Just as University of Missouri students were creating a questionable racial crisis on their campus, along comes a reminder of another hoked-up and overblown crisis: Campus rape. In today's news from the Chicago Tribune:
The fraternity that was the focus of a debunked Rolling Stone article about a gang rape filed a $25 million lawsuit against the magazine Monday, saying the piece made the frat and its members "the object of an avalanche of condemnation worldwide."
The complaint, filed in Charlottesville Circuit Court, also names Sabrina Rubin Erdely as a defendant. It is the third filed in response to the November 2014 article entitled "A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA." Three individual fraternity members and recent graduates of the University of Virginia are suing for at least $225,000 each, and a university associate dean who claims she was portrayed as the "chief villain" is suing the magazine for more than $7.5 million.
Just as the Rolling Stone story was intended to be emblematic of a culture of sexual violence at universities, so too was the "uprising" at Mizzou also supposedly had its roots in a systemic culture of racism at the school. Even though the protesters were unable to cite more than a few examples of overt racism. It reminds me of something my mother used to say whenever I got too whiney as a kid: "Every time someone looks at you crosseyed, you whine."
The rape crisis is best captured in the poster that "one out of every four women is sexually assaulted." Now comes an analysis of that claim, and it is discovered that it is not even close to the truth. Heather Mac Donald, the Thomas W. Smith fellow at the Manhattan Institute, debunks the pop (i.e. phony) science behind the claim in the Nov. 2 issue of the Weekly Standard.
She has in her sights the often-cited Association of American Universites' "Report on the AAU Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct," published in September, 2015. She asserts that there is no sexual crime wave on campus, "according to the alleged victims themselves."
The vast majority of survey respondents whom the AAU researcher classified as sexual assault victims never reported their alleged assaults to their colleges' various confidential rape hotlines, sexual assault resource centers, of Title IX offices, much less to campus or city police.
And the overwhelming reason why the alleged victims did not report is that they did not think that what happened to them was that serious. At Havard, over 69 percent of female responds who checked the box for penetration during their time at the college by use of force did not report the incident to any authority. Most of those non-reporters--65 percent--did not think their experience was serious enough to report.
This outcome is inconceivable in the case of real rape. No women who has actually been raped would think that the rape was not serious enough to report.
The AAU study's methodology is questionable in a number of ways. One example: The sample was biased toward people who were more likely to report they had been victimized. I wasn't a random sample; participants volunteered; some were given inducements. The study itself says that non-responders tended to be less like to report victimization. Undergraduates had a higher rate of victimization, yet a disproportionate share of respondents were graduate or professional students.
Mac Donald concludes from an examination of the data:
The alleged rapes that have gone public nearly all involve seemingly voluntary drunken hook-ups that the female partner comes to regret--sometimes when she sees that her partner was emotionally untouched by their sexual involvement.
Talk about challenging the given wisdom. Before you fly off the handle, you need to read the lengthy article and understand her arguments.
Yes, rape is an outrage that must be prosecuted and punished. It is a life-changing, life-long crime. No one should minimize that. And yes, unwarranted sexual touching also in many cases is a crime (or ought to be) and morally wrong. That's why rape should never be used for political purpose, because it minimizes it.
Serious science should be questioning the oft-repeated assertion that has made its way unfettered into the popular culture. But few scientists will undertake that research in a climate, especially on campus where political correctness reigns, that automatically turns you into an evil accomplice.
Visit my new website at http://www.dennisbyrne.net