Unconscious Rape

The internet has gone nuts over the last week or so about an article by Steven Landsburg, a professor of economics at Rochester University in New York. In a nutshell, he writes three different scenarios in which he claims that no harm is done to the subject of the vignette, and asks if the feelings of the person in each should be taken into account when making public policy.

The first scenario asks if one person’s objection to others watching porn should be considered. The second asks whether an armchair environmentalist’s objection to oil drilling is worthy of consideration. And the third asks if an unconscious rape victim’s feelings should be considered.

Rape is A Big Deal. Something like one in five women have experienced it. De-legitimising their experiences in any way is reprehensible. It doesn’t matter if you were unconscious, or too scared to fight back, or ‘deserved it’, or ‘led him on’. It’s one of the most personal crimes there is. It goes unreported so often because of the guilt, or the shame, or the sheer fact that so few will ever be brought to justice that victims don’t want to be put through the wringer by the system in a fight that will damage them further, but they probably won’t win.

Someone you know has been raped. Multiple someones. I guarantee it. And lessening the impact of what happened to them by reducing it to an interesting thought experiment is wrong.

I have been one of those victims. One of the silent ones who never told. And I am royally insulted by being reduced to a thought experiment. What happened to me is wrong. What happened to every rape victim is wrong. There is never any scenario, no matter how far outside reality that it may be framed, in which rape is not wrong.


3 thoughts on “Unconscious Rape

    1. Wombat Post author

      In the article, he did frame it as ‘you or I’ were raped – but still, I really don’t think he truly put himself in that place. He was creating a completely unreal situation, so there was no emotional connection.

      1. Carrie Lange

        nah, he didn’t think it through at all, there are many emotional, and physical things he would feel, he would FEEL like he had just been raped. not to mention … um… how to put it delicately… there would be certain substances on him which he would most definitely feel and all that would lead to his utter devastation. Of course, things that men don’t consider when thinking about what a woman goes through when she’s raped. There probably AREN’T long lasting physical sensations for a man after sex, but there would be after he’s been penetrated by anther man… what a jerk!


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