There are, I think, two things to consider when choosing to air something like today’s Q panel regarding rape culture: first, are we addressing an important issue, or talking around it? Second, will the contrasting ideas that might be presented move the conversation forward? In my view, your debate failed on both counts. Debating the existence of rape culture is a lazy way of being seen to talk about something important without actually having to address its ugly causes and tragic results.
Sexual assault does exist on college campuses, sexual assaults continue to go overwhelmingly unreported, and we, as a culture, freely joke about prison rape, as though it’s somehow justified and thus, less heinous. This is indicative of a culture takes rape seriously only in principle (“Rape is bad!”) but not in practice (“You shouldn’t have dressed like that.”). A show, such as yours, that claims to present progressive content, as any arts program must, should have the good sense to avoid discussing the existence of something they is regularly and tragically proven to exist.
Women aren’t sexually assaulted because they walk through parking lots and men aren’t blameless because they get drunk; rather these are symptoms of a culture that consistent fails to act to protect victims and punish rapists. A national broadcaster should strongly consider the implications of handing over its broad forum to regressive ideas about the cause and prevention of rape, ideas like those presented on your program today by Heather MacDonald.
Your debate failed to directly address an issue of great social importance, and Jian, in his role as moderator, failed to guide the debate away from dangerous generalizations (“If rape culture existed, parents wouldn’t put their kids in school!”) and back toward a meaningful discussion that advanced our understanding of our culture’s shameful disregard for the victims of rape.
However well intentioned you might have been in presenting this piece, the end result was a disservice to women and a discredit to the show.