Today in Rape History: Landsburg and “no physical damage”


photo credit: wikipedia

Steven E. Landsburg, a professor of Economics at The University of Rochester, has reduced the rape of the Steubenville victim, and in turn, all other rapes around the world, to an inflammatory and obnoxious economics equation.

In comparing rape to destruction of the environment, and censorship laws, Landsburg writes:

As long as I’m safely unconsious (sic) and therefore shielded from the costs of an assault, why shouldn’t the rest of the world (or more specifically my attackers) be allowed to reap the benefits? And if the thought of those benefits makes me shudder, why should my shuddering be accorded any more public policy weight than Bob’s or Granola’s? We’re still talking about strictly psychic harm, right?

‘Safely unconscious’ and ‘sheilded from the costs of assault’ – are you fucking kidding me? At what point is any victim ‘safely unconscious’? At what point in a rape experience is anyone ‘sheilded from the costs of an assault’? In what ways are porn censorship and destruction of habitat equitable to both the specific experience of a rape victim, and the totality of our global rape culture?

He goes on to draw an imaginary link between the penetration of a person’s body during sexual assault, and the impact of a porch light’s photons on his passing physical body. His ability to diminish the experiences, effects and impacts of rape is astounding. And dangerous. This is someone who is teaching hundereds of students every single year, this is someone with a voice.

By breaking down rape, and representing it as an experience with no collateral damage when a victim is unconscious, this person (who I will assume has never experienced rape), is mansplaining to all rape victims just exactly what rape looks and feels like – and how everyone just needs to get over what is nothing more than a “lack of physical damage.”

This professor has a history of controversial and inflammatory subject matter, with articles in Slate bearing titles, such as: Do the poor deserve life support? Despite this professor’s inability to engage people in topics without pandering to the lowest form of argument, rape a subject up for this type of debate: where the writer is searching NOT for a healthy dialogue, but for blog traffic, and a new book deal. A true instigator of thought, interaction and consideration does not engage to enrage – a tool that Mr. Landsburg appears to employ.

It is Landsburg who hopes to “reap the benefits” of the Steubenville rape victim’s experience. And this, is an example of what is wrong with our world. Privilege. Mansplaing. Rape Culture. Rape Apology. Misogyny. It’s all there, and he is employing these social ills for the benefit of him. This entire post is about him – not rape.

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