How concerned should college women be about the date rape drug and drug-assisted sexual assault? The American Enterprise Institute's Caroline Kitchens argues persuasively that the answer is not very. In a recent video for AEI's "Factual Feminist," Kitchens explains:
In 2005, forensic scientists in the United Kingdom tested blood and urine for various drugs in more than 1,000 cases where drug-facilitated sexual assault was suspected. The scientists found that alcohol was the most commonly used substance, and it was usually consumed voluntarily. Only 21 of the cases—about 2%– could be classified as potential drug-facilitated sexual assault cases. But even in these cases, the researchers warned that they couldn't determine whether or not the drugs were taken voluntarily. Numerous other studies from around the world have come to the same conclusion.
The evidence provided by Kitchens is so strong that even Salon's Jenny Kutner accepted the argument:
Research has shown that women do overestimate their vulnerability to date-rape drugs, likely because it's an easy quasi-myth for a culture squeamish about female sexual agency to perpetuate.
I know what you're thinking: Robby, that's impossible. Salon would never miss an opportunity to criticize a non-liberal opinion in unfair and insulting terms. Don't worry—the world is not coming to an end. After noting that Kitchens is correct about date rape drugs being a trivial concern in the campus sexual assault debate, Kutner nevertheless accuses her of "rape apologia":
While [Kitchens] acknowledges that sexual assaults still occur even without the help of date-rape drugs, Kitchens essentially blames these assaults on the victims' intoxication — not, you know, on the perpetrators. "Most commonly, victims of drug-facilitated sexual assault are severely intoxicated, often from their own volition," she says. "Paranoia over the date rape drug causes us to misplace our anxieties. And feminists should be concerned that women are modifying their behavior on their girls' nights out in order to protect themselves from some vague unprobable [sic] threat."
Kitchens essentially does nothing of the sort. At all. She merely takes note of the indisputable fact that heavy alcohol use is the common denominator in rape cases and that women are not typically coerced into drinking alcohol.
Of course rapists are ultimately responsible for rape. Kitchens never implied otherwise. It's not even possible to imply otherwise; it's tautological. Yes, rapists are the ones raping. The evidence, however, suggests that rapists do not force drugs on unsuspecting victims. Instead, it seems to me, rapists prey on victims who become blackout drunk of their own accord. Women who think they must vigorously guard their drinks at all times have misplaced fears—the drink itself is the actual date rape drug, if consumed excessively.
Since excessive drinking—and by excessive, I mean rapid, incapacitating, blackout drinking—is the big factor in sexual assault, if we want to reduce sexual assault, we should try to come up with policies that might curb excessive drinking. In a recent article, I explained why lowering the drinking age might have that effect.
To be clear: I'm not positive that strategy would work, and as Harvard University's Jeffrey Miron told me, there is no evidence that it would, even though it's plausible to think it might. But because I genuinely want to lower campus rape rates, I would like to be able to have a civil discussion about it.
Civil discussion will never be possible, however, as long as the Salon-types are hurling the rape apologist smear left and right, at anyone who has ever breathed a word of disagreement with far-left progressive feminism. Insulting people is just too much fun for them.