Several years ago, campus rape consultant David Lisak tried to persuade an undergraduate audience at Rutgers University that they were living through a terrifying rape epidemic committed by none other than their fellow students. A fraternity at an unnamed campus, Lisak recounted, even sets aside a room for raping girls during parties. The students weren’t buying it. “I don’t understand why these parties don’t become infamous among girls,” wondered a girl in the auditorium. 

This commonsensical skepticism comes to mind now that the University of Virginia gang rape hoax has been given its final coup de grace

The demise of the U. Va. rape fiction should also torpedo the campus rape industry which rests on junk science as rickety as the Rolling Stone’s reporting. 

The Charlottesville, Va., police department declared Monday that it could find no evidence that the gruesome gang rape reported last November by Rolling Stone magazine had taken place.  There was likely not even a party that night in the frat in question, Phi Kappa Psi, the police chief said. 

The demise of the U. Va. rape fiction should also torpedo the campus rape industry which rests on junk science as rickety as the Rolling Stone’s reporting. 

The Rolling Stone rape tale had been collapsing long before Monday's announcement.  Now the only question is why anyone believed the lie in the first place. 

The story was patently the product of a delusional mind, depicting a level of grotesque violence that is unheard of on college campuses today. According to the magazine’s almost sole source--the victim, a freshman called “Jackie” in the story—she was escorted into a pitch-black room in the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity during a party on September 28, 2012.  A huge male student immediately tackled her and sent her crashing through a glass table.  A group of eight males then punch and gag her, while one shouts: “Grab its motherfucking leg.” She is sexually assaulted for hours, including with a beer bottle when one of the frat brothers is unable to get an erection. 

Afterwards, bloodied and shaking, Jackie seeks help from her best friends.   They tell her not to report the rape, however, because it will reflect badly on U. Va. and damage their own hopes of joining a frat and being admitted to other high-prestige frat parties.  The campus administrators responded just as callously, according to Jackie, allegedly conceding that they suppress rape incidents in order to protect U. Va.’s reputation. 

If such a tale bore any relation to reality, campuses would have emptied out years ago.  Parents would have demanded the creation of single-sex schools where their daughters could study in safety.  And yet the Rolling Stone story was greeted with triumphant elation by the campus rape industry and with reluctant credulity even by conservative academics and journalists.  Finally, we were told, we were seeing the ugly reality behind the fantastical statistic ubiquitously cited by the Obama administration and numerous other feminist organizations: that one in five college females are raped during their college careers.  The University of Virginia went into a paroxysm of self-flagellation; its president suspended all activities of its fraternities and sororities. 

The demolition of the U. Va. gang rape hoax has driven a stake through Rolling Stone’s credibility.  Its reporter, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, ignored almost every journalistic canon, failing to even seek out Jackie’s alleged assailants in order to get their side of the story.  Now it turns out that those assailants didn’t exist. 

But the demise of the U. Va. rape fiction should also torpedo the campus rape industry which rests on junk science as rickety as the Rolling Stone’s reporting.  The alleged campus rape rate is four hundred times that of Detroit’s, and yet sophisticated, highly educated baby boomer mothers are beating down the doors of college campuses trying to get their daughters into this alleged maelstrom of violence. 

What is the reality on college campuses?  Not a rape epidemic, but a culture of drunken hook-ups with zero normative checks on promiscuous behavior.  Girls drink themselves blotto precisely in order to lower their sexual inhibitions, while boys act as boorishly as the girls will allow them to.  Some of those hook-up participants subsequently regret their behavior and declare themselves rape victims. 

The alleged “campus rape” epidemic could end tomorrow if girls followed a simple rule: Don’t get roaring drunk and get into bed with a guy whom you barely know.  Feminists refuse to send this empowering message to girls, however, insisting that “rape is never a women’s fault.”  Apparently feminists are willing to sacrifice female safety in order to preserve the principle of male fault. 

The Rolling Stone fiction was treated as truth because feminists have persuaded a large swath of society that we live in a “rape culture,” where women are perpetual victims and men are assailants in waiting.  Indeed, so strong is the feminist lock on our culture that the Charlottesville police chief was unwilling to close the case, even though nothing was left of it.   

Personal responsibility and respect for others are the solutions to the alleged "campus rape epidemic," not more college bureaucrats and kangaroo courts for finding males guilty of "rape."  The campus rape industry is too entrenched in the government and college infrastructure, however, to loosen its hold on the culture.

Heather Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal.  Mac Donald's newest book, The War on Cops (2016), warns that raced-based attacks on the criminal-justice system, from the White House on down, are eroding the authority of law and putting lives at risk.