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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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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).

I would like the point out the large number of uses of rape-accusation as a threat or punishment listed here. They may not be reported, but... I am female, 5' even, weight around 100lbs soaking wet, and I got accused of raping another girl when I wouldn't date her. So all of the "Well I don't look scary so it won't happen" or "As long as you don't do anything that could be mistaken for rape..." are no match for the fact that Some People Be Crazy.

I don't doubt you have a valid fear of being accosted or persecuted if anyone learned you'd had sexual reassignment surgery, but dude, I have to ask -- did you mean for this statement to come across as the male equivalent of "she was asking for it?" Because in none so many words, you... Are saying that. A man accused of committing a sex crime is secretly afraid of being "caught" on a past misdeed. He was "asking for it." He DESERVED to be called a rapist.

I was accused of rape for having a shouting match in the middle of a hotel lobby, surrounded by tons of people. And she didn't accuse me during some unaccounted for period of time -- she accused me of doing it IN THE LOBBY. She is a BLACK BELT, and I am myself a frail and reed-thin man. Even with video evidence of the conflict exonerating me, the rumors against me persist.

I guess I'm curious how this fits into the archetype I keep seeing provided here over and over. There's almost no responses to guys recounting this has happened to them or to friends of theirs, but there is a lot of discussion and empathy towards the women who survived horrible crimes of this nature. Am I wrong to feel as though this is a rampant double-standard about victimization? More than one person (male and female alike) has told me that BECAUSE SHE IS A WOMAN, her allegations have more weight. Am I supposed to dismiss that explanation out of hand? Her being a woman trumps the fact she could have beaten me to death in a matter of seconds. This being the answer people give for why they believe it is getting dismissed out of hand by people on this thread, it seems. People were willing to believe a rape occurred in a hotel lobby, surrounded by staff, guests, and security, because the accuser was a woman.

Maybe the courts are biased against women. That's entirely possible, and I rescind my prior statement if that's the case. It's not the perspective I'd been given in my own custody trail, but it's possible. Women would probably know better than I do about the track record of the law in these matters. But to argue the court of public opinion does not tend most often to swing towards "the woman was always the victim?" Even women I know who were raped have said what happened to me was a perversion of justice precisely because people believe women more than men.

What happened to me was in no way the same sort of crime which happens when someone is raped, but my honor was impugned. I was violated, albeit in a much less tangible and psychologically devastating way. And it was perpetuated by a woman whose sole explanation was "I was just so mad at him, I didn't think." I never had any sort of sexual relationship with her. We hugged, once, in a public place. How in the world does that compute with your assessment of how these transgressions occur?

(excuse me if I seem irritable, I'm trying not to -- it just really stings to see a guy who identified with his gender to the point of having reassignment surgery coming down so firmly on "the guy is almost inevitably the cause of the problem, and women are never crazy enough to make false accusations for no discernible gain," and this produced a really strong bout of depression for a bit of today)

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