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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. 

What follows are just my opinions. If you want citations, go find 'em yourself. Also, generalizing a female accusing male situation here, i know all possible combinations have occurred.

A: I'm not so much worried about being *accused*, but what worries me is that once a guy has BEEN accused of certain crimes, (mostly sexual/physical assaults of various degrees) it becomes really hard to defend yourself. I do my best to be considerate, so i don't worry that my conduct will earn me such accusations. However, should any accusation be leveled, i know for a fact that i would probably get more scrutiny as a male than if the roles were reversed.

What worries me more is that having the "Sex Offender" label appended to your name, even when "alleged" is tacked on, can follow you for the rest of your life. Many people who have found themselves mistakenly put on sex offender lists have had their lives ruined by it, and have had the devil's own time getting themselves removed again. It's also not hard to find stories of people who are later acquitted of such crimes have still been forced to stay registered on the offender lists, and wait years before it gets properly sorted out. (Depending on the state and local laws, this can cost people jobs, houses, livelihood, etc. Here in maryland, you hafta get way the hell out into horse and farm country before you can be X far away from school/daycare/children at all required times.)

I realize that this fear of the wrath of unfair bias and insidious bureaucracy doesn't match up with the fear of "i might be fucked and killed", yet i think that it might just be this imbalance which stacks the deck against the accused.

B: I have to say... I'm not sure. Among people i know, i've heard several accounts that all boil down to "he said, she said", and i have little or nothing more than that to go on. I wasn't involved, nor was i privy to any other evidence. Once that can of worms is opened, either result is pretty awful. Either person A is capable of such an assault, or person B is capable of lying in order to cause harm to person A. I've never been directly involved in such proceedings, and this is a trend i hope to continue for the rest of my life.

Back in 1988, I hung out on a Muck of some sort. This was an adults-only muck, so there was lots of sex going on, pretty much all the time.

And one day, this guy I'd never met virtually walked up to me in the 'community' area of the Muck, and loudly accused me of sexually assaulting (virtually) his significant other, acting horrifically and meanly towards her.

Now, I'd met her, and it's even possible I flirted with her, but needless to say I was flabbergasted and pissed. I denied it, and asked the Ops to do a log search to check my conduct and see if there was any validity to the accusation. But even though this was a textual, virtual world I felt in a maelstrom of emotion. I felt dishonored, and further felt that there was absolutely nothing I could do in the court of public opinion.

It was about an hour and a half later that my accuser showed back up, horrified. He'd seen my username, and it sounded like the username of someone his significant had described as a jerk (though not to the extent he claimed, it's worth noting), and his brain substituted it. He was upset, just as loudly trying to exonerate me -- though by then, most of the people had left for the afternoon.

As for me? I stopped hanging out on that muck, and in general stopped hanging out on mucks at all. And thinking back, that was probably the last time I used the online handle I used there. So in one sense, I essentially ended up changing my name and leaving town.

Does any of this in any way compare to the horror of rape or the fear of the same? No. Categorically not. Rape is ten thousand times more serious.

But it still sucked pretty damn hard, because in the end there was nothing I could do about it. Even if they'd done the log search and (obviously) come up with nothing, the accusation would have clung to my name and endured.

A friend of a friend of mine had a worse situation. A person who was having trouble with her relationship after hooking up with said friend of a friend tried to resolve it by claiming said friend of a friend forced her. It wasn't a false accusation out of 'malice,' but out of a desire to defuse a home situation. Her significant went to the police to swear out a complaint, and it became a nasty scene for all involved.

(If there's one thing that does upset me, it's those who claim that no woman would ever, under any circumstances, falsely accuse a man of rape, because that's bull. There are scummy people of both sexes, and some people misuse the mechanisms we put out with good intentions. However, I reject the idea that the possibility of false accusation should ever be used to deflect any woman's right to lodge an accusation. If that makes sense. It's late, and this is an emotional topic.)

Hm. As for the fear -- I can't say I'm afraid I'll be accused of such things. Though given I work with teenagers in my day job, if I ever were accused of such things, even if exonerated, my professional life would be over. The school would not take chances with such things.

A) Female, N/A
B) No one I know, though I've heard some friends discussing it in regards to people they know. But no one personally that I know of.

I am oddly, one of the rare women that has almost no fear of rape. I use to walk to school in pitch black for a winter, walked home at night quite often... And while I had fear, I'm never afraid of the solid, very real human threats, like rapists and muggers. I'm much more worried about the intangible probably-don't-exist creatures that go bump in the night.

For example, I made a point not to walk under trees when walking to school in the mornings. This COULD be put off to being fear of a cougar jumping down on me (cougars were, while not common, possible in the small town I lived in). But no. I was more worried about strange things with wings. Not that I thought they really WOULD jump down on me, but I still wanted to be sure they wouldn't.

The only time I've really felt a real, solid fear of rape is when an escaped convict was loose in my neighborhood. The guy was in jail for molesting his daughters. Turns out he was captured like, an hour or two after his escape, so I was never in any danger anyway.

The rest of time, fear of rape is very low on my spectrum of fears, which is probably not smart, but that's always how it's been. Of course, I'm also fairly sexually oblivious as well.

A.) I'm a woman, so that's not an issue.

B) No, just rare instances heard about from others.

Question: has there ever been a satisfactory legal resolution of sexual harassment? The stories all seem to be either "And we reported it and they told us he was just being friendly so we should shut up and put up with it!" or "And this crazy woman reported him and everybody believed her and he was fired and his life was ruined!"

Ditto with rape cases, really. Are they all getting thrown out of court because she was wearing a miniskirt and clearly asking for it, or are they all slamming the guys into prison for fifty years without asking any questions of anyone? Does our legal system ever deal with these things sanely and competently? (Don't answer that.)

(Y'know, I had no idea so many guys were honestly worried about this. Huh.)

I think by the time it gets to legal resolution, it's beyond the point that can be resolved satisfactorily.

NOT sexual harassment, but a co-worker was blithering on about The Gays in what I'm sure she thought was a funny kind of way. I had a word with someone, who had a word with her, and there has never been that problem again. Though I'm sure she was steaming that some people have no sense of humor.

A) Not male

B) Knew one woman who boasted about getting a guy charged with rape, but she could easily have been bullshitting the rest of us.

Knew one guy who had bullshitted everyone into believing that the accusation of rape made against him was false until he tried to pull the same thing on another girl and made the mistake of doing it while her roommate was in the next room with a tape recorder and a gun. After that the first girl who'd cried rape against him got a lot more sympathy, but it was hard as hell on her to not be believed when she'd told the truth.

Incidentally, it's conversations like this that make me think that we ought to have sex "passports" where you get permission and Sign each other's passport before you start.

Yes, that means no anonymous sex. And yes, the passport would have the results and date of your latest HIV test or the like.

To me, if it's not informed consent, it's not consent. "Didn't say no," isn't good enough. "Asked for it" isn't good enough either, if the person doing the asking is obviously too impaired to understand the consequences.

(But I'm strange, to me a marriage license ought to mean, "passed the test of being able to take care of myself, so am now qualified to try to take care of someone else too."

Yes to both A and B.

With respect to A, it's not a huge fear, but it's something you have to think about.

Ditto with the child abuse, molestation thing. I don't know anyone that's been accused of it, but I'm pretty nervous interacting with children if the parent's not right there. (In this case, teaching martial arts classes).

That said, the number of females that I know that claim to have been raped (a terrifyingly high percentage of the total number of women that I know) is waaay larger than the number of guys that I know that have been accused of it. So, uh, it's pretty obviously worse for the gals.

A. No, but, while I'm straight and male, I'm so atypical in personal interactions that no one, including me, considers my reactions any guide to what's common or normal in our society.

B. Not rape per se, but harassment, abuse, sexual perversion, and endangering national security (!). After the breakup of a several-year-long relationship, my former partner made a variety of accusations, filed for a restraining order, and contacted my employer (where I held high-level security clearances) with claims that I had revealed classified information. Fortunately, the investigating agencies are apparently accustomed to dealing with false accusations, and quickly determined that her claims were unfounded. (The "perversions" part involved a series of letters mailed to several of my friends, ostensibly from others of my friends, with, erm, interesting claims about things I'd either done or tried to do. Fortunately (and unfortunately for whoever actually sent the letters), my friends continued to talk to me, and to each other, and the fraudulent nature of the letters quickly became apparent.)

A) Female, so no real fear.

B) I don't know anyone who has been falsely accused of rape, really, but I've been in a Situation.

When I was with one of my exs, there were a couple times where I was consenting, at first, but as we got in to things, I started to get wigged out and started to say "no" or "stop." I don't know if I wasn't being loud enough or he wasn't listening to me or I wasn't pushing on him hard enough, possibly all of them, but he didn't stop. He wasn't being malicious or anything, I don't think, but I didn't call him on it, either. Is it rape? I know many will say yes, but him not noticing I wasn't into it and me not making him understand I wasn't in to it. Is it worth painting him with a rapist's brush? And would it be a false accusation? I mean, I wasn't objecting right off the bat and I've had sex with him afterward where everything was fine.

I know that at least a few people will say "Of course you were raped! Tell on him!" Also, some might wonder as I do, but might not speak up.

Anyways, I've grown more of spine since then and I also know how to -make- someone stop and listen to me, and that I need to do that, if I want them to stop. I don't particularly fear rape. Most men wouldn't care to, and those that might try it, well, I know enough to stop them from hurting me.

Not an answer to either questions, but to the one you didn't ask:

I am closely related to a man who has been raped.

A) Female.

B) No false rape accusations. However, I received an unwanted obscene phone call, from someone who knew me, and in retrospect there are multiple people it could have been, and it was entirely possibly not the person I thought it was at the time.

A) Can I answer this even though I'm female? I work with kids (as a tutor), and am planning to continue working with kids into the foreseeable future (as a teacher), so I have a low level of concern that I'll be... I won't say falsely, but inaccurately accused of inappropriate behavior. The kids I work with now range from about 5 to 11 years old, and while I can't imagine any of them deliberately trying to get me into trouble -- which is what I associate with "falsely accused", for whatever reason -- I can easily imagine, say, giving a kid a hug, a slightly misplaced hand momentarily landing on a rear end, a kid going home and saying "Miss Elizabeth hugged me today and she touched my butt!", and presto, I'm fired and have to come up with a new career plan. It's not a big concern, but it's enough that I'm not giving out indiscriminate hugs anytime soon.

B) I knew both the guy and the girl in a his-word-against-hers situation. The girl had a long history of making up outrageous stories for attention (we were all in high school) and the guy was known for gentlemanly behavior, so I was inclined to believe him over her, but there was no particular proof either way. (Also no real consequences: she only made the accusation to a group of mutual friends, never to an authority figure or anything.)

I know a couple of men who have been falsely accused, neither to the point of police involvement, but serious badmouthing from girls who had tried it on and either failed or changed their minds afterwards.

A. Back in my distant and deeply insecure youth, I did occasionally feel slightly worried about this in a fairly abstract way; it was never a fear, let alone a major one, and I got better :)

B. Nope, never in my 50½ years. OTOH, I've known and know many women who've been raped, assaulted and sexually abused; I think the majority of women I've been in relationships with or otherwise know well enough to talk about such things are survivors of one violence or another.

A/ Female, so not answering, but kinda carefull around men sometimes, especially those I don't know.

B/ I don't really know anyone, but I'm kinda unobservant "je plane" as we said in france.
But when I was twelve or thirteen, during interclass, a boy grab me by behind, boobs and crotch, for a silly bet he made with friends. I elbow him and tried to kick his ass when he fled laughting, but I never said anything to the adults that where supposed to watch over us, cause the "friends *" I was talking about were just laughting it off and calling me silly for behind nearly in tears.
Lets saids it kinda amper with my feminity back then, I went for more that ten years of acting and dressing like a boy so no men will find me attractive. I still have problem with showing a little cleavage and leg and accepting compliments from unknown men without blushing and having the urge to run.

*I had a very lonely scholarship after that, I didn't need friends who wouldn't defend me.