Almost half of all women are raped or victims of attempted rape at least once in their lives.". . . Under conditions of male dominance, if sex is normally something men do to women, viewing “yes" as a sign of consent is misguided.12

Catharine MacKinnon, NBC’s only choice to analyze the entire Clarence Thomas hearings as Tom Brokaw moderated

The country’s leading feminist legal expert on date rape, Catharine MacKin­non, says that a woman’s “yes" cannot be considered genuine. Why not? Because she is forced to say yes in order to survive.’* If a woman can be considered raped even if she says yes, it is understandable how MacKinnon concluded that half of all women are subject to rape or attempted rape in their lifetime.

A Ms. – sponsored study which the mass media widely quoted14 as saying that 25 percent of all women were raped by the time they were in college used this question to reach the 25 percent figure:15

I lave you given in to sexual intercourse when you didn’t want to because you were overwhelmed by a man’s continual arguments and pressure?1*’

Notice that these women did not define themselves as raped, just as "overwhelmed." She might have felt overwhelmed exactly because she was afraid of losing the guy if she said no. So she might have said yes to keep him. It is only when we broaden the definition of rape in this way – to include women who might have said yes – that we discover an "increase" in rape.

How do I know these women did not necessarily define themselves as raped? Because 42 percent of these women said they had sex uith these men one or more times after this (the mean uas 2.02 times/17

None of this, of course, empathizes with the male date rape Catch-22. We are still requiring men to be the sexual salespersons but now defining them as rapists when they do it well.

The truth is that both sexes participate in unwanted sexual activity. A feminist who was brave enough to ask these broad-based questions of both sexes astonished herself to discover that 94 percent of the men (as well as 98 percent of the women) said they had had unwanted sexual activity by the time they were in college.18 But even more surprising was her finding, reported in the Journal of Sex Research, that 63 percent of the men and 46 percent of the women said they had experienced unuanted intercourse19 By feminist definitions of rape as unwanted sex, virtually everyone has been raped. And that’s how rape begins to look like an epidemic. It’s also how rape gets trivialized.

A woman friend of mine read this and said, “I have difficulty thinking of concrete examples of why a man might not want to have sex with a woman.” Why not? A college man sometimes fears intercourse when he feels a woman will read into it more of a commitment than he wants. But he has it anyway because he was the one pressing for it before she made it clear it meant a commitment to her, and in the heat of passion he doesn’t know how to say no despite the strings that are attached. In fact, it is exactly that scenario – with the man not calling the next day for fear of further misleading her and the woman feeling rejected because he didn’t call after sex – that leads to the woman feeling “raped,” and sometimes even reporting it as rape.

Men, like women, often don’t want to have sex for the first time when they are drunk or exhausted but sometimes do it because they fear rejecting the other one. Men, like women, feel tom between passions of the moment and the desire, the following morning, to have an excuse for not being home when their loved one called for the fourth time at 3 a m.

Exactly how frequent is rape, then? The best answer comes from the national survey of households in which women are asked anonymously whether they’ve ever been raped and also asked whether or not they had reported it to the police. As it turns out about a third of women did not report completed rapes to the police, about half did not report attempted rapes.20 When we add these women to the women who did report, we discover that about one in twenty-five women is a victim of a completed rape in a lifetime, about one in twenty-three women is a victim of an attempted rape in a lifetime.21

Do the ever-broadening definitions of rape affect the outcome of the more objective government studies? It’s possible. For example, prior to the William Kennedy Smith and Mike TVson date rape trials, the Justice Depart­ment found that the rate of rapes and attempted rapes decreased from 1973 to 1988 by 33 percent (from 1.8 per 1,000 women to 1.2 per 1,000 women).22 After the trials, when women started considering themselves raped if they felt forced, the Justice Department found its first recent increase in rapes and attempted rapes.25

Laws against date rape with broad definitions are like fifty-five-mile-per – hour speed limits – by making everyone a violator, they trivialize those who are real violators. But at least the anyone-who-drives-is-a-violator laws for speed limits are applicable to both sexes. Алу-man-who-dates-can-be-a- rapist laws are applicable to only one sex. They are sexist laws, laws with broad definitions of rape are like laws making fifty-five-mile-per-hour speed limits for men and no speed limits for women.

Every exaggerated claim of the increase in rapes magnifies every woman’s fears as she walks down the street at night. And it magnifies her distrust of men. In brief, exaggerated claims hurt women. Exaggerated claims of rape rates might he good for politics, but they are bad for women who uant to love men. To exploit women for the sake of politics is not my definition of liberation.