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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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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.

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