Sunday, 15 May 2011

You lying liar

Index case:  the case of the original patient (propositus or proband) that stimulates investigation of other members of the family to discover a possible genetic factor. In epidemiology, the first case of a contagious disease.

Remember the movie "Outbreak"? You know--1995, Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, Morgan Freeman, that adorable Capuchin Monkey of "Friends" fame? Remember how emergency medical dudes painstakingly traced--through geographic/epidemiological examination of the outbreak--the evil Motaba hemorrhagic fever virus all the way back to the "patient zero"--that cute little black and white monkey? Oh Marcel, how could you? Bad monkey!

What does all this have to do with Men's Rights, you ask? Well, in a 2000 article published in the Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review, Edward Greer did his own epidemiological study on something MRAs are all too familiar with: the 2% false rape accusation statistic feminists use to defend their stance on the increasing erosion of due process in sex crimes cases. 

You hear it all over the place: "Experts claim that false reports of rape and sexual assault make up no more than 2% of all accusations, which is comparable to the false report numbers for other serious crimes." Or, "According to experts, only approximately 2% of women reporting rape are falsely reporting, therefore the investigative standard should be to believe the accuser and pursue all cases to the full extent of the law." Or, "Because experts agree only 2% of rape reports are false, while at the same time the vast majority of rapes are not reported, prosecuting false accusers will only provide a further disincentive to real victims to report their rapes." 

I have even had the odd feminist in an online discussion express to me that falsely imprisoning a few men is a small price to pay if it means victims of rape will be more likely to report. Never mind the fact that a man falsely convicted of rape is almost guaranteed to become a victim of rape once in prison. A small price to pay, indeed. This is how feminism balances the scales of justice--penalizing a women of a real criminal wrongdoing = net bad for society, while penalizing a man for something he didn't do (and for which he will continue to pay once he becomes someone's bitch in prison) = net good for society.

And it's all based on the "fact" that only 2% of rape claims are falsified.

So where did the 2% statistic come from? According to Greer, who picked through dozens of feminist academic papers and articles, and painstakingly followed the pyramidal pattern of citations they contained to their original source, the statistic originated in a 1975 book by Susan Brownmiller, Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape. Ms. Brownmiller, in her book, attributed the 2% figure to a speech by Lawrence H. Cooke, Appellate Division Justice, Before the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, Jan. 16, 1974.

According to Greer:  "When I contacted the then-judge’s law clerk, and he made  inquiry of all those directly involved in the preparation of Judge Cooke’s speech, their best recollections are that they did not rely upon any report but cannot remember precisely how they did obtain the two percent figure."

So there's no study. No report. No survey. No peer-reviewed examination of any data-set. Just a speech that is itself uncited, quoted in a book written over 35 years ago, then repeated as fact over and over and over throughout feminist academia until the misinformation infects the entire discourse.

Could the 2% false report figure be accurate? Well, depending on who you ask, the real figure is anywhere between 2% and 50%. An Australian study conducted between 2000 and 2003 found that of 815 cases, 2.1% were demonstrated clearly enough to be false that charges were threatened or laid. 

In his 1994 study of one small, urban community where all rape reports were investigated and polygraph tests were routinely offered to both accusers and accused, Dr. Eugene J. Kanin of Purdue University examined almost a decade of rape reports. Disregarding all other factors (physical or testimonial evidence, police findings, etc) and going only by complainants' responses when subjected to or threatened with polygraph testing, the percentage of false reports between 1978 and 1987 was a staggering 41%. 

One critic of Kanin's study--Dr. David Lisak of the University of Massachusetts, Boston--performed his own study, published in 2010 in Violence Against Women, which found a false report figure of 5.9%. Though significantly lower than Kanin's findings, it's still three times higher than the 2% figure we hear so often.

Much of what is believed about the 2% false report figure derives from a time when procedures for dealing with rape cases were very different than they are now. The figure itself originated in a 1974 speech by a NY judge, and may well have reflected reality at the time. What woman would falsely report a rape back in 1974, when victims were routinely put on trial themselves, details of their lives released by the media, and revictimized by the system? And yet, even in a social and criminal environment that stigmatized victims, in a time when they were pitted against a system biased against believing them, a time when victims really were blamed for their own rapes because they dressed like sluts or weren't "good girls" or were otherwise unsympathetic, and the likelihood of being criminally prosecuted for falsely reporting was much greater...even then, according to that NY judge and Susan Brownmiller, 2% of women made false accusations.

Even back then--when a plaintiff's testimony was almost never enough to put a man away, when physical evidence--bruises, vaginal tearing, semen, etc--that a crime had not only been committed, but that it had been committed by the defendant, was required to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and when a victim's identity was not protected--the rate of false accusations was, according to Brownmiller and other feminists, about 2%. 

Fast forward to 2011, when erosion of due process is turning sexual crimes into a liability offense, where victims are assumed to be truthful and the onus is increasingly placed on the accused to prove himself innocent. Where accusers' names are withheld by the media, and accuseds' names are routinely released. Where cross-examination of the plaintiff in regard to her sexual history is forbidden. Where evidence of sex is not technically required, let alone evidence of violent or nonconsensual sex. Where false accusers are not to be punished, even when their accusations have been determined to be motivated by malice. Prevailing wisdom still insists that a large percentage of rapes and sexual assaults are going unreported, but can anyone reasonably argue that a woman choosing not to report now is doing so out of fear of not being believed, reluctance to have her life picked apart on the stand, or fear of public shame? And can we still presume that the number of false rape and sexual assault reports remains at a paltry 2%?

When my older two kids were small and my older stepsons would visit, my ex and I used to have a recurring argument whenever a conflict between the kids arose. His assertion was that "little kids don't lie" and therefore when our younger kids pointed the finger at one of their half-brothers, they were to be believed. My contention was that little kids lie like rugs, that empathy and conscience doesn't fully develop until kids are around school age and a four year old will happily let someone else hang for his own crime if it means he doesn't have to swing himself. 

Considering the fact that a percentage of adults wilfully commit crimes--theft, murder, assault, fraud--knowing it's ethically and legally wrong...well, there are people out there who will do whatever is in their self-interest that they feel they can get away with. The more they feel they can get away with it, the more likely they are to do it. This is not rocket science. This is not 4th year psychology. It's fucking common sense.

Should we go back to the days before Rape Shield Laws existed? No. Should some instances of a plaintiff's sexual history be considered during a rape trial? Hell yes, if she has a history of false or unsubstantiated rape accusations. Otherwise, no. Should we protect the identity of the accused? Oh, fuck, yes, at least until conviction, because of the degree of damage a simple accusation, no matter how unfounded, can be to a man's reputation, livelihood and relationships. 

But presuming that women don't and won't lie about rape because...well, because they're women? This is a logical fallacy and a complete departure from reality that astounds me. And basing the criminal justice system's entire approach to sex crimes on the absurd assumption that only 2% of women lie about rape, and that punishing them for lying is irresponsible...this is insanity. 


  1. Greer's paper also had an interesting piece of info:

    "Commencing in 1989 in cases of rape and rape-murder where there has already been either an arrest or an indictment, the FBI has conducted large numbers of DNA tests “to confirm or exclude the person. In 25 percent of the cases where they can get a result, they excluded the primary suspect."

    But hey, women don't lie about rape, right?

  2. The difficult thing about that info--and why I don't address it in my post--is that those are cases where the primary suspect was misidentified. It can't be determined from that quote whether women lied as to who had raped them (or that a rape had even occurred), or whether they'd simply mistakenly identified someone who wasn't the actual culprit.

    What I'd rather concentrate on is the true "false accusation", where a woman says she was raped when she wasn't--such as the Duke Lacrosse accuser, the Hoffstra accuser, etc--accusing men who'd done nothing wrong other than to have the misfortune of having had consensual sex with a sociopath. Or women who have the temerity to claim their husbands raped them for the last months or years of the marriage because they didn't really want to have sex, and were only doing it because they felt pressured. Those women haven't been raped--they've been nagged.

    Misidentification/convicting the wrong man for an actual rape is a totally different can of worms, though it's yet another reason due process is so fucking important.

  3. I've recently seen this graphic:

    which purports to deliver the message that false accusations are 2/2500 rapes, and only a small percentage of rapes even get reported, let alone go to trial, and finally that only 10 men get convicted out of all those rapes.

    I pointed out that, using the premise of 'innocent til proven guilty' one could dismiss all but 12 of these cases as unubstantiated claims (since it would be unfair to definitely presume the accused to be innocent of rape, as that would necessitate presuming the woman to be guilty of lying.) From the data provided, one could only say with confidence that for every 10 convicted rapists, there were 2 false accusations. It would therefore be logical to extrapolate that 1/6 of the alleged rapes were also false accusations.

    I got accused of victim blaming. (What a shock!) So I pointed out that I was actually assuming that 5/6 of the women were being truthful, whereas the graphic accused 100% of the men of being rapists - including, ironically, the two who were *victims* of false accusations!


Commenting policy:

All comments are welcome here. I refuse to censor points of view that differ from my own.

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Have at you!