Barbara Kay: Rape culture and the delusions of the feminist mind
National Post - Friday February 28th, 2014
In 1841 Scottish journalist Charles Mackay published a history of popular folly called Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, a rather sensationalistic overview of the irrationality that occasionally seizes an entire society or nation. Most famous are his economic examples, like the 1840s “Railway Mania,” as well as the notorious South Sea Bubble (1711-20) and the Dutch “tulip mania” of the early 17th century.
Common to all the delusions Mackay cited was the enormous disparity between the confident enthusiasm these commodities evoked as the path to wealth and the lack of reliable evidence to support such an assumption.
If Mackay were living today, he would doubtless add “rape culture” to his long list of popular delusions. On campus after campus, with virtually no statistical evidence to support their claims, feminists have promoted the idea that a woman runs a far higher risk of being sexually assaulted on a North American university campus (one in four or five, depending on the source) than a lifelong smoker has of getting cancer (one in 11 for men, one in 15 for women).
At University of Pittsburgh, with 14,800 female students, four sexual assaults were reported.
Health-conscious people do not smoke for fear of getting lung cancer. It would be pretty stupid to take the attitude that smoking is a pleasurable activity, so should not cause cancer, and therefore it is fine to take the risk. Likewise, if the risk of sexual assault on campus were truly one in five – to take the “conservative” estimate – no parent in their right mind would send their daughter to coed universities. But they do. And on campus after campus, we are seeing action being taken to prevent rape, in the form, for example, of McGill’s new “Forum of Consent,” the purpose of which is apparently to transmogrify sexual foreplay into a Stasi-level interrogation of intention, without which the sex act to follow is ipso facto sexual assault.
The fact is that “rape culture” is a form of popular mania like so many others before it. It does not exist. Or if it does, nobody has yet brought forward evidence of it. What we have seen is ideology attached to a great deal of personal narrative regarding unwanted or regretted sex. Some of those narratives have been compelling, but unsupported by evidence. Some have been compelling and found to be false allegations. Many of the narratives are based in recollection hazed over by alcoholic smog. And most of them would not stand up for two minutes in a criminal court of law.
Many observers have become more, not less skeptical with the mounting hysteria. One such observer has done something useful to validate our skepticism. Chad Hermann, a writer and management communication professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business, has published an article in communityvoices.post-gazette.com assessing both the claims and the actual statistical evidence for rape culture, in which he illuminates some glaring contradictions.
Hermann set the typical projected figure of 20-25% of women as victims of forced sex against the reported sexual assault offenses over three years at Pittsburgh’s three largest residential universities: the University of Pittsburgh (UP), Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and Duquesne University (DU). In 2009: At UP, with 14,800 female students, four sexual assaults were reported. At CMU, with about 3,900 female students, six sexual assaults were reported (a three-year high). At DU, with 5,700 females, three were reported.
But wait: We “know” (we don’t really) that 90% of rapes go unreported! Okay, Hermann adjusts the numbers to reflect that, giving UP 40 assaults, CMU 60 and DU 30. Are we at one-in-four yet? Hardly. We’re at one-in-185 (average of the three). That was in 2009. Over three years, 2007-9, women’s chances of being sexually assaulted average out for the reported cases to one in 1,877. If you factor in the 90% allegedly unreported, you get a maximum of only one in 188.
So relax ladies. Although there should never be sexual assaults on any woman on campus, there is no need to panic. Moreover, it is fair comment to observe that those women students who do not drink to excess, who are prudent about the kind of parties they attend, and who are selective about their sexual partners in general will doubtless reduce their odds much further, down to statistically nugatory levels.
If these statistics do not convince you, then I suggest you are in the grip of a serious ideological virus. There is a remedy for it, called critical thinking. If on the other hand, you rather like the febrile effects of delusion, then perhaps I could interest you in some bitcoins going cheap, and sure to make you a fortune!