We are not a rape society

I have noticed something very strange lately – a general claim that society is blaming women for rape and insisting that they should be constantly on guard instead of blaming men. Now, I don’t know where that comes from. I grew up with the understanding that rape was wrong and I was not to do it. Not only was I not to do it, I would be an evil person if I did it. I have no friends who claim that women should be blamed for rape, and while I have heard the claim that women should be more modest to prevent rape (an inherently stupid claim) it has never come from anyone who could be regarded as having the least credibility in society, except for one Toronto police officer, who is a dinosaur. The response to that police office was widespread and international (the slutwalk). Now, we currently live in a time (and if you are in the west) a place where rape is incredibly rare, rarer than ever before in history or anywhere in the world.

So, is this a rape society? If you lived in a time where theft was almost universally reviled, where the big question with theft was not if it was wrong, but whether or not borrowing something and then not returning (but with the persons permission to borrow it) constituted theft, where theft was the rarest it had ever been in the history of human kind, where thieves were often killed in prison by other prisoners who found them disgusting and loathsome, would you say that you were in a theft society? All of these things are true of rape today (nobody thinks rape is okay, the statement that rape is worse than murder is actually somewhat common. There are questions around consent, and what qualifies as consent, but nobody believes that sex without consent is okay, and to tell the truth many of those questions are somewhat challenging. There is less rape here and now than ever before or anywhere else. Rapists are often killed in prison, and men who rape underage people are usually kept out of general population as that is essentially a death sentence for them, usually in incredibly horrific ways). So, how do we justify calling this a rape society? Right now women have more agency than ever before, and it could even be argued that the average woman has more agency than the average man (not saying it is the case, but strong arguments could be made).

So, let’s look at where the claim might come from: how some people could believe we are a rape society.

We will start with an easy one, the 1 in 4 stat.  This is the statistic that 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted in college. It comes from a study funded by Ms. Magazine and performed by Mary Koss. The problem is that it’s a really broad study, and includes questions like “Did you ever have sex after drinking alcohol?”.  The study is often taken out of context, and instead of sexual assault the claim is usually “1 in 4 women are raped in college”. However, the vast majority of respondents who fell into the assaulted group did not consider themselves to have been sexually assaulted.

Okay, this one is a bit weirder, and not nearly as fact based… because it’s not about facts. A lot of women talk about how they are in fear when they go out alone, how that’s something men don’t have to deal with. First, the claim that we live in a “rape culture” is one of the key components of that fear. They believe (even though it’s obviously untrue) that they are at a large risk of assault if walking alone at night. Since most sexual assaults happen in the home by someone who knows the victim this is not a reasonable fear. By contrast, they believe that men are not worried about walking alone at night… the reality is that men are at a much higher risk of assault, robbery, murder, etc. than women are. Many of us know this, and most of my friends carry knives. They keys between the knuckles thing is actually common (and not a great idea, you can easily destroy your hands that way).

Part of it is that rape tends to get more media attention, and stranger rape far more than any other kind. Another part is that violence against women is pictured as meaningful in movies. Violence against men is simply part of the film.

Now, there is a great deal more to this, and I will happily talk about it with anyone who submits a non spam comment (as usual), however I’m in the middle of marking a class, so have to go for now.


9 Responses to “We are not a rape society”

  1. 1 jessiebutterfly
    May 27, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    Hi there

    Where did you get your information from that rape occurrence is rare? After 10 seconds on google I found statistics for 2013 regarding rape and sexual assault in the UK and 1 in 5 women will experience sexual assault in her lifetime. That’s not rare. I’m sure if you look up these statistics in other countries they will be very similar.

    The ‘rape apology’ society you claim does not exist is the one that in 2012 ruined the life (in addition to her rapist) of a young woman raped by a football player. Society bullied her until she had to leave the country and change her name. Comments like “she made it up to make money” fuelled the backlash for her following his conviction.

    Reporting a rape is incredibly hard, getting the CPS to take the case forward is tougher still, getting a conviction is rare and evidently when this happens the victim not being believed is a big problem, especially if the perp is well known – rape apology is rife in our society – mainly because people are afraid to admit that it happens and that many perpetrators are ‘ordinary’ people who disregard the importance of consent. Admitting it would mean that it’s real and for many that is too frightening. Much better to downplay the situation and create a feeling of safety – apparently.


    • May 27, 2014 at 7:08 pm

      Well Jess, the stat that one in five women is sexually assaulted in their lifetime takes an incredibly broad definition of sexual assault and used unbelievably bad methods for gathering data.

      Yes, there are major issues with celebrity accountability, we live in a society where the rich and famous often get away with things that other people don’t. Having said that, I don’t think that a rape case involving a famous football player proves we are a rape society any more than the defenders of James Brown overlooking his meth fueled shooting spree proves we are a meth society. It proves that famous people are not held to account the way regular people are.

      Rape convictions per report are actually slightly higher than for most crimes, not lower as we are often told, and the reporting rate is probably about on a par. People don’t seem to get that it’s actually important to hold a standard of evidence. Whatever you think the rate of false reports are, it’s clear that you have to provide accused people with a method of defending themselves, as we don’t want innocents going to prison.

      The other thing that is often overlooked in stats like this are how many rapists there are. For example: if there are 100 rapes and one guy committed fifty, another guy committed 30 and a final guy committed twenty then you still have a hundred rapes, but only three rapists. Turns out that this is the most common pattern, that rapists tend to commit many offences.

      • 3 jessiebutterfly
        May 28, 2014 at 6:32 pm

        The ‘unbelievably bad methods for gathering data’ you speak of – those would be the number of people accessing ‘rape crisis’ centres for help following sexual assault. This is first person experience – hardly bad data.

        A rape case involving a footballer (or many footballers as in the Steubenville case) does prove we are part of a rape apologist society because of the ‘ordinary’ response to these crimes. Through the public response on social media we can see what the general population thinks and how they see certain situations and it isn’t a pretty picture.

        You speak of a ‘standard of evidence’, this is notoriously difficult in rape cases that often resort to a ‘he said she said’ scenario.

        Your theory that rapists tend to commit many offences buys in to the stereotype that rapists are strangers in dark alleys waiting to pounce, not ‘normal’ people misunderstanding or discounting consent and boundaries, that or merely feeling entitled to sex.

        It seems victims and victims advocates speaking out on the rape apologist phenomenon has created a backlash to denounce it as non existent. You can deny it but it does not make it so.

      • May 29, 2014 at 1:07 am

        Well, the thing is I can’t find a source for that figure from rape crisis hotlines. I can say that if 1 in 5 women in the US has called a rape crisis hotline that stat is amazing. If that is a stat claiming that only a certain percentage called in, then there needs to be more research. I can find a huge number of different figures from different sources (including one study at https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/221153.pdf which is fraught with methodological issues. Also, it’s a PDF link, fair warning). Here in Canada we had a federal study that determined 1 in 3 women had been raped, but another in BC (one province) that determined 1 in 17 had been raped. Given that one of the largest cities (and most violent cities) in Canada is in BC it seems odd that their population would count so little, in fact it leads me to think that one of the two studies has to be wrong.

        One study in the US has the numbers at 1 in 6. Others at 1 in 5. Some of the studies claim those stats are for sexual assault (all encompassing, including attempts etc.) and others claim it’s for just completed rape.

        The theory that rapists tend to commit many rapes is actually born out by the stats, and it doesn’t mean that those guys are the alley lurker types, in fact it can mean the friendly frat guy who date rapes multiple girls, the nice guy who doesn’t take no for an answer, etc. The fact is that guys who don’t get consent tend not to get consent, guys who do get consent tend to get consent. Make sense?

        I have a couple other posts about rape on here, and they include some info about how I ended up having an interest in Men’s Rights and rape stats. One is about me being the victim of sexual assault more than once (including one that was very much a stranger with a knife situation) and one about false accusations (I wasn’t the victim there, I was one of the guys who went out and tried to get some vengeance for a girl that hadn’t really been raped). You will see that I’m not the guy who’s saying that women who wear revealing clothes were asking for it or anything of the sort. I’m saying that if those numbers are real, why the fuck aren’t women making sure they have a gun on their person at all times? Why when I taught women’s self defence did I only have a few women at a time, at least two of whom were mostly there to flirt (one of them directly admitted this to me)? Not that it would be a woman’s responsibility to take those steps, but after I had a knife to my throat while someone demanded a blowjob I became pretty obsessed with both self defence and carrying weapons, hell, over twenty years later and I still have a knife in my pocket all the time.

    • March 24, 2016 at 5:23 pm

      Where did you get the stats that reporting rape is incredibly hard and getting CPS to take the case forward is tougher still? The reality is that rape is convicted at a rate similar to other crimes. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/mar/25/rape-myths-low-conviction-rate says 7% conviction rate, similar to other crimes, and surprisingly high, given that there is often a lack of evidence. Since the innocence project got access to DNA evidence rape is the conviction most commonly overturned, so false conviction for rape is higher than in other crimes.

      What was the source of your sexual assault and rape stats? Was it based on reported cases and convictions or on a survey? What was the survey methodology? If we take reported rapes, we had 67,354 in the US during 2014. That is 0.02 percent of the population. Now, let’s assume that 90% go unreported. That leaves us with 0.19% of the population per year. Now, of course we can double that, because I went with total population. So, 0.38% of the population. Now, let’s multiply that number by the average life expectancy: 78.74 for a woman. That puts our upper bounds for rape per lifetime at just under 3% of the population. That’s assuming that all of the population is at equal risk, an unlikely proposition, as research suggests some populations are at a highly increased risk. Even if I adjust my numbers so that 99% of rapes are unreported, that leaves us with a rate just over 3%, not just under. So, that’s the actual numbers, being charitable on the reporting rate, and assuming that all populations are at equal risk, so 1 woman – 1 lifetime rape.

      If you look at most of those studies they stretch the definition a great deal, and when you actually use the same metrics on a male population typically the male population numbers skew slightly higher.

  2. May 27, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    dude, you seriously need to link to all of those studies & where you got your numbers & also how the studies manipulate the data. or no one will take you seriously.

  3. May 28, 2014 at 2:03 am

    >However, the vast majority of respondents who fell into the assaulted group did not consider themselves to have been sexually assaulted.

    can I get a source for this?

  4. 9 jessiebutterfly
    May 29, 2014 at 9:49 pm

    The numbers are real as in they are statistics, as in the volume of people accessing support. Charities have to keep a log of the service they provide in order to gain funding from national initiatives. I’ve accessed these services myself as like you I have personal experience, I will be a number in their log as will everyone else that asks for help.

    I attend a support group in my town and there is a list of women waiting for help and support so much so that another group has had to be started and the waiting list grows still. Are you fixated on studies and figures because you don’t want it to be true? From your words you seem pretty clued up. Yes the figures will probably include a wide spectrum of sexual assault from inappropriate touching to completed rape if that makes you feel any better but it still points to a major problem within society. Females are socialised to feel afraid – the onus is put on women to protect themselves and this is rape apology. You’re defining it when you say “You will see that I’m not the guy who’s saying that women who wear revealing clothes were asking for it” No you’re not but many in society do and therein lies the problem.

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