Here’s why Rolling Stone’s UVA rape story went viral | FACTUAL FEMINIST

The recent Rolling Stone story about a gang rape at the University of Virginia has fallen apart. But why was it so easy for so many to believe it? Find out on this episode of the Factual Feminist.

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Partial Script:
The recent Rolling Stone story about a gang rape at the University of Virginia has fallen apart. But why was it so easy for so many to believe that nine unnamed male undergraduates were sociopathic monsters? I think I found the answer: That’s coming up next on the Factual Feminist. For several days many found it plausible that on a Friday night in the fall of 2012 in Charlottesville, Virginia, UVA fraternity members engaged in nightmarish, ritualized three-hour gang rape of one of their classmates. The account included several sadistic details, and was reminiscent of the horrors of Bosnian and Congolese rape camps. In retrospect, the story should have aroused immediate suspicion. That it was instead widely accepted cries out for explanation. Here is mine: Since the 1970s many academic feminists have claimed that American women live in a state of siege–constantly harassed, humiliated, and battered by men. Rape, they claimed, is not only pervasive but it is supported and sustained by cultural norms. Thus, the term “rape culture.” This grim worldview had little currency outside esoteric feminist circles–until recently. Public perception began to change around 2010. The term “rape culture” began to find its way into the mainstream. And everywhere we heard that one fifth of college women will be sexually assaulted. Take a look at this Google graph for searchers of phrase rape culture and the one-in-five statistic. {SHOW IT] The college rape epidemic meme went viral at the same time as rates of violent crime–including rape–were falling dramatically. New data from the BJS shows that the rate of rape or sexual assault for college women has decreased from about 9 victimizations per 1,000 in 1997 to 6 per 1,000 in 2013—or about 1 in 41 women over the course of 4 years. What happened in 2010 that precipitated the media blitz? That year, the Center for Public Integrity, a left-leaning institution that promotes socially conscious investigative journalism, teamed up with reporters at NPR to produce a massive 104 page study describing a hidden rape epidemic on campus. Campus sexual assault is a genuine, serious problem, but this report made it seem like the nation’s colleges officials were coddling the rapists. According to the report, not only were vast numbers of young women being raped by their male classmates, but when they reported the crime to campus officials they were re-victimized by counselors and deans who “create a hostile environment.”P.8 The report is the worst kind of advocacy research, full of anecdotes and misleading statistics. It is predicated on the claim that one in five female students can expect to be a victim of rape or attempted rape. These investigative journalists never thought to investigate what serious researchers and criminologists have exposed as a dubious statistic. The report includes 33 women’s personal stories of campus rape. They are all sad and disturbing, but most are classic he-said-she-said cases that are notoriously difficult to resolve, especially months or years after the event. The report deplores the fact that when women make complaints they are faced with a “litany of barriers.”But how can barriers be avoided when someone is accusing another of a serious crime? When the NPR/Public Integrity team confronted the Office of Civil Rights with its findings of rampant sexual violence and university complicity, the new person in charge, Russlyn Ali, assistant secretary of education, promised action. Here she is on NPR on March 5, 2010: “We will use all of the tools at our disposal including … withholding federal funds … to ensure that women are free from sexual violence.” The Center for Public Integrity boasted about the impact it was having on its fund-raising materials: Secretary Ali made good on her word.

Here’s why Rolling Stone’s UVA rape story went viral

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