Defining 'sexual assault' down

Is there an "epidemic" of sexual assaults on campus? No one doubts that its a problem, but just how widespread is it?

A new study by Rutgers University reflects other recent studies in concluding that 20% of college women will be "sexually assaulted" before they graduate. But in order to reach that magic 20% number, researchers had to redefine what sexual assault is.

Washington Examiner:

One of the best tactics so-called researchers have used to conclude that fully one-fifth of college women will be sexually assaulted is to vastly expand the definition of what it is.

A new study, conducted at Rutgers University, relies heavily on this tactic to stoke fear and encourage witch hunts of college men across the country.

Reason's Elizabeth Nolan Brown dissects the study, noting the definition of "sexual assault" and "sexual violence" included everything from "remarks about physical appearance" and "persistent sexual advances that are undesired by the recipient" to "threats of force to get someone to engage in sexual behavior, as well as unwanted touching and unwanted oral, anal, or vaginal penetration or attempted penetration."

There's an ocean of difference between someone saying you look good today and someone physically pinning you down against your will. To include both under the category of "sexual assault" is just ludicrous, and certainly not a serious way of studying the issue.

"So what have we really learned here?" Nolan Brown asked. "That one in four female undergrads experienced something between rape and catcalls before coming to Rutgers; one in five female Rutgers undergrads experienced something between forced vaginal penetration and unwanted kissing at the hands of another student-or-not-student, somewhere in the universe, since starting college; three percent of students were perhaps physically threatened, perhaps mildly pressured into sexual activity; and four percent of students have been subject to something between forced oral, vaginal, or anal penetration and an unwanted caress while they were either asleep, totally passed out, or had had a few beers."

The Rutgers study comes on the heels of a new University of Oregon study also purporting to show that one in five college women have been victimized. That study is based a similar 2014 study by the same researcher, whose methods were flawed enough that her own university distanced itself from the survey he created.

This is another example of statistics being massaged in service to a political agenda. There is no intent in conducting these studies of enlightening anyone, or even attempting to define the problem.  It's politics pure and simple.

No doubt some women are repelled by men they don't know coming up to them and telling them they're hot. Some would be flattered. But how you get to "sexual assault" from being made uncomfortable because a man comments on your looks takes a special kind of dishonesty that only rabid ideologues are capable of exhibiting. They can justify their dishonesty  based on their privileged notion that the ends justifies the means, and if they have to fudge a study on sexual violence on college campuses in order to achieve those ends, so be it.