Wednesday, March 13, 2013

My False Rape Allegation Soapbox

I was reading an article called "False Rape Allegations Rare, But 'Damaging Myths' Harm Real Rape Victims."  It's a good read.  The comments aren't, but they never are.  Lots of people whining about how "worthless" the statistics are, and one ignorant fucker actually had the gall to write this:
The only thing worse than rape and pedophilia is a false accusation of rape and'or pedophilia. Men must be protected from danger.
So I'm going to tell you a couple of personal stories.  One involves a false accusation.  One involves a person who does not know he's a sex offender.

Story 1: So this one time, I was falsely accused of molesting a child.

Yes, I was.  I got the call when I was three hours away, with no way of getting there to defend myself.  Somebody who I now hate more than anybody I've ever hated before (and I hate very few people) was angry that his ex-girlfriend had allowed me to babysit his daughter for a week while she and my brother were on their honeymoon, and so he accused me of sexual misconduct.  I didn't know what kind of sexual misconduct at the time, but I was devastated.  I bawled to a friend on the phone for forty-five minutes.  When I'd babysat, I went out of my way not to do anything that could even be misinterpreted as sexual misconduct... I didn't play games that involved touching, I didn't even answer gender-related questions, because her father scared me and I expected him to do something like that.  And he still did.

Not only that, but he used the fact that I am transsexual as a central point in the story.  I figured he must have found me online or something, maybe he'd looked up my court records and found my name change.

I also knew that the court system in that area is particularly bigoted and misogynistic.  My sister-in-law has been repeatedly demeaned and disbelieved by judges because she refused to pretend to be weak and powerless--her lawyer suggested she cry in court--even though her ex is a pretty well-documented domestic abuser.  I used to live in that county, and everyone from the cops to the judges chronically say bigoted things about LGBT people.  I actually had some transgender and LGB legal teams on speed dial for a while.  It was awful.

Although it was proven relatively quickly that he was lying, it was a dreadful experience.  Although I was worried about things like my career prospects if I was actually convicted of such a thing (remembering the bigotry of the court system I talked about before), one of my biggest worries was that I could wind up being thrown into a pot of victims of  false rape accusations and used to minimize anti-rape advocacy.

Because yes, being falsely accused sucked.  But it would be absolutely delusional of me to somehow claim that false accusations of rape are a bigger problem than actual rape.  Rape and other forms of sexual assault are an ubiquitous problem.  And yes, I wish that the guy who falsely accused me was in jail (for he is all-around a terrible person), but the revenge-lust men seem to have for locking up false-accusers ignores that most rapists don't see jail time even if they are reported, so the idea that there's some epidemic of locked-up innocent men who have been falsely accused by vindictive girlfriends is a bizarre Men's Rights Activist fantasy.  It has nothing to do with preventing false accusations of rape and everything to do with further disenfranchising women.

Which brings me the other story, which is more important.

Story 2:  So, there's this serial rapist I know...
Trigger alert for date rape descriptions.
I knew a guy, back in the day, when I was working somewhere across the state.  He was around 19 years old and extremely popular.  He works with children with disabilities, engages in social activism for them as well as gays, and he's also a repeat rapist.
He doesn't know he's a rapist, which is patently ridiculous.  I learned that he was because I went to a drinking party he decided not to attend, and when a very drunk young woman went upstairs and a man followed her, saying he was making sure she was alright.  The people remaining commented that "At least he won't rape her like Randy."  That alone was already a chilling assumption.  I do not know if he raped her, and the fact that I didn't think about this until later is a regret that makes my stomach sink.

Women didn't report Randy.  Ever.  The assumption was that if you didn't want to have sex, you didn't get drunk around him.

But not only was he popular, he was related to our boss, and he exclusively raped women who were drunk.  For a woman to actually come out and say he was doing this would have been extremely difficult and would have resulted in a great deal of trouble for her, plus he did not view having sex with a drunk woman as rape.  A lot of people don't.

And Randy is just one guy.  At the same workplace, when I was still working as a woman, I had three guys try to assault me, and rather than deal with the problem on their side the administration decided to just move me to a different dorm instead.  In another case, I was at a drinking party where somebody revealed she had gotten someone drunk specifically because she figured he would have sex with her.  I spent the night keeping them off of each other.  Neither would have called it rape, but it was.  One of my former best friends--a self-identified feminist--told me a story in which he'd had sex with a woman.  It was also clearly a sexual assault, but he did not define it as such.

The point is that more people are rapists than people assume, and I have no reason not to believe that at least some of these "false accusations" are not false at all.  How many of them are only interpreted as "false" because they didn't leave marks, or the person they raped was drunk, or they just dissociated themselves from the term "rape" so good that they are appalled that anybody would refer to them as a rapist?

And keeping in mind how often this happens and how rarely rapists are actually meaningfully prosecuted, how can anybody in their right mind believe that false accusations are the bigger problem?