It’s been repeated so many times, by so many people, academics, politicians, media outlets, after having been thoroughly debunked that it’s just embarrassing. So what to do when a narrative is built on a lie? Throw a new survey! And the Washington Post in conjunction with the Kaiser Family Foundation did just that.
As Ronny Reagan so effectively said, “there they go again.”
Twenty percent of young women who attended college during the past four years say they were sexually assaulted, according to a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll. But the circle of victims on the nation’s campuses is probably even larger.
What? The 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted is for real? Does that mean the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ report on Rape and Sexual Assault Victimization Among College-Age Females, 1995–2013 showing that it’s really 1 in 30 is wrong? Don’t be ridiculous.
From Ashe Schow at the Washington Examiner:
The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation have conducted a survey that shows that, for real everyone, campus sexual assault is the serious problem activists want it to be.
But as with any poll purporting to show a prevalence of campus sexual assault hovering around 20 percent of college women, as this one does, the devil is in the details.
Details, of course, require someone to actually look, and read, and think about what goes into the cool headline that will be repeated over and over to prove a point. People really hate doing that stuff. It makes their head hurt.
But it’s the Post’s definition of “unwanted sexual contact,” which is used interchangeably with “sexual assault,” that really dooms the survey. David French of National Review pointed out that these two words are not synonyms, and can actually include “behaviors that are not only not criminal, but may not — depending on the circumstances — even constitute unlawful sexual harassment (which the Supreme Court has said requires proof of conduct so ‘severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively bars the victim’s access to an educational opportunity or benefit’).”
What are the chances that, over four years of college, some guy is going to try to hold a girl’s hand, maybe “steal” a kiss at the end of a date, when she decides she really didn’t want him to, either before, during or after it happened? Pretty darned good, obviously.
But that’s not sexual assault. Well, at least not in the realm of discussion following the usual anecdote of some clear, horrible assault, like the rape of a woman passed out.
With this in mind, the question about “sexual contact” (the actual questions didn’t even say “unwanted”) while “incapacitated” (which had been defined to include “drunk”), which 14 percent of women answered “yes” to, isn’t as powerful. It could mean that any portion of that refers to women who had sexual contact while drunk, and how many sexually active adults can say they’ve never had drunk sex?
This goes to a “political” problem that’s plagued efforts to reach a consensus about the definition of rape and sexual assault. What makes a woman “incapacitated” by alcohol? Certainly, no one questions that a woman passed out is incapacitated, though that only applies to women. Sorry guys.
But short of passed out, what constitutes drunk, or sufficiently drunk that a woman is incapable of giving consent? The answer, at least under the assumptions belying this survey, is whatever the respondent decides it is. Half a beer? Good enough, if your politics is that any excuse to claim sexual assault victimhood will do.
Robby Soave at Reason drives this point home:
The poll also lists “drunk” as one of the reasons a person can be incapable of giving consent or refusing sex, alongside “asleep, drugged, passed out, and incapacitated.” But women who are merely drunk are able to give consent; it’s only when alcohol consumption renders a participant incapacitated that consensual sex becomes rape.
It’s true that alcohol can cause people—both men and women—to consent to sex when they otherwise would not. Alcohol lowers inhibition, and lets people do things they will later regret.
But post hoc regret doesn’t convert a consensual act into an assault, even though the consumption of alcohol provides a ready excuse to claim otherwise. Except for the purposes of this survey.
There is, however, one aspect of this survey that is particularly shocking.
There was a gender split on another key question: whether it is more unfair for an innocent person to get kicked out of college after a sexual-assault accusation, or for a person who commits a sexual assault to get away with it.
Men were divided, with 49 percent seeing expulsion of the innocent as the greater injustice and 42 percent taking the other side. But by a decisive 20-point margin, women viewed it as more unfair for an assailant to go unpunished.
Or to use real numbers rather than expect readers to do the math, 60% of women believed that the need to punish the guilty was more important than the unfairness of punishing the innocent. Blackstone’s ratio is for kids. Well, not college kids. At least not college women.
This reflects one of the fundamental disputes as to how to discuss, describe and handle the “problem” of college sexual assaults. Women, by a 60-40 margin, just don’t care that some men who are accused and held responsible are innocent. To them, the value of punishing the guilty is so much greater than being fair for the sake of the innocent that they will happily sacrifice men who did nothing wrong to make sure that the guilty go down.
Recognizing this distinction from every basic precept of our jurisprudence makes the hope of reaching some consensus essentially impossible. It’s un-American to convict the innocent just to make sure the guilty don’t walk, and the majority of college women just don’t give a damn. When considering their pleas for “justice,” understand that it’s about their vision of justice, and it doesn’t include men.