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Because one can of worms is never enough!

Okay, gang, I'm off to spend an evening canoodling with my significant other, and will not be on the internet.

Please be civilized to each other in the prior post, I beg of you, while I'm not here to bounce. This is one topic where emotions run really high, and I don't want to have to close threads because I think it's an important topic to discuss, and we're all basically on the same side. If the conversation DOES get ugly, it's okay to say "I don't see anything productive coming out of this," and step away.

It's okay to be pissed. Just be polite.

However, before I go, for the purposes of discussion, one thing I've run across in this discussion (and other posts related) that I hardly ever run across is fear vocalized on the part of men that they'll be accused of rape or sexual harassment when they're just tryin' to get lucky as best they can.

Now, my kneejerk reaction is to scoff a bit, I confess--that's a kneejerk, and I make no bones about it--because, well, being female, my fear is that some dude is gonna rape me, then carve me up like a christmas ham in the basement and wear my skin around like a little hat. This is the sort of thing I worry about. My kneejerk, therefore, is something like "Pfff! You think YOU have problems?"

And that may well be unfair. Hell, granted that fear is not a zero-sum game, it's definitely unfair. Everybody has a right to be scared of ill treatment.

But--thing is--every single woman I know, with no exception I can think of, knows somebody who has been sexually assaulted or abused. In fact, with VERY few exceptions, that person is either somebody close to her, or her own self. These aren't stories, this is...y'know...something that we basically just live with. Life sucks, lots of people get hurt, we brazen on through because the only alternative is to curl into fetal position and weep for humanity.

However. It occurs to me that I may be doing men a disservice in general by dismissing this fear just because it seems like women get so much more of the short end of the stick. Suffering, too, is not a zero-sum game. So. I'll ask two questions then:

A) If male, are you afraid of being falsely accused of rape? Is this a Major Fear--i.e. something you worry about every time you're trying to get to know a woman? (Hell, is this something you worry about if you're, say, alone in a parking garage with a female in the next aisle getting into her car?)

B) If either gender, do you personally know anybody who has been falsely accused of rape? (Not friend-of-a-friend stories, but you, yourself, are at least the level of on-line acquaintanceship with them.)

(Okay, two and a half.)

Somebody'll probably suspect that this is a snarky passive-aggressive way to get men to admit that this is a load. It's not. Honestly. I'm genuinely curious. For all I know, a staggering percentage of men really do go into a relationship in mortal terror that they're going to end up with their testicles in a vise. I KNOW what it's like to be female, but I've never yet been male (at least not in this life!) and I honestly don't know what my own response to the discovery that this might genuinely be a widespread problem would be. 

A. Yes. I'm not sure whether I would call it Major, but it's definitely significant. Not every time, but often.
A½. Not so much, really.

B. Yes.

Edited at 2008-04-28 12:04 am (UTC)

This is why I stepped away from the one thread--I was about two steps away from going supernova and that's really rude to do in someone else's space.

To your B), I don't know a single man who's been falsely accused, and I gave my head a good rummaging through.

Since A doesn't apply to me, B) sorta -- I have a cousin who was falsely accused of sexual assault against a coworker. That cousin is female.


B) Maybe? He was accused, but was found innocent by the college disciplinary board and there was never any evidence. But the girl who accused him definitely believed he did it. Knowing both of them, I'd say it could go either way.

The latter one is difficult because people's definitions of rape can change. If someone believes that someone said 'yes' when drunk and the OTHER person says 'You got me drunk and I couldn't meaningfully consent!' one person says 'rape' and the other does not. Given that victims will frequently recant even in the face of what I would consider to be overwhelming evidence (we had one in our papers recently where the woman was repeatedly drugged by her husband, who later drugged and set fire to her), it is very difficult to work anything out.

At least in the US, if someone is drunk, they cannot legally give consent. As a written contract signed while drunk/high/under duress/etc would not be considered legally binding, so the verbal contract of "yes" can't be considered binding. I do agree that the ehole rape issue is a thorny one, though. When you start getting into the partculars, it gets very confusing and very depressing.

B) If either gender, do you personally know anybody who has been falsely accused of rape? (Not friend-of-a-friend stories, but you, yourself, are at least the level of on-line acquaintanceship with them.)

My sister, by a coworker. It was all a setup - she broke up with him and he got back at her. (Considering she's 5'4" and was maybe 125 pounds at the time, and he was 6' and at least 200 pounds...) I'm not sure exactly what came of it.

I've never in my life worried about being falsely accused of rape, except on a totally academic level while in crim law class. The only example I can think of where someone I know was falsely accused of rape was when a dude had sex with a girl, and she later informed him that she was too high to consent, and anyway he was a terrible lay.

I do want to note that almost every time I've seen a protracted discussion on the topic of false accusations of rape, I've seen someone say something to the effect of "if I stopped when my woman said no, she'd kick me out of bed." So those people would, I imagine, have a well-grounded fear of false accusations of rape if it weren't for the fact that they know they always satisfy "their woman."

I hope that all those relationships, where "no" doesn't actually mean "no," have a proper safeword established. (Seriously. "No" may mean "don't you dare stop" in the context of a scene, but sometimes you really need a word for "AUGH MY FOOT GET THE CUFF OFF IT NOW!" or "I have a migraine. Touch Me And Suffer.")

For B, the answer is no. And if I get too annoyed in the other thread, I'll back out instead of replying. My journal= I rant at people if I feel it's necessary. Other people's journals= no way. :-)

Okay. Not male, so no answer to question A.

In response to B: No, I do not personally know anyone who has been falsely accused of rape. However, I also do not personally know anyone who has been sexually abused or assaulted. So either my circle of friends is remarkably lucky, or I'm remarkably unobservant. Or something.

Remarkably unobservant, dear, but it's one of the things we love about you. I know of at least three people, two of them you know, and one of them you know reasonably well - like, in a 'make conversation with them in the halls' kind of way, not an 'invite them to your house' kind of way. No, I won't tell you who - but I know you'll understand because, you know, not the kinda thing you blare all over hell and creation, aye?

That being said, I'm female so a) does not apply, but nor do I know of any instance of b) except in a 'made the paper' kind of way; but then it's 'was found innocent', not necessarily 'WAS' innocent. I do however know of a couple of men accused of low-grade sexual harassment (ie inappropriate comments, personal space invasions, using a height advantage to look where looks are not invited, etc) who got away scott free because people were uncomfortable reporting it, or because the authority figures in question wouldn't act without better proof. *shrug*

Please forgive me that I prefer to post anonymously on this; I will voluntarily out myself privately to you, Ursula, but this is a topic on which I'm still sensitive.

A) Yes and yes.

B) I have been, personally, falsely accused of rape. It cleared up quickly and without going to court when it was demonstrated that I couldn't physically have been where she said I was, but the fact remains that she accused me and someone, however briefly, believed her.

Since then I recovered somewhat, and in fact right now I'm more-or-less-happily married. But recently the issue flared up again: the backstory is too long and personal to go into here, but what was meant to be a reassuring "of course you're attractive" after a difficult break-up was reported to mutual friends as "he tried to get me to go to bed with him". (And I am aware that I carry the privilege here, and that it's not only possible but probable that I just shouldn't have put myself in that situation in the first place.)

That said: I am also aware that I am a special case, and that I've had two unlucky encounters. I don't bear any ill will toward anyone but the people who decided to accuse me, and even then I'm sure they had reasons for what they did, even if I don't know what they are. I don't think my experience is reason for anyone else to fear being falsely accused. In my case, I am concerned about it, but it's a case of once burned = twice shy, and I'm aware that it's something I need to deal with.

Well, I'm a female, but lesbian, nurse. And I'm always faintly paranoid that some dyke hating woman will take a dislike to me and claim I've abused her. My paranoia runs from the fact that while male nurses have to be chaperoned while performing 'intimate' procedures on women (so my gay male colleagues who haven't got any desires toward women are chaparoned), I'm not (although, just to make it clear, I've got no desires towards anyone I nurse (or have nursed), and am very happily in a relationship)...

Granted that's not exactly what you asked, but hey, I get my paranoia too :)

One thing that occurred to me is, I don't think this is gender specific. I think it applies to anyone who is in a role that places them in power over another person. You didn't say whether you take a submissive role in relationships, but the caretaker-patient one is absolutely that type of situation, especially because the caretaker is not only dominate, but the patient is in a situation of increased vulnerability.

It's definitely relevant.

A) Yes. Add into that the "single guy who works with kid's charities" fear of being accused of some form of child abuse (particularly sexual). I take great pains to prevent a situation that could result in such an accusation (as should everyone) but it's still there at every event and function.

B) Yes.

Oh, gods, I had ONE male employee while running Santa's Castle last Christmas (not because I didn't hire them, but because almost none applied and the others were either illegal aliens or decided at the interview that they didn't want the job after all), and I had to explain to him time and time again that women are terribly prone to freaking out if an unknown male touches their child. He'd worked at a daycare before and had a habit of petting the hair of every baby that came within reach. Nothing scary, he was a wonderful guy, but he had more than one mother yell at him for it. D: It still makes me so sad that men are the subject of such suspicion should they dare to love children.

I used to work in a hotel playcentre, and I had a guest confront me, very angry, over the fact that single men are allowed to use the same pool as families with children. O_o Apparently, in his home country, there are separate facilities for families with children and single adults.

A) I'm far too classy a gent to ever allow myself to be seriously worried about such a thing. However, I tend to avoid getting into acrimonious situations with a member of the opposite sex because

B) I know a guy who basically turned a girl down, and then got accused by her of raping as a way of getting back at him. I know, it's like those shitty teenage dramas, but it really happened.

I think it might be worth everyone's time to read Don't be That Guy by synecdochic, because it and the associated commentary cover a lot what you have been talking about here, Ursula.

As to B) no, I don't know of anyone in my circle falsely accused of rape, but I have mostly female friends, which isn't the sex that generally accused of rape.

(Deleted comment)
Me? Not really. I flirt with women. And if they send out no signals, I back off. (Sadly, I sometimes miss the 'yes' signals).