Thursday, July 3, 2008

Letter to the editor protesting misandry and denigration of false rape claims

What follows is my letter to the editor of the Guardian in response to the exercise in misandry it printed July 1 by Kira Cochrane:

Kira Cochrane repeats the disingenuous bow wow of radical feminism that minimizes the frequency of false rape claims in "Now, the backlash" (July 1). She writes: "The number of women who take false complaints to the police is thought to stand at 3% of the total, as it does with other crimes, but the media focus has casually, simply, successfully, helped ingrain in the public imagination that, when it comes to rape, women lie - a notion that, naturally, has a rather serious effect when it comes to trial by jury."

This assertion is not just disappointing, it's wholly inaccurate. In "Until Proven Innocent," the widely praised widely (praised even by liberal publications such as the New York Times, which the book skewers) and painstaking study of the Duke Lacrosse non-rape case, Stuart Taylor and Professor K.C. Johnson explain that the exact number of false claims is elusive but "[t]he standard assertion by feminists that only 2 percent of rape claims are false, which traces to Susan Brownmiller's 1975 book "Against Our Will," is without empirical foundation and belied by a wealth of empirical data. These data suggest that at least 9 percent and probably closer to half of all rape claims are false . . . ." (Page 374.) Whatever the exact number, it is significant, and it is multiple times the politically engendered three percent cited by Ms. Cochrane.

The tableau Ms. Cochrane paints bears no relation to reality. The fact is, the crime of making a false rape report has become so embroiled in the feminist sexual assault milieu that it has been largely, and improperly, removed from the public discourse about rape. Sexual assault counselors and feminists such as Ms. Cochrane often disingenuously refer to false accusations as a "myth" or a "bugaboo" or, as here, the product of someone's "imagination." Denigrating the experience of the falsely accused by dismissing their victimization as a myth is not merely dishonest but morally grotesque.

Far from elevating false rape claims over real rape claims, we live in a culture that pretends false rape claims are so aberrational that their occurrence must be news. Sentences for this crime are notoriously light, if any charges are brought at all. It is not uncommon for the falsely accused male to serve more jail time than the criminal who put him there. Moreover, the news coverage afforded these stories typically focuses on the "real" victims of a false claim -- future, hypothetical, phantom, even unborn women who might, maybe, perhaps, possibly will be deterred from "coming forward" because of skepticism caused by the lie. The innocent men often publicly destroyed by a false accusation (since, unlike their accusers, they are not afforded lifetime anonymity) are treated as collateral damage in the war on rape where the mission is to encourage as many women as possible to "come forward," the truth be damned.

Ms. Cochrane has done a disservice to countless men who have been falsely accused, and she should be ashamed of herself for trying to garner readership with such a gender divisive exercise in misandry. My Web site is intended to be an antidote to persons such as Ms. Cochrane -- it is devoted to raising awareness about the false rape epidemic.