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Statistic Goggles: Like RoboCop Vision Only Scarier

November 21, 2010

Statistics are frightening.

Take these statistics on sexual assault from RAINN: Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network for example:

  • 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed rape; 2.8% attempted rape).
  • 17.7 million American women have been victims of attempted or completed rape.
  • About 3% of American men — or 1 in 33 — have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.1
  • 2.78 million men in the U.S. have been victims of sexual assault or rape.
  • 15% of sexual assault and rape victims are under age 12.
  • In 1995, local child protection service agencies identified 126,000 children who were victims of either substantiated or indicated sexual abuse.
  • Nearly 30% of child victims were between the age of 4 and 7.
  • 93% of juvenile sexual assault victims know their attacker.
In my head, all of this translates to: there’s a shitload of rapists and child abusers in the world.

When you say: “Every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted.”

I hear: “Every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulting someone.”

So, there are times when I walk down a crowded street I look at people with my statistic goggles on (or RoboCop vision) and I apply these stats to random strangers. I wonder, which one among you is a rapist? Which one among you is a pedophile? It’s a pretty useless endeavour and I definitely don’t recommend it, but sometimes that’s just how my brain works.
14 Comments leave one →
  1. November 22, 2010 12:17 am

    yeah, i hate how news makes us all feel weary of our surroundings, as if any minute we could die of pedophiles and global warming.

  2. November 22, 2010 1:31 pm

    Agreed. That’s why I refrain from watching the news.

  3. November 23, 2010 3:13 pm

    I remember hosting/attending a screening of I Spit On Your Grave, a film that suggests (in an admittedly class-based/rural vs. urban way) that “everyday” men are rapists; that “everyday” culture is rape culture. In the subsequent discussion involving about 40 people, a feminist friend noted almost in passing, “I mean, the men here aren’t rapists…” and went on to make her point, which I forget. I was so horrified, but what could I say? “Actually, you don’t know if anyone here is a rapist…” [cue awkward silence and people glancing around at the men]. It was a really interesting moment, and one I haven’t forgotten — it seems applicable to your sentiments here.

  4. November 23, 2010 3:14 pm

    I can’t believe someone else has a pair stats goggles!!!!! I try desparately to leave them at home but it’s hard. As a doula and sex educator my brain is always tuned into sex, pregnancy or birth so it’s a really short slide into a game of ‘Who’s the Scuz?”.

  5. November 23, 2010 4:05 pm

    @ Gore Gore Girl: I remember renting “I Spit on your Grave” with my roommate way back when. I thought the way they said the title during the trailer was hilarious. Did you know they made a remake of it that came out recently? Haven’t seen it though. Roger Ebert had a field day tearing the movie apart.

    @ Shannon: Stats goggles are especially disturbing at large family gatherings. * Shudder*

  6. November 23, 2010 5:31 pm

    Oh boy – I read that Ebert review – it’s hilarious, and there are a couple of great feminist critiques of it (Carol Clover, and also Peter Lehman, if I recall correctly). I actually taught that review in a composition class as an example of emotions superseding analysis/critique. And yes, I know of the ISOYG remake – interesting stuff. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m told by someone I respect that it’s good. I will hold off judgment as best I can (especially after seeing the poster, complete with ass cleavage…), but word is that the female revenge is much more brutal, and there is more stuff about that one guy’s wife/kids. It sounds quite different.

  7. November 23, 2010 11:14 pm

    @ GGG: Ya I heard that the revenge part took on a larger focus in this version…. Ebert’s review made me feel bad for the mentally handicapped man who pretty much gets coerced into participating…

    The ass cleavage is very similar to the original poster, though.

    Anyhow, I always found the original US title to be strange: “Day of the Women”… Weird, no?

  8. November 24, 2010 7:09 pm

    Well, the original poster was not the director’s choice, and the original title was indeed Day of the Woman (it got changed to ISOYG by producers, if I remember correctly). The poster is a pretty interesting piece of art – it doesn’t represent the film at all, in my opinion, and I can see why it pissed off the director.

    As for Matthew, the mentally challenged guy, I always found that to be one of the more important elements of the film. People tend to feel sorry for him (it’s hard not to), but it raises important questions — he raped her, right? He was coerced, but what does that say about masculine culture? And what does our pity say about our cultural attitudes toward people who are allegedly “not all there” yet functional and appear to know right from wrong. It’s pretty easy to hate the other guys, but Matthew stands out. My students talked about his character a lot, and the consensus seemed to be that while he was in many ways a victim of the same things Jennifer was a victim of, he raped her. That was their bottom line.

    (Sorry for writing so much! I find this film fascinating, and I’m excited you’ve seen it!)

  9. November 24, 2010 7:53 pm

    @ GGG: I haven’t seen the movie in a long time, it’s interesting to revisit from an analytical point of view.

    The points you raise about Matthew are interesting. If you read my post “Where’s the Limit?” and the comments that followed you’ll see that I’m interested in where that line is between a person that has done something wrong, but that you pity and another person who has done the same thing, but who is much easier to qualify as a monster.

    I also watched the Lucifer Effect lecture on youtube (someone links to it in the comments of “Where’s the Limit?”). It’s a long lecture, but really interesting. I think a lot of key ideas in that lecture can be applied to an analysis of ISOYG.

    Matthew is the only man who is given any kind of characterization in the movie that goes beyond the stereotype of evil douche bag (from what I remember anyways). Multi-facetted characters are always more interesting in film, books, other forms of narratives, etc, but they are also more difficult to deal with. The fact is, we feel uncomfortable when made to feel “bad” for someone who is supposed to be all “bad”. It sort of throws a wrench in our idea of living a safe world among good people and all that. It’s much easier to live with good people and put bad people away. But what happens when some people are bad sometimes?

    It’s an interesting dilemma.

    Can you post a link to the original poster of the film… Just so I know we’re talking about the same one…

  10. November 24, 2010 8:01 pm


    Interesting reflections – thanks! If you ever do revisit the film, or watch the new one, I’d love to know your thoughts.

  11. November 24, 2010 8:03 pm

    @ GGG: Sure thing. Thanks.

  12. November 25, 2010 7:09 pm

    I have stats goggles too. But I use my goggles to question the stats.

    I am not going to check on the stats you posted just now as I spend a lot of time checking on crappy research reports about sexual violence,

    but the thing that makes me feel safer in my life is knowing that a lot of these figures are exaggerated, misrepresenting, or just plain WRONG!

  13. November 25, 2010 11:08 pm

    @ QRG: My post wasn’t so much about the validity of stats, but how they can change your perspective when taken as fact and or literal.

    But ya, you know…stuff.

  14. December 8, 2010 3:48 pm

    did i sound a bit er… i dunno swotty? 🙂

    I see what you mean about how stats affect your perspective. I guess I am saying I dont like how they are used to make people more scared. It really does seem to be their aim sometimes.

    eg in London at the mo there is an ad poster campaign telling women not to get in minicabs that are not part of a big company, as they might get raped. Not scary at all!

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