Misperception of the Damages of False Accusation Isn’t a Girls-Only Fault

Posted on April 19, 2015


“What the fuck is wrong with these people? I keep seeing the same argument again and again and again and again—the idea that being accused of rape is not simply as bad as being raped but often worse. I honestly can’t believe how people can be so fucking dense so as to think this is true.

“Note that I am not saying that being falsely accused of rape is not bad and can utterly damage your life, but it just does not even compare to the experience of being raped. […]

“A person falsely accused of rape (and convicted, of course) may, at the worst case scenario, lose friends and family and have their career ruined, but given time they can find new friends who will believe them and repair their social circle, even while hindered by the state. Many times they even clear their names eventually (otherwise we wouldn’t have such a nice influx of False Rape Accusation news stories for the Men’s Right crowd to cheer around). But apparently for some, even the short-term damage of a false rape accusation that a male was eventually cleared from, compares to being actually raped.”

A Division by Zer0

No, the blog A Division by Zer0 isn’t authored by Zerlina Maxwell, the attorney and social critic who gained notoriety a few months ago for voicing identical sentiments in The Washington Post (and being widely panned for it).

The post the epigraph is drawn from was authored by a man. He doesn’t identify himself…and I don’t blame him.

Harvard Law School Professor Emeritus Alan M. Dershowitz, perhaps the best-known criminal lawyer in the world, was accused of serial statutory rape in documents filed with the court around New Year’s. He’s not a party in the action and has no legal recourse to attack the allegation. It’s just “there” (on public record and in perpetuity).

The quoted post is emphatically titled, “For fuck’s sake, No! Being falsely accused of rape is not not NOT as bad as being actually raped!”

People’s gender and political allegiances don’t interest me. People are people, and to each his own. Ill-reasoning, however, offends me regardless of the contours of the body that emits it, especially when it’s emitted loudly. Ill-reasoning is particularly offensive when it mocks human suffering, as this man’s perspectives do.

His sympathy for victims of sexual violation would be commendable if only it weren’t countervailed by callousness.

A recent post on the blog you’re reading highlighted the case of a young British man who was detained by authorities for two days, based on a false accusation of rape. Then the charges were thrown out, that is, they were almost immediately dismissed. He nevertheless killed himself after struggling with depression pursuant to the violation. He was 23. Another featured case concerned an adolescent who was falsely accused of rape by some hoodlums at school. He hanged himself. He was 16. A third was about a man who was falsely convicted for rape (and five other felonies) and served a year and a half of a 35-year sentence. He was exonerated when it was belatedly discovered that his “14-year-old” accuser was an adult in her 20s and that her identity wasn’t all she’d lied about. While the man was in prison, his mother committed suicide. She died believing her son was a pimp and a rapist.

Introducing cases of false accusation that have consequences of this magnitude is illustrative, but it shouldn’t be necessary. The author of A Division by Zer0, like most feminist writers, betrays he understands the aftermath of trauma very well.

Here’s the difference though, a rape victim most likely will never escape the damage of the event. Once the deed has been done, the scar will stay forever, no matter if the perpetrator is punished. You cannot undo the [violation]. You cannot restore the lost trust. You cannot wipe the memory triggers.

In a moment of dramatic irony, the writer acknowledges the root of his own indifference: “Much of it, I believe, comes from lack of empathy.”

The man behind A Division by Zer0 is a member of the “Men’s Rights crowd”—or more aptly the People’s Rights crowd. He just doesn’t know it.

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