Glenn Beck’s Skit Mocking Campus Rape Is Gross and Misleading, Even for Him

What Women Really Think
May 28 2014 12:11 PM

Glenn Beck’s Skit Mocking Campus Rape Is Gross and Misleading, Even for Him

You'd think that "less rape at colleges" would be one of those lofty goals that manages to rise above partisan bickering. (Republicans and Democrats both have daughters, last time I checked.) But not for Glenn Beck and his staff at the Blaze, which just released a grossly sexist skit to ridicule White House efforts to reduce rape and other forms of violence and aggression toward women on campus. His knee-jerk opposition to anything the president undertakes seems to have compelled Beck to sign off on a segment that’s gross and misleading even by his own standards. 

Amanda Marcotte Amanda Marcotte

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.

The premise of the segment is that the Obama White House is exaggerating the incidence of rape on campus. Host Stu Burguiere kicked it off by attacking the 2007 Campus Sexual Assault report and the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, saving most of his ire for the latter. He mostly argued semantics, saying that researchers should only count something as "rape" or "sexual assault" if the victim explicitly calls it that. (The current methodology asks people about their experiences directly, and classifies any incidents that meet the legal definition for sexual assault as such.) As far as I can tell, the only reason to eschew the more exacting legal definition and revert to hazier methods of victim self-identification is to artificially suppress the number of reported assaults, since many victims still think it's only rape if a stranger in the bushes does it. 

Advertisement

From there, Burguiere got even more creative. One of the questions asked in the NISVS was splashed on screen, reading, "When you were drunk, high, drugged, or passed out and unable to consent, how many people ever had sex with you?" (Emphasis mine.) Burguiere found this question hilarious: "News flash! I hate to say it, but it is possible to have consensual sex while drunk or high." (Yep, it is. That's why the study included the qualifier "unable to consent.") "If you eliminate sex while drunk or high," Burguiere whined, "you eliminate about half the sex in the entire United States." Probably. Good thing no one is actually trying to do that, instead focusing their efforts on eliminating sexual assault while leaving consenting couples to their own devices.

To maximize the comic effect of the violent, humiliating abuse of women, Burguiere brought two men on camera, one dressed oh-so-hilariously as a woman, to act out "questions the study actually used to determine if a woman was raped," according to Burguiere. The male character told the female character that he was an Abercrombie model. She responded by giggling and twirling her hair, in case you forgot that women are ridiculous. Burguiere then jumped in with a big red sign reading "RAPE!" "Whoa whoa whoa, stop!" he yelled. "That's rape. Pressuring someone to have sex with you by telling them lies is the same as rape," he said sarcastically. 

Gosh, that would be alarming if the NISVS did that, wouldn't it? Good thing they don't. The survey did ask people if they had sex because a person was "doing things like telling you lies, making promises about the future they knew were untrue, threatening to end your relationship, or threatening to spread rumors about you." But the study didn't classify this as rape or attempted rape—it put it in the entirely separate category of “sexual coercion.” Here's the chart from the study itself:

cdc survey

The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, as its name would indicate, aims to measure more than just rape. The survey covers a wide variety of abusive and violent behaviors, including stalking and domestic violence. The idea is to get a generalized view of how coercion and abuse play out in relationships, so questions about these milder forms of coercion are posed along with questions about more serious affronts. It’s dishonest to claim the NISVS called "telling lies" a form of rape. 

On the other hand, objectively reporting on a study doesn't provide an easy opportunity to have a bug-eyed white guy with a big "RAPE!" arrow pointing directly at a man dressed as a misogynistic stereotype. 

glenn beck

Can't let facts and accuracy get in the way of an arresting visual like that.

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Doublex

Crying Rape

False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

No, New York Times, Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman” 

Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 1:39 PM Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman,” New York Times. Neither Are Her Characters.

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

How Will You Carry Around Your Huge New iPhone? Apple Pants!

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Television

The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

There’s a Way to Keep Ex-Cons Out of Prison That Pays for Itself. Why Don’t More States Use It?

Why Men Can Never Remember Anything

The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Why Men Can Never Remember Anything
Behold
Sept. 19 2014 11:33 AM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
Foreigners
Sept. 19 2014 1:56 PM Scotland’s Attack on the Status Quo Expect more political earthquakes across Europe.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 12:09 PM How Accelerators Have Changed Startup Funding
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Why Men Never Remember Anything
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 2:44 PM Where Do I Start With Mystery Science Theater 3000?
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 12:38 PM Forward, March! Nine leading climate scientists urge you to attend the People’s Climate March.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 12:13 PM The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola  The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.