CDC Finds That 1 in 5 Women Are Raped; Men's Rights Activists Cry 'Rape Hysteria' 

Credit: ThinkStock

Credit: ThinkStock

Given its recent release of a study finding that 1-in-5 women (or about 19.3%, if we want to get specific) is raped at least once in her lifetime, is the CDC a militant, man-hating organization?

Just to be clear, on principle we hate spoilers. But on this one, we have to be up front and give it to you straight: the answer is no. The CDC is a nearly 70 year-old organization billed as “the nation's premier health promotion, prevention, and preparedness agency and a global leader in public health” with a budget in the ballpark of $6.6 billion. It employs 14,000 people (of which, no doubt, at least a few must be men). In short, it's kinda legit. The word "venerable" almost comes to mind. Thus when it released its 1-in-5-women-is-raped-in-her-lifetime statistic on Friday, echoing its own previous findings and those of a number of other organizations (many of whom assert the number is actually 1-in-4), well . . . we’re likely pretty safe to take those statistics at face value.

So why are we even posing the question of the CDC being militant and man-hating? Because this statistic, despite being pretty firmly backed up again and again, drives the so-called "Men's Rights Movement" absolutely bananas. Like it's one of their most pressing concerns. They just hate this "rape hysteria." In fact it's right there prominently in the "About Me" section on A Voice For Men (one of the Men's Rights Movement's premier blog sites). One of its mission statements is “To push for an end to rape hysteria, DV hysteria and false allegations.”

AVFM's founder Paul Elam talks about this "rape hysteria" a lot. He's famously written that were he called to be part of a jury on a rape trial, he would "vow publicly to vote not guilty, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that the charges are true. And I look forward to the opportunity to do so for very good reason." This is how beleaguered the menfolk are in our rape-hysterical culture. (Although, to be clear, MRAs would have us believe this quote is from a piece that is "satire" and if you thought he was being serious um, sorry, but you're just a moron—get with the program.)

And Elam is far from the only one to comment on the huge issue of "inflated rape statistics." Robert O’Hara, the U.S. news director for A Voice For Men, identifies false rape accusations as one of the men's rights movement's "top issues," and claims the idea that one in four women will be raped during college is “just not true. It’s not true.” 

As for the real rape statistics, O'Hara claims:

“I don’t have the exact statistics with me right now, but you’ll see it’s usually around 2 percent of women in their lifetime will have some kind of problem with sexual assault. That’s the same as having been mugged or having someone break into your house.”

And he notes: 

“That’s not to say that sexual assault doesn’t happen. Of course it does. But men who rape because they’re rapists, they rape because they’re criminals, not because they’re men.” 

The issue is, however, that MRAs don't just talk about this massive, terrible threat of false rape accusations and “rape inflation”; they also act on it. Like when they flooded Occidental College's anonymous sexual assault reporting site, ultimately crippling it, with hundreds of (real) false rape accusations—with charming pseudonyms such as "feminism" and "Occidental college" and the super-classy "Fatty McFatFat." And then there was that poster campaign that trolled sexual assault victims in Canada. And the, oh yeah, coordinated efforts to publish the personal contact information of a woman who got into an argument with an MRA at a protest in Canada—and the consequent death threats that drove her from her home (despite AVFM being, apparently, committed to nonviolence and equal rights—which, in our definition anyway, includes free speech and the right to exist securely within one's home sans death threats).

But we digress.

The Real Facts On Rape Reporting

Are these men justified in their hatred and fear of a false rape reporting epidemic? Again, firm no. Study after study shows that just 2 to 8% of rape accusations are false—whereas rape remains profoundly underreported.

And just to be clear, we do agree with MRAs on one thing: False reporting is a serious issue and we're not down with it. Not even a bit.

The thing is, though, that it just doesn't happen that often—due to the profound stigma surrounding sexual violence (a stigma, we will point out, that is far greater for men than women, which is something we feel for).

In short? What gets weirdly lost in this MRA hysteria over perceived rape hysteria is that men have a greater chance of being raped than being falsely accused of raping. So why isn't the men's right movement giving more attention to the CDC pointing out the plight of sexualized violence that men face? The CDC on Friday

"A substantial proportion of U.S. female and male adults have experienced some form of sexual violence, stalking, or intimate partner violence at least once during their lifetimes. Consistent with previous studies, the overall pattern of results suggest that women, in particular, are heavily impacted over their lifetime. However, the results also indicate that many men experience sexual violence, stalking, and, in particular, physical violence by an intimate partner."

Maybe let's all stand together and do something about the tremendous amount of sexualized violence that affects everyone in our society? Because when 1-in-5 women is raped in our country and 1-in-33 men are too, shit is majorly screwed up—and it's more than high time to address this horrific issue, which, we'll emphasize again, affects both men and women.

And perhaps let's do it without ever stooping so low as to don the pseudonym "FattyMcFatFat"?

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