[Trigger warning for survivors of rape and sexual assault]
Listening to the army of sexist critics out there--from MRAs to political commentators to just-plain misinformed people--they would have you believe several myths:
1. That feminists are "blaming" boys and men for rape and sexual assault in this country, presumably because feminism is about hating anyone with a penis.
2. That feminists claim boys and men can't be raped and are belittling the sexual trauma endured by anyone with a penis.
3. And most importantly: that teaching boys and men to not rape or sexually assault (and respect women at large)--and instead, blame the victim for not successfully avoiding rape--does nothing to prevent rape and sexual assault.
Of course, these are all false. Let's take them, point by point:
Feminists irrationally "blame" men...
If by "blame", you mean feminists are simply pointing out accurate statistics on rape and sexual assault, then yes, you're absolutely correct.
The latest year (that I could find) for which we have official statistics on rape and sexual assault in the United States is 2010. These numbers come from the DoJ's "Female Victims of Sexual Violence: 1994-2010".
You might be thinking, "Wait, why is the report only on female victims of sexual violence?"
I'll let the authors of the report explain that (five leading experts on sexual violence statistics, three of whom are men):
"In 2010, the rate of rape or sexual assault was 0.1 per 1000 males compared to a rate of 2.1 per 1000 females. Due to the relatively small number of sample cases, coupled with a low rate of victimization, estimates from the male sexual violence from the [National Crime Victimization Survey] cannot be used reliably for further disaggregation by victim and incident characteristics. Therefore, this report focuses exclusively on females."Based on their data, women are 21 times more likely than men to be raped or sexually assaulted. In fact, it's estimated by most studies on rape and sexual assault that about 1 in 5 (or 1 in 6) women in the United States can be expected to be raped or sexually-assaulted in her lifetime.
1 in 5.
The FBI's report on sexual violence on college campuses runs into the same problem: they find that on college campuses with more 6,000 undergrads, a rape occurs, every day, and again, it's found the vast, vast majority of victims are women.
But here's the kicker (back to the DOJ report): over 99% of all rapes and sexual assaults, regardless of the gender of the victim, are perpetrated by men.
And an interesting side note for those racists who believe this mostly involves black men: 82% of rapes and sexual assaults are done by white men.
Now, do women rape men and other women? Of course, but it's very rare.
Some of you might be thinking, "But isn't that just because men don't report the crime, especially if the rapist is a woman?"
Honestly, there could be truth to this. Culturally, I can see why men would have a harder time reporting their rape or sexual assault.
But under-reporting is an enormous problem, regardless of gender. The NCVS and DOJ find that from 2005-2010, 64% of sexual crimes against women were unreported based on a general population sample, which is actually up 5% from the 1999-2004 period.
Even as a man, I'm not convinced that under-reporting is a factor in the gender gap of either victims or attackers.
So, back to that sobering conclusion: over 99% of sexual crimes are done by men, and at least 95.2% of victims are women.
Should I again point out that the team who completed this report is mostly-male?
And by the way, credible feminists aren't blaming males in general nor do they hate men and boys, but we do live in a society whose cultural default is a gender binary. Even if you support gender fluidity (as I do), we can't deny the state of gender identity for most Americans is just man or woman.
I say this because when one group is suffering more than 95% of a crime's rate and their attackers are composed 99% of the opposite group, it's a clear a cultural problem is present.
We'll come back to this in a moment, but let's establish this crucial point: rape and sexual assault is mostly an issue of male-on-female violence.
Feminists believe boys and men can't be raped or sexually-assaulted...
False. Utterly and completely false.
If anything, it's society-at-large that has bought into this myth, and it's feminists who have advocated on this issue. Why? Because part of feminism is the belief that human beings are equal.
After all, when I sought treatment for PTSD as a result of childhood sexual abuse from my mother, I spent two years (up until now) grappling with the shame and guilt of being a victim. Outside of the medical professionals (both men and women) who treated me with kindness and excellent care, it was women--self-identified feminists--who showed me that I'm entitled to grief and depression and anxiety from what happened. It was feminists who went out of their way to make me feel safe and lend a sympathetic ear, who articulated to me best that the tendency to rape is not a gender-inherent quality but a tendency to exert power over another person, regardless of the genders involved.
It was feminists who impressed upon me that my default state was not "rapist" or "child molester", which is a common fear among survivors, especially men: that they might become their attackers.
It was feminists who convinced me that none of this was my fault and that my mother was simply a pedophile because women can be disgusting, vile perpetrators of rape and sexual assault/abuse.
This constant theme of feminists caring for ALL people is reinforced to me, again and again, by observation.
At the Congressional hearing on sexual assault in the military, last week, I live-tweeted for the Service Women's Action Network. I spent close to six hours publishing 70 or 80 tweets, and by far, the most popular tweet from those following the hearing was this:
Every person who retweeted this was a woman, almost all of them proud feminists, including the account for popular feminist blog, feministing.com.
Calling on boys and men to be taught NOT to rape isn't about hating men, it's about recognizing that we have a culture that objectifies women and makes it okay to commit sexual crimes against them (and any other person seen as inherently less-powerful).
"But wouldn't it be easier not to attract rapists in public by not drinking alcohol or wearing short skirts or walking alone at night, etc.?"
Actually, no. You know why? Because that same DOJ report found, year after year, that at least 71% of rapes and sexual assaults against women by men are committed by a lover, relative, friend, or co-worker of that woman.
These people would have you believe that virtually all rapes and sexual assaults are committed by strangers who can't control themselves and are practically forced by hormones to rape women they see in public.
That's just not the case.
Nearly 3 out of 4 rape incidents against women are done by men they know, men they love, men they trust.
And 40% of rapes and sexual assaults occur in the victim's own home. So much for avoiding rape by not walking in dark alleys at night, huh?
The idea that we can teach women how to avoid rape (basically, by being paranoid and not living their life), and the problem will go away, is absolutely false.
Women are raped when sober, when in sweatpants, when in the privacy and "safety" of their own home, by relatives and friends (again, accounting for most of the rapes), when they're not flirting, etc.
And to top it all off, we have clear evidence that potential rapists can be prevented from raping. A short campaign done in Edmonton, Canada in 2010 called "Don't Be That Guy" contributed to a 10 percent drop in rapes and sexual assaults.
As the author of this article points out, this hasn't even been a years-long effort. This relatively small effort to prevent rape and sexual assault by teaching boys and men to respect women caused a whopping 10 percent drop.
Imagine if this were a national campaign in the United States. Imagine if this became a mandatory part of sex education in schools. Imagine if parents simply had a talk with their kids (boys and girls) and explained to them that it's not okay to sexually take advantage of another person. It's not okay to have sex with someone else without their consent.
I want to talk more about how our cultural view of women and sexual harassment contribute to this problem, but this is already a long post.
But let me reiterate: I've shown you the clear statistics that 99% of attackers are men and 95.2% of victims are women. I've shown you that 71% of rapes and sexual assaults are done by a person the victim knows, not a stranger. I've shown you that 40% of incidents occur in the victim's own home.
So, let's drop the ridiculousness and tackle this problem head on. Let's ensure the well-being of all by teaching boys and men that it's not okay to rape or sexually-assault women.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/charlesmclymer