GENDER VIOLENCE: Why the new ‘campus abuse’ study from the Telegraph is utter nonsense

youthsightPurely on the basis of one flawed study, gender activists are out to sexually police every campus in the Land

There is yet another disturbing Feminazi piece in the Daily Telegraph today, the contents of which are hard to read without simply shambling off to the pub in order to forget everything.

As usual when such tripe is put out, there is no comment thread, and no access given to the original tabulations: discourage criticism, that’s the way to do it, Punch! But we can discern more than enough from what passes for an interpretation of the results to make those of us still sound in mind have doubts about it.

A brief clearing of the throat here before the hordes of Wimmin pile in: I spent 35 years as an active market research practitioner, and I have spoken directly (twice) to the research company involved, Youthsight, this morning. Having got that bit out of the way, here are four reasons to worry about these data:

1. The interviews were remote and not indepth: a panel of 1,000 respondents was used to form a demographically representative sample of students. The panel is not regularly ‘churned’,,,ie, the same people can remain active in answering questions for up to three years.

The syndrome whereby respondents become potentially atypical without churning them is well known. There is also the ‘enthusiasm effect’ associated with those people who agree to join panels and be interviewed regularly: they are by definition a minority, because few recruitment response rates rise above 15%. As Rick Penwarden opined last year:

“…If a survey method or design is created in a way that makes it more likely for certain groups of potential respondents to refuse to participate or be absent during a surveying period, it has created a systematic bias…[especially when]…asking for sensitive information…”

The fact that both genders were interviewed is a good thing, given that a similar study conducted inside the Palace of Westminster found that men there alleged higher levels of abuse than women. But here as well I must ask two questions: what were the experiences of men? And as the Telegraph focuses 90% on 50%(ish) of the sample- women – that means we’re down to a sample cell of 500. So it’s pretty clear the Telegraph has an agenda….but for a panel, that is, frankly, bordering on flakey.

For example, the study says 31% of women have suffered sexual abuse: so now we’re at circa 155 respondents. Once they begin to talk about the nature of the abuse, we are down to double-digit figures.

2. The most dramatic response in the survey is, alarmingly, based on pure hearsay: ‘….as many as half of female students and a third of their male counterparts knew of a friend or relative who has experienced intrusive sexual behaviour ranging from groping to rape…’. In neither a Court of Law nor an MRS conference would such ‘evidence’ be admitted, let alone taken seriously.

3. The Telegraph asserts that ‘A third of female students in Britain have endured a sexual assault or unwanted advances at university’, defined as “inappropriate touching or groping”. I’m sorry to invite fire and brimstone from the Bonkettes, but one girl’s inappropriate touch is another girl’s welcome advance. Is touching a left buttock while dancing “sexual abuse”. I would say no, but then I’m a man and as you all know, we are without exception predatory beasts.

4. We’re told ‘almost half (43 per cent) of the women who had experienced sexual assault or abuse at university, did not report their ordeal, even to friends or family.’ That figure is closer to two-fifths than half: the figure among men was 60% – or three fifths. The implication here is that fear rules under-reporting, but that is a cavalier interpretation. How many were not reported because they didn’t think it was worth having a hissy-fit about?

Another point again here on sample robustness: 43% of 31% is 75 respondents.

Now, I have no argument with Youthsight: they’re a recently rebranded niche agency, and their product is panels. All market research methodology has its weaknesses: the so-called focus group, for instance, is a dangerously blunt weapon in the wrong hands. But this study must be taken with Lot’s-wife quantities of salt: it gives some false impressions, it lacks definitive numbers, and it leaves many key questions unanswered.

No: my problem with this survey is what The Gender Avengers propose should be done about it. It seems that a new legal briefing commissioned by the End Violence Against Women Coalition – what the Telegraph amusingly calls ‘an alliance of charities and campaign groups’ warned – warned, mind you, so we better sit up straight and pay attention – that higher education institutions are ‘avoiding their legal responsibilities by refusing to investigate sexual assault allegations’. On the basis of these data, that is a ridiculous position to take. But then ‘Gender violence campaign groups warned’ – that’s your second warning, you disgusting misogynist authorities, there won’t be any more – that ‘academic authorities are creating an “environment of impunity” on campus by refusing to step in to protect women from assault’.

whitfieldI beg to differ. I think what they’re displaying is a sense of proportion and a modicum of common sense. But we must beware, for the author of the EVAWC report Louise Whitfield (left) a partner at legal practice Deighton Pierce Glynn goes on to argue that:

‘…the governing bodies of higher and further education institutions count as “public authorities” and are therefore subject to both the Human Rights Act and the Public Sector Equality Duty, which imposes legal obligation on public bodies including eliminating discrimination and harassment against women.’

But not against men, it seems.

We can all see where this is going, I think. Anyway, I think men’s groups should give Ms Whitfield and the Wimmin due notice that they’ll fight tooth and nail to stop any such unhinged jackbooting around in the field of human relationships. Men fool around, women fool around, and a 1% level of rape at Universities, while regrettable, is hardly a cause for legal intervention. As a Brief, surely Louise Whitfield knows only too well that basing invasive, ill-considered law on such second-hand, self-defined information is not the best basis for winning a case. Or support.

Related recently at The Slog: The woman who lost her memory and cried rape