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Faked Rape Threat Still Does Not Prove Women “Cry Rape” To Cover Up Sex

By Amanda Marcotte
Thursday, May 2, 2013 13:37 EDT
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So there’s this weird little story being chewed over by the right wing media about a college girl who does some feminist activism and blogging at the University of Wyoming. An anonymous rape threat targeting her was posted on one of the unofficial university Facebook page, and now police are saying that she wrote the threat herself. Bad choice and she clearly has problems, but not the first time that someone has used a sockpuppet to drum up sympathy for herself and probably not the last time.

Unsurprisingly, right wingers are exploiting this situation to drum up paranoia about feminists. That will be what it will be, and I mostly blame the girl, Meg Lanker-Simons for that, because it was a wholly predictable reaction. The incidents where known liberals actually do something wrong are so few and far between that conservatives tend to get a little overexcited when something real actually happens. Indeed, Campus Reform is trying to spin Lanker-Simons as a “well-known” person, stretching the definition of “well-known” to its breaking point in an effort to make this a bigger deal than it is. Again, totally predictable.

Right now, it seems the eager beaver conservatives are limiting the “uses” of this story to drum up feigned outrage and paranoia and hint that feminism, to quote SEK, should be “officially cancelled”. That said, I think it’s important to pre-emptively point out that this says absolutely nothing about the widespread hysteria over “false rape accusations”, which anti-feminists are always on about and which they continually fail to prove are a real problem. For instance, there’s this image that has been floating around:

We’re all pretty aware of the claim being made in this image: That women routinely have consensual sex, and because they wake up and are so ashamed of their supposed sluttiness, decide that the best course of action is to call the police, have everyone accuse them of being a lying slut, be grilled about their entire sexual past, face ostracism from their community, and lose months and some times years to going through the justice system. Instead of, say, just forgetting about it and vowing not to do that again.

This claim is incredibly useful for rapists and their apologists. It quite literally is the single most effective and popular defense that rapists use to get away with their crimes. They often don’t even have to state it out loud. The mere fear of being accused of being a lying slut makes more than half of rape victims decline to report their rapes. Should a report be made, this claim is often enough to prevent much in the way of follow-up or arrest. In the rare cases that it gets to court, this myth of the lying slut works super well as a defense. Because of this myth, should you wish to rape someone, you only run a 3% chance of doing time for it. For rapists, images like this and the myth behind it are the best fucking things that ever happened.

Of course, the evidence that lying sluts frequently accuse their consensual sex partners of rape is pretty thin on the ground, so there’s a tendency amongst rapists and their apologists to try to round other things up to this myth. Commonly, you’ll see the more generalized claim that “women DO lie about rape sometimes” thrown around, as if all lies are this particular one that justifies assuming every rape accuser is a lying slut until she can clear her name with four male witnesses and a video tape. I suspect this story will be rounded up as “evidence” of the regret-then-cry-rape-myth. But don’t fall for that trap, folks.

As I blogged at XX Factor recently, it’s very important to understand the difference between a false complaint of rape and a false accusation. Both are bad, but they tend to happen for different reasons. Both are bad, of course, but false complaints just look very different from the iconic and mythical false accusation. It’s usually someone with mental health issues that are driving them to attention-seeking behavior, and they usually just make up some vague stranger assailant. To quote the National Center for the Prosecution of Violence Against Women:

However, victims who fabricate a sexual assault report may not want anyone to actually be arrested for the fictional crime. Therefore, they may say that they were sexually assaulted by a stranger or an acquaintance who is only vaguely described and not identified by name.

Even the cases that anti-feminists love to obsess over the most as “proof” that women falsely accuse consensual sex partners of rape  hew more closely to this pattern. Both the Duke lacrosse case and the Tawana Brawley case did not involve consensual sex reported as rape, but were cases where the fake victim made very general claims and an overeager prosecutor pressured her into actually naming an assailant. Meg Lanker-Simons is even a step further: She just made up a fake rape threat and not a fake rape to get attention, but no one was accused.

Indeed, when I ask for proof that it’s common for women to have consensual sex and then phone the police with a rape accusation, anti-feminists never produce for me evidence of a woman doing just that. They instead give me things that they hope I’ll confuse with the regret-then-cry-rape narrative, but in actuality, have nothing to do with it at all. A list of unacceptable evidence:

  • Women who made up rapists in the bushes (or rape threat issuers online) to get attention/sympathy, but didn’t actually accuse anyone.
  • Women who made false accusations against men they didn’t actually have sex with, pretty much always after a prosecutor pushed them into identifying someone to accuse after a period of initial reluctance.
  • Cases where there really was a rape—and often a murder—but because the victim struggled to remember the assailant’s face or because the victim is dead, the wrong person is accused of the crime.

So far, all “evidence” that women have sex, regret it, and accuse their partners of rape has been in one of these three categories, none of which involve women having sex, regretting it, and accusing their partners of rape. In two of these categories, they didn’t have sex at all, and in one, they really were raped and are definitely not lying about it. To demonstrate that women have sex, regret it, and accuse their partners of rape, you really should produce examples of women having sex, regretting it, and accusing their partners of rape.

Look, I am not saying that no woman has ever had consensual sex, regretted it, and accused her partner of rape to cover it up. The world is vast and weird things happen. But it’s interesting that it’s so incredibly rare that the most devoted believers of this myth that it’s common can’t come up with examples and instead resort to pretending other, irrelevant stories prove this claim. The chance of being falsely accused of rape by a partner is like being struck by lightening, whereas the chance of being raped  in your lifetime is closer to about 1 in 5.

Lanker-Simons did a bad thing, but don’t let anyone try to use the case to prove that women are out there doing something else entirely. And, needless to say, there’s not actually a real reason for men to fear women are having sex with them and then accusing them of rape later.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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