Grief for Goddess
I’m an avid reader of C-VILLE Weekly and am consistently impressed with your editorial discretion and caliber of reporting. However, I am dismayed with your decision to allow “Advice Goddess” Amy Alkon another opportunity to spew her biased and erroneous drivel regarding the prevalence of sexual abuse [“Diddle he or didn’t he?,” Advice Goddess, April 24, 2007]. Her response to Joyce Allan’s letter [“Sexual abuse sans sarcasm,” Mailbag, May 8, 2007] is rife with false assertions and exaggerated claims attempting to justify her denial of the fact that between one in four and one in five women have experienced a completed or attempted rape at some point in their lives.
Alkon’s claim that, “[rape prevalence researchers] are respected mainly because nobody looks too hard at how they got their numbers” is unsubstantiated and absurd. Studies conducted by everyone from the U.S. Department of Justice to the American Medical Association have found similar prevalence numbers. It is highly unlikely that shoddy methodology somehow slipped through these heavily regulated entities in our current era of accountability. Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Justice ain’t exactly a bastion of radical feminism—I doubt they care about any “taboos” associated with questioning sexual assault research.
Alkon decries the supposed “biased questions and substandard methodology” that lead to “bad data” about the prevalence of sexual assault. In fact, the methodology is sound, and the questions are quite straightforward. A computer randomly dials phone numbers, and trained interviewers explain that they are doing a survey about personal safety and victimization, collect demographic data, and ask warm-up questions. The interviewer then asks questions specific to sexual victimization such as, “Regardless of how long ago it happened or who did it, has someone ever made you have sex by using force or threatening to harm you, or someone close to you?” The various types of “sex” are clarified using correct anatomical terminology (e.g., penis in vagina, anus or mouth).” People’s responses to these questions are tallied, and the prevalence of sexual abuse can then be estimated. It is inconceivable to me why Alkon seems convinced that there is some “radical feminist” conspiracy behind these realistic and clear-cut methods.
I don’t know what axe Alkon has to grind with radical feminism, but in this case she’s grinding it with reality. Furthermore, her job is to dispense advice, not to play scientist or be a shill for rape apologists. Oh, and please don’t print her response to this. Reality deserves the last word.
A river runs where?
Nice job on the Rivanna article [“Let it Flow,” May 8, 2006]. I’ve lived in Charlottesville for seven years and have crossed the Rivanna hundreds, maybe thousands, of times and have never seen it! I’ll bet there are lots of other folks who can say the same. I know it’s there and I’m concerned about it, but I have no contact with it. There may be a follow-up article in this question. Where are the best (easiest to get to) access points on the river? Which of them are the most scenic? Which are the most depressing (best illustrate the need for improvement)? Best to launch a canoe? Anywhere you can put in a small boat with a small trolling motor? Etc. I think there are many people who did not grow up here and learn about it as kids who would become strong advocates for its health if they just knew how best to get at it and find out what it is really about. If you can pass along any advice here, I’d appreciate it.
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