Thursday, March 4, 2010

Academic Finds Rapists Are To Blame for Campus Rapes

The title of this post should be obvious, but the way date rape gets reported, the notion that rapists are actually to blame for sexual assault on campus is a fairly novel idea. NPR had a really great story about psychologist David Lisak, who has been making an effort to study not just convicted rapists in prison, but interviewing men who answer yes to the following questions:
"Have you ever had sexual intercourse with someone, even though they did not want to, because they were too intoxicated [on alcohol or drugs] to resist your sexual advances?"

Or: "Have you ever had sexual intercourse with an adult when they didn't want to because you used physical force [twisting their arm, holding them down, etc.] if they didn't cooperate?"

Turns out, one in 16 men answered affirmative to these questions.

Lisak's ultimately found that, much as some people love to make boys-will-be-boys excuses, the men that commit date rape on college campuses aren't so different from the convicted rapists in prison. Most of these men don't just rape once. They rape multiple times. The survey shows that men who are repeat rapists -- called "predators" in the story -- account for 9 out of 10 of the rapes on college campuses.

Lisak says these predators don't use knives or guns to rape women; the weapon of choice for these men is alcohol. They find women who seem vulnerable -- usually freshman women who don't yet have a strong social network -- and ply them with alcohol until they're unable to say "no."

The ultimate message is that so much of our public messaging for preventing sexual assault is targeted at protecting women: Don't go out alone. Don't drink too much. Don't dress a certain way. Instead, we should treat finding serial rapists that use alcohol as a weapon to be just as serious as finding ones that use knives and guns.

Cross posted.

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