Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Lot of Sexual Assailants

Maybe you've seen this nicely designed, poorly sourced infographic from Sarah Beaulieu's brand-new Enliven Project:

The Enliven Project's Rapist Infographic

This is looking to be a little social media case study in the making--a meme effort with good intentions, released without meeting the standards of rigor necessary to withstand scrutiny by experts (and reactionaries).

Fortunately for her, pro Amanda Marcotte at Slate came forward early with a sympathetic critique, laying out the problems with the graphic and even offering the reliable data to support the image's central claim: that falsely accused rapists are about as mythical as fraudulent voters.

Marcotte cites a three-year-old tour de force by Thomas Macaulay Millar that might seem TL;DR but you have to R it anyway.

If you made an infographic based on the research compiled exhaustively here (I'm sure someone is doing that now), it would have different proportions of shaded stick figures. But the truth will remain clear: there are a whole lot of men raping women. "One-in-twelve or one-in-25 repeat rapists...perhaps six or twelve million men in the U.S. alone."

And most of them are never charged, let alone punished. Our society protects them. We don't want to know who they are. "If we refuse to listen, we can continue to pretend that the rapist is some guy in the parking lot late at night, when it’s actually him, in our friends’ bedrooms half an hour after last call. If we let that happen, we’re part of the problem."

We are now reading about Steubenville, and this was written in 2009: "The rapists can’t be your friends, and if you are loyal to them even when faced with the evidence of what they do, you are complicit."

If you raise a son who sees girls and women as human beings, and who will pursue justice for those who don't, you'll be doing your part.

Unfortunately, to do that, you'll need to be working counter to the mainstream culture, not supported by it.