Rape: speak up, you lose, don’t speak up, you lose.
There is a commonly held belief amongst anti-feminists that false rape allegations are very common, and that a man being falsely accused of rape goes through as much suffering as a woman who was raped.
I think the self-victimization process I discussed in my previous entry explains why they believe this, to some extent. We know that it is mostly men who rape women. In order to prevent themselves from being portrayed as the persecutors, men’s advocates have to either redefine “rape” or show in some way that women are the “real” persecutors. But this would still be out of proportion unless they can also make people believe that being falsely accused of rape is anywhere near as bad as being raped; otherwise a high rate of false rape allegations would still not prove that men are the victims.
The belief that false rape allegations are as bad as getting raped is so bizarre that there’s really nothing to refute there. But I do think that the belief that false rape allegations are common does need to be refuted, because it can be shown that the claims are simply false.
The Holy Grail for the genderists is a study made by Eugene Kanin from 1978 to 1987, which reported a rate of false rape allegations of 41%. This study is quoted by everyone from Wendy McElroy to the scummiest Internet MRAs, and seems to be their number one source. There’s only one little problem: the Kanin study did not measure the rate of false rape allegations in the first place.
First, Kanin’s study relies on data which has not been made available to the public, so it can’t be verified or replicated. This fact alone disqualifies it as “scientific.”
Second, Kanin’s study does not measure false reports, but reports which were recanted by the victim:
[T]he declaration of a false allegation follows a highly institutionalized procedure. The investigation of all rape complaints always involves a serious offer to polygraph the complainants and the suspects. Additionally, for a declaration of false charge to be made, the complainant must admit that no rape had occurred.
You will have noted the use of the polygraph, which is a fraudulent device and which serves the sole purpose of intimidating suspects. There is no doubt that browbeating a rape victim into submitting to a polygraph would have the same intimidation effect:
In his published journal article, Kanin (1994) admitted that “A possible objection to these recantations concerns their validity… rather than proceed with the real charge of rape, the argument goes, these women withdrew their accusations to avoid the trauma of police investigation.”
And indeed, the Kanin study has been criticized for the department’s use of polygraph testing in every case, a process that has been rejected by many police departments because of its intimidating impact on victims. The International Association of Chiefs of Police disapproves of requiring polygraph tests during rape investigations because “victims often feel confused and ashamed, and experience a great deal of self-blame because of something they did or did not do in relation to the sexual assault. These feelings may compromise the reliability of the results of such interrogation techniques. The use of these interrogation techniques can also compound these feelings and prolong the trauma of a sexual assault” (Lisak, 2007, p.6).
The process measured by the Kanin study is a perfect storm of bullshit. The use of the polygraph is designed to scare rape victims into desisting, and victims who desist are counted as having made false allegations. The end result of this process is a figure which cannot, in any way, be verified. This is about as scientific as examining a bird’s entrails to predict the weather.
The Kanin study is not unusual in the fact that it does not seek to measure the percentage of actual false allegations, but an inflated number based on recantations. Many studies used by the anti-feminist side have this same flaw. But it doesn’t take much intelligence to realize that a rape victim might recant her testimony for many reasons which have nothing to do with the testimony being false. To claim otherwise is pure hypocrisy, but either way, it is imbecilic to use a study as proof of something it does not even try to measure.
One obvious reason why a rape victim might recant is the hostility of loved ones, responsible authorities, or law enforcement officials. Every new rape story in the media brings with it a vibrant demonstration of the hostility of the public against rape victims. People hate women and are never afraid to show it.
But even people who do not act out of explicit woman-hatred may still attempt to invalidate a rape victim’s testimony by using what we could call the skeptic’s gambit. Skeptics tell us that claims require “credible evidence.” I have already examined how skepticism serves to maintain the political status quo, which includes anti-feminism.
The “credible evidence” line used against rape victims is another example of this. What could it possibly mean for a rape victim to present “credible evidence” of their rape? I am not talking here from a legal standpoint, but from a simple verbal perspective, which is what skeptics jump on. They will readily invalidate any claim of rape and close ranks around the accused. They are the ones who, for instance, have closed rank against Rebecca Watson, who protect Michael Shermer despite multiple testimonies against him, and so on. These people really are scum and deserve to be attacked and ridiculed.
So what is the actual rate of false rape allegations? The percentage given to us by studies which actually seek to measure false allegations, not recantations, is somewhere below 3%, which is in line with false allegations for other categories of crimes (see for instance Against Our Will by Susan Brownmiller; St. John’s Law Review, 66, 979-1045; Kelly, Lovett, & Regan, 2005). There is nothing more significant to false rape allegations than to any other false crime allegation. A study calculated that 2.3% of people on death row have been exonerated from 1973 to 2007 (“Frequency and Predictors of False Conviction,” by Samuel Gross). This is a strong indication of the general accuracy of rape allegations.