Professor Jacobson reported that the St. Louis Post-Dispatch dumped conservative pundit George Will for speaking uncomfortably about campus victimhood.
His crime? In part, he dared to challenge some of the premises behind feminists’ “Against our Will” campus campaign.
Now, the National Association of Scholars crunches the numbers behind that campaign and Minding the Campus contributor Peter Wood reviews the findings.
How frequent are sexual assaults on campus? President Obama recently cited the estimate that one in five women enrolled in college suffer sexual assault by the time they graduate. The Bureau of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey, based on reported crimes, put the rate at 1 in 40. Reported crimes inevitably fall short of the actual incidence, but how much short?
The 1-in-5 statistic has prompted a lot of well-argued skepticism, and the figure indeed has a dubious pedigree. It is derived from opinion surveys in which those asking the questions took license to interpret some answers as implying that sexual assaults had occurred even if the respondents didn’t say so. To say the least, there is room for doubt about how good an estimate 1-in-5 really is.
Some who have given voice to those doubts have received outrage in return. After syndicated columnist George Will published such an article saying that the “rape culture” is largely a figment of the progressive left’s imagination, a petition demanding that the Washington Post fire him was circulated by a group called “Ultraviolet.” It garnered, we’re told, some 87,000 signatures.
I am among those who doubt the validity of the 1-in-5 claim, which is presented to evoke a campus in which males routinely use violence or the threat of violence to press unwanted sexual attention on females. But I don’t find it hard to imagine that as many as 1-in-5 recent female college graduates has absorbed the radical feminist narrative that almost any sexual interaction with a male can be interpreted as an assault. In that light, 1-in-5 sounds about right for the cohort of women graduates who have nursed grievances, disappointments, slights, and resentments to the point where, in the grim light of retrospect, they believe they were “assaulted” even when nothing happened that the law or common sense would regard as an assault.
Fortunately we have some independent data that bears on this question. But the source of the data will come as a surprise to many….