Doctor Science Knows

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

False accusations of rape

At Shakesville, Sunless Nick posted the definitive reply to people who say false accusation of rape is as big a problem as rape. My comment, in reply to another commenter (not Nick):

I think being accused of rape when one is innocent is as bad as being raped
I think *not*. Let's put it this way, of what other crime would you say something similar?

"Being accused of murder when one is innocent is as bad as being murdered."

"Being accused of beating someone to a bloody pulp when one is innocent is as bad as being beaten to a bloody pulp."

"Being accused of kidnapping when one is innocent is as bad as being kidnapped."

"Being accused of theft when one is innocent is as bad as being robbed."

"Being accused of plagiarism when one is innocent is as bad as being plagiarized."

The last one starts to come close to what you're talking about -- but notice that for plagiarism and the accusation, neither side is actually physically hurt: both the crime and the false accusation are about issues of repute and honor. Rape is a *physical assault* -- of course it's worse than a false accusation. The only possible reason to say that a false accusation is "as bad as rape" is if you take a really old-fashioned patriarchal approach, and say that the crime of rape is really against the honor and property value belonging to the raped woman's owner (husband, father, brother). In that case, rape *is* much more like theft or plagiarism: an attack on something that belongs to you, but not a direct attack on your person, the body where your self lives.

To equate rape and false accusation like that makes the actual woman and her actual suffering unimportant, and makes it seem as though she is not a real person, not as real as a man.

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  • False accusations of rape may not be as "bad" as the crime of rape but it is still something that needs to be seriously pursued. Both seriously hurt the victim though one is not a physical assualt but an assualt on one's character, honor, and life as well. A man's reputation is destroyed if he is accused of rape and he is quite possibly marked as a sex offender which would be twisted considering he is innocent. I'm not saying ignore the victims of rape, they are not real people. I'm saying let's look at both victims and make sure justice is done.

    By Anonymous Razor, at 8:13 PM  

  • Nobody's saying that false accusations should not be pursued just the same as false accusations of any other crime. To act as if we are seems disingenuous, almost as if you can't bear to centre the victim's complaints even for one moment before you get back to demanding that we have to consider the impact on the accused instead.

    By Anonymous tigtog, at 8:10 PM  

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