Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Another college rape scare survey that is not reliable

Yet another seriously flawed self-selecting survey purports to show a college rape epidemic. The line for the flawed college rape scare surveys starts on the left, please. I ask, how can these scare surveys be squared with the DOJ study that comes up with a number that's not just dramatically different, but in-a-different-universe different? They can't. The scare surveys have engorged the definition of sexual assault beyond recognition. I'm not going to legitimize this latest survey by describing its flaws--read Ashe Schowe's article.

There have been many articles debunking the college rape scare surveys that ably explain the flaws in the surveys' methodologies. But all of the critics--as correct and as well-intentioned as they are--overlook something critical and dramatic: even if these scare surveys were structured to yield unbiased results, they still would not be reliable. How can I say that? Because in this latest survey and all the others, every allegation that meets the survey's criteria of sexual assault is uncritically accepted--and none are tested against competing claims of innocence.

Every time rape claims are subjected to scrutiny against competing evidence of innocence, most are either deemed unfounded or false. Those few studies that actually look at actual rape claims show that false or unfounded claims are extremely common--in fact, more common than actual rapes. And we know that when women actually report rape, a significant percentage of them turn out to be false or unfounded.

But don't rely on me for that. Feminist Brett Sokolow, the leader of the campus sexual grievance industry who has done more to shape colleges' sexual misconduct policies than anyone in America, last year wrote that he sees "case-after-case" where "sincere victims . . . believe something has happened to them that evidence shows absolutely did not . . . ." And: "We see complainants who genuinely believe they have been assaulted, despite overwhelming proof that it did not happen." And brace yourself: Mr. Sokolow suggested mental health issues play an important factor in these false accusations.

Here's the chilling fact: the college rape scare surveys would accept as true every allegation of sexual assault that even Brett Sokolow says are spurious.

Actual reports of rape can't be automatically accepted as true, yet responses on a survey are treated as if the respondents just ingested truth serum. The only legitimate way to test for the prevalence of rape on campus would be to take a representative sampling of rape accusations and carefully examine the evidence (including--heaven forbid--interviewing the accused and all pertinent witnesses) as to each claim in a painstaking, objective manner.

Unfortunately, the sexual assault milieu is so terribly politicized that attempts even to broach the subject typically are met with vitriol and name calling, not serious, much less respectful, dialogue. Why, some of you scoff, would women lie on surveys? Let me turn it around: why would women lie when they report rape, and which is easier--to lie about rape to the police or on a survey where a lie has no consequences?

A recent scientific study shows that some women lie on surveys to minimize their consensual sexual encounters, likely because of societal double-standards that find it acceptable for men, but not women, to engage in sexual activity. These lies are designed to bring women in sync with their expected gender role. When women believe they can lie and get away with it, they understate the number of their sexual partners. In contrast, when women are hooked up to a polygraph and believe their lies will not go undetected, they generally report more sexual partners than when they felt no such compulsion to be honest. (Men lie too -- but exactly the opposite: they exaggerate the number of sexual partners when they think their lies won't be detected.) Therefore, should it surprise anyone that some women report in surveys that they've been subjected to unwanted sex even when the sex was consensual in order to be in sync with societal expectations about gender roles?

Feminist writers acknowledge that some women lie about rape to "defend their femininity." Amanda Marcotte once wrote that "the idea that it's shameful to just have sex because you want to" is "the reason that you have false rape accusations in the first place." Marcotte noted that "[i]t's the women who are afraid they'll be called sluts if it gets out that make up these rape stories." Likewise, Amanda Hess once explained that given women's adherence to their expected gender role when it comes to sex, it is "inevitable," among other things, that a woman who "had desired the sex all along . . . must defend her femininity by saying that she had been coerced into sex."

It is a proven fact that there is significant regret asymmetry between men and women: women are more remorseful following casual sex than men. A study shows how common remorse is for women following one-night stands: "Overall women’s feelings were more negative than men’s [about one-night stand casual sex]. Eighty per cent of men had overall positive feelings about the experience compared to 54 per cent of women. . . . . The predominant negative feeling reported by women was regret at having been 'used'. Women were also more likely to feel that they had let themselves down and were worried about the potential damage to their reputation if other people found out. Women found the experience less sexually satisfying and, contrary to popular belief, they did not seem to view taking part in casual sex as a prelude to long-term relationships."  Another recent study has confirmed the regret asymmetry between men and women. Amy Bonomi, a professor of human sexuality at OSU specializing in domestic violence and assault, explained: "Women tend to feel bad after having a random hook up." Typically men are not upset by these occurrences. Bonomi attributed this situation to society's "gender double standard" that men are expected to be more sexually forward than women. And yet another new study shows that women attending universities who have casual flings are more likely to suffer from depression than people in ‘romantic’ relationships.

The National Institute of Justice made this startling assertion: "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? The National Institute of Justice posed this as one possibility: "Men and women may have different perceptions of the same incident."

So why is it assumed that sexual assault surveys are the moral equivalent of truth serum where women are incapable of telling anything but the one, objective truth?  The fact is, people exaggerate, lie, and claim their behavior is better than it really is in all sorts of public pronouncements. They exaggerate the hours they work; how often they go to church; their height and their weight; and their altruism during emergencies. White voters lie in surveys about their willingness to vote for a black political candidate. Heck, people even lie about the reason they buy a new computer. Nearly one in four women admitted to exaggerating or lying in social media about key aspects of their lives between one and three times per month.

So why is it verboten to suggest that some women defend their femininity by claiming the consensual sex they engaged in was non-consensual? Or that men will defend their masculinity by understating the incidence of non-consensual sex they are subjected to?

The issue we raise isn't some abstraction, and we do not write this to engage in some sort of "Oppression Olympics."  The fact is, sexual assault surveys are used to justify the policy of diminishing the due process rights of students accused of sexual assault. There are legitimate reasons for doubting the reliability of these surveys, and these concerns should not be dismissed as rape apology, misogyny, or slut shaming.

The real problem is that we are raising a generation of girls that sees rape oozing from every crevice on campus. The fact is, college women are seeing rape where it doesn't exist--and that's not just my opinion. One of the recent college rape scare surveys accidentally revealed it.