Thursday, August 4, 2011

Anti-Equality Blogger Not Curious Enough About Citation

[TW: Sexual assault]

Over at the anti-equality, anti-LGBT Opine Editorials, blogger Renee is expressing a newfound concern about rape. At least she is when she can concernedly use her concern to try to deny marriage rights for same-sex couples. She concernedly titles her post: "Why marriage prevents rape."


I guess no married people are ever raped. More on that in a second.

Renee doesn't provide much commentary, she just cut-n-pastes the following statistic from some tacky website called Dadsworld (which, consequently, also contains a kind-of-awkward family photo of a heteronormative family vertically spooning). But I digress, Renee cites:

"80% of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes. 14 times the national average. SOURCE: Justice and Behavior"

As a lady highly opposed to rape, I wanted to learn more about this statistic.

Unfortunately, Renee did not include a link to her half-assedly "cited" source Justice and Behavior. I guess no one needs to know what volume, page number, or article the stat is from, huh?

So, turning to the Google, I took matters into my own hands and in like 3 seconds discovered (a) this statistic being cited at many fathers-are-grrrreat-type blogs and websites, (b) that other sites were calling this journal Criminal Justice and Behavior and, (c) that the study in question allegedly came from a 1978 volume of the periodical, which seemed to be a special on "sexual aggressives." The study, according to some of the fathers' blogs citing it, supposedly begins on page 403 of the journal.

Unfortunately, my handy-dandy microfiche is in the shop, so I couldn't pull up the referenced study, but then I realized that this particular journal doesn't even go up to page 403. It seems to end on page 388. Was some sort of appendix added later? Or was this study completely made up? I certainly didn't see anyone citing any scientists or actual names in connection with this study.

Oh, details shmetails.

So, I guess what I find strange is that no one citing this study felt at all compelled to, like, actually try to find it so they could read it. Like, just because other people on Internet were citing it and because it supports a conclusion about The Grave Importance Of Dads, it's good enough to provide a vague citation to a misspelled journal? I'm not even using it to support any sort of conclusion and I'm pretty sure I've already put more effort into it than 99% of the people citing it (n=1).

I also found the wording of the claim itself to be a bit strange: "80% of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes."

Upon a quick reading, I think many people could easily miss that the alleged study is actually only referring to a subset of rapists and that it is not, in fact, refering to the set of all rapists. So, if anyone actually could find this study, props to you, because I would love to read it, examine the methodology, and figure out how the folks who designed this alleged study (a) identified rapists in the first place and (b) narrowed down the field to include only the ones "with anger problems."

That qualification kind of implies that it's, like, somehow worse to be a rapist "with anger problems," but the fucked up thing about it is that maybe the rapists without "anger problems" are just better at getting away with it and so aren't even being counted in the overall total. (Thanks dads!)

But seriously, it's pretty sketchy to use this maybe-invented, definitely-not-critically-examined statistic to support a broad conclusion like "Why marriage matters.... it prevents rape."

In 1978, when this study supposedly came out, a man could rape his wife in most US states and it would not legally be considered rape. Because a woman existed in a state of perpetual consent to "have sex with" her husband, we know that men who raped their wives were likely not included in the grand total of rapists for purposes of this study. Which, of course, makes it a cruel, invisibilizing irony that people like Renee use this study to claim that marriage prevents rape.

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