Are we living in the grips of a ‘false rape society’?
It’s been a busy week for the rape apologists.
First, US nominee senator Todd Akin re-writes the facts of life by telling us: “From what I understand from doctors, that it [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it is a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try and shut that whole thing down.”
Next up, British MP George Galloway (pictured), who explains that Julian Assange (he of Wikileaks fame) and currently facing two charges of sexual molestation, had essentially just been accused of “bad sexual etiquette”.
In his nightly podcast Goodnight with George Galloway, he claimed one of Assange’s accusers had consensual sex with him and then “woke up to him having sex with her again – something which can happen, you know”.
Thanks for that George, we’ll all sleep soundly in our beds tonight.
With so many high profile figures dedicated to redefining the parameters of rape, it might surprise you to learn that we’re actually living in a ‘False Rape Society’.
The grip of this society is so pernicious that men are being driven in their droves to seek refuge in a new website, Register-her.com. Or so the creators of the site would have us believe.
The website features profiles of women who they accuse of falsely crying rape. ‘Offender’ is the term used by the site to describe these named and shamed women.
Readers are encouraged to submit photos, names and other information on women they deem ‘offenders’ but must include “corroborating content on third party news or courts web sites.”
So all you actually need to announce to the world that a woman has falsely cried rape is a news story accusing her of it.
Hang on a minute, since when did stories from newspapers become hard evidence of anything? If we accept everything we read in the paper, we accept that “Chocolate can halt dementia” and “Aliens could attack Earth to end global warming”.
And when we’re talking about rape, the problems with media reporting are cavernous. Not least because any woman who loses her case or, for whatever reason, withdraws her statement, is likely to be labelled a false accuser.
My intention isn’t to argue that a woman has never falsely accused a man of rape. My intention is to shatter the assumption that a not-guilty verdict, a dropped case or a withdrawn statement is proof that a woman has falsely cried rape.
In a video called the ‘False Allegation Epidemic’, the case of Grimsby Town football players who were cleared of rape because the accuser was thought to be unreliable is cited as evidence of this ‘false rape society’.
There are many reasons why a witness may be judged to be ‘unreliable’. In this article, a woman tells the story of how her rapist walked free after she was deemed an unreliable witness.
Let’s reflect for a moment on the reality of reporting a rape, a pursuit apparently so attractive to women it remains one of life’s great mysteries that around 80% of rapes go unreported.
First of all, when all you probably want to do is crawl into bed, take a shower or drink yourself into oblivion, you have to trot down the police station to relive, in minute detail to uniformed strangers, the harrowing particulars of your recent sexual attack.
If you can make it past the psychological trauma and the fear that your attacker may seek revenge, you still have the court case to look forward to, where you can expect to be confronted with your attacker and grilled by legal officials on your sexual history or drinking habits. Even then, chances of a guilty verdict remain pitifully low.
I know several women who have been raped or sexually assaulted but for these reasons and more, decided not to go to the police or pursue their cases to trial.
So the idea that there are just millions of women falling over themselves to run this gauntlet, out of spite, regret, or a zany sense of adventure, strikes me as baloney.
But a peek at the writings of Register-her.com founder Paul Elam and we can begin to appreciate the ideology and emotion that drives the website.
In his article ‘The Scourge of Rape. Yeah whatever’ he says:
I want to have a T-shirt made. “I Survived Rape Hysteria,” it will read. If a woman goes to a bar, gets shit faced with a stranger and goes to his hotel room only to have second thoughts that are expressed in the form of mid coitus screaming, or better yet, the next morning, we are loathe to say a word.
Elam is not a man on a mission to eradicate the deep rooted failings of our justice system. He just thinks women are predisposed to lie about rape, and in the rare case they’re telling the truth, he thinks they should shut up about it.
It’s fairly unlikely that this article or any other is going to spark a miraculous change of heart in the men’s rights lobby, and many of their more outlandish exponents do a better job of discrediting them than I ever could.
So why do websites like Register-her.com matter?
Because the myths that women are predisposed to lie about rape, that rape is blown out of proportion and that victims are to blame form a powerful undercurrent in the psyche of our society.
Just look at Galloway and Atkins; political buffoons perhaps but both convinced that their opinions were acceptable for a public space.
And victims of rape have internalised these opinions. When the twitter hashtag #Ididnotreport was launched it solicited an outpouring of anonymous accounts from people who had been sexually assaulted.
What were their reasons for not reporting their attacks? They dismissed their experiences, felt like a fraud or didn’t think they’d be believed.
Knowing they wouldn’t be believed, they stop believing themselves. Galloway and Atkins would, no doubt, strenuously distance themselves from sites like Register-her.com.
But their lazy, contagious assumptions about rape, bubbling just beneath the surface of polite society, are one and the same.