Monday, October 18, 2010

Pulling false rape victims out of the shadows

In a 2003 Cosmopolitan Magazine article, former New York prosecutor Linda Fairstein, someone who really ought to know better, said this:   

"Having worked in this field for decades, I've found this phenomenon [of false rape claims] especially painful to witness. Innocent men are attested and even imprisoned as a result of bogus claims, and the precious resources of criminal justice agencies are wasted. But most appalling is that these falsehoods trivialize the experience of every real rape survivor."

So "trivializ[ing] the experience of every real rape survivor" is more appalling than the effect of a rape lie on innocent men and boys?  Really?  Does this include, for example, the men and boys killed, wrongly convicted and incarcerated, beaten, chased, spat upon, forced into hiding, and who otherwise lose everything -- their wives, girlfriends, jobs, businesses, life savings, sanity, and capacity for trusting women? 

Does that include these young men, Ms. Fairstein?

Down, down, down the rabbit hole we tumble.

The crime of making a false report about rape is unique in our jurisprudence because virtually the entire public discourse about it is dominated by persons who insist it is not a serious public threat.  At least not to men and boys. If it is a threat at all, it’s to women, they tell us.

Sexual assault counselors and feminist legal scholars contend that false rape claims are over-reported, that they get far more attention than they deserve. They even have a shorthand language for dismissing concerns about false rape claims.  They refer to false rape claims as one of the so-called rape “myths.”  They mock anyone who would voice concern about the false rape phenomenon by invoking Potiphars wife from the Book of Exodus, suggesting that the fear of false rape claims is both ancient and unfounded.  They gussy up their pre-ordained conclusions on this subject with all manner of disingenuous statistics, the results of the most vile, gender-politicized advocacy research where every untested claim of "rape" is believed, and "rape" includes sex that occurred after "psychological coercion." 

This despicable, pathetic caterwauling echoes from the deepest bowels of victimization politics. Worse, when the crime of false reporting of rape is reported by our purportedly objective news media, it is typically done so through a gynocentric lens that blinks at the harm it causes innocent men and boys and instead focuses on the greater harm -- the real harm -- the harm to hypothetical rape victims.

News reports about false rape claims take on an almost surreal cookie-cutter redundancy:  police typically adopt an indifference to the male victims, instead choosing to chide the false accuser for wasting police time. More disturbing is when a police officer, sexual assault counselor, or judge chides the false accuser for the "real" harm she's caused -- not to the man or boy wrongly accused or to other potential men and boys she might accuse -- but to phantom, hypothetical, unknown, potential, even unborn women whose reports of actual rapes might be looked upon with suspicion because of the lie.

The one thing that a judge is rarely heard to say in these cases is the following: “I need to make an example out of you so that women will stop falsely accusing men of rape.”

It is time to stop regarding the victimization of our daughters as more worthy of society's protection than the victimization of our sons. It is time to stop battling one crime (rape) by minimizing the seriousness of another (false rape claims).

It is time for victims of false rape claims to step out from the shadows, and it is time we stopped ignoring and trivializing their pain.