Is it okay to question the truth of a rape story?

My gut response to that question is a fast and unequivocal, “NEVER!”

I am sure most people reading this feel the same way.

Rape disgusts me. I think rapists should have the death penalty. I think our culture’s attitude towards rape is horribly permissive. I might be biased though. I was raped by two men when I was fourteen. I was too ashamed to report what happened to me, and as far as I know those men are still wandering free to this day, have raped countless other boys, and that makes me pretty sick inside.

Questioning the truthfulness of a rape story is extremely problematic. For starters, who in their right mind would lie about being raped? How horrible is it to subject the victim of a violent and destructive crime to doubt and scrutiny, thus placing the victim on trial? Doesn’t that further play into the “blame the victim” mentality and misogyny-prone culture we live in already? Won’t this decrease the chances that a woman will come forward and report a rape, thus allowing rapists to go free and commit more heinous acts before being caught?

Questioning the truthfulness of a rape story seems to introduce all kinds of terrible problems for what seems like very little benefit.

But then I thought about how our justice system works: Someone is innocent until proven guilty. If people hadn’t been falsely accused of committing a crime in the past, this wouldn’t be a necessary part of our justice system. People do falsely accuse people of committing crimes. Sometimes it is by accident. Sometimes it is on purpose. Would a woman ever falsely accuse someone of raping her?

The U.S. Military has a big bad problem right now with women who have been sexually abused and raped. From my brief four years serving in the U.S. Air Force, I met several women in the military who have been raped by a fellow armed service member. The documentary, Invisible War, tells the story of many women in the military who have suffered silentely for years. In fact, when I was in the military, because of where I was stationed, my base had a particular problem with men being raped by other men (civilian men raping military men with date rape drugs).

So believe me when I tell you, that questioning the truthfulness of a rape story from a fellow service member would normally be the furthest thing from my mind. But that is what happened when I heard Terry’s rape story.

Terry was a fellow Airman in the Air Force. Terry and I were once very close friends. We were both transferred to the same duty station at the same time and very quickly bonded. Eventually we started dating.

When Terry and I started dating, things started moving VERY fast. Terry had what you might call a “healthy sexual appetite.” She started to tell me stories about all the men she had slept with, and she tried to move things with me into a highly charged sexual relationship very quickly. I thought things were moving too fast and asked Terry to slow down a bit. But she never did. So after three weeks of “dating” I asked her to go back to being just friends.

Terry didn’t like being just friends. She started calling me multiple times at all hours of the night to whine to me about our demotion to friendship. She kept begging me to tell her what was wrong with her that I didn’t want to date her anymore. I told her repeatedly there was nothing wrong with her, but I just didn’t think we were very compatible as a couple, but I still valued and appreciated her as a friend. That’s a tough pill to swallow, so I understand Terry’s distress.

Then Terry started stalking me. I was friends with Terry’s roommate, so fortunately, she was able to mitigate this behavior a bit. I eventually had to tell Terry to leave me alone completely. She didn’t. So, I told her that if she didn’t leave me alone, I was going to have to escalate the issue and report her behavior to someone. After telling her this a few times, she eventually got the message and left me alone. Good for her. I wouldn’t want someone to tell me that. So again, that must have been a tough pill for Terry to swallow.

I was never angry with Terry. My bet is that Terry has some issues from her past that have made her incredibly insecure. This might be related to or the cause of her quickness to escalate her relationships sexually. It might not. I’m not here to judge or analyze Terry. I wish we could have remained friends, but we couldn’t and that’s all there was to it.

Terry eventually moved on to another guy and they dated pretty seriously for about a year until he was transferred to another duty station several thousand miles away. Actually, things didn’t look good for Terry and her boyfriend, because unless they got married, it was highly unlikely they would ever be stationed together again. So, right after he got transferred, they got engaged.

Still, it wasn’t surprising to me or anyone else on base that Terry started flirting with another guy on base named Ron. Ron was a pretty quiet and meek guy. He wasn’t extremely outgoing and he didn’t go out of his way to impress people or liven up the scene. He was a pretty all around good guy, and everyone who knew him really liked him. When he and Terry started hanging out, people were worried for Ron because Terry didn’t have the best reputation at this point and they saw his hanging out with Terry as bad news for Ron. After all, she had a fiancé.

Now keep in mind, this base was a small base in a small town. Everything that everyone did was in a fishbowl and under constant scrutiny. One Friday evening, Ron and Terry went to a small gathering at the house of one of my friends – a married military couple. Terry and Ron slept over at the friend’s house. And apparently after everyone else had gone to sleep that night, Terry and Ron had sex.

The next day, nothing seemed amiss. Terry and Ron were extra cute and cuddly. They went to a move that afternoon. They went to a bar together later that night. I saw the two of them together at the bar – they were laughing it up and having a good time. On Sunday, they spent a romantic evening at the beach. They were seen by friends holding hands, cuddling, and everything else a young couple in love does.

There was just one problem. Terry still had a fiancé 3,000 miles away. By Monday night, word had already gotten around to Terry’s fiancé that she was carrying out a very public affair with Ron. He called Terry on the phone and was furious. Terry’s roommate overheard some of the conversation – the sobbing, negotiating and “I’m so sorry!” pleas.

She didn’t intentionally eavesdrop on the conversation, so she didn’t hear much and she doesn’t know how things took the turn they eventually did. But, boy did they take a turn.

A few hours later, the Military Police were at Ron’s place arresting him. You see, somehow during her conversation with her fiancé, Terry decided that that Ron had raped her. At first, when her roommate asked her about it, Terry said that she didn’t want to report Ron because he was such a nice guy, but her fiancé made her and said he was going to dump her if he didn’t. That story eventually changed – I’ll get to that in a minute.

So, Ron ended up getting court marshaled. And the couple whose house they stayed over that night were the alleged crime took place were dragged into things for possibly being enablers and having carnal knowledge.

No one on base believed that Ron had raped Terry. There was not substantial evidence to convict him of rape. If there was, he would have been sentenced to prison time in the military and discharged at the end of his sentence. It is much easier to be convicted of a crime in military courts than in civilian courts. And after he got out, he would have been likely prosecuted by civilian courts and served another prison sentence.

You see, military members who commit crimes get “double jeopardy.” They are prosecuted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and after the military is done with them, they are subject to prosecution under the local, state, or federal statutes. It is unfair, but that’s just how it works.

But this didn’t happen to Ron. The civilian authorities wouldn’t even touch the case. However, the military had to do something about the situation, and they were in a tough spot because they already had a lot of bad P.R. generating about blaming victims and ignoring rape pleas. So, Ron was given a dishonorable discharge. And the couple whose house Terry and Ron slept over at were administratively punished and pulled out of their promotion cycle.

Terry and her fiancé eventually got married. Less than a year into it, they filed for divorce because Terry was allegedly having an affair with another man, this time a civilian.

If a rape had actually occurred, then I would say that everyone got off pretty lightly. But I have a very hard time believing that a rape occurred. This is partly because of all the circumstances surrounding the ordeal and my personal knowledge of the kind of person Terry is. But that alone wouldn’t be enough to make me doubt, actually.

I mostly don’t believe that Terry was raped because Terry herself eventually confided in her roommate while the court marshal was underway and told her that Ron hadn’t actually raped her. She said she didn’t know how to undo what she had started. When the roommate tried reporting this to our commander, he told her that it wouldn’t go anywhere unless Terry reported it to him directly because it was hearsay evidence and Terry would probably just deny it – since at this point Terry would face serious charges for making false statements. Terry’s roommate never spoke to Terry again and soon moved out.

If a rape had not occurred, then I would say that really sucks for Ron and the couple who got in trouble. It affected their careers in the military – and probably has had far reaching effects for Ron for his entire life. His dishonorable discharge will stick with him for many years which makes it extremely hard for him to ever find a job. Even though he can eventually appeal and have the discharge reduced to “general” – anything less than an honorable discharge from the military is considered a blight on your record. And it is something that most potential employers require you disclose. Ron is screwed for life. If he’s a rapist, then sure, he deserves the chair. If he’s not though – that is pretty unfair.

This leads me to my original question: Is it okay to question the truthfulness of a rape story?

While it is still possible that Terry was raped, it is unlikely that she was. Terry, for all her problems, wasn’t the worst person I’ve ever met. If Terry was willing to lie about being raped to cover up getting caught cheating – to the point of ruining three other people’s careers, how many other people out there are willing to lie about being raped?

This is a dangerous question to ask, because, like I pointed out before, it plays right into our “permissive/enabling rape culture.” Questioning the truthfulness of anyone’s rape story is dangerous and can be damaging. It can realistically have the unintended consequence of enabling more rapes. Still, chances are, there are people out there who are lying about being raped. And those lies are ruining the lives of other people.

Is there anything we can do about it? How can we be sensitive to victims, create a safe and responsive environment where rapes are reported more often, and put rapists in prison where they belong if we are also second guessing the truthfulness of any rape story? I don’t know. I wish I did, but I just don’t. In my gut, I want to say, tough luck to all the victims of false accusations out there – we err on the side of rape victims. But that still leaves my gut feeling pretty wrenched.

I read a letter in an advice column, CaptainAwkward.com, that recently brought all these questions back to my mind. The columnist had titled the letter and her response, “My friend, the rapist.”

The letter is brief, and only a few details are given. You can read the full column here.

The story is that a letter writer has made friends with her roommate’s work buddy and finds out that he is part of a group she has distanced herself from (reasons are not given). She mentions that some of the women in that group she strongly dislikes (again, reasons are not given) and that one of them approached her and told her that this guy she has been hanging out with raped her and behaved inappropriately towards another woman.

Alcohol was allegedly involved, so the letter writer goes on to explain that while she has never seen this man “out of control” when drinking, she has noticed that he acts inappropriately when he drinks – to the point that she has even confronted him about it. Other than that, the letter writer explains he is an all around good guy.

She then asks Captain Awkward whether she should cut this guy off as a friend, approach him about it, or what she should do.

Captain Awkward’s response was similar to my response at first. She opened by saying, “I’m sorry, I can’t even be a little bit nice about this. Your friend is a rapist!”

She then goes into chastising the letter writer for justify the rape as okay because it happened to someone she didn’t like. She did suggest that she talk to the guy about the situation before cutting him off completely, though. However, responding to some comments to her column, Captain Awkward went back and edited that and said the having that conversation itself might not even be worth it. She also reinforced that this man’s acting inappropriate when drinking is further proof that he must be a rapist.

The comments to the column are all along the same thread and many were much harsher. People were just piling on with the whole, “It doesn’t matter how nice this guy is to you, he’s a rapist!” theme as well as the, “How awful that you are minimizing this guy’s rape because it happened to someone you don’t like.”

I wasn’t entirely sure why people were getting onto the letter writer for that particular detail, so I decided to go back and re-read the original letter to figure out what I had missed. It did seem that people were just jumping to the conclusion that the letter writer was “justifying” a rape because she “didn’t like” the victim. Yes, she mentioned previously that she didn’t like the victim (which appeared to be justification for why she didn’t hang out with that group anymore), but she didn’t seem to indicate that this was at all a reason for why she was okay with the guy raping her. In fact, as far as I could tell, she never said she was “okay” with the guy raping someone at all. She just seemed perplexed about the appropriate way to not be okay with it. So maybe Captain Awkward and the other commenters were being a bit unfair on that point. But that is when I noticed another important detail I hadn’t seen before and it gave me pause.

The assumption that this guy is a rapist is based on two pieces of evidence: The word of this woman in a group that letter writer has disassociated herself from and strongly dislikes and the fact that the guy gets too fresh with women when he drinks. Without the first piece of evidence, the drinking issue would describe tens of thousands of people – men and women – who embarassingly hit on people when they’re drunk and wouldn’t mean much on its own.

So the entire conclusion that this man is a rapist really relies on the testimony of this one woman. Now again, not many back story details are given, but I couldn’t help but wonder: Why has this woman gone out of her way to tell this other woman who has shunned her group and strongly dislikes her that this guy she is hanging out with raped her? And if she is so willing to share this fact, why is this guy still part of that group if he raped someone in it?

Now, I am perfectly aware that guys who rape women often remain part of the group. But this is usually because the rape victim doesn’t report the rape. Or it is because she does and no one believes her or makes excuses for the guy.

However, in this story, the victim is perfectly willing to report to rape – and to the unlikeliest of people. She apparently hasn’t reported the rape to the police. She apparently hasn’t reported the rape to any sympathetic friends who would help separate her from this guy. Instead, she has reported this rape to someone who doesn’t like her and has made obvious choices to not be friends with her and distance herself from her. Isn’t that a little strange?

I responded to the column with my concerns. I relayed a brief synopsis of the story about my former friend who probably falsely reported a rape, and I stated that that it seemed a tad bit fishy that this woman was willing to approach the letter writer and disclose that she was raped by this guy, but she hasn’t done anything to report the guy or distance him or herself from the social group. I suggested that there was reason enough for the letter writer to doubt this woman’s report and that before doing anything, she might want to verify the story from another source.

And my suggestion was simply for this reason: You don’t have to hurt this woman or tell her that you don’t believe her, but if everyone who is told that a person raped someone else responds with a no-questions-asked ostracizing of that person, then that hands a tremendous amount of power to those who are willing to lie about such things. And it is quite possible that there are people out there who are lying about those kind of things. Probably not very often, but frequency doesn’t matter, does it? A lie is a lie.

I am pretty sure that my comments will not be posted by the moderator of the column. The reason is because shortly after, the columnist made a completely new post that said she was taking a break from moderating the large number of responses coming into her blog and that “If you’re a first time commenter and you are one of these people, your comments will show up approximately never.”

The “one of these people” part linked to another blog called The Pervocracy and a post titled, The People You Meet When You Write About Rape.

The first “of these people” type listed is:

Mr. What About The Men
“The real problem here is all these false rape accusations that are destroying our society! 90 million men are falsely accused of rape every second! A woman just has to sort of mumble a word starting with ‘r’ and a man instantly gets a life sentence! There are no instances on record of a woman actually being raped!”

The author of The Pervocracy blog, Cliff Pervocracy, replied to Captain Awkward’s blog and said, “I’m moderating too, FYI, people who post anything about “misandry” or “false accusations” at that link…

I share the annoyance of Cliff Pervocarcy and Captain Awkward at the type of people who go around complaining all these aleged rapes being lies and how men are the real victims of “misandrists” who are “falsely reporting” rapes left and right. That’s a pretty disgustingly inappropriate response in my opinion too.

But I am a little disappointed that I have probably been pigeon holed into that extremist category and my comments have been stricken from the record. I’m a victim of rape myself. I’ve seen firsthand false reporting of rape ruin people’s lives. I wasn’t rude or disrespectful in my comments.

I understand the desire to keep discussion civil and not letting your blog get trolled by all the “Men are the victims” assholes out there. But my comments weren’t even close to that extreme and I believe, provide a healthy perspective that needs to be heard. That perspective is, “Hey, something about this rape story this woman told you seems fishy and it might be worth double checking on before you go around broadcasting he is a rapist and judging him accordingly.”

I don’t know what it is like to manage a wildly popular and well read blog, so I probably don’t see things from the perspective of Captain Awkward and Cliff Pervocracy. It seems like they are just censoring everyone who doesn’t completely agree with them, but I could be wrong and even if I’m not, they might have some very good reasons for that which I will never understand because I am likely never going to have to deal with as many readers as they do.

But something just feels wrong about the whole situation. The beauty of the internet and blogs in particular is that it makes it easier for people to share different ideas and perspectives on a variety of topics – even super controversial and sensitive ones such as rape.

My remarks were in no way insensitive or extreme and I think they provided a valuable insight to anyone who read the column and perhaps even the original letter writer. But they seem to have been pigeonholed as “too controversial” simply because I wasn’t parroting the popular reaction to the letter writer that the columnist had decided was the only socially acceptable reaction.

And I feel like that might be a disservice to the readers of her column and to the person she is trying to help with her advice.

Is it okay to question the truthfulness of a rape story?

I still don’t know the answer to that question. But I think it is a discussion worth having. Maybe if people were willing to come out of their comfort zones and have a civil and polite discussion about it without censoring everyone who doesn’t agree with their predefined narrative, people like me might be able to better understand an answer to that question. And everyone will be better off. And our society’s “inappropriate rape culture” will be a little less permissive, a little more educated and informed, and much wiser and sensitive in how we handle these type of situations.

What do you think?

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  • Given that a) you can only control your own actions, not those of the courts or of general society, and b) the courts and general society overwhelmingly believe the (alleged or otherwise) rapist over the victim, I think it’s safe to believe every person who says they’ve been raped.  You’re not the courts, the worst thing that will happen to the person being accused is that they lose your friendship, respect, and trust (if they ever had it in the first place).  Especially as it’s not your place to out the victim by telling anyone else what happened.  If someone has trusted you enough to tell you about what is probably the worst day in his/her life, for the love of all that’s holy, BELIEVE THEM!!  False rape accusations only make up about 2% of all accusations, and most of those probably consist of people who really were raped, but accused the wrong person of doing it.  The scales are currently tipped so far towards trusting the rapist that any semblance of balance has to come in the form of trusting victims, not in trying to rationalize some sort of false equivalence in believing both sides equally.  Some day, if rape culture ever does actually dry up and disappear, then you can rationalize and second guess without doing incredible and irreparable damage to someone, but right now, if you really feel the need to second guess a rape victim, at least do us all the favour of never telling the victim or anyone else about it.  It will probably only add the culture of second guessing every rape victim.

    • ZachariahWiedeman

      I appreciate your frank and helpful response. I was also unaware of those statistics. I certainly do have a lot to learn.

      • HitchRK

        Don’t bother because they are false and have been disproven time and again.

    • HitchRK

      You are so full of crap. Where did you get that 2% number from? MS magazine? That has been debunked so many times it’s not even funny. Yes, women do get raped, no one is denying that, but women also lie about getting raped all the time for a variety of reasons. I guess you missed that whole Duke case eh? People are innocent until proven guilty, you never just believe any accussation, I pray you never get called for jury duty, you are frightening.

      • William Clee

        Totally agree

        • ginmar

          And you agree with this guy? How reasonable, given he’s a far right winger who posts on sites that think eschewing white robes destroys the “KKK” argument.

          • William Clee

            I agree that there are fabricated stories of rape but any man who puts his hands on a woman like that is a little bitch.

      • ginmar

        Um, no, the 2-to8% figure has NEVER been debunked, no matter what your little MRA friends tell you.

    • This recent article by Emily Bazelon & Rachael Larimore suggest that false accusations are as high as 8-10% and possibly higher considering that statistic is only arrived at by accusations that are not taken to prosecutors (prosecutors subsequently dismiss and juries acquit additional charges).


  •  “I would never question a rape story, except all the time, because supposedly I had this experience…..” Yeah. Dude. No. 

      Veteran myself.  You don’t get to judge your remarks for other people, many of whom are rape victims, and many of whom have seen this particular asshole move before.  

    • ZachariahWiedeman

      Again, you’re projecting your assumptions onto what I said. What I said is that my instinct tells me that more harm than good comes out of questioning the truthfulness of a rape story. However, I don’t let my gut replace my brain. If I did, I would be one of those people who was ruled by their baser instincts of fear. I’m also not saying gut instincts are always wrong either. It is nuanced. Sometimes they are right, sometimes they are wrong. I’m willing to question those instincts and seek to have a deeper understanding of issues rather than letting my knee-jerk reactions rule my behavior.

      Which is exactly what I’m doing here. I don’t go around questioning the truthfulness of rape stories by default because I know someone who probably lied about being raped. And if that is the message you received from what I wrote, then I am sorry for not communicating better. What I did say, however, is that sometimes reason may present itself that causes you to think twice before taking someone’s word for it. The story shared in Captain Awkward’s blog seemed to have those reasons. Something about the story the woman heard seemed fishy. My question was not, “Should we go around questioning the truth of every single rape story we hear?” My question was, “Are there ever any circumstances that doubting the truth of a claim about being raped is appropriate?”

      Why must everything be all or nothing in your mind? Why must my raising the question about if there are every special circumstances that one should question the truth of a rape be translated in your mind as, “This guy is writing a justification for why he never believes someone who claims to be raped.” That is basically how you quoted me and reacted to me, and that seems to me to be a very unproductive reaction to the question.

  • Oh, and it’s not a discussion worth having. It’s been had. Your purpose is call women liars.  You protest a lot,  but that’s what you’re doing.  And it’s not subtle. 

    • ZachariahWiedeman

      Your assumption that I am trying to subtly call women liars is completely off. I get the feeling that is something you were expecting or have learned to expect from men because you’ve heard it so much. But, that is in no way shape or form how I feel at all.My point is that people lie about things – small things and big things. Men lie. Women lie. I wouldn’t say, “Women are liars,” nor would I say, “Men are liars” because I don’t think one gender has anything to do with it and I don’t think that one gender is more prone to lie about things than another. Maybe you’ve delt with a lot of assholes who feel that way (subtly or not). I’m not one of those assholes and I never said or tried to hint at any such thing, and it isn’t very productive to project that onto me.

      • ginmar

        It’s funny that people are so quick to accuse women as a group of lying—-but not men. Not police detectives, who decide a woman’s lying “because” and let a rapist like Marc O’Leary rape some more women, or the whole rape squad in Philly or Baltimore, where they threw out rape complaints by the bushel; not the bros who declare “that’s been debunked” when over and over it gets affirmed, or EVERY dude who has that “friend” or heard from a friend about that one girl, so he gets to doubt all women now.

        And not guys who NEVER do the research, ever.

    • William Clee

      I wouldn’t call “women” liars, just the woman who lied to me.

      • ginmar

        Yeah, right, because this whole piece isn’t about calling ALL women liars.

      • ginmar

        And yet you agree only with men who rant and scream about women—–and post on hate sites.

        • William Clee

          The only thing I believe I agree with is that any woman can lie. I think rape is the most chicken shit, ball less thing a man can ever do to a woman. Castration is the only way to handle a rapist. I just believe that there are some women that cry wolf if they don’t get what they want or to get what they want.

  • CanadaGoose

    I actually know someone who faked a burglary so they could make a claim on their renter’s insurance. So, is it OK to question the truthfulness of a burglary story? Do I read a story about a burglary and conclude that there’s a good chance that burglary was faked?  How many burglaries are really faked? One in a thousand? One in a million? One in ten?

    “My remarks were in no way insensitive or extreme … pigeonholed as “too controversial” simply because I wasn’t parroting the popular reaction to the letter writer that the columnist had decided was the only socially acceptable reaction.”

    Read that paragraph again. You weren’t “parroting” the “socially acceptable reaction.” No, you wanted to have a “civil and polite” discussion about whether women lie about rape.

    So who do you think would come in on the “women lie” side? What would be the arguments presented? “Bitches lie” on one side and “Fuck no, they don’t!” on the other. And what would the outcome be? What proposals on how to deal with rape?
    Should prosecutors and police be even MORE skeptical about a reported rape?

    I’m afraid Ginmar Reinne has your number and states it better (and more pithily) than I did.

    • ZachariahWiedeman

      I agree with you. Attempting to have polite and civil discussions about sensitive topics do tend to devolve down into extremes shouting at each other.

      I wonder, is that a paradigm we are just stuck with – and therefore unable to have these type of conversations? Or is that something we ARE able to rise above and therefore have meaningful and productive conversations about?

      And the question wasn’t really meant to apply to the current status quo about the skeptical of prosecutors or police regarding rape. It is plenty skeptical. Anyone who is the victim of any crime will learn the hard way that our justice system is stacked in the favor of criminals. The whole, “Prove beyond a shadow of a doubt” thing. It was set up that way intentionally and I was not really interested in a discussion about whether or not our justice system is too skeptical or not skeptical enough.

      However, my question WAS about whether or not, as an individual, one should take what people say at face value all the time, even if there are obvious inconsistencies or problems with someone’s story that raise flags. I mean, I’m pretty sure no one would argue, “You should believe everything everyone tells you no matter what,” but on the flip side, I am not advocating, “You should never believe when someone tells you they were raped.”

      I maintain that by default you should always give the benefit off the doubt. But, is there a point where a story seems so implausible that you should question it? If so, what is that point? If yes, what should you, a regular person on the street do about it?

      That is the heart of what I am getting at. And those are serious questions which I think deserve a serious answer. Just because someone has those questions and doubts themselves or their own gut doesn’t automatically put them into the “asshole looking for a reason to never believe women when they said they were raped” category. But, it seems that is the basic response I have received so far. I guess it proves you write: Most people aren’t capable of having a polite and civil discussion about sensitive topics. And that is very unfortunate, because it is only by talking about these kind of things are we able to learn.

      There’s the “thinking” I was born with. There’s the “thinking” I was raised with. And then there’s the “thinking” I can choose to rule my mind and my behaviors. That is the kind of thinking I can only have by talking about things, listening to other people, applying rational reasoning skills, and learning more about the world I exist in. And that kind of thinking comes from being able to ask difficult questions without automatically being judged and ridiculed for being an asshole just for asking the question. If we really do live in a world where people can’t do that, then how can we expect people to evolve beyond the level of thinking they were born with or they were trained to have? Racism, sexism, hate, fear – all of these things become much harder for people to overcome. That is sad.

      • ginmar

        Now we have Brock Turner and the judge who has a history of sympathizing with men who beat and rape women, at least six other white boy athletes who got slaps on the wrist, the research of David Lisak that apparently NO rape apologist wants to read, the case of Marc O’Leary, and the news about the tens of thousands of untested rape kits across the country. They tested a hundred in Detroit and found a half a dozen serial rapists and a serial killer.

        Oh, and a guy who BRAGGED about sexually asaaulting women got elected as President. Women comfirmed his boasts—that he spied on underaged girls, was one example—–and he promptly turned around and called them liars.

        And four DOZEN women came forward to accuse Bill Cosby, but it took just ONE guy and Cosby’s own admission before people believed. Even Saudi Arabia believes after FOUR women.

  • I know many, many women who were raped or molested–thankfully not me. But I do know of one false rape accusation: a girl and boy still in high school were having a consensual sexual relationship. All their friends knew about it. They were both underage (and does this mean that both were technically rapists?). She had allowed him to sneak into her bedroom through the window and her father caught them. She was terrified of her father finding out that she had willingly had sex, and claimed rape. The boy was convicted and sentenced to a prison term.
    One incident. Out of hundreds. And I suspect the real statistics would be: out of thousands.
    I have seen false accusation of rape used as a plot device in fiction, but this is the only incident I’ve ever encountered personally. So I believe that it does undeniably occur, but is extremely rare–much rarer than popular wisdom would have one believe. In the current culture, even true accusations of rape generally seem to harm the victim more than they impede the perpetrator, and it would take very unusual circumstances to motivate any woman to make a false claim of rape.

    • HitchRK

      Well, maybe you ought to read up more on the subject then, because women have many motivations to lie about rape, there’s even a whole field in psychology about it, they may lie for attention, money from a lawsuit or payout, to cover an affair, to cover a pregnancy, trust me, it is far from rare, it happens all the time, I was a victim of a false allegation myself and it’s very easy to do and very hard to defend against.

      • William Clee

        Very true…

        • ginmar

          But you’re NOT questioning ALL women, oh, no……

          • William Clee

            I’m really not…Just the POS I was with.

  • I am aware of a woman in my former friends circle who gets blackout drunk and then, afterwards, if she’s on bad terms w the guy, calls him a rapist. Otherwise it was just sex while both parties were drunk. The first time she told me the shpiel I was horrified. The next two times I got a little less sympathetic. For other reasons I stopped talking to her, because of some unrelated gossip that she spread about me. And then she slept w my best friends boyfriend – while they were both drunk. She lied straight to my friend ‘s face about it (while drunk) and made plans to hang out with the guy, but he confessed first, and she was then ostracized. A few months later she was telling anyone who would listen that said guy also raped her while she was blacked out. My friend has saved the emails between the two making plans after the event in question, including the last one telling him he was ruining things by admitting to his gf he cheated.

    So yeah, it is hard to believe a woman like this. She’s never reported any of this, and while I’m aware of reasons people don’t report rapes, telling anyone you meet at a party about it to get attention while ONCE AGAIN drinking to blackout pissed me off when I overheard it from across the room. Especially as my mother actually was drugged and gang-raped before the age of 20.

    • Point is the woman I’m talking about is one person, and I personally know at least five that have felt comfortable enough to tell me in confidence about their rapes. Not that my personal experience means much, but NONE of them got the cops involved. But also none of them told strangers at parties. They couldn’t tell me without either crying or minimizing/shrugging off the event as no big deal. Liars lie, is kind of my point, and most ppl aren’t pathological liars.

    • William Clee

      Laural, this was an issue with my relationship. My ex had told me she doesn’t drink liquor anymore because it makes her do things and get ways that aren’t good let’s just say. In fact, she told me of an incident with her and her ex where they were drinking and he went to the restroom and when he came back she was full on kissing another man. To this day I was always concerned when she drank because I never knew when she would hurt me that way.

  • HitchRK

    “I want to say, tough luck to all the victims of false accusations out there – we err on the side of rape victims.”
    Yeah, come say that to my face, I dare you. I spent time in jail and had to pay up the nose to defend myself from a false rape allegation, not to mention all the public embarassment and harassment I faced. Not sure if you know what country you live in, but we believe in the presumption of innocence here, you are the reason so many women make false accussations and get away with it, and yes, that dumb bimbo, who I didn’t even have sex with BTW, walked away from the whole thing like it was some harmless college prank. We absolutely should ALWAYS question a rape allegation just as any other allegation.

    • ZachariahWiedeman

      This blog post is not about how the legal works or should/shouldn’t work, this is about how individuals behave socially with one another. Also, you seem to have not read this entire post or you probably wouldn’t be reacting this way.

      • HitchRK

        I did read it, all of it, he says when he hears an allegation he starts from the point of believing the accusser and the accussed must prove their innocence to him, which is the exact oppossite of how it is supposed to go.

        • Florin

          Feminists claim that only 2 to 8 percent of acusations are false. Those are cases which are PROVEN as fake. About 40% are inconclusive, so the number is greater than that. We should ABSOLUTELY question any allegation including rape acusations. Essentially women just want to bypass the legal system here. Imagine how many false reports would be if women didn’t have to prove anything.

          Now of course most women don’t lie. But ENOUGH of them do lie to warrant that we don’t take anything they say at face value. This is why we have the ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ standard for conviction in the legal system. The Germanic legal sytem in the dark ages revolved around the presumption of guilt as opposed to the view held in the Roman Republic. Are you guys really suggesting we get back to those times?

          • William Clee


          • ginmar

            Except that’s not true, but you’re not attacking ALL women. He’s citing the Kanin study, where the cops demanded rape victims take polygraphs immediately after they reported.

            Funny how SO many guys who cite the Kanin study refuse to say Kanin’s name.

            Funny how almost NO guys who want to “discuss” false accusatioms cite David Lisak.

            And Florin here is a rabid Hillary hater who posts on a hate site called A Voice for Men, where a guy named Paul Elam says women are “freaking begging for it!”—-to get raped, even though it’s an article of faith on that site that women all lie about rape. How DOES that work? Why don’t you devote a long piece to questioning men who lie?

          • William Clee

            Well I would never say things like that, and yes men and women both lie. It all come down to the character of the individual, not whether they are a man or woman.

          • ginmar

            You agree? Did you even research this guy’s statement about 40%? Because being skeptical about women but nodding along when men call women liars tends to suggest a certain mindset.

    • ginmar

      Cathy Young’s a nutjob who spends all her time attacking feminists.

    • ginmar

      Well, well, well, all my comments are gone but the comments by the raving right wingers bashing women are still here. How unbiased.

  • William Clee

    To begin, your “Never” answer does not pertain to my particular situation. You need to listen to both sides before answering the question that way. My girlfriend (ex as of three nights ago) went on an overnight trip to supposedly help out a friend with an abusive husband. We had been together only 3-4 months so the relationship was pretty new but we’d already been having sex and she told me she was in love with me. Once she arrived I was able to speak with her from work a couple of times and everything seemed cool. Around 8pm I received a text from her saying” If I don’t respond I’m not getting a signal on my phone but I’ll text when I’m back at my friend’s” I was like cool. Around 11 pm I hadn’t heard back so I called and texted and just said ” wanted to say goodnight and make sure you’re ok.” Never heard back…
    I work third shift so I arrived at home around 8 am, walked in the door and my phone went off with a text pic from my girlfriend’s phone. It was a pic of a bad guy sitting shirtless on a hotel bed in the dark taking a selfie with my girlfriend lying behind him sleeping. The caption said ” she didn’t answer you last night because she was with me.” Of course I flipped out and texted back. 5 seconds after that she called trying to explain that it wasn’t what I thought. I said some choice words and hung up. 2 hours later I received another text pic from her phone with the guy taking another selfie just smiling while my girlfriend’s standing behind him completely naked. The story is so long I can’t even tell you. But long story short…She said this was her friend’s evil husband that broke into her hotel room and took the first pic unknowingly while she was sleeping and the second pic she had no idea he was in the room once she came out of the shower (without a towel and not looking surprised or afraid at all). Oh, and the caption on that pic was “He’s her ex.” So, because I loved this woman I did my best to believe her and in my mind was doing my best to forgive her infidelity. Over the next year or so I struggled with trust issues, some things happened to weaken my trust even more. Now, roughly 4 months or so ago around New Years o was leaving her for good. That’s when the allegations of rape came out. Not by the guy in the pics ( how convenient) buy by another guy that was with him! I’m just now finding out there were two men! She told me some outlandish story that made no sense with these pics I received or the way and times I received them. She said she’d been seeing a therapist that she’s reluctant for me to meet and I’ve NEVER seen her go to an appointment ever. We had an argument one day and she says ” I need to go talk to my therapist.” I believe she thought I would leave because 15 minutes later she came back home. Now come on! What happened to the therapist visit!? Another lie…
    I believe she’s calling rape due to her infidelity that she will not or never admit! That’s why you don’t say “Never” question rape!

    Thanks for listening….

  • Michelle C. Young

    Rape is a polarizing issue, and somehow, saying, “Let’s deal with the individuals involved as individuals” just seems to bring out the extremes in all directions.

    Sorry, you’re not able to have a nuanced discussion on the topic, online. And I’m very sorry you had to suffer through that awful experience as a youth. Now, you’re being accused of accusing ALL women of lying, because you pointed out that one women did, that one time. I sigh, because I once got sucked into an all-or-nothing, I just asked a question, this is an issue that really ought to be discussed, but we can’t because people just freak out, sort of situation. And I learned just not to go there, online. And I had to distance myself from the online forum, because a year later, I was still enraged with “I did NOT say what you said I said!” defense that nobody could hear. I asked a question. I asked “Does rape happen more in X situation than in Y situation?” and was accused of denying that rape ever happened in Y situation, and suddenly, the online forum was filled with people saying, “My grandmother was raped in Y situation!” and so on, and I was as bad as Hitler. Because asking if X happens more frequently than Y. And I asked in good faith, because I believe that if X happens more frequently than Y, we should know, so that we can take steps to mitigate X. “But YYYYYYYY!!!!!”

    Yeah, it’s just too polarizing to have a nuanced conversation about it, in our current rape-drenched culture.

    Probably, this is because rape is Just. That. Awful, which is why so many people are polarized by it, and that just makes the “It’s only bad sex, what’s the big deal?” crowd so horribly infuriating, it makes me want to spit blood when someone denies rape.

    I commend you on your ability to remain calm about the issue and in the face of some of the accusatory (“You’re calling ALL women liars!”) comments, especially considering your own experience.

    Perhaps, once we’ve dealt with the big-ticket issues of rape culture, we’ll be able (in about a hundred years of hard work) to move on to nuance?

  • Michelle C. Young

    Was it Ronald Reagan who said, “Trust, but verify?” Did he get into hot water for that? I was so young, I don’t remember.

    I do believe we should trust any victim, regardless of gender, when they make an accusation, and actually investigate the accusation. I believe that in social settings, we can control who we associate ourselves with, and how. I also believe that we are not the justice system, and while the justice system is set up as “Innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt” (which, incidentally, still results in false convictions, so beyond a reasonable doubt is not perfect surety, but just about the best we can do under our current condition as human beings with ever-improving, but not perfect, technology), we are not the justice system.

    We are not the legal/justice system!

    Also, we are allowed to change our minds, when presented with new evidence.

    So, my go-to standard would be Trust First and Support until and unless new evidence proves otherwise.

    I trust you in your assertion that you were raped as a youth. And *because of that,* I trust that only really powerful evidence would make you doubt another person’s assertion that she was raped.

    Yes, I do believe that false accusations are really, really, very rare. But I do not believe that they are non-existent. And as long as there are lying scumbags who accuse other people of the most heinous crime after murder, and as long as there are horrible scumbags who commit the most heinous crime after murder, I have to take it seriously EITHER WAY. And I can say to a person, “I don’t feel comfortable with you, and am not going to associate with you,” and I don’t even have to explain why. That is how I deal, socially, with this. Let the courts deal with the legal cases.

    Rape is a horrible thing, and as much as I’d like to crawl into a hole and ignore it until it goes away, it’s not going away.