The (Whoopi) Goldberg Spectrum of Sexual Violence Denial
In remarks both here and on my other blog I've made snarky references to what I've been calling "The Goldberg Spectrum of Sexual Violence Denial." I'd like to explain what I mean with this chart.
The big, big problem is that most people seem to believe that the entire spectrum of sexual violence extends from ex-Senate candidate Todd Aikin's indefensible standard of "Legitimate Rape" to Whoopi Goldberg's equally indefensible standard of "rape-rape."In other words they see it as somewhere between attacks so violent that organ failure, a.k.a. "shutdown," results (Aikin) to something evidently worse than what Roman Polanski was convicted of (Goldberg.)
For Aikin, Goldberg, and evidently too many others, anything less than the most brutal forms of assault by stranger doesn't count as sexual violence at all.
There are many, many ramafications of this. The big one being that virtually all victims to the left of Goldberg in the graph, above, are women and girls. And while there are certainly exceptions, virtually none are men or boys. Furthermore, perpetrators of sexual violence to the left of Goldberg on the spectrum are almost exclusively men and boys. And because most people seem to believe the entire range extends only from Aikin to Goldberg it really seems as if all the stereotypes about gender, from the bitterest anti-feminist to the bitterest feminist, must be true.
And if all that was to it then the stereotypes would be true.
However it's not true. Aikin and Goldberg's standards are squeezed waaaaay over to the left of the spectrum. There's substantially more. In fact I'm pretty sure even Goldberg (though probably not Aikin) understands this. But as I suggest in the chart, that public understanding still fades pretty quickly to a point that there can be bafflement or confusion (or calculated sexual-violence denial) about the so-called "gray area."
Somewhat further to the right mainstream sexual-violence advocates understand that there's no "gray area," and understands as well that workplace and street or social sexual harassment is sexual violence and. There's general (though not yet complete) agreement that young men and boys can be victims and even that for the most part, that "stolen kisses" and unwanted hugs count. Although somewhere around that point understanding fades out and sexual-violence denial begins to creep back in.
I'd like to suggest, however, that the spectrum extends quite a bit further into terrain where almost everybody will deny there's sexual violence. Although, I'd like to argue, that like the microwave background it's still there. And that perhaps, like the microwave background, the extreme right end represents the faintest traces of original sexual violence. But I digress.
I'd further like to suggest that as one begins to recognize the scope of the Goldberg spectrum the less easy it is to make tidy assertions about what is or isn't sexual violence or who the victims and perpetrators really are.