Thursday, April 27, 2006

The mythology of rape.

My regular reader will be aware that I am not entirely sure about Carrie Lukas, but with all this talk about the Duke Lacrosse Team thing, she writes a timely article regarding the "one in four" myth of rape frequency  She lists of some of the questions included in the survey from which it originated and a short analysis of how they make the definition of rape potentially much too broad, to the point that entirely consensual, but regretted sex acts could be included.  The result is a very skewed idea of what might really be going on.  The same survey bites its own tail by showing that only 25% of those who were called rape victims actually felt they had been raped and another 40% of the victims had sex with their purported attackers again

Of course she includes the necessary but entirely redundant disclaimer "Allegations of rape ... must be taken seriously and investigated fully." and observes "A man accused of rape often is convicted in the court of public opinion without evidence." but unfortunately makes no comment about how false accusations should be dealt with.  It would be interesting to try and generate the opposite of the myth-generating survey in which men are asked such questions as: "Has a woman with whom you've had sex ever expressed regret at having done so?", the original survey would declare a rapist anyone who dared answer in the positive.

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Marcella Chester said...

After reading Carrie's myth busting and remembering my own experiences as a rape victim, I can say with absolute certainty that she's come to a faulty conclusion when she attempts to bust the 1 in 4 statistic.

Her conclusion might be correct if all rapists were monsters who leapt at their victims, but many of them are manipulators. Some are in a position of power - teacher, parent, minister, etc.

John Doe said...

I posted this reply on Marcella's blog too:

Hi Marcella,

Thank you for your comment in my blog, and I can see your point. However, I think that the point of Lukas's article was not to suggest that going back to the purported rapist means that a rape has not taken place. I think she, and Christina Hoff Sommers, are pointing out the intrinsic inconsistencies of the survey which resulted in the 1 in 4 statistic and this makes that statistic suspect. If the survey people define "rape" expansively on the basis of their questions alone, which will be necessarily colored by any agenda they might have, and ignore what their interviewees believe to be rape, then they skew the results towards higher numbers. This is illustrated by the revelation that 75% of the women they decided had been raped, did not themselves believe they had been raped. Is it not reasonable to suggest that someone who knows what rape is, does not believe they have been raped, is not in a state of denial or otherwise coerced has, ipso facto, not been raped?

Moreover, if 40% of the women the surveyors declare to have been raped went back to their purported rapist, and 75% of the sample believed they had not been raped, then those 40% could well be mostly from the 75%. That's not to say that they all were, but the minimum must be 25%-40% = 15% of the surveyed women were declared to have been raped by the surveyors, went back to their purported rapist, and did not believe that they had been raped. Clearly, if you were to take this survey, you would be one of the 25% and one of the 40% but not one of the 15%.

I agree with you that it would be an error to suppose that two rapes make a non-rape, and Carrie Lukas, quoting Hoff Sommers doesn't say that either. The quote is: "isn't it reasonable to conclude that many had not been raped to begin with?", my emphasis.

I also agree that sometimes rape is the result of malicious manipulation or the abuse of power. The trouble is that that line of thought quickly gets into trouble because where do you draw the line? Many might argue that simple courting is a form of manipulation and some have gone so far as to say that "all sex is rape". Clearly (I hope), this is going too far, but drawing the line in different places will generate different results from rape surveys. If you want to get an even higher number, you could define rape as any sex that was regretted after the fact. The result would terrify many people (women and men) and not have a positive result, the scope for injustice would be phenomenal.

Anonymous said...

The Mary Koss study that slanted data to come up with the 1 in 4 rapes.

Mary Koss stated that she used the FBI definition of rape, but she later admitted that she lied.

One example of Koss's definition of rape is if a boy beggs his girlfriend to have sex, and the woman has sex with the boy, then it's rape. This is how the 1 in 4 statistic was derived , and feminist love this stats, because it serves their purpose to market women as "victims" to gain wide political empathy and billions in tax payer dollars in the form of grants, programs, and fundings for women only issues.

Anonymous said...

The infamous “Ms. Magazine” report.
A biased questionnaire, heavily disputed.

From: (John Green)
Date: 31 Aug 1994 21:18:10 GMT
Following a previous discussion:
Let's be careful how we define rape. According to feminist doctrine, sexual encounters that are later regretted are considered a form of rape.
I've still ever heard a feminist take this position. Have you a reference?
What we're talking about here is a 1985 Ms. Magazine report by Mary Koss, in which the claim was made that 1 in 4 women has been raped. This finding was based on interviews with some 3,000 college women, in which they were asked 10 questions about sexual violation. Women were said to have been raped in the survey if they answered "yes" to any one of three questions. One of the questions was: "Have you had sexual intercourse when you didn't want to because a man gave you alcohol or drugs?"
This is the question that might be answered "yes" by a woman with regrets the morning after. She could wake up the next day, remember with regret that she had sex, and decide to blame it on the fact that the man "gave" her alcohol or drugs. Notice that the wording of this question suggests that the woman is a victim or a minor who does not think for herself. She does not voluntarily consume the alcohol or drug, the man "gives" her the substance, and this is part of the process of "raping" her. The women who answered yes to this question were said to have been raped in this survey EVEN IF THEY THEMSELVES DID NOT CALL IT RAPE. Thus even Mary Koss seems to feel that her interviewees are minors, not able to think for themselves, and disregards their own opinions about whether or not they were raped. This is an example of how feminists cast women as victims.
In an ABC television debate about rape, John Leo, columnist for U.S. News and World Report, said he questioned the "1 in 4" statistic. Catharine MacKinnon responded with "that's because you don't believe women," neglecting to point out that the source of the "1 in 4" statistic itself was a survey that did not believe women.
Anyone who accepts the results of this survey by repeating the claim that 1 in 4 women has been raped is subscribing, possibly without realizing it, to the doctrine that female regret the morning after constitutes rape.
The answer to your question, Dan, is the same as the answer to the question, what feminists accept the claim that 1 in 4 women has been raped? I'm going to assume that you don't need any help with that, but if need be I'll be glad to give you specifics.
Most of the information I've given above comes from the Sommers book.
Unwanted advances become sexual harassment suits.
Only when the coercive power of employment relationships come into play.
There need not be any coercive power involved. A sexual harassment action can be taken against a coworker of equal rank to the woman or lower who is not in any position to coerce her, and it can be for something as innocuous as putting a picture of one's wife in a bikini on one's desk. The charge of sexual harassment is now a powerful tool that women can use to control the decor in any work setting to their liking.

Anonymous said...

Further Refutation of Koss' Claims
From: (Bronis Vidugiris) Subject: Re: FACTS: SEXUAL VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN Date: Fri, 13 Oct 1995 20:03:30 GMT
Message-ID: <> In article <45dsd5$>, Kate Orman wrote:
Re: Koss
>>She uses the FBI's definition.
Nah. She claimed at one time to use the FBI definition, but never did. I'm not sure she still makes that (false/misleading) claim, BTW.
Consider the following, a quote from Stephanie Gutman from Reason Magazine, July 1990:
(BTW - I have some of Koss's professional papers around somewhere and have confirmed the wording of the questions from Koss's own writings).
Koss obtained her data on the "incidence and prevalence of sexual aggression" with a lO-item survey featuring questions such as, "Have you given in to sexual intercourse when you didn't want to because you were overwhelmed by a man's continual arguments and pressure?" (number 6) and "Have you had sexual intercourse when you didn't want to because a man threatened or used some degree of physical force (twisting your arm, holding you down, etc.) to make you?" (number 9). A positive answer to question 6 or question 7 (which asks whether the subject has been pressured into sex by someone in a position of authority) labeled the respondent a victim of sexual coercion. A positive answer to any of questions 8 through 10 put a respondent in the rape category.
Question 9 and question 10 (which also refers to the use of force or threats of violence) seem to fit the conventional picture of rape, but consider question 8: "Have you had sexual intercourse when you didn't want to because a man gave you alcohol or drugs?" In the terminology of psychological testing, this question is considered "double-barreled": Exactly what it's asking is not clear. For example, it might be interpreted as asking if the respondent has exchanged sex for alcohol or drugs. Koss was probably trying to identify respondents who had been raped while incapacitated. Still, the question's wording clearly invites respondents to put the blame for an unpleasant or ambiguous event on alcohol or drugs, mysterious forces over which one has no control.

Ampersand said...

I've written about this in more detail on my blog, but briefly, it doesn't seem to be true that question 8 misled any significant number of survey subjects or caused an overestimate of rape. In 1999, a couple of sociologists tested this common criticism by redoing the Koss study, but rephrasing that question so that it could not possibly be misunderstood. Changing the wording of the question did not change the outcome.

One example of Koss's definition of rape is if a boy beggs his girlfriend to have sex, and the woman has sex with the boy, then it's rape.

This is simply not true - Koss' study did not define rape this way.

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