Writer Claims ‘Rape Epidemic Doesn’t Actually Exist.’ She’s Wrong

f95a10978f3442a5dbdf0ce114bf6be5Research assistant Caroline Kitchens wrote an article for U.S. News and World Report this week titled, The Rape “Epidemic” Doesn’t Actually ExistA few bits of anecdotal evidence of men being “falsely accused’ bothered her so much, she decided to let us all know that there actually is no rape epidemic. According to Kitchens, the real epidemic is an epidemic of falsely accused college students. Spoiler alert: she’s totally wrong.

She personally takes offense to protesters (she feels it’s relevant to point out that in a recent rally some of them were topless) who are involved in the organization called fuckrapeculture – an organization formed to decrease sexual violence on campuses across America.

Not only is their movement built on a foundation of dubious statistics and a distorted view of masculinity, but it has already led to policies that have proved devastating to those who have been falsely accused.

The “dubious statistic” that she is referring to is 1 in 6 women will be raped in her lifetime. She wrongly understands the statistic to be “1 in 5 women will be raped during her time at college,” and proceeds to write an article dismantling a statistic that no one ever claimed was true. Bravo, lady.

Screen Shot 2013-10-26 at 11.48.40 AM


Yes, the hyperlinks definitely do speak for themselves. Kitchens claims,”The Bureau of Justice Statistics’ “Violent Victimization of College Students” report tells a different and more plausible story about campus culture.” I’m not quite sure if she read it. The “story” it tells is that average annual rates were lower for students than for non-students for each type of violent crime measured, except for rape and sexual assault. The fact that Kitchens doesn’t find it alarming that 1 in 40 female college students will be raped speaks more to her own character than to the fact that it’s not a disturbing statistic. It is a disturbing statistic.

Kitchens writes, “Other DOJ statistics show that the overall rape rate is in sharp decline: since 1995, the estimated rate of female rape or sexual assault victimizations has decreased by about 60 percent.” She uses this statistic to substantiate her claim that there is no rape epidemic. Here are some numbers:

According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey –there is an average of 237,868 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year.

There are 525,600 minutes in a non-leap year. That makes 31,536,000 seconds/year. So, 31,536,000 divided by 237,868 comes out to 1 sexual assault every 133 seconds, or about 1 every 2 minutes.

One sexual assault every two minutes. I feel totally comfortable calling that an “epidemic,” because it is an epidemic. Had it not been for outreach, education and the very protests Kitchens is taking offense to, the numbers would be almost double that. Her use of the 60% decline statistic is misleading; it glosses over the fact that the numbers are still staggering. You know what definitely isn’t an epidemic, though? False reporting of sexual assault; that statistic is two to eight percent.

Kitchens lists “Research Assistant” as her title on her Twitter profile. Maybe next time she writes an article discounting a very real epidemic – she’ll actually do some.

(photo: Twitter)

Be Sociable, Share!
You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
Be Sociable, Share!
  • Andrea

    What in the actual fuck????
    It’s bad enough dealing with douchebros, but it’s another woman doing it? Just fucked up and enraging.

  • Cee

    I like that all she cared about on the Jezebel take down was the fact that they misspelled her name. Ugh, what a douche!

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      I replied to that tweet from Kitchens yesterday and became inundated with DudeBro douchebags on Twitter calling me names. It was hilarious.

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

      Why am I not surprised?

    • Cee

      Yea her twitter replies seem to be full of idiots. It pretty much speaks volumes of her.

    • Andrea

      Well in their defense, they have a hard time coming up a response that has more than 140 characters

  • Kelby Johnson

    Absolutely amazing…

  • whiteroses

    This makes me so ragey I can’t even respond.
    Take a flying leap, Caroline. Just… take a flying leap.

  • Katherine Handcock

    So by this logic, when anything starts to decline, you can immediately stop worrying about it? I would venture to guess that if the rate of cancer deaths dropped by 60%, she would not be arguing that it’s no biggie any more. Heck, if the murder rate dropped by 60%, would she be arguing that we should write off the remaining murders as just one of those things that happens when people are around each other?

    What bothers me the most about this is that arguments like this take ACTUAL PEOPLE and turn them into statistics. 60% fewer women are raped still means that there are women being raped. Those are actual people whose lives are changed forever, and whose families, friends, colleagues, and everyone else around them are also affected. I would love if we could eliminate sexual assault, murder, etc. completely, because the reality is that even one person who suffers these crimes is too many.

  • Haradanohime

    Please read before rating this:
    In one (tiny) part of her article she is correct. Rape is NOT an epidemic. Rape is PANDEMIC. It’s not localized, not an outbreak, not just a recent occurrence, and from all the recent growth in reports not going away (yet) as would indicate an epidemic. It IS a world-wide issue, crosses the boarders of most countries in existence, affects a large amount of people(not just women), and has been happening for a very long time as would occur with pandemic.

    • CrazyLogic

      *gives you the proper grammar police badge*

    • Jules

      Following your logic, I would also say that it’s unfortunately endemic, because it’s present constantly and shows no signs of abating in the foreseeable future.

  • K.

    Questions for Caroline Kitchens

    1. Why are you questioning stats on rape? If you’re so concerned with protecting the rights of the falsely accused, why don’t you dig up stats on how often that happens? You may not believe in a “rape epidemic,” but I can GUARANTEE you that there is no “falsely-accuse-men-of-sexual-assault epidemic.”

    2. “Surveyors employed such a broad definition that “‘forced kissing” and
    even “attempted forced kissing” qualified as sexual assault.”
    ….Soooo what WOULD one call forced kissing? Highly-enthused flirting?

    3. “The Bureau of Justice Statistics’ “Violent Victimization of College Students” report tells a different and more plausible story about campus culture….Across the nation’s four million female college students, that comes to about one victim in forty students.”
    …So if one in forty soldiers in Iraq die, would that NOT be a problem? If one in forty children are abused, that’s okay??

    Oh, but if it’s WOMEN, then we’re just being hysterical.

    4. How do you write “Other DOJ statistics show
    that the overall rape rate is in sharp decline: since 1995, the
    estimated rate of female rape or sexual assault victimizations has
    decreased by about 60 percent” in one paragraph and then write “Duke, Swarthmore, Amherst, Emerson and the University of North
    Carolina are among the many institutions that have recently reviewed
    and revised their policies. It is not clear that these policies have
    made campuses safer places for women, but they have certainly made
    them treacherous places for falsely accused men” several paragraphs later?? Seriously??

    5. Yes, University policies regarding sexual assault make college “treacherous” for men, since we women are just salivating over the fun of going through ten million layers of college bureaucracy just to accuse nice guys of rape. How else do you think we’re kicking ass in education–clearly, we have to get rid of competition from our male intellectual superiors and using our sexuality is just the way to do it. It’s part of the whole “schools war on boys” thing you wrote about in the National Review.

    6. “In January 2010, University of North Dakota student Caleb Warner was
    accused of sexually assaulting a fellow student. A UND tribunal
    determined that Warner was guilty of misconduct, and he was swiftly
    suspended from school and banned from setting foot on campus for three
    years. Yet the police – presented with the same evidence – were so
    unconvinced of Warner’s guilt that they refused to bring criminal
    charges against him. Instead, they charged his accuser with filing a
    false report and issued a warrant for her arrest. Warner’s accuser
    fled town and failed to appear to answer the charges.”
    Okay: A) “misconduct” doesn’t necessarily mean they found him guilty of rape; they could have heard the complaint and not been able to make a judgment on the assault but still found him guilty of drinking underage and other related infractions which CAN get you suspended long term or expelled. B) Charging someone for filing a false report doesn’t meant they did it. And the accuser leaving town doesn’t mean guilt. C) Congratulations, so you found ONE *questionable* case of rape laws “ruining the lives” of men. And it doesn’t sound like Warner’s life was “ruined”; it sounds like he was inconvenienced. Meanwhile, rape victims have to pick up pieces of their souls.

    7. “Across the country, students accused of sexual assault are regularly
    tried before inadequate and unjust campus judiciaries. At most
    schools, cases of sexual misconduct are decided by a committee of as
    few as three students, faculty members or administrators. At
    Swarthmore College, volunteers are now being solicited
    via email to serve on the Sexual Assault and Harassment Hearing Panel.
    Such a panel is far more likely to yield gender violence activists
    than impartial fact finders. In a court of law, we rely on procedural
    safeguards to ensure unbiased jury selection and due process. But on
    the college campus, these safeguards have vanished.”

    Colleges are institutions; they are not the State, so why would you expect a college to have a judicial system like the State? College is not obligatory or a right; it is optional and a privilege. So what’s at stake for someone in a college “trial” is not the loss of their rights and freedoms, seeing as colleges can’t send students to prison, it’s simply a removal of a privilege. That’s why colleges have the right to suspend and expel students based on student performance and conduct and can implement whatever the hell kind of system of enforcement they want (Frankly, I don’t think that students deciding sexual assault cases is a good idea for OTHER reasons, but if that’s the way the college wants to do it, then fine.)

    8. “Since April 2011, the Department of Education has required
    institutions to consider cases of sexual misconduct under a
    “preponderance of evidence” standard (rather than a higher “clear and
    convincing” standard, which was commonly used prior to the new
    guidelines). This means that if a majority of committee members believe
    it is just slightly more likely than not that a sexual assault
    occurred, they must side with the accuser.”

    Um, is it just me or is “preponderance of evidence” MORE of a burden of proof than “clear and convincing.” It certainly sounds more concrete than “clear and convincing.”

    9. Pretty sure that campus activists really don’t give a flying f*ck about “masculinity.” I AM a campus activist and what we DO care about is protecting women against VIOLENCE.

    …but it’d be so adorably retro that you think everything we do must really be about men in some way, if it wasn’t so effing enraging.

  • eileen

    she must date someone who claims they were “falsely accused”. what other reason could a woman possibly have to spit in the face of all raped women and children by taking the other side? does she also believe rape victims should be sentenced to 100 lashes?

  • CMJ

    That “article” and it’s admirers simply prove that rape culture is alive and well.

    (I wrote almost this exact comment on Ms. Kitchen’s story and was called a rapist…..annnndddd scene.)

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

      WHAT? Oh my god.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      Hey Maria…..could you maybe write about the badass Saudi Arabian women who are protesting the driving ban by driving (despite threats of rape and other harm?) http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/10/26/21174969-saudi-women-flout-ban-on-driving-despite-warnings-activists-say?lite=

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

      I actually had that bookmarked for today! ;)

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy


    • CMJ

      I have to laugh at all the men commenting on that piece or else I’ll cry. But also, a simple reading comprehension and vocab lesson would do them well.

  • keelhaulrose

    Sounds like she’s trying to get a job at Fox News

  • Blueathena623

    I am NOT defending this lady, but I do think that clarifying statistics is important. I don’t think she’s referring to the one in six American women suffer from rape or attempted rape in their lifetime statistic. It seems like she’s tackling a different statistic based on an online survey. If I’m reading the survey information correctly, its findings were that one in five female college students will suffer from sexual assault, rape, or attempted rape. If activists are in fact using the data from this survey and saying it means that one out of every five is raped, then that is incorrect. The author uses other data to get the 1 in 40 stats for rape for college women. One in 40 is still waaaaaaayyyyy too high to be written off.

    And if she wants to use statistics to prove there isn’t a rape epidemic, she should include more data on the incidence of false rape accusations. One out of how many accusations turns of to be false? What she’s doing is a classic trick — reduce the opposition to just numbers and be personal on the side she is supporting. So we get a nice personal introduction to one guy who may have been falsely accused of rape, but women who have been raped just become “one in . . .”.

  • Alicia Kiner

    See, I know people lie. People do.There are women out there who say they were assaulted and weren’t. It happens. And they suck. Period. And I hope those women never EVER truly experience what they say they went through, because I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. I wouldn’t even wish it on this woman who apparently thinks she’s helping a cause. Yes, there are men that are falsely accused. But there are way more assaults that are never reported, even to this day. In part, because of women like Caroline Kitchens. Because there are people out there that say, “well, you weren’t really raped” or it’s not so bad, or you just took it the wrong way. So let’s shame these victims further, and let the boys just be boys. Cause how dare they stand up and take responsibility for their own actions.

  • Lindsey

    Technically, an epidemic is a number of disease or in this case rapes/sexual assaults/etc that are above the normal number. Which means that this is not an epidemic, but that makes it even worse. The normal number of rapes in the US is so high that 1 sexual assault every two minutes is considered the norm.

  • Carolyn Sue Boyce

    This lady is insane. 1 in 40 women is HUGE. 1 rape is too much. Shame on you for putting your blinders on to the truth.

  • Pingback: Columbia Student Carries Mattress To Protest Rapist()