In the comments to Monday’s post about Mary Koss’ rape prevalence research, Donald Johnson asks:
Donald’s question (and that I’ve been posting so much about Koss lately) makes this seem like a good time to reprint this (slightly edited) post from 2002.
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(I swiped the idea for this post, and many of the stats, from this Tim Wise article on racism. The statistics in this post that didn’t come from Tim Wise’s article, came from either the Statistical Abstract of the US 2001 or from the American Jewish Year Book 2001).
Mary Koss’ much-discussed 1987 study of rape prevalence is famous mostly for its fidning that 1 in 8 college women have been victims of rape at some point in their lives. What’s not as well known is that the same study also surveyed thousands of college men, asking them about if they had ever forced a woman to have sex against her will. About 4.5% reported that they had.
It seems to me that we can draw two conclusions from this number (assuming it’s somewhat accurate – see the next post for more discussion of that). First – as even anti-feminists will agree – we can say that the overwhelming majority of men are not rapists. That’s good. Nonetheless, it’s also true that a terrifyingly high number of men have committed rape.
4.5% of the men in the United States is an incredibly high number – that translates into over six million men.
If you added up every US citizen who was officially unemployed or looking for work in 2001, that would be less than the total number of rapists.
If you added up every US citizen who is Jewish, that would still be less than the total number of rapists.
If you added up every teenage boy who had any sort of job – an afterschool job, a summer job, working full-time after dropping out, including all of those – you’d still have over a million fewer people then the total number of rapists.
There are twice as many rapists in the USA as there are single mothers.
For every drunk driver who is in a fatal accident this year, there are over 500 rapists.
If you take every doctor and nurse in the United States; and you added them to every librarian, every cashier, every cop, every postal clerk, and every bank teller in the whole country; you still wouldn’t have as many people as the number of rapists in the United States.
(Think of that a second – think of how often, in your daily life, you’ve seen cops and cashiers and all those other folks. Odds are, you’ve run into rapists more often than that).
To paraphrase Tim Wise: In short, “only” 4.5% of the male population is a lot of people, so that even by the most optimistic assessment of how many men are rapists, there are literally millions out there who not only would but have raped a woman. When combined with those who are less vicious – those who haven’t raped, but would be willing to in the right circumstances, and those who would make excuses for why other men rape, it becomes clear just how real a widespread a problem rape and rape-supportive attitudes are among men today.
As I understand it, the feminist theory is not that every men, or most men, are rapists. It’s that rape is a commonplace enough thing so that at some level most women are to some degree kept in fear of rape, because the possibility is always there.
When I’ve spoken to men, I’ve tried using this example:
Now imagine you were born in Oregon.
How safe would you feel in your daily life? What would it do to your feeling of security and safety, knowing that “only” one out of 25 of the men you stand in line with at the bank, the male cashiers you meet at the grocery, the male cops patrolling the streets, the male students you take classes with and the male professors you learn from, and your male co-workers at the office, has attacked someone like you, because they were like you?
4.5% is not a small number of men.
[edited a bit to reflect nobody.really’s criticism in the comments]