Monday, December 23, 2013

The Truth About “Rape Culture” in the U.S.

You’ve heard a lot of “facts” about the prevalence of sexual assault in American society…and most of what you’ve been told is brazenly false. 


Over the last few months, I’ve noticed the term “rape culture” coming up in more and more conversations among my acquaintances. I tended to ignore the term at first, thinking it was some sort of en vogue overstatement popularized by some media guru I’ve never heard of before. But recently, I realized that this whole “rape culture” shtick isn’t just considered legitimate by many, it’s actually reported as by-golly FACT by many organizations and outlets.

In theory (of the ultra-radical feminist variety, of course) a “rape culture” is allegedly a social philosophy of sorts in which sexual victimization of women is not only trivialized, but encouraged via media influences. So, in short, it’s more or less yet ANOTHER slight against “masculinity” as a concept, with neo-neo-feminists basically associating any and all “traditional” traits of manliness with characteristics of sexual violence.

Now, I’m no “men’s rights advocate,” but the rape culture construct to me, at least, seems incredibly alarmist and, to some degree, inherently prejudiced. Call me old-fashioned, but when I see The Christian Science Monitor publishing a story titled “How Can I Raise My Boy to Not Rape?”, I get just a wee bit flummoxed.

The “rape culture” theory is INHERENTLY offensive, because it hinges on a hypothesis that is not only wildly unrealistic, but dreadfully discriminatory: that being, the concept that all heterosexual MEN are, at heart, savage beasts that, at any moment, can do away with the social contract and go all Kobe Bryant in Colorado on any female he desires. For the “rape culture” theory to work, think about all of the astounding truths about human biology and society that have to serve as antecedents: number one, men, as biological beings, would have to be genetically driven to rape. Two, patriarchal society would have to find a way to make this genetic reality an accepted component of the social framework. And three, culture, as a whole, would have to find a way to ceaselessly re-transmit the second point as socially permissible.

The biggest slight to the “rape culture” theory is pretty obvious: if the male power hegemony was biologically driven to rape, and they have complete control over the political arena, then why is rape considered a crime in virtually every nation in the world that’s even REMOTELY developed? Maybe it’s just me, but isn’t the fact that mostly male LAWMAKERS came together and decided that the non-consensual sexual exploitation of women was something that deserved to be severely punished all the proof you need that “rape” is something NOT encouraged by culture as a whole?

Ah, but the second wave feminists have a fine retort to that one; you see, the “rape culture” isn’t a political matter, it’s an unstated, invisible, cultural one. Yeah, rape is illegal, but the alleged code among men is that rape itself isn’t bad, just getting caught doing it is.

And so, we find the entire “rape culture” debate, even now, resting on this one postulate: that, in spite of social laws, heterosexual men -- naturally -- are inclined to WANT to rape women, and the culture at large promotes and encourages sexual exploitation under the auspices that he that does the raping is never “caught” or brought before a judge for said raping.

The modern “rapist,” as such, is something of a cultural boogeyman, a composite reductionism that generally comes in two varieties: the much maligned “frat-boy” type (especially any athletic ones, who have been universally demonized by a now mainstream “nerd culture”) and the random weirdo stalker in the bushes. Of course, that last one is the one you hear the least about from “rape culture” propagators, because doing so would require them to admit that, perhaps, men that AREN’T white dude bros are also capable of committing sexual assault. Not only is the “rape culture” construct gloriously antagonistic against males as a collective, it’s ESPECIALLY antagonistic against Caucasian males, most of whom are guilty only of the unforgivable sin of having noticeable pigmentation absence.

Odds are, you’ve heard a lot of stuff spewed out of the gullets of “rape culture” agenda-setters and activists. Now, here’s a dose of something you’re unlikely to hear from a supporter of such an idea -- the truth.

FACT NUMBER ONE:
More men are probably raped in the United States than women. 

According the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, there were an estimated 83,000 forcible rapes reported in the U.S. in 2011. About 20 percent of those, however, were eventually investigated as either assault or attempted rape cases, bringing down the national total of investigated forcible rapes (which does not include statutory cases, mind you) to about 69,000 incidents as a higher-end estimate. With only 41 percent of those cases being cleared by arrests or “exceptional means”  in 2011 -- the last year the FBI has published data on rape rates -- a grand total of just 12,000 individuals were actually arrested for forcible rape offenses. By the way, the Uniform Crime Report ONLY tabulates forcible rapes in which females are victimized, so if you want a good, national estimate for the total number of males in the nation that are sexually victimized…well, looks like you’re S.O.L.

Now, let’s turn to this thing called the 2011-2012 National Inmate Survey, which indicates that at least 72,000 men experienced either inmate-on-inmate or staff sexual assault while in U.S. jails or prisons -- a number that’s already a couple of thousand incidents higher than the investigated number of rapes among the U.S. female public as a whole. But we’re not finished yet: then you get to annex the total number of juvenile male offenders in the U.S. adult corrections system into the mix, which adds another 6,000 sexual assaults to the tally. So, among incarcerated males alone, we’re already seeing a number of reported rapes that surpass -- or at the absolute least, rival -- the total number of public female rapes in the U.S.


FACT NUMBER TWO:
The U.S. is not even close to being the worldwide leader in rape. 

If you look at the “hard” data presented by the FBI, it looks like the United States is the single rape-iest place on the planet, and it’s not even close. Take a look at this handy-dandy Wikipedia entry, which makes it glaringly apparent; not only does the U.S. lead the world in rape, it manages to do so by a gargantuan margin.

The problem here is two-fold. As already stated, the actual number of rapes in the U.S., as admitted by the FBI Uniform Crime Report, is actually quite a bit lower (at least by 20,000) than what this totally fair and unbiased Wiki entry posits. Similarly, international measurements of sexual assaults are likely incomplete and even less reliable than the already-suspicious U.S. figures -- that means it’s an almost guarantee that the federal statisticians in Mozambique and China are low-balling their estimates to the point of  utmost incredulity. But even with those factors taken into consideration, the other truth here is all but unavoidable; not only is the U.S. NOT the global leader in rape, it’s actually a lot further down the global totem pole than you may imagine.

For a moment, let’s say the 2011 Uniform Crime Report rates ARE 100 percent reliable. That means that, on a given year, roughly 0.05 percent of the total U.S. female populace experiences rape. That estimate alone puts 10 other nations ahead of the U.S. in terms of annual rapes per 100,000 females, meaning that you’re ultimately likelier to be sexually attacked in places like Belgium, the U.K, Australia and Panama than here in the States. And for some real perspective: the per 100,000 rate is actually twice as high in Sweden than it is the U.S. -- and triple and FIVE TIMES higher in Botswana and South Africa!

FACT NUMBER THREE:
Most of the statistics you hear about rape in the U.S. are complete B.S.

The problem with rape statistics in the U.S. rests largely in the fact that agency criteria fluctuates so wildly. The fact of the matter is, whatever statistics you hear about rape in the U.S. are almost surely inaccurate, and some of the estimates espoused by interests groups like RAINN -- in particular, their assertion that one out of six women in the U.S. will experience rape at some point in their lives -- are INCREDIBLY dubious.

We’ve already discussed the FBI’s criteria, which completely omits male victims and women in confinement. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has its own report, the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, which does include both male and females, but it clumps rape together with a whole host of other offenses, including domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. According to CDC data from 2010, the total lifetime victimization rates for heterosexual males and females are rather similar -- 29 percent for men, 35 percent for women -- while the intimate partner rates for LGBT subjects were noticeably higher (for females, more than 50 percent, and for males, about 30 percent.)

Now, compare the FBI numbers and the CDC numbers to the estimates bandied about by the organization One in Four, whom (by clumping rape and sexual assault together), claim that 15 percent -- which they somehow report as one-out-of-four, statistically -- of U.S. female college students experience rape before turning 14.

And contrast THAT with the official RAINN estimates, which posit that about 15 percent of all American women have been the victims of completed rape at some point in their lives. And contrast THAT with Bureau of Justice Statistics, and the National Victims Center’s estimates.

The common theme here is a lack of a common theme, apparently. Since each agency and organization is using different criteria and metrics -- not to mention varying definitions of actually what constitutes “rape” as a crime -- it’s perhaps not at all surprising that the numbers swing about so inconsistently from report to report.

Which brings us to the mother of ALL misleading rape statistics in the U.S. -- the much-parroted one-in-four estimate that originally stemmed from a highly, HIGHLY scientifically unreliable “Ms.” article from the mid 1980s. That catchy little number is actually a false claim by the initial researchers to begin with, since that 25 percent estimate combines actual rapes and attempted rapes together. Going by the report’s own results, the ACTUAL number of women raped in the U.S. on an annual basis is just 15 percent -- in short, the same exact figures still being echoed by RAINN and similar organizations today.

But there’s just a few problems with that one report, not even beginning with researcher’s insane biases -- not for nothing, but the lead author of that report once said “rape represents an extreme behavior but one that is on a continuum with normal male behavior within the culture.” Confirmation bias much?

For one thing, the report ONLY involved college women in the U.S -- a rather small, and not exactly generalizable, microcosm of the U.S. as a whole. Secondly, the researchers used very vague wordings for what constituted nonconsensual sexual activity. And the gigantic fly in the ointment here? Of the survey respondents the researchers considered victims of rape, nearly 75 percent of them said THEY DID NOT PERSONALLY CONSIDER WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM TO BE RAPE, BUT WERE COUNTED AS RAPE VICTIMS ANYWAY.

As reporters at the Toledo Blade discovered quite a few years back, once you eliminate the false positives from the survey, the actual ratio of respondents that confirmed being the victims of rape was the much lower estimate of one-out-of-33. And even though the one-in-four claim has been debunked by numerous outlets, the figure is STILL disseminated as “fact” by quite a few organizations. And hey, speaking of being oblivious to mathematical proofs…

FACT NUMBER FOUR:
A LOT of women in the U.S. admit to having “rape fantasies.”

With something as complicated as rape, I think it’s worthwhile to explore EVERY single possible angle of the matter. If we’re going to talk about a supposed “rape culture” in the U.S., then perhaps its only reasonable that we explore “rape culture” from the other side of the aisle…namely, the astonishingly high percentage of women in the nation that actually admit to having fantasies about being sexually ravaged.

This compendium took a look at no less than nine surveys about rape fantasies published over a 25 year-period, with the aggregate report finding that roughly four out of 10 women have, at some point in their lives, had fantasies about being "forced" into sexual activities (for the mathematically minded out there, the range from the studies extended from about 30 percent to almost 60 percent of the female populace.) A majority of the women, it is perhaps worth stating, also reported having fantasies of the like at least once a month.

Which brings us to this 2009 report from the Journal of Sex Research. According to the findings here, at least a third of respondents admitted having sexual fantasies about rape explicitly, while more than half the survey takers admitted to having fantasies about being "overpowered" by a man sexually.

In all, the University of North Texas report revealed that 62 percent of the sample had rape fantasies, with the average respondent reporting four such fantasies annually (while 14 percent of the population, you might want to consider, admitted to having rape fantasies WEEKLY.) And the kicker to all of it? Just nine percent of the respondents said the fantasies were aversive, while HALF the sample said the fantasies were completely erotic in nature. Making things more iffy, about 46 percent of the population said their fantasies were both aversive AND erotic, meaning that for about half the women in the report, there seems to exist an extraordinarily vague line between sexual stimulation and sexual victimization. With that little patch of grey zone on our mind, let's turn to our final talking point, shall we?

FACT NUMBER FIVE: 
Fake allegations of rape are EXTREMELY common throughout the U.S. 

So, we’ve all heard that “one in four” U.S. women can plan on being raped in their lifetime. And a couple of paragraphs back, we took a long gander at why that claim is, in every sense of the term, a load of steaming horse shit.

Well, with that in mind, there’s another “one in four” ratio that may be a factor here: namely, the suggestion that perhaps 25 percent of all rape claims in the U.S. are…gasp…fabricated!

Here's a 1996 report from the United States National Institute of Justice, titled "Convicted by Juries: Exonerated by Science: Case Studies in the Use of DNA Evidence to Establish Innocence After Trial."
Their findings are unmistakable: since 1989, the goddamn DOJ itself believes that a good 25 percent of those in the nation's corrections systems for "sexual assault" are innocent.

So what should we do when we see decades-long studies like this one, which claim that 40 percent of forcible rape cases are fabricated? Or what about the ones that claim that 45, 47 and even 90 percent or rape allegations might just be made up?

Even the lower-end estimates for falsified accounts rest on a spectrum from 2 percent to 10 percent of all rape allegations. If you want to talk about sexual discrimination, then you need to look no further than the fates of hoaxers like Tawana Brawley and Crystal Mangum -- individuals whom completely wrecked the lives of innocent people, sans any formal judicial reprimand at all. Fun fact: Mangum, the woman at the heart of the 2006 Duke Lacrosse scandal, was convicted with second degree murder in 2013. Huh...I wonder why we never heard anything about that from the national news outfits?

The legal system in the U.S. appears to be HEAVILY titled towards females in this domain, for sure. How else can you explain Elizabeth Coast's paltry two-month prison stay (weekends only, of course) for falsifying rape claims, when the man she falsely accused spent FOUR YEARS behind bars for something he never did? Or what about Chaneya Kelly, who falsely accused her father -- who is STILL in jail -- of raping her when she was nine?

That's sort of the unspoken penumbra of America's "rape culture" -- its massive "false rape culture" shadow that is all but verboten from national discourse.

Pictured: Two of the most trustworthy people in American history.

And I’ll conclude this little tirade by saying something that really shouldn’t HAVE to be said: no, I don’t think rape is acceptable, in any way, shape or form. It’s a horrible crime, and whoever does it, to anyone regardless of gender, is detestable and SHOULD suffer some severe criminal penalties. That said, to combat such a social blight, it’s not really all that laudable to do things like manufacture artificial statistics, completely overlook entire populations (that being, the prison populace and rape in the homosexual male demographics) and especially disregard auxiliary statistical truths about female sexuality in order to prove a point that, at the end of the day, is not only unfounded, but utterly prejudicial and unscientific. Why do men rape, then? Well, it’s because a very small sliver of the male population (a VERY small sliver, I must reiterate), had experiences in his lifetime that altered his ability to neurologically process things. Look up the search terms “criminal behavior” and “prefrontal cortex,” and you’ll come to the same conclusion that everybody else in the real world has already determined: it’s individual mentalities (many of which were developed in adolescence and perhaps even reinforced by one’s OWN experiences of sexual abuse) that result in male on female instances of sexual assault, and not some make-believe cultural fixture that tells boys it’s “OK” to take advantage of females.

But then again, what do I know? I’m just a man, after all…

2 comments:

  1. I agree with some of the points on your blog. I personally feel that classifying rape as a predominantly male act is quite sexist. First of all, not all sex offenders or rapists are men. There are also women who rape men, although I completely doubt you’ll ever find a man who will admit to that. This also goes hand in hand with the idea of battered husbands. Although, I also agree on your idea of women having lesser rape cases than men. Aside from public rapes, there are hundreds of rape cases never brought to court. At the end of the day, I think it's safe to say that most, but definitely not all, sex offenders are male. However, stereotyping the male population as having a genetic predisposition to commit rape is highly fallacious and is a sweeping generalization.

    Chin Angevine

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  2. I do agree with some of your insights. Men may be raped more frequently over women. The reality there is that they are less likely to report this than women would, especially inside the prisons where we know most of these are prevalent. The idea that every male individual has inherent “rapist instincts” is very sexist and I think is very fallacious as well. Overall, I think the idea here is that no one, may it be male or female, wants to be raped at the end of the day and that a so-called rape culture is, I think, a little overreaction from the general public.
    Vesta Duvall

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