Missouri Senator Blasts Rape Culture, Warns Against ‘Placing Blame In All The Wrong Places’

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Responding to a Wall Street Journal column that dismissed action to prevent sexual assault in the military as a “war on men,” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) argued that this “deeply out of touch” understanding contributes to a problematic rape culture that places blame on the victims.

In his column, conservative James Taranto likened the campaign against sexual assault in the military to “becoming an effort to criminalize male sexuality.” He argued that sexual assault victims aren’t actually “victims,” writing, “The presumption that reckless men are criminals while reckless women are victims makes a mockery of any notion that the sexes are equal.”

McCaskill responded this Thursday in an op-ed for the Daily Beast. McCaskill explained that, since there are many people who still don’t think rape culture is a real thing, arguments like Taranto’s are repeated beyond the pages of the WSJ:

Mr. Taranto says that I’m involved in a crusade to “criminalize male sexuality.” For decades, from my time as a courtroom prosecutor and throughout my career in public service, I have indeed done my best to criminalize violence. And I have never subscribed to Mr. Taranto’s bizarre and deeply out of touch understanding of sexual assault as somehow being a two-way street between a victim and an assailant.

Mr. Taranto’s arguments contribute to an environment that purposely places blame in all the wrong places, and has made the current culture and status quo an obstruction to sorely needed change.

McCaskill, a former prosecutor of sex crimes, has backed amendments that limit military commanders’ power to overturn verdicts for sexual assault, after the House approved a similar measure. Even these incremental solutions to the military’s rape epidemic has been dismissed by conservative detractors.

Outside of the military, examples of rape culture are readily found at universities, in law enforcement, and in public service, where officials consistently hold the view that sexual assault is a “two-way street.”