This is a tough post to write. I have a seemingly simple point I want to make and yet I find myself unable to find the right words. This is actually my second attempt to grapple with this topic. It’s not easy.
The first draft got dumped after it went sideways. I guess I just don’t know how to write about the tough issues.
I’ll give it one more try. I’m deliberately going to be brief and less wordy than usual.
One time we were sitting around discussing a new law designed to get tougher on rape. It was one of those impromptu office conversations about news of the day that hopped to a topic that’s normally rather unusual in a business setting.
I no longer remember the specific news item. It was something to do with consent and the definition of sexual assault. But I do remember the reaction of a certain person (and former boss).
“That proposed law concerns me.”
I raised an eyebrow. I knew the boss as a massive douchebag. No doubt this was going to be stagger the imagination.
“Eh? What could possibly concern you about an effort to protect women and reduce the massive and totally unacceptable incidence of rape in our society?”
“It could have a chilling effect on men.”
“What in the mother fucking mountain of shit are you talking about?” Yes, I’m a wordsmith.
“I’m worried this could increase the incidence of false accusations of rape against men.”
Yeah. I see. An estimated 683,000 women are forcibly raped each year in the United States and your primary worry is that men might be inconvenienced? Really? That’s your initial reaction?
1.3 women (ages 18 and over) in the United States are forcibly raped each minute. That translates to 78 per hour, 1,871 per day, or 683,000 per year.
D.G. Kilpatrick, C.N. Edmunds, & A. Seymour. 1992. Rape in America: A Report to the Nation. Arlington VA: National Victim Center.
Apparently this sort of worry is part of something known as the men’s rights movement. Holy shit. This is a real thing?
Do false accusations happen? Yes. Are they serious? Yes. I heard a news report just the other day about a false report of crime (not rape). It was on the local news. A woman claimed she had been attacked in a park. The police responded. They prowled the park. The park emptied of activity. The police notified the media and asked for tips. They did the whole nine yards. But they found no credible evidence the attack ever took place. Then, the next day, the woman recanted her story. So yes, this sort of thing can and does happen. It’s a legitimate worry.
It seems to me, by the way, that if an allegation of criminal is indeed false (regardless of the crime), the sheer lack of real evidence and facts in support of the claim will, in the vast preponderance of cases, eventually win the day. That’s why we should strive to avoid jumping to conclusions until all the facts are known. A handful of outlier cases of actual injustice, horrible as they are, doesn’t justify scrapping an entire effort to do good.
Should false accusations be the primary worry? The first thing that pops into your mind when society comes up with a minuscule drop in the bucket to deal with the timeless, massive and systemic subjugation of women on this planet? These are the knee-jerk reactions of a self-proclaimed pious and devoutly religious man?
Empathy is dead.