Monday, March 23, 2015

"What Rape Culture?"


Predictably, arguments with anti-feminists and other misogynists often bring up the idea of "false accusations" of rape. Anti-feminists and MRAs like to claim that men are victims of some imaginary threat of being falsely accused of rape and having their lives ruined forever. Funny how these dudes are almost always white men, and the only men who have ever had to worry about this are men of color. In the US, black men especially were victim to false accusations of sexual assault from white women or from white men looking for any excuse to lynch black men.

Today, people are still clearly more willing to believe in rape accusations if they're against black men. There are a shit ton of famous white men who have sexually assaulted and beaten women, but no one says a peep against them. Mike Tyson is one of the few famous men actually convicted an punished for rape and Bill Cosby just happens to be the one punished by society for being a serial rapist.

Mike and Bill deserve punishment, of course. But it's no coincidence that they're both black. Meanwhile Woody Allen is still widely defended and revered, even though it's pretty fucking clear that he's a CHILD MOLESTER.

Now, actual false accusation rates are generally considered to be 2-8%. Anti-feminists may claim higher, but their opinions don't count. The latest and most credible studies come up with results that range from 2-8%.

I think it's lower than that. Much lower. Here's why.

An 11-year-old reported being raped twice, wound up with a conviction.

At 11, Danielle had severe behavioral, academic and mental-health issues rooted in the drug exposure and physical abuse she suffered from her birth mother, a crack addict. The Bests, her adoptive parents, struggled to handle those issues, turning to but not always following the recommendations of the school and psychiatric communities. The couple and other supporters say the cases are complicated by Danielle’s instability. 
But after Danielle reported the rapes, the police interviewed her in a manner that violated guidelines for handling child sexual assault cases, records and interviews show. They delayed analyzing DNA evidence — and then analyzed only some of it. An officer misled her to get her to contradict her account, and then had her charged her with lying, according to police reports. And many officers treated her with extreme skepticism; in one internal e-mail, a lieutenant called her “promiscuous” and the “sex” consensual.

Danielle, of course, is black.

This is far from the first story I've heard like this. I've heard many stories from rape survivors about how they tried to report it to the police and were treated terribly by hostile officers who seemed to automatically believe that it was a false accusation, grilling the victim for hours and bullying them into a false confession of a false accusation.

There's a mountain of evidence to suggest that cops and people in general are hostile toward rape victims who dare to speak up. Women and girls commit suicide because of this reality. Hostility toward victims is a key component of rape culture. And knowing that cops are mostly terrible, why should we be surprised that many false accusations are, in fact, false confessions that result from untrained, hostile cops that are biased against victims and have no understanding of how extreme trauma makes a victim behave?

Combined with the fact that it's clear how rape survivors who come forward are severely punished by society while the accused dude is often supported and defended (especially if he's white), it makes no sense that false accusations would be anything more than a tiny anomaly since there's nothing but terrible consequences for making any kind of accusation.

As can be seen in Danielle's story, the rapists' lives were NOT ruined. Instead, Danielle's life was ruined. She could have been on her way to recovery, but instead, she was thrown in jail for absolute bullshit.

Police documents say Danielle was charged with filing a false report because her recounting of the rapes shifted and she acknowledged lying about the identity of one of the abductors, who claimed the sex was consensual. Danielle said she cannot recall exactly what she told the police about the alleged abductor; experts say inconsistent accounts by rape victims are not uncommon but do not mean that rape did not occur.


Did they even look into statutory rape charges? Nope. Because who cares about the little black girl who was just raped?

And they charged her based on the fact that she gave contradictory information. Of course she did. She was 11, and she had just experienced a horrible trauma, being raped repeatedly by two men all night. An adult's brain does NOT work properly after experiencing something like that, and a child's even less so. People don't get this. Cops don't get this. Everyone SHOULD get this. Yet somehow they don't, somehow Danielle was not supported by a trained advocate who understands this. So she was thrown in jail. At age 11. Rape culture.

Experts say that trauma often causes rape victims to give inconsistent accounts, which should not be used to determine credibility. They suggest that police investigators’ initial interviews with young victims be brief and involve only minimal facts, with follow-up interviews conducted by specialists. The D.C. police signed a best-practices memorandum to that effect in 2003. 
Using specialists is especially important in the case of children who have suffered prior abuse, according to Cindy Bridgman, director of clinical services at Safe Shores, the D.C. Children’s Advocacy Center. A child “who reports sexual assault and has a history of trauma should be taken as soon as possible after the incident to . . . a child-friendly setting to be interviewed by a trained forensic interviewer,” she said.

There's so much more to this article, which goes on to describe further assaults against the child and how her life fell apart. I only recommend reading it if you're feeling strong, no matter if you're a survivor or not. It's so rough.

This is rape culture. This is not an isolated incident, but one of many - a single example that describes a culture that doesn't give a fuck about rape victims and protects rapists.

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