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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. 

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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)

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 don't think it makes you a misogynist, feeling that a group is being treated unfairly by a system does not automatically mean you hate yet a third group... but I do think it is a fairly incorrect assessment of the realities of what it is like to actually make a formal rape accusation; the justice system is pretty well established as being fairly unsympathetic to accusers of any stripe (whether they be male, female, child, elderly, it doesn't matter who is the accuser, the system is simply not supportive).

Yah... this has been a hard conversation in our house too. It touches on hot-button issues in both directions. My fiance has known two men who had their lives ruined by accusations of sexual *harassment* -- and according to him, in both cases the people had NO IDEA that they'd said or done anything offensive.

One of the things Joel said to me was that he thought that if this conversation had happened a year ago (before we were engaged), we probably wouldn't be engaged now. Not in the "I'm so angry I'm having second thoughts." But because it's a topic that raises BIG RED BUTTONS for both of us in slightly different ways. He's been surprised that he hasn't wound up on the couch over it. (Although I'd never considered that.)

The language of the issues is so loaded that it's very difficult for us to discuss it without triggering strong feelings and feeing defensive.

"knowing that if a woman accuses him of sexual assault or violence against her her word will automatically have more weight than his..."

See, and my issue is more that so many rape trials end up blaming the victim and pointing out all the ways she was "asking for it." A HUGE number of women who've been raped never speak up due to the way they are dragged through the mud in court. Seriously, having read what I've read (Alice Sebold's memoir "Lucky" is about her rape and subsequent trial) and seeing how badly the courts treat women who bring rape charges to men, I'm sort of surprised to read all these comments about men being falsely accused and such. Why would any woman put herself through the trial and all the crap they say and do to her reputation if she's lying? It's hard for women who HAVE been actually assaulted to deal with the trials... I just... the mind boggles. I suppose that's when you enter batshit crazyville and normal earth logic no longer applies.

I also wonder if women and men draw a different line in the sand as to where assault/rape begins. I can't help but think there are men who've been accused who didn't think they did anything wrong but the woman in question really, honestly feels like he took advantage of her and assaulted her. Is it that some men think "it's not rape if there wasn't intercourse"? Just mulling things over now...

I think many many many women have been in the place where they are uncomfortable, are doing something or having something done to them that they don't particularly want and may feel scared or upset about... but don't know how to stop it. Or they aren't sure if it would stop even if they spoke up and said no. It's a bad place to be in and I think more attention needs to paid to help women be assertive and help men *listen* to the women they are with... even if she's saying something he doesn't want to hear at that moment.

If a women (or man) says no and the other person keeps going, he/she is in the wrong. Period.
If the charge of rape/assault ruins their lives, I think they deserve it for being a jerk and doing something they must KNOW is wrong. A sudden case of deliberate deafness doesn't not make what they've done right.

If anyone says no and the other person keeps going,they are in the wrong - I agree with that statement entirely.

I don't agree with your statement that if the charge ruins their life, they must deserve it; what about the cases in which the person has genuinely not done something wrong? I do believe that those exist. You ask why a woman would put herself through the crap that an accusation brings if she's lying. I would like to ask you in return why you would assume in return that the man is lying, given that such an accusation can permanently ruin his reputation and put his career and future at risk.

In asking and stating this, I am in no way intending to trivialize the experience of victims nor those who've been put on trial and dragged through the mud; however, this kind of assumption, that this can't possibly happen, is damaging and unfair to BOTH genders.

I know more women than I can count on BOTH hands who have been raped, sexually assaulted, or narrowly escaped it.

I don't know ONE who reported it.

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