The Gentendre team has a Facebook page which we use to bounce around ideas and communicate with each other, and recently this very long conversation came about. We figured the energy gone into this thread was worth sharing with you as it delves in to the issue of the legal difficulties of rape probably better than any article just one of us could have written!

Doctor Butts: A friend of mine posted this today:
http://feministphilosophers.wordpress.com/2011/09/17/a-useful-rape-analogy/
under the caption, “Fuck the patriarchy.”
I’m interested to see what you guys think of this. Care to share some thoughts?

Humphrey: Interesting. It’s true though – that’s a fairly standard line a defence will run in a rape trial (ie sexual history where it is permitted, and how they may have encouraged/failed to struggle).

Doctor Butts: How do you then decipher when it’s rape/when it’s false accusation? I didn’t like this thing because it took a broad subject and made a simple/seemingly inept analogy, without really proposing a solution to the situation. Possibly making it worse

Artemiss: Disappointed that they had to disable comments. What the f*** is wrong with people.
Anyway, I actually didn’t mind this thing. It isn’t in any way helpful in providing a solution, I’ll agree there, but I think it is just trying to highlight that rape is pretty much the only crime where the victim has to defend themselves and similar questioning would be preposterously insensitive and unfair in other cases. It is doing this by using an over-simplified analogy, but people don’t have the motivation to read complex discourse. Since most rape accusations are not false it does not misrepresent the issue.

Humphrey: Exactly. My brain is too tired on intoxication and criminal responsibility atm, so I failed to form a coherent response but I agree with that.

Electra: Honestly, false accusations are so incredibly rare, that it probably isn’t a huge issue. False accusations form less than 1% of all rape cases, which is kind of negligible, and certainly no greater than false accusations for any other crime. And considering rape cases are more likely than any other crime to be dodgily not made into a proper case by the police officers (like that huge thing in the UK where some counties were not filing over half of their rape cases properly so they wouldn’t be counted, and that’s just in the UK!), that statistic isn’t even using accurate figures of actual rapes anyway. I think generally people are always concerned about false rape accusations and they are portrayed quite a lot on tv and such, but they’re virtually nonexistent in real life.

Doctor Butts: I see, but where do you get the statistics from? If 99% of rape cases are not false, does that mean that 99% of the rapists get charged? Does it mean that 1% of people confess to having made a false claim? I’m not having a go or anything, just always dubious about these kinds of statistics. How does everyone ‘just know’ that the majority of rape cases are real?

I probably put a little much effort in here, but:

Woman: Hello, I’d like to report a rape.
Officer: A raping, eh? Where did it take place?
Woman: I was walking by 21st and Dundritch Street and a man pulled out a gun and told me to fuck him.
Officer: And did you?
Woman: Yes, I co-operated.
Officer: So you willingly had sex with the man, without fighting back, calling for help or trying to escape?
Woman: Well, yes, but I was terrified. I thought he was going to kill me!
Officer: Mmm. But you did co-operate with him. And I’ve been informed that you’re a little on the promiscuous side.

This illustrates my point a little better, probably. The guy still sounds like an asshole. Actually, they both kinda do. Without the analogy, the conversation sounds so ridiculous because it’s hypothetical…and badly scripted. It rubs me because this seems like a, “fight fire with fire” approach, where the fire is ignorance and you play on people’s aversion to hard-thinking (ignorance? Where’s my dictionary) to get them to agree.

It also fingers patriarchy as being the cause. I would be more inclined to say it also stems from ignorance, perhaps moreso. Either reasoning comes off as dumb anyway if you’re justifying it with this sensationally spazzy hypothetical. If it was some solid stats or an actual transcript, I’d be all like, “Yeah man, shit’s whack.”‎(sorry that’s so long. Thanks for the brain food, too!)

Artemiss: You need to copy and paste what you just wrote and use it in a blog entry so you don’t waste that brain usage on just us lol. Formulating reply but currently at work.

Doctor Butts: Haha was waiting for someone to say that. I’m not totally confident of my nngggggdeductions yet, so that’s why I thought I’d chuck it up here and crack open a can of dialogue. Except there are no cans because it’s the internet.

Electra: Pretty sure the figure was figured out based on how many cases were discovered to be false. In that very few were, and that figure was worked out in the states using the rape cases that actually went through, which is typically a minority of the rapes reported. Surveys done by rape crisis centres have shown that most women and men don’t report rapes, studies done on police stations have shown that most reports don’t get to court, and at some stations, are the only sort of report to get the honour of not even being filed properly so that they have no chance at all, and what is finally left over, the small percentage of cases that actually go to court, virtually none have been found out later to be false accusations. And of course, many rape cases don’t end up in convictions. So for a severely under-reported crime already, which has a low chance of ending in a conviction, and if it does will likely be a short one, I don’t think those very few rape cases that were later figured out to be false are concerning anyone. It happens in other types of crime too, false reports will always form a small but negligible part of the overall cases. There is just no actual reason to worry about them given all of the information we already have from multiple studies around the world that implies that if anything, most rapists get away with it, and false accusations are extremely rare. I don’t think it’s a matter of ‘knowing’ just of recognising that since there is no other reporting process more painful, prolonged or difficult, it does not make sense for women to go through it if they weren’t actually raped. That false accusations are prevalent works on the assumption that it is easy to report and file cases and prosecute somebody for rape, when in fact there are few crimes more difficult to put somebody in gaol for, when you actually look at the process from police station to court.

 

Doctor Butts: Well said. Although I had one friend who studied law, and he went on the unfairness of laws regarding drunk girls, which differed from state to state/territory (or whatever). The way he laid it out to me was that in some states (forgot where, it was a long time ago) a man could be charged with rape, even if the woman consented, on account of her inability to make rational decisions (’cause she be drunk). In some places, he said, it didn’t matter if the guy was drunk or not.

Only when I finished typing that did I realise I could just look it up…as I was really wondering if that’s true. From the sounds of what you said Electra, even if it is the case, they still wouldn’t make it to court anyway.

I still don’t really agree with the original post though. The accidental comment war I’m having the girl who posted this’ wall is going far less productively, I might add.

 

Electra: I do suspect that of all the rape cases to fight, ones where the woman is drunk would be so hard to fight that most police officers would advise the victim not to proceed. I have seen it for date/relationship rape cases first hand here in Canberra, and really I suspect the only rape case which is comparatively straightforward to fight is one without alcohol, where the victim had never ever spoken to the rapist ever, and there is loads of physical evidence. Which we know from rape crisis centre studies and several government funded studies is the least likely type of rape to occur by far. And of course, even if the unfairness of women being able to charge rape when they’re drunk but male drunkenness being irrelevant was true and prevalent (which I don’t consider unfair, I think both genders have equal right to file charges for rape if they couldn’t consent, but rapists have no right to claim drunkenness to get out of the crime regardless of gender, and it just happens to look like men are getting the short end of the stick when in actual fact they are probably just raping more than women) I guess it doesn’t help that the very post which started all of this is trying to find the appropriate analogy for how easy it is to undermine a rape case anyway, so any rape case founded on alcohol consumption would be fairly easily undermined by the defense anyway. I assume. Which is a roundabout way of saying yes it is generally highly unlikely that those sorts of rape cases get to court very often, and especially highly unlikely that they result in any sort of sentence. I mean, ultimately it looks like if you want to accuse anybody of something and then totally not have them punished at all, just accuse them of rape.