Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Could the "regret asymmetry" explain the accusation in the Jameis Winston case?

Emily Bazelon is not happy that when the state attorney in the Jameis Winston announced that no rape charges would be filed against Mr. Winston he made a point of noting that the alleged victim (Bazelon left out the word "alleged") "acknowledged having sex with her boyfriend" at some point prior to the encounter with Mr. Winston, thus accounting for another man's DNA on her clothing. Bazelon says this amounted to "slut shaming."

Then Bazelon says the following: ". . . it is hard for me to imagine that she had consensual sex with Winston and then decided to lie and say it was rape."

Allow us to connect the dots for you, Bazelon.

Before we proceed, let's clarify that Bazelon doesn't know what happened in the Winston case, and neither do we. We aren't going to call the accuser a liar, just as it's improper to suggest Mr. Winston is a rapist. No one can say except the people who were there, and they have differing accounts.

But Bazelon's incredulity that someone in this accuser's position might lie about rape is either grossly dishonest or grossly uninformed.

Bazelon's own article explains why someone in the position of this woman might have lied: false accusations often stem from the fear of being "slut shamed." It is important to know that the accuser had a boyfriend with whom she was sexually intimate because this may suggest a motive to lie about rape. It is important for the same reason it was important -- but initially ignored by law enforcement investigators -- in the infamous Hofstra false rape case. Danmell Ndonye lied about rape in the Hofstra case likely because she was embarrassed that she was cheating on her boyfriend in a way society considers very nasty.

Feminist gadfly Amanda Marcotte once wrote that "the idea that it's shameful to just have sex because you want to" is "the reason that you have false rape accusations in the first place." One of the common motives cited by experts for false rape claims is "remorse after an impulsive sexual fling . . . ." Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case, S. Taylor, K.C. Johnson at 375 (2007).

In short, it is not implausible to believe that someone in the position of the accuser in the Winston case would lie about rape because of the "regret asymmetry" that divides young men and young women. We discussed it recently here.

This isn't some controversial or far-out theory concocted by women-haters or men's rights advocates. If we ever really want to have an adult dialogue about these issues, we need to get honest about it and stop ignoring the obvious -- and we need to exile people like Emily Bazelon to the kid's table so the adults can have a serious discussion.