the crime. There is a sense (to me) that victims of ‘non violent’ rape or abuse should perhaps be thankful that the crime they experienced wasn’t ‘worse;’ that their legitimate feelings of say, outrage, anger and hurt should be put away on the grounds that others have it so much worse.

    Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised; Dawkins is a scientist. My own field of research (mental health) highlights the way women and children have been systematically silenced and disregarded for centuries. Pre- ‘enlightenment’ attitudes that liken women and children to animals, thanks to them being inherently irrational, to modern day gendered psychiatric diagnoses (often handed out to the victims of abuse which Dawkins dismisses as less ‘serious’), science has a less than glorious history when it comes to women being heard. Not a surprise, then, but as someone who prides himself of considering the ‘evidence,’ perhaps Dawkins could acquaint himself with the wealth of research which demonstrates the longterm effects of rape and sexual abuse.

  • Alice says:

    It’s interesting to note that no one is arguing with Professor Dawkins point, only with the examples he uses. Just because one thing is considered “bad” and another considered “worse” doesn’t mean that the person making those considerations condones something that is bad.

    However, I can see also that what is “bad” and what is “worse” is a matter of opinion. Someone who had a violent sexual attack from a stranger may come to terms with their experience and move on a lot quicker than a person who has had a comparatively non-violent sexual attack from someone known to them, perhaps they felt they could trust. In the end each situation is subjective to the person who endured the attack.

    • Ali says:

      I mentioned that too, Alice, just took a while to post as it was being moderated. One thing I didn’t know (until yesterday, after I’d submitted my post) was that Dawkins himself was apparently abused as a child.