The Rape Of Rape On American Campuses
And you probably weren't even aware that as a conservative, you were promoting the gray rape myth! I certainly wasn't. In fact, because of my Incredible Wife's Voice of the Victims work, I'm very concerned about the very real problem of drug-induced rape -- although I admit that "gray rape" is a phrase I would have defined incorrectly, if asked.
Heather Mac Donald, whose LA Times piece so triggered Tracy Clark-Flory's clip above, defines gray rape thusly:
In all these drunken couplings, there may be some deplorable instances of forced and truly non-consensual sex. But most campus "rape" cases exist in the gray area of seeming cooperation and tacit consent, which is why they are almost never prosecuted criminally.Because of my wife's work, I've been introduced to women who have been drugged in bars, then raped, so this is a topic that interests me. That and Clark-Flory's accusation that conservatives are causing all this, caused me to immediately read Clark-Flory's story at Salon, Girls, Stop Rape through "Sexual Restraint"! and the story that set her off, Heather Mac Donald's LAT op/ed, What Campus Rape Crisis? Promiscuity and hype have created a phony epidemic at colleges.
Mac Donald's piece starts with a simple enough premise: The reported number of campus rapes is so high as to raise legitimate questions regarding the source and quality of the data:
It is a central claim of these [campus sexual assault] organizations that between a fifth and a quarter of all college women will be raped or will be the targets of attempted rape by the end of their college years. Harvard's Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response uses the 20% to 25% statistic. Websites at New York University, Syracuse University, Penn State and the University of Virginia, among many other places, use the figures as well. ...It is a healthy reaction in a Free Press society to question statistics that seem unreasonable, so Mac Donald is absolutely legitimate in posing here question -- especially given that NationMaster tells us the rape rate per capita in the US is 0.3 incidents per thousand population. Even so, that Mac Donald even raised the question set Ms. Hyphenated off:
If the one-in-four statistic is correct, campus rape represents a crime wave of unprecedented proportions. No felony, much less one as serious as rape, has a victimization rate remotely approaching 20% or 25%, even over many years. The 2006 violent crime rate in Detroit, one of the most violent cities in the U.S., was 2,400 murders, rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults per 100,000 inhabitants -- a rate of 2.4%.
Such a crime wave -- in which millions of young women would graduate having suffered the most terrifying assault, short of murder, that a woman can experience -- would require nothing less than a state of emergency. Admissions policies, which if the numbers are true are allowing in tens of thousands of vicious criminals, would require a complete revision, perhaps banning male students entirely. The nation's nearly 10 million female undergraduates would need to take the most stringent safety precautions.
There is the stereotype of the feminist blogger foaming at the mouth while banging on a keyboard covered in spittle. Let me tell you, though, writing week after week about feminist issues inevitably causes you to become a bit jaded; things that once would have sent the spittle flying only inspire a curl of the lip, a roll of the eyes. But today, thanks to an Op-Ed in the Los Angeles Times about "the rape hype" on college campuses, my blood is boiling and I am fully embodying that stereotype.Having vented, Clark-Flory does actually rebut Mac Donald, but she does it by quoting another study instead of addressing the perceptive demographic challenge raised by Mac Donald.
Let's dispense with the "science" behind this argument first. It all goes back to a 1980's study commissioned by Ms Magazine (red flags, anyone?), in which the author, Mary Koss, didn't use the word "rape" in her survey designed to identify the rate of rapes on campus.
That may seem odd, but she had her reasons. Her question didn't use "rape" because she thought sensitive females would not answer such a direct question honestly. Instead, she asked,
"Have you had sexual intercourse when you didn't want to because a man gave you alcohol or drugs?"Not surprisingly, she got HUGE results -- the same 20 to 25 percent figure the colleges want us to believe. Mac Donald says, and I believe, that many women who answered "yes" simply had on "beer goggles" at a bar and put out, then regretted it. As Mac Donald put it:
College women -- as well as men -- reportedly drink heavily before and during parties. For the women, that drinking is often goal-oriented, suggests Karin Agness, a recent University of Virginia graduate and founder of NeW, a club for conservative university women: It frees the drinker from responsibility and "provides an excuse for engaging in behavior that she ordinarily wouldn't." Nights can include a meaningless sexual encounter with a guy whom the girl may not even know.These women are not the victims of rape, even though they would answer "yes" to the survey question. Rape is a violent, ugly crime, not a Saturday night moment of ill-advised (or even self-directed) promiscuity.
The study with which Clark-Flory fights back attempted to fix this problem, not by asking about rape straight-up, but by rephrasing the question,
Have you engaged in sexual intercourse when you didn’t want to but were so intoxicated under the influence of alcohol or drugs that you could not stop it or object?The results were identical to Koss', thereby "proving" a phenomenal amount of drug or alcohol-facilitated rapes on campus.
But here's the problem: Neither question addressed the man's intent, the woman's actions against the man, or any of the circumstances of the act. Rape is -- or has been up until now -- described legally by a particular set of circumstances that feminists are now trying to redefine. Just as anti-war factions are trying to redefine "torture" in order to create a cause where where wasn't one before, the feminists want to broaden the meaning of rape so more women become victims, thus increasing the relevance of their cause.
In one sense I agree with them: More attention has to be given to women who are victimized by drug-assisted rape, when a man slips GHB or a roofie slipped into their drink so they become immobilized, then hustles them out of the bar and carries out upon them an act that is, indeed, rape.
Drug-facilitated rape is very real crime that should not be minimized. Incredible Wife posted on her blog the story of Annette, the drug-facilitated rape victim you see here, that illustrates that the crime is, indeed, rape, with long-term damage that can be even worse that when the rape victim is sober.
Victims like Annette have trouble convincing police and prosecutors they've been raped. They have no memory of what happened and there's frequently no physical evidence because memories of what happened to them start to become real well after the crime. And, most damaging to the victims, law enforcement officials too readily dismiss these victims as bar sluts, not rape victims. That's particularly damaging to them because they were drugged, and were not drunk and promiscuous prior to being drugged.
To the extent that creating a false crisis out of campus and bar rapes will help the thousands of Annettes who are struggling to be heard, and who are psychologically damaged because society is calling them bar sluts instead of rape victims, more power to the false statistics.
But the studies cited by Clark-Flory do just the opposite. They group true date-rape victims with the girls who just got drunk and got laid. That minimizes the crime, and worse, it minimizes the perpetrator. One perp is a premeditating criminal who uses dangerous drugs just as effectively as other rapists use weapons and threats of violence; the other is some guy who just happened to be at a bar when a drunk girl said, "Lesh do it."
The other danger of the Clark-Flory approach is that it places justice in the hands of collegiate bureaucrats. As you can imagine, the colleges have set up protocols for dealing with the crisis created by foolishly broadening the definition of rape. Girls can ask committees of muddle-headed academics to rule on the fate of boys whose crime may have been no more than to say "Sure" to the girl's "Lesh do it."
Muddle-headed? You bet. This is from Mac Donald's piece:
"If one partner puts a condom on the other, does that signify that they are consenting to intercourse?" asks Alan D. Berkowitz, a campus rape consultant. Short of guiding the thus-sheathed instrumentality to port, it's hard to imagine a clearer signal of consent, although Berkowitz apparently finds it "inherently ambiguous."Woe be to the American university.
Boiled down to its core, Clark-Flory puts her faith in academic research and Mac Donald puts hers in human intelligence and reason -- all of which makes Mac Donald a quaint anachronism in a world that is set at full speed towards confusion and victimization.
She is demonized because she has the gall to suggest that dressing with your boobs and butt-cheeks hanging out, dancing the bump and grind with whatever male approaches you while swilling booze straight from the bottle may have consequences.
No matter if she's fighting against the minimization of rape -- a position feminists should laud -- she has argued against freedom without consequences and victimization without a crime.
Lost in all this is education, which once was the reason for going to college. That we are even having this debate is evidence that another institution that was foundational to the creation of America's greatness is slipping into mediocrity.