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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) Not particularly. I am much more afraid of being falsely accused of something like child molestation- as one friend of mine put it, he refuses to get in an elevator if the only occupant is a child, because if the doors open and the kid points and says "He touched me" your life is over. I do not know if that is more of a male or female fear.

B) Yes, I know someone who dropped out of college because an ex invented a rape accusation.

Female, have been in the very-dubious-consent situation of having not said no because I didn't think he'd stop if I did and I didn't want to deal with all the fallout of that.

My husband (not the guy who did that) is very touchy about feminism as a movement, because he's gotten a lot of the negative fallout of it; being feared simply because he's male, knowing that if a woman accuses him of sexual assault or violence against her her word will automatically have more weight than his, having seen and experienced situations where custody and child support are awarded to the mother even when it's unfair and a burden to the father. And because he can't talk about it, can't talk about getting an unfair backlash from feminism, without being labeled misogynist and anti-feminist.

So he's very touchy and sometimes angry about it. We talk about it sometimes, and it almost always is an argument first before it can be a calm and mutually informative discussion. The wording used in his touchy issues overlaps and conflicts with the wording used in my touchy issues, even though we have very similar opinions and beliefs at base.

I considered anon-ing this comment to keep him anon. But hell, I'll stand behind what I say, and I know he will too.

Bless you

Hi, Dejah's boyfriend popping back up from page two --

Bless you. Ellen and I went through a lengthy editing of my original post precisely because I went into a tangent about this. I will defend to my dying day the right for a person who has been accosted and abused to find some measure of peace and justice, but I am so damn tired of the fact that someone just has to say one word and an innocent man's life is completely over. Men are always, ALWAYS guilty in the eyes of the law and the eyes of the public. And I say that as someone who was abused by a man when he was a boy.

I ask the women I know and am closest to constantly if articulating the fact the justice system (and the court of public opinion) is slanted towards women makes me a misogynist. I mean, when I'm trying to vocalize an emotion this rocky and complicated, it's very easy to teeter into the realm of the same sort of person who accused me. "Woe is me, these people are picking on me and I must take drastic action by painting a wide group of people with the same brush." After what happened to me, I truly considered taking an oath of chastity. I wasn't even involved in a relationship with the woman who accused me, nor were we ever alone together. Considering her story was predicated on my supposedly violating her in the middle of a busy hotel lobby... You can see why I have very little faith in the court of public opinion exonerating an innocent party on evidence or common sense alone.

(Indeed, Ellen's had to stop me from crying a few times as I read this thread, because I KEEP INTERPRETING WHAT A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE SAYING AS ALLEGING THIS DOES NOT OR CANNOT HAPPEN TO MEN, and it makes me borderline hysterical -- do I feel I am anywhere near as wronged as someone who's been raped? God no. But it's still a pretty damned huge violation. Your name is sullied FOREVER)

(Deleted comment)
Well, that depends. Some rapists are classic bully/cowards, and will back off at a firm show of physical resistance, even if unskilled. OTOH, some go armed and knowledge of self-defense may not help.

Hope your canoing didn't get rained out!

Man, there are a lot of comments... All I know is that I will be severely pissed if some guy at some con asks me if he can touch my boobs. That's when Matt's kung-fu training would come in handy, I imagine. You are welcome to borrow him sometime.

This conversation kind of reminds me of the father of an acquaintance of mine. He was a bit of a homophobe and my acquaintance tried to explain that it was because when his father was younger he was in a situation where he somehow felt "pressured" by some interested homosexuals. Nothing happened, consensual or otherwise, he just felt "pressured". Which made me even madder because basically this guy had a lifetime hang-up against gay men because for a couple of minutes years ago he had to feel like women feel EVERY SINGLE DAY of their lives. Such a very, very small percentage of males get this.

- Cassie

had to feel like women feel EVERY SINGLE DAY of their lives.

I would not be one of those women.

a) Female, non-applicable.

b) None. That said, reading through this thread has made me reconsider my instinctive scoffing on this; it seems like accusations that are at least believed to be false are made a lot more often than I would have imagined. So I've got more sympathy and understanding for the male fear.

That said... I can think of, without even trying, over half a dozen incidents among people I know where there clearly was rape, harassment, abuse, or molestation, and there was never any punishment for the (in the experience of those I know, always male) perpetrator.

Getting falsely accused sounds awful; the knowledge that most people who actually do so get off scott free in the current system is worse, to me.

Edited at 2008-04-28 03:57 am (UTC)

Guy here. As a teacher I made damn sure never be in a room alone with a female student-this was something explicitly taught to us on job training. I'm tempted to dismiss this as a load, except that:
a) I'm often too dismissive of things, and
b) I know of at least two instances on my college campus last year where rapes were reported, and the accuser confessed to lying later. (and I'm aware that there are those who are intimidated into withdrawing accusations. I don't know which possibility is more horrible.)

Having said that it was never much of a personal fear.

A) Not so afraid of false accusations of rape. But definitely paranoid about accusations of sexual harassment. Just asking an attractive coworker if she wants to go to a concert feels like walking through a minefield. I'm also afraid when I find myself walking down a street behind a woman with few people around that she'll think I intend to rape her—if she turns a corner I intend to turn, I'll sometimes take a more awkward route just so she won't feel like I'm following her (this fear is not really for me, more because I don't want to make anybody scared or uncomfortable).

B) Nope.

hahaha, I do the "take the more awkward route to avoid accidently looking like a stalker" and I'm a girl, so I find it kind of ironically funny that I also feel a need to do that.

a) Yes. It is not a major fear. Nor do I think it's a particularly rational one; it's more that thing about "humans fear unlikely events with terrible consequences disproportionate to the actual risk", I'd guess. <knock on wood>

b) No, not that I'm aware of.

I'm female. I know many women who have been raped, and one who was murdered by her soon-to-be ex-husband (a well-known pillar of the community) while their two young children were in the next room.

I have never known anyone who was falsely accused of rape. (Or truly, for that matter.)

A. - Female, can't answer. Can attest to previous statement about every woman knowing people who have been sexually abused. I can think of six or seven relatives and close friends right offhand. I don't think any of them ever reported it to the police. Still don't fully understand why one won't use parking garages out of fear of lurking rapists but regularly sees the relative who molested her as a child.

To answer B: Yes, but I can only think of one. Messed-up situation; I don't know the whole story, but it was somehow found out that a friend's young cousin had been molested. It was the aunt's boyfriend who'd done it, the aunt decided to blame my friend instead, and I'm not really sure what led up to it and if it was ignorance or malice or just insanity. Fortunately for him, everybody else knew he hadn't done it. Unfortunately for the cousin, when the truth came out, the aunt "forgave" the boyfriend and stayed with him. Ugh.

not that i think this will get read much but since you asked.

one i am male and two i am gay so...

I was molested when i was a kid by the librarian at my school. i don't really remember much of it other than getting pushed against a wall and getting told that if i said anything that he would come out to my house and kill my dog.

years later in Highschool a girl from my nieghborhood had a nightmare that i had raped her. within a day or two she decided that i had raped her. Most of the school and a lot of other people knew me a LOT better than that. i finally had to confront her in the lunch room during lunch where i told her that i was gay and would not rape her if satan gave me power and money. and of course as happens when you try to same something in a loud room where you do not want everyone to hear what you just said it had that weird silence thing happen where only my loud voice carried on. Quite the OMG moment. kinda a red neck school i went to. However i was lucky and all that happened was many people laughed at her and suddenly i became the token male to girls nights only things. where i found out about the ritual of "hair washing" and that it required more time and strange chemicals than one can really think of. also mayo and aluminum on the head was not weird for that...

years later again as i posted in PsuedoManitou's journal while in college i had a girl who decided she was going to do stuff with me and well it got out of hand... and i was not a happy camper for a very long time.
not that that had much to do with anything other than well i felt raped. but for men we are not supposed to say anything about it.

as far as the fear goes. yes even as a gay man i fear some woman screaming rape at me if say i was walking down a road at night as i often do due to sun allergies. back in highschool it killed me inside that that girl had accused me of such and well i was glad that the conforntation took a while to happen and that my fear had become anger by then.

(Deleted comment)
A) N/A, since I'm female. I do not, however, fear that I will ever be raped.

B) Maybe? Two friends of mine had dated, then broke up, and a bit later she was claiming up and down he had raped her. He said he didn't, and she never took him to court or anything. Her integrity isn't exactly solid, so I'm more inclined to believe his side of the story.

I'm not going to claim that the two scenarios are equivalent, since they clearly aren't, but yes, I do know men who have been falsely accused of rape. I have been so accused myself; as have two of my friends, one of whom ended up being arrested on said rape charge, and only released when he was able to demonstrate, via reliable witnesses, that it would have been impossible for him to have done so, being halfway across the state at the time.

Fortunately, a false accusation of rape is rather easier to shake off than a false accusation of paedophilia. Particularly when the accuser does a good job of discreditting herself.

Haven't read any of the other posts here; I don't have that kind of time. Still, I want to weigh in, as a male.

A) Maybe not major, but certainly a concern. Similarly, one of the reasons I'm uncomfortable around children is for fear I'll get accused of mistreating them somehow. While working at an after-school center once, I refused to pick up a little girl who asked me to. I don't remember what excuse I concocted for her, but the real reason was that some high-strung parent might freak out at seeing their little girl in the arms of a big, bearded, long-haired man.

B) I admit that I don't know anyone who's been falsely accused, whereas I do know women who have been raped. But fear is hardly ever rational. (In your case, for example, the number of people who are killed and skinned annually is -- and I'm going out on a limb here -- probably around zero. But I'm also guessing you were being hyperbolic.)

It's just a pattern. When you have a situation where just accusing someone of X will trash their reputation for years to come, people get skittish. As a white, middle-class male, I'm afraid of getting accused of sexual harassment, racism, and classism. If I lived in the fifties, I'd probably fear communist or homosexual allegations as well. Reputations are fragile things, so you'll have to forgive us for being alarmed by things that could completely destroy them.

Also, it seems silly to compare "rape" to "being falsely accused of rape". I don't think any man would claim that those things are equally bad. They're not exclusive, as you point out, and comparing them draws attention away from the fact that they're both damn scary.

And it's not just women who get raped, molested, or sexually abused. I know more than my fair share of men who qualify for one of those three.