Research assistant Caroline Kitchens wrote an article for U.S. News and World Report this week titled, The Rape “Epidemic” Doesn’t Actually Exist. A 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.
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.