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“Women like that are the reason so many women don’t come forward…”

(42 Posts)
NotMyRealName2015 Sat 02-Jan-16 21:46:40

I’ve just been mulling this over today after seeing/ hearing the above phrase (or some variation thereof) used several time over the last few days. Each time referring to a woman who had supposedly falsely accused a man of rape or sexual assault. Obviously, falsely accusing someone of rape is an abhorrent thing to do and anyone who does so whilst of sound mind, should be properly punished for this. However, after recently seeing this phrase being repeated on MN and hearing it in conversation I’ve been thinking about it a lot.

Maybe I’m a bit late in realising this, but isn’t this just another way of making women responsible for sexual assaults? It’s well known that many women who’ve been assaulted are afraid to come forward due to fear of not being believed but, in my experiences, this is because of the low prosecution/conviction rate, the myths surrounding rape and the unhelpfulness of some police forces and prosecutors. Not because of the very small number of women who have made false accusations.

On the other hand, I suppose it could be said that false allegations may be on the mind of a jury in an assault trial, potentially influencing their verdict, and that thought could be on a woman’s mind when considering reporting. But these numbers are so small compared to the number of actual rapes committed. It seems completely illogical that something that happens so rarely (false allegations) could have such a big impact on something that is comparatively common (rape or assault).

Surely this phrase could make women even less likely to come forward, as it increases the fear of not being believed and then being labelled as one of those women (“women like that…”)? However it is generally used in a ‘supportive’ manner IYSWIM (i.e. if these women didn’t lie, ‘real victims’ would be believed) and usually by other women (although I realise this is a big generalisation based on my observations only).

Any thoughts? Am I massively overthinking this? Or am I only just realising something which is blatantly obvious? Apologies if this has been discussed on here before, but I didn’t remember ever seeing it directly brought up.

myfirstandonlylove Sun 03-Jan-16 00:26:38

I think it is true that there is an unnaturally massive proportional focus on the relatively miniscule numbers of false accusations, even fewer of which make it to court, as against the truth which is that a combination of current low conviction rates due to lack of evidence plus the very large number which are never even reported mean that many many women will be raped and sexually assaulted in their lives and never get justice. Add in worldwide the rapes of women in warzones and countries with no effective justice system and you have a situation where it is almost impossible for a woman(or indeed a man) to be legally protected against this. You have to wonder if the barrier to prosecution for rape were lowered to balance of probabilities as in civil cases or indeed if the presumption of innocence were suspended, would the situation actually on balance be better. Sadly there would probably be some vindictive false convictions but many many more women who have suffered this awful crime would get justice and would be rapists would perhaps think twice before acting.

triafemm Sun 03-Jan-16 00:31:32

short answer: yes. yes it is

MrsTerryPratchett Sun 03-Jan-16 01:29:39

If my house were burgled I would report, regardless of the false claims of others. The rates are about the same (slightly less for rape) so should it be a factor?

You only have to look at Bill Cosby to see that even when tens of women are victims, he admits to drugging women and he's clearly guilty, people will defend him. Because women are all liars is preferable to 'lots of men, even nice seeming ones, are rapists'.

NotMyRealName2015 Sun 03-Jan-16 16:56:31

MyFirst: I can see your point, but I am very uncomfortable about the idea lowering the burden of proof in any way. I’m also unsure whether it actually would make men think twice before acting. That would require a huge shift in attitudes as so many perpetrators don’t actually see what they’re doing as rape. I suppose that is the crux of the problem really as so many rapes come under this category, leading to:– ‘she said he raped her, but it wasn’t really rape, therefore she’s a liar and it’s not fair on those who have been really raped’

MrsTerryPratchett: Exactly. No-one would ever suggest that someone who falsely accuses someone of burglary or mugging is somehow responsible for a lack of convictions when a crime really is committed. And I highly doubt a police officer who attends on someone claiming to be the victim of such a crime would automatically be looking for signs that the accuser is lying, even if s/he had dealt with false accusations previously. I suppose the phrase is just another example of rape and assaults against women being treated differently from any other crime.

BungoWomble Sun 03-Jan-16 18:12:59

False accusations of rape are few and far between. Greater Manchester Police apparently recently found that when they actually looked at the facts, not the sexist crap that 'everyone knows', false reports were less than 3%. Google it or I can find a link if you like. That's 3% of reports obviously, most rape doesn't get reported.

From my own experience of harassment, I didn't bother reporting because a) I wouldn't be believed b) I would be blamed and c) it would make no difference, even if I got through a) and b) sentencing was derisory so why should I put myself through the extra crap for nothing. Nothing to do with the false accusations myth.

Heatherplant Sun 03-Jan-16 18:25:48

False reporting does happen, but like you said it isn't often. I'd wage a bet there are more false reports of theft! I think people are put off coming forward as they know what the process will entail, part of that includes not being believed, but a massive part is the invasive nature of an investigation and subsequent trial at court.

myfirstandonlylove Sun 03-Jan-16 20:13:12

Ok perhaps my suggesion re burden of proof was flawed. It would be awful to think convictions were regarded as less watertight than others. I would agree that anything which shifts the narrative away from this being a problem of women to being a problem of men who are almost 100% the perpetrators is a good thing. Until there is a sense of collective responsibility little progress will be made against this.If most men are physically stronger than most women and it is awfully hard to secure a conviction then the only way rape will reduce or be eradicated is if men don't want to do it. Most of them don't of course but making those that do not want to or preventing those at risk from becoming rapists from crossing that terrible line is desirable.

MrsTerryPratchett Sun 03-Jan-16 20:24:03

I wouldn't change the burden of proof. What I would change are the following:

The assumption that women routinely lie about rape.
The assumption that because someone was found 'not guilty' in a Court they are innocent.
The use of 'innocent until proven guilty' to mean that someone is ACTUALLY innocent before they are tried rather than the legal issue being that the jury and Court should behave without prejudice.

There is another one that I umm and ah about. In most cases a defendant shouldn't have their past accusations and/or convictions shared with the Court. Due to the recidivism rate and low conviction rate for rape, I think this needs ot be looked at.

KathyBeale Sun 03-Jan-16 20:30:43

When I was starting out in journalism I had a vile news editor who made us write 'alleged' before every mention of rape. I used to argue until I was blue in the face that we didn't do that for other crimes "the alleged burglary happened at 1am" or "the car was allegedly stolen from the high street". He would never back down though. That was only a small local paper but it's that kind of drip drip drip feeding of this attitude that makes everyone start to believe that women make up these things.

Meeep Sun 03-Jan-16 20:40:08

Did you read that Pro Publica story from the other week? Let me find a link...

Meeep Sun 03-Jan-16 20:41:35
This one.

NotMyRealName2015 Sun 03-Jan-16 20:48:35

*I wouldn't change the burden of proof. What I would change are the following:

The assumption that women routinely lie about rape.
The assumption that because someone was found 'not guilty' in a Court they are innocent.*

^^ This definitley.

Although for the 2nd one I would say more that we need to change the assumption that because a defendant was found not guilty, that automatically means the accuser made a false or malicious accusation. What I hate is the immediate cries of “what a lying bitch the accuser must be/ she could have ruined his life/ she should be prosecuted, etc” as soon as a man is acquitted. Horrible.

Then again similar comments are often made even after a man is convicted (the Ched Evans conviction being a case in point)

Zanymummy Sun 03-Jan-16 22:58:02

As a mother of sons as well as daughters I do educate/raise them to respect women but at the same time i do fear that later in life they could be one of the few false claims of rape and I did welcome the naming of accused rapists but now I'm not so sure they should be until proven guilty or the Police decide to release their name as they have been reported before or even a case of they know they did it but can't prove it, I know not very helpful but as well as sharing feminist ideals I also want my boys treated fairly in the eyes of the law and wider society and not a case of "I see you got off with the rape charge"

MrsTerryPratchett Sun 03-Jan-16 23:00:27

But Zany do you randomly worry about them being accused of theft or GBH because the chances are higher for that?

Jesabel Sun 03-Jan-16 23:00:38

Is it just rape you're worried about them being falsely accused of?

SanityClause Sun 03-Jan-16 23:07:34

Do you worry about your sons being raped, Zany? There's more chance of that happening to them than being falsely accused of rape.

Zanymummy Sun 03-Jan-16 23:12:36

As a mother i do worry like all mothers do but let's not forget how serious a rape charge is compared to theft but i don't dwell on it as such was just sharing a hidden fear that's all but being a bit more realistic once they hit their teens or late teens the chances of them being seriously assaulted is more likely than them being accused of rape so i try and drill in them some street wise sense to keep them safe when going to footie etc

MrsTerryPratchett Sun 03-Jan-16 23:52:52

And, incredibly and horrifyingly, they are much, much more likely to actually be rapists than either be accused of it or suffer it.

myfirstandonlylove Mon 04-Jan-16 00:19:45

Mrs Terry it is worth saying that Zanys sons are also vastly vastly more likely not to be rapists especially having been so well brought up than they are to be rapists.

VictoriaOKeefe Mon 04-Jan-16 08:40:30

Pretending that all women should be, or are, stable, wise and moral is the suffocating opposite of misogyny - the pedestal. It's worse than Disney. Also statistics prove nothing as people can and do lie to pollsters and researchers. You only have to look at the 1992 British election where polls showed Labour winning to see that.

slugseatlettuce Mon 04-Jan-16 09:23:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

itllallbefine Mon 04-Jan-16 09:50:29

I think the problem is that the reporting of "false" rape claims is given such prominence. I don't know why this is the case, but maybe journalists think it's a more entertaining or salacious story ?

e.g. in my local area, front page news has been made by e.g. :

Because these cases are unusual ? They seem to hit the headlines for sure.

Although for the 2nd one I would say more that we need to change the assumption that because a defendant was found not guilty, that automatically means the accuser made a false or malicious accusation. What I hate is the immediate cries of “what a lying bitch the accuser must be/ she could have ruined his life/ she should be prosecuted, etc” as soon as a man is acquitted. Horrible.

I see saw on this. If someone thinks they were raped they probably were. The law needs to be clear that if someone gets off because they didn't realise they were committing rape or whatever bullshit "reasonable belief of consent" they had was at play, then they still committed rape, I think this is what most people have difficulty dealing with. The fact that you can be tried and cleared of rape but still actually have had sex with someone against their will.... it doesn't make a lot of sense.

On the flip side, I see it said that men who pursue false allegation claims after being cleared of rape are acting maliciously. The numbers who will go down this route will surely increase if the public regards being cleared of rape in a court of law as usually "still a rapist, got off on a technicality". I don't think most people would think that about their own son/partner/father if they were accused of rape ? You seem to be advocating that a man cannot really clear their name after being accused of rape UNLESS they also pursue charges on false allegation ?

PalmerViolet Mon 04-Jan-16 10:09:17

You are so right Victoria.

People do lie to researchers.

As was shown in a study where men denied they had raped or would rape when that word was used, but would readily admit to rape if the questions were posed without the word, but with the crime described. I might be wrong, but I believe that the results have been reproduced as well.

Do you feel equally bad about men being put on the rational, moral and stable pedestal? It seems jarring to say that the pedestal is just as wrong as a society which generally regards women as emotional, irrational and a bit dim to me. I might be wrong though.

Samantha28 Mon 04-Jan-16 11:59:05

If I was raped, my decisions to go to the police would not be influenced by the fact that some people lie about some crimes . I would consider things like the circumstances of the crime and the likelihood of being believed and treated well by the system and the person being caught and convicted .

So if I was raped at knifepoint by stranger outside a police station and I was sober and wearing trousers and a coat , I might consider that I would be believed.

If I was raped by someone I knew ( like most women ) and I was doing what most women do on a night out ( drinking ) and wearing what most women do on a night out then I would probably not go to the police. Because I know I would be put through more hell, it would take over my life for years . And that he would more than likely get off because he would say I consented and I could not prove I didn't .

If I was burgled or had my car stolen, I wouldn't have to prove that I didn't consent . I wouldn't be harassed in court by counsel . I would report these crimes .

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