Thursday, October 9, 2008

A feminist guy writes about false rape claims -- and he's on the right track

The following is from a blog entry from a blog called The Debate Link, written last year by David Schraub, a feminist who takes an honest look at false rape claims. He candidly admits that he has a fear of being falsely accused of a crime. One of the things he says is this: "People who see a given institution or community clamoring for their criminal conviction, without providing any hearing or consideration to their protestations of innocence, will quite understandably be hostile to that institution or community. . . . . insofar as the feminist community only speaks to guilt and not innocence, it can reasonably be viewed in this manner."

I could not have said it better, or with greater moral force. I do not see any legitimate reason for the feminist community's indifference, or worse -- hostility -- to an open discussion that takes false rape claims seriously, and it is no wonder that many readers of this blog who are concerned for one reason or another about false rape claims, are hostile to feminism. I, personally, am sympathetic to much of the mainstream feminist agenda. I want no barriers of any kind for women, or men, to achieving anything in our society (I part with NOW on shared parenting, but NOW has become more of a woman's lobby than an organization devoted to classical ideals of gender equity). But my particular gripe with the feminist community is that a segment of it has made discussion of false rape claims verboten, too politically incorrect to be tolerated. The very whiff of a discussion about it is sufficient to be branded a misogynistic MRA. And that is wrong.

I came to the false rape issue with an open mind and for a time believed the feminist orthodoxy about two percent, one-in-four, etc. I will be honest -- the two percent figure was very comforting to me, because like Mr. Schraub, I have a fear of being falsely accused of a crime. Some deeper research led me to conclude that facts were being manipulated by feminists to achieve an agenda. The feminist indifference to men falsely accused is tantamount to hostility (you know what they say -- the opposite of love is not hate but indifference). That indifference is misplaced and counterproductive.

The feminist agenda to raise awareness about rape is still sound, but not all the methods to accomplsh that agenda are. Pretending that false rape claims are a "myth" is an attitude as hurtful to the falsely accused as "she asked for it" and it is counterproductive to the feminist agenda. This blog's entire point is this: you don't need to dismiss false rape claims in order to convince people that rape is a significant problem. In fact, if we squarely addressed false rape claims -- with education for young women and stiffer sentences for those who don't recant early -- actual rape victims will be more readily believed, and they will feel comfortable coming forward.

Here is an excerpt from Mr. Schraub's entry:

. . . one of my recurring fears is of being falsely accused of a crime. I have no idea why this particularly misfortune sticks in my head so persistently, but it does. As a result, in my various writings and musings on feminism and its related topics, I have been perpetually intrigued by the question: How does a feminist defend himself against rape charges? . . . .

I understand why this question may have been overlooked. Feminists are principally concerned with getting society to take seriously rape and sexual violence against women. By and large, our problem is certainly not that we are provide insufficient opportunities for accused rapists to get off. Many feminists, quite understandably, feel that society pays far greater attention and directs greater sympathy to the perpetrators of such violence than it does to the survivors of it. Devoting time and attention towards defending the accused seems to divert resources away from some of the most vulnerable women and straight into the hands of the patriarchy. Perhaps most importantly, treating the question of innocent accused rapists as one of paramount importance may have the effect of buttressing the all-too-common and all-too-dangerous perception that false accusations of rape are prevalent and predominant.
. . . .
. . . not providing avenues for rape defense that are consonant with feminist conceptions of justice drives the accused into the arms of our enemies. We do not expect the guilty, much less the innocent, to forfeit their defense against criminal charge; if the only viable defense procedure is one that denigrates and degrades women, then that is the one they will use. . . . [P]erhaps most abstractly, not theorizing in this area makes us the enemy for a class of people which—for better or for worse—has significant social visibility. People who see a given institution or community clamoring for their criminal conviction, without providing any hearing or consideration to their protestations of innocence, will quite understandably be hostile to that institution or community. The American community, to stress, is not clamoring to convict the perpetrators of sexual violence. But insofar as the feminist community only speaks to guilt and not innocence, it can reasonably be viewed in this manner. People who are falsely accused of crimes have (fairly, I think) a lot of moral force in American political discourse. We do not want them devoting that power towards dismantling the feminist project. Bluntly, I don’t think our footing is solid enough to withstand the assault.