Talking to young college women about campus sexual assault means encountering either ignorance or hysteria — which bodes ill for both men and women.
I delivered one of my Little Bookworms (henceforth “LB”) to the Obscenely Expensive Liberal Arts College (“OELAC”) the LB attends. Frankly, I could see why LB is so happy there. The campus is beautiful, the historic dorm is charming, and LB has made some delightful, and quite well-mannered, friends. In other words, LB is enjoying the quintessential, all-American college experience. That is, if you ignore the obscene cost that LB’s major will never pay off and the hard-Left politics practiced in the classrooms. But otherwise . . . yeah, I get while LB likes it.
One of the reminders that OELAC is a hard-Left institution is the ubiquity of posters all over reminding the students about campus sexual assault. Wherever one looks, it’s rape . . . rape . . . RAPE!!!! I asked one of LB’s friends, a bright young person who’s data oriented, what the actual statistics are for campus sexual assault. He didn’t know. However, another young person chimed in to explain that the statistics only make sense if you understand that larger colleges than this little OELAC are “under-reporting” their campus sexual assaults.
A quick inquiry revealed that this second young person didn’t actually know OELAC’s campus sexual assault statistics. Although she was rather muddled, it appeared that she just “knew” that they were higher than those at the big public university located nearby.
Her reasoning was as follows: Because little OELAC is such a supportive environment, women are more likely to report assault, rather than more likely to be sexually assaulted. With that as her baseline supposition, the (supposedly) lower number of assaults at the big university could be justified only by assuming under-reporting. I was confused, and only get more confused when it turned out, as I said, that she had no idea what the campus sexual assault statistics were for either campus she was discussing.
Two things struck me as peculiar about the issue of campus sexual assault at little OELAC. First, the OELAC campus population is more than 60% female. Accepting the students’ world view, which is that they are immersed in a rape culture, that means the small cohort of male students (fewer than 40% of the total population) are ravening animals. Indeed, given the number of gay male students, it’s likely that just over 30% of the male population is heterosexual.
I don’t know about you, but it strikes me as unlikely that this tiny population of young men, especially young men in a “supportive” (the young person’s word) environment that obsessively reminds its male students not to rape, is a serious threat to the myriad young women on campus. And frankly, rhetoric aside, the young women gave no indication they were afraid, walking around both the dorms and campus freely at night in a way I never would have when I was at Cal more than 30 years ago.
However, militating against that first point — that is, that it’s hard to believe that a small male population constantly warned against raping is responsible for an epidemic of campus sexual assault — is the second thing that struck me when I joined the young people for dinner in the college’s cafeteria: Despite the Midwestern locale, a surprising number of male students were quite obviously of Middle Eastern or African origin. [Read more…]