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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. 

When I was in primary school (grade one or two), I was accused by some girls (it's so long ago...) of grabbing their asses. I was what, 7 or 8 at the time? And asperger.

I had no idea (at the time) even why I would have been grabbing their asses. And they were still accusing me in front of the whole class. Being the oddball of the group already (and not having a shred of idea of what the hell was going on), I couldn't defend myself. It was extremely humiliating.

A) No, I really can't say that this has been a fear of mine. I am, however, quite cautious about the way I approach women for manifold reasons. I have been told by women that I missed out on an opportunity to get to know them by not being.. I hesitate to say agressive enough. Let's say, decisive enough. Forward enough.

B) I do not know anyone who was falsely accused of rape. The closest I get is an employer who was falsely accused of sexual harassment. But that was more of a "don't hire irrational bundles of neuroses" fear than a "women overreact to this stuff" fear.

The fear that someone will mistake casual friendliness or an attempt to help a child as an unwanted or unwholesome attention is far more prevalent for me. Both as a guy who genuinely likes kids as little people, and as a Dad, I don't like to see kids who appear to be hurt, scared, lost, etc. For the most part, asking such a youngster if they are okay, or offering a bit of advice, is okay. I have gotten the occasional sidelong look over it, but nothing bad, thank goodness. However, just the fact that crouching down a few feet away and asking a question/offering a suggestion gets those responses is cause for serious pause.

It saddens me that women have to approach life through this sort of lens. I do try to bear it in mind, and not take it personally if I realize someone is treating me with undue caution. If they don't yet know me, they don't yet know that I won't hurt them. Any time I start to be more offended by being judged for the actions of other people than I am sympathetic to that sad reality, I am probably in too prickly a mood to be good company for anyone of any gender. Then it's just time to go read a book or something - not get pissed at women or irrationally paranoid over them.

A - Very yes. To the point that if there's not actual eagerness on the other side I can't bring myself to move forward in any area of a relationship. I can't ask somebody out before flirting, I can't touch somebody past a casual attention-getting tap without permission, and any hesitation absolutely kills my drive unrecoverably.

B - Yes. He served jail time for it, several years of probation, and had to register. Nobody who actually knows him or her believes for a second it happened.

I should clarify that part of #A is fear of accused, and a larger part of it is fear of actually inadvertantly doing it. I don't think I could live with myself if somebody accused me of rape and I wouldn't be able to defend myself.

I don't have anything constructive to say on the whole ordeal, because I think you've already said everything I would and far more eloquently, but I just wanted to thank you profusely for the bit about everyone, without exception knowing someone close to them or having they themselves been sexually assaulted, because it's just the god-damned truth. I thank you because, despite this, very few people [especially men, unfortunately], at least in my experience, actually KNOW how disgustingly HIGH the statistic is. And a lot of people read your blog, so yeah. Nothing constructive, just a thanks for education and enlightenment once again.

Posting as anon. because people are still dealing with this.

A) N/A straight F.
B) Yes. Adult father accused of attacking a 15 year old girl who was a friend of his daughter. Was totally not true, she refused to take it to the police. He was still banned from his church and all his children were prevented from having any positions of authority. All sorts of ugly rumors there.

C) As a woman and when I was a girl, I was very aware of the fear of being alone with a male. A number of my friends have been raped or molested as children.

A) I don't fear it exactly, but I'm definitely aware of the possibility. And I'm be wary of situations that placed me alone with a woman I didn't know well (offering a ride to a stranded female motorist, for instance) because of it. Fortunately I don't have to worry about it on the dating/getting-lucky front, as my wife would likely frown on me "trying to get to know" strange women and I'd be too dead to worry about rape charges if I ever "got lucky" with one.

B)I have personally (real-life personally, not online) known five guys who were falsely accused of rape.

One did end up being convicted of statutory rape because the girl was underage, even though she eventually admitted the sex was consensual (and yes the dumbass banged a sixteen-year-old, but I've still got mixed feelings on that one as everything was apparently fine with the girl AND HER PARENTS until she got mad at him, then it was off to jail).

Two had the charges dropped when the women admitted they lied.

The fourth wasn't prosecuted because the woman's story didn't hold up to scrutiny by the police (they apparently figured out pretty quickly that she was lying even though she didn't admit it).

The fifth I absolutely KNOW didn't do it because he was with me at the time the woman claimed he was raping her, and I told the police that (she also admitted to lying eventually).

A - Not particularly. I'm not the one with the riding crop. :P

B - My step-cousin. He slept with a girl who told him she was nineteen (he was twenty-one, maybe twenty-two), she turned out to be seventeen, then she sued him for a hefty sum of money.

Oh, but I will say that I've been scared of being raped in some instances, because I don't always pass for a guy, and even when I do, I'm short, skinny, and come across as Very Gay. :\

B. I do know a very nice young man who was falsely accused but at the last minute the girl recanted. it's still on his record, however, and this makes it hard for him to do anything requiring a background check. his court transcript is even online, which really sucks because it was all BS and even in his most drunken moments, he'd never do anything like that.

also, pretty much every female i know has been sexually assaulted in one way or another.

As others have, I am choosing to post this anonymously for the sake of the people mentioned in my response.

1) Doesn't apply, because I am female.
2) Yes. A former boyfriend of mine was accused of rape by his then-girlfriend. He told me the circumstances while we were dating. She never brought legal charges against him, but he did lose a group of very close friends because of her accusation.

Additionally, my uncle's ex-wife accused him (falsely) during divorce proceedings of sexually abusing their two daughters. As a result, he was not allowed to see his daughters, period, until they turned 18.

Female, I do not personally know anyone who has been falsely accused of rape - but neither do I know anyone who has ever been sexually assaulted. No one I know has ever so much as felt *uncomfortable* being alone with a man for fear of sexual assault.

Can I understand the gut level reaction that women have? Absolutely. But one has to remember that while rape has, rightfully, harsh punishments, it's a crime that can be painfully difficult to apply the notion of "It is better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent suffer."

I've never been accused of rape, but a female friend of mine, in a public place a bit past dusk, once jokingly said to me, "What would you do if I yelled 'Rape!' right now?" Fortunately, she didn't 1. However, it was at that point that I realized that I had no idea. Running is bad. Staying is bad. So what would I do?

Now, is this something that a guy should worry about? On some level, yes.

In U.S., the media can report the name of the accused, but not the name of the accuser. This is due to laws protecting victims. Yet, in a false accusation, paradoxically, the victim is the accused not the accuser.

This means that a person falsely accused of rape can have their name and picture appear on the news (local/state/national) as well as on the internet. And in a trial by media, a man accused of rape will be treated as guilty until proven innocent. Remember the Duke lacrosse team scandal? To understand what that does to the falsely accused, see this very interesting story from the BBC : BBC News Magazine: Forever accused

As I understand it, the penalty for women making false accusations used to, in practice, not exist. Charges such as 'filing a false police report' and/or 'perjury' and/or 'kidnapping' 2, simply wouldn't happen in the past.

However, due to media attention, some district attorneys are starting to prosecute those that make false rape accusations now. These are still somewhat rare, but becoming more common. This is good because not only does it destroy lives, but real rape victims are less likely to be believed.

1 We had a long chat about the right and wrong ways for her to be scatter-brained.
2 Take the following as hearsay, as I am not a lawyer: I once had a long discussion about this topic with a criminal defense attorney, my father. At the time, he thought that if the falsely accused saw jail time due to officers acting in good faith, a kidnapping charge would be possible against the one making the false accusation. Under AZ law, he said a case might be made for [1] filing a false police report (misdemeanor) [2] perjury (felony) [3] kidnapping (felony). As far as he knew, it had never happened.

My brother in law has been falsely accused of rape. But that's the first time I've ever heard of that actually happening.

The number of women I know who have been raped, however, frankly astounds.

Also, I know males who have been raped. And if we're lowering the bar to sexual assault, I'm included in that number. (I usually don't count it, but it did happen.)

...okay, these two posts and the attached comments have taught me something weird about myself.

I am a woman and I do not have a fear of rape.

I'm starting to wonder if I should. I mean, I'm aware of the phenomenon and I know it is unpleasant and I do not want it to happen to me, but it's not a thought I have late at night when I'm out walking on my own.

Edit: So far as I know none of my male friends have been falsely (or truthfully, for that matter) accused of rape. Neither have I, though I am female, so that is perhaps intrinsically unlikely.

Edited at 2008-04-28 02:14 am (UTC)

Oddly, I don't have a fear of it either, and that's really stupid of me to have felt that way because when I was in my early to mid-20s, I did stuff that could have gotten me raped in different neighborhoods or certain circumstances.

The only time I ever got worried was when someone wouldn't let me leave the bedroom after we'd had sex. I had to dig my fingernails into his hands and wrists to get him to let me up. But eventually he did.

And here's the other crazy part. If I ever did get approached by a man who wanted to violently rape me, I'd scream bloody murder and risk being killed in order to protect myself. If he had a knife, I'd try to get to it and cut his hamstrings so he couldn't run away easily. I'd try and poke his eyes out, I'd try to break his nose, I'd try and FUCK HIM UP so that even if I died, there'd by physical evidence under my fingernails and they'd eventually find him.

I like sex too much to let other fucktards ruin it for me.

A) Nope, but I'm a generally fearless guy and I generally avoid relationships with women where that kind of misunderstanding could arise.

B) Nothing off the top of my head, but I could probably think of a partially applicable-situation eventually.