Last Rape Stats, &c. Post (for now)

Possible trigger warnings within:

I was reading this article on Huffington Post, about Angie Epifano, the girl who blew the lid off Amherst College’s tradition of silencing rape victims, back in October. This was one of the instances that really kicked off my article for my paper, for my class, at my school. (I attend the large public university next door, who some weeks before her story was published, had to cope with the gang rape of a freshman girl by four young men from her town. A story that made it all the way to the UK’s Daily Mail, which I had not known.)

In the HuffPo article they mention,

The Victim Rights Law Center in Boston told Epifano they’d been trying to change Amherst for years, citing 10 sexual assaults on the campus in 2011, and in the past 15 years, reports of multiple serial rapists who have raped more than five girls.

And there was a very important word in that quote that stood out to me, particularly with regards to the critique of the graph that went viral (here at the Washington Post), called “The Saddest Graph You’ll See All Day” (about rapists, arrests, convictions, and false accusations).

The critique points out that

The graphic assumes one-rape-per-rapist.

And that that isn’t true. She quoted a number (6% of men are rapists) which she got from here, which adds that the repeat offenders in the surveys tended to average around (and it’s this fun!) around 5 repeat offenses. Continue reading

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Feminism and Rape

The slow work on the article continues, but I have found myself mulling over the following frustrating question:

How do I reconcile my (young, hip) broad, traditionally feminist definition of rape with the grey areas that are incredibly apparent to me?

Because, yes, there are times when adolescents do stupid things (don’t ask for permission in times and places where they should), and depending on how things go from there, people may or may not get hurt. That is, the study performed by Dean Kilpatrick in 1992 that said that 1 in 8 women is raped had a question that many people who contest that number take issue with. That question was:

4. Has anyone ever put fingers or objects in your vagina or anus against your will by using force or threat?

Which would, and seemed to often (many of the respondents that were listed as having been raped by this study said the incident occurred when they were 17 or under), include instances of adolescent heavy petting where things went further than one party wanted them to. I find I have to agree with one blogger when she asks “Does that make the young man a rapist?” Well, no. I don’t believe he should be incarcerated for however many years for something this complicated. Do I believe he may have done something destructive to the young woman whom he penetrated against her will? Well, yes. Continue reading

A peculiar kind of writer’s block

I have a miserable, horrible incomplete in my Introduction to Journalism class. It’s nasty and it’s the noose on the gallows of my holiday. Nothing good can or has come of it. I’m facing it down, trying to liberate it from this mortal coil.

I’m writing a piece on statistics and rape. I’m approaching it incorrectly, because I have a thesis, which isn’t wrong but is too forceful for something that is, ultimately, a report of some findings, rather than a piece of persuasive rhetoric. What I have (essentially) assumed (yet cannot find a means to disprove, nonetheless) is that the statistics we use to illustrate rape as a social problem and use to give us an idea of how big or prevalent or whatever the problem is… Aren’t very good.

But I can’t figure out how to write this thing. I keep reading, hoping that more information will make the writing easier (often, I cannot write until I feel like I know the information inside out and backwards, until I can recount the argument and the facts in my sleep, because they have become so familiar to me. I can’t write the small thing, until I have surveyed the entire problem) … But I’m worried, twofold. Continue reading