Breitbart and Daily Caller contributor's past "victim-blaming" date rape claim

Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

Alex Knepper's biography on Andrew Breitbart's BigHollywood and Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller websites boasts that he's been "featured by the CBS Early Show, National Public Radio, the New York Times, and other media outlets." What it doesn't say is why he's been "featured" on outlets like CBS and NPR: because he ignited a firestorm of controversy when he penned a column arguing, as ABC News put it, "that some women who survive date rape invited it."

In March 2010, undergrad student Knepper wrote a column for American University's The Eagle which argued of date rape:

Let's get this straight: any woman who heads to an EI [frat] 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.

"Date rape" is an incoherent concept. There's rape and there's not-rape, and we need a line of demarcation. It's not clear enough to merely speak of consent, because the lines of consent in sex -- especially anonymous sex -- can become very blurry. If that bothers you, then stick with Pat Robertson and his brigade of anti-sex cavemen! Don't jump into the sexual arena if you can't handle the volatility of its practice!

As the Washington Post noted days later, the "column sparked angry online responses from scores of students, and a handful of students demonstrated outside the newspaper's offices." Director of The Women's Initiative Sarah Brown wrote a letter to the editor stating that this "is not a fun argument about an abstract concept between Alex Knepper and the crazy feminists. Real people, both women and men, hurt physically and emotionally because someone took control of their body without their permission."

Jezebel's Ann North cited Knepper's column as another "victim-blaming crap," adding that an "alarming number of jerks have come out of the woodwork to claim that attending a frat party is equivalent to consenting to any and all forms of sex. This claim is especially damaging because assault is so disturbingly common on college campuses, because it frequently goes unpunished, and because college students are young and especially vulnerable to bullshit rhetoric."

Three days after the column was published, The Eagle published an editor's note stating that it stood by its decision to publish the piece, but "apologize[d] for the harm that this column caused. Speaking with people that have been affected by this column and listening to their stories has personally affected everyone on staff."

In an April 14 appearance on NPR's Tell Me More, Knepper -- who told NPR that he's openly gay -- defended himself and his views:

KNEPPER: I'm saying that when you inject yourself into that kind of arena when you're dealing with alcohol, when you're dealing with anonymous sex, that the rules change. That there are certain signals that you're sending out that the man can reasonably interpret as an invitation to sex. You're not going back to his room to rhapsodize philosophical about Plato. You're not going to discuss homework tips. These are the rules of the arena.

And the point that the column makes in the later paragraphs is that if you're uncomfortable with this, then you shouldn't be having anonymous sex. Of course, if she says no at any time, then that implicit consent has been revoked and at that point it would constitute rape.

A recent Department of Justice study estimated that 25 percent of college women will be victims of rape or attempted rape before they graduate within a four-year college period.

In addition to writing for BigHollywood and The Daily Caller, Knepper has also written for NewsBusters and David Frum's FrumForum.

Alex Knepper
Big Hollywood, The Daily Caller
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