In 1841 Scottish journalist Charles Mackay published a history of popular folly called Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, a rather sensationalistic overview of the irrationality that occasionally seizes an entire society or nation. Most famous are his economic examples, like the 1840s “Railway Mania,” as well as the notorious South Sea Bubble (1711-20) and the Dutch “tulip mania” of the early 17th century.
Common to all the delusions Mackay cited was the enormous disparity between the confident enthusiasm these commodities evoked as the path to wealth and the lack of reliable evidence to support such an assumption.
If Mackay were living today, he would doubtless add “rape culture” to his long list of popular delusions. On campus after campus, with virtually no statistical evidence to support their claims, feminists have promoted the idea that a woman runs a far higher risk of being sexually assaulted on a North American university campus (one in four or five, depending on the source) than a lifelong smoker has of getting cancer (one in 11 for men, one in 15 for women).
At University of Pittsburgh, with 14,800 female students, four sexual assaults were reported.
Health-conscious people do not smoke for fear of getting lung cancer. It would be pretty stupid to take the attitude that smoking is a pleasurable activity, so should not cause cancer, and therefore it is fine to take the risk. Likewise, if the risk of sexual assault on campus were truly one in five – to take the “conservative” estimate – no parent in their right mind would send their daughter to coed universities. But they do. And on campus after campus, we are seeing action being taken to prevent rape, in the form, for example, of McGill’s new “Forum of Consent,” the purpose of which is apparently to transmogrify sexual foreplay into a Stasi-level interrogation of intention, without which the sex act to follow is ipso facto sexual assault.
The fact is that “rape culture” is a form of popular mania like so many others before it. It does not exist. Or if it does, nobody has yet brought forward evidence of it. What we have seen is ideology attached to a great deal of personal narrative regarding unwanted or regretted sex. Some of those narratives have been compelling, but unsupported by evidence. Some have been compelling and found to be false allegations. Many of the narratives are based in recollection hazed over by alcoholic smog. And most of them would not stand up for two minutes in a criminal court of law.
Continue reading Barbara Kay’s take on “rape culture”…