Skewed Perceptions and Actual Facts

The egregiously ill-informed Charlotte Allen spouts yet another factoid blaming women for being too attractive to rapists and that rape culture is too all about desire and not what silly feminists say about a culture of domination/power/sadism because young women are raped more than older women, so all you young hussies should just stop dressing like sluts (yep); Jill Filipovic at Feministe shreds Allen’s factoid to pieces.

funny thing: Younger people are also the most likely group to be the victims of aggravated, non-sexual assault (just so we’re all on the same page here, the term “aggravated assault” means “the crime of physically attacking another person which results in serious bodily harm and/or is made with a deadly or dangerous weapon such as a gun, knife, sword, ax or blunt instrument”). In fact, younger people are victimized by violent crime more often than older folks as a general rule. […]

So yes, it is true that younger women are more likely to be targeted for sexual assault than older women. But it’s not because of The Sexy — unless hormones and hard-ons are what are causing criminals to choose their (mostly male) targets for robbery and assault also. .

I’ll paraphrase Jill’s speculation that the mostly likely reasons for this higher rate of victimisation are three-fold –
(i) young people are more likely to be out and about and meeting new people;
(ii) young people are perceived as more vulnerable (tend to be less wary than older people); and
(iii) perpetrators of violent crime tend to skew young, and they mostly hang around people of their own age while looking for victims.

Charlotte Allen generally writes pieces that scold women because that always sells well in MSM-land, and it’s what keeps her column in commission.  So she looked for a problem that women complain about, and then she looked for an explanation that involved women being at fault for causing the problem in the first place.  A classic example of confirmation bias, and a grand cautionary example for why one should always drill a bit deeper than somebody’s presumed “obvious” explanation.

Categories: culture wars, ethics & philosophy, gender & feminism, law & order, media, violence

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2 replies

  1. A small elaboration, but one that looks important, from the statistics provided here about when abuse occurs with the greatest frequency. This is what Jill said:

    We know that sexual assaults often happen at the hands of someone the woman knows — younger women, I would guess, are more likely to be out on dates, or in a room with a man they thought was a friend, or meeting men at a bar.

    But the emphasis here is still on the vulnerability-through-socialising model. A woman is most likely to be assaulted in her own home or the home of a friend or relative. That late-teens-to-early-twenties bracket is exactly the transitional phase when people are becoming less closely supervised, but do not yet have complete control over their own environment. They don’t have their own home; parents, relatives, flatmates all have an equal or greater right to invite people in, or decide whether they stay. What I’m trying to say is, a nineteen-year-old girl still living with her parents is much more vulnerable to being assaulted by mum’s brother or dad’s mate from work than a forty-year-old woman with her own flat and the experience and confidence to sling someone out as soon as they give hints that they aren’t going to respect her boundaries.

  2. I think Orlando makes a really important point.
    I myself have been having a few conversations recently with long-time female friends along the lines of “I can’t believe the kinds of men I was willing to be in relationships with once”. I don’t think rape is something the victims should fix, nevertheless, older, more experienced women may choose to (and be able to, see Orlando’s point) steer clear of certain men.

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