The "campus rape culture" media narrative faces deflation

The ongoing media onslaught against the college fraternity system in specific and young men in general has been dismaying to say that least. (To the point where I’ve mostly given up writing about it entirely.) The dizzying array of “facts” and figures being tossed about on every cable news channel which describe the campus rape culture have provided a convenient platform for new age feminists who are ready to go to war. But how much truth is to be found underneath this pile of coverage? At College Insurrection, we are treated to the latest in a series of videos from The Factual Feminist, in which Professor Christina Hoff Sommers of the American Enterprise Institute takes on two common themes.

The first is the oft reported figure claiming that 1 in 5 young women attending college will be raped. Sommers locates the origin of this figure and reveals (yet again) that it was not a source to be taken seriously, but new, more accurate figures are available.

The one in five claim is based on a 2007 internet study with vaguely worded questions, a low response rate and a non-representative sample. The real number, according to the Bureau of Justice statistics, is one in 53. That’s too many, but it’s a long way from one in five.

That works out to slightly more than two out of one hundred. Obviously that’s two too many, and actual criminals need to be captured and prosecuted. Further, women should be empowered and encouraged to defend themselves against violent criminals, whether that be by arming themselves or simply using good judgement in how and where they travel. But if these Justice Bureau statistics are correct, the “rape culture” isn’t much of a culture at all.

The second myth which Sommers tackles is the constant media theme which says that “women almost never lie about rape.” They knowingly quote figures which say that less than 2% of all rape reports turn out to be unfounded. The Professor dismisses this one for what it is… an unknown and unknowable figure which flies in the face of human nature.

The answer to bad old practices is not bad new practices. As Cathy Young has noted in an excellent article in Slate, the myth of the lying woman has been replaced by the myth of the woman who never lies. Why replace one myth with another? Of course women lie. Not because they’re women, but because they are human. And human beings lie, especially when it comes to sex. Women make false accusations for different reasons. Some do it because they want to explain away an embarrassing sexual encounter. Sometimes they are disturbed and are seeking attention, sympathy or revenge. Sometimes they’ve taken one too many feminist theory seminars and they’ve come to believe that a drunken or regretted sexual encounter constitutes a felony rape.

The professor does a much better job with all of this than I ever could. Check out the video for yourself below.