In the new documentary "The Hunting Ground," Academy Award-nominated director Kirby Dick and Academy Award-nominated producer Amy Ziering interview numerous male and female survivors of sexual assault on college campuses, all to figure out the reasoning behind a horrible truth -- if 1 in 5 women is raped while in college, why aren't more people talking about it?
Why are 100 colleges currently being investigated for covering up rape cases, when the victims they are harming are just as much tuition-paying students as the perpetrators? And why (a simple search for "rape culture" on Twitter will show you that this is sadly true) do so many people make the active choice to not believe women when they stand up and say that they are raped?
Well, victim-blaming and misogyny unfortunately aren't going away anytime soon, but one thing that "The Hunting Ground" does is exposes viewers to simple, undeniable facts -- the very vast majority of these women are not lying.
"I think the first thing ['Hunting Ground'] does is it puts out the facts, and the facts are that false rape reports do occur, but they’re a small minority of the actual reports," Dick told MTV News at the Sundance Film Festival. "Only 2 to 8 percent of reports of sexual assault are actually false. That means 92 to 98 percent are not false. Another way to look at it is, on average, 19 out of 20 reports of sexual assault that you hear are true. That’s where you should start."
"That statistic goes for all crimes," Ziering added. "You don’t hear outcry about, ‘Oh my God, we have to worry about all of the people that are falsely accused of car jacking'... Our film is saying what we need is fair adjudication and investigation processes in place to protect the accuser and the accused. It’s a win-win. It will reduce false reports, and it will also increase the proper prosecution of these rapes."
According to Dick, many schools "do not have real professional investigative and adjudicative processes in place right now," in spite of the overabundance of these crimes. This is largely because they'd have to put money into these "difficult crimes to investigate," but there's also a larger, much more sinister reason why these crimes are not investigated.
"It’s their reputation -- they don’t want to be known as a school where sexual assaults are happening," Dick added. "But the reality is, it’s happening at all schools. The reason they don’t want to be known as that is they don’t want their admissions to go down, they don’t want their donations to go down. As a result, their first impulse is to cover it up. The more you cover it up, the more it occurs."
Also, Ziering adds that many school administrators are so uneducated about this particular issue that -- at least (hopefully) until now -- they've automatically resorted to victim-blaming
"I’ve talked to a lot of high levels of administrators who sent back to me, ‘What can we do? It happens in our culture, these kids are drinking, there’s only so much we can do,’" Ziering said. "They really didn’t understand the issue... Parents come up to me and say, ‘What should I tell my daughters?’ I talked to countless men and women who said, ‘I did everything right. There was nothing I could do.’
"That question of ‘What can I do to prevent this’ -- it’s not on the victim. It’s on us to stop these small percentages of men from committing these crimes. It’s what can we do to stop the perpetrators, not what can we do differently. You don’t have to dress differently; you don’t have to be careful in a certain way. It can happen to anyone, even if you’re being perfectly mindful of everything you’re doing, and you’re conscious of your environment."
Dick and Ziering's message is huge, since, in the past, so much of the talk around campus rape has revolved around what women should wear or drink (or not drink) to prevent it from happening to them. But according to "The Hunting Ground," that's not the issue -- the issue is, simply enough, making sure that there are systems in place so that those who are inclined to commit these crimes know that they will be prosecuted.
"I don’t know why sociopaths work the way they do, I don’t understand the psychology of serial predators," Ziering concluded. "The fact is that they do it, and we don’t have the mechanisms in place to really hold them accountable, that’s what our film is about. A small percentage of people are going to do this, so let’s A, really understand what they’re doing. Let’s not be confused by cultural myths. And B, let’s put mechanisms in place to properly prosecute them.
"The problem is these cultural myths really prevent that from happening. You know -- you've seen the UVA thing -- ‘women make things up.’ You can talk until you’re blue in the face, but statistics don’t support that. Women don’t make things up. In most cases, people in general -- whatever gender, whatever sexual orientation -- do not make up crime reports. They just don’t."