Friday, May 28, 2010
The war against the presumptively innocent accused of rape: feminism can't move beyond misandry
Feminists who purport to advocate for rape victims were presented with a golden opportunity to demonstrate to the world that its movement had matured beyond its radical, gender-divisive "all men are rapists" and "men who are falsely accused can learn from the experience" epoch by embracing the new UK government's call for anonymity for the presumptively innocent who've been accused of rape. They were given the opportunity to join hands with the false rape community to signal that the interests of victims of rape and victims of false rape claims are not in conflict but are, in actuality, allied. This alliance is attested to by the rape victims who support our work at this site.
But instead, feminists who purport to advocate for rape victims chose to launch a broadside attack on the plan, incredibly branding it an "insult" to actual rape victims. This response was punitive and grounded in emotion, and the rationale underlying it is baseless and in stark opposition to all the objectively verifiable evidence.
Leading the charge as the "go to" woman for juicy feminist quotes in the mainstream media is a specimen that goes by the name Ruth Hall, a spokeswoman for Women Against Rape (as opposed to -- what? -- "Men For Rape"?). WAR is a typical rape advocacy group that uses outrageous statistics to shock. It's website includes the following gems: "98% of domestic violence is not reported to the police." And: "A third of women in Britain have suffered domestic violence." And: "One in three teenage girls has suffered sexual abuse from a boyfriend, one in six has been pressured into sex." And: "One in four teenage girls has experienced violence in a relationship . . . ."
Let us examine Ms. Hall's arguments in opposition to anonymity:
I. It will prevent women from "coming forward": "Ruth Hall, a spokeswoman for Women against Rape, said the proposal would stop women coming forward to report rapes by propagating the notion that many allegations are false. They should pay attention to the 94% of reported cases that do not end in conviction rather than the few that are false. It will just support the idea that women are making false allegations."
This argument is posited with no authority beyond Ms. Hall's serene ipse dixit. The gaps, or more accurately, the chasms, in this argument are breathtaking.
First, the rationale supporting anonymity does not depend on an assumption that most rape claims are false (although that is certainly possible). The rationale supporting anonymity is that some women and girls lie about rape -- the exact prevalence of false rape claims is neither known nor knowable -- but that the harm caused to those innocent men who are falsely accused, whatever the number, is severe. Rape lies have caused innocent men and boys to be killed and to kill themselves (from The Scottsboro Boys to modern day); to be incarcerated often longer than their false accusers are legally permitted to be imprisoned when their lies are finally brought to light; to lose their good names, their jobs, their businesses, their life's savings, their wives, and their girlfriends; to be beaten, to be chased, to be spat upon, and to be looked upon with suspicion long after they are cleared of wrongdoing. It is often impossible for the falsely accused to ever obtain good employment once the lie hits the news: for the rest of his life, a falsely accused man will have prospective employers Googling his name and finding the horrid accusation. It is sufficiently horrible for a man to be accused of a false rape claim without having his good name destroyed with the accusation.
Second, there is no basis whatsoever to believe that women won't come forward if the men they accuse are anonymous. None. In fact, the opposite is more likely and would probably be preferable to actual rape victims. When a woman accuses a male classmate of rape and his name is splashed all over the school newspaper, it often isn't very difficult to figure out who the accuser is. The same is true outside college. It is reasonable to assume that most rape victims looking for justice would prefer not to have their identities inferred when an intimate acquaintance of theirs is accused of rape.
Third, the overriding evidence suggests that false rape claims are a significant problem, and that the victims of false claims are not rarities. Nobody knows for certain what the percentage of false claims is. A leading feminist legal scholar recently acknowledged: ". . . the statistics on false rape accusation widely vary and 'as a scientific matter, the frequency of false rape complaints to police or other legal authorities remains unknown.'" A. Gruber, Rape, Feminism, and the War on Crime, 84 Wash. L. Rev. 581, 595-600 (November 2009) (citation omitted). (It is well to note that feminist scholars are often out in front of sexual assault assault counselors, so Ms. Hall, take note.) Moreover, the UK's Stern Review recently refused to tie itself to any percentage: "The research that is available on false allegations gives a wide range of figures for how many there are . . . ." (Stern Review at 13.)
Any rape advocate who asserts that only a tiny percentage of rape claims are false is either grossly misinformed or a liar, because no one can make that assertion with any degree of certainty. Here is why: for every rape claim reported, as we've illustrated on this site time and time again, only a relatively small percentage can be definitively called "rape." This is beyond dispute. Fifteen percent end in conviction and of those we know that some innocent men and boys are convicted. We also know that some claims reported (the numbers vary depending on the study) are outright false. But in between the claims we are reasonably certain were actual rapes, and the ones we are reasonably certain were false claims, is a vast gray area consisting of a group of claims that cannot properly be classified as "rapes" -- because we just don't know. That's the nature of a rape claim. The claims in this vast gray middle area often suffer from evidentiary infirmities. For example, for some such claims, while the claimant herself might think a rape occurred, her outward manifestations of assent did not match her subjective disinclination to engage in sex, so it wasn't rape. Importantly, if we treated every "reported" rape as an actual rape, as some sexual assault counselors suggest, we would call each of those claims, and every false claim reported on this site, actual "rapes" -- but that wouldn't be accurate, or just.
Regardless of what the actual number might be, every impartial, objective study ever conducted on the subject shows false rape claims are a serious problem. As reported by "False Rape Allegations" by Eugene Kanin, Archives of Sexual Behavior Feb 1994 v23 n1 p81 (12), Professor Kanin’s major study of a mid-size Midwestern U.S. city over the course of nine years found that 41 percent of all rape claims were false. Kanin also studied the police records of two unnamed large state universities (without the use of polygraphs, I might add) and found that in three years, 50 percent of the 64 rapes reported to campus police were determined to be false (without the use of polygraphs). In addition, a landmark Air Force study in 1985 studied 556 rape allegations. It found that 27% of the accusers recanted, and an independent evaluation revealed a false accusation rate of 60%. McDowell, Charles P., Ph.D. “False Allegations.” Forensic Science Digest, (publication of the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations), Vol. 11, No. 4 (December 1985), p. 64. See also, "Until Proven Innocent," the widely praised (praised even by the New York Times, which the book skewers -- as well as almost every other major U.S. news source) and painstaking study of the Duke Lacrosse non-rape case. Authors 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" or sexual assault 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 sexual assault claims "are false . . . ." (Page 374.)
II. Being falsely accused of rape is no different than being falsely accused of any other crime: "Hall said that, while false allegations were rare, they tended to attract a great deal of publicity. "Being falsely accused of rape is a terrible ordeal, but the same could be said of being falsely accused of murder or fraud," she said."
Anyone who suggests that the false claims of other crimes are just as harmful as false rape claims is either a fool or a liar. Significant numbers of men and boys have been lynched for alleged rapes they never committed. Rape is widely considered the second most serious criminal offense aside from murder, and murder is far more difficult to lie about than rape. I challenge anyone to cite examples of false claims involving crimes other than rape that have harmed innocent people in significant numbers. The fact is, false accusations of other serious crimes are exceedingly rare, they are usually easily and immediately disproved, and they hardly ever carry the awful stigma of a false rape claim. That is a fact, irrefutable and not open to question. In contrast, when it comes to rape claims, one need not look back to the Scottsboro boys or even Duke lacrosse: I can cite for you hundreds of recent false rape cases that have hurt innocent men and boys, sometimes in the most terrible, even fatal, ways. And most false rape claims are never reported by the news media.
III. Anonymity will hinder police investigations. Hall said: "We don't want to see men accused of rape getting special protection that people don't get for other crimes. Anonymity for men has already been tried, but then police said it hindered their investigations, because they could not put out calls for women who had been raped by the same man."
Would anonymity for men accused of rape hinder police investigations any worse than anonymity for rape accusers hinders police (not to mention innocent men) from learning that a rape accuser has made false rape allegations in the past? The question scarcely survives its statement. Yet, we grant anonymity for women who accuse men of rape because it is thought to serve other useful purposes, just as anonymity for men would serve important purposes, even if police might prefer to have more information. The interests of police should not trump the interests of innocent men from having their good names destroyed by rape lies. Ms. Hall would not tolerate a suggestion that the interests of police should trump women's interests, and her disinterest in protecting the innocent members of the opposite sex suggests an inclination to punish an entire gender, the good with the bad, in the name of waging the war on rape. Innocent men are just collateral damage whose pain is to be tolerated to serve the "more important" interest of fighting rape. But why should the victimization of our daughters be more worthy of our protection than the victimization of our sons?
Who is Ruth Hall?
It is well for our readers to know about the person making the statements in question. Ms. Hall has been at it for a long time. Back in the 70s, the high water mark for lunatic feminism, her "militant group" was reported to have "disrupted court sessions and broken into the Defense ministry to 'serve summons' on Minister Fred Mulley" in its advocacy against rape.
Ms. Hall doesn't seem to think all that much of the male gender in general. Take the case where a woman testified that she was too drunk to remember if she consented to sex. That didn't stop Ruth Hall from saying the case should have been sent to the jury anyway: "Some, like Ruth Hall, of Women Against Rape, argue that the judge at Swansea Crown Court should have allowed the jury to reach a verdict. 'We know that in certain circumstances, where drink is involved, a man will often take advantage of a woman,' she said."
You see, a man "often" takes advantage of a woman who has been drinking, so it is perfectly fair to send this case involving a particular man to the jury for a possible conviction, even though his accuser could not say if she consented. Never mind little things such as, oh, the absence of evidence. The man should be tried and convicted based not on the evidence in his case but on the supposed sins of his gender.
And, oh, those cunning men, they can be damn clever about how they plot out their rapes, Ms. Hall once revealed: "Ms Hall agreed some rapists were trying new tactics - for instance briefly chatting a woman up so they could later claim it was consensual. 'Certainly some rapists think they stand a better chance with so-called date rape, because it is often regarded as less serious. So that does give them the go-ahead to commit more crime."
Ms. Hall doesn't seem to think much of the police, either: "Ruth Hall from support group Women Against Rape said that, while some officers really did want to get convictions, . . . rape cases were not a priority for police as a whole. 'The police are often very careless when handling evidence, they lose evidence, or they don't recognise evidence when it's put in front of their faces or they misinterpret facts,' she said." And this: "Ruth Hall, from Women Against Rape, said: 'Until people are held to account and sacked for not doing their job properly cases like this will continue to happen. The sexism and hostility to women who suffer rape and sexual assaults runs so deep officers will continue to sabotage rape cases, because this is what they are doing.'" And this: "Evidence backs up what women say but is often left uncollected by police."
And she doesn't think much of prosecutors, either: "Ruth Hall, from the support group Women Against Rape, welcomed the new moves but said sexism was the real barrier to more prosecutions. 'There are people in positions in the criminal justice system who are supposed to be protecting us, there are people in power stopping cases getting through and blocking changes being made,' she said. 'The sexism runs very deep - it won't be changed until a few have to actually be sacked or disciplined so the others know it now is being taken seriously.'"
Ruth Hall is a rape victim's advocate. Since newspapers thrive on conflict, she is the proper person for reporters to seek out for a good, juicy quote to denigrate the call for anonymity for men. But her interest and bias disqualifies her from setting policy on this crucial issue. Based on the above, she does not seem at all interested in helping men falsely accused of rape. That view is both heinous and sadly common among feminists, who have not matured beyond their "all men are rapists" stage.
Posted by Archivist at Friday, May 28, 2010