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Today In Bad Analogies (Badalogies?)

March 30, 2010

According to an article on Jezebel, Alex Knepper, a columnist for American University’s Eagle, recently penned a diatribe containing the following gem of logic:

Let’s get this straight: any woman who heads to an EI [an unrecognized fraternity at American University] party as an anonymous onlooker, drinks five cups of the jungle juice, and walks back to a boy’s room with him is indicating that she wants sex, OK? To cry “date rape” after you sober up the next morning and regret the incident is the equivalent of pulling a gun to someone’s head and then later claiming that you didn’t ever actually intend to pull the trigger. [emphasis mine]

I’d get all angry about the victim blaming going on here, but Jez’s Anna North has already done a great job outlining why essentially everything Knepper says is just more fuel for the fires of rape culture.  What I’d like to point out is how bad victim blamers tend to be at analogies.  Really, Mr. Knepper?  Date rape is “the equivalent of pulling [sic] a gun to someone’s head and then later claiming that you didn’t ever actually intend to pull the trigger,”?  What, exactly, is the gun in this scenario?  My vagina?  Is the dude’s penis the “head” to which you are referring?  What, then, would be the trigger?  See, in an analogy, there have to be very clear corollaries between the two situations you are positing.  I’m just trying to figure out what yours are!

Also, note how the bad analogy attempts to highlight the passivity of the guy in this scenario.  HE’S really the victim.  I’m putting a gun (vagina) to his head (penis) and pulling the trigger (clitoris? labia? This makes my brain hurt).  When drunk men have sex, they apparently have no agency at ALL.  Ever.  And yet Knepper sees the male-female-rape sex act as one involving “spontaneity, raw energy, and control.”  Hmm.  Doesn’t sound like it to me.  If the bad analogy is any indication, the man in this scenario has no control at all!  He’s just lying there with a gun to his head!

We really need to put a moratorium on bad analogies (which are also a favorite of rabid conservatives like Glen Beck, Hannity, and repeat offender Michelle Malkin).  I’m thinking I might need to start handing out an award of some kind.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. marybullstonecraft permalink*
    March 30, 2010 8:15 pm

    OMG, can that guy PLEASE come take my logic class?? It would be awesome. We would put it on the board to make it clearer:

    Drunk + bedroom : consenting to sex as gun + head: intending to shoot someone.

    In each case, the relevant relation is the claim of necessary entailment (which itself is dubious, as we can imagine a variety of situations in which shooting someone does not follow or is not intended).

    Still, bracketing for a moment the concerns about whether the gun portion even holds up, we have to consider whether the terms of the analogies hold up–which, as you point out, they don’t, since being drunk and being in a specific room are states, not actions (as “pulling” a gun against someone’s head is). And this is important, since the claim of the analogy is that specific actions necessarily entail further intentions to act as a consequence.

    Meaning, what we have here is not

    Action : Necessary further action as Action B : Necessary further action B

    But instead,

    State of being : Necessary further action as Action B : Necessary further action B.

    So, this is clearly describable technically as a Weak Analogy (obviously my validating this was totally unnecessary, I was just getting a little logic-geeked). BUT, even if it weren’t, the argument still doesn’t hold because (as I mentioned above), it rests on the false claim that particular actions necessarily entail the intent to commit further actions. They don’t. And also, this guy is a douche.

  2. marybullstonecraft permalink*
    March 30, 2010 8:31 pm

    Also, the above doesn’t even begin to consider the additional factor of deliberately prejudicial language in the choice of analogy: the weakness of the comparison is (attempted to be) covered over by the use of violent imagery, which has the effect of making it seem that the woman in question is morally culpable for something–in a way that the abstracted analysis above doesn’t capture.

    • April 4, 2010 12:05 pm

      I was hoping you’d tackle this with some logic magic! It’s entertaining enough to think about what I’d say to him in a writing class, but he’s getting an even WORSE grade if you put him in a logic course.

      Also, did you see that there’s an article over at Salonthat actually attempts to take his argument seriously? She doesn’t sympathize with him, exactly, but she does claim that he makes some good points. Frankly, though, I think any point he makes that might have been worth taking seriously is officially ejected by his misogynist drivel.

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