The Campus Rape Culture That Never Was

A college male meets a college female, they get along well, and the male attempts to kiss the female. She pushes him away, saying it is too soon. This followed role expectations: boys took the initiative in sexual contact; girls complied or resisted, as they wished.

A few days later they have sex, but his first attempt to kiss the woman would be regarded by some feminist observers as “sexual assault.” Some would likely deem it “attempted rape.” Acts of initiative and consent in sexual engagements on campus are under close scrutiny today. They are the focus of certain academic disciplines, notably women’s studies, as well as the social sciences and humanities. They are also the focus of university policies and of government edict, especially the U.S. Department of Education’s Title IX letters of advice.

Central to the discussion of sexual violence are two issues: incidence of sexual violence on campus, and the “culture” of sexual violence, or “rape culture,” on campus and in the wider society. The facts are highly contested. The incidence of rape and sexual assault on campus is less than one percent, according to the U. S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, 0.76% per annum, and lower than the nonstudent rate. “The rate of rape and sexual assault was 1.2 times higher for nonstudents (7.6 per 1,000) than for students (6.1 per 1,000).” These figures are challenged by feminists who claim that 20 percent of female students are sexually assaulted on campus and “the 1 in 5 statistic [for “sexual assault” on campus] has been repeatedly established in dozens of national and local studies.”

[The Feminist Mission to Undermine Heterosexuality]

Note as well that the comparison here is apples and oranges: rapes and sexual assault reported to police in one count are compared with self-reporting of sexual assault to survey questions designed by feminists. However, in some surveys of campus sexual violence, the informants said that these unsatisfactory sexual engagements were not serious, but the authors nonetheless classified those informants as survivors of rape or sexual assault. So, in these cases, the majority of rapes were not self-reported but interpreted as rape by the authors of the report. Many of the respondents continued to have relationships with the men who, according to the authors, “raped” them.

In fact, great efforts have been made by feminists to expand the boundaries of the categories of rape and sexual assault, and feminist law professors have worked successfully to incorporate expanded categories in law. The object is to maximize the appearance of victimization of females by males. The basic feminist model of society is of brutal, violent male oppressors discriminating against and victimizing blameless and helpless females. The higher the appearance of the sexual assault and rape count, the more the feminist model is justified.

There are many ways in which the categories are expanded. “Sexual assault” itself is a catch-all category that includes “the male gaze,” an accidental bump, a touch on a shoulder, an unwanted invitation, an attempted kiss, hugging, groping, and touching of sexual areas. It is surprising that only one in five female students experienced “sexual assault,” given that it could be just about anything, on a long continuum between virtually nothing to violent imposition. If we keep in mind that most female students, many of whom are teenagers, have a lively social life drinking and having sexual encounters, it is amazing that all of them have not claimed to have suffered from sexual assault.

The meaning of “rape” has also been expanded by feminists. Some argue that, because of the subordinate position of females in society, men just use them for their pleasure, so all heterosexual relations are a violation of the female. Other feminists have advocated the view that if a female feels regret after having sexual relations with a man, then those sexual relations were rape. If a boy and a girl get drunk and have sex, the girl is deemed not able to consent, and only the boy is responsible, and we regard the boy as a rapist. How exactly is this equality before the law?

[The Toxic Mission to Reengineer Men]

Universities, such as my beloved McGill, classify any female who accuses a man of sexual impropriety as “a survivor.” So, all you need to do to be a victim of sexual assault is claim that identity. This fits with the feminist injunction to “believe women.” Feminists would have us jettison the foundational principles of British common law: the presumption of innocence, due process, and proof beyond a reasonable doubt. And the feminists have won: the U.S. Department of Education required under Title IX that universities suspend all of these jural principles and convict more males of sexual assault and rape, which they duly did. Government courts, however, have not been convinced, and many university judgments have been overturned, and settlements imposed.

Feminist professors explain the alleged high level of sexual assault on “rape culture,” which they believe is a primary ideology of Western societies. Most female students appear to believe that they live in a “rape culture.” Even female anthropologists, who should know what “culture” is, hold the same counterfactual belief. The feminist reasoning appears to be: There are lots of rapes and sexual assaults. But since we do not believe in biology-based behavior, and we believe that all social roles are socially constructed, there must be a rape culture that instructs men to rape and rewards them for doing so.

This feminist argument is nonsense, and I am ashamed that female anthropologists advance this theory. In Western society, we do not encourage men to rape; we do not teach men how to rape; we do not reward men who rape; we do not regard rape as a positive act; we have outlawed rape and put into place severe penalties for rape. We do not have a “rape culture.”

Let us take a parallel example: There are many hold-ups every year. Are they the result of our “hold-up culture”? Do we teach people in schools how to do hold-ups? Do we encourage our children to engage in hold-ups? Are those who engage in hold-ups rewarded by society, or are they severely punished by being sent to prison? Even though there are many hold-ups, we do not have a “hold-up” culture; rather, we have an “anti-hold-up culture” that discourages people from engaging in hold-ups and punishes those who engage in hold-ups.

[Report: 74% of All Colleges Don’t Uphold Due Process for Accused Students]

Now here is a converse example: 99% of all Americans and Canadians are literate. We encourage literacy. Most school education focuses on reading, writing, and arithmetic. We reward success in literacy with good grades, with access to further education, with financial support. We produce multitudes of newspapers, magazines, and books. And we expect people to be able to read and write and do arithmetic to carry out their work and duties as citizens. So, we have a “culture of literacy,” because we encourage people to be literate, train them for many years to be literate, reward and those who succeed at literacy.

The discussion of sexual violence on campus takes place within a hegemonic feminist ideology that monopolizes academic and policy discourse in Western societies. There is no alternative discourse at the present time, no non-feminist model of society to which to refer. What little criticism of feminist ideology exists rests not on a masculinist ideology, which does not exist, or an egalitarian ideology, which has virtually no support, but solely on empirical grounds, and there are few taking that stand against feminism.

Feminist professors have made “rape culture” and “toxic masculinity” central pillars of their teaching and “research.” Feminist researchers tend to be highly tendentious, their work proving the feminist truths that they began with. Feminist academics are not empirically inclined; they are not trying to discover unknown aspects of life. Rather, they engage in research to confirm and promote feminist truth. They are first and foremost advocates of females and their work aims to advance the position of females at the expense of males.

Who benefits from the campus rape hysteria? Third wave feminism faced a decline in support due to success in reaching feminist political, educational, and employment goals. Young women benefitting from access to the wider society and not feeling restricted did not see the need for feminist militancy. Faced with the loss of group solidarity, what could feminists do? The answer is as old as politics: find a threatening enemy to scare members back into the fold.

[Interview Undercuts ‘Rape Culture’ on Campus]

Fourth wave feminism focuses on aggressive, brutal men, and their ever-energetic attacks on women. Feminists want girls and women to be afraid of men–all of whom are said to be brutal and toxic, potential rapists–so that only by huddling together in the sisterhood of feminism could females find safety. Engaging with men is always portrayed as a high risk of violation for females. Only feminist solidarity and increasing measures against men could provide some security. “Believe women” is the motto of fourth wave feminism.

Feminist encouragement of rape hysteria has led to a flood of rape accusations on campuses, mostly by females against males, both students, and professors. Accusations have been encouraged by universities, which have been led to believe that there are gazillions of unreported rapes, and which have been pressed by government officials to press charges and punish males. In the U.S., Title IX officers have been appointed in colleges and universities to encourage accusations, to act as judge and jury, and to punish males. In a multitude of cases, lawsuits by male victims of university punishments have led to rebukes by the courts of the universities, and forced settlements have been imposed, while in other cases universities have settled.

Feminists say that no rape accusations are false. But false accusations of rape to the police, calculated by one study to be five percent, are five times higher than false allegations about other crimes. Other estimates by law enforcement experts are considerably higher. Cases of false rape accusations, such as here, here, here, here, and here, have been dealt with by police and courts, and some false accusers have been given jail sentences.

What the false rape accusation rate is in universities is unknown. How many accusations are based on the feminist principle that regret means rape? As rape accusations in universities are generally accepted at face value, evidence is not required, and they are not seriously tested for their truth value. Even in the few cases when the accused male is exonerated, the accuser goes scot-free, with no punishment, and is often celebrated as a brave survivor. Perhaps the model case is the infamous “mattress girl” of Columbia University, a proven liar whose false allegation was never punished, and who was given senior thesis credit for carrying a mattress to demonstrate her victimhood. The exonerated accused finally sued Columbia, which settled with him for an undisclosed amount. The mattress girl went on to be honored by the National Association of Women with the 2016 “Woman of Courage” Award. Words fail.

The fourth wave feminist attack on men, equality, and judicial principles has been viewed with equanimity by most men. Happily for feminists, they are able to recruit the male tendency to protect females and turn it against other men. Many men have spent their lives supporting and protecting their mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters, and feel a sense of responsibility to extend that protection to all females, and to oppose other men who might violate them. Men have not awakened to the costs of the feminist anti-male campaign for themselves and their sons. School teachers trained in radical left feminist faculties of education not surprisingly favor females in their classrooms. Boys are unwelcome and drop out of school at increasing rates.

Universities, where “rape culture” has become a quasi-official policy, are increasing female and feminist. Females now make up 60% of undergraduate students and graduates, with the percentage much higher in the social sciences, humanities, education, and social work. Females are the majority of graduates of law and medical faculties. There is, of course, no hue and cry that males are underrepresented in relation to their portion of the general population. After all, female supremacy is quite in line with feminist priorities. As well, university administrations are increasingly run by feminists, particularly officers for “equity, inclusion, and diversity” ranking from vice-president to assistant dean to faculty officers. At my home university, the senior administrative officer, the Principal, has been female for multiple terms of office, and the current Principal now brags that the majority of faculty Deans are female.

Feminists have declared war on men by claiming that they have been, are, and will continue to be victims of men. While they sometimes, although decreasingly, call for equality with men, what they seek is an advantage over men. The label “feminism” is a specification of interest and partisanship. Feminists deny themselves no tools to achieve its goal, even false declarations of a rape culture and a rape crisis. Feminist professors have not only undermined men, but they have betrayed their profession by raising ideology and partisan interest over disinterested academic inquiry.

Feminist professors have undermined education and legal processes, and, in so doing, have undermined Western values, democracy, and human rights as specified by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Feminism is an illiberal, regressive form of tribalism that divides all of the people in the world into two categories, celebrating half of the people in the world and vilifying the other half. Feminist reductionism and disregard of individuals should be rejected by all liberal-minded individuals.


  • Philip Carl Salzman

    Philip Carl Salzman is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at McGill University, Senior Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, Fellow at the Middle East Forum, and Past President of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East.

11 thoughts on “The Campus Rape Culture That Never Was

  1. You sir have it all wrong. I am a victim of sexual assault and I was 14 years old at the time. I did not tell because I was looking for attention and it surely was not just an unwanted kiss. Until you have walked in my shoes, you can not speak on if I am a survivor or not. I am a survivor and will continue to be one until the day I die. This is my story!!! You are ignorant to make such a post and defame women. Feminists want equality for all. But men like you go and ruin the stigma of men blaming women for rape. My abuser got what he deserved and rightfully so. I now have anxiety and depression and have to live with this for the rest of my life. Your article deeply offended me.

  2. The purpose is actually for women to evade personal responsibility, which is their main motive and why they are situational adults depending on the responsibility they want to deny or — sometimes — claim.

    1. It’s more than that — re-read Orwell’s 1984 and the Anti-Sex League.

      Young women interested in their boyfriends could care less about all the causes considered worthy of activism. It’s not really “false flag” in the strictest sense, but the purpose is the same.

  3. On Monday a new station in Columbus, Ohio was reporting on rapes at Ohio University. There have been 13 rapes in the last year out of a student population of over 36,000. That’s 0.036% of the population. I heard a reporter ask if OU has a rape culture?

  4. A great and much-needed (although not as rare as even a couple of years ago!) writing, that hits all of the important nails on their heads. We need more voices like Mr Salzman’s.

  5. No matter how much I love and adore women in practice, I am forced to hate them in principle because they have so much power over society now yet they use their power for evil and insist on supporting wicked totalitarian and perverted and deranged sorts of politics and politicians and generally cause society to unravel and come unglued and to destroy itself. At this point I’m wondering if the human race can even survive with women having this amount of unaccountable plenary power over the world. God has said that unless He cut the days short no flesh would survive, and the reason would seem to be the empowerment of women in these Last Days.

  6. does anybody remember that it was liberal America back in the late 1960s early 1970s that insisted on co-ed dorms on campus. what was the purpose of co-ed dorms? why to facilitate sex between students that’s what. now the same liberals that pushed sex on campus are punishing students for doing what liberal America told them to do. leftists think long term.

  7. Yes — there most definitely are false allegations of rape in academia. My favorite example involves an undergraduate who discovered that she was a lesbian and hence that all of the times she’d had consensual sex with her boyfriend over the past 18 months actually were rapes.

    The judicial narrative read like something out of her diary, they’d gone here “and he raped me”, they’d gone there “and he raped me.” On one occasion the prior spring, they’d gone to a party at his fraternity, then walked across campus to the front lawn of the Chancellor’s House, where “he raped me” and then he’d walked her back to her dormitory. And they’d gone out again after that — when he’d again “raped me.”


    As I couldn’t simply send the whole thing through the shredder, I scheduled the first hearing for Halloween, it sorta seemed appropriate in a macabre sort of way. The proceedings dragged on all year and while he wasn’t kicked out of school for these purported “rapes”, he wound up flunking out instead. That’s why I maintain that changing the procedures will largely be a distinction without a difference — as long as there are administrators willing to pursue “rape” charges like this, it doesn’t really matter what the procedures are. And even though he technically “won”, in spending all his time on this rather than his schoolwork, he still wound up losing in the end.

    And when something like this gets counted as a rape — actually multiple rapes — it demonstrates how badly inflated the statistics have become. It also shows how dangerous college capi have become, and perhaps why we are now seeing a young man’s mother looking for a girlfriend for him.

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