Thursday, March 26, 2015

So-called Rape Culture

From Instapundit:
Campus rape is a serious problem. But while public attention is focused on students carrying mattresses and the discredited Rolling Stone report about rape at the University of Virginia, the fact is that sexual assault is more common off campus than on.
Consider this: If you lived in Gallup, New Mexico in 2013, you were 47 times more likely to be raped than if you attended Harvard, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) statistics. Yet chances are you won’t see any protesters in New Mexico. Coverage of campus rape has likely increased for a variety of reasons – the social media influence of the at-risk demographic, the ability of victims and supporters to articulate the problem and because it — like any other type of violent crime in poor communities — is more of a surprise. That’s not to lessen one or the other; just a diagnosis of the arc of public attention.
A 2014 report from the Department of Justice called Rape and Sexual Assault Victimization Among College-Age Females, 1995–2013 found that non-students aged 18-24 were 20% more likely to be sexually assaulted than students. Also, as these Reuters graphics show, the severity of the assault was worse for non-students, the rate of completed rape as opposed to other kinds of assault being 50% higher.
Follow the link for the graphics. Also, note that 6.1 out of 100,000 isn’t the same as 1 in 5.
UPDATE: Eugene Volokh emails: “I think 6.1/100,000 is the yearly attempted/completed/threatened sexual assault rate as reported by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, and so isn’t directly comparable to the 1 in 5 assertion, which purports to measure the rate for the entire span of time in college; to make it comparable, I think you’d need to multiply it by 4 or 5 years. The difference remains vast, but not quite as vast.” A fair point. 24.4 out of 100,000 is still well below the 20,000 out of 100,000 we’d need for the 1 in 5 figure.
If you talk about “rape culture” but refuse to accept the FBI’s statistics, you’re more interested in touting your liberal bona fides than in reality--which, in this case, is really kind of sick, don't you think?

Update, 3/27/15:  Another update to the Instapundit post, correcting some math:
It looks like the Reuters story on which we were both relying got things badly wrong, and I’m sorry I didn’t catch it when I first corresponded with you. 6.1 per 100,000 would indeed be a very low attempted/completed/threatened sexual assault rate, amounting to only an equivalent of 9,000 per year for all women in the U.S. – even though women of college age are much more likely to be targeted for sexual assault than women who are materially younger or materially older. As the correspondent below notes, the original Bureau of Justice Statistics number ( is that the yearly victimization rate for college-age women is 6.1 per 1000, not 6.1 per 100,000. Again, even multiplied by 4 or 5 it’s well below 20%; but it’s about a factor of 7 or so below, not a factor of 700.


pseudotsuga said...

It's Group Signaling, more than anything else. Self-identifying as a progressive means that you don't actually have to be a good person...

maxutils said...

I was watching the Daily Show the other night, and Stewart was interviewing the directors of the new film "The Hunting Ground," which examines the issue… and, what struck me was Amy Zoehring's assertion that false rape claims were no higher than for any other crime. I believe she's wrong … but there is a distinct difference from mistakenly identifying a suspect (as one might in a robbery or a murder) and misidentifying a crime. Because, in the case of rape, there are many variables due to the fact that, unlike a robbery or a murder, there is frequently no obvious evidence that has a crime has been committed at all. Certainly, in the case of underage women, or women who have been beaten and/or show signs of forced penetration -- there is no question. But … there is a middle ground where the sex could have happened, and it may or may not be considered rape. (Just to be clear: I'm not being a date -rape apologist--I'm just saying that in those cases, the accused has just as much right to defend himself as does the victim o protect herself). So, if we want real data, we need to do a few things:

1) Do everything possible to reduce the shame of making a rape accusation, and encourage every woman who has been raped to press charges. If not for them, for the next woman. Then, stop saying "most rapes aren't reported" -- because if we've done everything we can to make reporting the crime as shameless and anonymous as possible, and you elect not to press charges? That's on you.

2) Protect the anonymity of the accused. We do that for the accuser, only in the case of this crime (except, obviously, for juveniles). I agree that the victim's idea should be protected, but so should the accused … fair play on both sides, because if the charge proves to be false, the accused is still tarred.

3) Prosecute people who falsely accuse others. Not always … but if, as in the case of the UVA student who was profiled in Rolling Stone, it is shown that the charge was completely without merit an filed maliciously … then you charge. That actually wouldn't have worked at UVA, as she never pressed charges, but still…

4) Agree on a definition of rape. Mine would require some form of forced or unwanted penetration of , well, somewhere. Then, the only relevant statistic will be (#convicted rape charges + #of unsolved rapes)/# of women. You don't get to add in other forms of sexual assault, but…

5) you can also have a stat for those. Just make sure you define your terms … and only count convictions …and, if you want to be believed, break them down in to the most specific categories you can.