Trend That Is Not A Trend: Rape Culture

From Mark Perry:

click to enlarge

I suppose one could argue that there is some change in reporting rates, since rape is well-know to be an under-reported crime.  However, I would struggle to argue that under-reporting rates are going up (which is what it would take to be the prime driver of the trend above).  If anything, my guess is that reporting rates are rising such that the chart above actually understates the improvement.

PS-  Folks commenting on this post saying that by reporting a declining trend I demonstrate that I don't care about rape or don't treat it seriously are idiots.  I have lived through dozens of data-free media scares and witch hunts  -- global cooling, global warming, the great pre-school sexual abuse witch hunt, about 20 different narcotics related scares (vodka tampons, anyone?).    Data is useful.    In this case, knowing there is improvement means we can look for what is driving the improvement and do more of it (though Kevin Drum would likely attribute it to unleaded gasoline).

"Trend that is not a trend" is an occasional feature on this blog.  I could probably write three stories a day on this topic if I wished.  The media is filled with stories of supposed trends based on single data points or anecdotes rather than, you know, actual trend data.  More stories of this type are here.  It is not unusual to find that the trend data often support a trend in the opposite direction as claimed by media articles.  I have a related category I have started of trends extrapolated from single data points.


  1. Onlooker from Troy:

    Regarding your P.S.: well said. Emotional knee jerk reactions are par for the course these days but they don't serve anybody well. Learning to actually think critically on the other hand...

    But of course that doesn't serve those who want to the power of government (i.e. force) for their own purposes.

  2. Carl:

    I looked here,, and found that rape rates have dropped down to 1975 rates per capita and overall violent crime rates to about 1971 rates per capita. Either way it's a good trend and I would guess the causes are linked. If you're looking for what caused the drops, it might be good to see what was going on around or in the years before 1992 when both peaked.

  3. Daublin:

    Does this chart include rapes that occur in jail? One trend over the last few decades is to put many more citizens in jail.

  4. Bob Houk:

    Just a quick assumption I made while reading the article -- the increase in crime rates in the seventies-eighties, and the subsequent drop, could likely be partially explained by demographics.
    The baby boom would have resulted in teen and young-adult males making up an exceptionally large portion of the population during the period of the rise, and a declining portion thereafter.

  5. randian:

    Of course not. Only rapes of women matter.

  6. jdgalt:

    Any guy who has lived a few years in a politically correct place like California has been threatened with false accusation of rape (or, similarly, of domestic violence) dozens if not hundreds of times, usually over trivial arguments. So long as women take no risk when they do so, their accusations are not to be trusted, and everybody knows it.

    It may have been an underreported crime when it was regarded as shameful to be a victim of rape, and I daresay it still is that way in Islamic countries that put women in prison for being victims of rape. But in 21st century America? Anyone who says it is underreported is lying, and no two ways about it.

    Of course, many of the liars are simply propagating the false definitions of rape that the feds are now forcing colleges to enforce against male students, without even due process. They need to go to prison.

  7. Gil G:

    But isn't forcible rape the worst kind of rape? Isn't it hard to generate sympathy for a woman who cries rape because she consented under influence but sobered up and changed her mind? Like any other crime the use of violence determines the punishment. You know the same way a pickpocket won't get the punishment of an armed robber.

  8. mlhouse:

    I can virtually guarantee you that the most correlated factor in the drop in crime rates is the increase in incarceration rates. You put criminals in prison and there are fewer criminals out on the streets committing crimes. Who would have thought, huh?

    This goes for the supposed "non-violent" drug crimes. While they are sentenced for drug crimes, drug criminals also commit many other crimes, including violent ones, that they are not convicted of. Put them in prison and the crime rate goes down.

  9. joe:

    You mean when you had sex with someone that really didn’t
    want to have sex with you, but was drunk enough that they did it anyway and now
    they’re sad and angry?

    Or did you mean when you had sex with someone that really
    didn’t want to have sex with you but was so drunk they weren’t able to
    effectively stop you and now they’re sad and angry?

    Or did you mean when you had sex with someone that really
    didn’t want to have sex with you but was so drunk they were barely conscious and
    now they’re sad and angry?

    Just out of curiosity, why do you want to have sex with someone
    that doesn’t really want to have sex with you?

  10. obloodyhell:

    "Forcible Rape" -- what exactly is this. Is Date Rape not involving violence or threat of violence forcible rape?

    And frankly, excluding cases of unconscious/drugged-rape, ALL rape should be forcible rape. There should be no "she said no, then she said yes" situations. If you you can't resist enough to get a bruise or a scratch, you're not being clear enough about the situation and YOUR will in the matter.

  11. obloodyhell:

    }}} You mean when you had sex with someone that really didn’t want to have sex with you, but was drunk enough that they did it anyway and now they’re sad and angry?

    I can't speak directly for him, but I'm presuming one of two things:

    1) She said no initially, but with continued fondling and kissing and making out (which she never said no to) she climbed on top and banged his brains out. THEN when she woke up the next morning she wished she hadn't done it

    2) They were both drunk and she initiated the whole thing, but decided the next day that it was a bad idea.

    I've never been in either of those situations, but I'm more than amply aware of how an inordinate number of women have a blatant shame-complex with their sex drives, and this leads them to DO the deed but regret it afterwards. And this is the causation of at least a percentage of so-called "date rapes". If a woman says NO, she should never mean "maybe if you keep encouraging me".

    Because this punishes the "nice guys" who take women at their word, and don't push, while favoring the assholes who push but never hard, even in the face of no, as long as she doesn't get up and LEAVE, as she should be doing in that instance if she actually meant NO in the first damned place.

    Your presumption that "she actually doesn't want it" in EVERY instance and case of what you describe, as opposed to "she changed her freaking stupid wishy-washy mind afterwards" is... amusingly clueless.

    Second question/comment:
    How is it he can be utterly drunk off his ass, but regardless of that he has to be fully conscious and responsible about it, but she can be drunk off her ass, and no matter what happens, she's got no responsibility for making a proper choice...? Why are you such a blatant sexist that you can't allow women the capacity to be responsible for their own bodies? And if they can't be, then why are so-called "Victorian" notions about women WRONG**?
    ** *I* contend they are wrong, but such attitudes clearly follow as directly corollary to the argument you seem to be openly supporting, to wit: of abject female irresponsibility and incompetence with regard to choices dealing with the sexual arena. You seem to feel women can't be trusted to know when to stop drinking, to know when to resist with sufficient force and determination to make it a clear and self-evident example of forced copulation such that no one anywhere would imagine the sex to be consensual.

  12. Gil G:

    No, I believe the redundant term you're looking is involuntary rape. Forcible rape refers to the use of violence as opposed to date rape.

  13. Gil G:

    By the same token can a guy say he was drunk therefore she raped him? Is it case of whoever is first to the police can claim date rape against the other?

  14. randian:

    No, silly. Responsibility is a man's burden, not a woman's.

  15. Gil G:

    No I wasn't projecting any actual incident rather I'm pointing out the law doesn't base the severity of the punishment on the crime itself but by how much violence was used to carry out the crime (except for crimes that are violent in themselves).