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'Rape Culture' Is Just Drunk College Sluts Lying, Says Major Magazine

Illustration for article titled Rape Culture Is Just Drunk College Sluts Lying, Says Major Magazine

Hey gals, gather around for some Real Talk: did you know that America's college rape epidemic is all in our jungle juice-addled slutty imaginations? At least, according to a column posted by US News & World Report, it is.

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In a column called "The Rape Epidemic Doesn't Actually Exist," (a real title for a real post on the decomposing website corpse of what used to be a major American magazine), Caroline Kitchens argues that "rape culture" is nothing but flawed statistics and angry bitches who hate men. Seriously.

Since last spring, an expansive network of student activists has emerged to fight "rape culture" and change the way universities respond to cases of sexual misconduct. However, as universities reexamine their sexual assault policies, administrators should be wary of the demands of these "rape culture" activists. Not only is their movement built on a foundation of dubious statistics and a distorted view of masculinity, but it has already led to policies that have proved devastating to those who have been falsely accused.

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First of all — it's just adorable that Kitchens believes that the anti-rape culture movement on American college campuses started LAST SPRING. Apparently she's unfamiliar with Take Back the Night, or Susan Brownmiller, or the uproar over what happened to Lizzy Seeberg, or the entire history of the women's movement in the US prior to the spring of 2012. But getting caught up on Kitchens' laughable lack of understanding of what we mean when we say "rape culture" distracts from the worst part of her shitpile argument: that rape culture isn't real. Why? Because the statistics prove it's not!

The Bureau of Justice Statistics' "Violent Victimization of College Students" report tells a different and more plausible story about campus culture. During the years surveyed, 1995-2002, the DOJ found that there were six rapes or sexual assaults per thousand per year. Across the nation's four million female college students, that comes to about one victim in forty students. Other DOJ statistics show that the overall rape rate is in sharp decline: since 1995, the estimated rate of female rape or sexual assault victimizations has decreased by about 60 percent.

So, from a survey of "violent" victimization, Kitchens extrapolated that the "one-in-five college women will be raped" statistic is false. Check out these statistics that say statistics are crap, guys.

I don't even know where to begin with this. My eyeballs hurt.

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First, Kitchens demonstrates with this column that she doesn't know what rape is. Like Todd Akin and Whoopi Goldberg, the crime she describes is the eye rollingly cliched image of a woman walking down the street and being violently dragged into an alley by some guy with a dastardly mustache. But that's not an accurate picture of rape. According to RAINN, more than 2/3 of rapes are perpetrated by an offender known to the victim. Most take place within a mile of the victim's home. And in many cases of collegiate rape, the victim isn't overpowered by physical force or violence, but by alcohol. And, legally speaking, having sex with a person who is too intoxicated to consent constitutes "rape." Hell, of all the women I know who were raped in college, I can't think of one who has described it to me as "violent."

Kitchens goes on to ring alarm bells about the SILENT VICTIMS of the college rape epidemic— men who are falsely accused of rape. Apparently this is happening in large numbers, even though Kitchens, a statistician, doesn't seem to have any solid numbers to back her gut feeling up.

Across the country, students accused of sexual assault are regularly tried before inadequate and unjust campus judiciaries. At most schools, cases of sexual misconduct are decided by a committee of as few as three students, faculty members or administrators. At Swarthmore College, volunteers are now being solicited via email to serve on the Sexual Assault and Harassment Hearing Panel. Such a panel is far more likely to yield gender violence activists than impartial fact finders. In a court of law, we rely on procedural safeguards to ensure unbiased jury selection and due process. But on the college campus, these safeguards have vanished.

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Where are the stats backing up Kitchens' claim that ACROSS THE COUNTRY, poor men are being kicked out of college in droves? Beyond the few anecdotes she drops, who knows! But here's an actual statistic: according to the US Department of Justice, out of every 100 rapes, only 3 of them result in the rapist going to prison. Only 9 even lead to a trial.

I agree with Kitchens that false rape accusations are devastating to the people affected. But there's no evidence to suggest that this is a problem so big that it demands we add an additional layer of scrutiny to women who report rapes, especially on college campuses. Just because men are sometimes falsely accused of rape doesn't mean that a significant number of rape accusations are false, or that campus rape doesn't exist. To attempt use anecdotes of false rape reporting to show that actual rape stats are wrong is offensively stupid.

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Caroline Kitchens' narrow understanding of rape, combined with an overall distrust for women and sanctimony about alcohol consumption highlights exactly the problem with rape culture on American college campuses — men and boys aren't taught that having sex with an incapacitated person is rape. Authorities don't understand that predatory men use alcohol as a weapon against women they wish to victimize, and they focus too much on the "women avoid rape!" message and not enough on the "men, don't rape!" message. Women who have internalized harmful ideas about sex, drinking, blaming the victim in sexual assaults even when they are the victim.

[Aside: What if other crimes were normalized as acceptable outcomes for the person victimized getting drunk? Every once in awhile, I'll put away a few glasses (fine, a bottle) of wine and pass out on my couch while watching Daria on Hulu, but if someone broke into my apartment and stole my laptop, no one would be like, well what did you expect you drunk laptop-waving skank? If I was mildly intoxicated on the train ride home, and I got mugged, no one would try to tie my right to control my debit card to my ability to responsibly imbibe.]

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Decades of research and millions of women would disagree with Kitchens, who when she's not works for the American Enterprise Institute, the same right wing think tank that once employed Lynne Cheney.

Kitchens work was well-received by one group on USNews' commenting section: confirmation bias-addled men who are really worried that The Feminists have Taken Over and are in a grand conspiracy to send them to jail for rape.

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Illustration for article titled Rape Culture Is Just Drunk College Sluts Lying, Says Major Magazine

See? Writing awful shit about rape will make the boys like you! Roiphe'd!

[USNews]

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DISCUSSION

raisedbycats
raisedbycats, IRL crybaby

In my freshman year of college, my best friend (who was and is absolutely gorgeous) came over to my dorm room and we were drinking heavily and doing what college girls do — watching Simpsons reruns and playing video games between drinks. She put down way more than I did and got extremely drunk, so I set my home-for-the-weekend roommate's mattress on the floor for her to crash on. A guy from another floor of the dorm stopped in to ask me something, I forget what, and he'd had an eye on my friend ever since he first saw her. I let him come hang out with us for awhile but it became clear fast that he saw an opportunity and was going to take it. My friend was laying down on the mattress half passed out while I kept an eye on her and played xbox. After awhile he wound up laying down on the mattress and trying to spoon her, and I could see that through the stupor she didn't like it. I told him to move so I could reposition her in case she puked. He didn't get the hint. She started feeling sick soon after and I led her to the bathroom. Between heaves she asked if he was still there. I must have stayed with her puking for at least 45 minutes and expected that he'd excused himself but no, when I exited he was just playing the game and waiting. That's when I knew he'd planned it the minute he saw it. I told him she was sick and it was late so he needed to leave and of course he offered to 'take her back to her dorm'. I gave him a flat no, said I'd talk to him later and had to practically shove him out the door. I spent at least another hour with her over the toilet (it was her first time getting sick from drinking) but when I told her he'd left she was definitely relieved and emerged not long after. He was an ex of one of our closer friends so the next morning, while she remembered the basics of what happened, she didn't want to tell anyone because she knew she'd be called a liar, or people would say she was asking for it if she was 'dumb enough' to get that drunk, and especially the friend who used to date the guy would have fueled these rumors with kerosene. Had I not been there and seen the signs she definitely would have been raped. By the end of the semester he'd gained a reputation for being a creepo, so I don't think that's the only time he took advantage of a situation where a girl was drunk and barely conscious. What was even more depressing is that my friend basically required constant vigilance around most guys because they were ALWAYS crossing boundaries, and I knew she didn't like it because she'd turn to me. If someone started holding her hand or trying to kiss her that she didn't like when we were walking as a group, she'd hold my hand and kind of hide on the other side of me. I'm a tall scary Amazon lady so people knew not to mess with me, but seeing how many guys tried to take advantage of her like she was some kind of prize to be won was really disgusting. That's rape culture, when you need your own Grizz or Dotcom just to keep unwanted hands off of you in nearly any situation.