I recently received an announcement for a CU Boulder event: “2005 Breaking the Global Silence: Exposing Violence Against Women.” (Oh, this should be fun!) The announcement started with this supposedly motivating claim:
The UNFPA cited a report in 2000 that one of every three women worldwide has been beaten, raped, or mistreated. Violence against women touches all of us in some way and the first step to ending it is to open our eyes to it.
Mistreated?!? What the heck does that mean? By standard usage, it is a very broad term meaning simply “to treat roughly or wrongly” or “badly.” Without further details about what constitutes mistreatment, we have no idea whether a woman is mistreated or not when her boyfriend refuses to buy her a diamond necklace, when he brags about her sexual appetites to his friends, when he yells at her for burning his birthday dinner, when he smacks her for insulting his mother, when he belittles her ambition to attend college, and so on. Without an understanding of the standards used, the “one of every three women” statistic is completely vacuous. No definite meaning can be extracted from that claim, so any attempt to do so requires the reader to import his own understanding of what constitutes morally objectionable and noteworthy “mistreatment.” Yet that understanding will only correspond to the one-in-three statistic by sheer accident. (In the hopes that the mysterious report is more specific about the meaning of “mistreatment,” let me explicitly limit my complaint to the announcement of the CU conference.)
This kind of abuse of language is standard feminist fare. The term “rape” is often used to refer to any sex that a woman later regrets, even if she did consent to it at the time. (It’s not exactly uncommon for a person, male or female, to exercise poor judgment due to sexual arousal or too much drink.) That’s how the feminists manage to claim unbelievably high incidence of rape, most notably that one in every four female college students has been the victim of rape or attempted rape.
A pox on Herland and all other feminist delusions, I say!