Is It Dangerous To Date Men?

Trigger warning: discussion and exploration of domestic violence and sexual assault.

The title of this column has probably led some of you to think that I’ve finally lost it. I have just
given the ultimate fuel to the men’s rights groups that love to troll my posts and attack me.
(I look forward to receiving the usual emails accusing me of being a self-hating man, blah, blah,
blah.)

This column is not about dividing the sexes or fear mongering. It’s about calling attention to the
fact that our culture is shamefully behind in addressing violence against women. Despite the
staggering statistics indicating the very real danger women face in relationships and dating, we
have marginalized the issue of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Am I being a provocateur in asking, “Is it dangerous to date men?” Yes, and I’m fine with that
because it’s often the only way for people to wake the hell up and stop feeling so comfortable
with the status quo.

And here is the status quo, statistically:

1. According to the United States Department of Justice, 12 percent of women in the United States have suffered rape or attempted rape by someone they were dating, also known as
acquaintance rape. (Notice I didn’t say “date rape.” Rape is rape.) The number grows much
higher when you include all sexual assault, but for the sake of this column, I am addressing
acquaintance assault.

2. One in four women will face domestic violence in her lifetime.

3. One-fifth to one-fourth of college-age women have survived rape or attempted rape. One out of four college-age men has admitted to sexual coercion in some form.

4. Every year, 4.8 million intimate partner-related physical assaults and rapes take place.

When the odds of being assaulted are 25 percent, something is dangerous. If any other activity
or object presented the same odds of injury or death, then a revolution would be ignited against
it. If one-fourth of Americans faced armed robbery in their lifetime, then you’d better believe
armed robbery would be a major national issue covered everywhere in the media, and it would
be right up there alongside the economy and national defense in the presidential debates.

While we’re talking statistical odds, let’s look at a few more:

1. In 2009, 1.2 million people were injured in car accidents. If this number represented
one-quarter of all Americans, then it would mean that more than 78 million people a year would
be injured in car accidents. I think we could expect major reforms in auto safety if this were the
case, don’t you?

2. Most stores have been short of Tylenol since 2009 because millions of bottles were pulled
(and remain) off store shelves for reasons of quality control. We’re not even talking about
product that caused sickness or injury; rather, there were reports of moldy, musty smells
coming from inside the bottles, and since there have been shortages as Johnson and Johnson
(the manufacturer of Tylenol) works to improve its quality control measures.

We’re all willing to make a strong, concerted efforts to see that safety is followed in cases like
these, with no margin allowed for error. It’s a shocking contrast to how we deal with
women’s safety from the men who harm them.

It makes me wonder, what if men were declared as a public safety hazard?

Could you imagine if they were recalled? Pulled off the street? “Sorry sir, you’ll have to come
with me; we’ve had reports that men have been raping, beating, and killing women, and we can’t
take the risk that you will, too.” Yes, it’s a ridiculous idea. But men are way more dangerous than
Tylenol.

3. In 2009 and 2010, Toyota recalled over five million of its vehicles after they were discovered
to have faulty accelerator issues that led to the deaths of 37 people; billions of dollars in
settlements and multiple class-action lawsuits followed the recall. The Toyota debacle became a
national story and Toyota Motor sales fell flat as a result of the negative press.

For the record, I don’t mean to discount the seriousness of unsafe autos or medicines. I’m not
implying that they shouldn’t be treated with the utmost attention. My point is that we don’t give
violence against women the same level of attention.

You may say: “People aren’t products that can be fixed. Rape and violence are part of human
history.” I say: That’s weak.

We must look at how violence in any form against women is addressed by government and
tacitly condoned by a culture. I don’t care if rape and violence have always been around and, as
a result, have faded into the background as an issue.

That’s exactly why I’m writing this column. Violence against women needs to be front and
center. And yes, I understand that we aren’t in the position to recall men or file class action
lawsuits against them, but this column is about the effort that is put into mitigating these
consumer crises and how little we do to mitigate violence against women.

You may also say, “There are plenty of men out there who don’t abuse or sexually assault
women—what about them?” I say: Well, what about them?

Why should we praise people for not doing things they shouldn’t be doing anyway? We don’t
say, “Oh, he’s terrific because he doesn’t rob people.” I’m glad there are men out there who don’t
abuse and rape, but we shouldn’t be handing out “Thank You for Not Raping!” awards as though
men have achieved special status for doing what’s appropriate and right.

So, what kind of focus do we have on this issue? Let’s take a look at the media.
Last week, Chris Matthews of MSNBC News asked MSNBC host and NBC foreign affairs
correspondent Andrea Mitchell if domestic violence was of concern to women. “Is that
something women really worry about?” he asked.

Every woman I know has a story of a friend being raped or assaulted, and most have a story of
a boyfriend, date, or husband crossing major lines. There’s a reason why my women friends
don’t like walking down certain streets at night alone, don’t like walking in dark parking lots, and
make housing decisions based on their personal safety (for example, avoiding living in
ground-floor apartments). They take these precautions because they are well aware of the
consequences of not being diligent about personal safety.

So, I don’t know, Chris. I think “worry” is a tad too neutral. How about “constantly aware”? Or
“don’t have the luxury of being oblivious”?

I believe most men do not understand the very real epidemic of domestic violence and sexual
assault, and these issues are not sufficiently prioritized by any stretch of the imagination.

The low priority given by Republicans in our government to the prevention of violence against
women is even more depressing.

In the United States, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was passed in 1994 and signed into law by President Clinton. VAWA allocates $1.6 billion annually for the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women. (For the record, the Navy recently awarded a $1.5 billion contract for a single warship; $1.6 billion is a pittance for something that will impact one-fourth of women in their lifetime.) It requires automatic restitution for violent crime victims and also allows victims to sue their assailants in civil court should prosecutors choose not to pursue the case. VAWA also provides for a federal rape shield law, which means that victims can’t be cross-examined in court about their previous sexual history, something that has been done in the past to intimidate and harm victims in court.

Given what VAWA affirms and offers by way of funding and protections to victims, you would
think there would be unanimous political support of VAWA reauthorization, even by those who
might not agree with it privately but would be ashamed to say so publicly.

But in 2013, 22 U.S. senators and 138 members of the House of Representatives voted not to
renew VAWA. These politicians put the little money and protection women are offered at risk for
their own political agendas, caring little or not at all about the consequences to women of these
decisions.

The lack accountability that exists within the military and at universities and colleges is well
documented.

If you rape a woman and you happen to be a member of the U.S. military, your chances of not being reported are 86.5 percent. Your chances of avoiding a court-martial if caught are 92 percent. Horrifying.

University of North Carolina former Assistant Dean of Students Melinda Manning was pressured
to under-report
the college’s reporting of sexual assault statistics to the U.S. Department of
Justice. She was told that the “numbers are too high”—as if she were projecting expenditures in
a budget.

At the same school, Annie Clark (she has spoken out publicly; I am not violating her privacy), a
student who was raped, was told by an administrator, “Rape is like a football game, Annie. If you look back on the game, and you’re the quarterback and you’re in charge, is there anything that you would have done differently in that situation?”

That quote is enough to make me shudder and you should, too.

So don’t tell me that the title of this column is unhelpful or that I am dividing people. We are living
in a country and a world that continually reminds women that their safety is an inconvenience or
at a minimum treats it as a non-issue.

It just so happens, as I was finishing this column, that I heard comedian Louis C.K.’s latest HBO
special. In it, he says, “The greatest threat to women is men. The greatest threat to men is heart
disease.”

The audience laughed uproariously.

Laughter in comedy doesn’t confirm that something is funny so much as that something is true. We don’t laugh if we disagree; we laugh because it makes sense.

I’m reminded, too, of a quotation that my father (a professor of statistics) has on his office wall,
one from the legendary statistician W. Edwards Deming: “In God I trust; all others must bring
data.”

The data is clear. Are we just going to sweep violence against women under the rug? We’re
running out of room.

During the minutes you took to read this column, two women were raped in the United States.

Women are running out of time in this country.

————-

I hope you will join me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, and check me out on Instagram.

Click here if you want to be notified about my upcoming book Who Does He Think He Is?

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Avatar of Yashar

17 Responses to “Is It Dangerous To Date Men?”

  1. Avatar of letty
    letty April 21, 2013 at 3:19 am #

    Thankyou once again for standing up for the rights, or lack of, of women. I am studying social services now after being through a domestic violent relationship of my own and recently did an assignment on sexual assault and was astounded when I read through legislation to discover that rape is not just being forced to have sex. I then realised that I was sexually assaulted multiple times in my own marriage. Which was heart breaking but also a relief to find out that what felt so bad was actually against the law. But why aren’t we taught this stuff in schools. Why aren’t boys taught that this behaviour is unacceptable. Why aren’t girls taught not to tolerate this behaviour? This should be compulsory!!! Just as important as Math and English. The only way for this to stop is education. How can people change if they don’t know any better? Girls as well. We need to be taught about our rights and what constitutes sexual assault and stop being made to feel guilty about our God given attractiveness!!! Ok, I’ve said enough, thanks for reading. Obviously a topic I feel very passionate about and I wish more people felt the same. God bless you!

  2. Avatar of empathologicalism
    empathologicalism April 20, 2013 at 9:20 am #

    You are getting “the lift” Yashar. The gals are swooning. You rocked one’s world even.

    How can anyone seriously claim that we ignore DV, that we treat it like an inconvenience?

    Check your own links, I did, they state, as I quote on my blog:

    Of the estimated 4.8 million intimate partner rapes and physical assaults perpetrated against women annually, approximately 2 million will result in an injury to the victim, and 552,192 will result in some type of medical treatment to the victim. Of the estimated 2.9 million intimate partner physical assaults perpetrated against men annually, 581,391 will result in an injury to the victim, and 124,999 will result in some type of medical treatment to the victim.

    It goes on to add

    Approximately one-fifth of all rapes, one-quarter of all physical assaults, and one-half of all stalkings perpetrated against female respondents by intimates were reported to the police. Even fewer rapes, physical assaults, and stalkings perpetrated against male respondents by intimates were reported [emphasis mine]

    Its a bilateral issue. You cannot claim to not want to stir gender controversy and yet ignore half the problem. What about the genteel idea that you Im sure subscribe to that “if it could save just one (woman/child)….as you justify every manner of program and law? Then you see the stats on men and ignore them.

    Its one thing to write a piece about a legitimate issue, violence against anyone is a legitimate issue. Violence against women is clearly a legitimate issue. But your hyperbolic nonsense doesn’t just highlight the issue, it dissembles and obfuscates and accuses…..men. If you would simply stay to the point that DV with female victims is bad…..fair enough. What youve done though is sought the approval of women, so you can get “the lift”….

    For definition of “the lift” see

    http://empathological.wordpress.com/2013/04/20/the-man-the-tylenol-and-the-toyota/

  3. Avatar of elfen_berzerker
    elfen_berzerker April 19, 2013 at 9:47 pm #

    I will never claim that violence against women is not a problem because it is. My mother was victimized by my step-father, my wife has been through two abusive relationship before me and numerous clients I work with have PTSD from abusive relationships.

    But for once in you life can you actually take an unbiased approach? Men’s groups flip out over posts like this because, while it is a very real issue, you ignore a VERY big point: Just as many studies have shown that men are statistically just as likely to be physically assaulted by the women in their lives, have a higher chance of being assaulted with a weapon by the women in their lives and face much higher rates of mental and emotional abuse than women. It’s all a matter of picking and choosing which study you want to present for defense of your argument.

    Many more men fall into the trap of “I’m a man… I can’t be seen getting beat by a woman so I’ll pretend it doesn’t happen”. Because of this, just like with the statistics for rape, there is no real way to know how many men are victims. I know I’ve fallen into a form of that trap with my current wife and past relationships. I’ve caught myself thinking “I’m 6’2″ almost 300bs and used to play football and worked as a bouncer. I can take what she can dish out and not bat an eyelash. Just let her get out her frustrations over whatever it is that she’s got going on in her head and everything will be ok”. As a mental health professional I know this is just denial. I know I shouldn’t take it “because I can” and I know that it’s not healthy.

    I also know that if I seek help I’m likely to be accused as being the batterer… like I was in 2000 when my first wife broke a computer keyboard over my face in a fit of rage over something someone said to her online. When I called the police they looked at her standing there with a pout on her face and took me to jail with blood covering my face from gashes left by the pieces of the keyboard. Charges were dropped when I appeared in court because she admitted I never hit her and that the arresting officers told her while I was in their car that they just couldn’t bring themselves to believe that she could have done that to me without a good reason.

    Bloggers and the main stream media do a good job pretending it’s entirely a women’s issue. The MSM also does a pretty good job making it look like it’s ok for a woman to lash out against a man physically. How many times while watching TV do you see women slap a man because he said something she didn’t like or looked at her wrong or whatever? How many times do you see a woman getting upset and start pounding on a man before he just grabs her and holds her close to him to stop her? And how often do you see anything being done about those things?

    Considering the abundance of resources directed at helping women and the number of groups set up for men to stand against violence against women, the lack of resources for men and the statistics that keep showing that violence against women is on a decline while violence against men has stayed steady through the years I think men have it in their heads that violence against women isn’t acceptable. Women on the other hand seem to be having a difficult time grasping the concept that violence against the men in their lives is just as unacceptable.

    You have the courage to make comments that you know will get your primary audience to stand up and cheer you on. I dare you to address violence against men and why it doesn’t just seem to be ignored but it really is ignored. Something tells me that will never happen though. But I would love to be proved wrong.

  4. Avatar of saeraisartsy
    saeraisartsy April 18, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

    Well Yashar, this article, is right, and yet the title made me laugh with humor. Yes is the answer, and the right question should be, Are Men Dangerous for Women? Yes. Dating isnt what makes them dangerous, the percentage that has no humanity, believes they are entitled, and that rape is fair if a woman is ill, or indisposed, or not indisposed. etc. That type of man has no humanity. Period. And sadly there are a lot like that. Unless a man is gay, yes, men are dangerous. I also want to add a disclaimer that there are good guys out there, and all I can say is oh thank goodness for all of them. I hope they speak out more often, we really need them to, so, Thank You;)

  5. Avatar of yourspiritualtruth
    yourspiritualtruth April 18, 2013 at 6:52 am #

    Yashar,
    As always, your posts rock my world! You speak the truth, without apology and uncompromisingly….which is exactly what women who have been victims of sexual violence are afraid to do…. Why? For the exact same reason you need to mention the bloggers who post “self-loathing” male comments on your blog. We know we will be punished for speaking the truth – if not by our attackers, then by the judicial system, by our families for daring the share such intimate secrets of our lives, and by our girlfriends for daring to do for ourselves what they were unable to do for themselves! Or here’s an even worse fact: our boyfriends and lovers often don’t want to know we’ve been “tainted” by another male. TRUE! I had a boyfriend in college who refused to be intimate with me after I confessed that I had been a victim of date rape three years prior and another lover who distanced himself from me because of my “betrayal” for not telling him the full extent of my sexual history. REALLY????? I’m sorry that it makes men or women uncomfortable to acknowledge the very real threat of sexual violence. I’m even more sorry for those who remain silent (women and men included) because they fear the judgement and ramifications of “telling the family secret.” THANK YOU again for being bold enough to speak the truth…without apology!

    Lauri Lumby
    http://yourspiritualtruth.com

  6. Avatar of 1957cowgirl
    1957cowgirl April 18, 2013 at 5:53 am #

    Bravo for a well written article. I never in a million years would have expected to be adding “Survivor of Domestic Assault” to my credentials but there it is in black and white and I will never be the same person as a result. I’m one of the lucky ones, however. Many never survive to tell their tale, even if they WERE brave enough to do so. In the ensuing legal snarls that I encountered in my journey I came across numerous inept. uneducated and dismissive persons who were supposedly working on my behalf and in charge of my safety. From this experience I feel that the laws in place to protect the abused are not only inadequate but are often ignored by those who are supposed to be enforcing them. Please keep writing….and shouting..the TRUTH….

  7. Avatar of Mersci
    Mersci April 17, 2013 at 10:25 pm #

    Once again, Yashar has laid the issues in the most clearest of terms:
    “The lack accountability that exists within the military and at universities and colleges is well documented. If you rape a woman and you happen to be a member of the U.S. military, your chances of not being reported are 86.5 percent. Your chances of avoiding a court-martial if caught are 92 percent. Horrifying.”

    Women have long documented the problem as institutional, that patriarchal privilege has entitled boys and men, that men themselves have got to want to change it, but that men see no benefit in doing so because it would mean they would going against their own nature. Of course the rest of us see that as the ultimate cop-out.
    By the same token, media pumps up the volume on what it means to be a “real housewife” and GOP has their version of how dis-empowered women need to be before they can receive a modicum of appropriate representation or health care. When are women going to stop playing into the hands that abuse them?

    Most seem unsure when it became acceptable to sell-out daughters to a harmful social order or establishment, making them comply with required identity loss and dependency status, bust most agree it all goes back to church and implied social contract of “marriage” where deluded couples agree to raise children into a certain power structure, accepting that structure for better or for worse but failing to mention it will only be worse for one of the genders. What we’ve done by accepting that structure is severely harm and repress, caused rage insurmountable, which in turn is being unleashed upon our women and girls. The recent examples of that violence are beyond comprehension and too numerous to list here.
    Nothing short of completely changing how we educate girls and boys to understand fundamental human rights, particularly those known as Universal Declaration of Human Rights, http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml)
    and how these rights have too long been overshadowed by factions benefiting from disenfranchisement of women, is overdue. The entitlements of unmeritorious expenditures, via military-industrial complex or otherwise, ensure womens rights to self-determination take a last on the list position in favor of violence and socio-economic sanctions that obstruct justice, basic human dignity. How repulsed to we need to be to take a stand?

    All things considered, it behooves women to shake off the yoke of oppression, realize that attempting to work within a power structure that holds them in little regard, is futile. Short of become the killing violating machines than haunt their lives, women must occupy a minimum fifty percent of senates, congresses, along with all other positions that shape social policy precisely because of the opposition they face to accomplish otherwise. Mandate it.
    To that end, complete reshaping of educational content [that obscures or omits womens presence in STEM and political movements which clearly have initiated positive social changes] has to occur. It is not enough to assume students make these connections on their own, or assume students understand that women may have shunned spotlight in favor of placating egomaniacs, quite similar to putting the fake orgasm out of business as discussed by Yashar in a previous column. Its enough to make everyone sick, physically, mentally, spiritually, the spiral is downward, instead of upward to higher human development. And while some may pretend everything is still okay 9live in denial), the bluntly honest among us disagree, things are not okay. Ultimately, its up to us to own it, name it, change it. Hope is good, but call to positive action is better- anger can be a force for good if channeled in the right direction- lets send it were it belongs, demand accountability starting now.

  8. Avatar of Famaroux
    Famaroux April 17, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

    I just adore this article. Such a succinct way with words Yashar. When are we going to understand that there is a true, on-going war against women. Unf until we recognise it, we can’t stop it. Thanks for bringing such issues to the fore.

  9. Avatar of Bleedingviolin
    Bleedingviolin April 17, 2013 at 6:49 pm #

    I have developed a severe hatred for modern feminism. I feel feminism has drifted away from the goal of equal rights and into the realm of female superiority, which makes (SOME) feminists just another hate group. The saddest part of that fact is that those people, men and women, who participate in that kind of political stance are actually harming the cause of equality quite severely.

    That being said, I agree with you completely on this subject.

    It’s not divisive to point out that there is a a problem of pandemic proportions in modern society. I mean, we now live in a world where adults can rape children an suffer minimal consequences, but a parent defending their child can go to prison for the rest of their life. It’s utter insanity.

    I don’t always agree with what you have to say, but that doesn’t change that it needs to be said.

    Weather or not people think you’re being unfair to men, don’t stop. if a man reads your words and is offended, he should stop and consider why he’s offended. Usually, when someone is truly offended (and I’m not talking about the false outrage fad), it’s because the offending statements contains a painful dose of truth.

  10. Avatar of prs
    prs April 17, 2013 at 6:26 pm #

    I will speak up..and your article says it like it is..no excuses. Our nation should be embarrassed at how rape and domestic abuse is treated by officials and we the people. Women NEED to come together as a united front and speak up. The intimation must stop..this is an extension of the violence. Thank you for your article. If I had it my way, it would be on the front covers of every major newspaper right along with a daily count of rape and domestic abuse victims/cases.

  11. Avatar of keygirlus
    keygirlus April 17, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

    A tad naive. Politicians and the media don’t like to embrace problems that are too big or too costly. Only by tackling and conquering a rapidly solvable problem can you take credit while it’s still worth points. Greater social issues take a concerted effort with only the greater good as payment.

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