“Judging from exonerations, a black prisoner serving time for sexual assault is three-and-a-half times more likely to be innocent than a white sexual assault convict. The major cause for this huge racial disparity appears to be the high danger of mistaken eyewitness identification by white victims in violent crimes with black assailants.”
If the CDC figures are to be taken at face value, then we must also conclude that, far from being a product of patriarchal violence against women, ” rape culture ” is a two-way street, with plenty of female perpetrators and male victims.
How could that be? After all, very few men in the CDC study were classified as victims of rape: 1.7% in their lifetime, and too few for a reliable estimate in the past year. But these numbers refer only to men who have been forced into anal sex or made to perform oral sex on another male. Nearly 7% of men, however, reported that at some point in their lives, they were “made to penetrate” another person — usually in reference to vaginal intercourse, receiving oral sex, or performing oral sex on a woman. This was not classified as rape, but as “other sexual violence.” And now the real surprise: when asked about experiences in the last 12 months, men reported being “made to penetrate” — either by physical force or due to intoxication — at virtually the same rates as women reported rape (both 1.1% in 2010, and 1.7% and 1.6% respectively in 2011).
The study clashes with data gathered by the Justice Department between 1995 and 2013, which found that college-age women who aren’t students are more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than women who are students. The number of victims was significantly lower than those in other recent surveys: 7.6 of 1,000 non-students compared to 6.1 of 1,000 students.
These are the sort of numbers we would expect to see in war zones…This sort of language does not promote a mindset conducive to a fair process for accused students or taking the time to look for best practices to prevent and respond to sexual assault. This hurts everybody. We have seen these sort of panics about sexual menaces before and we should learn the lesson that the outcome is often shameful. Panic about black men raping white women led to lynchings. More recently, panic over “sexual predators” has led colleges to endorse overly broad definitions of sex crimes and an over-eagerness to punish perceived transgressors. Overly broad measures often harm the very people they are intended to help. Those who doubt this should read a shocking piece by The New Yorker’s Sarah Stillman about children who end up on sexual predator watch lists.