Time Tackles the College Rape 'Debate' with a Rah-Rah Pennant

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Time's May 26th issue is all about rape on campus, and the illustration on the magazine's cover is a spirited pennant with the word RAPE embroidered on it. If you can get past the jarring image (especially as it's placed next to the coverline "My Kid Hates Frozen, By Joel Stein"), there's a lot of debate within the magazine about how college campuses should be handling the sexual assault crisis.

Time features essays from Vice President Joe Biden, who leads the White House task force on the issue, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who's been working with Sen. Claire McCaskill over the past year to force universities to be accountable for sex crimes occurring on campus. Biden and Gillibrand argue that it's time to do something, while Law and Order: SVU's Mariska Hartigay writes about victim blaming, and Gloria Allred puts the debate in legal context: "The Battle Over Sexual Assault Is the Civil Rights Movement of Our Time." 

Then, Time offers us the "but what about men?" contingent. Christina Hoff Sommers, who is convinced that sexual assault numbers are overblown, writes that false rape accusations "are proliferating" on campus. This is based on anecdotal evidence. Matthew Kaiser, a white collar criminal defense attorney who represents college men accused of rape, argues that consent rules are "unfair to male students." He claims he's more worried about his son being falsely accused of rape than he is about his daughter getting raped. 

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The fact that Time chose to include these essays shows there's still a way to go in terms of advancing the conversation about sexual assault (on campus and elsewhere). False accusations do happen, but suggesting that men are more likely to be falsely accused of rape than women are likely to get raped is patently untrue and offensive. As much as Summers would like to pretend the research doesn't exist/is wrong, 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted by the time they leave college. That's a problem that deserves honest examination, not two essays about how women lie. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.