The Problem With False Claims Among Factual Claims
False claim: Many men are being unfairly accused by hysterical women. The Me Too movement has gone too far.
Factual claim: More than ninety percent of assaulted college women do not report. Informal discussions among women reveal most do “not tell” anyone outside a most trusted confidante.
Riveted by recent Supreme Court hearings, millions of people, including many victims of sexual assault, are anxious to hear what this teachable moment will bring. Will men begin to learn that women don’t exist for their fun and games? Will young people who feel violated, begin to feel that the shame and guilt should not be on their shoulders, but placed upon the predator? Will people begin to realize that what boys at a frat party call goofing around, many victims experience as assault? Will grown men — those we look to for protection and leadership — learn that there are very good reasons why female victims seldom report?
Will a person whose traumatized body has shut off details such as place and time, ever be believed? Finally, the debate that swirls around all of this has to do with accusations and whether an alleged assault is a false or factual claim.
In the divided tribes ushered in by divisive politics and wedge issues, some were triumphant when Kavanaugh was found “innocent” at his job interview and was appointed a Supreme Court Judge. But many others felt shocked, dismayed, ignored and even betrayed.
Human beings experience the world very differently. Many men are coming forward in the #Metoo age expressing fear that a female may falsely accuse them if they talk, flirt, or miss a signal. Lives will be ruined, and good reputations soiled. They also voice concern that a spiteful woman will make stuff up. But, think about this for a moment.
Most women, probably all, have experienced some form of sexual aggression, ranging from harassment to criminal behavior, but the fact is most women do not report it. On any given week, does your sister, mother, aunt, neighbor, daughter ever report it to you? If any of the women in your life do not bring it up on all of those routine days she experiences it, what makes you think any woman would do so as a matter of course?
Statistics say that one in six women are assaulted in their lifetime. But that is a number based on reporting. It is inaccurate for the simple reason most offences are never reported. And there can be as many reasons not to report as there are women who feel abused.
Kings and tyrants beheaded women they felt were disloyal. Powerful anger has always been a tool for tough men. Women just don’t go into such temper tantrums, they hold their silence with dignity, and for the most part function in the world despite having been abused. Bosses have the power to advance careers, whether your boss is a mogul or a pimp. Powerful men in Hollywood got away with this for a hundred years. Bill Clinton wasn’t the first president to take advantage of women, he was the first to be called to task on it. Remember that Thomas Jefferson took advantage of a less powerful woman by owning her.
We truly want to think the best of people. An accusation of terrible behavior is not welcome to most people. They unconsciously, or quite deliberately, deny such a thing could happen. Women do this as often as men. We have been programmed so effectively that we sometimes can not even convince ourselves that someone we wish to admire is not so great.
Thomas Jefferson had high minded ideals, and we so fervently wish for the ideal of equality, that we are willing to bury a tragedy or two (or more) under the rug.
Powerful men, the “real victims” in the supreme court hearings really are the ones who are afraid. They are seeing changing attitudes and they know that “boys will be boys” is just not going to cut it anymore. God forbid that women start speaking up, asking for autonomy, and take control of the truth. It’s an ugly truth. According to the heroes that keep track of such data, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, more than ninety percent of rape victims attending college do not report. And the victims are very rarely male.
A girl, or young women learns about four hundred derogatory names for a female who has sex, but only three or four names for a male that has sex. She is a slut, whore, Ho, trollop, hussy, skank, bitch etc. etc. He has names too, but many of them are celebratory. He is a player, a tiger, a Romeo, a lady-killer. Sometimes, without any sexual nuance at all, a man is called a dick or a pussy. The first suggests he is assertive and pushy, with a bit of arrogant bravado. When he is called a pussy, however, that almost always means he is accused of being cowardly and weak.
Males and females are held to different standards, boys are encouraged to be aggressive. To man up and never be a sissy. Women are taught to be guarding their virtue, even while they are accommodating and quiet. She must dress a certain way, be wary of going out alone. Don’t get drunk or incapacitated. People still blame the victim, and she is already humiliated. There is no doubt in any female mind that coming forward after victimization is extremely risky and has real world consequences. She doesn’t want to be humiliated any further. Or fired. Or make a fuss. Or re-live it. She knows she already blames herself to some degree, and that her self-preservation will kick in to stay quiet. If she doesn’t stay quiet, she will pay a price somewhere between being humiliation and coping with death threats.
Women of color or of lower-class status, (our terminology says a lot) suffer more than their better off sisters. It is probable that sex workers, porn stars, strippers are more harassed and degraded than “high” class ladies. But they are not going to be seen as credible as a female university professor or an attorney. In other words, like poverty and pollution, sexual abuse hits hardest and wreaks more havoc among the least likely to report. She knows already that people think she is asking for it, and that she will be vilified as a skank.
The fear that spiteful women will somehow take control of the narrative says so much. We must still keep talking together to iron out the wrinkles in our public understanding. Men and women must necessarily aid, protect, defend and support one another if we are ever to have justice and equality emerge for the greater good.