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breeden
ursulav

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: Happily married now but was always extremely paranoid and second guessing any and all signals that may or may not have existed, thereby leading to a rather truncated and abortive adolescence. The same problem does not seem to be a concern in the reverse I note, women can get away with a great deal of sexual harassment and advantage taking towards men who are always expected to take it in good humour.

B: Yes, more than one.

I am male and used to be female.

A) I do not fear falsely being accused of rape. I fear accidentally transgressing someone's boundaries because I have my head too far up my own ass at the time to realize that their silence is not consent. This is a major fear in the sense that when it is triggered it makes me sick to my stomach, but a minor fear in that it rarely occurs because I check in a lot with the people I'm intimate with to make sure we both want the same things.

I'd like to submit that a lot of men's fears of being falsely accused of rape could be better described as fear of being validly accused of rape that they didn't know they were committing at the time. I've heard many men say they were afraid of being falsely accused of rape, but in a "safe space" they will admit that they are actually afraid that they did something wrong (and are never willing to say the word "rape"). Not true of everyone, I'm sure, but there it is.

Incidentally, guys who fear being accused of rape (falsely or otherwise): You can relieve yourself of this fear pretty easily. Check in with the people you're having sex with to make sure you know what they want. If you aren't clear on what they want and don't want, wait until you get that clarified first. Don't do really heinously bad things to people you're sexual with. Accusing someone of rape, falsely or otherwise, is a huge ordeal and a lot of trauma—if you don't rape someone, and you don't cause someone more trauma than they'd experience accusing you of rape, you won't be accused of rape. Why? Because women, by and large, are smart and rational just like you are. If you knew that taking some guy to court for beating you up was likely to cost you your job, your reputation, thousands of dollars, some measure of your self-esteem, half your friends, and maybe your health insurance, would you take him to court for beating you up... when he hadn't actually done it? Stop thinking about women as mysterious unpredictable nonhuman creatures and you will have much less problems.

B) No. I know guys who were accused of sexual harassment, with some justification, who just couldn't figure out why what they were doing was wrong and didn't stop when asked/told repeatedly that they had to. I know a guy who went to jail for statutory rape. The girl he was seeing might have been intimidated into getting him arrested, or not, but it was actually statutory rape and he knew it. I knew a guy who actually committed rape and was never charged or challenged about it because of how much more traumatic the prosecution process can be in addition to the actual rape. I don't know anyone who was falsely accused.

Speaking as a guy who used to be a woman: Look, I'm a small man and have a lot to worry about. If I use the public men's room and someone figures out I used to be a woman, I could get the shit kicked out of me or be raped or be killed. It happens pretty regularly, just not that often where I live. HOWEVER, in most other circumstances, I don't have anything much to worry about. Strange men who come up to me are usually asking me for money or cigarettes. They may be bigger than me, but they aren't threatening me with their strength or with their sex. This happened all the time when I was living as a woman. By all the time I mean three days out of every four, and the fourth was because I happened not to leave my house that day. If you've never been a woman, then you should know that this is a real and valid fear, one many men invoke every day to get what they want, and one many men invoke without fully realizing what they're doing. Life will be a lot sexier for everyone without this fear in the world—so guys, lets stop invoking and reinforcing it.

Okay, I said above that I'm not really worried about being accused of rape, but I have to address this. The claim that "a lot of men's fears of being falsely accused of rape could be better described as fear of being validly accused of rape that they didn't know they were committing at the time" seems to be ignoring the descriptions of true experiences in this discussion. Checking with what your partner really wants (a good idea in the first place—actually, it shouldn't need a reminder, it should be expected) doesn't really address the case where the guy wasn't even around.

Remember, an accusation of rape is not necessarily made through legal channels. It can simply be made from one peer to another, with no legal but many social consequences for the accused (the court of public opinion doesn't hold itself to standards like "reasonable doubt" or "innocent until proven guilty").

You may have more faith in the rationality of humanity (regardless of gender) than I do. Emotional decisions are not always rational. And rationality does not necessarily imply honesty anyway (it can sometimes be personally advantageous, and therefore in some respect rational, to lie through one's teeth).

(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand
i'm female. i don't worry about being raped or assaulted very much. occasionally if i'm walking in an unfamiliar place at night. but mostly i forget to worry about it unless someone reminds me.

i have a friend/coworker who was falsely accused of sexual assault by a mutual friend/coworker. i don't think anyone actually believed her story(she was prone to telling tall tales for attention) but she caused some drama and a paper trail at work(it was after a work party). to this day i regret not explicitly taking sides and telling her off when she brought her claim up in front of me(multiple times). i'm still friends with the guy, i haven't talked to her in years, so i did take a side i guess, just not as vocally as i maybe should have. this was in Canada.. our age of consent is younger so statutory rape charges are much rarer. american men (both on and offline) seem either much more vocal about this fear or much more fearful than people i know in Canada.

I'm not afraid of being accused of rape, and I don't know anybody who has been (truly or falsely) accused of rape, harrasment or any sex offence.

A: It's not a Major Fear, but it's something I'm concerned about, mainly because of the impact it'd have on my goals for my career (computer forensics, working with the FBI, something of that nature).

B: I know of at least four false accusations. None of them involved the law.

-P

I have a male friend with Asberger's that manifests itself not only in a total inability to read "I'm uncomfortable" body language cues but also an inability to correctly project "I'm not going to hurt you" cues, even though he's one of the sweetest guys I know and would never, ever hurt someone on purpose. It's subtle, but there have been people (girls, mostly) who have their fight-or-flight instincts triggered by his very presence because he's not projecting the right body language. He's absolutely terrified by his ability to make women uncomfortable and never notice, to the point that he made a very serious promise to himself that if a woman tells him to go away, no matter what the context, he will do so without comment or argument. This doesn't stop people from making false accusations against him--nothing so serious as rape, but vague "inappropriate behavior" things--to keep him out of their social groups.

Actually, I've got a buddy like that as well--terribly harmless, would literally rather chew his own limbs off than violate ANYBODY's free will, but owing to a combination of sheer mass and some other factors, he...well...looms. He tries very hard not to, but there's just...the back of your neck starts to go "This might be a good time to start scopin' the exits."

Seems to be an archetype.

(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand
My dear, male friend is now considered a felon and is permanently scarred - afraid of getting close to a female - because of what happened to him.

He hooked up with this girl he met in a club (club was 18+ to get in the door). He was drunk, but she wasn't. She consented, they had sex. When he woke up, she told him that she was 15, and told him that if he refused to be her boyfriend, she'd tell her father about what happened. He refused. When he was arrested, he signed a plea bargain...under duress, because he couldn't afford a decent lawyer to advise him or defend him OR argue the duress defense.

A) Yes, but it is a very minor fear. I am more aware that a woman could be frightened by me, a male, even in public, and especially in scenarios such as night-time bus stop, etc. - Actions I take might be mis-interpreted.

B) No, not that I know of.

a) Not really, but that's because I take things VERY slow. I've yet to date a girl I haven't already known for months, so I trust them not to get freaky by that point.

b) Not personally. There was a rumor or two in high school but I never knew the people or found out the details. Most of what I know on the subject comes from news coverage of the Duke lacrosse team.

A) I'm male and I'm vaguely afraid of being falsely accused of some mis-conduct of the sexual nature at all times except with females I'm comfortable around and know well. Though, I will never have to worry about the whole: "girlfriend/sexual partner out for revenge and calling something that was consensual rape" thing because I'm not interested in any type of sexual behaviour unless you call a hug and a peck on the cheek(at most) sexual behaviour. Though I do not hug people who I don't know for absolute certainty that they would be okay with it.
My biggest fear though is someone making up something and accusing me of it with no basis, because if gets past the point where you're taken into custody for it(aka the police buy her story) you're screwed for the rest of your life whether you're found innocent or not.
As for the second part of the question I'm told I can be intimidating, but I'm not afraid I'll be accused of anything, though I'm sure she'd probably be a little nervous when she spots me.

B)nope don't know anyone that has been falsely accused

Here by way of nancylebov. It goes beyond saying that I'm afraid of false accusation of attempted rape; it has, in fact, happened to me, so I'm quite well aware that it could happen again. And as I told Nancy, thinking over it, I personally know approximately the same number of men who've been falsely accused of rape as women who've been raped or subjected to attempted rape. Which is actually quite remarkable, now that I think of it, because I don't hang out with other men very much, I have about twice as many female friends as male friends. So while the plural of anecdote is not data, my own personal experience would suggest that false accusations of rape outnumber actual attempted rapes by about two to one.

Despite my strong feelings on this subject, I will respect that it's your blog and not bring up a long series of very high profile false rape accusation cases from the news that it seems obvious to me you should be able to think of off hand, nor belabor the seems-to-me obvious point that it doesn't take many pathological liars who know that this accusation is a reliable and pretty reliably safe way to ruin a man's life if they don't like him for such a problem to be a pretty common experience for men. After all, if a man attempts to rape a woman, he's facing pretty serious legal consequences. If a woman falsely accuses a man of rape, then unless she takes it so far as to do so under oath during the trial, she faces no consequences worse than social ostracism ... if that much, since by and large, nearly all of her personal friends and virtually every woman will believe her rather than him.

I personally know approximately the same number of men who've been falsely accused of rape as women who've been raped or subjected to attempted rape. Which is actually quite remarkable, now that I think of it, because I don't hang out with other men very much, I have about twice as many female friends as male friends. So while the plural of anecdote is not data, my own personal experience would suggest that false accusations of rape outnumber actual attempted rapes by about two to one.

Given the number of women who say absolutely nothing about their sexual assault experiences to anyone (much less a good acquaintance), I suspect that this comparison is considerably off base.

If a woman falsely accuses a man of rape, then unless she takes it so far as to do so under oath during the trial, she faces no consequences worse than social ostracism ... if that much, since by and large, nearly all of her personal friends and virtually every woman will believe her rather than him.

I also disagree with this. I'm not going to belabor you with detailed accounts and statistics, but I sincerely hope that you will seek out more information on the subject and decide for yourself from a position of statistical strength instead of anecdotal observation.

A. Not a male, but am considering getting into the teaching field and this does scare me. Even if you are proven 100% innocent, that is the kind of thing that will not die in the halls of a high school for a long, long time, assuming the proceedings don't completely kill your career first. I find the idea so abhorrent and I imagine there will be great lengths of "WHAT NOT TO DO" training, I hope to /never/ be in that situation, but sometimes I lie awake at night fretting about a student angry at me for failing grades thinking of ways to get back at me.

B. Not rape, but I know a fellow going through a messy breakup whose ex accused him of threatening her and called the police. I only know him online, so there may be some things I haven't heard, but he really doesn't strike me as the 'vindictive threatening' type. Granted this is an LJ/WoW acquaintance so I don't claim to know even the majority of the story. Otherwise, no, not really.

You probably have more than enough responses, but my 2 cents for your question B:
I personally know at least one male person who was falsely accused of rape and know of several others. I also (sadly) have personally met (as in not friends with but became passing acquaintances with) one of the women who did the false accusing. We had a really wacked out femme-nazi head-of-health-services at our college and false rape accusations were a major problem.

Since college I have not actually seen this problem in real life. I like to believe that this is because people are really capable of growing up, but it may just be because I hang out with vastly more intelligent people now.

Stats

(Anonymous)
I haven't read every single comment, but as a peer educator for the women's center at my university, I feel the need to note certain specifically college related statistics (I believe the info comes from a study that includes 36 colleges and 6,000 students):

Only 5% of all rapes are reported. Only 2% of the 5% of reported rapes are falsely reported.

In addition, it should be noted that reporting a rape and actually getting someone convicted of the crime is a long and relatively difficult process, both emotionally and legally. Obviously some people do falsely report rapes, but it is far more likely that they are telling the truth. The statistics apply specifically to college students, so interpret this as you like, but I doubt the overall ratio of false reports to real reports could be much higher.

That is a rather sad statistic. Almost half of the reported rapes turn out to be false accusations? No wonder victims fear being taken seriously!

I wonder if that 2% turn out to be totally false--like a revenge accusations against an ex--or if they turn out to be ify cases--like a drunk 'victim' who can't remember why/if she consented, or complicated, nonviolent date rape situations. IE, are they really false reports or just cases that can't be successfully tried in the court system?

Re: Stats (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Stats (Anonymous) Expand