The rape "crisis" revisited
By Rod Van Mechelen
One of the primary pop-feminist assertions is that almost one in three women will be victims of rape or attempted rape at least once. That another woman is raped in America every 11 seconds.
Rather than tumble to accept this wild, and therefore "newsworthy" assertion without hesitation, perhaps we should give it a closer look. Just where does this idea come from?
The one in three statistic began with the Ms. Magazine Campus Project on Sexual Assault directed by Mary Koss. In her initial findings, Koss asserted that 27 percent of college women had been victims of rape or attempted rape an average of two times between the ages of fourteen and twenty-one.
Truth, or fallacy?
Consider the source: at that time, Koss saw rape not as an act of deviance, but as behavior characteristic of the average man. By this logic, 27 percent was probably an understatement.
Beginning with a bias, however, is only one of several flaws in the rape crisis movement which are examined in the March/April 1994 issue of Society Magazine. Before I list them here, let us note that when Warren Farrell pointed out, in The Myth of Male Power, that approximately one million rapes of men occur in prison every year, the typical response from anti-male bigots was that it is just a "male" problem, because it's men doing it to men. Not only does this ignore the plight of non-violent men who, regardless of the sex of the perpetrator, are innocent victims nonetheless, and the contributory role women play in the dynamics of rape and social violence, but it also exposes a callous bigotry: If they really cared for victims, the sex of the victims and perpetrators would not matter.
As to the flaws in Koss's assertions, they are as follows (taken from the March/April 1994 issue of Society Magazine):
By that definition, we could probably find millions of young men who qualify as victims of female rapists.
- Almost three-quarters of the students whom Koss defined as victims of rape did not think they had been raped. If this is irrelevant, then there is no such thing as hostile environment sexual harassment since, by definition, it depends entirely on the perspective of the alleged victim.
- Forty-two percent of these women went back and had sex again with the men Koss says raped them. Either they are masochists, or they are not victims.
- Two of the five items Koss used to define incidents of rape and attempted rape were the vaguely worded questions: "Have you had a man attempt sexual intercourse when you didn't want to by giving you alcohol or drugs, but intercourse did not occur? Have you had sexual intercourse when you didn't want to because a man gave you alcohol or drugs?"
Rallying to her defense, Susan Faludi asserted that "Numerous other studies bear these figures out." Do they similarly ignore the perspective of the alleged victims? She doesn't say.
- Only 27 percent of the women Koss says were raped agreed that they had been raped. If the "victim's" perception means anything, then this greatly deflates Koss's original assertion.
- When questioned about the flaws in her data and analysis, Koss waffled, reinterpreting, redefining and contradicting herself over and over again.
Catharine MacKinnon does say, however, where all their victims are coming from: "The reason feminism uncovered this reality, its methodological secret, is that feminism is built on believing women's accounts of sexual use and abuse by men." (Feminism Unmodified: Discourses on Life and Law, Catharine A. MacKinnon)
This view relies on the perspective of the alleged victim: subjectivity in perspective, if not definition. If we accept this as paramount, then we automatically dismiss the majority of Koss's assertions. For Koss's findings to be valid, it would be necessary to posit an objective definition that discounts the perspective of the victim. Regardless, Koss and MacKinnon -- both central to the rape crisis coterie - - contradict one another.
This faulty fit aside, their shared anti-male bias is obvious -- the corollary to MacKinnon's assumption that all women tell the truth is, all men lie.
Finally, the rape crisis ignores studies that find "relatively low lifetime prevalence rates," such as the Duke University study reported by Linda George in the Journal of Social Issues from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, which found (quoting again from the March/April 1994 issue of Society) "a 5.9 percent lifetime prevalence rate of sexual assault in North Carolina. ... An even lower prevalence rate was detected by Margaret Gordon and Stephen Riger, who reported in the Journal of Social Issues that among 1620 respondents, randomly selected in Chicago, San Francisco, and Philadelphia, only 2 percent had been raped or sexually assaulted in their lifetime."
Rape is a serious problem, and I feel sick every time I hear about or read a report of rape. Sadly, far from helping to alleviate the problem those who perpetuate the wild claims that 1 in 4 women will be victims of rape or attempted in their lifetime do harm and no good by portraying all men as rapacious predators and all women as their prey.