Marcotte stresses that the high rates of sexual assault on college campuses don’t mean there are as many assailants as you might assume:
Let’s be clear: No one is saying that the high rates of victimization among college women mean that all men are rapists. That 1 in 5 college women have been assaulted doesn’t mean that 1 in 5 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 6 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 apiece. The 6 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.
Update from a reader:
Can I possibly be the only one just flabbergasted by the line in this post that “only about 6 percent of the men surveyed had attempted or successfully raped someone”? The idea that 6 guys out of a group of 100 being rapists is a small number shocks the hell out of me. I am a straight white male with a college fraternity background I am not particularly proud of, but even with that life experience, had you asked me to guess the percentage of guys who had actually raped or attempted to rape a woman, I would have suggested some tiny fraction less than 1%. I mean, who the hell RAPES someone? I accept the positive aspect of the larger point – that the number of rapists is smaller than the number of victims – but that seems obvious to me, and way less shocking (and frankly depressing) than the “good” news that “only” 6/100 guys is a rapist.