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Rape apology on LCA mailing list/Email 1

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This is the archived full text of an email that was part of the Rape apology on LCA mailing list incident. It is hosted here in full because the server hosting the LCA 2011 Delegates Chat has been taken off the net. Here is an archived copy of the referenced email.

Feel free to email the sender and ask for confirmation of its accuracy.

From: Theodore Tso <tytso@MIT.EDU>
Date: Tue, 1 Feb 2011 02:17:14 -0500
Message-Id: <>
To: LCA2011 Delegates Chat <>
Subject: Re: [LCA2011-Chat] Some Anti-Harassment Policies considered harmful
If people want facts, perhaps they read some of these URL's and then come to their own conclusion: : This appears to be the
source of the 1 in 6 figure (17.6%). But it's worth going deeper. If you look
at percentage of women reporting rape since age 18 (taking out the child abuse
and statutory rape cases, which they also treat in detail), it becomes 1 in 10
(9.6%), and of those over 61.9% were at the hands of their intimate partner, as
opposed to an acquaintance or stranger. Also in the survey, in the rapes that
were reported via a randomized telephone survey, in 66.9% of those cases, the
perpetrator did not threaten to harm or kill the victim. (Which makes it no
less a crime, of course, but people may have images of rape which involves a
other physical injuries, by a stranger, in some dark and deserted place. The
statistics simply don't bear that out.)
This one does a pretty good job of taking apart the Koss / Ms. Magazine
study, which is the source for the "1 in 4" number. For example, it points out
that over half of those cases were ones where undergraduates were plied with
alcohol, and did not otherwise involve using physical force or other forms of
coercion. And if you asked the women involved, only 27% of the people
categorized by Koss as being raped called it rape themselves. Also found in the
Koss study, although not widely reported, was the statistic that of the women
whom she classified as being raped (although 73% refused to self-classify the
event as rape), 46% of them had subsequent sex with the reported assailant. : This is a more
popularized treatment of the issue. There is quite a bit of anti-feminist
ranting in the article, which you should try to ignore while looking at the
arguments, which is that some of these rape statistics don't seem to hold much
in the way of water.
Please note, I am not diminishing what rape is, and or any particular person's
experience. However, I *am* challenging the use of statistics that may be
hyperbolic and misleading, and ultimately may be very counterproductive if it
causes people to become afraid when the reality might not be as horrible as the
"1 in 4" numbers might at first sound. Just as it was wrong for George Bush to
inspire fear in the population so he could push his War Against Iraq agenda
through congress, it's also wrong for people who, out of good intentions,
inspire fear in others or themselves of being raped if the statistics used are
misleading and manipulated.
-- Ted

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