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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) N/A

B) Yes, I am acquainted with one man (foaf, but have spent a fair amount of time talking with him and got the story in person) who was falsely accused of sexual assault. However, I am 100% certain that this particular guy is guilty of (at very least) statutory rape in other cases, and while that particular incident was false, he freely admits he had previously slept with the woman while her consent was impaired, and he maliciously got her fired after the charges were dropped. (You see why I only call him a friend's friend. And *I* refused to ever be alone in a room with him well before I learned about any of that, so in that particular case I have trouble having any sympathy for the guy.)

A. Not a major fear, but certainly something I keep in mind. I'm tall, have a goatee, & have long hair. I get worried looks from women a fair amount. I am careful not to be alone with women I don't already know fairly well. I never give women a ride if it's only the two of us unless it is a close friend.

I actually get it more with children. I've worked with children a lot over the years & have gotten used to parents asking the women I work with / for how trustworthy I am.

The untrustworthiness of men is deeply ingrained in our society, children are told that if they get lost they should seek out a policewoman or a pregnant woman or woman with children. That says that even men in positions of trust & authority are untrustworthy due to their gender.

B. I have thankfully never been accused of rape. I have been accused of sexual harassment several times. In each case, it has been a minor misunderstanding.

On the other hand, I have tried to call women on sexual harassment a number of times & have never been taken seriously, even when the violations are much greater than the accusations I have faced.

I have had a friend unrightfully accused of rape. Fortunately, he was able to prove it, but by that point this name was known & he had to move just to live a normal life again.

Edited at 2008-04-28 01:04 am (UTC)

I know someone who works in marketing in local council. There was a memo circulated that they weren't to put any publicity materials where they had a man alone with a small child.

I agree with most people on the OSBP about fear of strange men and the worry of them turning out be a rapist/killer/abuser of small, fuzzy animals but it's scarier to find it turning out to be the default assumption in society.

This is why I have guns. If somebody tries to physically harm me he will die. Even if I don't happen to have a gun on hand, I'll probably have a knife and he'll get stabbed. If I don't have a knife, I will knee the hell out of his nuts and scream my lungs out and RUN LIKE HECK. It's a lot easier with a gun, though. Must get a concealed holster for my PPK.

A) No. The nature of my intimate and casual relationships is such that I don't feel worried about that at all. (I like to think that no one who knows me would believe such an accusation, though that's harder to be 100% sure of.)

B) No one I know has ever confided such a thing to me. I've known of many men who were justly accused of abusive behavior, but that's an entirely different kettle of rage.

A) N/A. (Although when I was teaching undergrads another instructor mentioned that he never, ever let female students close the door when it was just the two of them in his office. Even though I am female I also always kept that in the back of my mind and made sure there were other students outside in the hall or some other sort of witnesses around, lest *I* be accused of anything.)

B) One person, who claims someone he knew socially accused him of rape when he rejected her advances. I can easily name half a dozen women I personally know who have been raped; as for "physically infringed upon in a sexual manner but not to the point of rape", I'd be surprised to meet a woman who hadn't experienced that.

As a female librarian who sometimes works one-on-one with students, I *also* keep the door open for exactly that reason.

I don't know of any proven-false accusations of rape. I know of a male coworker being fired after a woman cried sexual harassment -- this despite the fact that several coworkers testified that the harassment could not have taken place in the way she claimed *and* heard her say she was "gonna get him" for some perceived insult. I have a male friend who was physically abused by his wife and feared that if he defended himself, he'd be the one who went to jail. I also know a woman who was too terrorized to report her husband's suicide attempt because he threatened to tell the police that she'd tried to kill him. So I'd say there's hard evidence that every kind of abuse, and every lie, can go both ways, and every accusation has to be examined very carefully, and there has to be good evidence for any conviction.

But, considering the percentage of my female friends who've *told* someone that they were raped but didn't come forward because they were afraid they wouldn't be believed, afraid of retribution (sometimes from family members) if they pressed charges, or who actually were harassed and threatened after pressing charges -- well, not to make this my own soapbox, but please, women, God forbid you ever find yourself in that situation, please know that there is help to be had and don't let fear keep you silent.

You forgot one other significant question: have any men have been sexually assaulted/molested/abused?

I can answer that one in the affirmative. And before anyone scoffs or laughs, it DOES happen. To make a long story short, and not go into a lot of detail, I was about 11 or 12 at the time, and it was a female relative.

I can also say that I've been both physically, verbally and emotionally abused by a spouse. Repeatedly. I WON'T go into detail about that.

Neither situation is something I care to remember at all.

Edited at 2008-04-28 01:15 am (UTC)

I really wish you didn't have to parry scoffs and laughs.

The first person who ever confided in me about being raped was male.

I'm female & I was accused of raping a girl. I was shocked. Honestly, I can't imagine why, except to make me look worse. That was when I first came out, so I believe it might have been a knee jerk reaction, as it were.

I actually can think of two friends off the top of my head who have been falsely accused of rape.

False-accusation is obviously not nearly as powerful a fear as that of *being* raped. I can't imagine anyone saying so with a straight face. That said, I think false-rape-fear is deserving of recognition precisely because rape is so powerful and dreadful an issue.

I mean that being accused of rape is really bad because rape is really really bad; having *the slightest* suspicion that you've done something that dreadful can immediately turn a pillar of the community into a horrid pariah that no sane person would have any dealings with. One of the two people in question had to move; the other now has a police record. Yes, rape is The Worst Thing, I know this, I know this. But losing your entire community does suck.

So yes, it's something to worry about, since it's nearly impossible to predict or prevent (until someone invents a flawless crazy-person-sniffer), and the actual crime is so hideous that a shadow of the suspicion of it can break you.

Re: We All Envy Tiresias.

I am a woman (as you can probably tell by the username) and I have never been raped, although I once successfully defended myself against being raped.

Rape is a major fear for me; being falsely accused of rape isn't. This is because a) the former is more likely to happen but even moreso b)I've been programmed by experience, society, and probably genetics to fear the former, but not the latter.

However, and while I'm sure that being raped would be extremely painful and traumatic, if I were accused of rape I'd have to worry about my child being taken away from me. I'd much rather be raped than be plausibly accused of rape.

Implausibly accused I'm sure would be disturbing also, unless it was clearly a joke between friends or something of that ilk, but I'd still take it over rape.

A.) I am female. Also gay. The closest I've come is that I teach kids for a living, and I'm afraid if they found out I was gay, they'd immediately label me a scary pervert and pull their kids. Probably worrying too much.

B.) I do not personally know any guys who were falsely accused of rape. It may be partly because I would not associate myself with the kind of women (or men) who would lie like that, I'm very picky about my friends, and very anti-drama. I have heard vague stories of friend-of-a-friend instances of this and related stuff, but of course can't substantiate one way or another.

On the other hand, I have known males in my life (not by choice) who've raped and were never accused.


Yes, false accusation is a fear, but one that has decreased with age in part due to limiting my sex partners to other sluts. I don't remember how intense the fear was at its height but it was definitely a major part of the anxiety that obstructed my social life.

No to the second question.

As a guy with a disorderly conduct charge under his belt (yeah, I was 19 and dumb, and didn't even do what I was charged with (I'd tried to say a dumb pick-up line, botched it, and she freaked and an hour later I'm faced with an unsympathetic police officer)), I know two guys who committed statutory rape when each was 19 and his girlfriend was 17. Unfortunately, they were unwise enough to then have acrimonious breakups with these girls.

One young lass tried to get her revenge by going to the police and reporting him. She *eventually* dropped the charges, but he ended up going to college out-of-state because she'd grossed out their entire circle of friends by making up weird fetishes to claim he had. I know the guy--he can't even take the sight of naked furries and he was about as sexually vanilla as you could get. She'd even complained to me about how...pedestrian he was.

The second young couple was a bit more direct. He broke up with her before she turned 18, and she just keyed the hell out of his car, and both cars near them (Mine was one of them, unfortunately), broke his windshield, slashed his tires and spray painted "I HATE YOU" and "JASON SUX COK" and variants thereof on the sides and back of his car.

So, yes, I'm very careful, because I know police officers and societies are predisposed to believe the worst about guys.

All right, my two cents on the matter...

A) Obviously, being female, this question doesn't apply to me. However, leading into B), my pseudo-boyfriend (long-distance relationship, LONG story) is absolutely paranoid about this due to his family circumstances. And it turns out he had somewhat of a right to be, as he WAS falsely accused of attempted rape late last year, mainly due to the actions of a woman who was basically a sociopath, and knew it was the best way to hurt him. Not only because it would damage his reputation in the circles we move in, but also because the very idea of it would make him physically ill. It took actual VIDEO to clear his reputation, even though she never filed formal charges, and the rumor still persists in grotty corners of the Net that he's a rapist.

The worst part of this is that the woman who accused me of the rape has never actually posted anywhere to denounce the rumors; she instead relied on a mutual associate to assure people that the rumors she herself started were false and nothing was the matter AFTER the video came out. She even admitted her role in it. While our mutual friend is very reliable, you can guess how well it went over.

What's sad is that I know a bunch of women who have been raped, and I consider them to be good friends of mine. People who need reassurance and emotional candor on their own terms, rather than on the terms society tells them they need. People cope from traumas at their own rates. It hurts because once this rumor got started, the fact I DO have so many friends that have been abused makes me look utterly abhorrent.

You have no idea, truly none, how difficult it is for a man who is pretty open and accepting of others not to get labeled a rapist. I've had women who were not of the steadiest psyches level the threat at me to keep me in line if they were losing arguments. I'd like to think I'm a nice guy. My father was physically abusive, and I'm a pretty ardent pacifist. I try to avoid conflict at all costs if I can help it.

Hey Ursula! Long-time lurker, first time poster.

B) several years ago I (female) was chosen for a jury trial of a young man who had been accused of raping a mentally impaired teenage girl.

It was a very eye opening experience. The deliberations went from 9am till 1130 pm.

we found him not guilty

A) does not apply, but with regard to B), sort of--he was accused of some sort of molestation rather than rape, but it completely destroyed his career and some family ties. I think the case was eventually dropped, but the damage was done.