[Trigger warning for rape on all links]
What the fuck is wrong with these people? I keep seeing the same argument again and again and again and again , the idea that being accused of rape is not simply as bad as being raped but often worse. I honestly can’t believe how people can be so fucking dense so as to think this is true.
Note that I am not saying that being falsely accused of rape is not bad and can utterly damage your life, but it just does not even compare to the experience of being raped. Yes, both are subjective damages but the overwhelming anecdotes we have of rape survivors show psychological damage of such extent that it can never be repaired or avoided. Being falsely accused of rape on the other hand is only as bad as being falsely accused of many other very socially unacceptable crimes such as drug dealing and murder. The effect reach only as to the extent of people who know about your crimes and consider them bad enough.
A person falsely accused of rape (and convicted of course) may, at the worst case scenario lose friend and family and have their career ruined, but given time they can find new friends who will believe them and repair their social circle, even while hindered by the state. Many times they even clear their names eventually (otherwise we wouldn’t have such a nice influx of False Rape Accusation news stories for the Men’s Right crowd to cheer around). But apparently for some, even the short term damage of a false rape accusation that a male was eventually cleared from, compares to being actually raped.
Here’s the difference though, a rape victim most likely will never escape the damage of the event. Once the deed has been done, the scar will stay forever, no matter if the perpetrator is punished. You cannot undo the rape. You cannot restore the lost trust. You cannot wipe the memory triggers. Any story from rape victims that I’ve heard is magnitudes worse than most false rape accusation stories. And while a the occasional rape victim might take it better than others and survive with less emotional scars, on average the damage is far more severe.
It truly shames me as a male that I have to even point this out to others of my gender.
Many use the excuse that because the aftereffects are subjective, no comparison can be done. Well I disagree vehemently. Due to empathy we can easily grasp the relevant magnitude of each event, much like we can easily see the difference in suffering between having your face slapped, having your tooth pulled out and having acid thrown in your face. These are not all equally bad just because the suffering they cause is subjective. But somehow this comparison fails when it comes to rape doesn’t it?
Much of it I believe comes from lack of empathy. For males, especially those active in the “Men’s Rights” movement which repeats stories of false rape accusations and child custody gone wrong stories, find it far easier to empathize with the male who has been falsely accused. As a male, this is an actual fear they face, even if they wildly blow it out of proportion. In fact I’d go as far as to say that the fear of being falsely accused in the closest thing some males will come to understanding what kind of fear our rape culture creates for females. It’s easy to intuitively empathize with the kind of emotional pain that losing your friends and family can have. It is not as easy to empathize with rape because most men do not fear it at all. There is no common experience, no horror stories told among friends and family, no victim blaming seen on mainstream media, to even give them an idea that comes even close to how damaging rape can be and on top of that, they have a wealth of rape jokes told by other males which will further trivialize any such empathy they may develop. Naturally then they feel that False Rape Accusations are far worse than actual rape. They just empathize more strongly with the former.
Doesn’t make it correct though.
The even more frustrating things is that the fear of false rape accusations is being used to perpetuate the rape culture. The idea is promoted that a false rape accusation is bad enough even if it falls through in a court of law, due to the psychological “lynching” by friends and family. The implicit idea then is that people should treat rape accusers with distrust because otherwise you unjustly harm the accused who might be innocent after all. This of course reinforces the culture of victim blaming where the search for justice for rape victims is itself so emotionally taxing and with such a high chance of failure, that most of them do not even bother to even try.
Then the Blackstone formulation will be conveniently trotted out to show that it’s better for 15 rapists to go free than for 1 innocent to be convicted which is so frustrating because it looks at the issue in isolation. A more accurate formulation would be to ask: Is it better for 1 in 200 males to be falsely convicted of rape1 or for 1 in 6 females to be raped? Of course this is also flawed since those two statistics don’t have to be in competition2. Unfortunately those who bring up the false rape accusations and paint them as an epidemic of some sort, will simply push for more stricter investigations completely ignoring what effects this has on women trying to report rape and find justice.
Fact of the matter is that compared to the frequency of actual rape, the number of false rape accusations is a drop in a bucket. To put weight into tackling those few false rape accusations without first tackling the actual epidemic of rape is a travesty, which becomes even worse when one considers that the way some males want to tackle the false rape accusations would actually reinforce the rape culture.
That does not mean I am opposed to reducing the false rape accusations while we’re at it but for crying out loud, get your priorities straight first and only then, look for ways to address it that don’t make the raped women even more marginalized. Unfortunately I think that the current court system and laws are inherently flawed and it’s a sad fact that the heavy handed statist response to the rape epidemic can’t address it without causing some harm elsewhere. One would hope this would make people rethink their premises, but unfortunately this doesn’t happen.
Finally, let me suggest an idea to make males who dismiss the idea of the rape culture while simulataneously railing against false rape accusations. It might give them an idea of how it feels to be a woman in a rape culture. Ask them, if 0.5% of males being falsely accused is a horribly large amount, how they would feel if the percentage was 18%. Would this scare them of having relationships? Ask them how they would feel if they could be easily falsely convicted without any court proceedings. Would this terrify them? Ask them how they would feel if they could be instantly falsely convicted of rape without court proceedings by their wife, their friends, or their aunts, while walking their dog, while sleeping over at a friend’s party, while drinking at a bar. Would this isolate them in horror? Ask them how they would feel if they could be easily falsely convicted of rape by many females who acted in coordination and backed up each other’s story. Ask them how they would feel if the state, their family, their friends all told them that the only way to avoid being falsely convicted of rape without a trial was to constantly use a voice recorder or a camera to record everything that happens around them. Would they think this is a sensible solution? Ask them to imagine that all of these were true at the same time and imagine how it would feel to live their whole life in such an environment.
And then remind them that this is how all women feel currently, only with worse psychological damage to boot.
PS: Bonus link (big big big rape trigger warning). Show them this gut-wrenching story and then remind them that this counts as part of the false rape accusations statistic.
- About 8% of rape accusations are dismissed. This does not mean that 1 in 15 males is falsely accused, but from all the males that are accused, 8% are cleared. Iirc, the number in the full male population comes down to around 0.5% [↩]
- It’s a sad fact of the flawed justice system we use that they are but challenging the adversarial justice system itself is even more unthinkable for most [↩]
- 09.02.11 / 4pm
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