Rape culture. Have you heard of it? Are you aware that we allegedly live in one here in the US of A? Did you know that our college campuses have rates of sexual assault on par with the Rwandan genocide (23% if you take the highest possible estimations) where rape was used as a weapon.
I am sure that at least some of you are aware of the “1 in 5” statistic that claims that 20% (again, awfully close to Rwanda’s 23%) of our female college students are sexually assaulted (as well as 1.4% of men). I have looked at the study, and have several problems with it—the sample was large, but only taken from two universities, the definition of “sexual assault” was very broad, and sexual assault and rape (3.4% of victims are physically forced; 8.5% are incapacitated by a substance) are often conflated but are not the same thing.
If that is true, then it is safer to send your girls to Cancun for spring break than to class at Harvard.
It seems absurd on its face, doesn’t it? But, could it be legitimate?
I just watched a CNN documentary about this epidemic called “The Hunting Ground.” The film is full of statistics, including that 16% of college girls are sexually assaulted (lower than 20% though). It argues that 88% of these assaults go unreported, and those that are reported are ignored or outright covered up by the institution of higher learning.
They also gave statistics about the number of rape allegations vs. students expelled for rape that are truly problematic. For instance, at one school there were 203 sexual assaults reported, but only 3 students punished. Another school had 169 assaults and 0 expulsions.
Clearly, there is something untoward going on.
Then I did some quick math in my head. The 203 assaults were over a 12-year span. That’s less than 20 per year. But there are another 88% not reported, according to the statistic mentioned before. So let’s multiply by 10 to be generous. Now we are at 200 sexual assaults happening on a college campus each year. This is truly an atrocity! However, the university probably has 20-25,000 students, half of which are female. That means that 200 out of 10,000 women are sexually assaulted on this particular campus—and that’s with using higher than just 88% being unreported.
Does this sound like 16-20% to you? That’s because rather than 1 in 5, it’s more like 1 in 500.
How about the case of Melinda Manning, former Assistant Dean at the University of North Carolina? She claims that she spoke to about 100 young women about their victimization during her career (11 years, so an average of about 10 per year…again, not 20%). She claims that the university ordered her to under-report these assaults, and is an advocate for those perpetuating the 1 in 5 statistic.
However, she quit her job, and enrolled AT THE SAME UNIVERSITY in order to get another degree. This beacon of rapes where women are being assaulted in high numbers with a corrupt administration, and Dr. Manning ENROLLED THERE! Does this seem inconsistent to anyone else?
For the sake of argument, let’s just say that the 20% frequency and 88% unreported numbers are true. I will also cede that universities may very well be trying to underreport the number of sexual assaults. What are some of the ramifications?
First of all, I would love to see these universities fully investigated by outside law enforcement agency—like federal or another county. If there is a rampant cover up, then these schools should not only lose federal funding, but those involved in a cover up should be prosecuted harshly. They should never be allowed to jump from one university to another after being a part in hiding sexual assault from students and the public at large.
If the problem is ever to be corrected, victims do need to be more proactive with their reporting. I understand that there is fear, not wanting to relive the experience, and some PTSD involved. There is fear of being shamed or ignored, and these issues are absolutely justified in most cases. However, I do not understand why these young girls are calling campus security, rather than the police. As a parent, I will make sure to tell my daughters to call 9-11 for any actual emergency—which is exactly what sexual assault is. Whether afraid or not, such a huge influx of reported sexual assaults would most certainly be a method of forcing the public to look into the problem.
And since I have probably already angered some of you, I would point out that university faculty and students are overwhelmingly comprised of those who identify as politically left (Democrat/liberal/progressive). If our campuses really are bastions of sexual assault, the perpetrators are statistically more likely to be leftists. Ironically, those who seem to champion the 1 in 5 stat are predominantly leftist as well. So, the safest place to be if you are a young woman is surrounded by conservatives—but I digress.
This is a very sensitive topic, but we will never make any progress if we avoid an honest discussion about the veracity of statistics, how to prevent attacks, identifying tangible solutions to the problem, and stop shaming 1) victims of assault and 2) skeptics.
Whether 20% or 2% of our girls are raped, the numbers are too high. Ignoring the issue or making false claims in order to “raise awareness” are not helpful solutions. Would anyone treat murder with such tactics? Of course not.
I also do not believe that we live in a rape culture. Most of the men I have ever met would probably beat a rapist half to death if they ever bragged about their conquest. Moreover, the film also put out a stat that 8% of men are committing 90% of the assaults. If true, then a HUGE majority of men are not involved in sexual assault. That is not a culture of rape, but a larger-than-should-be number of bad apples.
Compare the 8% of men to the 8% of Muslims who support violent extremism. Would we say that Islam is a “terrorist culture”? Are we not told that we cannot hold all Muslims accountable for the actions of a few?
How about the 7% of Americans who are LGBT? Are we living in a “gay culture”? Of course not. In fact, we are told every day about how oppressed the LGBT community is. How they must live in the shadows in many cases for fear of reprisal for their behavior.
But rapists are so brazen that 8% of them can make the academic system a rape culture? It makes no sense.
Do your own research, and do not believe statistics (which are almost always manipulated to make a point—I know I just did it). If we really are sending our children to a hotbed for sexual assault, then we MUST take action against it. If there are legitimate findings that support the stats presented to us, then I want nothing more than for those involved to be punished in ways that would make the Inquisition seem like a Disney theme park. If not, though, then we must be big enough to realize that inciting a moral panic is the antithesis of progress.