Accuracy in Media

Vice declares that British students on campus commit sex crimes just as American ones do. The report comes from a study that states exactly that famous statistic, that 20% of women on campus get raped or sexually attacked. Clearly, this isn’t true, for if it were, no daughter or sister would be sent to a college campus – those are statistics from a war zone, not a university. This perhaps being part of the reason the statistics are manipulated in this manner, to give strength to the argument about the war between the sexes.

What is actually recorded in the study is the incidence of sexual aggression among male university students in Britain. And the claim about female students is that 20% of them will suffer from sexual aggression at one point in their college experiences.

Vice: “Dozens of students admitted to committing more than 250 “illegal sexual acts”—including sexual assault, attempted rape, and rape.”

The paper itself: “Defined in this paper as a continuum of illicit behaviors characterized by any unwanted or non-consensual sexual activity, it is estimated that at least one-in-five female university students across most developed countries will be a victim of a sexually aggressive act during their studies”

Here, it is to present figures for sexual aggression as being those for rape or sexual assault. Aggression does, after all, these days have a very wide definition. Both exist, of course, it’s entirely true that one rape is one too many. It’s also true that a civilized society would not subject women – or anyone – to any form of sexual aggression, from an unwanted pickup attempt or an insult all the way through to the other end of the spectrum, that physical sexual assault. Yet the two are different. It is not useful to conflate them.

Rape, or sexual assaults, are rife upon campus. There is some – too much. It is misleading is to use the amount of the one, and weaker, to indicate the amount of the rarer and stronger.

In fact, it is biased to confuse the issues. Rape and sexual assault are subsets of sexual aggression, sure they are, but as subsets, they are not the whole. Claiming that the incidence of what the modern world calls aggression is the same as assault, or even rape, is wildly misleading.

Vice is a widely distributed media channel. The TV station is available in 60 million American households. The magazine has a distribution of 900,000 copies an issue. The YouTube pages has 6 million subscribers and 1.8 billion views. With such widespread reach, there is a responsibility to be accurate, not just fashionably misleading.

To claim that there is too much sexual assault or rape on campus is to be entirely correct – any is too much. To claim that sexual aggression is the same thing is misleading, to use the numbers for aggression as those for rape and assault is wildly so.




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