Mary P. Koss, Feminist Rape Apologist

Koss influences a government entity to erase male victims of rape.

 

SUMMARY:

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  • Mary P. Koss insists on a definition of rape that conceals the incidence of female-on-male rape;
  • The center for disease control (CDC) is a government entity charged with serving the entire public and all citizens of the United States equally;
  • There is an appearance that Mary P. Koss has by her association with the CDC influenced it to formulate findings in a way that favors one group of citizens over another, that in fact significantly disadvantages the second group of citizens;
  • Anyone in a position of public trust, including any position supported by public funds, has a responsibility to prevent her or his private opinions from compromising the mission of the organization she or he serves to serve all citizens equally;
  • There is an appearance that rather than preventing her personal opinions from compromising the mission of the organization she is associated with, she has allowed those personal opinions to influence the function of that public entity.

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DISCUSSION:

Mary P. Koss is a widely-quoted feminist writer on the incidence of rape. Her methods and her claims have been controversial. In 2009 a controversy developed around a paper of hers – articles and threads here, here, and here.

She is an influential writer on the subject and her methods and results deserve scrutiny.

In a post earlier this year commenter Tamen noted a tendency in Koss to minimize the scope and incidence of rape of males, especially by women. He said at the time:

“However, Victory_Disease on Reddit made me aware of this paper by Mary P Koss: Detecting the Scope of Rape : A Review of Prevalence Research Methods which show that it’s not simply a matter of focusing on female victims, but rather a conscious effort to exclude male victims of rape from the term rape.”

He specifically noted a section in that paper where she says:

“Although consideration of male victims is within the scope of the legal statutes, it is important to restrict the term rape to instances where male victims were penetrated by offenders. It is inappropriate to consider as a rape victim a man who engages in unwanted sexual intercourse with a woman. p. 206”

He goes on to point how she chooses terms that emphasize or exaggerate male agency and minimize or trivialize female agency. He finishes by noting a paragraph in which she recommends a formulation of “rape” that is gynonormative, such that if the crime does not involve penetration of the victim, it is not rape. The effect if not the intent is to erase the crime of rape by envelopment.

Later Tamen noted a similarity between Koss’ position and the one reflected in the CDC’s formulation of rape in its NISVS 2010 Report. In the course of pursuing the matter with the CDC (the text of his correspondence with the CDC is at the end of this post.), and getting a dismissively tautological and circular answer, he stumbled across a piece of information that may bear on the similarity in positions he had noted.

This is the history of association between Mary P. Koss and the CDC he found:

1996: Expert Panel Member, “Definitions of Sexual Assault,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

2003- : Selected to direct the Sexual Violence Applied Research Advisory Group, VAWNET.org, the national online resource on violence against women funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

2003- : Member, team of expert advisors, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on teen partner violence

2003- : Panel of Experts, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control on scales to measure intimate partner violence, resulted in the publication of CDC Intimate Partner Violence compendium, 2005

2003-4: Consultant, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC Intimate Partner Violence compendium, 2005 IPV Compendium on assessment of sexual violence and inclusion as recommended standard assessments in the field of two Koss-authored assessments (Sexual Experiences Survey-victimization, and Sexual Experiences Survey-perpetration)

Again, Mary P. Koss is entitled to hold any personal opinions she chooses, however odious. She has, however, no right to use her position of trust to impose these personal and private opinions on public policy or results of research intended to form that public policy. Furthermore, public entities with which she or anyone is associated have a responsibility also to ensure that the barrier between private and personal opinion and public policy is maintained and safeguarded.

If this were simply an isolated instance of one person misusing her position, it would be a small matter and simple to correct. It is however part of a larger consensus and pattern of distortion of evidence and erasure when it concerns male victims of rape in general and especially male victims of female rapists.

The problem is quite structural and goes to the local level where evidence is distorted by either a failure or a refusal to report and record even quite clear cases of rape as rape, as in the case of this mother who sodomized her two-year-old son so forcibly with a vibrator that surgery was necessary to remove it. Note how the incident is being charged: as child abuse and sexual misconduct with a minor rather than child rape. If sodomizing an infant so severely that it requires surgery to remove the rape device is not child rape, then nothing is.

Absolutely vile.

Tamen’s correspondence with the CDC as posted on Reddit Men’s Rights:

CDC’s response to whether they will categorize “being made to penetrate someone else” in future reports (self.MensRights)

submitted 2 days ago* by Tamen_

I had a mail account failure and forgot/missed that I a year ago sent this mail to the CDC:

Hi,

One finding of the NISVS 2010 Report which was not reported anywhere in press releases and media (as far as I could see) was that 1.1% of men reported being made to penetrate someone else the last 12 months. That 1.1% of women reported being raped the last 12 months puts this into a perspective which goes very much against common beliefs about male victimization.

Was this finding not interesting or conclusive enough to at least mention in press releases?

The lifetime numbers differs more. Did CDC look into why there was such a difference in lifetime prevalency numbers and numbers for the last 12 months for male victims of “being made to penetrate someone else”?

Will future CDC Reports continue to keep “being made to penetrate someone else” as a category separate from rape or will they be put together/seen as the same as in the new FBI definition of rape?

Best regards, Xxxxxx Yyyyyy

A week later I got the response (my emphasis):

Mr. Yyyyyy,

Thank you for your interest in the NISVS Survey. The NISVS subject matters experts have provided the following information in response to your inquiry:

We understand your concern that the 12 month prevalence for Made to Penetrate was not included in the press release. Unfortunately, due to space limitation in a press release, we were not able to highlight many of the important findings. This information, however, was included in main summary report. In addition, we are currently working on preparing a number of more in-depth reports to follow our first summary report, including one that focuses specifically on sexual violence.

With regards to the definitional issues you mentioned, Made to Penetrate is a form of sexual violence that is distinguished from rape. Being made to penetrate represents times when the victim was made to, or there was an attempt to make them, sexually penetrate someone else (i.e., the perpetrator) without the victim’s consent. In contrast, rape represents times when the victim, herself or himself, was sexually penetrated or there was an attempt to do so. In both rape and made to penetrate situations, this may have happened through the use of physical force (such as being pinned or held down, or by the use of violence) or threats to physically harm; it also includes times when the victim was drunk, high, drugged, or passed out and unable to consent.

In summary, rape victimization constitutes times when the victim is penetrated. Made to penetrate are incidents where the victim is forced to penetrate their perpetrator, so does not meet the definition of rape.

Appendix C on page 106 of the report lists the victimization questions. As you will see, the questions were asked in such a way that the perpetrator was the one being penetrated by the victim in made to penetrate cases, not a third party. For example, “how many people have ever used physical force or threats of physical harm to make you have vaginal sex with them?” Or “how many people have ever used physical force or threats of physical harm to make you perform anal sex, meaning they made you put your penis into their anus?” Or “when you were drunk, high, drugged or passed out and unable to consent, how many people ever made you receive oral sex, meaning that they put their mouth on your {if male: penis}?”

The FBI definition of rape does not apply here – made to penetrate as we have defined it is distinct from rape and should not be included in a definition of rape.

Until the special reports are available and/or the data set is ready for public use, if there are additional specific questions we can answer, we would be happy to do so. We appreciate your interest in these data.

Sincerely, CDC NISVS Team

Apparently they thought my question about whether “being made to penetrate someone else” would be categorized as rape as per the FBI definition which was revealed shortly after the NISVS 2010 Report was published was due to my inability to read the definitions of rape and “being amde to penetrate someone else” in the report itself.

Apparently it is self-evident for them that it’s not rape and hence they are perfectly aligned with Mary P Koss recommendations (“It is inappropriate to consider as a rape victim a man who engages in unwanted sexual intercourse with a woman” page 206 in the full article) also in future surveys and doesn’t plan to align the definition with the “new” FBI definition of rape – which can and in my view should be interpreted to include rape by envelopment.

I know that that paper on how to measure rape prevalency by Mary P Koss has been cited by CDC in other contexts (Reference 7).

I decided to look at Mary P. Koss’ CV:

1996: Expert Panel Member, “Definitions of Sexual Assault,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

2003- : Selected to direct the Sexual Violence Applied Research Advisory Group, VAWNET.org, the national online resource on violence against women funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

2003- : Member, team of expert advisors, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on teen partner violence

2003- : Panel of Experts, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control on scales to measure intimate partner violence, resulted in the publication of CDC Intimate Partner Violence compendium, 2005

2003-4: Consultant, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC Intimate Partner Violence compendium, 2005 IPV Compendium on assessment of sexual violence and inclusion as recommended standard assessments in the field of two Koss-authored assessments (Sexual Experiences Survey-victimization, and Sexual Experiences Survey-perpetration)

No wonder it’s self-evident for the CDC that it is inappropriate to consider as a rape victim a man who engages in unwanted sexual intercourse with a woman.

Edited for readability and quote-fixing

Edited again: The title of course should be: CDC’s response to whether they will categorize “being made to penetrate someone else” as rape in future reports

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