Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Do Women Matter?

Tara Elizabeth Conner is crowned Miss USA

Feminists have analyzed beauty pageants down to the ground, so I won't belabor the issue. I have just one thing to say: It's 2006. Why are we still doing this?

In a completely unrelated story:

Reports of rape up at UW

University police got 6 complaints in 2005

Monday, April 24, 2006


Allegations of rape rose faster than reports of any other violent crime on the Seattle campus of the University of Washington last year, perhaps reflecting a willingness by students to tell police about sexual assaults and efforts to educate young people about the crime.

The UW Police Department got reports in 2005 of six rapes on university property, compared with none the previous year. One of those alleged rapes occurred in 1999 but was reported last year and will be included in the latest statistics, said Chief Vicky Stormo.

The rise in reported rapes doesn't necessarily mean that more students are being attacked but that more are reporting sexual assaults, she said. Still, there were likely more rapes students didn't report.

"It's alarming to us that this many people would report these incidents, but we also know that most times they don't get reported at all, so there are probably more cases out there that we're not aware of," Stormo said.

Reporting alternative explanations for any finding is good reporting. Repeatedly explaining that the increase in reported rates may be due to increased reporting rather than an increase in rapes suggests an agenda. The alternative explanation is offered in the first sentence of the story, and it's repeated several times. It's even mentioned in a graph provided with the story:

Enough! By beating this particular horse to death in four short paragraphs, the message of the story is "Don't worry. Things haven't changed." In other words, we don't need to pay attention to the change in reported rapes. It's just business as usual.

The reporter and the police chief strain credulity. Do they really believe there were more than six rapes on campus in 2005? Does anyone believe that more than zero women were raped in 2004? Frey and Stormo must be radicals. Who else would believe such a thing? But we don't need to worry. The rape rate isn't increasing. Therefore, the situation doesn't deserve attention. It's business as usual.

Business as usual. Why aren't we paying more attention to rape? Why are we still obsessing over numbers instead of acknowledging that YES rape happens in far greater numbers than what is reflected in police reports. Why aren't we doing something about rape?

Of the reports of rape to the UW police last year, one was unfounded and one was an attempted rape, Stormo said. Two were alleged acquaintance rapes that prosecutors decided not to pursue, and in another instance, the victim did not want to go forward with prosecution. Officials are still investigating the 1999 incident, which involved a child, Stormo said.

Of the six incidents reported to police in 2005, exactly one seems to have been taken seriously-the 1999 incident. Forgive me if I question the police finding that one of the reports of rape was "unfounded". The police "know" that the false accusation rate for rape is very high. Hey, in this example it's 17%. What happened in the attempted rape? Was it prosecuted or not? Two women report acquaintance rape, and it's not worthy of prosecution. Now maybe we're onto something. The vast majority of rapes are acquaintance rapes. But if the police and attorneys decide that they're just too difficult (read: not worth it) to pursue, then most rapists will go unpunished.

So when you read a remarkable statistic such as six rapes reported on campus in 2005, don't marvel at the low number. Instead, think about why so few women report rape. How does it make you feel that in 2006, the criminal justice system treats rape as a crime that's not worth taking seriously. The way we view women must change. Rape must not be business as usual.


cameo said...

this confuses me to the hilt. if something were to happen to me, you can bet your money that i'd be one loud and fiesty bitch. i don't let things go. why do women think that they aren't worth a good fight? why do women internalize responsibility for these crimes? women need to help other women get stronger. we have to. the road to vendication may be a long, hurtful, tedious one. but we have to start fighting the system on this one.

hexyhex said...

I had similar issues recently when someone I know decided to do a good deed (thus far all admirable) by covering our area with posters (I question the method, but the intent is still right) warning women to not be out by themselves, to get cabs or get walked home, and advising that "2 rapes reported in Newtown recently" (yeah, that's the bit that upset me).

Of course, when I tried to point out the error, I was sworn at. Yay.

Suebob said...

And I LOVE the implication that acquaintance rape is some how less serious because you know the person. Is it better to have your body violated by a stranger, or by someone you know and presumably trust somewhat? Is the horror supposed to be lessened by the fact that you knew and trusted someone before they turned out to be a rapist??

spotted elephant said...

Cameo-We're working for a time when women don't take the blame for these crimes. But it's understandable why women don't report. After the horror of the rape, then you have to face the criminal justice system. Will you be believed or will you be blamed? Are you ready to relive every painful detail of the rape? And unless you were beaten unconscious, you'd better be prepared for at least the insinuation that it was your fault.

Hexy-Ah, *shudder*. Sure the intentions are good, but basically advocating that women stay inside and hide. And silly you for pointing it out. Maybe you were supposed to be at home cowering instead?

Sue-I know. I cannot get my brain around people thinking that acquaintance rape is less serious. I guess it all comes down to people not viewing rape realisitically. "Aw, acquaintance rape is just sex. Uh, no, it's just like you said. Someone you knew and trusted turns out to be a rapist. How does one begin to deal with that?

J.R. Kinnard said...

6 rapes? On a huge metropolitan campus like UW? Uh...yeah. Perhaps the rampant binge drinking on college campuses has something to do with the low reporting rate? Nobody remembers anything. Whatever the reason, I'm not buying these low numbers.

Perhaps that is the saddest commentary of all; we know the numbers are higher.

Madame DeBarge said...

Yeah, we know the numbers are higher and they're only investigating one that happened 6 years ago.
I really hate the insinuation that aquaintance rape isn't as big a deal.

Kim said...

For as far as rape has come in the justice system, we still have a VERY long way to go, don't we?

Thank you for this post, SE.

Anonymous said...

Cameo, I'm a loud and fiesty bitch, but I wouldn't bother reporting a rape. Why? I'm being treated for mental health problems. I sleep around. There doesn't seem much point reporting a crime, when even if it does get a trial, I'll be labelled a crazy slut and nothing will come of it.
I got sexually assualted last year. The only person I told was the JCR president, so that he could watch out for it happening to anyone else. I don't think he believed me. Previously I'd gone on holiday with the guy, and he'd taken me to a very posh hotel for my birthday. All we'd done was eat chocolate and talk about maths, but no-one believed that before he assualted me!