Rape Culture Culture
January 12th, 2015

Rape Culture Culture

Why do some want to foster the belief that rape is more common and socially-accepted than it actually is?

I’ve heard said that rape isn’t about sex. It’s about power. I don’t consider myself an expert on why people rape, but if I had to explain the notion of rape being about power to the best of my current understanding, I guess I take that notion to mean that people who rape are doing it to hurt someone out of anger toward that person specifically or some collective notion of what that person represents (maybe all women?). But this article is about those cases when an innocent person or a group collectively is accused of rape for whatever reason. False rape is a tool, for an individual as well as for political movements, and it can also be about power when wielded a certain way.

A rape accusation can wreak incredible harm when wielded by an individual even without a conviction and has in many cases, as with this case of what appears to be a serial accuser in which people struggle with whether to view one of her victims as the oppressed underdog because he’s native American or as the villain because he’s a man. Rape isn’t actually a gendered crime, but that’s another subject altogether. For the moment, I’m going to focus on male-on-female rape cases because those are the ones that have become so politically-charged. In previous conversations about this subject, this is where someone inevitably asks “Why would a woman make a false accusation?” A few possible explanations come to mind just off the top of my head–alcohol, regret, to hurt someone (maybe all men?), getting convinced later by people with agendas, maybe some combination thereof. If she drank enough to forget events, including consensual sex, but then wakes to evidence of sex, she might conclude she was raped. Promiscuous men may get high-fives from peers. Conversely, promiscuous women might be considered sluts by peers, an unfair double-standard to be sure, but also a possible reason. Claiming rape might rescue one from being judged as a “slut” to getting sympathy and support as a victim. I’m on board for ending slut-shaming. I don’t think any shame should be attached to consensual sex.

Those are just a few possibilities off the top of my head to explain individuals making false accusations, and they’re admittedly speculative, but in the end it doesn’t matter why. There’s no point in even arguing over why or how often it happens. What matters is that it happens at all and therefore must be considered a possibility every time. If there’s a he-said/she-said and the stories differ, one of them is lying. Why are some so resistant to the idea of it being the female accuser even though she bears the burden of proof in order to convict someone of a serious felony? The phrase “innocent until proven guilty” often feels like an empty one in light of our current justice system but it truly holds no power here. There is an ongoing attempt to erode due process specifically with regard to this crime. If anything, the seriousness of the crime of rape and the consequences to an alleged rapist should emphasize the importance of due process in such cases, not just in the courtroom but also in the court of public opinion which metes out its own punishments.

I also suggested false rape was a tool for political movements. Victims are a precious resource of political movements, and a victim who recovers is a resource lost. Therefore, don’t dare get better. A movement needs a problem to solve. The bigger the problem appears, the more attention and money it can attract. If someone is encouraging you to lash out in response to suggestions for how you might reduce your chances of being raped, a.k.a. “victim-blaming”, consider if they have a conflict of interest. Is that really in your personal best interests or is it a personal sacrifice they want you to make for the collective?

Some activists have been working to expand the definition of rape… for women, that is. The familiar statistic of 1 in 4 women being raped during college comes from highly controversial surveys from which only 1 in 4 of the proclaimed rape victims actually considered themselves to have been raped. I’m not surprised. One of the questions was “Have you given in to sexual intercourse when you didn’t want to because you were overwhelmed by a man’s continual arguments and pressure?” By that logic, if you ever haggled with a merchant, you’re a thief.  One of the questions refers to threats. Threatening someone to get sex certainly sounds like rape to me! But wait. What if the threat was “I’m breaking up with you if we’re not going to have sex”? It may be a bit douchey but being a douche isn’t a crime. It’s not force. The word “force” is pointedly lacking in these vague questions to determine if people were raped. Every question includes “when you didn’t want to.” How many times have you done something you didn’t want to do for the benefit of someone else you care about? Envision that familiar, even comically cliche, scenario of the boyfriend sitting through a “chick-flick” when he’d really rather watch a hyper-masculine action hero kill a hundred bad guys in a myriad of morbid and creative ways. I wonder how that man would answer a survey about being taken somewhere he didn’t want to go. He was date-kidnapped! Add him to the shocking female-on-male kidnapping crime statistics! Why aren’t people taking date-kidnapping seriously? We live in a chick-flick kidnapping culture!

Of course we can’t trust individuals to decide such things for themselves. We need stuffy bureaucrats with agendas to second-guess our straight-forward answers to whether we’ve been raped. Rape is about the lack of consent. It’s about what’s in your mind regarding the sexual act. So if you do not consider yourself to have been raped, then you consider yourself to have consented which is the very definition of consent. When it comes to male victims, the CDC redefined rape in the opposite direction, with help from the same woman who effectively expanded the definition for women, drastically shrinking the scope to an absurd degree such that women can force the exact same sex act on men without it being called rape. The distortion of statistical data and changing definitions of words just happen to fit perfectly with a narrative that depicts men as lying predators, and depicts women as honest, innocent victims.

Apparently when a woman is drunk, it’s rape, but if a man is drunk, he’s still responsible for any bad decisions he makes. I’ve never heard anyone try to claim a man is raped if he was drunk for sex. The woman loses her ability to consent while the man retains responsibility for his own choices. That’s very condescending toward women. Are we to think of women as children who need the constant supervision of men, men who apparently have a superior ethical cognition that is impervious to alcohol? I get very mixed messages from modern feminism. Are they really out to empower women? People choose to drink while sober and they know their judgment will be impaired, so I think we’re all responsible for choices made while drunk. If we conclude sex with a drunk person is rape, then there are a lot of male victims of beer goggles and coyote ugly that should pursue charges.

The Community of the Wrongly Accused regularly reports on case after case in which women have either admitted to or been caught red-handed making false rape accusations and there’s plenty of documentation of great damage done to innocent men’s lives with or without a conviction. The accusation alone is known to send a man’s life into turmoil. Consider this as you ponder those many cases where women were caught in a lie. It’s at least as hard to expose a false accusation as it is to convict a guilty person of rape. Meanwhile, the crime of rape understandably has massive repercussions to the perpetrator, but there are rarely any negative repercussions for a false accusation. Just as there are likely many more rapes than actually result in convictions, there are likely also many more false accusations than are ever exposed. I fully expect some to be appalled that I even contemplate the possibility of women engaging in these unscrupulous acts and those people will label me a misogynist for it, but consider this. People have been distorting data and actually changing the meaning of words to propagate the notion that women are somehow ethically superior to men. I’m merely pointing to their own data to show that men and women actually appear to be morally similar. Do only men ever develop evil intent? Are all women inherently good? Such overtly sexist notions call for deep personal reflection as to their origins and the motives of the people who propagate them. Rape and false rape can both be powerful weapons for individuals out to do harm, but I’ve only seen false rape used to generate hatred in such a collectivist fashion for political purposes. Considering the harm it does individually and collectively, it’s not an exaggeration to say it’s a kind of hate-mongering and it needs to be called out as such.