The Great Rape Conspiracy

comrade_cat posted about an article by Heather MacDonald called The Campus Rape Myth, which takes on the “campus rape industry.”  Warning: reading the article is likely to significantly raise your blood pressure.

MacDonald spews more than 6000 words to “debunk” college rape as a ridiculously overblown myth fueled by false reports, radical feminist research, and slutty college girls.

She’s not alone in her beliefs.  I remember a response to one of my own rape posts, in which a man said he liked what I was saying, but thought I was making up the part about how many of my friends had been raped, because he didn’t believe it happened that often.

As pissed off as I was by this response, I couldn’t help appreciating the parallel … after all, how often do rape victims share their stories, only to be told they’re lying?

MacDonald targets a single article in her attempt to reveal the falsehoods of the great rape conspiracy:

“The campus rape industry’s central tenet is that one-quarter of all college girls will be raped or be the targets of attempted rape by the end of their college years … This claim, first published in Ms. magazine in 1987, took the universities by storm.”

She goes on to point out that many of these “so-called” rape victims didn’t identify the experience as rape, and didn’t even report it!  She also refers to a 2000 study by the Department of Justice.  I assume she means The Sexual Victimization of College Women, which studied rapes over six months and estimated that “Over the course of a college career — which now lasts an average of 5 years — the percentage of completed or attempted rape victimization among women in higher educational institutions might climb to between one-fifth and one-quarter.”  (As everyone knows, the U. S. Government is a just hotbed of radical feminism.)

Page 23 of the study lists some reasons women chose not to report:

“…common answers included that the incident was not serious enough to report and that it was not clear that a crime was committed. Other  reasons, however, suggested that there were barriers to reporting. Such answers included not wanting family or other people to know about the incident, lack of proof the incident happened, fear of reprisal by the  assailant, fear of being treated with hostility by the police, and  anticipation that the police would not believe the incident was serious enough and/or would not want to be bothered with the incident.”

Gosh, where could they have gotten the idea that people won’t take them seriously if it was friend or date raped them?  How could they think that if they were raped after partying or drinking, that they might be mocked and treated with outright hostility?  Who taught them that unless it was a black stranger with a knife, it doesn’t count as a “real” rape?[1. From MacDonald’s article, “Like many stranger rapists on campus, the knifepoint assailant was black, and thus an unattractive target for politically correct protest.”]

Buried in MacDonald’s article is a valid point.  When working in rape education and prevention, I saw a tendency to toss statistics about without being able to back them up or explain where they come from.  Given how many people refuse to accept how common rape is, I believe it’s important to back up the numbers when possible.

Mostly though, MacDonald’s article is crap.  Sadly, it’s crap a lot of people choose to believe.  Because we don’t want to admit rape can and has happened to people we love.  Because it’s easier to ridicule the numbers — and the victims — than to accept we have a problem.

I’ve mentioned sitting in my college dorm with several female friends when two guys walked by, mocking the 1-in-4 statistic.  “If that were right, it would mean one of you had been raped,” said one.  Unstated was the assumption that this was utterly ridiculous.  How absurd to think that someone he knew had experienced such a horrible crime?

Of course, he was right.  MacDonald does the same thing in her article:

“The one-in-four statistic would mean that every year, millions of young women graduate who have suffered the most terrifying assault, short of murder, that a woman can experience.”

Well, yes.  That’s the point.  And you can either turn your back on those women, or you can open your eyes and try to do something about it.