Some on the right seemed ecstatic when Rolling Stone disavowed its story about a sexual assault on the campus of the University of Virginia because of discrepancies in the account of a gang rape from a woman named “Jackie.”
The article clearly lacked the ethical rigor necessary for exposing a rape accusation to the world. Katie Klabusich called it a “gift” to rape apologists. And the way Rolling Stone initially said that they had lost faith in Jackie was taken as evidence that she was lying. Some raged against the college junior and one evil Peanuts character/conservative blogger vowed to expose her.
Conservative columnist Matt Lewis — writing in an online publication that has published dozens of articles by the evil Peanuts character — called out the Washington Post for publishing a puffy profile of the evil Peanuts character, fretting at the damage romanticizing such an amoral troll does to journalism (and the conservative movement).
In his post, he included a jab that noted “…it seems quite obvious the Rolling Stone’s ‘Jackie’ fabricated much of (if not all of) her elaborate story about a brutal gang rape, we still don’t know everything there is to know.”
You catch the key word there? Fabricated.
Most rapes in America go unreported. Of those that are reported, few are prosecuted and convictions are incredibly rare. Given that 1.9 million women are raped in America every year, one every 17 seconds, you could safely say that rape is an epidemic.
And it’s an epidemic that we could do a lot to improve given that the average rapist violates six victims. Stop him after one attack and you may have prevented numerous more. But the lack of reporting, prosecutions and convictions makes that impossible.
If you follow conservatives, you’d think the epidemic in America is false rape accusations. In reality, this is a rare phenomenon that’s a crime itself. And it’s rare for the exact reason that rape is such a problem in America: Accusing a man of rape is one of the hardest things you could ever do.
It may turn out the UVA charges are fabricated — though that’s disputed by a friend of “Jackie”, But that has been been proven. Nor have any of the alleged perpetrators been named. Those arguing that the accused is innocent until proven guilty don’t think woman who say they’ve been raped deserve the same right.
You’ve probably heard that 2-8 percent of rape reports are false. False accusations, where an actual perpetrator is named, are even more rare.
“Women who make false reports want sympathy, and as victims of real rapes can tell you, accusing a real man usually gets you very little,” Slate‘s Amanda Marcotte wrote.
Why do most women — and even more men — not report rapes?
Because they know that they immediately become a suspect in their own violation.
“The prosecutors explained to me that I wasn’t a very good victim: I had been drunk, I had been out with a group of male friends the night before, I had a ‘complicated’ social life, I didn’t remember everything clearly enough,” Megan Carpenter wrote in her Guardian column “I’m a victim of sexual assault and the law failed. How many of us must speak out for you to believe?”
Rape is a crime that implicates the victim in the coverup.
Writer Rhiannon L. Cosslett shared this on Twitter:
— Rhiannon L Cosslett (@rhiannonlucyc) December 8, 2014
Discrepancies are a symptom of being the victim of a violent crime — not an indictment of that victim.
Victims of rape who come forward know their memories, their pasts, their weaknesses will all be turned against them. Why should we believe you if you can’t even trust yourself?
A small percentage of men rely on our suspicion of victims to violate our friends and family again and again and again and again and again and again. And if you fear in any way you may be piling on self-identified victims because it serves your political agenda, you should do everyone a favor and just be quiet.
[Image by Richard Potts via Flickr]