The Catcall Video, and Rape Culture

I may have been the last person on Earth to watch the “catcall” video that has now been viewed more than 25 million times on YouTube, and seen by many more on news shows, etc. Just in case you haven’t seen it either, here it is. It is two minutes long. Basically, a pretty young woman walked around Manhattan for ten hours while being filmed, and a number of guys spoke to her in ways that were friendly, flattering, inappropriate, or, in one two instances, creepy, although never threatening:

The video was produced by a group called Hollaback!, which is “dedicated to ending street harassment.” Good luck with that. The organization is also dedicated to raising money, at which its prospects are better.

Everyone seems to have an opinion on the catcall video. To me, it illustrates the principle that the less significant a problem is–here, the “oppression” of women–the more hysterical people tend to get about it. Or maybe it’s just the people who have a financial stake in the problem not going away.

There is an obvious connection, I think, between the attention paid to the catcall video and the current controversy over “sexual assault” on college campuses–sexual assault being defined to include trying to kiss a girl who prefers just to hold hands. There is obviously no epidemic of rape on college campuses. If there were, people like me wouldn’t be helping their 12th grade daughters with college applications. The rare instances where rapes actually occur tend to be significant news stories.

Why is the hysteria industry, aided and abetted by the federal government, in overdrive for no apparent reason? Feminists say there is a “rape culture” in America that must be combatted. But is that true? In fact, the incidence of rape, like all other serious crimes, has been declining sharply for years. This graphic comes from Mark Perry, on Twitter:

The rapid decline of violent crime of all sorts across the United States is something of a mystery. Several factors no doubt are at work: demographic changes, aggressive incarceration of violent criminals in many jurisdictions, and the prevalence of firearms in the general population. But rather than being celebrated, the decline of violence in the U.S. is generally obscured and even lied about. Why? Mostly, I think, because a lot of money and power are riding on the perpetuation of misinformation of the sort that feeds hysteria.

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