I can’t claim to know the truth or fiction of everything the anti-fem mavens say. But, going from what I already know about these issues, here are just some of Camille and Christina’s mistakes in this interview:
- Hoff-Sommers refers to Mary Koss’ study – which found that “one in four” female college students had experienced rape or attempted rape at some point in their lifetime (measuring only completed rapes, the number is 15%) – as a “grotesque exaggeration.” Unfortunately, the evidence suggests that Koss’ results didn’t exaggerate the problem. Aside from Koss’, there have been three other nationwide, representative studies specifically designed to measure rape prevalence, and all three – one by the U.S. Department of Justice (10% for completed rape), one by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (15% for completed rape), and one by the Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center (13% for completed rape) – supported Koss’ findings.
- Paglia claims that a female instructor at the University of Pennsylvania “demanded [a Goya painting of a nude woman] be taken down because she felt sexually harassed by it”; Paglia says the prof was “embarassed and upset” by human nudity. But Professor Nancy Stumhofer never claimed that Goya’s Naked Maja sexually harassed her; this myth was made up by right-wing pundits like Paglia. And far from being upset by nudity, Stumhofer assigned works with human nudity in other contexts. She did have Naked Maja moved to a public area in the student center, not because she felt harassed by Goya, but because her developmental English students seemed distracted by the painting. (Source: Democratic Culture, Spring 1994, pp 18-22).
- Hoff-Sommers cites only one source – Washington Post journalist Ken Ringle – to prove there’s no connection between the Super Bowl and increased domestic violence. The problem is, Ringle’s a known liar. Both the American Journalism Review (5/93) and the Washington Post‘s own ombudsman critisized Ringle for his factual errors, bias and “twisted and selective quoting” in reporting this story. As FAIR notes, three of the four experts Ringle cited to “debunk” feminists, actually disagreed with Ringle’s claims. (I don’t claim to know if there’s more domestic violence on superbowl Sunday or not; I don’t think there’s enough evidence to say. But for Sommers to claim that she does know, based on a dishonest source like Ken Ringle, is ridiculous).
- Hoff-Sommers claims only 100 Americans a year die from anorexia – but she doesn’t understand mortality statistics. According to the NIMH, anorexics typically die due to “complications of the disorder, such as cardiac arrest or electrolyte imbalance,” not anorexia itself. Hoff-Sommers might as well have claimed that because so few people have “cigarettes” written on their death certificate, smoking hardly ever causes any deaths.
So what’s the real number? There are about 19 million American women between ages 15 and 24; of those, somewhere between 190,000 and 380,000 have anorexia (it’s estimated that 1-2% of young women suffer from anorexia). About 0.56% – somewhere between one and two thousand – of those die of anorexia-related causes each year. (This is a conservative estimate, both because some studies have found a much higher long-term mortality rate, and because not everyone with anorexia is a young woman age 15-24).
Hoff-Sommers uses the false “100 deaths” statistic to refute an also-false number some feminists used in the early 1990s. She was right to correct the feminists – but, unlike Hoff-Sommers, the feminists were willing to retract their mistaken statistic. Hoff-Sommers has never corrected or retracted her false “100 deaths from anorexia” figure.
Remember, these are the same people who built careers claiming that feminists are fact-challenged. Apparently right-wingers don’t have to worry about that whole “glass houses” thing.