Why I Won’t Publish Your Comments About False Rape Accusations

TRIGGER WARNING:

The following includes commentary that may serve as a trigger for victims of sexual violence.
Please be advised. 

In the wake of my post yesterday on the pervasiveness of rape culture, several people attempted to argue in the comment section that the piece was not complete without acknowledging the important idea of false rape accusations.

I attempted to explain that their argument had been intentionally excluded, as it is 1) not supported by data as a significant problem, and 2) the kind of apologism that made women fear disbelief should they come forward. The second part, I argued, was a perpetuation of rape culture, and I would not give them a platform for it. They argued. I presented data. They presented none, and tried to comment again and again.

And I decided I would no longer publish any comments which attempted to caveat rape culture with the excuse of false accusations. Because I am typically very tolerant (sometimes too much so) about comment content, I felt I owed an explanation.

First off, the idea that false accusations are a significant problem in rape is patently untrue. For this point, we turn to data.

Some of the more virulent proselytizers of false rape accusations point to studies identifying false reporting rates of 41% or more. That would be pretty terrible, wouldn’t it? In fact, there are a series of reports out there which point to tragically high rates of false rape allegations. Unfortunately, these reports are laughable. Why?

  • The sample sizes are painfully small. 1,300 participants is on the high end, while some had as few as 18. Not exactly representative.
  • The data is inconsistent. Even when it’s the FBI analyzing larger pools of data on crimes committed, false accusations are largely measured according to police report labels such as “no crime” or “unfounded.” The problem with these labels is that they do not translate into a false accusation. Forensic Examiner explains :

    That is, a report of rape might be classified as unfounded (rather than as forcible rape) if the alleged victim did not try to fight off the suspect, if the alleged perpetrator did not use physical force or a weapon of some sort, if the alleged victim did not sustain any physical injuries, or if the alleged victim and the accused had a prior sexual relationship. Similarly, a report might be deemed unfounded if there is no physical evidence or too many inconsistencies between the accuser’s statement and what evidence does exist. As such, although some unfounded cases of rape may be false or fabricated, not all unfounded cases are false.

    That means that the data is not reflective of recanted or disproven statements; just that the case, for whatever reason, didn’t move forward. Even when it does reflect a recanted statement, there is absolutely no data on what proportion of those occurred – not because the allegation was false – but because of rape culture influences, psychological pressure from the attacker (particularly true of date rape and intimate partner rape), or other extenuating circumstances.

  • The data is also only reflective of reports of a man raping a vagina with his penis. Until early 2012, the federal definition of rape excluded such crimes as female rape of male, same sex rape, digital rape, anal rape, oral rape or rape with a foreign object (they also exclude incest for some reason). The most recent data you’ll find is 2011. That means the available data on reported cases is so far from complete, it’s not even funny.
  • The data is plagued by rape culture. The studies most frequently cited by those stumping on behalf of the falsely accused have been the subject of criticism in subsequent studies for failing to qualitatively evaluate the methodologies of the case categorizations. Many found that police officers frequently used subjective judgment calls in dismissing cases as unfounded. Other studies found direct evidence of bias in such dismissals when studied in the field.
  • In studies where data was not provided but gathered in the field, the methodologies used for determining a false report were suspect (and that’s putting it nicely – they would classify a report as false if the victim did not appear “disheveled”).

Knowing from the get go that our data is pretty poor, other studies have found that experts tend to agree on a range of 2-8% for false accusations. The FBI has maintained, with fair consistency, a false accusation estimate of 8% in rape cases. We’ll start there.

So 8% of reported rapes are false accusations. That looks like this.

chart1

If that’s true, then yes, we have a major issue we need to address. Here’s the next problem though – that’s only about reported rapes. In order for false accusations to be the pervasive counter-cultural revolution some claim, it would have to be a significant portion of all instances of rape. After all, if we’re looking to measure misery, we should make sure we have context.

What does that mean for our numbers? Well, the FBI believes that only 37% of rapes get reported. That looks like this.

So then, if 8% of reported rape allegations are “false”, how much of the big picture do they make up?

2

Just under 3%. Still not fantastic, I’ll admit, but far from justifiable as an interruption to important discourse. Still, I’m not satisfied with leaving it at that. Let’s talk hypothetically.

  • Let’s give the police the benefit of the doubt, and assume that their frequency of subjective dismissal justifies an adjustment down in the false reporting rate to 7%. There’s enough out there to justify a stronger cut, but we’ll be conservative.
  • And let’s say that, with only 37% of rapes being reported and sexual violence education woefully lacking, the amount of “unfounded” cases labeled as such due to lack of evidence to take it to trial –  as women shower, dispose of clothing, and so forth post attack - brings false accusation rate down again to 6%.
  • And lets assume – given that only 9% of cases ever go to trial and only 3% of rapists will ever spend a day in jail - that rape culture factors such as dress, former sexual encounters, use of alcohol, and so forth, account for enough perceived potential for reasonable doubt to derail an additional portion of those “unfounded” cases bringing down the rate once more to 4% (and that’s being generous).

I know this is all conjecture. It’s an exercise. Stay with me.

So if the percentage of reported cases with false accusations is measured at 4%, how does this egregious harm compare to the big picture?

3

Just under 1.5%. For the record, 2% is the average false criminal accusation rate per the FBI. This is certainly not scientific, and it can’t be. Too much of this analysis rests on the unknowable – that which is never calculated or tabbed. The point of the exercise is to show the potential impact of conservative impact expectations. The point is to show that the data used to justify these positions doesn’t do what you want it to do.

But wait, wait, wait! You might say. What about that one report with the DNA thing? 

Oh, you’re talking about that adorable Fox News article with about as much merit as their “fair and balanced” mantra? Let me break it down:

  • This article is old. Like, 1996 old. Like, operating on data from way before that. You’ll have to forgive me if I prefer more recent data.
  • The author points out the differences in false rape accusation rates among studies and calls them irreconcilable. That’s pretty lazy. A couple of hours of reading and the ability to think critically got me there just fine (see above). But again, this is old, and other studies have come out since it was published.
  • Just because DNA exonerated someone does not mean that they were falsely accused by the rape victim. There are times where the victim has no memory of the attack, but other pieces of evidence are used to make the case. Splitting hairs? Maybe, but in terms of tackling rape culture, it’s an important clarification – this is not necessarily reflective of malicious accusations. To be fair, the article acknowledges that as well, but I want to drive that point home.
  • The study looked at percentage of convictions where DNA exonerated the accused. But it was also only based on the cases referred to the FBI. Given the reasons for referring cases all the way to the FBI, extrapolating the data to apply to the entirety of the incarcerated rapist population makes approximately zero sense. Further, if we remember that only 3% of rapists ever spend a day in jail, that means that false accusations were verified in the study in 0.6% of all projected rape cases. At best. Context.

All this means that people who tout false rape accusations as a critical element of establishing balance in rape culture discussions are equating the suffering of a statistically minuscule portion of the population to a (probably understated) massive population of rape victims.

Guess what? THAT IS RAPE CULTURE.

The idea that we must pepper discourse on the suffering of the marginalized by bemoaning comparatively insignificant harms suffered by the group that has historically had a cultural and institutional advantage in the legal system reeks of privilege.

The very notion that by focusing on the suffering of the majority without excusing the suffering of a minority is a form of discrimination is nonsensical.

The fact that false accusations are perpetually injected into accounts of substantial grief as an equal comparison is a distraction at best, and offensive more often. It is the equivalent of saying, “Rape is terrible, but…”

No – there is no “but.” Rape is terrible, and that statement needs no caveat.

While that is the righteously indignant response that comes to mind when I look at this data, when the temper has cooled  and I attempt to be objective, I’m not entirely comfortable with this line of reasoning. I would not want to silence the voice of a victim of admittedly rare female-on-male rape just because they were representative of a very small proportion of the sexual violence victim population, and I don’t like the idea of doing that to other people who have suffered an injustice, either.

So while I feel like the comparison of false rape accusations to the extensive harms of rape culture is a bad one, that’s not why I’m refusing to publish comments bringing it up.

The reason is that this comparison has struck fear into the hearts of sexual violence victims for decades. It makes victims feel as though they won’t be believed if they do come forward. It gives rape culture perpetrators the “backing” to say a victim “wanted” it, or changed their mind because they were embarrassed. It gives the most vile of commenters their “grounds” for claiming a victim was “obviously” lying because so-and-so could have “anyone they wanted.”

That doesn’t help rape culture, but more importantly, that doesn’t help the victims. Coming forward can be important to receiving proper medical treatment, counseling and – should they choose to press charges – justice. And it can be the difference between putting a rapist behind bars, or allowing them to rape again. I don’t want to be a part of a culture that does that.

The reason is that – for better or worse – those concerned about false rape accusations have a heavyweight ally in their corner already: rape culture itself. The culture hand-delivers skepticism for any allegation that might be made. Victims, on the other hand, have no such ally in their corner. I’m not worried about giving those concerned about false rape accusations a platform, particularly if it’s going to continue to skew the odds against sexual violence victims by perpetuating rape culture overall.

Finally, it’s about creating a safe space. When I published the post yesterday, I had no idea the level of reaction it would generate. As I am typing this, it has been viewed over 87,000 times, shared on Facebook over 10,000 times, and tweeted over 400 times. There are more than 100 comments. I have received a flood of messages both publicly and privately, thanking me for the post. I’ve also heard from dozens of rape survivors who wanted to share their story with me. I’ve been blown away by their courage and grace. Words truly fail.

Until late last night, the comment thread had been fairly thoughtful. Many expressed dismay at the information about the Steubenville case. Others lauded the broader examples of rape culture. Comments that were not purely supportive or the story of an attack were still respectful and solution-oriented (except for a troll or two that I let through… only because I enjoy putting them in their place). When comments furthering the false rape accusation caveat started coming through, I responded by saying I wasn’t going to stand for them, along with articulated [albeit truncated compared to this] reasoning as to why. The reaction? Anger over bias, and accusation of somehow worsening rape culture.

I warned them I wouldn’t stand for it. As I surveyed their condescending comments, the tone reminded me of the slut shaming surrounding the Steubenville case – all of those tweets saying she was a lying whore. And as I scrolled through the tremendously courageous stories being shared by the victims in that thread, I knew I didn’t want to be responsible for making another victim feel that way by splicing measured vulnerability with menacing rhetoric. The post had made people feel safe. I was not going to take that away.

To be clear, I don’t believe the commenters were intending to foster a hostile environment for discourse. I believe they were trying to make an argument, and either were unaware of the what their statements did in context, or don’t understand the gravity of the rape culture problem. In any case, my decision is made.

If you want to comment about false rape accusations, it won’t be on this blog.

FURTHER READING: (Not filtered for quality)

  • Theilade and Thomsen (1986)
  • New York Rape Squad (1974)
  • Hursch and Selkin (1974)
  • Kelly et al. (2005)
  • Geis (1978)
  • Smith (1989)
  • U.S. Department of Justice (1997)
  • Clark and Lewis (1977)
  • Harris and Grace (1999)
  • Lea et al. (2003)
  • HMCPSI/HMIC (2002)
  • McCahill et al. (1979)
  • Philadelphia police study (1968)
  • Chambers and Millar (1983)
  • Grace et al. (1992)
  • Jordan (2004)
  • Kanin (1994)
  • Gregory and Lees (1996)
  • Maclean (1979)
  • Stewart (1981)

172 Responses

    • Andrea March 20, 2013 / 4:45 pm

      Lauren, I think your posts are fantastic and we need more people like you in the fight against rape culture and the fight for women’s rights, as well as your positive advocacy for feminism (as alas, many of students feel that feminism is now ‘irrelevant’ in contemporary society without having a proper understanding of what feminism really means!)

      • Andrea March 20, 2013 / 4:47 pm

        Sorry that should be *many of my students*

    • John D March 20, 2013 / 8:12 am

      Really well stated, and your data is convincing. I’d like to add, if I may, why I think that the “false accusation” idea keeps being brought up.

      Rape is about power. Rape culture is about men taking power over women and claiming they deserve it. It is pathetic, self-serving, exploitive, and wrong.

      “False accusations” are unacceptable to this culture, in any amount, because they reverse that power. If true, they would represent women taking power over men.

      Many men respond to “false accusations” with the fury they ought to use for responding to rape itself, but don’t. How dare a woman take power over a man! They will fall over themselves to justify rape in response, because in their minds, it isn’t a false equivalency–in their minds, men are entitled to freedom, and women are not. A woman taking power over a man upsets the whole idea.

      In their minds, a single false accusation is not equal to a single rape–a single false accusation is WORSE than ALL rape.

      • RethinkThePink (@RethinkThePink1) March 21, 2013 / 5:40 pm

        The other reason the “false allegations” meme survives is that rape is one of the very few serious crimes that the average male may find himself defending against. It’s easy for them to cheerlead the prosecution of a thief, murderer, embezzler, etc., but given how many otherwise law-abiding and “upstanding” men have been prosecuted, it sends chills down their spine.

      • Amira K. March 24, 2013 / 1:27 pm

        Great point, John. It’s definitely culturally embedded that one innocent (male, normally) life ruined by a false accusation is worse by far than the trauma that a (female, normally) victim experiences. The Steubenville media coverage highlights this perfectly. Hence the emphasis on preventing false accusations rather than on prosecuting the real perpetrators.

        I would like to point out, however, that the same logic is used when arguing against the death penalty. “One lost innocent life is one too many,” and I agree. A man (or a woman) who is wrongly convicted of a rape and sentenced to prison time is just as much a tragedy as a man (or a woman) who is wrongfully executed for a crime he or she did not commit. The innocent must always be protected. Unfortunately, in rape cases, the victims usually aren’t given the protection they deserve.

  1. thewanderingvagabond March 20, 2013 / 6:57 am

    totally agree. I do have a friend who was unfairly accused by a very mentally ill woman, her female friends were horrified by it too, though, for, as they rightly pointed out, it was exactly the sort of thing that fuels rape apology. So it does happen but that is no argument against. If anything, it is all the more reason to fight rape culture – if all women who were raped weren’t afraid and ashamed to come forward immediately they could be tested and there would be no doubt in most cases. I believe greater transparency and an end to ‘rape culture’ would help, not hinder false accusations of rape.

    • thewanderingvagabond March 20, 2013 / 7:00 am

      …and allowing men to come forward too, of course. As a man who has been a victim of sexual assault, I wish I hadn’t had to feel unable to even *mention* it to anyone, for years. It harmed my romantic interactions with men and with women for years.

    • roxy l (@witchbyrd) March 20, 2013 / 2:52 pm

      one thing that’s really super chilling for me is these communities of men who claim to have been falsely accused of rape or falsely accused of rape MORE THAN ONCE. if this is something happening to you all the time, you really need to check your ideas about consent and learn to communicate with partners. maybe your idea of consent doesn’t gel with the real world idea of consent, and you actually *are* assaulting or raping women. also, the pervasive cultural myth that rape always needs to involve a hard ‘no’, fighting back, a police report, etc. and that rapists must always be a violent stranger make some rapists think the things they do aren’t rape- coercing a woman into agreeing to have sex with you when she clearly is uncomfortable is rape, even if you manage to cajole a yes out of her. having sex with someone you’ve had sex with before when they didn’t say yes this time is rape. initiating sex while someone is drunk or asleep is rape, even if you are their partner- consent is not something that needs to be given once, but something that needs to be confirmed every single time. these men who claim to have had their lives ‘ruined’ by false accusations bum me out, because.. they may have raped someone at some point and will never even consider it.

      • Sean March 20, 2013 / 7:56 pm

        This breaks my heart, because I am in complete agreement with everything else said here, but I disagree with one of your points. I wish to disagree with you peaceably, however, and have no intention of claiming you’re wrong or insulting you. I just feel compelled to address the issue you raised, and wish to make my voice heard.

        I don’t believe that a woman saying yes but being uncomfortable means that the man has committed rape. I am in no way a rape apologist – it’s repellent, repugnant behaviour and I abhor it totally – but, in my opinion, that idea encroaches too far on the domain of normal regrets. Saying yes at the time, and then regretting having done so, is an altogether too common occurrence in all situations. Just because it involves sex doesn’t mean that the man is any more at fault than anyone who convinces someone else to go against their better judgement; is a woman who talks a man into getting married a criminal if he regrets it afterwards? Is a man who convinces a friend to go out instead of studying for an exam a criminal if the friend fails the test?

        It’s completely fair to condemn someone forcing someone else to do something, but I don’t believe it’s fair to expect someone’s actions to be judged as more immoral if the other person regrets the experience afterwards. Without expressed resistance it’s often difficult to judge the feelings of another, and judging a situation in retrospect as being “obviously” one way or another (i.e. the woman was “obviously” uncomfortable) is difficult to prove. What would be “obvious” to you might not be to someone else, and to claim otherwise is to be solipsistic. The idea runs the risk of things being classed as crimes based on nothing but one person’s retrospective regret.

        I hope I won’t be classed as “brainwashed by rape culture” for saying these things. For clarity, I do believe that if a woman is clearly not enjoying herself a man must ask if it is OK to continue, but in the event that he gets another yes, I fail to see what more he could have done. In any case, my intention here is not to disagree with the overall point; certainly society’s modern understanding of rape is too narrow, and it disgusts me that it’s happened to even one woman.

      • Kelly March 21, 2013 / 12:32 pm

        @Sean – but this is a very large part of the rape culture. That a man only has to keep asking and pressuring and cajoling for sex until the girl finally says yes. I’ve been there. I’ve had boyfriends who would ask over and over again, not the next week or the next day, but over and over again the same night, the same hour. Not just “please” or “do you wanna” but “come ooooonnn!” and “I neeeed it” and even “I’ll just get it somewhere else.” Eventually it’s just easier to avoid all the damn pressure every damn date and give in. Many of this type of guy seek out less self-confident women just for this reason. So, many women don’t know that they can say no and be respected for it. Rape culture contributes to producing this type of guy because it says that men can’t be men without sex.
        Rape culture also means that a woman might feel powerless to say no, because culture says she is worthless without a man, any man, and if she says no too much to sex even if she isn’t ready, she will have no man. So if woman says yes to pressure from a guy it might be a grey area for rape, but she is definitely a victim of rape culture. As are men because a getting rid of rape culture thinking means women actually know what to do with a man who respects them saying no, and are much more able to determine when they themselves are ready, and are much less likely to have regrets later.

      • Darwin March 21, 2013 / 2:23 pm

        False allegations are a crime. Telling someone to change their behavior based on a crime being committed against is blaming the victim.

      • kristycat March 21, 2013 / 3:00 pm

        Sean – this hits close to home for me, because it happened to me.

        Specifically: I had said no. Clearly and firmly.

        I said no the first time he asked. I said no the fifth time he asked. And the twentieth.

        We were alone; we were drinking. I hadn’t actually wanted to be alone with him in the first place, but he was “emotional” and “needed to talk” and I was trying to be Good Friend Girl. And every time I started feeling uncomfortable and got up to leave, he’d grab my arm and ask me to just stay a little longer, he’d stop pushing, he just wanted to talk. And like most women in our culture, I’m socialized to not make a scene, to be nice, to make people feel better. So I stayed.

        I said no nicely. I said no crankily. I said no in a joking manner and tried to change the subject. I said no firmly in a tone that couldn’t be misunderstood. I said no so many times I lost count.

        And then finally, after consuming massive amounts of alcohol and having been asked more than 20 times, I finally got tired of saying no and said yes. Because I was out of ways to say no.

        Was I forced? No. Not really. Certainly not by violence or threats. Was it rape? Not… technically? Was it rapey? Yes. Do situations like that need to be criminalized? No. Do they need to be stigmatized? Hell yes.

        Because while a situation like that may obey the letter of the “consent” rule, in that nothing actually happened until he wore me down to the point where I said yes, it completely ignores and tramples on the spirit of it. I very obviously did not want to do anything sexual with him. But instead of understanding that No means No, he took “no” to mean “ask me again in five minutes.” Instead of respecting my wishes, it became a game – if he makes me uncomfortable enough, if he pushes hard enough, if he gets me drunk enough to where I’m too tired to care anymore… can he “get me” to say yes?

        No, talking someone into something against their better judgment shouldn’t be a criminal offense. But talking someone into something that they’ve already stated they don’t want to do IS sending the message that their consent doesn’t matter to you. And when it’s sex, it sends the message that they’re more interested in getting their dick wet at any cost than in making sure they have a willing partner.

        And that is absolutely a part of rape culture.

      • Seth March 21, 2013 / 5:01 pm

        Sean, the thing is “yes but uncomfortable” is not about “regretting it afterwards,” it is about regretting it before it even happens. It is about saying “yes” not because she wanted it at the time, but because she felt forced into saying “yes,” or because she didn’t feel *safe* saying “no.”

        Basically, when you say “It’s completely fair to condemn someone forcing someone else to do something,” that should be a full stop. By continuing on to talk about regretting it afterwards, you are making the “Rape is terrible, but…” move. You are distracting from a conversation about rape by raising the specter of false accusation.

        And for the record, it is the responsibility of everyone involved in a potential sexual encounter to evaluate the context of the situation and ensure that there is nothing coercive going on. And thinking that that is too heavy a burden to bear, to ask yourself whether you are in a context that makes it difficult to say “no,” is also rape culture.

      • lostforever64 March 21, 2013 / 5:33 pm

        In contrast to Sean, but not aggressively, I disagree with his disagreement. But not entirely. I disagree that he disagrees.
        What he says is not rape is when a woman says yes tentatively, and regrets later. And I say that’s an area not covered by what you labelled as rape (and I do not intend to discuss whether that is rape or not in this comment)

        When a man bothers, coerces, or bullies a woman into saying yes when she is CLEARLY uncomfortable with the idea? Definitely rape as far as I see. Essentially it’s ignoring her NO, but not actually putting your penis inside her until you have intimidated, annoyed, or forced her to say an unenthusiastic yes. It 100% should have stopped initiating sex verbally when she said no, and beyond that is sexual harassment leading into rape.

        That’s not to say that if a woman says no and at any point afterwards if they do sleep together that he’s raping her, it’s obviously situational, and not every situation can be outlined.
        But for obvious reasons if a woman saying no right now, but then going back to him voluntarily later in the evening, perhaps after getting to know him better or being turned down by her first choice of partner (or any reason she may originally have said no) and offering to take up on his original offer is not being raped, while a woman who says no right now, but is stalked and bothered by him for the rest of the night until she has sex with him, that is almost certainly rape.
        For me it’s the difference between following a woman around all night telling her she should have sex with you, and spending time with a woman on a night out and letting her know at one point you are quite interested in having something sexual as part of normal interaction, letting her make her decision in her own time rather than feeling you have to actively convince her she made the wrong decision if she turns you down instantly.

      • Sofia March 21, 2013 / 6:20 pm

        Sadly I have to agree with you. Some people don’t realize exactly what goes into consent and that it doesn’t count as a yes if it isn’t a clear “no”. It really can be incredibly hurtful to have someone you trust push you to do something you’re not ready for or to keep going when you want to stop, and it can really mess with your mind as you struggle to tell yourself “it’s not my fault” and actually believe it. I wish more people understood what consent actually is and that something that they might not realize is rape, actually is.

      • Peter March 22, 2013 / 12:46 am

        I have to largely (and somewhat trepadicously) agree with Sean on this one, with the important proviso that while the sort of ‘high pressure’ behavior referred to by the other commenters doesn’t make it rape *per-see* it is *unethical*, and possibly actionable on lesser charges (eg. harassment).

      • Sean March 23, 2013 / 9:01 am

        Sadly, I see at least one post implying that I am a rape apologist. I’ve already made comment about that, so I won’t address it again for fear of sounding like I’m using the “but some of my best friends are black” defence.

        My complete and unambiguous sympathies go to anyone who feels like they were bullied or coerced into saying yes to sex, and I strongly defend your right to class that action (and the harassment leading up to it) however you wish. I have no interest in defining your experience for you, as only you can do that. My issue is only with the de facto categorisation of all situations of this nature as rape.

        To address Seth’s point, I don’t think that “rape is terrible, but…” and “it’s fair to condemn someone for… but….” are equivalent statements. The syntax of the first one implies that the concept of rape is somehow ameliorated by the subsequent statement; my statement, however, deals immediately with the categorisation of acts, rather than impugning the horror of rape itself. I haven’t ever, nor will I ever, deny that rape is one of the very worst things a person can do. My intention here was not to raise the “specter of false accusation”, as you put it, but express my personal opinion. Your statement makes it sound as though I am intentionally intending to derail the conversation, which is patently untrue. I deferred to the overall point made by the previous commenter in my post and at least tried to make sure that my point was a standalone one which wasn’t to become the main thrust of the discussion.

        Perhaps the most important mistake I made in my post was addressing the point as if the original poster had not specifically said “coercion”. I agree totally that coercing or bullying people into doing ANYTHING is highly immoral, and often illegal. My point was somewhat tangential to that one, and perhaps does not fit into this conversation as it stands, for which I apologise. This is probably also informed by my understanding of the word “rape” to apply to rape as far as it can be criminally prosecuted. I agree completely with Kristycat’s assertion that tactics such as those we’re discussing should be classed as immoral (and highly, highly stigmatised) rather than being considered criminal – although, of course, in some cases it should be illegal, such as when there are other dynamics at work, i.e. employer/employee, teacher/student, or the tactics involve coercion or intimidation. I just don’t think that repeatedly asking for sex necessarily counts as intimidation in every case; just because you feel intimidated doesn’t necessarily mean that someone is deliberately intimidating you.

        In any case, we’re essentially on the same side here; I want women to be safe and happy, and to be able to dress/express themselves in whatever way they wish without feeling stigmatised or at risk. My intention, as I have said, is not to derail the discussion but rather to define its boundaries. If that classes me as a rape apologist, then that’s extremely sad, as you would be hard-pushed to find a stronger proponent of self-determination, safety, cooperation and informed consent than myself.

      • laedyrose March 24, 2013 / 5:06 am

        One of my ex-boyfriends was extremely sexually agressive. From practically the first date, he pressured me into doing things I wasn’t ready to do yet, like touch his penis. I remember one time when he started being sexual with me when my roommates were trying to sleep. I said, “I don’t think we should be doing this,” but then I let myself be pressured/tempted into it. On a later occassion, he refused to stop having sex with me when it started to hurt. I cried out, “stop, you’re hurting me,” but he didn’t stop until he came, which seemed like an eternity. That’s legally rape, as of 2003. It took me awhile to admit that it was rape. The statute of limitations is long past, and I guess I’d have trouble pressing charges anyway, because I still care about him as a person. Anyway, I think that pressuring someone into sex is unethical as heck and a big red flag, but shouldn’t be criminal. It’s difficult to define; it’s very subjective. On the other hand, I had a hard time accepting my own rape for what it was for over a decade. I’m sure my ex is oblivious to the fact that he raped me.

  2. db March 20, 2013 / 9:50 am

    You are fucking awesome.

  3. Glenn March 20, 2013 / 10:27 am

    terrific but disturbing read… aside from the act of rape which is deplorable, the worst part is that this commentary even exists and that people still attempt to rebuff it…

  4. L Peters March 20, 2013 / 10:45 am

    Thank you for continuing to address this issue. I stand there with you to say we can only stop talking about rape culture once rape culture has stopped. I especially like the idea that being biased towards “false accusations” is also part of rape culture. Good point!

  5. Will Chapman March 20, 2013 / 10:54 am

    Reblogged this on Rethinking Me(n) and commented:
    It’s time for men to get over themselves and recognize we are the beneficiaries of rape culture, even if you’ve never sexually assaulted someone. Any rape that goes unreported means that meaningful efforts to educate our young people are delayed or never happen. Let’s try standing in solidarity with victims, who despite the best efforts of law enforcement and support services, are no doubt re-traumatized by any efforts at prosecution. As men, we don’t need to take a knee-jerk reaction assuming that any sexual partner we’ve had would falsely accuse us of rape (that’s really where this fear mongering about false accusations is coming from after all). Instead, let’s live has decent human beings and recognize that rape happens, and it is terrible, and we should take an active role in preventing it and supporting those who are the victims of sexual assaults.

  6. Tom March 20, 2013 / 11:54 am

    I didn’t even have to finish reading this before i noticed the hypocrisy. If false rape accusations interrupt important discourse so what? It’s part of that discourse whether you like it or not. I would also question the veracity of the “projected” rape cases, possibly even more than the figures on false accusations. I’m not saying I think Steubenville or any rape is a false accusation, and as far as i’m concerned false accusation probably amounts to very little of the rape cases. But it sounds to me that you’re putting forward tenuous evidence in order to prove why you won’t discuss the tenuous evidence of false accusations.

    • rantagainsttherandom March 20, 2013 / 12:54 pm

      That is EXACTLY the point. The data is bad, no matter how you twist it (and you would know that I said this had you read the entire piece). It’s not a justification for derailing important discourse through perpetuation of intimidation tactics and unsupported theories about prevalence.

      • TiredofAccusationsofFalseAccusations March 20, 2013 / 3:57 pm

        Also, the issue with the rape is not limited to just those who report. I know this has been said MANY times over. But if you truly understand the position that a woman finds herself in when she is TRULY raped… 63% of them never report it. That is the problem with this acceptance and promotion of the false rape. A woman is raped, then she goes to the hospital, has to be poked and prodded, and relive the entire thing in front of hospital staff. To THEN have to go through it AGAIN because she named her attacker is a horrifying prospect. Plus, the idea that rape is the woman’s fault is perpetual, even in those who are clearly drugged or assaulted. These women are tortured by the idea that something THEY did would have caused them to be attacked.

        As a woman who was sexually abused as a child (which is not included in these statistics, and don’t say that at 4 years old i was “asking for it”), I can understand the position that women have been placed in, as well as the harm of wondering if it is your own fault.

        The problem in our society is the lack of responsibility of a man to WHAT he does with his member. How is it appropriate to have sex with someone who is unconscious? I myself was sleeping at a party where I thought I was safe, only to wake up to find a creepy-looking man standing far too close to the couch. I called for a ride and left the party immediately. This is not always the option for all women.

        If one of my brothers EVER disrespected a woman even with a forced kiss, I would beat him into a bloody pulp, and make sure that Dad taught him about respect of women…

        Wait, that’s right, THAT is the core issue here. These men do NOT have respect for women. A boy should be taught to respect women, and as a man, he should live that respect. Parents should be more concerned with teaching respect to their children than covering up their obvious disrespect.

      • Andy March 22, 2013 / 10:28 pm

        Thank you for posting this. I’m very happy I read. I am a gay man in a steady monogamous relationship for the past two years, and I realized during the course of reading your article and the responses that I have been contributing to rape culture without ever intending or even knowing. I love my partner very much, and would never mean to hurt him, but I realized I have coaxed him into bed on more than one occasion. It won’t happen again. I have also felt pressured to have sex on numerous occasions, and consented. I sometimes feel like a bad boyfriend if I don’t. Your article and everyone’s responses have helped me to realize that both instances are wrong, so thank you. Rape culture is especially prevalent within the gay community and even celebrated. I don’t use it as an excuse for myself, but I now recognize it as a problem.

    • Gabriel Kenney March 20, 2013 / 1:23 pm

      First off, from my understanding, she’s not saying we should take anything Out of the public discourse; censorship isn’t the issue, here. The issue is that people are talking about A in a B context when they should be talking about it in C context. The issue is that the false-accusation studies and data are either outdated are severely under-representative of the general population (to the point where it almost seems intentional… I mean, just 18 subjects in one of the studies?).

      If you think that’s a problem, go commission a study with an adequate sample size, adequate funding, and knowledgable front runners for the exercise, and go prove us wrong. But the data we Do have (in bulk) tells us that false rape accusations are not nearly as large an issue as they are made to be (and I mean that in terms of frequency, not importance).

      I’m not sure what in the evidence is tenuous, but I’d love to hear your opinion on it.

    • jeff March 20, 2013 / 5:57 pm

      why don’t you finish reading it then. there is no hypocrisy. You obviously assumed you knew what it said and didn’t bother to pay attention. she has lots of very good reasons for excluding false accusations from the conversation and she addresses the hypocrisy that you think you noticed.

  7. Maggie Ahrens March 20, 2013 / 12:56 pm

    Thank you. You’re doing good work here.
    If there’s a backlash, that’s where we need to focus.

    You are an extraordinary person, and I wish there were more folks with your wit and grace.

  8. Brian Webber March 20, 2013 / 12:59 pm

    Given how, in that 3% the majority of the accused (IIRC) are men of color, the “false rape allegation” talk would be better served as part of the discussion of racism and the two-tiered justice system than in rape culture.

    • MamaCheshire March 22, 2013 / 9:19 am

      I agree with this.

      Men of color, and also LGBTQ (or perceived-as-LGBTQ) individuals.

      Being non-het and of a certain age, I had a lot of friends who wouldn’t work with kids at all no matter how much they wanted to because of the Bernie Baran case.

  9. ahuntr March 20, 2013 / 1:04 pm

    I’m confused by your argument: you say that 8% of rape reports are false, and that this would be cause for concern if not for… and then you seem to conflate rape reports with actual rape, to multiply 8% with .37. What are you saying here? That if something were done to increase the rate of reporting of rape, that there would be no commensurate increase in the number of false reports?

    The problem with your policy of refusing to publish responses to your arguments is that by doing so, you are refusing to expose your ideas to testing. Therefore, articles like this will be untested propositions, rather than theories that have been subjected to review. Marketing, not social science or philosophy.

    I’m not sure that you can make a “safe space” and discuss controversial issues at the same time. I think you have to choose between therapy or theory.

    • rantagainsttherandom March 20, 2013 / 1:15 pm

      See my response to the comment above. The statistical section is purposely bad. The point is to highlight that the data on the subject is plagued with problems, which means that interjections of false rape accusations in broader conversations about recognizing rape culture don’t have the backing required to be a warranted caveat in the conversation. Further, theory and therapy can and should operate together. What started as theory lead to therapy and that doesn’t make either more or less important than the other, but as an advocate, it does mean that I have to be discerning about how I facilitate the conversation.

      • ahuntr March 20, 2013 / 2:49 pm

        Thanks for clearing my original message- I don’t have so much of an issue with you directing discussion of this topic to this area- that’s different than censoring comments. It’s a contentious subject, and I imagine you feel barraged, so I just wanted to thank you for your civility, and promise to return it.

        Am I understanding you correctly that your exercise in analyzing the FBI data, where you reduce it from 8% to 1% was an attempt to illustrate the kind of uncritical thinking that you feel leads to the wildly different results of the existing studies?

        If so, I completely misinterpreted your post- I thought that once you started talking about the FBI’s 8% figure, you were saying that conflating rapes reported with rapes occurring was methodologically sound, and that the idea that false rape might be a significant problem was untrue.

        You indicated that an 8% false rate reporting would be cause for concern, and that even 3% would be troubling. I agree with you that it is a real problem that there is such a range of results in various studies- that nobody seems to be able to reproduce anybody else’s results. I also agree that bias is a big issue with these studies (although I think that the problem extends both to people looking for evidence of immense amounts of false reporting, and evidence of negligible amounts of false reporting- it’s a topic where everyone seems to have an agenda).

        But I thought that the point of the post was to demonstrate that false accusations were sufficiently infrequent that the wrongly accused did not have a place in the discussion of how our culture views rape, and I don’t think you have established that. It’s very pertinent, if you are arguing for a special case in which the accused is exempted from due process. It’s pertinent if you are arguing that anyone accused of rape should be assumed guilty, and that the consequences should be severe.

        • rantagainsttherandom March 20, 2013 / 3:44 pm

          You have been civil and engaged in the rationale of the piece, and for me, that’s the kind of discourse that helps foster understanding for everyone involved.

          The point of the statistical section was two-fold. On one hand, I wanted to illustrate the mitigating factors which likely inflate our understanding of the frequency of false accusations, and on the other, I wanted to explain why the perpetuation of these inherently flawed data points – particularly as caveats to conversations focused on understanding how rape culture manifests – can be damaging. The idea is that this data is bad, and shouldn’t be used to begin with, but if you’re going to look at it at all, you should know the extent to which its implications are inflated. More to the point on why I’m filtering comments – to answer a very raw personal experience with bad data (and the bulk of the comments in this vein to date have been just that) is pretty damn offensive.

          I want to be clear- I do NOT think assuming guilt upon accusation is a good thing. False accusations are awful. Data points aside, the experiences of the falsely accused should not be summarily dismissed. But there is a time and place for all discussions, and on this blog at this time to this end, false accusations discussions do more harm than good.

    • Adam F. March 20, 2013 / 1:58 pm

      I don’t think we can assume that the 8% figure would apply to unreported rapes as well. The whole assumption behind the discussion of false accusations assumes that the false report is vindictive. Why would someone looking to harm the reputation of another hide among the unreported?

      The only place that I see this relates strictly to the rape culture conversation is in saying that accusation should inherently lead to consequences. That is dangerous from a justice system perspective. Accusations should be taken seriously and investigated. Alleged victims (and yes they are alleged until a crime has been verified through evidence) should never be threatened or intimidated. And if a solid investigation bears out the accusations, then bring on the consequences. If, however, the investigation cannot identify any evidence for the charges, no consequences should ever occur.

      I would manifest this in the discussion not by explicitly mentioning it – because that does indeed have an effect of acting as intimidation – but rather by simply excluding anything implying that justice requires that accusation alone equals punishment. Rape victims need to hear that they will be listened to and taken seriously. They do not need to hear that they get to play the role of the judge and jury.

      • Peter March 20, 2013 / 4:49 pm

        I agree, Rape is one of the worst things one human can do to another. Deliberately making a false accusation of such is another. The consequences of either act should be very serious and should come *only* after the matter has been fairly and properly investigated by qualified authorities, and only if guilt can be established beyond a reasonable doubt. Really the same is true of *any* accusation but the urge not to wait for the (sometimes frustratingly slow and lengthy) process to conclude before demanding punitive action tends to be most prevalent in highly charged cases such as rape.

        And when the matter is over, and any appropriate sentence served, then the matter should be over with. Dredging these things up over and over for years afterward just hurts everyone.

      • Peter March 20, 2013 / 5:10 pm

        While it’s true that I have serious reservations about that program I meant it on both sides. If the victim has been able to put their experience behind them then the last thing, I would think, that they need is someone bringing it to them again.

  10. MaleThereforeRapist March 20, 2013 / 2:12 pm

    Oh well, she quoted some academic lookin’ stuff and used graphs, so she must be right.

      • Misha Kessler March 22, 2013 / 9:41 pm

        “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”

        Thank you for your posts, Lauren!

  11. Some Random Guy March 20, 2013 / 2:13 pm

    Let me start out admitting to being the bad guy. For assorted reasons (some anecdotal, some based on data–which as you point out in the comments is tragically bad all around the subject) I do think that there *might* be an issue with false charges above the baseline. It’s a difficult position to be in. I consider myself a feminist and I’m fairly educated on this and other gender issues, but at the same time I know that as a man even suggesting that women ever falsely report rape automatically labels me as a rape-apologist.

    All that said, I strongly agree with your decision to keep “false rape” discussions out of the comments, for most of the same reasons you’ve already mentioned. I understand how it raises the bar of difficulty for women and especially victims to speak up, and I think that is by far the most important point that people are missing. It’s exactly why even though I agree with some of those who say that false rape accusations are a problem, I refuse to bring it up in discussions about rape. I’ve even made several of the same points you have to point out to the average “false accusations” arguer that it’s usually just unfairly clouding what is really a straight-forward issue–we have a social problem with the way we view women that facilitates and supports rapists, and that problem is demonstrably tied into our culture, and we all have a moral obligation to fix that.

    So I guess the point of this comment is to say thank you for actually taking the time to address this part of the discussion in a separate and well-reasoned post. Even if I disagree with some of your data and conclusions, I wholeheartedly support your position. Hopefully you’ll find it somewhat reassuring that even people “on the other side” of the argument in one way agree with you on the part that really matters. And I hope this doesn’t come off as rape apologism. :-/

  12. Victoria March 20, 2013 / 2:52 pm

    One thing that might also help your case: the 2-8 percent figure also includes false reports that do not name a perpetrator as well as those who do. Because most people who hear a discussion of rape and say “WHAT ABOUT THE FALSE ACCUSATIONS” are primarily concerned with the fact that someone could be wrongly accused by someone with an ax to grind, false reports where no one is named would function slightly differently because of how the police proceed (I would imagine in most of these cases they would find some inconsistency and not move forward, but they certainly would not have a suspect to start with). And given that we know that out of 100 rapes (that really do happen) 46 get reported, 12 lead to an arrest and 9 lead to prosecution, and 5 will lead to a conviction (and of those 5, only three will serve jail time) it’s fair to say that if someone makes a false report and goes on to name someone, the odds are on the side of the falsely accused that they will not be arrested and will probably not go to jail (Statistics from RAINN). (I also believe that the number of rapes labeled false accusations because the law enforcement doesn’t take the person making the report seriously is probably higher than in your extrapolation, yet I see the value of conservative estimates).

    Another thing that needs to be said about false accusations is that the statistics that we have on rape have been adjusted so that they don’t incorporate the 2-8 percent of false accusations. So, even if the most extreme figure (8%) is true in the strictest sense (that is to say someone directly lies about being raped), 1 and 6 women in America would still be raped at some point in their lives.

    And I agree with what another commenter said about race-I would be interested in listening to someone make an argument about false accusations if they addressed the racial dynamic, but no one ever does.

  13. Zac March 20, 2013 / 3:09 pm

    I’m sorry, but I just can’t see false rape accusations as a problem. When unreported rapes are no longer a problem, when reported rapes going uninvestigated is no longer a problem, when “she didn’t fight back enough to prove she didn’t want it” is no longer an effective defense, when it no longer matters what she was wearing, or what she could have done to prevent it, THEN maybe we’ll talk, but until then, I would rather go to jail on a false rape charge than have the problems I mentioned continue.

    • Rosy March 21, 2013 / 6:07 am

      TOTALLY AWESOME!!!!!!

    • James Ringo March 21, 2013 / 5:33 pm

      A martyr, brave indeed sir.

  14. Scott March 20, 2013 / 3:20 pm

    While your data makes sense…I don’t understand how it means the issue of false rape accusations shouldn’t be discussed. Even if it’s an extremely low %, it doesn’t mean it’s 0% and doesn’t mean we should just dismiss it outright.

    The Duke Lacrosse case and the Tawana Bradley case are the most high profile examples of false accusations. There are real consequences in false rape accusations…the problem comes when everyone assumes rape victims are lying. I understand your fear…to talk about it at all gives ignorant people the ability to say “see, false rape accusations happen all the time”

    Why can’t we have a discussion about rape culture while also acknowledging that false rape accusations DO happen, and state that they are a very small percentage of the overall issue?

    To truly discuss an issue, you should look at all sides. No?

    • rantagainsttherandom March 20, 2013 / 3:25 pm

      The second half of the post explains this – it’s about time, place and subject. It’s about creating a safe space, and not allowing others a platform to perpetuate elements of rape culture (if you could see the comments I’ve deleted, you’d understand what I mean). I acknowledge that false accusations occur. They are deplorable. Those individuals who have been falsely accused have other outlets for expression and recourse. My blog will not be one of them.

    • Bowen March 20, 2013 / 4:47 pm

      The core of the ‘false accusations’ argument is about justice, but guess what, so is rape, and I’m far more concerned with bringing unpunished rapists to justice than I am with bringing false accusers to justice. False accusers generally do get brought to justice, while the majority of rapists do not. If false accusers weren’t ever brought to justice, then we would never hear about false accusations, would we?

    • K7 March 21, 2013 / 11:53 am

      The Duke Lacrosse case was the result of a failed PR campaign by then District Attorney Mike Nifong, who saw the case as an opportunity to leverage social and political issues to advance his career. He manipulated and used the defendant to create a shitstorm that ultimately exploded in his face. If you want to blame someone for that whole debacle, there’s your man.

    • thecultofheather March 21, 2013 / 10:02 pm

      While you hear occasionally about a false murder charge, burglary, etc, you don’t see people clamoring to discuss the number of false murder/burglary accusations. You don’t ask what the burglary/murder victim wore or what they didn’t do to prevent the crime. You don’t see (generally) tasteless social media comments/posts about how they deserved it.

      • Archy March 22, 2013 / 9:32 pm

        Dunno about you but I’ve seen plenty of comments of “he deserved it” in cases of a woman beating or killing a man, plenty of “why didn’t he/she leave”, why did you leave your car unlocked, why did you walk the streets alone, why didn’t you fight back, etc in crimes like murder, robbery, assault. False murder however is far rarer because murder is rare but I have seen the I don’t think he/she did it/they definitely did it comments go on in discussions of it with everyone playing real life Cluedo. You also can’t ask a murder victim anything, but the “what you wear” issue I’ve only seen with rape.

    • Kate March 22, 2013 / 9:01 am

      I’m not sure the Tawana Brawley case really applies the same way. That case was publicized and brought huge political and media coverage because it was made into a racial issue. Yes, it was false accusations and there were real consequences. There are still consequences echoing through that town years later. Except most of those reverberations are due to the racial tensions of the case, and the fallout that devastated a community.

  15. Victoria March 20, 2013 / 3:57 pm

    Another problem with the discussion of false accusations in the discussion rape culture is that it often attempts to redefine rape or contests certain instances within the existing definition. No one who believes that Steubenville was a matter of false accusations is saying “IF it really happened like she’s claiming it did, it would be rape, but she’s just making it up,” they are saying “these accusations are false because what happened wasn’t rape.” This is why most discussions of false accusations go nowhere-because there is an inherent disagreement and even very clear cut cases of rape get dismissed.

  16. des March 20, 2013 / 6:16 pm

    I’d just like to say thanks for your work with the post on “rape culture” and your post in response to everyone’s comments. I found your posts so compelling and even as someone who would’ve been on your side all along before reading because I like to consider myself as someone who is aware, it was still just so surreal to see all of those incidents compiled in such a way. And just imagining that there are so many stories just like those that we haven’t heard about… well, that’s hard to do. Trying to understand how there are actual people who can’t truly empathize with the real struggles faced by these victims is also pretty difficult. Well, anyway, thank you again. You’re an inspiration!

  17. Jaenen March 20, 2013 / 6:35 pm

    Reblogged this on thinkugly and commented:
    Oh man, does this girl tell it good. Very good read. I will also post her original post about Rape culture which is what this blog is a spin off of.

  18. jb137 March 20, 2013 / 6:39 pm

    I actually think we can do one better than not discussing false accusations, but instead actually talk about how the fear of false accusations is itself a product of rape culture. Let me be clear that as a man, I share that fear. I have actually seen what I believe to be a false accusation. I believe your statistics, so why am I still afraid? Why do I still think that it’s not entirely unlikely that this will happen to me?

    You left a few things out of your statistics. So let’s just forego all the math and assume that if we had a normal level of reporting, false accusations would make up the average 2%. But let’s now ask the question: how likely is it that you will be falsely accused? This actually involves somewhat complex mathematics. So given that you are accused of rape, the probability that you are falsely accused is 2%. But how likely are you to be accused of rape, or at least how likely would you be if reporting accorded with presumed reality? I’m sure the real statistics on crime reporting in general are different, but assuming 100% reporting, that the rapes are statistically independent, that 18% of all women experience rape, and that 99% of this is by a man: as a man, you have about an 18% chance of being accused of rape. The probability that if you are a man you will be falsely accused of rape is then about 0.36%. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but if we did a similar calculation for murder, where only 0.0048% of people are murdered, and you therefore have a 0.000096% chance of being falsely accused of murder, the difference is staggering. As a man, one is 3750 times more likely to be falsely accused of rape than falsely accused of murder, because as a woman (falsely assuming that murder statistics are gender-neutral), one is 3750 times more likely to be raped than murdered.

    The conclusion here should be obvious: the fear of being falsely accused is entirely a product of how common rape is, is entirely a product of rape culture itself. They’re inextricably linked. I don’t think you need to take away the victimhood of the falsely accused here, or even to dismiss this topic as more harm than good (I actually think that trying to brush something aside as significant and true but harmful is pretty problematic). It’s more like we need to be clear about this: the reason that in fact false accusation is a problem is because rape culture is a problem. 18% is ridiculous. Some estimates are even higher. If these people actually wanted to do the most possible to stop false accusations, they should stop rape.

    • Jade March 20, 2013 / 10:28 pm

      I agree that false accusations are a product of rape culture. Not only is the fear of being falsely accused a product, but the accusation itself. These accusations are clearly made by individuals who have little respect for actual victims of rape.

    • O March 20, 2013 / 10:58 pm

      The problem with your reasoning is that huge numbers of rape victims never accuse the attacker at all. They report it to the crisis centres they attend, to the hospitals, to the crime reporting surveys, but to nobody else. They may well be married to or dating the attacker – or they may not want the shitstorm Jane Doe has had to cope with (you know her friends ostracised her, even gave evidence against her, because those boys are social gods in their social groups?) Many women don’t tell anyone at all for a long time. Your chances of being accused are so, so low – do you know men accused of rape? I don’t. I do know a lot of raped women, though.

      The second issue is that recent data was released by the UK government showing rates of prosecution for rape and for false allegation. I really don’t think that leaves you with much to worry about: There were 5,651 prosecutions for rape for the period between January 2011 and May 2012 the study looked at, but only 35 for making false allegations of rape.

      And “false allegation” also includes people prosecuted for refusing to give evidence after alleging rape despite there being a strong case had they done so – in one horrible case, a woman whose husband bullied her into withdrawing her evidence, which she did for the sake of the children… and she was then prosecuted and found guilty of perverting the course of justice, because “The case against her – described as a “miscarriage of justice” by campaigners – was not that she had lied about the rapes, but about her claim that they had never happened. “When he set her free from jail, Judge said Sarah’s original sentence “had to be assessed on the basis that she had perverted the course of justice by falsely retracting a truthful allegation that her husband had indeed raped her””.http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/dec/17/retracted-rape-allegations-conviction-challenge but just so you know, she counts in the figures for false rape allegations over here, because she said she hadn’t been raped. When, you know, they believed she was lying, and she had.

      Additionally, in this country a woman is three times more likely to be arrested for each domestic violence incident (1 in 3) than a man (1 in 10) despite the fact that all data shows men are many times more likely to be violent, and many more times likely to be extremely violent (hospitalisation or death resulting.) http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/aug/28/women-arrested-domestic-violence

      People do sometimes lie, and they absolutely deserve the book thrown at them. They wreck innocent people’s lives and they also make it harder yet for all the genuine victims. But the way the debate is framed is just weird, because we have one known, huge problem (rape) and one very small one (false accusation) yet the latter is always brought up when rape is discussed. You might as well expect people to bring up insurance scams every time someone discusses burglary.

      • Archy March 21, 2013 / 11:36 am

        “Additionally, in this country a woman is three times more likely to be arrested for each domestic violence incident (1 in 3) than a man (1 in 10) despite the fact that all data shows men are many times more likely to be violent, and many more times likely to be extremely violent (hospitalisation or death resulting.) http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/aug/28/women-arrested-domestic-violence

        Did they say the severity of each case? One possibility is that men may be less likely to report abuse and only do so when it’s severe, women may be more likely to report for lesser incidents where arrest isn’t needed which could skew the numbers of arrests greatly. If it’s 3x more likely for a woman to be arrested for the same severity as a man then it definitely needs to stop but if it’s varying severity the above hypothetical may simply mean arrests only happen in the most severe cases. It seems to be the only way those numbers could happen without a bias against against women that I could think of, but very well could be simply the police are biased against women. Do you know of a link to the actual study?

      • Andy March 21, 2013 / 2:23 pm

        I can’t speak to the UK, but in the States, a recent survey of 350 independent studies showed that women here are actually noticeably more likely to instigate domestic violence than men. That, of course, does nothing to address the overall discourse of rape, but I thought it worth mentioning.

        Personally I think the tendency to view violence as divided along gender lines is extremely damaging. I’m very encouraged by the number of times I’ve seen it addressed on this site as a ubiquitous issue rather than a women’s issue.

      • O March 22, 2013 / 3:43 am

        Andy if you actually examine those claims they don’t hold up quite as much as you think they do. Women are as likely or more likely to commit low-level violence – slaps etc – which are horrible, abusive and unacceptable, absolutely. But serious violence, resulting in hospitalisation or death, is many times more likely to be male-perpetrated. Many, many more women are beaten to death by men than vice versa. That doesn’t for a second mean there aren’t violent women, but it does mean that as a social problem, yes the male side is a bigger one.

        Again, I am not condoning a cultural acceptance of female violence. Personally, I think violence against children, which is state-sanctioned, should be banned as well. I’ll never fathom why an attack which would be criminal from one adult to another is fine just as long as the victim is far smaller and you have absolute power over their lives. Low-level domestic violence is corrosive and we have a culture where it’s almost acceptable from women to men or to children. To me, that’s unacceptable, too.

        Archy I don’t know, but were that so you’d expect the charge rates to match the arrest ones, which they apparently don’t. Police don’t make those decisions – they arrest and then send the file to the Crown Prosecution Service. So it does seem odd that the arrests happen that frequently, really.

      • Archy March 22, 2013 / 9:49 pm

        Ah ok, do you have the data I could look at with charge vs arrest rates? I’m interested to know what severity of violence each charge is getting, arrest, etc. I find it strange to hear they are arresting women more than men, in the U.S in the earlier days of VAWA and primary aggressor laws I heard quite a lot about men being arrested more than women even male victims. Seems justice systems vary heaps between the U.S and U.K. I do hope bias is removed in all cases, it sickens me that those in power use bias against a group.

    • GiT March 24, 2013 / 1:51 pm

      ” as a man, you have about an 18% chance of being accused of rape.”

      False. The chance of being accused of rape is not evenly distributed amongst men, and it is not a warranted assumption.

      Now it might be safe for modelling purposes to assume that the chance of being *falsely* accused is randomly distributed across men. So let’s do that. Correctly, this time.

      If you want to come up with a number on being the “victim” of a legally actioned false report, then find the absolute number of reports per annum, apply the rate of false reporting to authorities, and divide by the male population. It’s not complex math, at all, though perhaps it is for you.

      Let’s do it with the numbers given on this site (it’s just the first site I found with the absolute numbers necessary for the calculation): http://listen.nycagainstrape.org/learn.html

      683k rapes of adult American women/year
      *16% of all rapes reported to the police=
      109.3k rapes of adult American women reported to police/year
      /
      138 million men in America
      =
      0.000792, or.08%, or 8/10,000 men legally accused of rape per year.
      *2% legally reported rape accusations made falsely per year
      =
      0.00001584, or .0016%, or 1.6/100,000 men falsely accused of rape within the legal system per year.

      Compare to your rate for murder, .000096%, and the likelihood of being falsely accused of rape is about 17x that for murder, no where near your 3750 claim.

      Now let’s figure out what that works to over a lifetime. Assume that this .0016% likelihood of false accusation rate holds up across the years, independent, and all that jazz. Take 1-.000016, the likelihood of not being accused of rape in a given year (99.9984%), and compound it over 50 years (.999984^50), and you get .9992. This number tells us that a man has a 99.92% chance of never being falsely accused of rape in a legal context in their life Or, in other words, in their lifetime, 18/10,000 men will deal with a false accusation of rape in a legal context in their life.

      In contrast, what is it, 1/4 – 2,500/10,000, or 134x as many men as are falsely accused of rape in a legal context – women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.

  19. marydowds March 20, 2013 / 7:03 pm

    Thank you for this excellent post. Everything I put up about feminism in general on my own social media is frequently met with cries of “but women are mean to men as well!” Yes, and if I was blogging about gardening I wouldn’t add articles at random about car maintenance because there are cars in the world as well as flowers.

    Sticking to the subject is an issue in any form of online discussion. When it comes to this area, the tendency by some to spew irrelevancies can cause a lot of harm. Just because there are a tiny amount of false accusations in a huge pile of genuine ones does not make it okay to shame victims.

    Well done on taking a firm stance, I look forward to reading more of your blog now I’ve found it :-)

  20. Archy March 20, 2013 / 8:47 pm

    Just a quick comment, if this isn’t the place to discuss it then feel free to delete it.
    For a genuine false accussation, admitted to, do you think there should be punishment towards the accuser for perverting the course of justice and using it as a weapon for violence by proxy (imprisonment, retributive violence by a friend, etc)? Is it possible to both adequately handle real accusations, but also address false ones without scaring off real victims?

    • rantagainsttherandom March 21, 2013 / 11:06 pm

      Yes, with a caveat. A “false” accusation can take many forms. I believe punishment for malicious false accusation is appropriate. I’m fine with having the conversation about false reports, but not in this space. There’s just too much vulnerability on the thread, and their feeling of security at this point is just too important to me. If that makes me a bad person, so be it. I can live with that. It’s a judgement call on my part at the end of the day. But thank you for taking a respectful tone in discussing the matter – I do appreciate it.

  21. Not Specified March 20, 2013 / 9:18 pm

    I was molested by my mom’s boyfriend from the age of 5 to 7-years-old. My aunt and my grandmom had to fight tooth and nail for ANYONE to listen, because everyone they contacted was dismissive. When the case finally went to trial, he never faced jail time- he wound up with probation until I was 18 and mandatory therapy. He was allowed to live with his sons (my younger half-brothers) and continued to abuse them/my mom for the next 10 years. Victims deserve to be heard, and spreading the idea that false rape accusations exist on a large scale wouldn’t help at all. The system is fucked up enough.

    Sorry that this wasn’t phrased as intelligently as I wanted it to be.

  22. rhondacr March 20, 2013 / 10:45 pm

    While it may not be a good idea to go out and get drunk and wear skimpy clothing, that doesn’t mean one was “asking for it”. Just because a different choice in actions may have prevented it doesn’t mean someone was asking for it. It could have helped to have not done those things or not be there but at the end of the day, the survivor never asked for it. It is 100% the rapist’s fault.

    • O March 21, 2013 / 7:34 am

      It’s interesting when skimpy clothing always comes up. Is it then your position that women were never raped when they wore skirts to the floor, numerous petticoats, corsets, or farthingales? And do you think rape is extremely rare in nations where women are far more cautious in how they behave because of social pressures to ensure that they are – in India, say?

      Women don’t get raped in huge numbers because they want to look pretty on a night out, or because they want to be able to drink and socialise with friends. They get raped because we live in a culture that basically says rape means a stranger in an alley, and if you know a girl who drinks and flirts and wants to look pretty, then she’s fair game and nobody will really get into any trouble, It’s hilarious that people are insisting that the lesson from all this is social media: social media is the only damn reason the little scrotes were caught and punished at all. It meant their lies of innocence were provably bullshit. Without that, she’d have been regarded as a girl who regretted it in the morning and lied to try to salvage her reputation. Which says all you need to know about the dangers to men of false accusation – the woman is hardly ever believed even when she’s telling the truth.

      Rape happens because our culture treats sex as a commodity, and that’s not new, and nor is it down to anything the woman does. The only – ONLY – thing that’s had any success in cutting rape levels is a public education program in Canada that was aimed at men, young men in particular – the “Don’t Be That Guy” campaign. It cut the rates of recorded offending by 10% in six months, with posters saying things like, “Just because you help her home, it doesn’t mean you can help yourself: don’t be that guy.” It aimed squarely at “drunk girls in skimpy clothing.” The problem isn’t the girls, because they aren’t the rapists. So why is all the discourse on rape prevention aimed at them? Apart from anything else, it doesn’t bloody well work. Girls aren’t (and shouldn’t) going to stop enjoying being young, just as young men do. What does work is educating young men in how rape culture is bullshit, and you need active and affirmative consent for sex.

      • CS March 22, 2013 / 10:04 am

        This is an awesome statement, and thank you for your response! I want some of these campaigns in the states, actually I think they are needed worldwide! Thanks for the response and for the info!

  23. tim March 20, 2013 / 11:29 pm

    Love your articles. I was raped once so i think that’s why your articles really hit home for me. I drank too much at a party and was in no condition to give consent. Next thing i know i wake up to a very unattractive, power-hungry sex fiend that i thought was my friend. Traumatized, shaken, and humiliated by my friends, I went straight to the police. The ignorant and sexist judge eventually dismissed my case as a false rape accusation (which i assure you, this is one of the main definitions of a classic rape scenario). I now have to live with the everyday humiliation of my frat friends. The worse thing is She sees me all the time in the hallways, and just to belittle me, she’ll say hi to me with a cocky smirk. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS “FALSE RAPE ACCUSATIONS”. again, love your work. keep fighting the good fight!

  24. Liv March 21, 2013 / 1:11 am

    Yes. Yes. Yes. I am in this with you. Thank you.

  25. Shannon March 21, 2013 / 2:31 am

    Any ideas why women have the “cultural and institutional advantage in the legal system”?
    “The idea that we must pepper discourse on the suffering of the marginalized by bemoaning comparatively insignificant harms suffered by the group that has historically had a cultural and institutional advantage in the legal system reeks of privilege.”

    Please don’t tell me they don’t. Proof who has the advantage is based on who are mostly in jail, who wins in family issues the majority of the time and so forth.

    Now, the REAL point of this message: your message is important and when you include false claims in it like the above, it devalues the rest of the message. Facts completely obliterate the part I quoted making other unsubstantiated claims more suspect.

    • rantagainsttherandom March 21, 2013 / 7:02 am

      In the instance of rape, the prominence of rape culture – rhetoric that discourages reporting, built in (and largely unfounded) cynicsim regarding the veracity of the attacks, the reality of victim blaming social perceptions crippling a victim’s sway with a jury, and so, so much more – puts women at a unique disadvantage in the legal system on the question of SEXUAL VIOLENCE specifically. When only 3% of rapists will ever see a day in jail, and most !!!!BUT NOT ALL!!!!! rapists are men, it’s hard to deny that skew.

      • Sam March 21, 2013 / 10:29 am

        While I agree with the problem, I think that’s not so much a matter of the legal system, but a problem caused by the specifics of sexual violence – happening often between only two people, without any witnesses or any other evidence but subjective accounts. This specific characteristic of sexual violence is what’s making women (statistically) more vulnerable in this area, but it is also what’s making men feel more vulnerable with respect to accusations. And it’s also why we have this kind of public discourse that’s not concerned with what actually happened in a case at hand like it is usually with respect to other crimes, but that’s almost inevitably taking one side or another, which then reinforces everyone’s level of fear and thus the need for the very discourse that created it in the first place. And, alas, there is really no solution to this because of the specifics of the crime.

    • O March 21, 2013 / 7:44 am

      Erm, women in the UK get arrested 1 in 3 times when claims of domestic violence are made against them. Men get arrested 1 in 10 times. Yet serious violence (ending in hospital or death) is hugely a male-on-female problem. How then can you begin to claim women are receiving positive discrimination? It’s obvious cobblers. If you want to see more equality in jail time and court appearances, perhaps men should commit fewer crimes – especially crimes of violence? The States definitely jails more than they need to and more than any other developed nation, but given almost all the people making those decisions, from legislature on down, are male I’m not sure how you’re deciding women are to blame.

      Women also serve substantially longer jail terms for murder than men do, despite hugely lower levels of offending.

      Men are jailed more for crimes of violence because they commit more. And while I agree that the degree of power women have over kids after separation is wrong, and should be addressed, it’s also the case that that is power afforded the primary carer. If men stepped up and did more of the work when their kids were small, then they’d not be seen as secondary carers if a split occurred, would they? In this country, if a man has been primary carer then the mother is in the position fathers usually are – of witnessing a court that panders to a vindictive parent intending to alienate the child. The problem there is that the primary carer is bonded to the child in a way that would damage the child if interfered with – which makes sanctioning such bad behaviour difficult. It just is not as simple as you portray.

      And if you think women are disproportionately privileged in the legal system… why are almost all senior legal officials men? And why is rape so rarely prosecuted at all, never mind successfully?

  26. Joe H. March 21, 2013 / 4:01 am

    It seems to me that if false accusations were actually a significant thing to worry about, one should have to account for the fact that most rapes go unreported. The fact that this is the case shows that there is an incentive AGAINST reporting rape, real or otherwise, thus making the false accusations very unlikely.

    The strange thing about false accusations is that those who seem so concerned about this seem most concerned only when it comes to rape, and it seems specifically male vs. female rape. That is a little odd. If the discussion is about something like, say, child molestation, you rarely see these same people standing up and screaming “BUT WE HAVE TO BEWARE OF FALSE ACCUSATIONS!!!” Any accusation of child molestation is probably one of the worst things a person could possibly experience, and back during the days of the so-called “Satanic panic,” numerous people were falsely accused of such abuse(one may have been murdered because of such an accusation), yet despite these well known facts, we rarely if ever hear this “false accusation” caveat when discussing what should be done about child sex abuse.

    Hell, there are a lot of other crimes which could involve fraud- arson, vandalism, etc. Yet for some reason when the issue of rape is brought up, some people feel the need to scream about the potential danger of false accusations.

    I think the author’s logic on this matter is completely sound: If false accusations can’t be shown to be a real, concrete problem, then this doesn’t deserve to be part of the discussion. The burden of proof is on the claimants to show that false rape accusations are in fact a significant factor so as to warrant more discussion. From what happened recently in Steubenville, where a girl was indeed raped and practically in public(as numerous eyewitnesses apparently did nothing to stop it), it is simply ridiculous to suggest that a malicious woman would use a false accusation of rape to attack some man.

    • Hannah March 21, 2013 / 8:37 pm

      I know! My same thoughts!

      You have the same risk of getting falsely accused of rape as you have of any crime – the codeword being “falsely”.

      False accusations are horrible, but not only related to rape statistics. This is a very important point (which I think rantagainstherandom is proving beautifully in this article), and a point that also proves that using this as an argument in any debate of sexual crimes is nonsense.

      I agree with all your and her points, even your points about your points.

      BTW, my younger sister read the “she had it coming, slut”-comments and turned to me afterwards and asked: “Does this mean that it’s impossible to rape a prostitute?” She had a valid point. Off course it doesn’t…

      • Rahu April 9, 2013 / 12:41 pm

        Hi – coming late to this, but just to let you know, in a lot of locations, yes, legally it is impossible to rape a prostitute. The most that can be charged, if anything is charged, is “theft of services”. And that is the same even if the rape involves the threat of killing the prostitute – it is still considered, at worst, a “theft of services”. Much the same as stealing a candy bar from a store.

      • openmindinsertfoot January 6, 2014 / 5:57 pm

        About 10 years ago, I was stranger raped. I hitched a ride with the wrong guy.
        I immediately called the police and they brought me to the hospital.
        During my questioning, I was asked if I had ever had sex for money. I replied that I had done some online escorting about a year previous.
        Combine that with me hitchhiking, and they practically laughed at me.
        My police report doesn’t even say the word rape or sexual assault in it. According to the police, I was wasting their time.
        So not only is it perfectly legal (apparently) to rape a prostitute, its permissible to rape anyone who has been a sex worker in the past.

    • O March 22, 2013 / 1:27 pm

      Beautifully put. And the analogy with child abuse accusations honestly had never occurred to me before. It’s such a good point.

      And anyone looking at the way the Steubenville victim was treated and still is being treated, and who still thinks women are coming forward in droves to invent rape claims, lacks reasoning skills.

  27. Patrick March 21, 2013 / 7:24 am

    I skimmed through this and the only thing that intrigued me is what is digital rape? I’m simply confused as to what the concept is. Are you on skype with another person and they ask you to do certain things? Unless they have a hostage or something similar, the choice rests entirely with you as to whether you would do those things. It’s possible I went down the wrong tangent with this, but that’s the only thing that comes to mind if I attempt to think of what digital rape means.

  28. Kate MacLeod March 21, 2013 / 8:56 am

    Something your article made me think about is how the justice system itself is geared toward supporting those accused. Its the whole “Innocent until proven guilty” side of the law. Its supposed to be there to protect the innocent. Its supposed to be there to prevent people from falsely receiving punishment. But I can’t help but wonder how often in sexual assault cases it is used to protect the rapist instead.
    For example, I was working in a hotel years ago and was accosted by the cook. Grabbed my arms, kissed my neck and wouldn’t let go when I said stop. He only stopped because someone called for me, someone who would have come looking for me. When I finally told my manager, she wouldn’t even entertain the idea of talking to the cook about it because I had no proof. The security cameras don’t cover the server room (for security reasons, go figure). I was told to just always stay in sight of the cameras. The cook was innocent until proven guilty and I was the one out of luck. I quit shortly after that incident. The cook was later arrested and fired for sexually assaulting another employee.
    Innocent until proven guilty, and I’m sure mine is not the only tale.
    Does this mean the justice system needs to be changed? I don’t think so, but it has made me sad to realize that even the justice system which is supposed to be fair and balanced and blind is supportive of rape culture rather than supportive of the victim.

    • Archy March 22, 2013 / 8:51 pm

      My guess is part of the problem is the nature of rape itself. Physical violence usually doesn’t have a consenting activity (except boxing n MMA) but rape is the non-consenting part of an activity regularly undertaken in a consenting manner. It also can be more difficult to see the signs of rape as it becomes a he/she says he/she says in many cases from what I understand and without signs of physical force it must be a nightmare to try in a courtroom as they rely on proof. But how do you prove a he/she said/ he/she said case? A physical fight as in a punchup will leave bruises and it’s not expected that someone will be bruised in day to day life, but if the rape didn’t do much or any physical damage then it becomes less clear as to whether rape or consenting sex happened in some cases. I have no idea how to make this better apart from maybe a blackbox recorder to record consent during sex. Same stuff happens with emotional abuse, becomes a lot harder to prove in court not to mention prove to others as I very well know since many people I’ve found tend to see physical wounds as more devastating.

    • Ben Quick March 23, 2013 / 3:44 am

      Innocent until proven guilty. I’m not sure why you see this as problematic. Should it be the other way around? Guilty until proven innocent? Think of the consequences of such a system. Really think about what that would mean for those accused of any crime, particularly those without then financial resources to prove their innocence.

      • Kate March 23, 2013 / 10:06 am

        I don’t think it should be changed. But its hard enough to be a victim of a sexual assault. Its hard enough to just come forward and say something about it. But oonce you’ve done all that, to be told you now have to prove it. That its on your shoulders to make the car and if he gets away, it s your fault… It makes me sad honestly. It can’t be any other way. But as a victim its sad that the burden of proof is on you do heavily. Its the way it needs to be for fairness and justice. But it still sucks. No system is without fault.

  29. Benny March 21, 2013 / 10:47 am

    Am I right in thinking that digital rape was what the Steubenville boys were guilty of? It doesn’t specify on any articles that I can see.

  30. Audrey A March 21, 2013 / 11:01 am

    Shannon, there are more men in jail because most crimes are committed by men. How many female mass murderers you heard of going about shooting kids in schools? You want to put women in jail just to make it seem the justice system is fair, even though they haven’t committed the crimes? What the hell is wrong with you? FYI, when women do commit crimes, they are punished more vigorously than men, and many times are jailed for acting in self defense while the abuser walks free. The justice system is grossly skewed against females and that needs to change. What little justice women get, is twisted by the patriarchy to make it seem that justice for a woman is injustice for man, therefore it’s falsely presented as favoring women when in reality a fairer sentence was handed down.

    • Archy March 22, 2013 / 8:56 pm

      Audrey A, care to post any proof women are treated more harshly with crimes? Everything I’ve ever read or seen in this world has men more harshly punished in court for the same crime, though I live in Australia where our courts may skew towards the men.

  31. spitze86 March 21, 2013 / 11:43 am

    What’s the big deal? Even if 8% were false accusations, 92% were not. Far from perfect, but hanging onto 8% is quite diservice to the other 92%. Plus isn’t it the court’s place to decide what is false and what is true? Why would people rather hang onto the 8% and make prejudgements.

    IMO, rape culture is something we should have evolved out of long time ago. Zeus was raping women millenia ago and people worshipped him. How is it that people still worship rapists? A woman raped a man here in Chengdu, Chinese bloggers commented on how they all wanted to book flights here and wait on streets at night so they could get raped too. Grow up.

  32. Malacast March 21, 2013 / 12:52 pm

    Hello there,
    I warn you this is going to be long. I wish I could be more concise but I tend to ramble on things that are important to me.
    First: I want to commend you in how are approaching these issues, but this particular piece. I am generally a lurker, I don’t see much logic or have much patience to comment on the endless sea of opinions that is the internet but I felt compelled to do so just by how truly moved I am in the way you are handling this information and sensitive subject.

    However, as to not derail and to stay with the topic at hand I really appreciated your data and while I did kind of cock my head at some of the figures I can completely see where the hazy and unreliable nature of the data occurs and I agree for the sake of this argument it is completely justified to leave certain aspects out of the conversation. I commend your through approach, and even though I’ve found myself agreeing with you on the rape culture issues almost completely, it wouldn’t really matter. I find your matter of fact layout and presentation very palatable even on the few opinions I strayed from.

    One more piece of the puzzle I’d like to add, and I’m sorry if someone has already stated this before as I don’t wish to be redundant, is factoring in the psychology of what rape is. Up until, well really this latest rape ‘scandal’ (it sounds like a horrible word to use for this, trivializing it, but I merely use it for the sake of not drawing to hard to either side of the issue) I would have never called myself raped. I don’t feel any of the telltale signs of what a rape victim goes through and so I just assumed I wasn’t one. Well, I still mentally don’t think I am.
    By all accounts and definition of what rape culture is, I completely was. I will not go into details because they are unnecessary but let’s say frat house, alcohol (not disgustingly so but enough to maybe ‘discredit’ my story in some ways) and essentially not allowed to leave until I had sex with someone, as in physically barred from the exit. Now I would message this to you as a private story because some might wonder, “why would she want to air her dirty laundry out like that, it must be traumatic” but that’s exactly my point. I didn’t find it traumatic. I just thought it was one of those things that happened in college. I had been so indoctrinated by cultural norms that I really didn’t even see the problem until much later. I was well versed on sexual abuse victims, I even worked with them, but to me that was just not even a possibility for a long time.

    This I think everyone needs to understand for those who don’t about false accusations. While they may not make up appropriate data to really use as a counter argument another factor that I think people need to truly grasp that this is way beyond the statistical data of who doesn’t come forward and who lies about it. All those statistics is good, and important to understand, but it is important to understand as well with confusion in reporting and stories you can be an educated young woman, studying psychology no less, and not even realize it was rape due to rape culture. For this reason unfortunately it’s almost impossible to truly accurately argue numbers when the cause is much more systemic than who does and does not report, and who was and was not raped. Again that is not to say they aren’t important or aren’t tools, but I appreciate you taking that out of the factor when it comes to discussing this issues. When my event happened I didn’t come forward not out of fear or pain but because I really didn’t realize something was wrong which illustrates the complex nature of this issue.

    TL;DR. In short, I appreciate you backing up your logic and I really enjoyed reading it and seeing where you got your information but I’m so glad you didn’t include that factor into your previous article. I think for every one person that may have falsely accused someone of rape there are 100 more women like me who don’t even realize what has happened to them. In some ways it’s easier that way, and I will be totally honest some days I’m thankful I don’t wear the battlescars of trauma like many of these men and women, but it is important for people like me to talk even if we aren’t doing personal work in expressing our voice. I hope that maybe people with similar experiences like me can be the bridge between those who can’t understand and those who can’t speak.

  33. Ponda March 21, 2013 / 12:58 pm

    Really, if people (I understand that mostly men are victims of false accusations, but I’m sure there are many women who are victims of false rape and sexual assault claims, as well) want to avoid being falsely accused of rape and sexual assault, they should avoid putting themselves in situations where they might be falsely accused, and avoid behaviors that put them at a higher risk of being falsely accused. For example, they should avoid heavy drinking and drug use, avoid bars and clubs where potential false-accusers congregate and cruise for victims, be wary of their surroundings at all times, dress modestly to project a wholesome image, avoid flirtatious/provocative behavior that might catch the attention of would-be false-accusers, meet all dates in well-lit public venues and not attempt to “go all the way” on the first few dates (exercising a bit of self-control and old-fashioned morality would actually prevent most cases of false-accusations, IMHO) or–better yet–wait until marriage to engage in sexual activity (although spousal false-accusations do happen, they’re less likely to be taken seriously by the courts), only go out in groups with trusted friends who can be witnesses and lookouts and provide safety in numbers, TRUST GUT INSTINCTS–if a person gives off a “vibe” that they might be a false-accuser, get out of the situation. It also helps to wear clothing that makes a false-accusation more difficult to level: buttonfly jeans as opposed to zips, belts with complex fasteners, pants with suspenders, bib overalls, etc. Don’t drive vans, especially large white vans. If they possess a muscular build, they should refrain from dressing in a manner that draws attention to their physique–false-accusers might be able to use that to their advantage in court (big, strong toughguy, probably on steroids, bursting with testosterone, couldn’t control his urges, probably used to getting everything he wants and wouldn’t take no for an answer, vain and self-obssessed–contrasted with the little weak weepy female who couldn’t fight back… you get the picture). Do not offer rides to potential accusers. NEVER GET INTO A POTENTIAL FALSE-ACCUSER’S CAR, or the vehicle of anyone not known and trusted (although it’s important to note that anyone could be a potential false-accuser: strangers, acquaintances, family members, the cute girl/guy at the bar, students, police officers, medical staff, delivery persons, teachers, clergy, coworkers… ANYONE. Men should, honestly, be on guard at ALL TIMES. Not blaming the victims of false-accusations or anything, but a little personal responsibility and common sense never hurt anybody.

    • O March 22, 2013 / 3:48 am

      I think I love you.

    • CS March 22, 2013 / 10:45 am

      Thank you. For completely and without a doubt proving how absolutely ridiculous it is to imply that a woman who is raped had the power to avoid the rape, if only by….. fill in the blank. This is the type of mind experiment that brings home how completely people accept the rape culture, never questioning that, yeah, definitely that drinking led to that rape…
      One of the most powerful things I’ve read lately was someone who related the experience they’d had in college of being the one watching over a friend who was drinking heavily at a party. They lost track of her at one point, and finally found her. She had passed out while using the toilet, so she had fallen on the floor with her pants around her knees. The next person to use the bathroom was a man at the party. And, lo and behold, instead of thinking what an excellent chance to abuse another human being, he covered her with a towel and found her friends, helping to get her safely home.
      This is so powerful, to me, because it slammed in my face the thinking that if a girl puts herself at risk by passing out, in the company of people she knows from school, those people SHOULD be making the choice that young man did: to help someone obviously incapable of helping herself. To accept any other behavior is, well, unacceptable… Accepting that someone has the right to abuse someone else, whether they are incapacitated or not, is what rape culture is all about…
      Thanks for the mind twist that shows the fallacy involved in falling for the brainwashing!!!!!

    • Adam F. March 22, 2013 / 3:15 pm

      I completely get your point, and I too think it is brilliantly made. However, I don’t think it is entirely far-fatched to suggest that men take reasonable precaution to prevent the risk of … misunderstandings.

      If I have a woman at work in my office for a meeting, the door stays cracked unless it absolutely has to close. And I’m going on a father-daughter camping trip with a girl scout troop in a few weeks. No dad will ever be alone in a room with a scout, even his own daughter. Never.

      These actions are not because we legitimately fear that a dad would rape one of the girls. If we thought that about any particular dad, we would be calling CPS, not inviting him on a camping trip. Rather these actions are almost entirely to prevent the chance of an accusation making things ugly. And honestly, I have no problem exercising this common sense approach.

      • Stephen Hutchison April 3, 2013 / 1:02 pm

        Those actions are also the requirement imposed by insurance companies for adults supervising minor children who are not their own dependents.

    • Kristen March 22, 2013 / 7:32 pm

      You are awesome! Hope you don’t mind I posted your comment to facebook.

    • Geoffrey Hopkins March 23, 2013 / 11:46 pm

      Simply fantastic.

    • GiT March 24, 2013 / 1:56 pm

      Bravissimo.

  34. SmartAssy March 21, 2013 / 1:26 pm

    Thank you so much for this. I get incredibly tired hearing arguments about false rape accusations, and I’m so glad that you researched an intelligent response to such overexaggerated claims.

  35. AKASpeedo March 21, 2013 / 1:32 pm

    Wonderful set of posts. I think the fact that people are obsessed with false rape accusations definitely points to the power issue and not much else. There are false accusations of many other crimes and no one says we can’t prosecute theft or assault, etc., because of that. The virulent anger and hatred raised by talking about rape definitely mirrors talk about race, and it’s all about white male power being threatened. Pretty much end of story.

  36. kokomccune March 21, 2013 / 2:10 pm

    Thank you for this post! I swear it was like you were reading my mind!

    About a week and a half ago I had a discussion on a FB forum that I’m a member of (TheWhyMovement) concerning the question “Why do so many feminists get so upset when anyone tries to talk about false rape accusations?”

    In my attempt to answer the question, I broke down numbers in a similar manner to this, but I didn’t give it nearly the depth and substance you were able. While my point was illustrated well enough, I’m much happier being able to point to this page.

    For the record, my math looked like this (it was only about a third of the full post, with another 500 word post answering a follow-up):
    ______________________________
    Let’s break down a little math. The numbers aren’t exact, but I think they’ll illustrate my point well enough. I’m going to ignore unreported rapes, and just focus on three things – reported rapes, convictions and false accusations.

    90,000 reported rapes at a 25% conviction rate = 22,500
    This leaves 68,500 without convictions.
    A liberal 8% false accusation rate means a potential 1,800 false convictions, with 5,480 disappearing in the vacuous 75%.
    This leaves 63,020 rapes that occurred without conviction, and 1,800 false accusations that resulted in conviction.

    Those numbers are only the tip of the iceberg. They don’t take into account non-reported rapes or false accusations discovered during prosecution (which would probably lower the number well below the 1,800 cited) With just these numbers, though, a person is 35 TIMES more likely to be raped with no repercussions than to be falsely convicted of rape. In reality, I would bet that number is closer to 50 or 60 times.

    Is it okay to promote activities that value the 1,800 over the 63,020?
    _______________________________

    See, sketchy at best. Thank you for providing me with a better resource to illustrate that point!

    • Hannah March 22, 2013 / 3:00 pm

      You are also not even touching the fact that out of the 7280 false accusations appr. Loosely 1/3 get withdrawn (the “victim” admit she’s lying) before prosecution. Of the 2/3 remaining only some are pointing at a specific offender (meaning, that you can report a rape, but if you don’t know the attacker, you can’t prosecute him/her/them). This in the end would make the conviction rate even lover – as there is no one to convict (this of course also applies in the 68,500 that drops out of the conviction rate for the non-false accusations).

      Now back to the 7280, which is the OFFICIAL number of false accusations, some of them are noted by the police as being true, but the victim/accuser, chose for some reason to withdraw his/her statement – mostly due to threats, pressure, not being able to cope with a trial and/or so on. Nobody knows the number of these, as it is only noted by the police on the report, in case the offender should offend again (to make a stronger case). I can only refer to a study made in Denmark, that pointed out that out of a 100 false accusations dropped 7 were noted as being true.

      Source: http://www.dkr.dk/sites/default/files/Voldtaegt-del-II-falsk.pdf

      To add to all this, and of course your numbers, proving a rape is obviously hard enough when they have been commited (25% conviction rate) – which implies that it must be hard/almost impossible to be convicted based on a false accusation – as it is false.

      This leads back to your point: ” I would bet that number is closer to 50 or 60 times”.

      It is a shame that you don’t understand Danish, as this amazing report I have linked from the Danish Crime Prevention Council is specifically looking at false rape accusations. In the end it states that the majority of false accusations are made from young (14-16yrs) girls, who have misunderstood what constitutes a rape. It also states that out of a hundred false accusations is only 93 different women, as four of them are making more that one false accusation (which would lead no where in court).

      I have a question though, (as I am not American) does the reported rape numbers include attempted rape (as I understood that they didn’t unclude sexual assaults “non-penis”). Attempted rape is as big a factor in the whole mess of rape culture, I think.

      Please oversee any spelling mistakes or mistranslations, English is not my first language :)

      • kokomccune March 25, 2013 / 3:32 am

        Although it wasn’t perfect, your post was well above adequate for communicating. Much better than my Danish ;)

        To answer your question, the “reported rape” number is ambiguous at best. I would refer you to the author’s post where she discusses how messy data collection is. I referred to my maths as “sketchy” because there is no real consensus and I just used the most convenient numbers to illustrate the point.. Different areas report differently, define rape by different standards, etc. So the 90,000 quoted just happens to be the first number I found on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_in_the_United_States)

        Thank you very much for adding your voice to the conversation :)

    • Adam F. March 22, 2013 / 3:30 pm

      The only flaw I see is that you consider no conviction to mean no consequences. That isn’t realistic at all.

      Just as many actual rapists are not convicted due to insufficient evidence as opposed to innocence, many people assume that an accused rapist who was acquitted is just getting away with it. Once an accusation happens – whether charges are pressed or not – things aren’t the same for the accused no matter how it turns out.

      Perhaps if the names of accused rapists were publicly withheld until conviction that would not be the case. But as it is, you will forever come up with articles alleging that person X is a rapist, whether true or not. And that will hurt that person’s reputation in many ways for life.

      • Lauren Nelson March 22, 2013 / 3:59 pm

        The same could be said of any crime. Murder, child abuse, theft. The problem is that failure to report the name of the accused limits the scope of case-building. Public charges may bring forth additional witnesses or prior victims. Public response may even vindicate a wrongfully accused individual in some cases.

  37. ERags March 21, 2013 / 2:37 pm

    I think its also important to note what “exonerated by DNA evidence” really means. It does not mean that the accused is proven to be innocent. It frequently means that the prosecution can’t prove that the accused did it. Many people see that “exonerated by DNA” and think that the DNA shows that the defendant couldn’t have done it, or that someone else did it. Most of the time, however, it just means that there wasn’t enough DNA evidence or the DNA evidence was not reliable, and that the case couldn’t be proven without it.

  38. logicalperson March 21, 2013 / 4:15 pm

    this is the dumbest shit ive ever read in my life lmfao

  39. Naomi March 21, 2013 / 4:17 pm

    Thank you so much for contributing to bringing the culture of rape and violence against women out into the light. I think a missing dimension in the discussion is solutions: we have a bloated, racist, sexist criminal justice system that serves everyone badly: women who have been raped or are at risk for rape (that’s all of us); men who are falsely accused of rape, men who actually do rape, and the poor and people of color communities that are most impacted as both victims and prison fodder. There has to be a better way.

    Bear with me as I try to explore the relationship between racism and sexism in the criminal justice system.

    The U.S. has by far the highest rate of imprisonment, and greatest number of prisoners (2.3 million), in the world. The majority are people of color, and almost all are people of low income. Injustice and cruelty exists at every level of the process, and speaks to the fundamentally racist underlying purpose of the criminal justice system, which is not to actually serve justice — much less to protect us as women from sexual assault — but to perpetuate the system of white supremacy by keeping communities of color poor, repressed, and in prison.

    One of the classical tools of that repression has been charges of rape against Black men. You have to know that history, and its intimate connection to lynching, in order to assess the problems and solutions around rape. It continues today in the narrative that justifies locking up vast numbers of poor Black and brown men, by creating an image of sexually predacious and pathologically violent men of color. An essential part of the narrative is the (totally false) image of men of color preying on white women.

    The system doesn’t care about us as women, white, Black, or brown. It uses us to bolster the narrative that men of color are dangerous violent predators. And so the solutions it offers do not do us any good, do not treat us with any respect, because they aren’t intended to, they are intended to use us as a cover for a revenge-based mass incarceration system that throws away the lives of poor people and people of color.

    Where do white men fit in? Some get away with actions that men of color would get locked up for, including rape, sexual assault, and domestic violence, because they are white. At every stage of the criminal justice process, people of color fare worse under identical charges — more likely to be stopped, charged, indicted, imprisoned. Where that leaves us as women is that the system is not looking to find and mete out justice to our attackers and rapists, it is looking to jail men of color (women too). The white men who do get caught and punished by the system are the collateral damage of a system not primarily intended for them — or they are disproportionately punished if they are poor, alongside people of color.

    The issue of false charges would be less alarming in a system that was designed to deal with everyone with justice, compassion and, where necessary and possible, rehabilitation,

    The single-minded focus of attention and resources on the criminal justice system as a solution (false solution) to the mass epidemic of violence and sexual violence against women means there is no serious conversation about what could actually help, on a societal level. The culture of rape is a societal problem, not primarily an individual one, and we need societal solutions — individually calling on individual men not to rape is not going to work, and for the reasons I give above, calling on the criminal justice system for more punishment is not going to work either. It runs the risk of giving even greater power to the law enforcement forces which are devastating communities of color, including the women, without really addressing any of the root causes of rape and sexual violence.

    There are some attempts to address the problem differently — the poster who mentions educating boys in Canada, not one by one but in a mass social campaign, is pointing in the direction I think we should go. An infusion of social resources into educating boys and men would start by looking at what works, developing pilot programs, and building from there. That’s at the front end, the best place to begin. But at the back end too, there is an urgent need to build programs that work to change men who have committed violence and sexual violence against women. Yes, accountability and consequences. No, not mass incarceration in a brutal and violent system that makes people more violent and teaches them that might makes right.

    Bringing the violence against women out into the light is a priceless piece of work. Nothing can proceed without it. In tandem with that we need to look at solutions, and I would argue that we should be advocating, collectively as women and men who support women, for community-based preventive, restorative, and rehabilitative solutions incorporating feminist and anti-racist principles that value every human life.

    • Peter March 21, 2013 / 11:56 pm

      While I think the causes of our broken ‘justice’ system are more varied than you enumerate I very much agree with your solutions.

      The fact that our system is based on vengeance and harsh punishments rather than rehabilitation and education make it fatally flawed as a tool for real justice or societal improvement. Until this basic fact changes those victimized by the courts, even if genuinely guilty of the charges against them, will be legion.

  40. briteblsn March 21, 2013 / 4:41 pm

    Posted along with it’s companion piece *So You’re Tired of Hearing About “Rape Culture”? — The Good Men Project* to Newsvine.com

    I have to say, though, not all men are rapists. And I have an issue with that thought/feeling/concept/idea.

    I am a rape survivor, not a victim. My rapist got away with raping me, there was no trial, he was not arrested, it was treated like a domestic… and in the 80s… it was still pretty much OK to beat up your wife/girlfriend/children. I’m still standing. Him? The sheer fact that I know where he is, and he is still alive is a testament to my forgiving nature. (And the belief that Karma is a far bigger bitch than I am).

    But while false accusations do exist, they do not exist in large enough numbers to be counted. And while men are the greatest perpetrators of this violence, not all men are guilty. And I think that is my biggest problem with the whole idea… and I think that this post probably belongs elsewhere…

    • rantagainsttherandom March 21, 2013 / 11:20 pm

      I am approving this because I admire your bravery in sharing your story, but I do want to make something clear. Yes, it is a statistically small portion of the population that is targeted by false accusations. But as I said in the post, I hesitate to discount their experience, just as I would never want anyone to discount yours. The reason I am deleting most comments related to false accusations is because they create a hostile environment for the survivors participating in the thread. And yes, of course all men are not rapists.

  41. audrey March 21, 2013 / 5:00 pm

    fuck you stupid bitch

    • CS March 22, 2013 / 12:36 pm

      WHAAAAAAT????? Wow. I’d like to apologize for audrey’s meaningless comment that attacks with no insight as to why…
      Rantagainsttherandom, thanks for the effort and insight you’ve brought to the question.

  42. guest March 21, 2013 / 5:36 pm

    Does this thing allow me to post anonymously? Time to find out I guess. Just wanted to say that this piece is amazing, thank you very much.

  43. K M March 21, 2013 / 6:09 pm

    Thank you so much for this.

  44. Jim Clark March 21, 2013 / 7:51 pm

    Another thing about the DNA exonerations: “false” means that the person reporting the incident is knowingly saying something untrue. Sometimes a person is simply wrong. All of the DNA exonerations involve stranger rapes, which are a small percentage (less than 15%) of all reported rapes. In a stranger rape, the statement “I was raped” is still true (most of the time), but the identification procedure picks the wrong person. I only have personal knowledge of 3 DNA exonerations, and in each the real rapist was identified by the same DNA that freed the innocent person. In all 3 of those cases, the photos of the wrong person and the actual rapist were remarkably alike. And note that none of these are false reports. Each of the survivors really was raped. I don’t know the exact count, but a high percentage of the DNA exoneration cases have resulted in identification of the real criminal. In none of those was the accusation false.
    –Jim Clark

    • O March 22, 2013 / 3:52 am

      Thanks for that information.

  45. Roxanne March 21, 2013 / 9:54 pm

    After reading your articles I’ve had a very dramatic change of heart over the concept of rape (in a good way). When I was in middle school, one of my friends decided to tell me she had been raped. She had told me lies before, like she was born with aids, she drank a bottle of vodka every day, ect. (mind you I was in 8th grade when this happened, so I had believed her lies before.) However during this situation I didn’t believe her, mostly because the man she accused to rape her was the most homosexual guy I knew. It wasn’t impossible that he raped her, but unlikely. When I didn’t support her she lashed out.

    This has been the basis of my opinion towards rape for 4 years now. However, seeing the statistics behind this, how many people pull the ‘false rape’ card, and the fact that they value a stupid sport over the physical, mental, and the emotional wellbeing of another human; that is offensive. I am honestly glad I’ve read this, because for a long time I’ve felt something was wrong of the concept of rape, but my own experience kept clouding my judgement of the bigger picture. So thank you and please, continue to write articles

    • CaveatEmptor March 22, 2013 / 9:26 am

      [moderator cut to comply with false allegations comment policy]

      So if you decide to quash all discussion of false rape allegations on your blog, I only ask one thing in return. Do not presume guilt. When things in the news pop up, wait for the trial and for evidence to come to light. The only reason that people talk about “false allegations” (or more often “allegations directed at the wrong person” is that the victim’s concerns aren’t put at the forefront of most of the conversation. Victims’ rights have been co-opted by highly conservative politicians and in the name of caring, they erode at things like prosecutorial discretion, due process, and flexible sentencing, all things that lead to a more just legal system. Safe spaces are great. Safe spaces that bay for blood are not.

      • Lauren Nelson March 23, 2013 / 3:12 am

        As a heads up – while the top half of the comment wouldn’t pass the filter, the bottom half made an important point, and I wanted to be sure people saw it. It can be easy to get caught up in a desire for justice, but justice only exists in a world where we give people their day in court. That doesn’t mean the legal system is perfect [far from sometimes], but mob rule and vigilantes aren’t exactly a preferable alternative. Thanks for commenting.

  46. Nicole Antonia Carson March 21, 2013 / 10:39 pm

    Why do people believe women would suffer the pain, shaming and humiliation of a rape trial to falsely accuse someone? It’s insane. And out of morbid curiosity I looked at the ‘A Voice For Men” site you mentioned in the previous article. There’s a culture of women who support this “war on men” idea and there’s an article for them which allegedly was written by a woman. Um… okay. Not all misogynists are men. Here’s the link: http://www.avoiceformen.com/women/to-the-women-lurking-on-the-fringes/ WARNING, read at your own risk and prepare to have your intelligence insulted.

  47. PatrickG March 22, 2013 / 9:14 am

    Just a quick comment from some random guy on the internet thanking you for your original post, and this update. I simply don’t understand* the Professional Victims of Rape Accusations constantly coming forward in every venue to protest that the real victims of rape are the rapists. Because somewhere, sometime, possibly in a galaxy far, far away, someone was unjustly accused.**

    Where the hell are all these people when well-documented cases of false accusation NOT involving rape happen? The selective outrage is incredibly telling.

    * Well, OK, I do, but seriously …. sometimes i wonder if AVfM has a budgetary outlay for trolls. Probably unnecessary, since it’s easy to motivate such hateful people to do it for free.

    ** And to forestall the inevitable, yes of course, there probably ARE cases of false accusation. As the original post says. And also, as the original post says clearly, this happens with EVERY CRIME. People go to jail on a regular basis for things they didn’t do, and that’s AWFUL. We should change that — for ALL crimes. Not JUST rape.

    • Archy March 22, 2013 / 9:52 pm

      “And to forestall the inevitable, yes of course, there probably ARE cases of false accusation. As the original post says. And also, as the original post says clearly, this happens with EVERY CRIME. People go to jail on a regular basis for things they didn’t do, and that’s AWFUL. We should change that — for ALL crimes. Not JUST rape.”
      My guess is that it is because it’s against a particular group and not all people that nearly all F.R.A happen hence the fear of some men with them. The AVfM crowd also fear the false-DV, false-childabuse charges etc too from what I’ve seen.

  48. hjtuffs March 22, 2013 / 10:06 am

    Thank you so much for writing this.

  49. Gordon March 22, 2013 / 11:17 am

    Lauren Nelson, I agree that you definitely have a valid premise with the “Rape Culture” (I don’t know if I’ve heard it before so it’s a new term to me). The thing I’d disagree with is that your premise seems to lay most of the blame for the Rape Culture on the “right” for its perpetuation. My bias (worldview) is that most actual rapes are perpetrated by those solidly in the “left” camp and that perhaps the “right” is “projecting” its view and demeanor on the subject to a point where they perceive that it is not possible to even have a Rape Culture. Out here in Portland, Oregon we’ve had HUGE problems with just our leftist mayors with rape (Mayor/Governor Neil Goldschimdt admittedly raped his 15 year old babysitter (“saved” by the 7 year statute of limitation) and it’s alleged that Mayor Sam Adams raped his 17.9 year old boyfriend Beau (17.9 rounds nicely up to 18)) . We have a large sex industry out here (the nude bar capitol of the whole world) and rape is a big problem in the area. Maybe my views are just anecdotal but, you know, a nation’s life is made up of the sum of everybody’s anecdotes, so this is just my 2 cents worth. I get your concern and I hope the Rape Culture is destroyed! I just think the cause is helped if obvious political leanings are not exploited.

    • rantagainsttherandom March 22, 2013 / 11:32 am

      Ok, two things.

      For starters, rape and rape culture are different. You’re isolating instances of rape – which is deplorable and awful and I genuinely hope they get their day in court. But rape culture refers to something different – the cultural climate that rationalizes and trivializes sexual violence.

      Second, sorry – I’m not going to let anyone turn this into a “THIS POLITICAL PARTY RAPES MORE PEOPLE THAN THE OTHER” conversation. Rape culture is a problem on both sides of the aisle. We’ve got enough partisan political bickering without adding this to it, and the rape culture conversation does not need another distraction.

  50. Scott Galloway March 22, 2013 / 1:01 pm

    I havent seen any one mention this but if you think about this the rape culture could easily be referred to as “the New Holocaust” perhaps this new phrasing may make people pay more attention and think more of the victims than the perpetrators.

    it wasnt till we saw the devastation to japan that we stopped using nuclear weapons as a method of winning wars and instead became the basis for MADD preventing any one from using on again unless there is no other choice. why do I bring this up in a rape culture thread?

    I am not suggesting that we actually do this but hypothetically maybe if we start using rape as a punishment to the perpetrators and conspirators they will stop in fear of the punishment. I hope our society never comes to that but if these cultures continue to be protected by the culture they are associated with it may end up that desperate of a situation.

    On a side note regarding things that celebrities say and do I have long suggested that celebrities be held accountable by their actions on a sliding scale of their fan base. the more people you can influence the bigger the punishment. I recognize that they are people just like you and me but just like the president, their actions affect far greater consequences than regular people due to the number of people they send the message to that its ok to rape, commit domestic abuse, do drugs and any other crime.

    • Lauren Nelson March 22, 2013 / 1:33 pm

      Holocaust rhetoric has a lot of problems associated with it. Repurposing of the language tends to ignore the very unique evil associated with the event. While rape culture is deplorable and facilitates all manner of evil itself, insensitively asking a woman to dress a certain way is very different from exterminating someone on the basis of religion.

      I must also firmly decry the suggestion of rape as a tool of punishment. In theory, it may serve as a deterrent. I understand it in the context of a desire for vengeance. In practice, it is still an abhorrent violation of human dignity, and I cannot, as a person, ever accept that as ok in any fashion. As advocates against violence, we cannot solve the problem of artificial hierarchies of human worth by creating new ones.

      On your last note, again, I appreciate the sentiment of the idea, but from a legal perspective, it would be a violation of first amendment rights and remove responsibility from the shoulders of a given perpetrator. Culturally, however, I think there’s merit to considering the reach of an individual during critique, and to modeling our personal consumption of messages to not support those speaking hate. Is that fair?

      We may disagree, but I do thank you for trying to be solution-oriented.

      • Scott Galloway March 22, 2013 / 2:08 pm

        well on the first two subjects I was not speaking in literal lets do this terms as I expressed, they were mearly attempts to call attention to the seriousness of the situation to those who may not take it that seriously and open their eyes to the level of devastation and put perspective to their actions. the reason I used the concept of the Holocaust is because while we aren’t talking about religion we are similar talking about a group of mentalities that have reduced the victims to less than human and are mearly objects for their use as they please. there is more in common with the Holocaust in the rape culture if you think about it. both the Nazis and rapers reduce the value of their victims to less than worthy of their rights as well as both are backed by a group that in effect reinforce the practice and condone its perpetuation. while rapers don’t kill their victims they destroy their lives instead. Nazis did the same thing but destroyed the lives before killing them.victims in both situations were both belittled, dehumanized and emotionally destroyed by groups of people.

        I recognize they are not the same but they are close enough to coin the term “new Holocaust” to wake people up and make them pay attention and those that protected before might realize the gravity of what they enabled. saying “New” means its not the same situation but just as bad. the greatest reason the Holocaust was so horrible at its core is that mass amounts of humans were being considered less than human and being punished for it.there are worse things than death and few things are worse than living with what rape victims go through. I submit the concept that victims of rape culture MAY suffer more than singular victims because “everyone” is against them and is basically telling them its true that your less than human because no one is on your side and the criminals are not punished. I am sure there are equal amounts as well as those that suffer greater or less on both sides but it seems to me the culture “approved” rapes are more psychologically devastating.

        just an opinion

        • Lauren Nelson March 22, 2013 / 4:45 pm

          I certainly understand the reasoning. My background is in communication, and that’s why I tend to be a prickler about rhetoric like this. The Holocaust specifically deals with the attempted extermination of an entire race. That meaning is important in terms of its use. It is, imo, a term that should be used with extreme caution and consideration for the implications, because when used too frequently, one can ultimately alienate the intended audience through misapplication, or, worse, desensitize them to appropriate application, thereby diminishing the necessary reaction. Similar concerns emerge in the application of the terms “rape” or “genocide” – for example, “Man, our team just raped them on the field this weekend.”

          Trust me, I think we can do a better job of raising awareness and communicating goals, but I don’t think this is the solution.

    • Adam F. March 22, 2013 / 2:06 pm

      We already do use rape as a punishment for rapists. That is what happens to them (and many others) in prison. It may not be state-sanctioned, but it may as well be. The problem is that they don’t believe they will face consequences precisely because they don’t think they are doing anything wrong.

      While strong punishment (once guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt) is a must, the goal isn’t to let rape happen, then punish it. The goal is to educate the 99.9% of individuals who would never condone this behavior in the first place if they understood the full scope of what rape can mean. If that education was in place, the guys in Ohio may have still been willing to rape. But they would never had had the opportunity to do so. THAT is the goal in my mind.

  51. Nessa Loeb March 22, 2013 / 6:13 pm

    you are amazing. thank you for being so outspoken, for being a voice for women everywhere and for not letting the haters get to you. 1 in 3 women are raped. I have 2 sisters. statistically, that means one of us. In reality, all of us, at different times, in different situations. I blamed myself “If I hadn’t taken my sleeping medication…” My sister blamed herself “If I hadn’t been wearing those clothes and flirting with him” My other sister blamed herself “If I told an adult about the man molesting and raping me.” None of us reported it, two of us b/c we knew we would be blamed, the 3rd because the “statute of limitation” had run out by the time she finally accepted what had happened to her. Additionally, my 3rd sister had been raped while on active duty in the military, but was told by her commanding officer that no one would believe her and to keep her mouth shut. She was unable to continue working and was eventually given a “general” discharge. One of her rapists is now a commanding officer. Your words give me hope that the next generation will not keep their mouths shut.

    • Lauren Nelson March 22, 2013 / 6:18 pm

      Thank you for sharing your story. Stay strong, stay vocal.

  52. Count Zander March 22, 2013 / 10:30 pm

    The hive mentality of the arthor is disturbing.

  53. Annon March 23, 2013 / 9:27 am

    I think there is another reason false accusation doesn’t have a place in conversations about rape culture and how to prevent it: it’s not rape. Though they are related in the context of both being about to the same subject matter, they are in no way related in terms of the injustice being perpetrated or the ramifications of that injustice. When there is a societal conversation about how to reduce murders people don’t feel the need to bring up the fact that some people are falsely accused, prosecuted and incarcerated for murder, because that has nothing to do with reducing actual murders. The same goes for any other crime I can think of.

    I realise that the idea on the part of people who bring false accusation up is that if they can convince themselves and others that the majority of accusations or claims are false than there is no problem, or at least the problem isn’t as bad as we think it is. If that were true it would certainly be reasonable to bring it up, there’s clearly no point in preventing a crime that doesn’t exist in the first place. But it is clearly not even slightly true that false accusations make up a large or even moderate proportion of accusations as a whole, and then there’s all the rapes that don’t result in any kind of accusations.

    False accusations are bad, but they have little to nothing to do with real rape and rape culture in general.

    • ravaught March 29, 2013 / 9:40 am

      “Rape Culture” is not about rape though, it is about the culture surrounding the act. So, yes, false accusations are completely relevant because they diminish the agency of real victims. They are the “boy that cried wolf”. If you are familiar with the tale, when he is finally telling the truth no one believes him because of all the lies.

      Likewise, when it gets to the point where damn near any sexual advance by a man towards a woman, consensual or not, is being lumped under the umbrella of rape simply because the woman did not initialize the act, how are we supposed to tell the true crimes from poor choices.

      There are thee kinds of lies. Lies, damn lies, and statistics.

  54. mature wideboy March 24, 2013 / 1:01 pm

    I believe u . u have put an awful lot into this.Well done!

  55. GiT March 24, 2013 / 2:20 pm

    Small quibble, but I make it because it’s how you start off the argument.

    “The sample sizes are painfully small. 1,300 participants is on the high end, while some had as few as 18. Not exactly representative.”

    18 is a small sample, but it does not take a large sample size to get a representative sample. The major problem is with sampling technique, not sample size.

    1300 is more than large enough to make rather strong statistical inferences, *assuming* sampling technique is good. 1300 is a ‘comfortably large,’ not ‘painfully small,’ sample size.

    Telling someone who knows something about statistics that sample sizes range from n=18 to n=1300, simply tells them that the studies range from small exploratory studies to perfectly standard sizes for statistical experiments.

    The issues have to do with what is being sampled and what is being measured, not the sizes per se. Bringing up sample size is a red herring which distracts from the real issues and provides fodder for smarter-than-thou asshole to dismiss the post.

    • Lauren Nelson March 24, 2013 / 8:24 pm

      That’s a fair point. But it wasn’t just about sample size, it was about source of sample and methodologies as well – not to mention age of study. But yes, that’s fair; I could have been a lot more clear about how the factors interacted. I may revisit over the next few days to better explain.

  56. Derek March 25, 2013 / 12:51 am

    I get the impression that those instances of false rape accusation (whatever their frequency) are themselves a phenomenon of a culture that is largely ignorant about rape. The idea that the accusation can just be used to get back at someone displays a lack of understanding of the seriousness of the subject.
    In that context, the false accusation argument is irrelevant, as correcting the way society handles and thinks about rape should simultaneously reduce false accusations anyway.
    I may be way off base, but that’s why I don’t see any point in discussion the topic.

  57. matt March 31, 2013 / 3:18 am

    Bravo!

  58. anon April 6, 2013 / 1:19 am

    There is no such thing as ‘rape culture’ you fake bitch – no wonder you have to ‘moderate’ your comments.

    You are a fake and the information you present has no actual basis in REALITY.

    • Ted MacKinnon April 10, 2013 / 11:51 am

      anon, you prove her point. Not that she needs your help to prove it, she does a fine job right herself.

      Keep up the good work, Ms. Nelson. I hope more people read these articles on rape and actually wake up.

  59. Becky S April 12, 2013 / 5:56 pm

    Thank you. I had, of course, heard the false accusation argument. I always do better with real measurement. The time you put into breaking down the numbers really helped. Now I have a better understanding for myself and better tools when I hear the argument..

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