The FBI released its crime statistics for 2018, an eagerly awaited metric to determine what to do about the panoply of interests involved in dealing with crime, law and punishment. And the news was, as anticipated, pretty darn good.
FBI data released Monday suggests that the violent crime rate in the U.S. remains on a decades-long downward trend, falling by 3.9 percent in 2018. Overall, the violent crime rate has plunged by more than 50 percent since the highwater mark of the early 1990s.
The drops came across categories of violent offenses, including murder, non-negligent manslaughter and robbery, and property crimes like burglary, larceny and vehicle thefts, while aggravated assault numbers remained about flat.
But then there was one crime that just wouldn’t behave.
The rate for rape bucked this trend however, up slightly for 2018, and in each of the last six years.
This raises some difficult questions, too easily answered by the unduly biased. Are toxic men becoming increasingly rapey year upon year? Did the #MeToo movement remove the stigma of rape, making women feel more comfortable and inclined to report it? But then, it’s been rising for the past six years, well before #MeToo caught fire.
The intrepid Radley Balko considered some of the possibilities.
Assuming, as might be reasonable, that men didn’t morph from perfect gentlemen to raping animals over the past six years, Radley raises far more likely reasons why the stats show an increase in rape reporting. Then again, this is a six year trend, not an explosion in the wake of #MeToo.
Violent crime did not decrease across the board in 2018, however, and one category is in the midst of a slow but persistent six-year upward swing: rape. For the 2013 statistics the FBI changed its outdated parameters of rape—then defined as the forcible “carnal knowledge of a female”—to a more modern definition structured around consent, rather than force. Ever since, the rate has been on a steady surge, up more than 18 percent in that period.
There have been a few paradigm shifts when it comes to rape over the past decade, one of which is that being the victim of rape is not the shameful thing it once was, empowering women to come forward and bring the crime to police. Simultaneously, there has been a shift in the meaning of the word “rape,” in which it’s become untethered from any cognizable definition.
I suggested that Radley should give some consideration to this influence as well, that the criminal definition of rape no longer reflected the woke understanding of rape, which had effectively become any sex act a woman decided was rape, whether before, during or after. Days after. Months after. Years after. As Aziz Ansari learned, even the failure to read the secret inner emotions of an unhinged date was tantamount to rape.
Moreover, the constraints of factual honesty have taken a backseat to achieving “rape justice,” meaning that if a woman believes that she was raped, despite the absence of facts to support such a belief if one was to view what occurred by any objective basis, the distortion of allegations (which is a nice way of saying lies) were an acceptable means of assuring that the rapist was punished. So what if she uses lies to manufacture a rape scenario out of an otherwise entirely consensual encounter if she believes she was raped and the conclusion is to punish her rapist?
There is no empirical evidence to determine which of these factors has produced the six years of increase in the incidence of rape. It’s highly unlikely that any academic would conduct a legitimate study to do so, as empiricism has become a tool to prove an outcome under the guise of empirical neutrality. Ask the wrong questions of the wrong people and you get the results you want. Then, everyone can quote your study to prove that men are toxic rapists, women (almost) never lie about being raped and everything that happens proves their survivorship, one way or another.
Are so many men rapists? Are they becoming even more rapey by the year? Have women been raped all along, but are only coming forward in the past six years since the stigma of being raped has been diminished? Or has the definition of rape, and the collateral constraints of facts that show otherwise, become a mere hurdle to surmount to assure that every women who believes she’s been raped can do everything in her power to assure her perpetrator gets punished and her truth is vindicated?
Is there any way to determine which, and to what extent, these competing factors explain the six year rise in rape while all other crime continues to fall? And what does this do to our carceral lust when it comes to reducing the barriers to rape conviction and increasing the punishment of these toxic rapist men?
*Tuesday Talk rules apply.