News and Commentary

Campus Sexual Assault Sexual Harassment Title IX

PR: Rep. Ann Kuster Misrepresents Campus Statistics, Downplays Crisis of Sexual Victimization of Men

Sharing is caring!


Rebecca Stewart: 513-479-3335


Rep. Ann Kuster Misrepresents Campus Statistics, Downplays Crisis of Sexual Victimization of Men

WASHINGTON / August 6, 2021 – Rep. Annie Kuster recently introduced the campus Hold Accountable and Lend Transparency (HALT) Act, which seeks to strengthen the enforcement of campus sexual assault laws. Unfortunately, Kuster’s press release misrepresents and understates the problem of campus sexual assault of men.

The release states, “The grim reality is that a quarter of undergraduate women and 7 percent of undergraduate men are destined to become victims of sexual violence on campus.” (1) These numbers come from a survey conducted by the Association of American Universities (2).

In the vast majority of cases, male sexual victimization involves a man who is “made to sexually penetrate” by his female partner, which is the term the Centers for Disease Control now uses in its National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS). Using the “made to penetrate” wording, the NISVS found that the numbers of male and female victims are nearly identical. Each year 1.267 million men are made to sexually penetrate, and 1.270 million women experience rape, according to the NISVS (3).

But the AAU survey did not include any questions about being made to sexually penetrate, resulting in a significant underestimate of the extent of the problem.

Flawed definitions have long had the effect of minimizing the problem of sexual victimization of both women and men. Before 2012, the FBI defined rape as the “carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.” The word “forcibly” served to minimize female victimization, and the word “female” completely excluded the victimization of men.

These problems underscore a broader neglect of male victims of sexual violence.

A recent analysis reveals how college administrators frequently ignore complaints by male victims. From 2016 to 2018 for example, the University of Denver investigated 14 out of 105 sexual assault complaints brought by women. In contrast, the University investigated zero out of 21 complaints brought by male students.

Analyst Erin Pine concludes, “With similar victimization numbers between men and women, the failure of colleges to investigate male-driven accusations is proof that their hypervigilance in adjudicating sexual misconduct claims is not inspired by notions of even-handed justice. Universities are sending a message to male students that their boundaries will not be respected, and their claims will not be heard.” (4)

The HALT Act represents a commendable effort to address the persistent problem of campus sexual assault. SAVE calls on Rep. Kuster to correct the flawed statistics on her website, and issue a statement to help bring an end to the apathy and neglect that surrounds the crisis of male sexual victimization.