Join 3,438 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Year in Consent
March 18, 2010 8:17 AM   Subscribe

Lessons learned from 2009’s high-profile rape cases.
posted by Neekee (135 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
That article seems rather marinated in weak sauce.
posted by hincandenza at 8:28 AM on March 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


Might be a good idea not to leave Copperfield in their if you want to convey your point.
posted by docpops at 8:30 AM on March 18, 2010


Judging by the tenor of much of the article, one lesson is "Guilty if accused."
posted by Thorzdad at 8:31 AM on March 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


Journo accuses others of Armchair Rape Analysis in column entirely consisting of Armchair Rape Analysis. News at eleven.
posted by unSane at 8:32 AM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


That article seems rather marinated in weak sauce.
posted by hincandenza at 8:28 AM on March 18


Hmm let's see a long list of rape accounts with a common theme - that the people who comment on these crimes frequently downplay their importance or dismiss the crimes entirely in favor of changing the subject. In a way, I'm almost glad you posted that idiotic nonsense, hincandenza, because you proved the point better than the article itself ever could have.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:35 AM on March 18, 2010 [27 favorites]


"Imagine a young woman proudly mugging for news cameras after taking part in a consensual bathroom gang-bang being released from jail where she'd been held for a crime she did not commit."

Obviously, the quotes the article has about the woman are way out of line and do illustrate a problem with attitudes toward female sexuality, but going after someone because they celebrated the fact that they were not going to jail, that's just nonsense.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:39 AM on March 18, 2010 [13 favorites]


Yeah, and I'm just a lone voice in the wilderness on this one, OC.
posted by hincandenza at 8:39 AM on March 18, 2010


Discarded in the middle was a sadder possibility: that a woman who felt she had been violated didn’t think anyone would believe her if she wasn’t tied down by a rope.

A possibility that seems to have been eliminated by the video evidence Hess cites immediately above. It's bad enough that people were falsely accused of a serious crime, but to then suggest that anyone who hasn't been exonerated down to the millisecond is suspect is ridiculous.

After being released from jail, where they had been held for nearly 24 hours, the four men who were cleared of the rape charges posed in a series of celebratory photographs, smiling, raising their hands in the air, and offering thumbs-up signs to the press. Overnight, the men turned from accused rapists to…four guys who had had consensual sex with a woman together.

Yes, how horrible that people are glad to find out that their lives won't be ruined by false accusations. Further proof that they must HAVE DONE SOEMTHING!!!11!

They sit back, stroke the chin, and plant gray where black and white work just fine.

Indeed.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:40 AM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


The comments are much more enlightening than the article.
posted by iconomy at 8:42 AM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Because we all know that going through the process of paying legal fees and giving up several months/years of your life to proclaim to the world, "I have been raped" is a rewarding experience to be gamed for fame and profit?

Those wily women and their tricks!

Next: The Gay Conspiracy- controlling the world in order to have half the rights!
posted by yeloson at 8:43 AM on March 18, 2010 [11 favorites]


Yeah, and I'm just a lone voice in the wilderness on this one, OC.
posted by hincandenza at 8:39 AM on March 18


So far your comment is the worst - it consists of nothing but "this article sucks," with neither analysis or citation to support it.

Alternately, by your metric, I could simply say your comment was "marinated in weaksauce" and by the very act of saying it, magically make it so, with no real work required on my part.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:43 AM on March 18, 2010 [7 favorites]


“He could have sex with anybody he wanted” is a convenient insta-defense for the famous man accused of rape.

What does that even mean? People may be perplexed that a man who could have consensual sex with most women would rape somebody, but I've never heard it used as a defense of rape.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:46 AM on March 18, 2010


Maybe it's just my head cold talking, but I don't honestly see the point of linking to this sort of thing any more. Either commenters are going to be in the "in group" that will recognize the point of this article, or they are going to be in the "out group" and will see rape cases as a black-and-white question of legality (rather than a complex system of cultural pressure on both the accuser and the accused).

How can there be any quality discussion when we are speaking on two different planes?
posted by muddgirl at 8:47 AM on March 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


muddgirl: How can there be any quality discussion when we are speaking on two different planes?

Such mindsets are easier to maintain when there is no dialogue.
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:50 AM on March 18, 2010 [8 favorites]


Journo accuses others of Armchair Rape Analysis in column entirely consisting of Armchair Rape Analysis.

And digs on people's opinions on the internet in an article on the internet.

She could have made her point with better rhetoric.

I also challenge some of her conclusions. Polanski isn't an example, in my mind, of people making excuses. Some did. But last I checked he's still wanted in the US. I personally won't watch him movies.

Also, the gang rape is horrific before and after the drinking allegations.

So eh, fine. If that's what she took from these cases, fine.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:51 AM on March 18, 2010


I've never heard it used as a defense of rape

See, this is exactly what I'm talking about. It's NOT used as a defense of rape. It's used to argue that Famous Person didn't rape a woman, and presumably that she's lying for her own benefit. The premise is that men wouldn't rape women if they could just get some legitimate sex. Of course, this isn't true, but it doesn't stop it from being a common meme used to excuse famous rapists.

Such mindsets are easier to maintain when there is no dialogue.

Glib. I will refer you to this tag.
posted by muddgirl at 8:52 AM on March 18, 2010 [12 favorites]


The comments are much more enlightening than the article.
Hence why I posted it.
posted by Neekee at 8:52 AM on March 18, 2010


“He could have sex with anybody he wanted” is a convenient insta-defense for the famous man accused of rape."

This supports my theory about famous people being accused of rape- they believe that they can have sex with whomever they want, so they do, regardless of consent. In our society, the famous people are in the top tier, with the money, privilege, and rules-don't-apply-to-me attitudes. Really, by having so much power, they are set up to rape.
posted by emilyd22222 at 8:55 AM on March 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


The problem with the article (and some of these comments) is surely that celebrity rape cases are a horribly unrepresentative sample of rape cases as a whole. Even assuming, as I do, that the proportion of fabricated rape allegations is minuscule, it's inevitable that that minuscule proportion is going to be hugely overrepresented in celebrity cases. Which means, all else being equal, that there is always going to be much more reasonable doubt over any given allegation involving a celebrity than in rape allegations as a whole — the vast majority of which, of course, are just quietly prosecuted or, far more likely, never reach court.

So, unfortunately, criticizing the commentary surrounding this-or-that football player just ends up feeding the delusional notion that fabricated rape allegations are a significant issue in society at large.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 8:57 AM on March 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


I also challenge some of her conclusions. Polanski isn't an example, in my mind, of people making excuses. Some did. But last I checked he's still wanted in the US. I personally won't watch him movies.

On the very left-wing site MetaFilter.com, there were many comments that said Polanski's rape of a child was not a big deal. The very fact that he is still going to be extradited is orthogonal to the fact that our culture is friendly to rapists; until we agree that rape is a crime even if you're white, rich, or famous, these discussions need to continue.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:59 AM on March 18, 2010 [23 favorites]


Even assuming, as I do, that the proportion of fabricated rape allegations is minuscule, it's inevitable that that minuscule proportion is going to be hugely overrepresented in celebrity cases.

You know, I'm not convinced of this. The costs of reporting that you've been raped by a celebrity are tremendous- remember when Kobe's accuser was outed and got all sorts of death threats? The more likely scenario, IMO, is that celebrities can afford good lawyers and rip cases apart to make them seem like false accusations. They can make them doubt their own memory, make them feel responsible for their rape, and make them relive it on a daily basis. Celebrities also have the masses who seem to take their side and make life miserable for the accuser. I was a rape victim advocate for years, and trust me when I say, this process (even on a small, non-celebrity scale) is torture, and makes people claim they were lying just to escape it.
posted by emilyd22222 at 9:02 AM on March 18, 2010 [8 favorites]


Either commenters are going to be in the "in group" that will recognize the point of this article, or they are going to be in the "out group" and will see rape cases as a black-and-white question of legality (rather than a complex system of cultural pressure on both the accuser and the accused).

I agree that a lot of these threads end up generating the same types of claims and arguments, but I do think there is to it than a simple "us" and "them" stance. Sexual assault is a complex issue that can involve a lot of different viewpoints and discussions.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:02 AM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


See, this is exactly what I'm talking about.

Wait, when was I talking about something you said? I was referring to the language used in the article, which in my opinion was muddled and off-target.

It's NOT used as a defense of rape.

Hey, we agree!! But the person who wrote the article said it was. I take issue with that.

It's used to argue that Famous Person didn't rape a woman, and presumably that she's lying for her own benefit.

Okay, who said? And you can't use what "KOBEfan#1" said on a Kobe Bryant fan forum.

The premise is that men wouldn't rape women if they could just get some legitimate sex. Of course, this isn't true, but it doesn't stop it from being a common meme used to excuse famous rapists.

Again, I'd love to see where actual people are saying that and not just some superfan cretin in an internet forum somewhere.

I would take something completely different away from the Big Ben and Kobe Bryant rape cases - that famous men, who are in the presence of women who often willingly throwing themselves at these famous men, actually have a much greater likelihood of raping women than your average man. They are surrounded by bodyguards and sycophants who protect and guard their every move. Their poor decisions are not punished and ultimately these men end up feeling invincible. Add to the mix an abundance of attractive women and alcohol, and you have a ready-made scenario in which a man would feel as though sexual assault would be permissible in most situations.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:02 AM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I also challenge some of her conclusions. Polanski isn't an example, in my mind, of people making excuses. Some did. But last I checked he's still wanted in the US. I personally won't watch him movies.

What? It's a clear example! A bunch of actors and at least a couple of directors, including Whoopi It wasn't rape-rape' Goldberg and Brett "His mother died at Auschwitz" Rattner excused him from drugging a 14 year-old girl to have sex with her and declared that he should be forgiven or excused for that crime.

If it hadn't been Polanski but instead a random non-celebrity who had drugged and raped a child, do you think anyone would have leaped to his defense?
posted by zarq at 9:06 AM on March 18, 2010 [21 favorites]


Neekee: The comments are much more enlightening than the article.
Hence why I posted it.


You should have mentioned that in your post, Neekee. I was having a hard time seeing what this post added to the discussion because I missed the comments until iconomy pointed them out.
posted by joedan at 9:06 AM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'll just say that if marijuana figured in these cases as consistently as alcohol does, it would be routinely called "a date-rape drug".
posted by Joe Beese at 9:09 AM on March 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


emilyd22222: Really good points. I am not sure, though, that our arguments are mutually exclusive. You say there are reasons why celebrities are more empowered to cast convincing doubt on genuine accusations — I totally agree. But I'm just saying that if there are in the world any women at all who are willing to go through the process of accusation falsely, in order to try to garner money or prominence or for whatever weird psychologically disordered reason, then it's almost true by definition that they're going to be more likely to choose prominent very rich people. I think it is quite strongly arguable that some of the worst accusations against Bill Clinton were of this nature, for example.

But I'm uncomfortable making this argument at too great a length, because to be clear, I think this applies to an incredibly tiny proportion of allegations. Still, it's a notion that is out there — this idea that people will happily make false allegations — so I think it's important to point out that even if this were true in celebrity cases, it wouldn't make it true in the world at large.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 9:12 AM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


if there are in the world any women at all who are willing to go through the process of accusation falsely, in order to try to garner money or prominence or for whatever weird psychologically disordered reason, then it's almost true by definition that they're going to be more likely to choose prominent very rich people. -game warden

Fair enough. I also resonate with your discomfort with pointing out false accusations at all when it happens so rarely. One of these days I'll hear it one too many times and collapse into a twitchy heap.
posted by emilyd22222 at 9:21 AM on March 18, 2010


Amanda Hess is also responsible for this article in the City Paper on my alma mater Catholic U a year and half ago, which in her mind made its rape case a "high profile" one, despite the fact that most people in DC, let alone the country, haven't heard anything about it. A quick read of the article will give you a sample of some of the same trite, over-the-top armchair analysis and whining: there aren't condoms on campus (just at the CVS and 7-11 down the street), a secret underground network of condom distributors has arisen to combat the problem (?), sex is against the student code of conduct (you'll note she doesn't have a single interview with a student actually expelled for having sex, because the few that have been were just stupid enough to get caught) and God Squadders don't like sex (I think that goes without saying). Beyond a hilarious set of quotes from my campus spokesman, the article didn't tell you anything you shouldn't already know.

Yeah, Catholic U's handling of its rape case was appalling. It hardly stands alone among campuses in that regard, and many of those campuses have fishbowls full of condoms in the student lounge, etc. As I said in that thread, I think rape is a crime whether its committed on a campus or not, and would be handled better by local police. I didn't like my campus' policy when I signed up, nor now. But I knew what it was and lived with it.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 9:25 AM on March 18, 2010


Joe Beese: Historically one of the scare tactics used against marijuana was that Black jazz musicians would give it to your white daughter and have their way with her.

Rape is a very complex issue and this article has a lot of problems. Still, I found myself enjoying reading it because she's right about more than she's wrong about, and I share her anger and outrage.
posted by chaz at 9:26 AM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Lessons learned from 2009's high profile pretty much all rape cases: it's always the victim's fault, somehow
posted by sallybrown at 9:32 AM on March 18, 2010 [7 favorites]


Weird, I just watched an episode of Hard Knocks from 2001 last night.

In it was a scene in which a speaker specializing in sexual harassment is brought in to talk about women threatening to claim rape after consensual sex with football players as a way to extort money. Obviously this is not any kind of data whatsoever, and is not exactly coming from a neutral source, but the way she framed it and the way Brian Billick introduced her made it seem fairly common. To the point where I was like, that is really weird. Especially considering the Ben Roethlisberger situation and how my perception of him has changed with the second sexual assault accusation (the first woman who accused him seemed nuts but twice is a pattern IMO).
posted by nathancaswell at 9:34 AM on March 18, 2010


I agree that a lot of these threads end up generating the same types of claims and arguments, but I do think there is to it than a simple "us" and "them" stance. Sexual assault is a complex issue that can involve a lot of different viewpoints and discussions.

The problem is, this sort of article doesn't lend itself to deeper discussion but rather knee-jerk reactions. It literally throws out nuance immediately by saying "black and white works just fine" and goes on to paint a sort of simplistic view of sexual assault, accusers and their defenders. When articles like this are linked without additional context, the discussions they spark often take a lot of back and forth to move past that.
posted by zarq at 9:36 AM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


the first woman who accused him seemed nuts

Don't forget that people who seem nuts (or are developmentally delayed, mentally ill, alcoholics, fill in your allegedly unreliable witness here) are super convenient targets for rape. Who's going to believe the crazy lady over the revered sports icon?
posted by emilyd22222 at 9:38 AM on March 18, 2010 [10 favorites]


In place of analysis, the article seems to suggest that we should take all allegations at face value (since of course, analysis really just means discounting and dismissing all allegations immediately).
posted by molecicco at 9:39 AM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I didn't like the writing style at all, but there are valid points within the article. (more so than many acts of journalism). The ubiquitous of the "he couldn't rape because so many women want to have sex with him" bit is illuminating.
posted by edgeways at 9:39 AM on March 18, 2010


I want to know more about the Hofsra story. The article implies near the end that she was drunk? I feel they explained that one a little weakly, as if the situation was vague, and you could go either way on consent. But they might have just forgotten some details.

But other than that, this article is great. I am still bothered when people tell me about how victimized Polanski is, since he pled guilty of drugging, sodomizing and raping and 13-year old. The sum up the "I saw the Pianist, it is not worth raping a child over" is fantastic. I hope this comes up in conversation again.
posted by Napierzaza at 9:40 AM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Don't forget that people who seem nuts (or are developmentally delayed, mentally ill, alcoholics, fill in your allegedly unreliable witness here) are super convenient targets for rape. Who's going to believe the crazy lady over the revered sports icon?

Agreed. But hopefully fewer and fewer people these days think the revered sports figure is automatically innocent. After all, most people's first reactions when they hear someone has accused a priest of molestation is no longer "A priest? That can't be! The alleged victim must be lying!" Just a few decades ago, that priest would have been beyond reproach.
posted by zarq at 9:46 AM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


In place of analysis, the article seems to suggest that we should take all allegations at face value (since of course, analysis really just means discounting and dismissing all allegations immediately).

I think it would be different if most analysis was just: "We don't have all the facts."

But instead it's: "We don't have all the facts. Who knows, this woman could just be looking for attention. Or maybe she was drunk. Or maybe she wanted sex and now it's the morning after and she regrets it. I mean, look at the picture of her taken on that night--look at the high heels and low cut shirt she's wearing, look at her makeup, look at how she's dancing. How interesting. Oh, and she's a stripper/actress/cocktail waitress...hmm. Says here her friends say she's "wild." Says here she's poor and had a baby at age 18 and she's not married to the father. Says here she didn't go to college. And for god's sakes, the accused is famous--how odd that someone so many women want would rape someone like her."
posted by sallybrown at 9:47 AM on March 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


The article implies near the end that she was drunk? I feel they explained that one a little weakly, as if the situation was vague, and you could go either way on consent.

Would her being drunk change your opinion on consent? Because, you know, that's one of the attitudes this article is fighting against.
posted by naju at 9:52 AM on March 18, 2010


I think the Polanski developments this year were fascinating, and encouraging.

Yes, there were apologists who popped up, especially in Hollywood (but also here). Very quickly, though, that spawned a backlash that was pretty overwhelming. There's no doubt at this point that public opinion is solidly against him (as it should be).
posted by msalt at 10:00 AM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


When I was in high school, I cheated on my girlfriend. Like, a lot. In retrospect, I'm not sure why I thought that I'd be able to keep it a secret; I was pretty careless about the whole thing. When it came out, my girlfriend's best friend decided to even the scales by telling her cop boyfriend that I'd tried to force myself on her, which was decidely not true. It was extremely fortunate for me that this particular cop boyfriend decided that beating my ass would not be worth the risk of it coming out that he was having sex with a 15 year old.

A few years later I was at a party with some friends, and one of the girls came in and said that some guy had tried to rape her in the grocery store parking lot. She insisted that we not call the police, but being young and stupid, a group of us got together and went looking for the guy. It was fortunate that we never found anyone even remotely resembling the description that she gave us, because we probably would have done something that would have haunted us for the rest of our lives. The moment we were out of the house, the girl in question bragged to several female party-goers that she had made the whole thing up in order to get her boyfriend to stop playing Goldeneye and pay some attention to her.

I'm genuinely torn on this issue. I understand, both from personal experience and from witnessing its effect on people that I love, how completely destructive to the psyche sexual assault or exploitation is. Having said that, experience has also taught me that some people will tell lies, and they don't even need particularly compelling motivations to do so. There's a reason why the system requires a burden of proof, and that reason is not because we love criminals. Rape is all the more horrifying because it is so difficult to prove in court, but I have yet to see a better solution offered than the one we have now.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 10:05 AM on March 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


America keeps waiting for the acquaintance rape that is so horrific—its facts so irrefutable, its perpetrator so evil, its victim so innocent—that it shakes the gawking public into finally recognizing the problem of sexual assault.

thousands do get tried and convicted for rape in this country, so someone out there must be recognizing it as a problem - there's a lot of room for improvement - but when one uses high profile cases to talk about a problem, there's an inevitable distortion going on

we don't try people in the press, we try them in a courtroom
posted by pyramid termite at 10:06 AM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


This was just a poorly written and sad article. It totally downplayed rapes and made women accusing them look like desperate idiots willing to do ANYTHING for fame.

Love the whole 'gang bang' language too. Classy journalism.
posted by stormpooper at 10:11 AM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Having said that, experience has also taught me that some people will tell lies, and they don't even need particularly compelling motivations to do so.

But I think bringing your accusation as far as the legal system is very different from making an accusation to your friends or significant other. While I agree that some people will always lie, I think the proportion of liars is probably much higher in the latter group (casual accusers) than the former (formal accusers). If you and your friends had called the cops and uniformed police had shown up at the house and asked the accuser for more detail and tried to transport her to the hospital to collect a rape kit, would she still have maintained her accusation?
posted by sallybrown at 10:13 AM on March 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


I agreed with a lot of what was said in the article but the Hofstra case should not have been used. In my opinion there was a whole lot more evidence pointing to the fact that the sex was consensual than the opposite, the fact that these guys were happy to come out of jail and that their lives weren't destroyed after a very public case does not make them guilty of anything.
posted by The1andonly at 10:16 AM on March 18, 2010


Joe Beese: Historically one of the scare tactics used against marijuana was that Black jazz musicians would give it to your white daughter and have their way with her.

I'd never heard this, but, if you were a female jazz fan in the 1930s-1950s, this might have been a compelling reason for using marijuana.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:20 AM on March 18, 2010


There have been incredible metafilter threads about rape that have both educated me & given me profound insight into the experiences of those who have been raped; there have been metafilter threads about rape that are horrendous trainwrecks that do nothing but cause embarrassment and sometimes real hurt to those reading/participating in them.

This poorly written article can't possibly lead to one of the former, and may very well lead to one of the latter.
posted by the bricabrac man at 10:21 AM on March 18, 2010


In place of analysis, the article seems to suggest that we should take all allegations at face value

I didn't read it that way. The argument wasn't about whether or not rape had actually occurred. It was about how people dismiss accusations based on a few common tropes; I think it is useful to know what those tropes are.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:22 AM on March 18, 2010 [8 favorites]


I'd never heard this, but, if you were a female jazz fan in the 1930s-1950s, this might have been a compelling reason for using marijuana.

Wouldn't it be smarter of them to grow their own and become a supplier? ;)
posted by zarq at 10:24 AM on March 18, 2010


HOW OUTRAGEOUS! I AM OUTRAGED! OUTRAGE! OUTRAGE!

That's the intended reaction right?
posted by photoslob at 10:25 AM on March 18, 2010


That's the intended reaction right?

I don't think it is. I think the point was to show how quickly and unthinkingly people dismiss accusations of rape, and even discussions of rape. There may even be some of that going on in this thread.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:27 AM on March 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


I think the proportion of liars is probably much higher in the latter group (casual accusers) than the former (formal accusers).

This idea has some merit, I think. But bear in mind that humans are often powerfully driven to save face by sticking to their guns and their initial accounts of events; I think for liars the proportional split probably occurs between small-scale public accusers (who can insist that a few friends not make a big deal out of it other than avoiding the accused) and large-scale public accusers who fear being exposed as liars and double down on their allegations.

In my experience, this occurred with an ex-girlfriend who falsely accused me of (non-sexual) assault, beginning the day after the evening on which the assault supposedly occurred. She told a few of her friends who I guess were receptive, but when word got around to our larger social circle a bunch of people confronted her because they knew I hadn't been in her presence for about the previous month. Faced with that sort of challenge, she quickly dropped it and I didn't hear about it until weeks later (at which point I felt safely remote enough from the possibility of spurious prosecution that I wasn't too worried).
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 10:30 AM on March 18, 2010


That's the intended reaction right?

Yes, the OP was hoping people would go around shouting things, and those of us typing away are just little puppets who react to any mention of rape with preprogrammed outrage (from the liberal media or the PC brigade, probably).

Either that or we're trying to have a discussion about a sensitive issue.
posted by sallybrown at 10:35 AM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


By the way, AZ... those scare tactics were used by William Randolph Hearst in the mid to late 30's. He created racist, yellow journalism scare stories to portray marijuana as the drug of choice for dangerous African Americans. His efforts culminated in the passing of The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, which was one of the first moves the government took towards criminalizing marijuana in the US.

From the Marijuana Timeline:
1936 - 1938: William Randolph Hearst's newspaper empire fuels a tabloid journalism propaganda campaign against marijuana. Articles with headlines such as Marihuana Makes Fiends of Boys in 30 Days; Hasheesh Goads Users to Blood-Lust create terror of the killer weed from Mexico.

Through his relentless misinformation campaign, Hearst is credited with bringing the word marijuana into the English language. In addition to fueling racist attitudes toward Hispanics, Hearst papers run articles about marijuana-crazed negroes raping white women and playing voodoo-satanic jazz music.

Driven insane by marijuana, these blacks -- according to accounts in Hearst-owned newspapers -- dared to step on white men's shadows, look white people directly in the eye for more than three seconds, and even laugh out loud at white people. For shame!

posted by zarq at 10:38 AM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


HOW OUTRAGEOUS! I AM OUTRAGED! OUTRAGE! OUTRAGE!

For what it's worth, shouting ironically about outrage is actually a kind of crappy and disruptive thing to do in a thread about something contentious. People are making an effort to discuss something hard here; please don't throw gasoline on that.
posted by cortex at 10:39 AM on March 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


even laugh out loud at white people.

Oh man. I always suspected dope created the Def Comedy Jam.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:39 AM on March 18, 2010


But I think bringing your accusation as far as the legal system is very different from making an accusation to your friends or significant other. While I agree that some people will always lie, I think the proportion of liars is probably much higher in the latter group (casual accusers) than the former (formal accusers).

That's a fair point, but the line in the sand is different for everyone. Many people probably look at filing a police report as taking things to another level, some people clearly don't. I might stretch the truth with some friends in order to make a story seem more interesting, but I'd never do the same when making a police statement. That doesn't mean that balloon boy's parents wouldn't. I've never called 911 for anything short of shots fired; some people do it because of bad traffic or poor service in a restaurant. Just because we can assume that a reasonable person wouldn't involve the police in their deception doesn't mean that we can discount it as a possibility in all cases.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 10:40 AM on March 18, 2010


The comments on this story are especially interesting for the one guy who goes instantaneously batshit insane when he is called out for chastising a young woman for not reporting a near-rape.

Hey, crazy guy, not sure you're helping here.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:42 AM on March 18, 2010


The Paul Bernardo rape/mutilation/murder investigation was hampered by the fact that he was considered to be a stylish and handsome man, that would never have to resort to rape.

The other side of the coin, is if the victim is ugly or old, the sentence will generally be more severe, because, come on, that's just sick. If the victim is young and hot, the sentence is less severe, as if, just look at her, we wouldn't do it, but we can understand the impulse.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:46 AM on March 18, 2010


Astro Zombie: "Hey, crazy guy, not sure you're helping here."

Yeah, of all the comments that's what stood out the most for me. There was some interesting stuff going on with the idea of "rape for power" vs. "rape of opportunity" that was debunked (I think - haven't had time to follow up much) with some interesting research. But yeah, between him and the other guy calling someone else a "dumb cunt" it was pretty awful.
posted by charred husk at 10:55 AM on March 18, 2010


But bear in mind that humans are often powerfully driven to save face by sticking to their guns and their initial accounts of events

I might stretch the truth with some friends in order to make a story seem more interesting, but I'd never do the same when making a police statement. That doesn't mean that balloon boy's parents wouldn't.

Yes, I absolutely agree with both of these points.

One fix is the social system--which worked to Inspector.Gadget's benefit in his example. In the situation game warden to the events rhino was talking about above, I think this is where incentives get messed up--the current social system can persuade a very small number of accusers to lie and risk mass exposure just to get a taste of the fame connection with a celebrity--even a celebrity rapist--can buy, and it can potentially persuade some celebrities to settle tenuous cases to avoid bad press. (This ties into Parasite Unseen's balloon boy example.) Unfortunately, because currently rape is so tied up with consensual sex (and less tied up with violence, which I think it has more in common with), which is itself so tied up with morality, the same social system also gives true victims very persuasive reasons not to come forward at all--they feel ashamed, they think no one will believe them, they want to forget it ever happened, they don't want to expose themselves to the kind of victim-blaming the FPP's link illustrates, etc.

Another fix is the legal system--the police, investigators, prosecutors, jury, judge, appeals court, etc. If Inspector.Gadget's accuser had come forward, she would have had to tell her story many times to people much less receptive (and much more willing to ask questions) than her friends. One of the legal system's purposes is to sort out true (or at least provable) accusations from false (or at least unprovable) ones. Unfortunately, the system tends to be so on-guard for false accusations and rape/assault tends to have such evidence-collection problems (whether because of the social factors above or legal factors like the time-sensitive nature of the evidence or the isolation generally required for the crime) that accusers face a high bar in getting their cases to trial, which gives them yet another reason not to pursue their attackers.

The very social and legal forces that help keep out most liars also keep out some true victims.
posted by sallybrown at 11:00 AM on March 18, 2010


Yes, the OP was hoping people would go around shouting things, and those of us typing away are just little puppets who react to any mention of rape with preprogrammed outrage (from the liberal media or the PC brigade, probably)

No, that is what you assumed I was hoping. My intention was to read metafilter users opinions, which I'd rather read that the newspaper readers comments.

Like the article callously suggests: be careful with your knee-jerk assumptions.
posted by Neekee at 11:00 AM on March 18, 2010


*than, not that.
posted by Neekee at 11:03 AM on March 18, 2010


Neekee, I'm pretty sure sallybrown was being sarcastic there.
posted by cortex at 11:04 AM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually, Neekee, I'm about 98 percent sure that the comment you quoted was intended sarcastically.

But maybe I'm wrong and have just jerked my own knee assumptively. We may be entering some sort of knee-jerk assumption death spiral here.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:05 AM on March 18, 2010


Yes, the OP was hoping people would go around shouting things, and those of us typing away are just little puppets who react to any mention of rape with preprogrammed outrage (from the liberal media or the PC brigade, probably)

No, that is what you assumed I was hoping.


Nah, that's what I was joking the "OUTRAGE! OUTRAGE!" person thought you were hoping (which is why I said we're trying to have a discussion about a sensitive issue). Thanks for posting this--I've really enjoyed hearing the opinions on this issue too.
posted by sallybrown at 11:06 AM on March 18, 2010


Regardless of whether or not the comment was sarcastic, isn't it poor form to come right out and state that the only reason you posted something to MeFi was to see what people would say about it?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 11:07 AM on March 18, 2010


Oops, my bad.
posted by Neekee at 11:09 AM on March 18, 2010


This is Neekee's panopticon, we're all just living in it.
posted by charred husk at 11:15 AM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the post, Neekee. I certainly didn't think the article was perfect--it's short, and covers each case cursorily, which may be a factor in some of the initial negative reactions. But I thought it was pretty good cultural analysis overall.

The point of this kind of critique is twofold, I think: it maybe helps us think about how our representations of rape contribute to or combat it, and it also lets us see how discourse on rape reveals things about social institutions--whether Hofstra or Hollywood. The on-going shame of the defense of Polanski really speaks to how strongly celebrities need to buy into the mythologizing of artists as geniuses. They're all "exceptional" and so we should make an exception when they behave cruelly! I also think that with celebrities, whether artists or athletes, we non-celebrities spend a lot of energy identifying with them, and a lot of the weird defenses of them seem to continue an element of identification.
posted by Mngo at 11:25 AM on March 18, 2010


I really wish I could write a sensible, completely fair, thoroughly researched comment but all I have is my emotion, so I preemptively apologize. This is one of those issues that makes me feel like I'm suffocating. I'll try to explain why.

See, there was this story out of Ireland a few months back, about a convicted rapist who was lovingly embraced by dozens of men in his town after being sentenced to five years for a rape that was caught on tape.

"In the witness box, the victim calmly read from her victim impact statement in which she spoke of being judged in north Kerry for pursuing her case, but she was not sorry for telling the truth."

She's been denied service at local shops, shunned, and became suicidal.

Staying in that part of the world, only 5.7 percent of rapes officially recorded by police in England and Wales end in a conviction. Those are the reported ones of course, already a small minority.

So I spent a lot of time thinking about all of this.

Maybe these allegations are being thrown out because women are lying about being raped. Goodness knows that this discussion is always, ALWAYS derailed by the specter of "false rape allegations". Yet "false rape reports are usually 2%-8% of all reports", so why do they dominate the discussion so?

And then there are the apparent hordes of women eager to "have sex with" 6, 9, 10, 12 men at a time.

There were three people who watched something happen," Chief Elk said. "And like, if that is not enough, then you know, why is rape even a crime?"

I ask myself the same question. She's talking about a case where an unconscious 17 year old "had sex with" 10 members of a baseball team. The "sex" was stopped when three girls, none of whom knew the victim, saw what was happening and rescued her and took her to the hospital. Prosecutor declined to prosecute.

But as one commenter said:

When a 17 year-old girl cannot distinguish between wrong and right; she shouldn’t be out of her house; she may get struck by car. She was 100% sober before the first beer, why she continued to drinking? I agree if someone forced her to drink, that person has to be persecuted. Coincidently, after two year investigation, based on facts—NO ONE forced that girl to make stupid decisions. Now, who is going to repair those boys reputation?

That's the prevailing wisdom. You see it anywhere anyone is commenting on a rape case. Not just blogs, but in newspaper articles, on juries, everywhere. These girls and women have no kind of morals, that's the problem these days. They get drunk, lure innocent boys and football stars to "have sex", and then make false rape allegations because they can't handle their own sluttiness. I honestly feel like this is what the majority of people really believe about women.

We are all Pandora...

"Any man who trusts a woman, trusts a deceiver"

Or maybe Tertullian said it best:

"Do you not know that each of you is an Eve? God's sentence on your gender lives even in our times, and so it is necessary that the guilt must also continue. You are the one who opened the devil's door; you unseated the forbidden tree; you first betrayed the divine law; you are the one who enticed him whom the devil was too weak to attack."

It's the weight of history, the weight of prevailing public opinion, the weight of the disapproval of our towns, families, friends. That's what's got me suffocating.

All I know is that rape and sexual assault are a routine part of being a woman in this world. Perhaps it is so routine that it's basically our fault. Maybe that's why the cultural narrative is so heavily weighted against the women who make rape allegations.

Can a woman even actually be raped? What are we anyway, but walking sex on legs? 5.7% of reported rapes in Britain end in convictions. Maybe that's too high.
posted by Danila at 11:53 AM on March 18, 2010 [22 favorites]


5.7% of reported rapes in Britain end in convictions

You mean 5.7% of rape accusations, right? We admit the possibility that some accusations are false accusations, right?
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 12:06 PM on March 18, 2010


My first impulse the first time I saw a "Free Mike Tyson" T-shirt was to beat the hell out of the guy wearing it. I suppressed it, but I regret to this day not opening a dialog with the guy.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:11 PM on March 18, 2010


You mean 5.7% of rape accusations, right? We admit the possibility that some accusations are false accusations, right?

Espirit, I'm gonna assume you aren't trolling with that nitpick (important nitpick or no), and jsut missed this sentence from the same comment?

Yet "false rape reports are usually 2%-8% of all reports", so why do they dominate the discussion so?
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:19 PM on March 18, 2010


In September, a Hofstra University freshman who had accused a group of men of gang-raping her recanted her statement. The 18-year-old student, who had told police that the men had lured her into a dorm bathroom, tied her up with rope, and raped her, admitted to the Nassau County District Attorney’s office that the “incident” was, in fact, consensual. A video taken on one of the men’s cell phones revealed that there was, in fact, no rope.

After being released from jail, where they had been held for nearly 24 hours, the four men who were cleared of the rape charges posed in a series of celebratory photographs, smiling, raising their hands in the air, and offering thumbs-up signs to the press. Overnight, the men turned from accused rapists to…four guys who had had consensual sex with a woman together.
WTF? And the article goes on to say that the woman shouldn't be called a whore for falsely accusing men of rape. She's right. She should be called a criminal.

I'm sorry, but defending false rape accusers is just morally indefensible. It makes people like the author seem like they are simply 100% on the side of women no matter what the actual facts are, and being accused of rape means you're obviously guilty and falsely accusing someone of rape means they're probably guilty anyway and it's no big deal anyway.
posted by delmoi at 12:21 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry, but defending false rape accusers is just morally indefensible.

At no point does the author state that the Hofstra University freshman should not be charged for her false accusation, or that she was justified in her actions. Pointing out that men who engage in consensual group sex are treated differently from women who do is not the same as defending a false accusation of rape.

Tactically, I think it is a good idea for discussion of rape to avoid examples of false accusations, because that seems to be all many men want to talk about, and it's given them the key to the derail train.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:32 PM on March 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


Am I the only one who thinks of rape when seeing those "Silence = Consent" bumper stickers?

Yet "false rape reports are usually 2%-8% of all reports", so why do they dominate the discussion so?

Is it worth letting 95 rapists go free to avoid unjustly incarcerating 5 innocent men? Imagine if conservatives treated accused terrorists the way they treat accused rapists. Or vice versa.

Now, who is going to repair those boys reputation?


How screwed up is it that someone who, with 10 other guys, had sex with a semi-conscious 17-year-old could have is reputation "repaired" by the notion that she might have given some kind of consent?
posted by straight at 12:32 PM on March 18, 2010


You mean 5.7% of rape accusations, right? We admit the possibility that some accusations are false accusations, right?

Espirit, I'm gonna assume you aren't trolling with that nitpick (important nitpick or no), and jsut missed this sentence from the same comment?

Yet "false rape reports are usually 2%-8% of all reports", so why do they dominate the discussion so?


How can anyone measure the probability of false reports? Isn't that exactly what the courts do?

The reason I am pointing this out is that this whole article is about pointing out unthinking dismissals of rape accusation, and considering all rape accusation true is unthinking dismissal of rape innocence.

I can imagine many people saying that the first is much worse, and then many people rebutting that the second is pretty bad too. My point is that the whole problem is the unthinking dismissal. We want to push for proper consideration of facts. We want reason. We no more want to live in a world where all accusers are assumed lying than where all accused are assumed guilty.

So, it's not a "nit." The whole point of the article is the elimination of bad argumentation. Let's not rally behind new specious arguments.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 12:34 PM on March 18, 2010


Here it is, right on schedule.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:35 PM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


esprit de l'escalier: "You mean 5.7% of rape accusations, right? We admit the possibility that some accusations are false accusations, right?"

I suppose I should have realized the possibility that some think it really is too high. I admit, I thought such a low number would be outrageous.

This is the disconnect that's hard to handle; I think it's part of the same one muddgirl was talking about. When I see that statistic, I think of how awful it must be for all of those women who came forward, went through the grueling process, experienced the disbelief of untold numbers of people in their lives and communities, and then saw the rapists walk. It happens so often that it's a high probability event, the most likely outcome by far. Do I admit the possibility that some of those reports were maliciously false accusations (i.e. not cases where it was the wrong man identified)?

Yes, I admit the possibility. I don't think it's more likely than any other crime. I do think a 5.7% conviction rate for any other crime would be viewed as a tragedy and a failure. And this is a crime where the majority are never reported anyway. So to me, it's beyond tragic, it's catastrophic. It's systemic. It's saying something important about the world we live in.

And then consider that this is the conviction rate of all reported rapes. If it's so unlikely that anyone will be convicted (much less go to jail) of rape even if they did it, then how many "innocent men sitting in prison for rapes alleged by lying women" can there really be? I know, I know, one is too many. But how many rapes are too many for you to get outraged about?

My grandmother, dragged into the woods and raped, she didn't report it. Had my father so I guess all's well that end's well. My mother, reported it every time she was raped, ended up a pariah with PTSD (her father can't even remember this one daughter of his). None of them ever even went to trial. But she got my brother in the deal, so all's well that end's well. All of the things that have happened to me, I can't even convince myself that they were wrong...I'm not immune to the narrative. I'd probably be better off doing away with my outrage and suffocation, who am I to blow against the wind?

But this is the world I'm coming from and I'm just sharing that perspective.
posted by Danila at 12:44 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I find it interesting that people are so worried about false accusations of rape, and I suspect it's rooted in a sort of deeply buried sexism, that women can't be counted to be truthful about their sexual experiences, and are vindictive or mercenary creatures that will distort the truth and the law for revenge or profit. I mean, I am sure there are some women like that. I am sure there are some people who invent stories of burglaries, but our discussion of crime never revolve around people discussing, in terror, the possibility that they might be falsely accused of being a burglar in the same way they seem obsessed with the idea they might be falsely accused of rape.

But mostly I think it's an expression of privilege, in which men try to turn a discussion about something that predominantly affects women into a discussion about something that predominantly affects men, even though that was not actually the subject of the discussion, and the number of men who are falsely accused of rape is statistically much, much, much, much, much, much, much smaller than the number of women who have been raped.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:53 PM on March 18, 2010 [14 favorites]


I find it interesting that people are so worried about false accusations of rape, and I suspect it's rooted in a sort of deeply buried sexism, that women can't be counted to be truthful about their sexual experiences, and are vindictive or mercenary creatures that will distort the truth and the law for revenge or profit... But mostly I think it's an expression of privilege, in which men try to turn a discussion about something that predominantly affects women into a discussion about something that predominantly affects men

To be fair, there are flaws with the original piece that relate to its focus on celebrities, and I think that's legitimate. But more broadly I agree with you completely, though I think it goes even deeper (and reminds me of that recent thread on gender stereotyping). It's a sort of Metafilter meta-disagreement, between people who see things in context and as situated in social structures, and people who relentlessly refuse to do that for whatever reason — which sometimes I think is just a kind of debating-society exhilaration that results from making a logically watertight but socially and contextually invalid or irrelevant argument.

See also: anyone who ever uses the fallacious argument "but if you replaced the word 'men' with the word 'Jews' in that sentence it would be totally unacceptable!" etc etc etc. It's growing tedious.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 12:57 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


(It's possible also that this is a very male style of argument — I certainly indulge in it myself in other contexts — which may be why it gets so fraught when it comes to gender politics. See Simon Baron-Cohen on male thought styles, etc.)
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 1:01 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


See also: anyone who ever uses the fallacious argument "but if you replaced the word 'men' with the word 'Jews' in that sentence it would be totally unacceptable!" etc etc etc. It's growing tedious.

Actually, that one does work for this sentence: "Men are mostly distinguished by their having authored the Protocols of the Elders of Zion."
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:06 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I find it interesting that people are so worried about false accusations of rape, and I suspect it's rooted in a sort of deeply buried sexism, that women can't be counted to be truthful about their sexual experiences, and are vindictive or mercenary creatures that will distort the truth and the law for revenge or profit.

For males, I think it's more of a perspective thing. Since the majority of men don't commit or become victims of sexual assault, the only way that rape can directly affect them personally is through a false accusation. If say, only people with blond hair committed murder and were never victims of murder themselves, people with blond hair would probably be more worried about false murder charges and more defensive about murder in general than everyone else.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:07 PM on March 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


Blonds. Man, I knew they were not to be trusted.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:11 PM on March 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


I find it interesting that people are so worried about false accusations of rape, and I suspect it's rooted in a sort of deeply buried sexism, that women can't be counted to be truthful about their sexual experiences, and are vindictive or mercenary creatures that will distort the truth and the law for revenge or profit.

I'm currently entertaining the theory that, for many men, rape is not a concrete event but sort of a nebulous and ill-defined concept. I think a lot of guys have this subconscious belief that rape essentially exists as a perceptual overlay on the act of sex, and it is applied when a woman "cries rape". If a woman does not "cry rape", there was no rape, so it becomes that "he said she said" thing, because these guys think that rape is only rape in the accusation and there isn't something material or provable about it beyond the perception of the event. I think that's why false accusations start to dominate the conversation, because if all rape is is someone claiming it, then all that really matters is the trustworthiness and character of the claimant, and anyone could be lying, especially one who is already accusatory and therefore hostile.

I'm not completely convinced of this theory, but it does seem to explain a lot, especially why people constantly throw up the spectre of false accusation as if to say, because this is possible, a rape accusation is always suspect.
posted by Errant at 1:29 PM on March 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


That's a really interesting theory. And a disheartening one.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:32 PM on March 18, 2010


I imagine that if you took a poll with a sample half men, half women after, say, the Kobe Bryant news broke, more men than women would have speculated that he was innocent. Individuals in general flock to defend actions allegedly committed by members of their own gender when it comes to he-said, she-said sexually themed issues. Also, yeah, I totally agree that the reason men always focus on the false rape angle is because this is the primary perceived way that rape will affect us; its the easiest way to individualize the idea. I really wish more guys would step up though and contribute something else to the discussion. Overall, however, I think the US does a fine job of framing and punishing sexual crimes. While you will always have people spreading the "she was asking for it" message, I believe that the educated class in general is composed of rational adults who properly condemn instances of proven rape when it's appropriate. I think we're all aware that you can always find someone that said "it" in this era of the Internet. Finally, for what it's worth, I find it utterly conceivable that a non-ignorable amount of rapes accusations are false. People exploit circumstances, its natural. Some men exploit their physical superiority and rape women. Its horrible, indefensible and embarrassing to all law-abiding citizens. Some, but significantly less, women exploit the fact that a lynch mob that can be mustered with a false rape accusation. Both groups are demented, but always focusing on the latter on MetaFilter is a bit rude and inconsiderate, I think.
posted by gagglezoomer at 2:19 PM on March 18, 2010


I suspect it's rooted in a sort of deeply buried sexism

This is a extremely impolite. You don't know me, and my point certainly doesn't warrant aspersions cast against my character.

...the only way that rape can directly affect them personally is through a false accusation.

Injustice affects us all. That's why we see red when think of rapists going free.

My takeaway from the article was that some flawed argumentation is used to exonerate rapists, and that that should be stopped. That's what we should push for: rational, just, courts. Rapists will go free, and that's a disgusting tragedy.

The statistic of convicted rapists per accused rapist is a very poor proxy for evaluating justice within the system. The best proof of justice is its application. It means evaluation of the legal process-- not armchair statistics.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 2:23 PM on March 18, 2010


"Jazz Weed" Crime Source - Schenectady Gazette, Oct 19, 1921
Marihuana, a weird "jazz weed" frequently used by Mexican drug addicts is the source of much crime in the southwest...

... a bit of marihuana placed in a drink of brandy causes the optimistic indulger to fancy that he witnesses jelly-like pulsations and Oriental wiggles in every object in his view. Street cars shake like a wicked shimmy for the marihuana smoker.

If a little marihuana is sprinkled on a tortilla as it bakes, the lowly delicacy vibrates and, it is said, sends forth weird tunes not unlike those peeping over the walls of a sultan's harem rendezvous.
posted by XMLicious at 2:24 PM on March 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


burnmp3s: For males, I think it's more of a perspective thing. Since the majority of men don't commit or become victims of sexual assault, the only way that rape can directly affect them personally is through a false accusation.
Quoted for truth.

When I read lengthy comments like Danila's above, I think several things: man, she's had a tough life. Wow, that sounds incredibly unjust, and some of those people are absolute pricks. And yet- I had nothing to do with any of it, so what exactly is expected of me as a person in response? There's even some truth to Errant's theory, in that rape is no more real a threat to me than getting my arm lopped off by ruthless blood diamond merchants (although given the horrific state of US prisons, rape is more real a threat). Still, there are a lot of shitty things that happen in this world, and most of us face no danger from them- that doesn't mean we're bad people because we're not under such a threat, nor that we're silently culpable because we don't have as much real-world experience of a threat. And yes, to the certain howls of indignation, I do think the dangers of rape are over-estimated; I find it staggeringly hard to believe that any significant percentage of men is a danger to a woman, as were it so then a significant percentage of men should be missing vital body parts. The mindset that every man is a potential danger is as insulting as believing that every young black man walking down the sidewalk is worth crossing the street to avoid.

I think, in the end, that none of us can hide behind "society" or "culture" in either our actions or our accusations. We all are individuals, taking individual actions, and can only be responsible for ourselves and what we do. Rape does happen- along with many other horrible things in this fucked up, godless world we live in. I am personally not raping women, or murdering people, or molesting children, or trafficking in slavery. I wouldn't certainly support the criminal prosecution to the full extent of the law against anyone who did so. And if a woman I know made a credible accusation of rape, I certainly wouldn't shun her or form a thin scrotal wall of silence just because of the shape of my genitals (since I certainly do know people who've been raped, and it's a crime of violence).

But as well, false accusations do happen, as the exploitation of [_personal advantage_] to [_hurt or control others_] is sadly an all-too-common human trait, be it physical strength, cunning, or use of social manipulation. It's unfair- and insulting/dangerous- to intimate that "male" culture is doing something, as if the day I was born they handed me a whip in the shape of my penis and told me to go dominate. I'm not participating in rape, or rape excuses, or blatant sexism; I do find rape to be abhorrent and horrifying to contemplate. In the end, I'm just living my life and minding my own business, trying not to hurt too many people intentionally or otherwise... and I don't know what more can be expected of me. I have no cape, and I cannot force wrongs to be righted.
posted by hincandenza at 2:25 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not participating in rape, or rape excuses, or blatant sexism
posted by hincandenza


weaksauce
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:26 PM on March 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


Errant, how essential is alcohol to your theory of rape vs not rape.
posted by stratastar at 2:34 PM on March 18, 2010


Oh bite me OC- your comment doesn't even make any sense. My original comment was perfectly valid, and echoed by others in the thread: the actual linked article was short in length, high on polemic, and didn't really have a salient or deep point other than "Hey, Roman Polanski really should be punished for raping a 13-year-old". Hell, the OP even admitted they only posted it to start a conversation about rape and rape defenses/excuses. That is weaksauce.

Any merits to this thread as a comment fest are entirely on the quality of (most) Metafilter posters, and not on the original linked article.
posted by hincandenza at 2:35 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not participating in rape, or rape excuses, or blatant sexism

We all are individuals, taking individual actions, and can only be responsible for ourselves and what we do.

In the end, I'm just living my life and minding my own business

Unfortunately, this is the kind of attitude which allows for things like rape and abuse to continue. Yes, we are individuals, but we are living in a society. This society has certain norms and ideas which are prevalent. This society allows for certain individuals to be inherently more powerful than other individuals based on their gender. With almost 95,000 reported rapes occurring each year it is my business. As a woman, I am at a much higher risk than a man to be raped or sexually assaulted. So I'm living life, doing the best I can, and in the end, it is my business.
posted by too bad you're not me at 2:40 PM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Since the majority of men don't commit or become victims of sexual assault, the only way that rape can directly affect them personally is through a false accusation.
A thousand times NO. I have friends and a wife and daughters and a mother. If any of these people were assaulted, that would "directly affect me personally."

Men very much have a stake in preventing and punishing rape.
posted by straight at 2:48 PM on March 18, 2010 [5 favorites]


You're completely misconstruing what I'm saying. I can't, ultimately, make rape stop with a wave of my magic wand. I can support gender equality teaching and culture from kindergarden on up; I can support just and fair prosecutions (and defenses!) as a stable of a healthy society. But what more do you want? I can't rape less than zero women, nor can I chastise my friends who didn't commit a crime simply because they also happen to be male.

Also, from your link:
Forcible rape, as defined in the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, is the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.
Wait, rape is now just the carnal knowledge of a female? Men can't be raped? That sounds... not correct and more than a little sexually prejudiced. After all, from Stop Prison Rape/Just Detention:
In a 2007 survey of prisoners across the country, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) found that 4.5 percent (or 60,500) of the more than 1.3 million inmates held in federal and state prisons had been sexually abused in the previous year alone. A BJS survey in county jails was just as troubling; nearly 25,000 jail detainees reported having been sexually abused in the past six months.
If those figures are accurate, then a pretty significant percentage of men are being raped in situations that are far more controlled and controllable. Apparently rape isn't really your business after all, unless you've quietly being staging a massive letter writing campaign to end prison rape as horrific, unjust, and preventable. If that is the case, I salute you- but I'd hazard not nearly as likely...
posted by hincandenza at 2:49 PM on March 18, 2010


This is a extremely impolite. You don't know me, and my point certainly doesn't warrant aspersions cast against my character.

You're right; I don't know you. I can only judge people on behavior. And a lot of behavior in this thread indicates privilege at best, sexism at worst.

Don't want to come off a sexist? Don't turn a thread about rape into a moratorium on false accusations.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:58 PM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Shorter Astro Zombie: No *True* Metafilterean mentions false accusations in a thread about rape accusations!
posted by hincandenza at 3:01 PM on March 18, 2010


AZ, Why can't they be discussed together, not only is it relevant to the link itself (not a feat in itself), but it is deeply relevant to the way that society and individuals interact with rape, the decision to come forward with a rape accusation, and the way that that the public discourse about rape plays out? Further celebrity rape accusations play a huge role in how we as a public interact with the idea of rape.

No one has mentioned it before, and I really don't want to use this as a derail but as a data point: but how is the Duke Lacrosse rape case different in how it played out in the media: in the beginning no one was making false accusations claims against the stripper; it was very much a story of race, privilege, class, and power. Why was the media story there different?
posted by stratastar at 3:05 PM on March 18, 2010


Don't want to come off a sexist? Don't turn a thread about rape into a moratorium on false accusations.

Polite discussion means that you interact with ideas on a good faith basis. If you don't know how to do that, don't participate. Nothing I said gives you the right to call me sexist. I made my point about defence of justice clear in both of my long comments.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 3:14 PM on March 18, 2010


I would argue that, by taking a general comment about why men feel compelled to turn topics about women into discussions of themselves as though it was a personal attack on you, you are not arguing in good faith.

Furthermore, my comments were not meant as an insult, but an observation. You can respond to the observation, but merely getting huffy and acting as though the observation is rude submarines discussion, rather than adding to it.

That being said, I am trying to submarine a discussion myself. The discussion of false accusations of rape. It's not the subject of this thread, and the fact that it has overwhelmed it is horseshit.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:18 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


And yet- I had nothing to do with any of it, so what exactly is expected of me as a person in response?

I can support gender equality teaching and culture from kindergarden on up; I can support just and fair prosecutions (and defenses!)

It's unfair- and insulting/dangerous- to intimate that "male" culture is doing something.


But you are doing something helpful, even though you are an individual--you are countering the "male culture" that you hear a lot of us talking about. When you say it's unfair to put blame of "male culture," I think you are hearing "rape culture" and thinking "male culture," and therefore there's a disconnect between what people mean to blame and what you hear them as blaming. (And I know sometimes "rape culture" is also referred to as "male culture" within the specific context of a rape discussion--I personally object to that but I understand it because "rape culture" involves misogyny.)

What does "male culture" mean to you in this context? To me, "rape culture" refers most simply to the notion that women are there for others (men). That we are not walking, talking, thinking people; that we are worth nothing without a man looking at us; that we should look pretty and pleasant because we are meant to be seen; that all we really want is male attention; that everything we say or think or wear is contrived to get this male attention, and that sex is the ultimate male attention; and so if a man finds us attractive and has sex with us, we wanted it, whether we said yes or no or nothing at all, because the point of our existence is not for ourselves but for others (men).

Rape culture is extremely harmful. I'm guessing you wouldn't disagree with that, because it sounds like you're stepping up and trying to change it--gender equality teaching and culture, etc. When I read "male culture" in your answer, I assumed you were referring to "rape culture." Because "male culture" in a "rape culture" sense is a buzzword, and because you intimate that you're somewhat helpless to fix a problem with misogynistic elements in a society that most of us think privileges you because of your gender, it seems like you're dismissing very real problems.

Lastly, I absolutely agree that rape is rape, no matter the gender of the victim. Prison rape is a horrible problem, and I personally think it's morally reprehensible that people joke about it as easily as they do. But bringing it up in the way you did made it seem like a dismissal of the rape of women that this FPP is about. Part of that is absolutely because a kind of dismiss-female-problems-by-invoking-male-ones attempted theft of victimhood happens a lot in race discussions (not just here, everywhere), but part of that is because it was invoked in a way not relevant to the topic of the FPP: our national dialogue around rape accusations. If you want to talk about prison rape (which isn't solely male-on-male, it can also be female-on-female--meaning men are not always the perpetrators of rape either), why not talk about the fact that it's so casually dismissed in the media, or ask why the author of the linked article had nothing to say about it?
posted by sallybrown at 3:19 PM on March 18, 2010


AZ, Why can't they be discussed together, not only is it relevant to the link itself

Perhaps they can be. I've never seen it successfully done. And, since the original subject is not "were these accusations legit or not" but instead "from several high-profile cases, we can see how people dismiss rape before it's even known whether the accusation is accurate or not," it's rather beside the point. That is, unless somebody who dismissed the charges out of hand somehow nailed the ones that were false accusations, identifying exactly why they were false accusations.

I didn't see any examples of that in the linked story.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:22 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


ask why the author of the linked article had nothing to say about it?

I'm guessing because there were no high profile prison rapes that people dismissed in a public way. It's an important subject, but was outside of the scope of this article.

And "but men get raped too" gets brought up in threads that discuss rape with some frequency, but rarely seems interwoven into the discussion -- like, nobody in this thread is saying "Well, here's a comparable example of men getting rapes, and here's how people have responded, and it's interesting to explore the similarities and the differences." No, it tends to come off as "this isn't just a thing for women, you know," which always sounds weirdly peevish and bitter to me, like no discussion of something that affects women is complete without mentioning that men suffer too.

Of course they do, but what else do you have to say about it? How does it link to the topic at hand?
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:29 PM on March 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


Errant's theory is very interesting (and a rare respite from rehashed old arguments here). I also think that in the celebrity cases, there is a lot of good old fashioned denial, which explains for example the many women who defended Kobe (despite what looked to me like his blatant guiltiness).

Someone like Kobe has world-class PR and marketing organizations building goodwill toward him for years, making him a hero. Suddenly he's accused of one of the worst crimes known to man. I just think it's too big of a U-turn for some people's minds to take.
posted by msalt at 3:45 PM on March 18, 2010


Errant, how essential is alcohol to your theory of rape vs not rape.

First, let me clarify: it's not my theory of rape vs. not rape. I don't think rape is a mere perceptual overlay with hazy borders. I'm just suggesting that, based on the way that some people interact with this discussion, that idea seems to explain a lot of the strange tangents that come up constantly. I think some people think in these terms, but I do not.

To answer your question directly, then, I think that, within this mindset, people search for any factors that seem to exacerbate the nebulousness of a rape accusation. If she's drunk, it's rape, if she's not drunk, it's not rape, so how drunk is drunk? Is it rape at .08, but not at .07? If she'd had one less drink, would the guy not be a sex offender?

These sorts of searches for the hairs that can be split operate as further apologia for the essential tenet that no one can really say what rape is, so it just comes down to the emotion and mindset of the woman making the claim. From there, it's not such a long leap to the usual sorts of misogynist dismissals of a woman's feelings, oversensitivity, etc. It seems to me that there's sort of an underlying belief that all that stands between a forthright young man and the terrible lie is the fragile and inexplicable mentality of that foreign sex. This is where I align with Astro Zombie in the location of sexism, except that I believe he is being too charitable in describing it as deeply buried.
posted by Errant at 3:50 PM on March 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


sallybrown: Prison rape is a horrible problem, and I personally think it's morally reprehensible that people joke about it as easily as they do. But bringing it up in the way you did made it seem like a dismissal of the rape of women that this FPP is about.
Thanks for your comments. My point is more of a "as a trying-to-be-decent human being, I can only do so much and take on so much of a burden of responsibility. The minimum- and possibly the maximum- amount I can truly control is myself.

As for the quoted section, I want to note a couple of things: rape is rape, so I don't think we can or should segment this to the "female rape only discussion" (indeed, one could readily argue that contemplating male-rape is critically important and illuminating as to the nature of the crime itself). Secondly, my bringing it up was not flippant or straw man or assuming victimhood; it was in direct response to too bad you're not me's noting of 95,000 reported rapes a year, where the link specifically defined rape as an act of violence against a woman. That was sloppy of him/her to presume, and needed to be corrected. I could reasonably argue that if those numbers are accurate, given the number of incarcerated prisoners that male-on-male rape is a proportionally greater problem than male-on-female, and that tbynm has as much responsibility to prevent prison rape as I do to prevent male-on-female rape.
posted by hincandenza at 4:24 PM on March 18, 2010


This supports my theory about famous people being accused of rape- they believe that they can have sex with whomever they want, so they do, regardless of consent. In our society, the famous people are in the top tier, with the money, privilege, and rules-don't-apply-to-me attitudes. Really, by having so much power, they are set up to rape.

I don't think this is true, at least not for all celebrities. Whenever the WWF (WWE I suppose now) comes into the towns I've been in, a portion of them end up at the strip clubs with quite a bit of money. There's one particular one I know that was offering a couple grand to sleep with one of the girls and none would. They were telling his story to a few of us and basically he could not get laid being surrounded with celebrity status, unable to meet women in a personal context and when he did, they were just in it for the money or to be with a celebrity. When he attempted to put the moves on they'd get disgusted and testy about how he only wanted sex. Being not-a-rapist celebrity, this meant he spent his days alone. I've seen similar scenes with the local college football and basketball stars out at bars. Contrary to popular thought they're not the ones going home with girls as many come up looking for attention and wooing the cool jock status but have no interest in them as a human. So in a sense they are set up to rape since they're sold a bill of goods of a sweet life of beautiful woman and riches which doesn't really exist. Of course there are some notable exceptions and it probably depends on career.

Yeah, of all the comments that's what stood out the most for me. There was some interesting stuff going on with the idea of "rape for power" vs. "rape of opportunity" that was debunked (I think - haven't had time to follow up much) with some interesting research. But yeah, between him and the other guy calling someone else a "dumb cunt" it was pretty awful.

If you do not have the opportunity or availability to get sex, rape of opportunity is rape for power as the rapist is taking that which they've been denied.

Maybe these allegations are being thrown out because women are lying about being raped. Goodness knows that this discussion is always, ALWAYS derailed by the specter of "false rape allegations". Yet "false rape reports are usually 2%-8% of all reports", so why do they dominate the discussion so?

Even in the linked article they have the courtesy to call them determined to be false reports. Namely ones that no one knows one way or the other don't count.
posted by kigpig at 4:38 PM on March 18, 2010


Since the majority of men don't commit or become victims of sexual assault, the only way that rape can directly affect them personally is through a false accusation.

As straight pointed out, it does come very close to affecting many men because there are important women in our lives. Men should also care because it impacts social interaction between men and women. Your chances of talking to strangers, making friends, getting dates, and working with happy un-abused people are directly impacted by the fact that an absurd number of people get raped every year.

What I get out of this is that women need to take precautions so they are not raped by men and men must take precautions so they are not falsely accused of rape by women. Women have serious legitimate concerns about being raped on a daily basis. The concern most men have about false accusations appears to be rather small in comparison. I wonder why that is? There's plenty of advice out there that instructs women about how to not get raped. There are Take Back the Night programs on college campuses and safety services for women who don't want to walk home alone.

Are there any resources like this for men who don't want to be falsely accused of rape? If it is as much of a problem as presented here maybe there should be. Perhaps men should actually meet women in the middle. What a novel idea! Maybe a little bit of sexual restraint is in order. If it's too close to call (too drunk, etc.) don't have sex with her. Why risk the potential false rape accusation? If a sketchy situation shows signs that a false rape accusation may occur you should leave and go somewhere safe. Why not? Women are told to leave and go somewhere safe if they feel like they may get raped. The same should apply to men.

If false rape accusation are a major concern for you, you should take personal responsibility and make sure it doesn't happen to you. I'm really not interested in being sexually active so I am not personally concerned about false rape accusations. "You might think that sounds incredibly unjust, and some of those people are absolute pricks. And yet- I had nothing to do with any of it, so what exactly is expected of me as a person in response? There's even some truth to Errant's theory, in that" false rape accusations "are no more real a threat to me than getting my arm lopped off by ruthless blood diamond merchants. Still, there are a lot of shitty things that happen in this world, and most of us face no danger from them- that doesn't mean we're bad people because we're not under such a threat, nor that we're silently culpable because we don't have as much real-world experience of a threat. And yes, to the certain howls of indignation, I do think the dangers of" false rape accusations "are over-estimated; I find it staggeringly hard to believe that any significant percentage of" women are a danger to men, "as were it so then a significant percentage of"women would be getting killed by them.. "The mindset that every" woman "is a potential danger is as insulting as believing that every young black man walking down the sidewalk is worth crossing the street to avoid."
posted by Procloeon at 5:23 PM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


At no point does the author state that the Hofstra University freshman should not be charged for her false accusation, or that she was justified in her actions. Pointing out that men who engage in consensual group sex are treated differently from women who do is not the same as defending a false accusation of rape. -- Astro Zombie
The hell she doesn't. She defends the accuser, and then actually criticized the victims, in fact basically accusing them of rape anyway:
When four men are having sex in public with one drunk woman they’ve never met before, how likely is it that the woman provided full, enthusiastic, and un-coerced consent to each sex act? Once the victim had lied about the extent of the coercion in that dorm bathroom, media gawkers rejoiced in recasting her as a whore and her sex partners as heroes.
(note still calling the false accuser a 'victim')

She also excused the false accusation this way:
Discarded in the middle was a sadder possibility: that a woman who felt she had been violated didn’t think anyone would believe her if she wasn’t tied down by a rope.
Read the article. It's disgusting. The exact kind of "victim blaming" and "excusing" she complains about in actual rape cases.
Don't want to come off a sexist? Don't turn a thread about rape into a moratorium on false accusations. -- Astro Zombie
One quarter of the article was spent defending a false accuser, and attacking her victims.posted by delmoi at 5:36 PM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


One quarter of the article was spent defending a false accuser, and attacking her victims.

Do you know something about the story that I don't? She was 18 and drunk -- that actually fits the Sexual Assault Policy of Hofstra University. She recanted and said it was consensual, but it's a fair question to ask how much consent there even can be when a group of men have sex with a drunk 18-year-old. An investigation has been opened into the young woman, but I don't presuppose somebody is guilty of rape until the investigation is concluded, and I don't presuppose criminal false accusations until the investigation has been closed. Women recant rape accusations for all sort of reasons, and it's fair to wonder about consent when alcohol is involved.

And, no, the author didn't spent a quarter of her article defending false accusers and attacking the victims. A few sentences in a two page article doesn't constitute a vigorous attack or defense, and her point in that particular section wasn't the innocence or the guilt of the young women, but how treatment of her changed when she changed her accusation. It didn't just change into "That was really bad," it changed into "she's a whore." That discussion need not be obviated or superseded because you find three sentences contemptible. Her additional argument is that it might be more complex than innocence or guilt.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:18 PM on March 18, 2010


it's fair to wonder about consent when alcohol is involved.

Have you ever had sex with someone who was drunk, AZ?
posted by unSane at 6:30 PM on March 18, 2010


What I get out of this is that women need to take precautions so they are not raped by men...

If it's too close to call (too drunk, etc.) don't have sex with her. Why risk the potential false rape accusation?


First, how messed up is it that women have to take precautions so they are not raped? Procloeon--I'm 99% sure you mean "in a practical sense, because there are rapists out there," rather than "in an ideal world," but the idea that women should take precautions is what often leads to victim-blaming--"she should have known better than to get drunk at a frat party"--and distracts from the real target--"he should have known better than to hold her down and forcibly insert his penis into her vagina while she cried out 'No'."

Secondly, to stress Procloeon's point, if someone is having sex and "it's too close to call," it may not lead to a potential false rape accusation. Why have sex if it's too close to call? Rapists aren't just guys who think "YES, I'M RAPING HER!!" If you (the general you) are not sure whether your sex partner consents to having sex, ask. If she or he says "no" or "I'm not sure," don't have sex, because it will be rape. If your partner is asleep or passed out or too drunk, don't have sex, because it will be rape. If you're not sure that you have your partner's consent (whether because you haven't asked or because she's not able to give that consent in his or her current state), all you have to do is not have sex.
posted by sallybrown at 6:31 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


it's fair to wonder about consent when alcohol is involved.

Have you ever had sex with someone who was drunk, AZ?


I'm sorry, do you mean to suggest we should not be wondering about consent when alcohol is involved, unSane? Can you not tell the difference between someone who has been drinking and is still capable of rational judgment and someone who is so drunk she or he cannot legally grant permission? If you can't tell the difference between those two scenarios, I would maybe stop having sex with drunk people if I were you.
posted by sallybrown at 6:35 PM on March 18, 2010


No, I asked whether AZ has ever had sex with drunk people since he thinks it's fair to wonder about consent in those circumstances. The rest is just you projecting. I would maybe stop if I were you.
posted by unSane at 6:43 PM on March 18, 2010


Procloeon, your comment made me think of Twisty Faster's controversial thought experiment to change the way the legal system views consent. She argued that currently, women are assumed to be in a default state of consent and a woman must therefore prove that she said no:

"The set-up now, with the emphasis — in a misogynist world with a misogynist judiciary — on whether or not women “give” consent, is that female participants are all infinitely rapeable, because all some perv has to do is say, “she said yes.”"

In her reimagining, the default would be NO so that if any woman felt she was raped or wanted to say she was raped, the law (and society) would be on her side. A man would truly be at the whim of any woman he dated, or even allowed himself to be alone with, because he'd have to trust that she wouldn't accuse him of rape since few would be on his side. He'd have to watch what and how much he drank, avoid being around women he didn't know, etc. Even a married man wouldn't be safe. In a world like that, your query "what can young men do to avoid being falsely accused of rape" would make more sense.

But in this world, it's women who have to be extremely careful with any man they date, or allow themselves to be near, be he stranger or acquaintance or family member or husband, because we can easily find ourselves sexually assaulted and have all the blame and guilt heaped onto our heads (often starting with our own minds, because we live in this misogynist society too).

There isn't anything a woman can really do to avoid being raped by a man, just as there's nothing a man can really do to avoid being falsely accused of rape. But as the FPP made pretty obvious, people are already willing to claim any rape accusation to be false. I don't see the need for extra concern in that area, there's already plenty of concern for the poor young men accused of rape, even the hypothetical ones who may be accused someday. That may be why few men actually worry about being accused of rape, and why no one teaches them precautions against it.

I happen to think that the best thing a man can do to minimize his "risk" is to only have sex when there is enthusiastic consent.
posted by Danila at 6:44 PM on March 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


No, I asked whether AZ has ever had sex with drunk people since he thinks it's fair to wonder about consent in those circumstances. The rest is just you projecting. I would maybe stop if I were you.

I'm still missing your point. AZ thinks it's fair to wonder about consent when one person is having sex with a drunken person. You ask whether AZ has had sex with drunk people.

Either you're implying that AZ is wrong and it's not fair to wonder about consent when one partner is drunk (which is a rather concerning argument), and AZ just doesn't know because he hasn't had sex with drunk people (which is why you ask), or you're implying AZ's concern doesn't line up with his behavior, meaning if he has sex with drunk people (which is why you ask), he should be concerned about whether he has raped someone, or whether one of his sex partners will accuse him of rape? All of these seem like rather horrendous things to say in totally different ways, and you don't seem like a person who generally says horrendous things, so I'm obviously missing something about your point.

Why did you ask whether AZ has had sex with drunk people?
posted by sallybrown at 6:53 PM on March 18, 2010


I happen to think that the best thing a man can do to minimize his "risk" is to only have sex when there is enthusiastic consent.

I will be using that phrase with my sons when the time comes for 'the talk', so thank you. Not so they can minimize their 'risk', but because it's well stated and right and cuts through a lot of crap that both men and women have to deal with.
posted by unSane at 6:58 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why did you ask whether AZ has had sex with drunk people?

Because 'drunk' covers a very, very broad range of physical states and I would imagine that most people have had sex when one or both participants was -- by some definition of another, including whether they could legally drive -- drunk. To say that consent is questionable in all of those circumstances is laughable. If my wife and I have sex on our anniversary after a couple of bottles of wine, is consent definitionally questionable?

If however you redefine drunk in this context to mean 'unable to give meaningful consent', that's another thing and perfectly reasonable, but it also becomes a circular argument because you're saying that a person can't give consent when drunk, because drunk is defined as being unable to give meaningful consent.

So to be explicit, I asked AZ if he had ever had sex with a person who was drunk, because I wondered, if he had, whether he considered the consent in those circumstances questionable?

I hope that's clear.
posted by unSane at 7:04 PM on March 18, 2010


I hope that's clear.

Yes, it is clear, and I also agree with you that the legal definition of drunk in a rape context is circular and thus confusing. Actually, when I took Criminal Law a few years ago (things may have changed since), my professor said that it was possible for two partners to be held legally responsible for raping each other--if both are drunk enough to qualify as unable to consent, yet not drunk enough to be held not responsible due to intoxication (a higher standard than unable to consent). This is why it's better to refrain from sex if it's a "close call."

I just think it's probably not great to question a specific poster by invoking his sexual history and asking whether he thought he might have raped someone (i.e. had sex when consent was questionable).
posted by sallybrown at 7:15 PM on March 18, 2010


Do you know something about the story that I don't? She was 18 and drunk -- that actually fits the Sexual Assault Policy of Hofstra University
What are you talking about? I don't see anything on the link that suggests having sex with someone "18 and drunk" is sexual assult. Can you be a little more specific? She wasn't "incapacitated" and being 18 doesn't render you incapable of consent either.
She recanted and said it was consensual, but it's a fair question to ask how much consent there even can be when a group of men have sex with a drunk 18-year-old
Why would there be any difference between one guy and four guys?
And, no, the author didn't spent a quarter of her article defending false accusers and attacking the victims. A few sentences in a two page article doesn't constitute a vigorous attack or defense
Well, a quarter of the article was about a false accusation of rape, with the overall section slanted against the victims and towards the false accuser. Therefore, false accusations of rape are a fairly obvious topic of conversation in this thread.
Why did you ask whether AZ has had sex with drunk people?
Because If its true that it's reasonable to wonder about consent if the (female) partner is drunk and AZ has had sex with drunk women Then it's reasonable to wonder if AZ is a rapist, by his own standards.

However, AZ only brought it up in the context of groups of men. Anyway, I actually don't think it's "fair" to "question" whether or not these men really are rapists any more then it's "fair" to "question" whether or not a girl deserved it because she was dressed a certain way and "asking for it".

The police watched a video of at least part of it, if not the whole thing.
posted by delmoi at 7:18 PM on March 18, 2010


Oops (I mixed up my formatting on 'then' and 'reasonable') Should be "then it's reasonable" The point is to highlight the "if, and if, then" structure.
posted by delmoi at 7:19 PM on March 18, 2010


I am not interested in having my sexual history trotted out in a public forum. You might try asking the question in a different way, but I really don't care to continue discussing this specific case, because, as I have opined, it's a bit beside the point of the article.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:20 PM on March 18, 2010


I'd also like to say that I think this discussion has tipped over into creepy territory, so I'm done with it as a whole.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:22 PM on March 18, 2010


I just think it's probably not great to question a specific poster by invoking his sexual history and asking whether he thought he might have raped someone (i.e. had sex when consent was questionable).

I didn't ask if he thought he might have raped someone. I asked if he had had sex with someone who was drunk, however defined. I didn't equate those two things, he did.

As for whether it's ok to invoke someone's sexual history, would you like to comment on this?

If you can't tell the difference between those two scenarios, I would maybe stop having sex with drunk people if I were you.
posted by unSane at 7:26 PM on March 18, 2010


Astro Zombie: What do you think should be done about false accusations of rape? Either in specific instances or in general?
posted by delmoi at 7:27 PM on March 18, 2010


As for whether it's ok to invoke someone's sexual history, would you like to comment on this?

I think it was absolutely wrong on my part, so I apologize for it. But I also think you were absolutely wrong--not that it makes me any less wrong, just that you should understand why what you did could make someone else feel however I made you feel. And I guess I hope both of us would quit personalizing things that way.
posted by sallybrown at 7:32 PM on March 18, 2010


AZ, I understand you bowing out. The non-personal version of the question, should you choose to engage with it, would be:

Should all sex in which one of the participants is drunk be considered by definition as consensually questionable?

If so, what definitiion of 'drunk' applies?
posted by unSane at 7:33 PM on March 18, 2010


First, how messed up is it that women have to take precautions so they are not raped? Procloeon--I'm 99% sure you mean "in a practical sense, because there are rapists out there," rather than "in an ideal world," but the idea that women should take precautions is what often leads to victim-blaming--"she should have known better than to get drunk at a frat party"--and distracts from the real target

In a world like that, your query "what can young men do to avoid being falsely accused of rape" would make more sense.

there's already plenty of concern for the poor young men accused of rape

All the above statements are true. Just to clarify. Everything after the first paragraph of my post slowly fades into a tongue-in-cheek role reversal as an example of the blame the victim mentality that is often expressed with this subject. That first paragraph, which was actually rational, probably threw a lot of people off. My goal was a thought experiment quite similar to Twisty Faster's though experiment. Thanks for bringing Twisty Faster's post to my attention Danila. It pretty much sums up what I was getting at in a much clearer and less sarcastic manner, so I'm happy my post reminded you of it.
posted by Procloeon at 1:12 AM on March 19, 2010


delmoi: Why would there be any difference between one guy and four guys?

You are seriously asking this? There is absolutely a fucking difference. Beyond any presumption of guilt or rape, group sex is not like non-group sex. When it comes to drunken rape, four drunk guys is a fuckton more threatening than one (as a general rule). When it comes to drunken rape, one guy suddenly becoming four jostling around is a lot more intimidating. What can be a case of unenthusiastic consent can rapidly change to 'consent' under duress. Threats aren't just verbal and pretending like men are so emotionally stunted that they can't process higher emotional reasoning like 'she's crying I should probably stop' or 'saying yes to me doesn't mean my mates can join in' is obnoxious to the extreme.

People like to take the emotion out of it. Like you'll objectively ascertain that these are 'good' guys and the pressure isn't going to get physical. They've got boundaries. They'd never hit you to make you have sex. They'll just wheedle and threaten and coerce and abuse you verbally and emotionally. They'll just wait til you're drunk to do it as well. Yet somehow women are magically supposed to be intuitive enough to know that they're not going to get the shit kicked out of them THEN raped? That the choice not to be beaten/hurt isn't consent.
posted by geek anachronism at 3:15 AM on March 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Threats aren't just verbal and pretending like men are so emotionally stunted that they can't process higher emotional reasoning like 'she's crying I should probably stop'

Not just the men, but also the police, who actually watched a video of this happening?
posted by delmoi at 4:10 AM on March 19, 2010


(That is, I mean I assume that if she was crying, etc the police would have picked up on it and still charged the men with rape if that's what was going on)
posted by delmoi at 4:10 AM on March 19, 2010


« Older The Daily Dish...  |  Click here?... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments