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View Diary: Here There Be Monsters (109 comments)

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  •  Probably not 1 in 4. (0+ / 0-)

    Quoting from Freakonomics, p. 216:

    "The 2002 statistics from the National Crime Survey, which is designed to elicit honest responses, suggests that the lifetime risk of a woman's being the victim of unwanted sexual activity or attempted unwanted sexual activity is about one in eight (not one in three, as is typically argued by advocates."

    One in eight is still a horrible number, but exaggerations from our side only give fuel to the other side.

    Interestingly, it was in the 1980s that advocate groups claimed the chance of a woman being raped was one in three (note that the actual figure from the NCS includes both rape and attempted rape).  The same odds are being given now about Native American women.  What methodology was used to generate these statistics?  Was it the same as was used by advocate groups in the 1980s (which could mean the incidence of rape may be no higher on reservations)?

    There might still be a problem.  Native American women might be almost three times as likely to be raped as other American women.  But they might not be.  If we pride ourselves on critical thinking, we need to do it all the time, not just when we disagree with someone's politics.

    •  I don't have freakonomics here to read, but in my (0+ / 0-)

      own conversations with women (and these are successful women, not ones who might have become marginalized through trauma), the "real" number is closer to one in four than to one in eight.

    •  Here's the deal. (5+ / 0-)

      The surveys ask different questions about different phenomena. The studies from the 80's (Koss, etc) that you are pooh-poohing asked women to report using the legal definition of sexual assault (which includes many things besides completed rape). If a woman reported an experience that met the legal definition of sexual assault, they included her as a victim regardless of whether she defined herself that way. If women are asked to report on (all) sexual assault, studies find reporting rates between one in four and one in five, usually closer to one in five. The survey I linked to above (a huge, nationally representative survey done with random digit dialing) finds a rape rate of one in six American women. That rate does not include other forms of sexual assault. The NCS asks about completed rapes only and uses slightly different screening questions. that's why they get slightly different results.

      Freakonomics highlights a single study that reports the lowest rates in the entire body of literature. There is no reason to believe that study got the 'right' answer while other studies get it 'wrong.' People who report the Koss statistics are not exaggerating as you claim. They are simply reporting about a slightly different phenomena.

      •  Wait a minute . . . . (0+ / 0-)

        So the NCS only asks about completed rapes and gets 1 in 8.  A random dialing survey gets 1 in 6.  Studies reporting on all forms of sexual assault get a rate somewhere between 1 in 4 and 1 in 5.

        So here's what I'd get from those:

        The lifetime chance of a woman being the victim of rape is still unacceptable at somewhere between 1 in 6 and 1 in 8.  The lifetime chance of sexual assault for a woman is between 1 in 4 and 1 in 5.

        All I'm saying is the numbers are bad enough without being exaggerated for effect.


        •  I'm just trying to clarify why (1+ / 0-)
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          those studies got higher numbers. I'm not meaning to be confrontational - I wish I could have replied earlier, but - work. My apologies if I came off the wrong way.

          It just seems strange to accuse anyone of exaggerating for effect when the literature itself has a range of different estimates. One in four is the high end of the range but it's not, in my judgment, clearly more wrong than one in eight.

          Another thing you see in the literature is big cohort effects. Older women (over 60) report much, much, much lower levels of sexual assault.  So either rape rates are rising, or taboos about reporting are diminishing, or both. Obviously those two things are almost impossible to disentangle.

          So studies that use younger women get the higher rates. But in a nationally representative survey, it means that women in their twenties and thirties are reporting at that one in four (or slightly lower) rate, women in their forties are reporting at the one in five, one in six rates, and women in their sixties or older are reporting very, very low rates, and it averages out at the midpoint. So it's complicated to get an accurate picture.

          It sounds like my quarrel is really with the authors of Freakonomics, who I feel are presenting a somewhat inaccurate picture of the literature, and not with you. I promise to write them a letter and leave you out of it.

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