One of the worst crimes is rape. The reported statistics by some groups is disturbing in this area, but like any statistic they can be skewed and parsed by any group with an agenda. We are told that at the low end, there are 300,000 rapes every year and at the other extreme, it is 1.3 million. Additionally, about 54% of those situations that fit the legal definition of rape go unreported by the victim.
I believe everyone can agree that this is a serious and heinous crime. For too many years, the pendulum swung in favor of the perpetrator where women were subjected to embarrassing questions and intrusive medical procedures to obtain evidence. A woman’s sexual past was often treated as an open book. All these things conspired to prevent a woman from reporting a rape. As the feminist movement picked up forty years ago, we eventually began to change not only the definition of rape, but how victims were treated. As with any change in the law in how we treat a crime or define it, the potential exists for swinging the pendulum too far the other way. One needs to question whether that is the case today where an accusation is conviction.
It is unfortunate that the feminist Left has interjected themselves into this issue which, admittedly, is a problem. The recent “scandal” involving allegations of rape at the University of Virginia which Rolling Stone made famous is a perfect example. Although the story may be a false accusation, to hear people still talk, this statement by a UVA undergrad is typical: “Even if the story is false, there is still a problem with this on this campus.” The problem with these mindsets is that people then ignore the “real problem” and focus solely on the false accusation aspect.
Furthermore, the knee-jerk reactions by administrative officials is indicative of the problem. Instead of letting the legal system do its job, they immediately suspended not only the accused fraternity at UVA, but all fraternities. Trial in the media of the accused is no better than the former situation where the accuser was scrutinized in the press and their sexual history was placed on trial. And we have seen this situation before most notably with the Duke lacrosse team case and, of course, the Tawana Brawley case. One can throw in the Hofstra University case from 2009.
Make no mistake- sexual assault on college campuses are a problem just at they are in the military. But when these administrative officials get involved, they only make the problem much worse. In 2010, Caleb Warner was expelled from the University of North Dakota after the university relied on a false accusation of rape by a woman who was later charged with filing a false report and then fled the state. And the names keep coming- Drew Sterrett at Michigan, “John Doe” at Swarthmore, Anthony Villar in Philadelphia, Peter Yu at Vassar, Andre Henry at Delaware, Dez Wells at Xavier. And these are only those who later sued the college.
The result is that, as concerns rape on college campuses, everyone- including the government- jumps on the bandwagon and joins the mob. The result is kangaroo courts on campus totally devoid of due process, and speech/conduct codes that take consensual sex to ridiculous depths- a checklist of “Are you sures?” followed by a series of affirmative answers. Some colleges have required “trigger warnings” on class syllabi to warns students of content that may be considered “misogynistic.” Boston University even banned a concert by Robin Thicke over a single line in a single song.
The statistics themselves may be wrong. The Huffington Post, relying on a CDC survey made the claim that one in five female college students are the victims of sexual assault. First, under the CDC guidelines, a sexual assault need not involve physical contact, but could be a verbal assault. The statistic is based on a CDC survey. One question prefaces a question with “Please remember that even if someone uses drugs or alcohol, what happens to them is not their fault.” The pertinent question which then leads to the 1 in 5 conclusion is: “When you were drunk, high, drugged or passed out, how many people had vaginal sex with you.” One can obviously see the problem here and why the CDC would release a statistic that would give any parent second thoughts about sending their daughter to college.
Instead, more reputable studies indicate that 1 in 40 female college students are actually the victims of sexual assault. That is still one too many, but it hardly is indicative of an extremely hostile campus environment where every male is a potential rapist and, God forbid, they belong to a sports team or fraternity. We have seen this whole scenario before.
Think back to 1983 and the McMartin Preschool scandal in California. Then, a single mentally disturbed mother started a national scare that created a nationwide conspiracy of Satanists running preschools. The controversy was further fanned when feminists like Gloria Steinem and Catherine MacKinnon arrived on the scene. Several people ended up spending years in jail based on the sickening accusations. Only later was it discovered these things never happened. We saw the same phenomena in Salem, Massachusetts in the 1600s- mass hysteria run amok.
Like 1983, “reputable” feminists are fanning the flames and inflating the problem to advance their agenda today. It was feminist psychologists who convinced preschool children they were raped and sodomized and otherwise abused in 1983 and after. Today, they are convincing many young women that what amounts to nothing more than a drunken hookup is actually a felony rape. We were told then to believe the children, they wouldn’t lie. We are told today to believe the survivor, they would never lie. To do otherwise would make you an apologist for rape. And if they do lie, it makes the problem no less real.
Like that young undergrad at UVA quoted above, with all due respect, it is attitudes like that which actually make problems worse. Using false accusations to bring light to a real or perceived problem makes it that more difficult to address the real, true cases of campus sexual assault. There are better avenues to make your case than the spectacular false accusation. And there are certainly better ways to address the issue than college administrators developing speech and conduct codes that create those “gotcha” moments. When the government then forces all colleges to develop and enforce these codes because of a handful of bad actors in Montana, then today’s feminist has become yesterday’s Puritan.
I, like the overwhelming majority on the Right, believe that even one campus rape is one too many. The perpetrator should be dealt with accordingly and deserves the punishment they receive whether through the legal process or the administrative process. But, first there must be a fair process based on facts and evidence. Because of these false accusations of rape- whether to get a story in Rolling Stone, to shed light on a problem, or advance an agenda- their argument is simply set back in a fog of skepticism in all cases. Never mind the damage done to the fraternities at the University of Virginia, or the reputation of that college, or the reputation of a lacrosse team. The real damage is to the real victim of college sexual assault.