Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Deconstructing The Latest 1-In-5-Are-Raped Poll

The Weekly Standard has a great takedown of a poll by the Washington Post purporting to resurrect the hoary and multiply-discredited 1-in-5 rape/sexual assault statistic for young women on campus; it's old wine in new bottles, leavened with dubious anecdotes even as the lead example:
But the end of the article lets slip that in fact this, the paper’s lead example of a campus sexual assault, seems instead to have been a regretful, but not atypical, drunken hookup that neither party remembers well. The scary bleeding was apparently self-inflicted when Sienkowski fell out of her loft bed onto the floor, while the male was asleep. The person she brought back to her room wasn’t a Michigan State student (and might not have been a college student at all). And, the Post disclosed in the last 120 words of a 2,870-word article, even Sienkowski conceded that “she doesn’t know for sure whether she had wanted sex in the moment.” She said this after seeing the police report, including photographs of the hickeys that the accused said her lips had branded on his neck as evidence that she “was very into everything that was happening.”
David French at the New Republic Online goes into more detail on the leading questions and assumptions in the poll:
First, the actual poll question was not limited to “sexual assault” (a far more explosive term) but instead specifically asked respondents about sexual assault or “unwanted sexual contact.” Unwanted sexual contact is not a synonym for sexual assault. In fact, the term is so broad that it can encompass behaviors that are not only not criminal, but may not — depending on the circumstances — even constitute unlawful sexual harassment (which the Supreme Court has said requires proof of conduct so “severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively bars the victim’s access to an educational opportunity or benefit.”)
... These definitions don’t come close to matching the legal definition of the various sex crimes prohibited by state laws... no, one in five college women have not told surveyors that they were “sexually assaulted.” The negative experiences encompassed in the definitions include everything from entirely lawful behavior, to sexual harassment, to actual sex crimes. The numbers are troubling, to be sure, but even the surveyed students themselves don’t see sexual assault as a crisis — only 37 percent of them described it as a problem on campus. (A much greater number of them — 56 percent — were concerned with alcohol and drug use.) In fact, large majorities of students gave their schools an “A” or “B” for their handling of sexual assault complaints.
The point, of course, is to feed the panic machine that has been in operation since the 1980's (and suspiciously invariant since then) and the bureaucracy jobs program that even now develops its own tools. It has nothing to do with actual crime, and everything to do with seeking sinecures.

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