A Dose of Stupid v95

It happens every day. In fact, it is pretty hard to avoid it. There are some things that can only be understood with a slap on the forehead. Things so mind-boggling that one wonders how humans managed to evolve thumbs while being this mentally inept. Case in point:

CDC: MRA claims that “40% of rapists are women” are based on bad math and misuse of our data

Our dear David Futrelle appears to have too much time on his hands. He decided to challenge men’s rights activists over their concern for male survivors of sexual violence:

Recently, MRAs have tried a new strategy, seizing on data from The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, a massive study conducted in 2010 under the aegis of the Centers for Disease Control, to claim that “40% of rapists are women.

Men’s rights activists have talked about the survey since December 2011 when it was published, so their commentary is not “recent”. Secondly, the data from the survey shows a much higher rate of female-perpetrated sexual violence than expected. According to the survey:

For male victims, the sex of the perpetrator varied by the type of sexual violence experienced. The majority of male rape victims (93.3%) reported only male perpetrators. For three of the other forms of sexual violence, a majority of male victims reported only female perpetrators: being made to penetrate (79.2%), sexual coercion (83.6%), and unwanted sexual contact (53.1%). For non-contact unwanted sexual experiences, approximately half of male victims (49.0%) reported only male perpetrators and more than one-third (37.7%) reported only female perpetrators (data not shown). (p.24)

If one adds up the numbers, women commit 57% of all sexual violence against males. The CDC researchers decided to exclude being made to penetrate from rape, although most states legally count the act as rape or whatever the highest sex offense statute is in the state. As such, if one counted that act along with that the researchers defined as rape, one finds that women commit 43% of rape against men.

So it is not as if the men’s rights activists citing the 40% rate got it from nowhere. Likewise, there is another study on sexual violence against children that found the same rate. The Long-term consequences of childhood sexual abuse by gender of victim found:

It was found that nearly 40% of CSA among men and 6% of CSA among women was perpetrated by a female; this has been reported by others. Among male victims of CSA, the risk of negative outcomes was similar when the gender of the perpetrator was compared. Thus, perpetration of CSA by a female appears to exert negative effects that are similar in magnitude to CSA perpetrated by males. Prior reports have suggested that female perpetration of childhood sexual abuse is under-reported, which makes it appear as if female perpetration of CSA does not occur as frequently as male perpetration. However, the findings indicate that female perpetration is common and also associated with a substantial risk for negative long-term consequences. Thus, the vulnerability of boys to perpetration of CSA by both males and females deserves increased national attention.

Yet Futrelle attempts to discredit the statistic:

Trouble is, this claim is flat-out false, based on an incorrect understanding of the NISVS data. But you don’t have to take my word for it: the NISVS researchers themselves say the MRA “interpretation” of their data is based on bad math. It’s not just a question of different definitions of rape: the MRA claims are untenable even if you include men who were “made to penetrate” women as victims of rape (as the MRAs do)  rather than as victims of “sexual violence other than rape” (as the NISVS does).

As I showed above, the men’s rights position is quite accurate if you include men who were made to penetrate as victims of rape. It comes out to exactly 42.95% of male victims being raped by females.

Yes, the CDC researchers offered a different explanation for the discrepancy. Futrelle claims the CDC wrote back in response to him, yet the oldest version of the response appeared one month ago on the subreddit AgainstMensRights.

Tamen, a frequent commenter here, wrote the CDC about this issue in April and received a response:

With regards to the definitional issues you mentioned, Made to Penetrate is a form of sexual violence that is distinguished from rape. Being made to penetrate represents times when the victim was made to, or there was an attempt to make them, sexually penetrate someone else (i.e., the perpetrator) without the victim’s consent. In contrast, rape represents times when the victim, herself or himself, was sexually penetrated or there was an attempt to do so. In both rape and made to penetrate situations, this may have happened through the use of physical force (such as being pinned or held down, or by the use of violence) or threats to physically harm; it also includes times when the victim was drunk, high, drugged, or passed out and unable to consent.

In summary, rape victimization constitutes times when the victim is penetrated. Made to penetrate are incidents where the victim is forced to penetrate their perpetrator, so does not meet the definition of rape.

In both cases, the researchers fail to explain why they categorized being made to penetrate as separate from rape. This is a legitimate question as most states do not make the same separation. However, the researchers did provide an explanation in the conclusion of their study:

As an example of prevalence differences between the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey and other surveys, the lifetime prevalence estimate of rape for men in this report is lower than what has been reported in other surveys (e.g., for forced sex more broadly) (Basile, Chen, Black, & Saltzman, 2007). This could be due in part to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey making a distinction between rape and being made to penetrate someone else. Being made to penetrate is a form of sexual victimization distinct from rape that is particularly unique to males and, to our knowledge, has not been explicitly measured in previous national studies. It is possible that rape questions in prior studies captured the experience of being made to penetrate someone else, resulting in higher prevalence estimates for male rape in those studies.

In other words, because being made to penetrate is a crime unique to males, the researchers labelled it as sexual assault. Perhaps the reason is because if one added the two numbers together, the rate of rape against males would increase from 1 in 71 to 1 in 20 1 in 16, thereby implying that males are raped more often than people suppose. Even then, the researchers offer no valid reason for separating the two.

As for the CDC’s response, I commented on that on reddit:

Actually, the response is not particularly informative.

For one, the response states that the lifetime rates do not apply to the 12-month rates, however, neither the response or the study provides the sex breakdown of offenders in the 12-month period. Without any further information, there is no reason not to assume the rates [did not] stay the same during the 12-month period.

Secondly, the response admits that due to a lack of information, which occurs solely because the researchers chose not to include it, no one accurately the breakdown of offenders during the 12-month period. However, the explanation given in the response makes no sense because the study actually offers a breakdown of the perpetrators for the lifetime rates.

Thirdly, the response tries to explain the researcher’s decision to exclude “made to penetrate” as rape. While the exclusion is consistent with the feminist definition of sexual violence, which does not count female-on-male sexual violence as rape, it is inconsistent with both legal and therapeutic definitions, which the response admits. It therefore makes no sense for the researchers to have separated the two […].

In other words, the researchers purposefully did not count “made to penetrate” as rape so as to have a lower overall rate of rape against males.

Fourthly, other studies have found the 40% rate, although it was specifically regarding male victims rather than all victims.

Make no mistake, the way the 40% rate was determined in the article in question is inaccurate. Yet the result is accurate. Even the CDC’s results state that women commit most of the rapes against males, if one counts being forced to penetrate as rape, which it is.

Futrelle went on to state:

What is especially distressing here is that the NISVS data could have been the starting point for a serious discussion of male victims of sexual assault by women, which is a real and often overlooked issue. Unfortunately, MRAs have once again poisoned the well by misusing data in an attempt to exaggerate the purported villainy of women and score cheap rhetorical points.

Actually, they did not. They simply applied the logic used in legal statutes and in the support community. Again, most states count being made to penetrate as rape or whatever the highest criminal sex offense is in that state. Even if men’s rights activists used the language the CDC used, females still commit the majority of sexual violence against males, so men’s rights activists are not misrepresenting how often females commit sexual violence against males.

The numbers spawned serious discussions about the topic, just not in feminist spaces. A Google search shows that. Ironically, hostile comments like Futrelle’s are exactly the type of things that poison the well by misusing data in an attempt to undermine men’s rights activists, male survivors, and victim advocates. Instead of talking about the topic in earnest, Futrelle wrote a post that tries to “score cheap rhetorical points” by attacking the very people raising the discussion about male victimization.

Granted, Futrelle and his followers have a poor history when it comes to taking sexual violence against males seriously. As such, Futrelle’s response to a comment about women’s sexual violence against men is hardly surprising:

I actually think it makes sense to categorize made-to-penetrate as a form of sexual violence other than rape, and to use the term rape for sexual acts in which the victim is penetrated. In any case, it is sexual violence and needs to be taken seriously.

Yes, it needs to be taken seriously, just not counted as legitimate rape even though the vast majority of the cases involved a woman physically forcing a man or boy to have sex with her. Coincidentally, that position implies that the offense is less serious than legitimate rape, a point that appears to confuse Futrelle even though when asked specifically about the issue he freely admits:

Tamen, you were sexually assaulted. What happened to you was a violation of your bodily autonomy. I take that seriously. No, I would not classify that as rape, but I’m not going to tell you what you should call it, because it’s your experience.

Calling something a sexual assault, or “sexual violence other than rape” does not diminish it or erase the experience of the person who suffered it. Sexual assaults other than rapes deserve to be taken seriously just as rapes do.

So just to make this clear: David Futrelle, an active feminist blogger who well-known feminists regularly link to and support, does not believe that a woman who puts an unconscious man’s penis in her vagina without his consent is rape (that sounds familiar).

But, according to Futrelle, it is still “serious.” Just not as serious as rape.

There is a word for that: rape apologism. That is what David Futrelle is engaging in. He is excusing female-perpetrated rape by defining it as sexual assault, which is a lesser form of sexual violence. He may disagree with that assessment, but it is an accurate description of what he is doing.

Curiously absent from these discussions is any mention of this:

More than one-quarter of male victims of completed rape (27.8%) were first raped when they were 10 years old or younger (data not shown). With the exception of the youngest age category (i.e., age 10 or younger), the estimates for age at first completed rape for male victims in the other age groups were based upon numbers too small to calculate a reliable estimate and therefore are not reported.

It appears that the CDC may have decided not to count acts of being made to penetrate against males as rape even when the males were children. Likewise, Tamen notes on Manboobz that the CDC ignored its own definitions of sexual violence and used different ones for the survey. That should make it obvious how the CDC’s inexplicable methodology completely skews their results.

There is one other point to be made: none of the people trashing the men’s rights activists, male survivors, and victim advocates who call the CDC out have made any suggestions about what people should do to help abused men and boys. To the contrary, the feminists attacking those questioning the CDC’s methodology are too invested in scoring rhetorical points to do anything productive. Yet that does not stop feminists like LBT on Manboobz from saying things like this:

Glech, definitely not a big fan of how rape is defined here, but whatever.

And I know I keep harping on this, but shit like this is why I as a male rape victim feel absolutely NO kindred with the MRM. Like, no shit, of course women rape people. Now what are you going to do to HELP those survivors?

The answer, as always, is a deafening silence.

I agree. The answer is always a deafening silence when you ask feminists like Futrelle. When you ask men’s rights activists, male survivors, victim advocates, or egalitarian feminists like Christian Hoff Sommers, they suggest that people support male survivors by creating more services for them and actually acknowledging their victimization rather than playing semantics.

None of the feminists challenging these things bother to do that. None of them call for more research. None of them encourage more men and boys to come forward. None of them ask to see other research about male victimization. No, they write their takedown pieces, wipe their hands, and move on to the next attack.

This does no one any good. Yes, it makes people like Futrelle and his motley crew feel superior, but it does little else. That is the sheer stupidity of all this sound and fury. It leads to nothing, and abused men and boys continue to suffer because people like Futrelle undermine efforts to help them.

25 thoughts on “A Dose of Stupid v95

  1. Excellent treatment of this issue of feminist obfuscation and obstructionism on F>M rape.

    This post is being quoted all over already.

  2. I spent too much time over the past 24 hours analyzing about four different analyses of the study, and reached identical conclusions to yours, though I would never be able to put it down in writing as well as you did.

    As you said: TyphonBlue’s analysis is in error, due to lack of data and clarity from the CDC in the report, but her analysis makes for an excellent BOTEC and starting point.

    What is also true is the report IS highly propagandized, not just because of how they separated made to penetrate from rape but then how the report has many pull quotes emphasizing the statistics about rape, and never once discussing the high amount of made to penetrate.

    I find those pull quotes the telltale sign that the report was either written with an agenda in mind or written by a dunce.

    And yes, Futrelle’s comment is truly creepy coming from a guy as concerned as he claims to be, about stopping sexual violence and proving that men don’t need an Men’s Rights’ Movement.

    Thanks for the links to the other analyses from the past.

  3. You knocked it out of the park TS. Trying to call “female forcing male to penetrate her” something other than rape is a problem in and of itself.

    I’ll go ahead and invoke it in case someone else doesn’t want to.

    How is this different from supporting “civil unions” for gay couples but refusing to call it marriage?

  4. How is this different from supporting “civil unions” for gay couples but refusing to call it marriage?

    I made the same point over on reddit. It is no different. I think Futrelle realizes that, which is why he cannot explain his position.

  5. What is also true is the report IS highly propagandized, not just because of how they separated made to penetrate from rape but then how the report has many pull quotes emphasizing the statistics about rape, and never once discussing the high amount of made to penetrate.

    The CDC did that themselves. They mentioned the rape statistic for men in their press release, but failed to mention the being made to penetrate statistic even though it is higher. Their explanation was that there was not enough space.

  6. None of them encourage more men and boys to come forward.

    Well, some of them do talk about how “toxic masculinity” prevents boys and men from coming forward. The idea seems to be that men pressure other men not to admit their sexual victimization.

    There’s always a noticeable lack of discussion about whether women and feminists have had any part in the perpetuating such mores, or comparison to how society treats female victims. Some even claim that feminists in general are actually helping, such as Futrelle citing the DBTG thing in the main post, which I’ve criticized in the past. Strangely, he didn’t provide any examples of feminists talking about female rapists. I’m sure he just forgot.


    Their explanation was that there was not enough space.

    Did they say anything about a bridge in Brooklyn they wanted to sell?

  7. Well, some of them do talk about how “toxic masculinity” prevents boys and men from coming forward. The idea seems to be that men pressure other men not to admit their sexual victimization.

    There’s always a noticeable lack of discussion about whether women and feminists have had any part in the perpetuating such mores, or comparison to how society treats female victims. Some even claim that feminists in general are actually helping, such as Futrelle citing the DBTG thing in the main post, which I’ve criticized in the past. Strangely, he didn’t provide any examples of feminists talking about female rapists. I’m sure he just forgot.

    From what I’ve seen the way it goes is that men choose to shame other men and (if acknowledged at all) women are told by culture to shame men.The only time you’ll see any mention of women is during the claim that feminists are the ones helping male victims.


    First and foremost: When using the CDC report as a source you should never say “X% of [abusers] are [something]”. It didn’t interview perps. It interviewed victims. The perps can commit more than one crime, and some might commit countless crimes. Furthermore the number of crimes per perp might be skewed by gender. In fact, due to our justice systems terrible track record on this issue, I wouldn’t be surprised if female perps committed more crimes per perp.
    What can be said is something more like “X% of [wrong-bad thing] were committed by [something]” or “X% of [male victim] were [victimized] by [something]”

    Second, you don’t assume things stayed the same needlessly. Relevant to the CDC report lifetime stats may vary when compared to 12 month stats. Perhaps women commit a bigger proportion of rapes now. Maybe less.

    Point is you need to be careful about what you say when using surveys. Pretty much everyone does it. For example, the “1 in 6 women will be raped in her lifetime!” that comes from the CDC survey? This isn’t a predictive survey. Its past tense. It should be “1 in 6 women HAVE BEEN raped”. (I may be totally wrong about the numbers, those aren’t important.

    [/end rant]
    The important thing to remember is to be careful with statistical claims. Most importantly though remember Hanlon’s Razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. This crap about MRA’s lying? Or being deceptive? Even if they did screw up… they screwed up reading from a survey. FRICKING EVERY DOES THAT! Its complicated. There are subtle areas to mess up on. And screw up they do!

    I may not like all self-proclaimed MRAs (or all self-proclaimed feminists. Example: manboobz, I hate that guy, IIRC he pushed the distribution of child porn at one point, or tried to). But remember Hanlon’s Razor. [/end rant II]

    tl;dr Two rants that are only tangentially related to the post.

  9. They’ve been sitting on it for 9 months.

    They will likely continue to sit on it. It has been more than three years since they completed the research. Does it really take that long to publish the raw data?

  10. @ thefish

    The lifetime stats for female perpetrators are guaranteed to represent an underestimate–all the research indicated men and boys are more likely to underreport sexual abuse by women versus men. That 40% thus represents a plausible _lower bound_ of female perps in the last year.

    It may be that there are more victims per female perp, but other stats suggest similar numbers of women as men admit to behaviours that meet the legal definition of rape.

    Just citing the CDC study for these points may be an oversight, but there is enough additional research to support the info graphic’s conclusions.

  11. @typhonblue, Della Burton


    > When your request is logged in, the FOIA Office will send you a postcard to let you know your request was received. Under FOIA, agencies have 20 working days to inform the requester of how the agency intends to process the request.



    > When an agency requires an extension of time, it will notify you in writing and provide you with an opportunity to modify or limit the scope of your request. Alternatively, you may agree to a different timetable for the processing of your request.

    If you did not receive a postcard and a timetable for their response within 20 business days, then the FOIA request was almost certainly never received and you should resubmit it.

  12. @ Complicit

    The FOIP is being tracked on the CDC’s website. They’ve received it and it’s now listed as “under review” and has been for, I believe, half a year.

  13. Copyleft let me say thank you for taking it to carnation. I’ve seen that person there before and its pretty clear they are there for the purpose of attacking MRAs. Despite how often it comes up in Ally’s comment section, no one said a word about MRA/feminist relations until carnation brought it up. And nice job on calling him/her out.

    (Oh and it looks like someone is going after your assertion about most child molesters being women. Go ahead and give them a citation.)

  14. If Futrelle thinks rape and sexual assault are equally heinous, then I’m sure he’s outraged that they are punished with different severity and will begin writing about the need to change that.

  15. Why do you even concern yourself with what feminists think or say? The more they’re invited to the table, the bigger the machine becomes.

  16. @The Real Peterman:
    Well, he does claim that he wants to start a conversation, but those darn MRAs have poisoned the waters with their hatred for women*. In other words, he wants to claim that he’s against MRAs, but supports men’s issues; “they’re doing it wrong!” The funny thing about gynocrentric feminists who make such claims is that feminism has spent much more effort stigmatizing MRAs than ever addressing men’s rights issues, and could drown out MRAs on the matter with a fraction of the effort they use to yell at them.

    * And yes, he knows MRAs talk about prison rape, yet implies that all the complaining about F>M rape erasure is really hatred of women.

    I strongly doubt he’s never heard these exact same arguments from MRAs. The original post has not been edited.

    Because the guy who runs the single most popular feminist website talking about MRAs, who was cited by the SPLC and a recent ABC report, has just shown that he’s a rape apologist. Which means that the next time a gynocentric feminist cites the site, we can show them this, leaving them to either admit Futrelle may be biased, leave the argument, or worst of all actually try to defend him.

    What MRAs, egalitarians, and others want is for feminism and mainstream feminists to either crap or get off the pot. They should either help with men’s issues, or at least stop hindering them. Futrelle claims that he and feminism cares about men and male sexual assault – he does it in the post in question, in fact* – yet his statements manifestly indicate otherwise.

    * He also claims that MRAs have tainted discussion of the issue, when he’s running the site that most prominently stigmatizes MRAs and, by extension, men’s rights issues. If he wants to credibly claim that he cares, he really does, he’s going to need to try something more constructive than just mockery. Even when he has talked about prison rape, it was often with snark about how MRAs didn’t notice, implying their concern is false. So when MRAs seize on even “scanty” evidence to make a fuss about an issue, that’s because they don’t really care. When they don’t make a fuss about something, that’s because they don’t really care. When they do talk about a problem using valid logic and evidence – actually, I don’t think he’s ever admitted that.

  17. Why do you even concern yourself with what feminists think or say?

    For one, they have the media’s ear. Most men’s groups and male survivor advocates receive less attention than feminists. Two, if feminists spread misinformation, it is important to know what it is and counter it before others start treating it as fact. Three, I might end up catching moments like Futrelle’s comment (although this time Tamen told me about it). I think it is important for people to see what feminists say when they think no outsiders are looking.

  18. Danny, I saw that a few days ago. I also read Daran’s response. I agree with Daran that Futrelle’s comments can be read that way. However, I also agree with you that if it were purely about semantics Futrelle would not have taken swing at men’s rights activists. I think he did not want the heat his comment brought because it makes him look bad, and rather than stand his ground he backed off. The key thing to note is that he never calls being made to penetrate rape or agrees that it is as serious as “legitimate” rape. He only concedes that calling it rape might garner attention for the issue.

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