One in five college-age women have been sexually assaulted—but that doesn't mean one in five college-age men are rapists. Amanda Marcotte:
No one is saying that the high rates of victimization among college women mean that all men are rapists. That one in five college women have been assaulted doesn't mean that one in five men are assailants. Far from it. A study published in 2002 by David Lisak and Paul Miller, for which they interviewed college men about their sexual histories, found that only about six percent of the men surveyed had attempted or successfully raped someone. While some of them only tried once, most of the rapists were repeat offenders, with each committing an average of 5.8 rapes a piece. The six percent of men who were rapists were generally violent men, as well. "The 120 rapists were responsible for 1,225 separate acts of interpersonal violence, including rape, battery, and child physical and sexual abuse," the researchers write. A single rapist can leave a wake of victims, racking up the numbers rapidly, as the victim surveys are clearly showing.
This cannot be emphasized enough: The high rates of campus sexual assault are due mostly to a small percentage of men who assault multiple women. Understanding this makes the problem of sexual assault on campus much less overwhelming and, hopefully, easier to accept and address. Women aren't running a gauntlet of would-be rapists when they go to a party or go out on dates. Most men they encounter are perfectly safe. This issue isn't about demonizing men as a group or scaring women into thinking men are inherently dangerous. The issue here is about eradicating the small group of predators on campuses that are continually getting away with their crimes.
Another stat that we're just starting to wrap our heads around: men are often the victims of rape—it also happens to our sons and brothers—and the rapists are often women.