Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Rape Apologia Disguised as Men's Rights

This is outside my usual turf, but the more I think about this, the more angry it makes me:
The “Don’t be that girl” poster reads: “Just because you regret a one night stand, doesn’t mean it wasn’t consensual. Lying about sexual assault = a crime.”
Late Tuesday night a group called Mens Rights Edmonton, a local anti-feminism group, claimed responsibility for the posters.
 Several points occur to me:
  • Falsely accusing a man of rape is of course a serious crime.  Every woman knows this, just like everyone in general knows accusing anyone of a crime maliciously is a crime.  What is the point of an "information" campaign to tell everyone something that's blatantly obvious?  It isn't to inform women of this valuable information they don't know, instead it is to paint a false equivalance between the horrifically common problem of rape, and the exceedly rare problem of false accusations of rape. That's just a shitty thing to try and do.
  • No sane woman anywhere thinks that "I regret my one night stand therefore it is rape."  That's simply ludicrous.  Yes, maybe some "crazy" women think this way, but "crazy" people don't respond well to sincere information campaigns and we don't waste policy time trying to think of every permutation of thought a non-rational person might conceive of, absent evidence of a real problem occuring regularly.
  • I'm sure somewhere, sometime there have been instances of false accusations of rape.  I'm also sure the motive for such accusations are much more weighty and substantive than "I regret a one-night stand."  The plot of To Kill A Mockingbird considers one plausible instance, that of a white woman who took interest in a black man, a thing of great shame in her racist community so at her father's urging, made it an accusation of rape to hide her (and his) shame.  The point being no one does such a thing without a lot more on the line than "I wish I hadn't slept with that guy."  Luckily we have made significant strides in liberalizing attitudes toward casual sex, so the shame-incentive for women to even consider a false accusation of rape are generally negligible.  There's plenty of informal sexism calling women "sluts" and so forth for having sex with men, but we don't stone them or brand scarlet letters on them.
  • On the other hand, "one-night stands" are a quite likely place for rapes to happen.  Women pass out drunk, or get drugged, or change their mind at his apartment and he ignores their withdrawn consent and continues anyway.  Idiots like this too-typical "men's rights" group often treat sex like some entitlement, she accepted free drinks, got in the cab with you, therefore she's given irrevocable consent to whatever happens next, as she "knew what was up when she came home with me" (or some such rationalization).  I'd say women who accuse casual sex partners of rape are far more likely to be telling the truth than making it up out of guilt for breaking Victorian ethics.  The evidence around rape is that it is hugely underreported to Police far more than any sign that it is over-reported.  The women who report rape are quite likely legitimately very angry and aggrieved...because they've been raped!  They have no other incentive to get some guy they only met once thrown in jail for years.
  • "Men's rights" groups are universally in my experience, a sickening lot of blatant misogynists.  I think there is room for some male activism on the subject of divorce and custody arrangements but they just can't help themselves in revealing their blatant misogyny and by trivializing rape.
I didn't used to call myself a "feminist."  I have definite ideological differences with mainstream feminists and feminism as I know of it,  but those tend to be around their views on nature versus nurture and how best to achieve meaningful equality as a practical and policy matter.

But disgusting displays like this are enough for me to throw in with the feminists.  If I have to pick sides in this, I'm glad to be a feminist and not whatever these men call themselves.  Rape is a real, pervasive problem that has major physical and psychological harmful effects on nearly all its victims.  False rape is a very rare thing that would even more rarely actually result in a conviction, given the obvious problems of proving such a charge to the satisfaction of a jury in a his-word-against-hers scenario.  Yes, if a man actually went to prison for such, he of course is a victim worthy of serious attention and sympathy, but in no way does this problem remotely compare to that of rape.

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