New College Rape Survey, Same Old Crap

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.

13 thoughts on “New College Rape Survey, Same Old Crap

  1. Alice Harris

    If women want to be taken seriously and participate as fully-functioning, independent, adults, they should also grow up and be responsible for their decisions. That includes a decision to have sex while drinking or drunk. It is sad indeed to learn that young women are OK with punishing the innocent. Grow up, girls. Do what you want, but own it.

    1. jill mcmahon

      I second Alice and would add that if you truly think you’ve been raped (female or male victim) let the police and your local District Attorney handle it.

  2. EH

    I suspect the women’s responses are skewed by the constant (incorrect) assumption that they actually know who the guilty folks ARE.

    After all, Blackstone’s ratio really deals with the assignment of error. If you believe (as many college feminists seem to believe) that you can reliably identify guilty parties with a very high degree of accuracy, then the total error is very small and the total number of innocents convicted would be very small, even if the ratio changed.

    What really tweaks me is that there are some things that DO reduce total error: good investigations; sworn testimony; good cross examination; prompt rape kit evaluation; prompt evidence collection; etc. These folks are simultaneously arguing against reducing total error, and also arguing for reassigning that error to the wrong side.

    1. SHG Post author

      What amazes me is that no matter what the specific topic of a post, you find a way to go tangential, invariably discussed elsewhere here, rather than stay on topic. Yes, that’s all correct, and more, but you really need to start a blog of your own to address whatever tangential issues you feel I have failed to mention to your satisfaction, so you don’t feel the constant need to do so here.

  3. Not Jim Ardis

    People really hate doing that stuff. It makes their head hurt.

    Ashe, thankfully, has sufficient self-loathing to do just that… It’s part of her charm.

  4. Greg

    “Women, by a 60-40 margin, just don’t care that some men who are accused and held responsible are innocent.”

    That’s depressing, of course, but I’m even more shocked by the fact that almost half of the male students agreed. What’s that about?

    1. SHG Post author

      Indoctrination, and survey bias. Tell young men enough that they’re all rapists and some believe. The ones who believe respond to these surveys. The ones who call bullshit don’t.

  5. ThinkingGeek

    Hey… look… another moron that can’t read or understand statistics and then decides to blog about it!

    The 1 in 5 rape statistic is NOT a measure of college rape frequency. It is NOT comparable to the DOJ report you linked.

    The 1 in 5 statistic says that 1 in 5 women will experience sexual assault or rape BY THE TIME THEY GRADUATE COLLEGE.

    You mistakenly/dishonestly/stupidly/wrongly compare this 1 in 5 ratio that covers a woman’s lifetime up through college to a DOJ study that focuses entirely on college-aged women, namely “females ages 18 to 24.” You then try to point out that the stats come out to about 1 in 30, not 1 in 5 in the DOJ study and try to cry foul.

    Do you not see that you’ve compared one statistic with a time range of “all of life through graduation” with that of a time range of “during college?”

    Math: You suck at it.

    1. SHG Post author

      I really do such at math. But I’m pretty good at reading stuff, like the Washington Post headline for its study: COLLEGE SEXUAL ASSAULT, 1 in 5 college women say they were violated.

      Now I grant you, that doesn’t mean they were violated while in college, and this might have nothing to do with sexual assault while in college per se, but only that they were college women when they “said” they were violated, but covers violation from birth through graduation. And yet the write-up of the study emphasizes over and over that this is about sexual of, by and for college women. But then, maybe the Washington Post sucks at writing as much as I suck at math.

      Then again, I’m a lawyer, so I’m allowed to suck at math. They write for a newspaper, so their inability to write clearly isn’t so easily explained. Or, you’re harping on a rhetorical failure to specifically address that it relates to assaults during their college years, not pre-college? You may be right, but then everything about the presentation of the study is misleading, in which case I’m not the only one who is “mistakenly/dishonestly/stupidly/wrongly” reading this study.

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