Nearly 1 in 5 women in the U.S. has been sexually assaulted

**Trigger warning**

Nearly one in five women in the U.S. has been sexually assaulted. That’s the most headline-grabbing statistic from an important new study released by the CDC yesterday. Based on a nationally representative phone survey, the report offers a comprehensive and depressing look at the epidemic of sexual and domestic violence in this country. Here are some other major takeaways:

Most people are raped* by people they know.

This should be old news by now, but it bears repeating: The myth of the stranger-in-the-alley rape is way off. More than half of female survivors reported being raped by a current or former partner and 40% reported being raped by an acquaintance. Only about 1 in 7 were raped by a stranger.

Men are affected by sexual violence too.

As Hugo Schwyzer said, “Though men remain the overwhelming majority of perpetrators of rape, the new research makes it more evident than ever that men are also its victims.” One in 71 men (1.4%) have been raped and nearly 5% have been made to penetrate someone else in their lifetimes. (By the way, this is the first national study to distinguish between being forced to penetrate someone and being penetrated.)

Young people are particularly impacted by sexual violence.

About 80% of female survivors were raped before they turned 25, with 42.2% before the age of 18. Male survivors are often even younger: More than one-quarter experienced their first rape when they were 10 years of age or younger. Holy shit.

Rape is incredibly under-reported (surprise!).

According to this survey, 1.3 million American women experienced a rape or attempted rape last year. That’s actually a significantly higher annual figure than previous studies found; RAINN’s estimate was 272,350 for 2010. But regardless, with only 84,767 rapes reported last year, it’s clear that we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg when it comes sexual assault. Gee, I wonder why more survivors aren’t coming forward? Oh, right.

Intimate partner violence is the worst–and really common.

The researchers tried to capture the real-life effect of intimate partner violence by asking questions not just about the violence itself but also about the ways it impacted the respondent. Nearly 3 in 10 women and 1 in 10 men reported experiencing rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner and reported at least one impact–for example, being fearful, having PTSD symptoms, being injured, missing work or school, etc.

This shit is bad for our health.

Men and women who have experienced rape, stalking, or intimate partner violence were more likely to report having chronic health problems, such as frequent headaches, chronic pain, difficulty sleeping. Among women, there was also a higher risk of asthma, diabetes and irritable bowel syndrome for survivors.

You can check out the whole report here. This is the first in what will be an annual survey–and while much of this isn’t exactly new info, I think it does a good job of teasing apart the various forms of sexual violence far too many Americans experience. It could serve as a useful tool if we ever decide we’d like to get serious about ending this public health crisis.

* Note: In this study, “rape” was defined as “completed forced penetration, attempted forced penetration, or alcohol/drug facilitated completed penetration.”

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64 Comments

  1. Posted December 15, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    This presentation has many errors because it relies on the survey summary. I strongly suggest looking at the details of the report. It is easy to read and very informative. I already posted about this survey last night under the “What We Missed” thread.

    As you say the survey is the first to bother to ask men if they were raped. However it does NOT count men forced to have sex as raped. It uses a feminist politically sexist definition with the intention of inflating female rape victim figures and eliminating male victims of rape.

    Look at the data.

    It says men are raped BY WOMEN at about the same rate that women are raped by anyone. it is therefore false to say that, “men remain the overwhelming majority of perpetrators of rape”. Men reported being raped at the same rate as women over the previous 12 months (1.1%) and 79.2% said they were raped by women, not men.

    WTF? You even have a paragraph up there saying men were forced to have sex at a higher rate than the rate you claim they were “raped”. Did it not strike you that someone forced to have sex is BY DEFINITION a rape victim? I know the lying survey is pretending that a man forced to have sex isn’t raped but surely you can think for yourself?

    Gee I wonder why more male rape victims aren’t coming forward?

    • Posted December 15, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      Exactly. What the hell does “forced to penetrate” mean? Again, you wouldn’t say that a woman who was raped was “forced to engulf” a man. The odd notion that a rape victim “penetrated” the perpetrator makes it sound as if he had control over the matter.
      Unless “forced to penetrate” means something different … seriously, what does that even mean, if not rape?

    • Posted December 15, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

      I think you’re being unnecessarily combative here, in a forum where most people are likely to agree with you if you don’t turn them off with your behavior, especially in your reply to natasha downthread. Not to tell you how to act, but I bet you’ll have a happier life here on Feministing if you presume good faith from your fellow commenters.

      It did also forcefully strike me as bizarre and somewhat horrifying that ‘forced to penetrate’ was considered a category other than ‘rape’, and I was surprised that Maya did not comment on this failing in her original article.

      • Posted December 15, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

        Unfortunately, for the most part they’re not. This is a common problem within feminism – you’ll find a lot of people that claim to define rape in a way that doesn’t exclude male victims, but once they’re confronted with actual victims or with rape of men as a widespread problem suddenly a lot of them change their tune. (It’s roughly analogous to the treatment of female victims we see in mainstream society, where people are against rape in theory but victim blame horribly in practice.)

        • Posted December 15, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

          That is not generally consonant with my personal experience here on Feministing.

      • Posted December 15, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

        I’m 44 years old and have been debating feminists for over twenty years on line. My combative attitude sadly represents my experience of feminists and their prejudices against men learned through bitter experience.

        I am frankly surprised that anyone here would agree that defining male victims as not raped was a problem. That was not the case ten years ago when I talked to feminists about even worse issues with the NVAWS survey when it came out.

        I suppose I must concede that maybe some of you are young enough to not know the history of your own movement. I will try to remember your example.

        • Posted December 15, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

          Welcome to Feministing! I’m sorry you’ve had bitter experiences. I’ve personally generally felt very welcome as a male feminist here at Feministing and thought the main editors & contributors are very conscientious about how feminism can and should benefit men, as well as positive roles for men in feminism.

        • Posted December 15, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

          So… you’re an anti-feminist? Am I getting that clear?

    • Posted December 15, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

      I suspect they must be counting most childhood sexual abuse of men under less headline-grabbing categories; there’s no other way that it’s consistent with other studies. Wonder if they’re doing the same with the women? Probably less so, since their definition of “rape” is effectively a lot broader for cis women than it is for cis men, but it seems plausible.

    • Posted December 15, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

      Uhh… how do you figure that men and women are raped at the same rate? What I can see from the post says to me:

      18.3% of women are raped.
      1.4% (percent of men raped as reported by the study) + 4.8% (percent of men forced to penetrate someone else, which is also rape) = 6.2% (and this is assuming that there is no overlap in these groups)

      How is 18.3% = 6.2%? Were there some statistics I was missing?

      • Posted December 15, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

        You are missing the 12 month figures which are more accurate for our purposes. If you look at those figures you see that the number for women raped is 1.1% plus any women who were forced top penetrate – which presumably is too small to worry about since women don’t have a penis.

        The figure for men forced to penetrate was also 1.1%. They don’t record numbers for men who were raped by penetration (because the sample size was too small as the footnote says) but the NVAWS had the number of men raped by being penetrated at about 1/3 the rate for women.

        see here:
        https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/183781.pdf

        Note: the increase in reporting from the improved methodology of the NISVS compared to the NVAWS means that the NVAWS had a rate of 0.3% of women raped in the last 12 months, and 0.1% of men. Note the NISVS vastly increases the women’s figure to 1.1% by including “drunk rape” and better questions. Oddly enough the over a lifetime questioning hardly increased at all. For women it went from 17.6% to 18.3% and for men it actually went DOWN (before “forced penetration” is considered) from 3.0% to 1.4%.

        So its a mixed and complex picture but currently I just want to point out that the figure for male rape (both types) is probably a little more than 1.1%, and more than the female rape rate of 1.1%.

        Secondly the female rape figure seems to be defined to include “drunk sex” while the male figure does not. Together these items probably represent a few tenths of a percent.

        But my claim was not whether men are raped more or not because we already know they are because of the vast amount of rape taking place in prisons and jails in the US. Usually feminists dismiss these victims so I was not making an issue about them or male on male rape outside jails.

        We know (page 24) that 79.2% of the men recorded as raped (by “forced penetration”) were raped by women. The remainder may not have been men – they may have been eg a man and a woman. So I am saying I think after adding in male penetration rape victims and male drunk and raped victims and then removing the male on male rape victims that it looks like the number of women raped by men is about the same as the number of men raped by women — as recorded by the “last twelve months” figures.

        There’s more to be said here about that choice over the lifetime figures. Basically most of the difference is due to repeat victims. The more repeat victims the lower the lifetime figures look but the higher the actual number of rapes that take place. Most likely what the figures are saying is that men get raped (by women) more often than women get raped by men, but few men are raped altogether because more of the male victims are being repeatedly raped again and again and again without any the authorities doing anything about it. Again this is what happens in prison and jail and it indicates that nobody gives flying shit about male rape victims in America.

        Having said that many women are also being raped repeatedly by the same man. You just multiply the 12 month figures by the average adult lifespan and compare to the lifetime figures. The shortfall indicates the same victim repeatedly being victimised over many years. This most severe rape problem is predominantly a male issue. This accounts for the discrepency between 12 month and lifetime stats.

      • Posted December 15, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

        David is comparing, from tables 2.1 and 2.2 in the full report on pages 18 and 19, the prevalence of reports over the last 12 months of female respondents who were subject to rape and male respondents who were ‘made to penetrate’, i.e., raped. He is quite correct that the two values are equal: both figures are 1.1%, with an estimated number of victims approximately 1.27 million.

        You are also quite correct that the lifetime figures are clearly unequal, standing as you say at 18.3% and 6.2%. The contradiction is striking. One possible explanation – which I have no analytical support for and you should assign consequently little weight to – is that perhaps we have made progress at reducing rape of women from even more horrifying levels of decades past to its current level. A social scientist more informed than I could no doubt explain the discrepancy more convincingly.

      • Posted December 16, 2011 at 11:08 am | Permalink

        First off, I need to apologize for not actually reading the full report and finding the 12-month statistics. That was lazy of me, to not try to understand DavidByron’s argument. I believe the 12-month statistics said .5% of women reported being raped in the last 12 months, and 1.1% of men reported being forced to penetrate someone else in the last 12 months.

        Perhaps an explanation for the low rate of women reporting rape in the last 12 months may be, in part, attributed to them not yet realizing that what happened to them was rape? It took a friend of mine a few months, plus the help of a women’s advocate to realize she was raped.

        • Posted December 16, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

          No apology needed, by actually going and reading the primary source at all you are now significantly less lazy than most mainstream reporters! ;)

          You have a very valid point in your explanation, but I believe that the surveyors attempt to correct for this effect by asking specific, mostly unambiguous questions and then coding them into categories, avoiding asking respondents to make judgment calls. The specific questions asked can be found in Appendix C starting on page 106.

    • Posted December 15, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

      I read the full report. I highlighted the lifetime stats, as opposed to the figures for the past 12 months, because, with limited space to go into every single finding, those seemed to paint the most comprehensive picture of what’s going on. I’d be interested to hear an explanation from an expert for the more equal numbers by gender for the past 12 months, but I’m still gonna lean toward trusting the lifetime stats. And I still feel pretty confident in saying that “men remain the overwhelming majority of perpetrators of rape.”

      I agree that men who were “forced to penetrate” were also raped, which is why I included that number (5%), in addition to the 1.4% that were “raped” according the the definition used in the study, when I discuss the way men are affected by sexual violence. Obviously, the study’s definition of rape is imperfect–which is why I included a note so it would be clear that I was using their definition, not my own. But perhaps it wasn’t clear. My apologies. Their definition also includes what we’d usually describe as attempted rape. I think that’s one of the reasons folks warn that it might be hard to compare these figures with previous studies.

      “It uses a feminist politically sexist definition with the intention of inflating female rape victim figures and eliminating male victims of rape.”

      I’m not sure what you think a “feminist politically sexist definition” is, but around these parts, our definition of rape hinges on the absence of consent.

      • Posted December 16, 2011 at 12:11 am | Permalink

        Well you already admitted the definitions inflated the number of women raped and decreased the number of men didn’t you? So get off your high horse. You got caught red handed.

        • Posted December 16, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

          I got “caught red-handed” summarizing the results of a study and specifically highlighting the fact that men are victimized by sexual assault too? Ok.

          • Posted December 16, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

            And you got caught inflating the number of women raped and under reporting the number of men raped. Do you want to go around again?

            Do you think it is significant that as many men said they had been raped in the previous 12 months as women? or that 79.2% of the men raped said women did it?

      • Posted December 16, 2011 at 8:03 am | Permalink

        First let me disclose that I have been “made to penetrate someone else” when a woman who I met and flirted and kissed with at a party earlier that night decided to straddle me and insert my penis into her vagina when I was asleep. It didn’t then, but the criminal law where I live now classify that as rape.

        Secondly let me tell you why I think the “Last 12 months” numbers are very important indeed if we care about reducing the number of rape victims regardless of gender. That number represents what the situation for men and women are now. And it turns out, surprisingly to many, that men noware just as much at risk as women for being raped. In fact at least as much as risk as women (note that the surrvey only had non-institutionalised respondents which means that no current inmates were asked – population who is very much at risk). Pretending that it isn’t so by only focusing on the lifetime numbers (which I am not dismissing nor disputing) is a grave mistake.

        And you did mention the “Last 12 months” numbers, but only for women. Why not mention the men’s number as well in that paragraph?

        Also note that 79.2% of the men who said they had “been made to penetrate someone else” said that the perpetrator was a woman.
        If one look at the current situation based on the last 12 months number it is pretty clear that in the last year men are not the overwhelming majority of perpetrators of rape unless you consider 60% to be overwhelming (and that’s assuming that no women has been raped by another woman). Ignoring the current situation to maintain the belief that rape is overwhelmingly done by men to women (as another feminst blogger concluded in an article about this survey) and which you also do is a betrayal of those 1,003,464 men who the survey estimated were raped by women in 2010.

        None of us can affect the past, but we all can affect the now and the future with our actions. Only looking at the past (lifetime) figures while ignoring more recent figures is a poor baseline for making good choices now.

        You did recognize that “being made to penetrate someone else” should be categorized as rape. Most media reports of this study and some Feminist bloggers, like for instance Hugo Schwyzer did not and trotted out the comparison between 1 in 71 men and 1 in 5 women have been experiencing rape or attempted rape.

        I am not an expert so you are free to disregard my opinion, but here is my take on why there is no gender disparity in rape victims the last 12 months.
        1) Men are becoming aware of this issue and to a lesser degree buy into the narrative that men should welcome all sex. This notion I suspect also explains some (I don’t have any idea of how much) of the difference in lifetime numbers as elder men are more likely to recall past events as being consentual when they in fact were not. In order to recall them as non-consentual one must recognize that one have the option to consent or not.

        2) Women are increasingly taking on a role where they are the sexual aggressor/sexual initiator. That role does not come without risks and one of them is presuming consent where there is none. The narrative that the overwhelming majority of rapist as well as the insistence (of media, law and surveys) of categorizing those actions by women as something else than rape only increases the risks that these women will at some stage rape a partner since they are less likley to evaluate their own behaviour because why make efforts to avoid something that almost never happens and which only truly evil girls do.

  2. Posted December 15, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Is anybody else bothered by the treatment of “being forced to penetrate someone” as different from rape? This dates back to a long-held view that the active sexual partner is the male while the female is passive, and thus penetration is a strong act and could not be forced. Our culture has a very hard time viewing the vagina as something powerful and engulfing. Instead, sex — and rape — is defined as “penetration.” Penetration, not engulfment, is seen as powerful … the idea of engulfment is so foreign that they use the phrase “being forced to penetrate,” whatever that means. Though it has become applicable to other situations, this is based on a view of sex in which the penis is the active agent. The terminology used in this study fails to provide men who are raped by women with the language to discuss their trauma, and instead poses them as the agent, the penetrator, as if the omnipotent penis were too autonomous and strong to fall victim to a woman’s passive “hole.”

  3. Posted December 15, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    “The researchers tried to capture the real-life effect of intimate partner violence by asking questions not just about the violence itself but also about the ways it impacted the respondent.”

    This speaks volumes for me right now.

    Currently my manager is in a mentally and emotionally violent marriage. She’s not at work today because of another fight her partner and her got into this morning at 4am. Cop were called, another co-worker had to intervene because no one was sober enough to take care of their child. I’m at work alone and there’s no one here to run the store. I wish I knew how to help, or even if I could, would it make a difference?

  4. Posted December 15, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    * Note: In this study, “rape” was defined as “completed forced penetration, attempted forced penetration, or alcohol/drug facilitated completed penetration.”

    So the actual number of women getting raped is lower. A drunk girl may want sex, what if two people are drunk? Who is the rapist? or is anyone the rapist? Drunk people having sex is very common especially on college campuses. Just because a girl regrets having sex with a dude doesn’t mean she got raped. This so called study is actually worse for women because it’s obvious it tries to make only men look like the rapists. Most people, especially men, already disregard anything “feminist” related because they see it as reverse sexism, this study supports their view.

    • Posted December 15, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      Part of the language you are using comes across as insensitive to rape victims. Specifically when you say, “Just because a girl regrets having sex with a dude doesn’t mean she got raped.”

      Maybe you’re not aware, but this sounds an awful lot like the way people discredit rape victims when they go to police. It echoes the sentiment that a victim is automatically the one to be suspected, interrogated, have their sexual history used against them, being treated like a criminal themselves, and being re-victimized by the justice system. This is a common argument, that any woman may go to the police and ‘cry rape’ for revenge or out of guilt or regret. In reality, false rape accusations are rare.

      I get that this probably wasn’t your intention, and your comment was mostly about something else, but I think this comment could trigger some rape survivors reading this thread. I hope I’m not coming across as nitpicky, but I had to say this.

      • Posted December 15, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

        So you say all men are automatically guilty until proven innocent? Well how “sensitive’ you are.

        • Posted December 15, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

          I carefully read and re-read natasha’s comment but I simply could not find where, as you write, natasha says that all men are automatically guilty until proven innocent. Please help me out, preferably providing exact line and column numbers, because my poor reading comprehension skills are unable to find anything equivalent to that statement in her post.

          • Posted December 15, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

            She makes the case that women making accusations of rape, should be assumed to be telling the truth. She says to do otherwise is “insensitive” to rape victims. She herself is insensitive to men accused of rape whom she wants to be assumed to be guilty ahead of any investigation.

            She’s being sexist and hypocritical. Am I expected to just ignore that stuff?

            Seriously. You say I am being too combative here, and you may be right. I am going on my prior experience and maybe you’re all OK here or something. But that *was* a very sexist statement by her. Should I have just ignored it?

            Imagine a male friend of yours, maybe a son or a husband, was accused of rape. Would you like people making such sexist and prejudicial comments going around telling people that your friend was bound to be guilty simply because he was born male?

          • Posted December 15, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

            Thank you, as I was wondering what I said to imply that as well. I was really trying to use gender neutral terms when talking about victims and perpetrators as to avoid that impression. The one time I used women that way, I had to as a means of pointing out the misogynistic attack on rape allegations which calls all female victims liars and renders male victims invisible. I also certainly believe we can treat victims of rape (of any gender) with the same respect given to victims of other crimes today without making all people accused of rape (of any gender) automatically found guilty.

          • Posted December 15, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

            We hit the comment max depth here – David, I think you are fighting battles with someone in your past who is not natasha, and clashing with their arguments rather than anything natasha, or anyone else here, is saying. By assigning their (horrible) arguments to natasha instead of listening to what she is actually saying, you’re missing a chance to step back, listen to her (I thought very cogent & well-stated) words and learn, which is a lot more valuable than one more argument.

        • Posted December 15, 2011 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

          This is not a zero sum game. Alleged rape victims can be treated with dignity and respect, while alleged rapists still have due process of law. Look at how rape victims are treated compared to victims of, let’s say, a house robbery. A person who alleges their house was robbed probably won’t be asked, “did you lock your doors?”, “had the burglar been in your house before?”, “did you have expensive things in the front lawn or a window that a robber might see?”, at least not with the shame and blame given to alleged rape victims. A person who claims to be the victim of robbery probably won’t be doubted right off the bat either. Does any of this mean an alleged robber has been denied due process? I don’t think so. They can still receive a fair trial and investigation. There’s no reason this same process of police investigation shouldn’t or can’t be used for alleged rapes.

          I also don’t like the tethering together of men and rapists. Not all rapists are men and not all men are rapists. In no way is it sexist for alleged rapists to be investigated for rape. This site is not a place for groups of people to come and just hate men, so your logical leap from the statement that rapists should be investigated more than the victim all the way to thinking that anti-rapist sentiments are misandry is a pretty disturbing thing to me. All rapists are equally scummy and evil, regardless of their gender. No victims deserve the awful treatment they get. For women that’s misogynist implications that it’s their fault or that they made it up, for men it’s the belief that it never could have happened. The behaviors toward rape cases need to change for the benefit of everyone.

          • Posted December 16, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

            I couldn’t agree more; “this is not a zero sum game” hits the nail on the head.

    • Posted December 15, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

      It is sexist but it is also far FAR better than anything before it.

    • Posted December 15, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

      Although consensual sex can happen when both people are drunk, this happens when both people are at about the same level of intoxication. And they are still in a state where they can both–mutually–remove clothes, engage in sex mutually, etc.

      Rape happens when one of the parties is unable to consent, and the less-drunk party forces himself onto the unconscious or incapacitated party. You can argue until you are blue in the face that something like this can be consensual–but the fact is, sex is an act that takes physical movement. If one person is way too drunk to know whats going on/is unconscious/whatever, and the other party is doing things to THEM (removing their clothes, thrusting, etc.) then that is rape. If one party has blacked out–then that means they are unable to give consent, they are incapacitated. They are not engaging mutually. Rather, one person is having things DONE to them.

      Sex cannot happen when both parties are drunk to the point where they are *both* completely incapacitated.

      • Posted December 15, 2011 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

        If all that is meant by mentioning being drunk is a lack of consent then that’s already covered by the regular definition of rape. Therefore the drunk definition means “drunk and consenting”. The concept is that what would otherwise look like consent (eg someone taking their clothes own clothes off or initiating sex or saying “lets have sex”) should be treated as an absence of consent simply because of being drunk.

        It certainly could happen that both people qualify as drunk.

        It sounds pretty stupid but it’s not TOTALLY stupid. The point is you can get drunk enough to be pretty stupid as far as making decisions is concerned but not so drunk as to prevent you giving the impression of consent eg taking your clothes off or saying “lets have sex”.

        The problem arises when feminists insist that if BOTH people are drunk and having sex that makes the man a rapist but not the woman. I usually then ask them well what if both people are girls – which girl is the rapist then? The definitions used in the survey perpetuate the classic “the man is the rapist the woman is the victim” if both are drunk.

        • Posted December 16, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

          If both people are mutually, actively engaging (and that means that BOTH of them know whats going on and who they are doing it with…. so if a woman is so drunk that she thinks she’s having sex with her boyfriend but its someone from the club that is just pretending to be her boyfriend–that would be rape, because she doesn’t know whats going on) then that is consensual sex.

          The problem is is that that’s not always the case. And women have a lower alcohol tolerance than men, and in my experience, are usually a lot drunker than men at the same party. This doesn’t mean that consensual sex cannot happen. But too many times the ACTUAL situation is a girl is too drunk to know what’s going on, can barely walk, is stumbling around, and a guy is LEADING her (or attempting to, before one of her friends intervenes) to an empty bedroom. That is not consensual. Are you going to tell me that that’s not rape?

          The funny thing is is that this doesn’t seem to happen with lesbians. And no, its not because of feminists.

  5. Posted December 15, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    OK! So. I agree that the definition between “rape” and “being made to penetrate” is a really fuzzy distinction, but here’s what it boils down to according the study:

    Rape = complete or attempted unwanted penetration by use of physical force or threats of physical harm; this includes times where the person was drunk/high/passed out.

    Being made to penetrate = made to or attempted penetration by physical force OR threat OR while drunk/high/passed out without consent

    So, the big difference between these definitions is unwanted versus without consent. It’s a very fuzzy annoying distinction, especially since most people would argue that non-consensual penetration usually indicated unwanted penetration.

    • Posted December 15, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

      OK, that, and by the very definition, a man being made to penetrate against his will (i.e. unwanted) isn’t considered rape… that’s…. well. Lame.

    • Posted December 15, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      I think it’s important to note that this study isn’t trying to imply that “made to penetrate”, “sexual coercion”, “unwanted sexual contact”, or ‘non-contact unwanted sexual experiences” is any less harmful or wrong than “rape”.

      • Posted December 15, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

        It may not be trying to imply that, but it certainly does imply that; q.v. every time we skewer some idiot for saying something like “well it’s not rape rape” in any other context.

      • Posted December 15, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

        Yes, it is.
        And it’s right to say “sexual coercion” is less than rape. Sexual coercion isn’t anything at all.

        It’s also lying about how many men are raped.

        I think it’s pretty huge news that the survey found that more men were raped than women in the last 12 months, and that 79.2% of the rapists were women. That news was deliberately hidden.

        That’s a fucking huge deal.

        Frankly most people I tell about this literally cannot believe it. I however expected this sort of result (since I am well informed).

        • Posted December 15, 2011 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

          Sexual coercion isn’t anything at all.

          OK, I think you’re kind of going off the deep end and being offensively trivializing here, and I’m challenging what you’re saying as untrue and harmful. You really mean to say that when 6% of men and 13% of women felt they had been pressured into sex by lies, threats, authority, or coercive means, that’s not anything at all? Like, you really do not believe that there is any difference between such an event and sex after enthusiastic consent? Because that is flatly horrible-sounding to me.

          • Posted December 16, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

            Did you read the definition of “sexual coercion”? It was pretty pathetic stuff. It was not actually coercion at all.

            “asked a lot of times”
            “said they would end the relationship”

            This is exactly the stuff (and the drunk while having sex thing) that makes discussions of rape into a joke, and I might add gives you feminists a well deserved reputation which is very negative.

            Best to drop that topic.

          • Posted December 18, 2011 at 12:21 am | Permalink

            From Appendix C, the exact questions coded for coercion were:

            “• How many people have you had vaginal, oral, or anal sex with after they pressured you by…
            • doing things like telling you lies, making promises about the future they knew were untrue, threatening to end your relationship, or threatening to spread rumors about you?
            • wearing you down by repeatedly asking for sex, or showing they were unhappy?”

            I can’t even begin to grasp the mindset that you propose, that there is no difference between these scenarios and enthusiastic consent, that these are an ideal way for us to be negotiating our sex lives.

    • Posted December 15, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

      Nope. Unwanted penetration was counted as rape if the victim was drunk/high/passed out to the point they were unable to meaningfully consent even without further violence – the full paper talks about “alcohol or drug-facilitated completed penetration”. In theory the definition of non-consent is the same for both “rape” as the study defines it and “being made to penetrate”, which is more unusual than you’d think. The only difference is who penetrated whom.

      • Posted December 15, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

        Ohhhh now I see that. Duh. Makes sense now.

        Their definition (for those who don’t want to go digging around the report):

        Rape is defined as any completed or attempted unwanted vaginal (for women), oral, or anal penetration through the use of physical force (such as being pinned or held down, or by the use of violence) or threats to physically harm and includes times when the victim was drunk, high, drugged, or passed out and unable to consent. Rape is separated into three types, completed forced penetration, attempted forced penetration, and completed alcohol or drug facilitated penetration.
        –Among women, rape includes vaginal, oral, or anal penetration by a male using his penis. It also includes vaginal or anal penetration by a male or female using their fingers or an object.
        Among men, rape includes oral or anal penetration by a male using his penis. It also includes anal penetration by a male or female using their fingers or an object.
        Being made to penetrate someone else includes times when the victim was made to, or there was an attempt to make them, sexually penetrate someone without the victim’s consent because the victim was physically forced (such as being pinned or held down, or by the use of violence) or threatened with physical harm, or when the victim was drunk, high, drugged, or passed out and unable to consent.
        –Among women, this behavior reflects a female being made to orally penetrate another female’s vagina or anus.
        Among men, being made to penetrate someone else could have occurred in multiple ways: being made to vaginally penetrate a female using one’s own penis; orally penetrating a female’s vagina or anus; anally penetrating a male or female; or being made to receive oral sex from a male or female. It also includes female perpetrators attempting to force male victims to penetrate them, though it did not happen.

        I still think the definition is super fuzzy, because they don’t define the difference between unwanted and non-consensual in this report.

      • Posted December 15, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

        That’s not true.

        At the least it is highly ambiguous, which would lead to a decrease in reporting. That’s a severe criticism of a methodology intended to bend over backwards to encourage reporting.

        Specifically — so far as i can see– if a man and a woman got drunk and had sex by the definitions they provide the woman is raped and the man is neither raped not “forced to penetrate”. That’s because the language of penetration makes them say that to be “forced to penetrate” there must be intent to force — no such language says to be raped someone must intend to rape you.

        QUOTE:
        “the full paper talks about “alcohol or drug-facilitated completed penetration””

        That might mean when the guy is drunk and the woman is not.

    • Posted December 17, 2011 at 1:16 am | Permalink

      You’re point to a valid source of confusion created by consent being the driving definition. Consent can be forced. It’s why I look to coercion as being primarily definitional.

      • Posted December 17, 2011 at 1:30 am | Permalink

        Sorry! “You” point to a valid etc…

        Must be too close to Christmas.

  6. Posted December 15, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    I’m really glad numbers like this are being disseminated and I think sexual violence against men is important to think and talk about so that’s good that it’s been included.

    I also think these statistics speak to the normalization of sexual assault against women. If 20% of American men were sexually assaulted next year, I have to wonder if the media would be blaming them or telling them that it’s just a fact of life, learn to live in a way that shields you from it.

    It’s heart wrenching that the sexual violence that could occur/has occured to me, my mother, and my sisters is often considered just normal men being men (albeit regrettably so) while sexual violence against my brother would be disgusting, shocking, and uniquely evil.

    • Posted December 15, 2011 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

      It’s not 20% in a year. It’s about one half of a percent each year. More or less the same for both sexes. The difference is male victims are ignored or dismissed.

      Like you just did.

      • Posted December 16, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

        Ignored and dismissed by saying “I think sexual violence against men is important to think and talk about”?! Come on, DavidByron, get out of your battle mode and start reading what the other posters are writing and responding to that in a manner that has any chance of making reasonable people want to listen to you.

        It’s valid to disagree with Summer about how society views sexual violence against men (my personal life experience makes me think it is closer to ‘a joke’ or ‘not possible’ than ‘uniquely evil’) but you’re just flaming, in a way that is shaping up to get you banned.

        Please don’t make me regret welcoming you to the site.

        • Posted December 16, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

          I did read it and suggest you reread it.

          She ridiculed male victims of rape by twice suggesting that _IF_ men were raped as much as women were raped then there would be a huge outcry. She might have been thinking of that bigoted quote so loved by feminists that goes, “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament” (Florynce Kennedy).

          The suggestion is that men are evil assholes who only care for themselves and love to spit on women and keep them down. As a result if only men had to suffer what women go through oh boy things would be different hey?

          Bigoted crap.

          The survey actually shows that men ARE and likely have always been suffering WORSE and when this comes to light? Not a twitter. In point of fact the resentment she falsely feels ought very well to be felt by men because she exactly describes (in reverse) the situation unfolding here.

          And if you think I am too harsh with her then you could have more politely pointed out her error but you certainly did not. Instead you elected to defend her and attack me.

          Fine by me; I’m used to it.

          I just wanted to see how folks here would react to being shown evidence that most rape victims may be men and that many women were rapists. Rape culture is a bedrock of feminism and I expect this huge overturn in what we know about rape factually speaking to have zero effect on feminist thinking.

          • Posted December 18, 2011 at 12:26 am | Permalink

            The survey actually shows that men ARE and likely have always been suffering WORSE

            That’s factually contradicted by the scientific evidence, the survey shows the lifetime rates for women are much higher. I’m starting to be suspicious of to what extent your conclusions are being driven by the data.

            And if you think I am too harsh with her then you could have more politely pointed out her error but you certainly did not.

            In fact I did politely disagree with Summer, who in turn read what I wrote and acknowledged my point below.

          • Posted December 18, 2011 at 2:06 am | Permalink

            @ Sam

            “That’s factually contradicted by the scientific evidence, the survey shows the lifetime rates for women are much higher.”

            People tend to recall events taking place within recent history better then events that have taken place more distantly in their memory. Thus statistics regarding recent history tend to be more accurate.

            Men also ‘forget’ sexual abuse more rapidly then women.

            Further, how do you explain the discrepancy between risk of lifetime victimization and risk of victimization over the last year?

            Lifetime victimization may be greater for men, but the risk over the last year is equal.

            Something is missing here.

          • Posted December 18, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

            I was specifically disagreeing only with DavidByron’s single claim that “men ARE and likely have always been suffering WORSE”, which the data stand in direct conflict with.

            As I stated upthread, my cautiously hazarded and essentially unsupported explanation for the observed fact that lifetime victimization numbers are considerably worse for women, whereas last-12-month numbers are roughly equal for women and men, is that we have made progress in reducing sexual violence against women from even more horrific values in past decades.

        • Posted December 17, 2011 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

          Thanks Sam, I don’t think I was dismissing sexual violence against men either. I think it’s important to talk about and I think it’s terrible that any sexual violence happens. And I also see your point when you say that sexual violence against men is often considered a joke or not possible, because I know that’s true. Men being raped is often used as a punch line or a funny story and that is absolutely unacceptable.

          But in a situation where both my sister and my brother were raped and the community believed it, probably my sister would take more blame and her rapist less(at least within certain circles), because often the rape of women is just considered particularly pushy sex because the woman set up a man to believe that she would sleep with him, not the violent and violating act that it really is.

          http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/top-stories/2011/12/06/pretty-student-lured-tv-executive-to-his-death-after-attempted-rape-115875-23614172/

          I found this article and thought it spoke wonders about the way female victims of rape or attempted rape are portrayed by media sources.

          • Posted December 18, 2011 at 2:02 am | Permalink

            @ Summer

            “But in a situation where both my sister and my brother were raped and the community believed it, probably my sister would take more blame and her rapist less(at least within certain circles), because often the rape of women is just considered particularly pushy sex because the woman set up a man to believe that she would sleep with him, not the violent and violating act that it really is.”

            Just to clarify, you believe if your brother was raped by a woman he would receive a better response from society and the authorities then if your sister was raped by a man?

    • Posted December 16, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

      @ Summer

      The report indicates that the risk of rape (although it doesn’t define forced envelopment as rape) is equal between men and women over the course of a year.

      There has been no mainstream response to this remarkable finding. Likely there won’t be. No one seems to be decrying the rape of men through forced envelopment to be a uniquely vile evil. Nor is fact that men are equally likely to be raped in the past year informing any current advocacy measures for rape victims.

      I think you’ll find that men being equally likely to be raped over the course of a year isn’t going to translate into greater protections for rape victims or greater awareness of rape.

  7. Posted December 17, 2011 at 1:28 am | Permalink

    Some have mentioned the disparity between lifetime and previous twelve month figures. I suspect it’s definitional. Older folk are less likely to recognise sexual coercion in their past for numerous reasons. I’ve come to know many victims ranging from teens through to their seventies and it seems very consistent.

    Whilst it seems far more pronounced in male victims – for example the discrepancy in the CDC numbers doesn’t surprise me at all – it also seems true of quite a few women. My youngest sister – about 45 currently – described an event from when she was sixteen which I considered a pretty serious attempted rape. She just shrugs it off and is unwilling to label it that way. I suspect she’s a bit proud of the way she dealt with the situation. I can only say good for her. Well done little sister. My mother, who really did have a brutal experience, won’t go anywhere near counselling no matter how much I encourage her. She’s incapable of understanding that psychological damage exists even though she’s a mobile exhibit of symptomology.

  8. Posted December 17, 2011 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    I think it needs to be brought to attention that the number of people interviewed in the survey was only 16,507. 9000 women and 7000 men is where all of these “facts” came from. I find it difficult to see how any level accuracy can be determined from such a,small sample of American women. There are 150 million women in the country. That means that the percentage of women interviewed and included in this data study is .006%. Cab it really be considered a fair representitive of the masses?

    • Posted December 18, 2011 at 12:35 am | Permalink

      Yes, this is actually an interesting question that can be solved mathematically. If you are interested, you can take a college-level statistics course, but I assure you than any practicing social scientist is intimately familiar with proper sample sizes.

      A lot of careful thought goes into this, and the answers vary based on total population size, response rates, and the percentage of respondents answering any particular question. If you’re willing to accept that these professional social scientists have very carefully done the math (or that I am passingly familiar with the process) the short answer is yes, this is a very large sample size and likely to be a fair representative.

      (As an aside, you will note in the report that some figures are marked with an asterisk as not reported because the sub-sample size for those figures in those cases was in fact too small to provide a reliable answer!)

  9. Posted December 18, 2011 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    I’m well aware of how the prevalence estimates were calculated. It’s not complicated. The issue is that its really not fair to make a claim about more than 150 million women based on the responses of a 9000. Multiplying the results to be prorpotional to the full population does not provide consistency in terms of a fair representation. To put this in perspective, if a report like this came out that said 1 in 2 women fantasized about rape (which is the national estimate), there would be an outcry due to the number of women actually surveyed.
    It should also be noted that violent sex crime also included non-contact unwanted sexual experience, which was defined as exposing body parts and/or a person making an individual feel unsafe or uncomfortable in public. So that could include just about anything.
    I’m not trying to deny that women are raped or attacked, but its not exactly fair to make the claims that this report attempts to make based on such a small percentage of the population. Basically, because about 1700 women say they experienced rape, that means that 1.2 million must also be raped a year. That’s simply not a correct logical conclusion. I would be offended to have a report come out making claims about the nature of my gender based on a population that’s less than the average size of a single town.
    And the numbers that were not reported were because fewer than 20 were part if the sample group. So 22 would be considered reliable to represent the trends of 300 million men and women. Seems a bit questionable.

    • Posted December 18, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

      I think the MRA argument over the prevalence of rape is pretty much dead.

      20% of women experience some form of sexual assault in their lifetime. The end. Let’s move on.

      Where the next argument really lies is in how many *men* are similarly victimized. And how it’s possible that men can face an equal likelihood of being raped in a 12 month period (if you define rape, as I do, as forced sex, rather then based on the specific mechanics of who’s being forced to insert/envelop, yadda yadda) yet not report an equivalent overall lifetime risk.

      Also significant is that a majority of the male rape victims(~80%) report a female perpetrator.

      This is huge. Seriously huge.

    • Posted December 18, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

      This is simply not a question over which it is sensible to raise objections on the basis that it does not instinctively seem correct.

      Mathematically, one can show conclusively what interval of confidence a particularly sized sample of a population gives you in your estimates of the entire population, and that is the statistical calculation these social scientists have performed.

      If you are interested in how to address this question, I again urge you strongly to investigate statistics at the college level. If you have a reasonably strong mathematical background, but no statistics background, and are curious, I can attempt to derive the mathematical conclusion for you here in this discussion thread.

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