Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Rape is not 'normalized': expert says the vast majority of men would never commit rape

Dr. David Lisak, one of American's most respected experts on sexual assault and a darling of feminist bloggers, gave the opening address to a large crowd at the 2013 Summit on Sexual Assault, called Not in Our State, at Montana State University on Monday.

Dr. Lisak explained that over 90 percent of all rapes are committed by serial rapists. Their crimes are purposeful and planned, and are not the result of confusion.

According to the news report -- and this is important: "The silver lining is that only a small percentage of young men crossed the line, and the vast majority would never commit rape, he said. They are potential allies who can be educated and motivated with bystander training to help prevent rape." (Emphasis added.)

Read it again. "The vast majority would never commit rape." Lisak's words buck the meme that rape is "normalized" among young men. Jessica Valenti, a once-prominent gender blogger and one of the purveyors of the maleness-is-broken crowd, has written: "Rape is part of our culture. It's normalized to the point where men who are otherwise decent guys will rape and not even think that it's wrong. And that's what terrifies me."

Snarky anti-rape campaigns directed at "men" in general (e.g., posters that "remind men" not to rape etc.) have sprouted up, and they always draw waves of indignation from male readers at Reddit. (Claims that these campaigns have actually worked are dubious at best. Dr. Lisak has elsewhere stated that de minimis sexual assault education isn't going to stop these serial sociopaths who commit almost all the rapes. "These are clearly not individuals who are simply in need of a little extra education about proper communication with the opposite sex," he has said. "These are predators.")

Rape is not normalized, it is aberrant criminal behavior that is almost universally detested. Contrary to Jessica Valenti's hysterical and misplaced views, "otherwise decent guys" don't so easily forget their decency and do such a vile thing, and Dr. David Lisak, who actually knows what he's talking about, confirms that. Sociopaths -- who know they are doing wrong when they prey on the innocent -- are the problem. Every sane and rational person already knew what Lisak said before he said it: the vast majority of men would never rape, but there has been an invidious campaign afoot for many years to make masculinity, not the rapists, the villain in the gender passion play of sexual politics. Masculinity does not need an overhaul. Masculinity, per se, is not the problem (in fact, many studies have shown that in the inner city, the absence of masculinity -- in the form of male role models -- has a direct correlation to disproportionate rates of rape and every other social pathology). The rapists are the problem, not "men."

We would go further and suggest that far more characteristic to masculinity than the urge to rape is a strong visceral reaction of anger, and sometimes tragic overreaction -- including vigilante beatings and killings, to mere accusations of rape.

Instead of demonizing young men as potential rapists-in-waiting, we would do well to view them as critical allies in the war on rape.

Dr. Lisak's speech on Monday revealed nothing new. He's been saying the same thing for years. Moreover, in the surveys about campus rape that are frequently relied on to show that rape is a serious problem, there is a statistic that is rarely ever discussed, but it may hold the key to addressing the real problem. According to the National Institute of Justice: "Surveys of men and women on college campuses show a striking disparity in the proportion of women who report being assaulted and the proportion of men who report (even anonymously) being perpetrators. For example, in the Campus Sexual Assault survey, 19 percent of the women reported experiencing a completed or attempted sexual assault since entering college, while 2.5 percent of the men reported being perpetrators."

Why this disparity? Because men obviously lie on anonymous surveys? (Don't laugh -- without any support, the Campus Sexual Assault Report posits that unfortunate anti-male suspicion: "We suspect that some males who have perhaps perpetrated sexual assault since entering college consciously answered our survey questions about perpetration negatively and untruthfully." Note that the Campus Sexual Assault Report didn't have similar concerns that women lie on anonymous surveys.)

The National Institute of Justice, however, suggested this possibility: "Relatively few men sexually assault women . . . ." Page 5-28 at

That possibility has been confirmed by Dr. David Lisak.

Rape is a serious problem in America because of a relatively small group of sexual predators who use both alcohol and unsuspecting women to accomplish their vile plans. To the extent we ignore the real problem, and concentrate on how it's necessary to reconstruct masculinity, we do a grave disservice to rape victims, and we reduce young men to gross caricature.