Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The MRA Mirror

By Sunless Nick
originally posted at Shakesville

When MRA-types can be bothered to acknowledge rape as a problem at all, they inevitably claim false accusations of rape as a comparable problem, one that happens at least as often, and one that is—unlike rape, they claim—ignored and belittled. For the record, that is not true. But I thought I'd look through that MRA mirror and see what would happen if false rape accusations were really "taken as seriously" as rape.

First, of course, depending on where he lives, the falsely charged man might have to pay for a rape kit that could bolster his case. Naturally, it would likely never be relevant, because the false report case would probably never get to court, being summarily decided instead by lawyers or the police after they determine there to be no evidence that the woman lied. (And of course, there would be a legal presumption that she is truthful and he a rapist.)

But leaving that aside... There is also the fact that false accusations would benefit from widespread apologism, and accused men would suffer from victim-blaming.

For instance, if a victim of false rape accusation was really treated like a victim of rape, then the accused man would be held responsible for it. He'd be asked why he was alone with her. He'd be lectured on everything he coulda woulda shoulda done differently, then or otherwise. He'd have his whole history dissected, looking for other women he might have annoyed, thus justifying this woman's annoyance. He'd be asked if he agreed to the rumour, or secretly liked it? He'd be pressured to drop the whole thing because it was a mistake, not really a serious allegation, she's not really the lying type (heck, she might even be called plucky), and is it really worth ruining her life over this?

And that'd be from the people who believed him and claimed they were on his side.

Otherwise of course, he'd be called a liar (or even a sinister conspirator)—and were he ever to smile or date again, it could be advanced as proof of it. And he'd be called the male equivalents of slut, whore, tease, and bitch (or would, if the male equivalents of those words weren't compliments). And he'd be asked if he can really remember what happened, and is he sure she said yes?

There would be long earnest diatribes about how men could avoid being "deservedly" accused. (Not by just by disgruntled women either; the mainstream media would weigh in on the "MRAs false-accusation fallacy"). Of course they'd include disclaimers of how, "No man deserves to be falsely accused of rape, BUT"—before going on to explain how so many case of false accusation are indeed the man's fault, and how men should ensure that they don't happen.

For instance, it might be trotted out how women are hardwired for intimacy, security, and long-term commitment, and are you sure you didn't say or do anything that implied you were willing to marry and start a family with her? No? But you had sex, and that could have been construed as a promise for those things, so her anger at you breaking that promise is quite understandable really. Did you made it clear you were only interested in a casual hookup? Well why didn't you make it clearer?

Along the way, it might be compared to property crime... say identity theft. After all, we know the stories now; we're careful about letting information about slip into other people's hands, and we know how hard it is to prove the truth if false purchases are racked up in our name. So it's not much of a stretch to parallel that to false accusations and tarnished reputations, right?

There'd be PSAs on how parents can prevent their sons getting into situations where they might be accused of rape, with the women who might do it mysteriously disappeared from the narrative.

Men would be told to take false accusations as compliment—you know, you're so hot she'd say anything to make people think you'd been together—or maybe she thinks the accusation makes you sound more manly. At the same time, they'd be told the claim must be true because they're too old or ugly to have been with a woman any other way.

We'd read posts about how false accusations are sometimes necessary; this link needs an extra trigger warning.

Kobe Bryant, saying "I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter" would be a nationwide rallying call for how all men who deny committing rape are lying dogs.

We would read news stories about falsely accused men being punished for engaging in malicious gossip. We would read about judges who even if an accusation had been proved false, would say they wish they could jail the man anyway (oh, and they might ban him from using the words "false," "lie," and "sex" in his testimony).

False accusations would be the stuff of jokes, even onstage. Men would even be expected to take direct or veiled threats as jokes. False accusations would also routinely be evoked in adverstising and used as metaphors for wit or good presentation. And you would deemed humourless if you objected to any of this.

Even when utterly blatant, false accusations would frequently be ignored or disappeared.

Saying that a false accusation is never deserved would elicit controversy, while a woman who didn't make a false accusation against a man who annoyed her would be deemed worthy of praise for her accomplishment and self-control.

I think most MRAs would much rather see their causes ignored than taken as seriously as that.

Of course on this side of the mirror, I don't see anything like that leveled at men accused of rape—including those who are genuinely accused, tried, and convicted. But rape victims face all of it. So no, I don't find the problems all that comparable. It beggars my imagination that someone can seriously believe there are as many women who voluntarily put themselves through it for no reason as there are men who decide they can get away with rape.

But that's the trouble with mirrors: They don't show us the real world, but a back to front version of it. Maybe MRAs should try the window instead.

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