Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Campus sexual myths- rape and consensual relationships

Heather Mac Donald reports in the LA Times as well as in the City Journal that a central claim of 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 is a myth.

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.

None of this crisis response occurs, of course — because the crisis doesn’t exist.

Of course, then the question becomes where did the 20 to 25% statistic come from. Mac Donald found the source of this statistic originated in the 1980s from University of Arizona Health Professor Mary Koss who did not ask female respondents if they had been raped.

Rather than asking female students about rape per se, Koss asked them if they had ever experienced actions that she then classified as rape. One question, for example, asked, “Have you had sexual intercourse when you didn’t want to because a man gave you alcohol or drugs?” — a question that is ambiguous on several fronts, including the woman’s degree of incapacitation, the causal relation between being given a drink and having sexual intercourse, and the man’s intentions. Koss’ method produced the 25% rate, which Ms. then published.

It was a flawed study on a number of levels, but the most powerful refutation came from her own subjects: 73% of the women whom the study characterized as rape victims told the researchers that they hadn’t been raped. Further, 42% of the study’s supposed victims said they had had intercourse again with their alleged assailants — though it is highly unlikely that a raped woman would have sex again with the fiend who attacked her.

A 2006 survey of sorority women at the University of Virginia, for example, found that only 23% of the subjects whom the survey characterized as rape victims felt that they had been raped — a result that the university’s director of sexual and domestic violence services calls “discouraging.” Equally damning was a 2000 campus rape study conducted under the aegis of the Department of Justice. Sixty-five percent of those whom the researchers called “completed rape” victims and three-quarters of “attempted rape” victims said that they did not think that their experiences were “serious enough to report.”

Believing in the campus rape epidemic, it turns out, requires ignoring women’s own interpretations of their experiences.

Ignoring of women’s own interpretations of their experience sounds quite familiar to the dankprofessor. Such is familiar since in the feminist framework regarding student professor sexual relationships, the student is never able to consent since the feminist axiom is that differential power precludes consent. In this framework students are never asked if they consented. Their interpretations are of no import unless they reflect a feminist orthodoxy. Female students who protest that they did consent are simply ignored.

The campus rape myth and the predator professor/female student myth come from the same source – anti-sexual campus feminists.

The outcome for those embracing the rape myth is to have campus facilities to counsel the huge numbers of female rape victims.

“Needless to say, those facilities don’t appear to get a tremendous amount of use. For example, Hillary Wing-Richards, the associate director of sexual-assault prevention at James Madison University, said the school’s campus rape “help line” gets a varying number of calls, some of which are “request-for-information calls” — where to go, who to talk to and the like.

“Some months there are 10 and others, one or two,” she said.

Referring to rape hotlines, risk management consultant Brett Sokolow laments: “The problem is, on so many of our campuses, very few people ever call. And mostly we’ve resigned ourselves to the underutilization of these resources.”

The outcome for those embracing the predator professor/female student victim framework is passage of campus regulations prohibiting such conduct even given that as the dankprofessor has pointed out there is often not one single offender or victim that these advocates can cite as indicating a need for these regulations. Such was most recently indicated in the dankprofessor blog as being applicable to Middlebury College which during the entirety of its 200 year history, there was no report of an “offending” student professor couple, but this has not deterred the advocates from going forward. Such was also the case at the University of California which in order to adopt a prohibition, the campus advocates chose to employ the case of a UC law dean who had “sexually assaulted” a female law student who he had only known for a couple of hours.

The reality for student professor consensual relationships is that hardly anyone ever complains as is to be expected since the relationships are consensual. If there are complaints, they are most likely to come from third party informants. Or the complaints may come from a person who was once party to a consensual relationship, but that relationship ended and issues concerning sexual harassment now become germane. Of course, the irony is that prior to the consensual prohibition there were the applicable sexual harassment rules.

Heather Mac Donald continues:

Federal law requires colleges to publish reported crimes affecting their students. The numbers of reported sexual assaults — the law does not require their confirmation — usually run under half a dozen a year on private campuses, and maybe two to three times that at large public universities.

However in the case of student professor relationship violations, there is no Federal law requiring report. Try getting statistics on consensual student professor prohibition violations from university authorities and you are likely to be stonewalled or if not stonewalled, you won’t get more than a couple of cases per year. In fact, the dankprofesssor challenges blog readers to come up with university statistics on student professor relationships violations.

—–
If you wish, you can write to me directly at dankprofessor@msn.com
Guest commentaries should also be submitted for consideration
to the same email address.

Barry M. Dank aka the dankprofessorTM
© Copyright 2008

February 25, 2008 - Posted by | consensual relationships, ethics, feminism, Heather Mac Donald, higher education, rape, sex, sexual harassment, sexual politics, student professor dating

2 Comments »

  1. [...] Heather Mac Donald has come under a scathing attack for her LA Times and City Journal piece on “the campus rape crisis myth”. I doubt that no response was more intemperate than the one which appeared on the LawandLetters [...]

    Pingback by Victimization and the rape rhetoric « Dankprofessor’s Weblog | February 26, 2008 | Reply

  2. ‘The campus rape myth and the predator professor/female student myth come from the same source – anti-sexual campus feminists’ – correct.

    While I agree with you on that in the feminist framework regarding student professor sexual relationships, the student is never able to consent since the feminist axiom is that differential power precludes consent, when it comes to other cases off campus, how a wo/man feels about their ‘rape’ (or not-rape) comes [equally] from a subjective viewpoint, true. But, other than when it’s clearly forcible rape or visible brute force was used otherwise, the entire ‘rape’ concept is far too subjective to start with. One might feel that was ‘rape’, though technically is [or] not, the other does not – while one wo/man thinks it was consensual at no clear signals to the contrary, the other wo/man might not feel that way.

    It’s extremely complex at no single defining nominator the law can in fact rely on, because no two persons react or see it the same way. The law might say that was rape, but even a ‘victim’ might not see it that way, while the law might say that was not ‘rape’, the victim however feels it was.

    ‘Rape’ therefore should only be what the law says it is: forcible intercourse, on or off campus, everything else is grouped together under the umbrella term sexual assault as it is, & so is rape as a single offence. Rape is not the umbrella term, sexual assault is. Though we call forced oral or anal sex e.g. rape too, it technically is not. So in effect, one single ‘act’ by now has taken the place of the umbrella term sexual assault – when it should only be part of it.

    That’s where all these skewed stats come from to begin with of how ‘rampant’ ‘rape’ is, since everything is called ‘rape’ by now. Of course, when digging deeper, only a small percentage actually is. On or off campus. So myth is correct.

    Comment by Novalis Lore | October 19, 2010 | Reply


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