- The Washington Times - Monday, May 8, 2017

An Oregon high school has apologized after a teacher penned an opinion piece questioning the existence of “rape culture” and reportedly distributed it among students and staff.

David Lickey, a social studies teacher at Grant High School in Portland, wrote in his May 2 letter that he finds the “assertions of rape culture dubious.”

“All the men in our community find rape to be a heinous crime, we must therefore deduce that those who commit it are not acting according to the culture’s norms and expectations but violating the culture’s norms,” Mr. Lickey wrote, according to the letter obtained by The Oregonian.

“My understanding of rape crime data is that a very small predatory part of the population commits nearly all violations,” he continued. “Given this, the best approach to reducing sexual assault is to focus our efforts on enforcement of sexual assault laws and policies, encouraging victims to take advantage of institutional and legal remedies, and educating our young about our laws and conduct codes. Addressing sexual offenses as a culture war or a cultural engineering project have less appeal.”

Mr. Lickey went on to argue that to blame sexual assault on culture norms is to excuse the perpetrator.

“This seems like letting the real rapist off the cultural hook in order to chase a shadow,” he wrote.

“The word ‘rape culture’ frames the issue of sexual assault in such a way that its central proposition that rape is a culturally tolerated/encouraged practice cannot be questioned, because questioning the presence of ‘rape culture’ is evidence of denying rape’s prevalence, which is itself sometimes held up as a definition of ‘rape culture,’” he wrote. “This is a circular type of reasoning that makes for powerful advocacy, but does not invite broad and realistic public discussion of an important issue.”

Mr. Lickey concluded by saying he’s “uncomfortable” with theories of rape culture.

“I don’t think there are in these thoughts anything even remotely chauvinistic or misogynistic, quite the opposite. If you disagree, I’d love to hear your thoughts,” he wrote.

The three-page letter, addressed to “esteemed students” and one other teacher, was reportedly distributed in the school and quickly made its way onto social media.

Grant High Principal Carol Campbell sent a letter to parents Friday night distancing itself from Mr. Lickey’s remarks. It is unclear whether he will face any punishment.

“You may be aware of an unfortunate incident regarding a document written by a teacher and shared with students regarding ‘rape culture,’” Ms. Campbell wrote, The Oregonian reported. “It included some statements that run counter to the way we approach this important subject. The perspective of the teacher does not reflect nor support our approach to educating students on sexual assault.

“A strong contradictory argument should be accompanied by counter arguments from credible sources,” she wrote. “In this case, the document was shared with many students and staff with very little context. We apologize for any harm or negative impact. We are working with students and some staff members to organize listening sessions and opportunities for adults and students to get support. It is our primary goal to ensure Grant is a safe place for all.”

On Monday, students and some teachers held signs outside of the school to protest Mr. Lickey’s comments.

“I don’t think it’s wrong to teach about rape, but this teacher’s views are not a balanced perspective on rape that’s going to support young women and young men and young people in general, people who are non-binary, etc., [in] making decisions about their sexual health,” teacher Susan Anglada Bartley told a local NBC affiliate.

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