A rape epidemic — by women? By Cathy Young, from 2014, reporting on a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on sexual and intimate violence in the United States.
If the CDC figures are to be taken at face value, then we must also conclude that, far from being a product of patriarchal violence against women, “rape culture” is a two-way street, with plenty of female perpetrators and male victims.
How could that be? After all, very few men in the CDC study were classified as victims of rape: 1.7 percent in their lifetime, and too few for a reliable estimate in the past year. But these numbers refer only to men who have been forced into anal sex or made to perform oral sex on another male.
Nearly 7 percent of men, however, reported that at some point in their lives, they were “made to penetrate” another person — usually in reference to vaginal intercourse, receiving oral sex, or performing oral sex on a woman. This was not classified as rape, but as “other sexual violence.”
And now the real surprise: when asked about experiences in the last 12 months, men reported being “made to penetrate” — either by physical force or due to intoxication — virtually the same rates as women reported rape (both 1.1 percent in 2010, and 1.7 and 1.6 respectively in 2011).
In other words, if being made to penetrate someone was counted as rape — and why shouldn’t it be? — then the headlines could have focused on a truly sensational CDC finding: that women rape men as often as men rape women.
This shouldn’t be so surprising. Back in the old days, when talk of “rape” or “sexual assault” generally meant forcible penetration at the hands of a stranger, rape was unsurprisingly pretty much a male-committed crime.
But feminists pushed for a broader definition of rape, going beyond what Susan Estrich, in a very influential book, derisively called Real Rape, to encompass other forms of sexual coercion and intimidation. …
Unsurprisingly, when the definition of rape — or, as it’s often now called in order to provide less clarity, “sexual assault” — expands to include a lot more than behavior distinguished by superior physical strength, the incidence of rape goes up, and behavior engaged in by women is more likely to be included in the definition. (At juvenile detention centers nine out of 10 reporters of sexual assault are males victimized by female staffers.) …
With rape rates actually falling sharply, the current moral panic over campus rape seems more like political agitprop and mass hysteria than anything else. Like all such, this, too, will pass. But it will also do damage along the way.