Blame It on Feminism No New Evidence in the Date-Rape Debate

Article excerpt

THE MORNING AFTER Sex, Fear And Feminism On Campus By Katie Roiphe 180 pages, Little, Brown, $19,95

A COVER STORY in Newsweek, an excerpt in the New York Times Magazine, a positive nod in George Will's column, a scathing review in the New Yorker - for a flimsy polemic, Katie Roiphe's book has generated more than its share of publicity.

Roiphe's essay has captured attention presumably because of its provocative thesis: that feminists have manufactured an epidemic of date rape, (and rape, in general) on campus, and this preoccupation with sexual violence reinforces stereotypes of women as hapless victims and men as predators.

It's an intriguing theory, to be sure, but the problem is that Roiphe offers no evidence. Is there an explosion of accusations of rape on campus? Are young men across the country being unjustly accused? Or are they being accused at all? Has Roiphe bothered to examine any crime statistics or to brush up on the legal definition of rape itself?

No, Roiphe makes no effort to document her charge. That would be too much trouble when she can simply take refuge in anecdotes and the limits of her personal experience. Her evidence that rape statistics are inflated? She doesn't know anyone who has been raped and she knows of a woman who made up a story of being raped.

What there has been on college campuses is an increased awareness of rape, and this is where Roiphe directs her most acid ire. Here she offers plenty of "proof" that man-hating, puritanical feminists are intent on turning brave, strong women into weak victims.

She begins her book with a tirade against Princeton's blue-light alarm system on campus. (Roiphe is so incensed by this capitulation to feminists that she forgets to mention how the alarms work.) Now women are constantly confronted by their potential victimhood. Campus security turns into an insidious feminist plot to keep women down. …