Bloated rape figures mislead

As we approach Rape Awareness Week on this campus, I feel it is necessary to inform the conscientious among you, particularly women, of the covert political and social agendas of those masquarading as acquaintance rape "consciousness raisers."

According to several studies, the most prominent by a UA professor, Dr. Mary P. Koss, for Ms. magazine nine years ago, there is an alarming amount of hidden sexual assualt going on nationwide. Indeed, there is a huge discrepancy between the Bureau of Justice Statistics' annual findings of a 5 percent to 7 percent lifetime prevalence of sexual assault and the one-in-two to one-in-five figures put forth in these studies (other researchers include Andrea Parrot, Robin Warshaw, and Diana Russell).

The latter figures have gained authority merely by repitition, but are bloated, groundless, and are based on an expanded definition of rape that doesn't include even the voiced threat of physical force, and goes beyond all measure of common sense.

You don't believe me? Well, let's start with former student director of the Women's Resource Center, Maggie Glover. She stated in the Nov. 18, 1992 edition of the Wildcat that sexual intercourse following a threat of a breakup constitutes rape. That's like saying if I give someone $10 just because he threatens to no longer be my friend, he's guilty of extortion. Both are insensitive jerk-offs, but nothing more.

Some of the figures are mind-boggling. Of all the women identified as victims in Dr. Koss' study, 73 percent, when asked directly said they weren't rape victims. And 42 percent had sex again with their rapist. The explanation for findings like this by victim advocates is that most women don't know an attack by an acquaintance is a crime, and they also blame themselves. In the government study, though, half of the women do say the assailant is known. Call me naive, but I give the intelligence of grown, college women enough credit to assume they know what rape is. Furthermore, I've never known a woman who was raped to want to touch her assailant again, let alone to have intercourse with him.

The questioning in the study may be to blame. In the Koss study, a woman was a victim if she answered any one of five questions with a "yes." Problem is, only three of them involve physical force or the threat of it. Two said: "Have you had sexual intercourse when you didn't want to because a man gave you alchohol or drugs?" and "Has a man attempted sexual intercourse" under the same circumstances? Koss stated it on a recent TV special, "Lifestories with Gabrielle Carteris," that if a man "intentionally incapacitates" a woman with alchohol or drugs, her "yes" is not consent. Well, I've never seen a man force a woman to take drugs if she didn't want them, and contrary to the popular premise of these questions, men can't "get" women drunk or stoned. I don't see how either is possible, unless he uses handcuffs, his own needle (how can a woman be forced to smoke pot?), and/or a funnel, all of which would be highly conspicuous. Women get themselves inebriated. Alchohol is a passive aphrodisiac; people use it specifically for lowering inhibitions. Obviously, a passed-out woman who is penetrated is a victim of rape. But a woman who doesn't say "no" to sex after choosing to lower her I.Q. 40 points with a fifth of whiskey but is still conscious and later regrets it, is a victim of her own bad judgement. Men shouldn't have to carry portable Breathalyzers to parties, nor is it their responsibility to say, "You look inebriated, so I can't accept your consent."

According to researcher Bonnie Yegidis, in the Journal of Sex Education and Therapy, coercion can also include typical verbal persuasion. So the usual "Please, baby baby, please. I need it," lines are now sinister examples of force. This is insulting. Basically, this definition says women can be overpowered by the sheer power of male intellect and words, and that the law should protect women from this inherent disadvantage. Researcher Charlene Muelenhard also stated in her paper, "Non-violent Sexual Coercion" (in Parrot's compilation Acquaintance Rape:The Hidden Crime) that women who show no resistance whatsoever can also be classified as victims, because they fear speaking up "may make a man violent." So men have to have telepathy, too?

The differentiation between "acquaintance" and "date" rape and "stranger" rape itself is also inane and absurd. If a woman resists and is forced, rape is rape, just like assault is assault and murder is murder. Most victims of these crimes know their attackers, but there are no "acquaintance murder" or "date assault" categories. Women don't need "educators" telling them what their experiences are, because they know them when they happen. To say they don't is to infantilize them. Who are these women in this research? In my opinion, this research serves to disempower women, portraying them as helpless, weak and stupid. It is based, moreover, on a premise that, all things being equal, women don't like or want sex; that not only does no mean no, but YES OFTEN MEANS NO! It has led to such stultifying policies as the "checklist sex" one at Antioch College in Ohio. What irony! This is a repackaged version of the Victorianism that repressed women's sexual expression throughout the last century.

The point is that research by advocates often can't be trusted. Why? Because their minds are made up before the research, and they will skew the facts to mean whatever they want them to mean. Their research is often based on false premises, and a false premise is like a weak foundation under a building; no matter how riveting the structure, it won't stand up for long. These statistics still stand because no one bothers to analyze them. The "rape crisis" orthodoxy is a prime example of what happens when the assertions of people who appoint themselves as and "experts" go unchecked by thinking people for fear they will be labeled, in this case as having "rape-supportive" attitudes.

Simply put, the pain of the 5 to 7 percent of the women who experience this horrid crime should not be trivialized. But there is no epidemic of sexual assualt; it is decreasing. The true numbers as they stand represent enormous human suffering (the government study does not go by police reports, but confidential surveys), and need not be exaggerated. Let's not allow covert biases make it any harder for these women to achieve redress than it already is.

Tyrone Henry is a political science senior.

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