Again, a problem, but not a big one. Since about 97% of rape accusations are true and only about 6% of accused rapists see a day in jail, the majority of those walking free deserve that stigma. Unfortunate for those that don't deserve it, of course, but that's a problem that pales in comparison to all the other shit I've repeatedly mentioned - our culture's tolerance of sexual violence, victim-blaming, lack of support and resources for victims, blah blah blah. Like, seriously, that shit is way more common and more important and yet all the guys here want to focus on TEH MENZ.
The 60% comes from the Department of Justice, which administers twice a year the National Crime Victimization Survey, a national survey of 50,000 to 75,000 households, on the prevalence of crime victimization. A pretty reliable source, imho.
I'm not dismissing it as a problem, I'm only dismissing it as a big problem. Ultimately, if our culture had a healthier attitude towards sex and rape, we would see less rapes, a higher rape reporting rate, and less false accusations.
I'm sorry, but you need to back statements like that up with at least some sort of source. 100% of made-up statistics are going to make me tune right out of what people say. I'm sure it's a high number, but just flat saying a particular high number with nothing behind it isn't going to make your case.
As for being all "TEH MENZ" about this, my personal opinion is that a justice system ought to err on the side of not convicting where there's some reasonable doubt than on the side of rushing to enact vengeance upon the evildoer and question whether they really were an evildoer later, if at all. While I absolutely agree that there needs to be a shift in society's view of this issue, I honestly don't think making it easier for prosecutors to get convictions on the same evidence (or lack thereof) is the answer, or even part of the answer.
Regarding the statistics of unreported victims, again I apologize for my skepticism, but definitions matter, and the difference between one person's definition of rape and another can be huge. I do feel bad about making the association, but I can't help thinking of the "Autism Epidemic" that broke out after it became "autistic spectrum disorder". There are victims out there suffering in silence, I have no doubt of that, but I also can't help wondering how much of that suffering is on account of girls being told regularly that any unwanted sexual contact of any kind ever is absolutely rape, and they have been irrevocably violated. I hate how much it makes me sound like some FOX News troll, but it really does seem that there is a growing culture of victimization out there looking for any possible cause to make people see themselves as wronged and abused parties, regardless of their alleged victimizer's actual actions or intentions.
All of this being said, nothing excuses any actual sexual predation that does occur, and we should be seeking full legal remedies in those cases. My only concern is that with a crime that can be so very subjective, there is a huge grey area where both sides feel like they've been put through the ringer by their experiences. Education is certainly key to moving forward with this, but I'm not sure the best curriculum is being put out there right now.
Whenever I hear about a person being falsely accused of anything as socially stigmatized as rape or child abuse the first thing to come to mind is the Salem witch trials. Sure you can say you're sorry for lying, but fat lot of good it will do for the nineteen people dead because of your actions.
To the best of my knowledge, it has a very strict definition of rape. However, I don't know what definition of rape people are holding in their heads when they answer a survey, even one from the Department of Justice, which is why I have a hard time accepting survey results about such an emotionally charged issue. One person's sexual assault is another person's consensual sexual encounter, applying statistical analysis to such a subjective matter seems like a non sequitur in some ways.
Personal anecdote time:
A very good friend of mine was tried and convicted for accepting oral sex from an adult group home resident while he was driving some of them home from an event. While I was deeply saddened by this whole thing, it was shocking to hear our friends throwing him under the bus long before any of us knew the details of the case. He had been a children's pastor at one point, his nickname at college was Cuddles, and nobody ever had a single bad word to say about him. I brought him home with me for Christmas one year because his family was out of the country, and I personally never had any reservations about having him around or working with kids. He was a very lonely guy though, and in a moment of weakness and stupidity, he destroyed his life.
As for the girl, she was in her early 30's, but was mentally a child. She did have a history of being frequently sexually aggressive with male group home workers and residents, so there is every reason to believe that she did initiate things, and there was nobody trying to make the case that J. forced himself on her. What he did was stupid, irresponsible, and rightfully considered criminal; the fact she had a 30-year-old's body did not change the fact that she was still mentally a child, and he should have stopped her immediately.
However, the response from the people who knew him was extreme, and as I said, it came long before any of us knew any of the facts of the case. At one point, the story was going around that another worker had made up the story and bullied the girl into going along with it to get J. fired, but it did nothing to change the opinions of people following the story. The fact that he had been charged was all any of them needed to turn on him completely. People who had worked with him in children's ministry suddenly came out of the woodwork claiming that they never trusted him and that he always make them uneasy when he was around kids. Girls he had dated started talking about how scared he made them feel whenever they were alone together, despite never having expressed any such sentiments in the years between the end of their relationship with J. and the time he was charged, and none of them made the claim that he ever actually *did* anything inappropriate before, during or after their relationships with him.
Had J. been found not guilty, I fully believe that his life would still have been ruined; there's no possible way he ever would have been able to keep his job at the group home, no church would ever have hired him, and many of his friends would have abandoned him, with many more simply never fully trusting him again. People did not wait to hear the evidence, the accusation was all they needed to completely turn on him, and I can't help thinking that this is a somewhat typical reaction, even given the fact that it's only the people I've talked to personally about this. It's certainly not scientific, but I'm also not trying to claim that 75% of accused sexual offenders have their lives destroyed irrevocably, despite their innocence.
Sexual assault is without a doubt one of the worst things that can happen to anyone in their entire life, but I'm still not convinced that this is grounds to fire up a witch trial to remedy the matter. If we don't believe in things like due process and defendants having the benefit of a presumption of innocence until proven guilty in these cases, I have to question whether we really believe in them at all.
Going into the data and surveys is going to take a while and I don't have the energy for that right now. I'll just say first that the numbers and data are pretty strong these days.
But on this point;
If we don't believe in things like due process and defendants having the benefit of a presumption of innocence until proven guilty in these cases, I have to question whether we really believe in them at all.
Innocent till proven guilty is a legal principle, not the standard for judging others behaviour universally. I don't need a jury decision to judge behaviour I have personally witnessed, neither do I need one to decide who to believe in a rape allegation. For one thing, such a trial and decision is extremely unlikely to happen. I have known people who have been raped, with absolutely zero doubt about their stories or the guilt of the other party. Not once has anyone been convicted of those crimes.
I don't want to dismiss the social consequences of false allegations entirely, but it is a very small problem by any measure. Taking steps to reduce it further is fine with me so long as it doesn't make matters worse for rape victims.
I am willing to dismiss the legal consequences out of hand simply because there rarely are any lasting ones. For starters, such accusations are rare (best estimate is ~5.9% of reported rapes) and that is before screening by police and prosecutors. Very few rapes that are reported to the police result in an arrest, let alone trial and conviction. Prosecutors tend to only pick strong cases to carry forwards. And even then they might not get convictions even in the face of the strongest evidence.
To be clear, victims often face similar ostracism when they accuse those within their community. The universal defence to rape allegations is attacking the character of the victim, even in forcible and violent rapes where the violation of consent isn't in question, both in society and in law. A woman who doesn't face attacks for bringing forwards a rape allegation is extremely lucky. And that's on top of their already being victims of violent crime.
Combine this with the other institutional, social and personal factors that discourage the reporting of rape. I can't see any way to fight against false accusations without making this horrific situation far worse. If you can, please put them forwards. But frankly I've rarely seen it done without effectively or explicitly trivialising rape victims and their experiences.
We were talking about conviction rates, the legal presumption of innocence absolutely applies.Of course I don't apply that standard to every single one of my beliefs, but that's not what we were talking about.
It's a shitty situation we find ourselves in, but as far as the legal end of it goes, I think it's just about the best of the several bad options available to us; as far as that particular aspect of the issue is concerned, within that very narrow focus, it's a matter of tweaking, not overhauling.
Now, when it comes to the matter of social attitudes and sexual mores? Oh, there is all kinds of room for fixing and improving there, I will get on board with just about anything you want to propose to make things better, because few things could make them appreciably worse.
It's really situations like this where you need a fellow like Jonathan Swift to take things to an absurd extreme to break ice and get to brass tacks on a situation. Sadly, though, I'm sure as hell not that irreverent.
I was mainly pointing out that the only consequences most accused rapists will face, falsely or rightly accused, are social. And that even then the balance is roughly 50/50 whether those consequences are more negative for the accuser or the accused. The level on which innocent till proven guilty comes into play rarely applies.
As a first step I think it would be worthwhile trying to teach about consent during regular sex ed. That is, teaching something like this, where the gold standard is moving from 'no means no' to 'yes means yes'; wanting enthusiastic, explicit consent to any particular sexual activity. There is a serious level of activity that doesn't quite qualify as rape, or isn't recognised as such, which rarely goes reported or even discussed widely, but which provides a grey area (and often a population of complicit men who have engaged in similar activities to acknowledged rapists but got away with it) that contributes towards rape apology and acceptance. Being more serious and up front about consent in all relationships could help push back against that.
I mentioned the statistic earlier, that 2 to 4 percent of reported rapes are false. Ergo, 96-98% of reports are true. American Prosecutors Research Institute says 2-8% are false, and I recalled 4% from some past research on a paper. The salient point being that the vast majority of accused rapists are actually rapists, and most of them get away with it.
I'm bothered by the tone of this discussion, which largely seems to be that innocent men are more victimized by false rape accusations than rape victims are by their rapes. The discussion is so focused on the small margin of falsely accused men that this thread is beginning to marginalize rape and rape victims.
I honestly don't think making it easier for prosecutors to get convictions on the same evidence (or lack thereof) is the answer, or even part of the answer.
I don't know when I suggested that we make it easier to prosecute on less evidence. In fact, I said that no one should be prosecuted solely on the unsubstantiated claims of an alleged victim.
the difference between one person's definition of rape and another can be huge... girls [are] told regularly that any unwanted sexual contact of any kind ever is absolutely rape, and they have been irrevocably violated.
The criminal definition of rape is clear, and any studies providing statistics on rape would function within that definition. Related definitions, like sexual assault or molestation, would be separate from rape. Again, focusing on issues that aren't important. There isn't an epidemic of women crying rape when it was actually a lesser crime. There's an epidemic of women (and men) being raped and staying silent.
Donald Glover aside, there's also this part of the equation that for whatever reason barely gets any consideration whatsoever. I've heard any number of stories of this sort of thing happening on college campuses, especially as a form of ritual hazing or shaming in sororities. It's something that's discussed in hushed tones but apparently never (or rarely) reaches the ears of those that need to be notified.
I'm very sorry, but telling me that prosecutors say 90-something percent of the time they're pressing charges against guilty people isn't getting it done for me.
As for the other point, I can't speak for the other people posting here, but I'm not saying that being falsely accused of rape is worse than actually being raped, that's absurd. The point to be made is that making strides toward getting victims to come forward and confront their rapists should not come without some strong precautions to protect against falling off the other side and lighting torches by the nearest lynching tree every time someone points a finger. I want victims to feel empowered and protected, but not at the expense of making it easier to destroy an innocent person's life with a false accusation.
No, that statistic comes from the number of reports that lead to arrest, the number of arrests that lead to prosecution, the number of prosecutions that lead to convictions, and the number of convictions that lead to time in prison. It's not from prosecutors, but from research institutes and government reports. But more importantly, you're blindly criticizing statistics instead of seeing the bigger picture.
Of course no one is explicitly saying that false accusations are worse than rape. But when rape was brought up, the conversation went directly and solely to false accusations and has neglected much more prevalent and important problems, which I have repeatedly listed.
I'm sorry, but considering more than one facet of an issue is kind of what discussion forums are for. If you'd like us to simply lock step and say "LET'S GET THEM DAMN DIRTY RAPISTS, AND TO HELL WITH THE CONSEQUENCES!!!", my apologies, but you've confused us with some other forum.
As for my criticism of statistics, until you actually provide a source instead of a name-dropping appeal to authority, taking the time to consider the source is really all I can do. You didn't link to any studies, you didn't provide anything I could actually look at and evaluate, you just told me that some body of prosecutors issued a statistic that said they were right to prosecute the people they did. In something like this, I think considering the source is a very valid question to ask, because there is clearly a vested interest in the outcome of any studies conducted. Without giving me anything more to go on, you might as well have repeated the statistic with no source at all. Being cautious in the interest of avoiding destroying the lives of innocent men through false charges is not about "PROTECT TEH MENZ!!!", it's about having an interest in justice in a holistic scope, and not just a narrow interest.
Yes, absolutely, unreported rape is a huge problem, nobody here is saying that it isn't. If you want the whole discussion to stop right there and avoid any other considerations; that's fine, you're welcome to lurk while the rest of us talk about the broader view of things. However, a real solution to the problem isn't just a matter of teaching women to step forward and supporting them when they do, it also has to include safeguards to prevent abuses of that support. Again, nobody here is saying that we should be telling women to shut up about what's happened to them, far from it. Don't confuse a desire for prudence with opposition, this isn't an "Either you're for us 110%, or you're with the rapists!" situation.
Really, this comes down to people talking about the things where there's some room for discussion. There's nobody talking about whether they'd support programs for educating victims and supporting them when they do come forward, because all of us take that as so fundamentally impossible to disagree with that there would be nothing to say past, "Yup," and we'd fold up the thread. Take it as a huge win in the shift in attitudes from decades ago, that it would be unthinkable for any of us discussing the issue here to even bring up anything in opposition on this point.
It's the Johnathan Swift thing you were asking about earlier. Is "Bro Rape" on par with "A Modest Proposal"? No, I don't think anyone would claim that it was, but it certainly does make use of the extreme ridiculousness of the skit to bring the real issue to light. I really don't think it marginalizes anyone, if anything, it is one of the few things I've seen that had the guts to take such a dark issue and try to put it in front of people in a way that wouldn't make them change the channel or click away immediately faster than when they hear Sarah McLaughlin's voice during a commercial break.
If you aren't asking questions about Irish poverty and its causes at the end of "A Modest Proposal," is that Swift's fault? If you aren't asking questions about the real issue of rape on campus, is that Donald Glover's fault?
OK, ignoring the slightly problematic fact that we have now had more posts on preventing false accusations of rape than preventing rape in a thread on women's issues...
However, a real solution to the problem isn't just a matter of teaching women to step forward and supporting them when they do, it also has to include safeguards to prevent abuses of that support.
I don't accept this.
For one thing, as I pointed out above, the primary consequences of a rape accusation are societal. So long as women can talk to other people these consequences are going to happen; they aren't dependent on the official legal circumstances of the report or event. You can't have safeguards around such social consequences other than inherently being sceptical of such claims. And that happens already in spades.
The only reason we could or would need safeguards is if we were trying to prevent false rape convictions which, again, are not a major problem. We already have layers and layers of safeguards that deter any rape convictions, and those layers work doubly to prevent false convictions. Prosecutors picking only the strongest cases, jury trials were women have to testify in public, etc.
Maybe if, one day, women were actually believed by default (by juries, prosecutors and judges) and we were seriously invested in going after rapists false convictions could be a problem. But in our current society I really don't see that as likely.
I guess I should have gone with my gut and italicized "just" for emphasis. All I would want from a program encouraging victims to come forward to have their attacker face justice is something that took the seriousness of the charge into account so that it didn't result in a witch hunt. I am fully aware that this is not a current problem, but we aren't talking about a current program, we're talking about a hypothetical, ideal program that will likely never happen in our lifetimes.
The only other thing I would take issue with is the notion of victims being believed by default, as the way you've worded it appears to remove the presumption of innocense in the courtroom setting, and I am not sure I could get on board with that.
That last part was the theoretical scenario where false positives could become a problem and supposed to stand in contrast to today, where women's stories tend to be attacked and discounted out of hand as often as they are even considered.
To try to take this a little bit sideways, is anyone else familiar with this stuff? The numbers are sickening, but the discussion is powerful and worth reading.
So without quibbling over the precise statutory definition, this equates to rape or attempted rape. 120 men admitted to raping to attempting to rape. This is actually a relatively slim proportion of the survey population — just over 6% — and might be an underreport, though for part of the sample, the survey team did interviews to confirm the self-reports, which tends to show if there is an undercount in the self-reports, and found the responses consistent. But the more interesting part of the findings were how those rapists and their offenses broke down.
Of the 120 rapists in the sample, 44 reported only one assault. The remaining 76 were repeat offenders. These 76 men, 63% of the rapists, committed 439 rapes or attempted rapes, an average of 5.8 each (median of 3, so there were some super-repeat offenders in this group). Just 4% of the men surveyed committed over 400 attempted or completed rapes.
There is a second study looking at Navy recruits (the first was college students) showing similar numbers. The discussion hits two points I think are very significant;
Change the culture. We are not going to pull six or ten or twelve million men out of the U.S. population over any short period, so if we are going to put a dent in the prevalence of rape, we need to change the environment that the rapist operates in. Choose not to be part of a rape-supportive environment. Rape jokes are not jokes. Woman-hating jokes are not jokes. These guys are telling you what they think. When you laugh along to get their approval, you give them yours. You tell them that the social license to operate is in force; that you’ll go along with the pact to turn your eyes away from the evidence; to make excuses for them; to assume it’s a mistake, of the first time, or a confusing situation. You’re telling them that they’re at low risk.
I'd go back to the first couple of pages and that hipster sexism thing I posted. Rape jokes and sexist jokes provide cover and affirmation for those who seriously hold those views, helping normalise their behaviour, no matter how anti-sexist and ironic your intent. Satire may be possible, but it's very hard and rarely done right. I'd include the Bro Rape thing in the badly done category.
We need to revoke the rapists’ social license to operate. We need to stop asking, “why do we think he didn’t know she wasn’t consenting,” which is the first question now, really. First as a cultural matter — leaving the legal matter aside — we need to adopt the stance that sexual interaction ought to always be had in a state of affirmative consent by all participants; that anything else is aberrant. If someone says, “I was sexually assaulted,” the first question should be, “why was a person continuing with sexual activity when zir partner did not want to?”
This seems to present a difficult challenge, in that ~94% of men have already gotten the message that they shouldn't be forcing their way into sex, so how do we target that 4-8% of men who account for the majority of rape cases? I agree that changing the culture, making the decision not to give approval to rape jokes, can make a difference, but I have some lingering doubts about that. This assumes that it's these unreported rapists who are the ones telling the jokes, and that simply not laughing along with them will change their ways. I don't have a better answer, but I'm not convinced that the psychology is as simple as this seems to be making it out to be.
It's more that the jokes and general attitude (what is usually referred to as 'rape culture') that normalises or minimises rape and associated behaviour provide cover for rapists.
You can have a whole group of people who aren't rapists or in any way rape apologists who like swapping sexist and rape jokes. Then you add in a single person who is actually a rapist and violently sexist. They have the basic cover of sexism and rape as humour to work with and behaviour that might otherwise identify them as a threat is going to be camouflaged as normal behaviour for that group. That's ignoring any minimisation that takes place in the minds of those telling the jokes or discomfort for those whose experiences are subject to that minimisation.
It's not going to stop rape, but it's going to make predator's lives a bit harder and hopefully help victims be able to come forwards more easily. If you are considering telling someone about a painful experience you've had, hearing them use such experiences as a punchline is probably going to put you off.
If you go back to that post I linked (and I'd strongly recommend reading all of it and all the links) there are early links to posts about "Shroedinger’s Rapist. The basic principle is that a woman can't be sure whether a man who approaches her is a rapist or not, and that this is something that a great many women actively (have to) think about and shape their behaviour around. But it goes beyond that into male behaviour around women and how to avoid sending predatory signals.
If you go to any discussion on this topic you will quickly find guys defending acts and behaviour that are explicitly discussed as predatory. For example, the first comment here defends approaching women on the subway even if they are sending signals that they want to be left alone (the example is wearing headphones or reading a book). Then there are real examples like the whole elevatorgate mess, where a guy propositioned a woman late at night in an elevator and she suggested that maybe that's creepy behaviour. Cue utter shitstorm that lasted for months and filled probably thousands of blog posts, youtube videos and tweets.
The idea that guys shouldn't be creepy - or rather that they should listen to women on what behaviour is threatening and maybe consider that in how they act - seems to be an incredibly controversial one. And again, that sort of thing offers serious cover to those whose seemingly predatory behaviour is not just seemingly but actually.