“It is estimated that one in five women on college campuses has been sexually assaulted during their time there.” – Barack Obama, January 22, 2014
Wow, that sounds like a lot to me. Does it to you? I mean, really? Is it even that bad in a high-crime area of a big city in the middle of the night?
The first thing to know about this research is that the sample size leaves a lot to be desired. A total of two schools were studied to produce this statistic. That tells me that however useful the conclusions are, they are likely to be so primarily for those two campuses. There are over 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States. How many should we look at to find out something meaningful? I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure more than two.
The second thing to know about this research is that the definition of sexual assault is broad indeed. For example, “attempted” or “completed” assaults are included in this statistic. Now at first blush, that shouldn’t matter. Attempted rape or rape? Felony either way.
Ah, but see, here’s the thing. Many of those reported sexual assaults are rapes, but “sexual battery,” also included in the study as sexual assault, includes things like attempted-but-unwelcome kissing and touching.
So, for this study’s purposes, a woman who eludes a drunken frat boy’s clumsy attempted kiss is a sexual assault victim.
Trying to kiss a woman when she clearly doesn’t want you to is rude and boorish. So is “accidentally” pawing her rear end instead of gently grasping her waist when you’re dancing. But it’s ludicrous to call these things violent crimes. Frankly, I have trouble finding an innocuous motive for putting these in the same bucket as rape and sodomy.
Violence against women, sexual or otherwise, is a serious problem that deserves sustained attention. But let’s keep our eye on the ball.