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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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268 Responses

  1. James
    James November 9, 2012 at 1:44 pm |

    An important point is that lying about being raped does more than hurt the person being accused, it hurts all rape victims everywhere. It plays into the “all women are liars” and the “oh those poor accused rapists” line; see literally every internet discussion on Brian Banks for example.

    1. Nahida
      Nahida November 9, 2012 at 1:57 pm |

      Oh great. More of this “protect them not for US but for YOU” bullshit.

      1. James
        James November 9, 2012 at 2:27 pm |

        What gets my goat is the backlash is always “Oh that poor accused rapist, how will he ever go on?” rather than “Damn, that really sucks because it’s going to make it harder for other women to talk about rape.”

        As Jill brings up in the article, no one ever says “Psh, he’s probably lying about being mugged / assaulted / insert other violent crime here.” But it always, -always- comes out in rape. I think it’s a pretty clear sign of rape culture, this belief that “All Women Are Liars” and “All Rape Accusations are False and Wrong Until Proven.”

        1. moviemaedchen
          moviemaedchen November 9, 2012 at 6:09 pm |

          However, women (or anyone) lying about being raped is not the main driver or cause of rape culture. So focusing on THAT right off the bat as the very first thing in considering the questions raised in this post is giving it power it is not due, and distracting from the major issues we DO need to be talking about.

          I mean honestly, it couldn’t have waited for one single comment about the actual topic of the post??

        2. Lamech
          Lamech November 13, 2012 at 2:52 am |

          What gets my goat is the backlash is always “Oh that poor accused rapist, how will he ever go on?” rather than “Damn, that really sucks because it’s going to make it harder for other women to talk about rape.”

          Seriously? When someone is slandered do we go “That sucks for the person who got slandered” or do we worry about it being harder to trust people.

          If someone gets scammed do we go “man those people got ripped off” or do we go “well that sucks for legitimate business”?

        3. Lamech
          Lamech November 13, 2012 at 2:53 am |

          P.S. Note the assumption in the above is of course a false accusation, as implied by:
          ““Damn, that really sucks because it’s going to make it harder for other women to talk about rape.””

    2. Echo Zen
      Echo Zen November 9, 2012 at 2:34 pm |

      Yuck, we couldn’t wait till AFTER the first comment to bring up false rape accusations?! For Pete’s sake, even if someone lies about it, when was the last time anyone’s heard of any accused rapist being convicted without… evidence? I’m currently attached to a university with the highest assault rate in our campus system (boo), and on the rare occasions where people lie, it’s rather obvious… because they don’t bother giving accurate dates or times (i.e. they claim the accused did something when the accused wasn’t even on campus that day. I participated in such a case myself). Anyone who thinks fake victims are a significant issue is smoking a crack pipe, and this is coming from someone with firsthand experience.

      1. James
        James November 9, 2012 at 2:39 pm |

        It’s an issue because it’s perceived to be one, regardless of it’s false nature. Jill can point to facts -documenting- that women hardly ever lie about being raped as she does in her article, and yet you scroll down to the comment section and it’s still all “Nah, women lie about getting raped all the time.” I mean, when you’re arguing with people who won’t accept simple facts, what more can you do?

        1. Katniss
          Katniss November 9, 2012 at 2:49 pm |

          If you’re arguing with people who won’t accept simple facts, than I don’t think you can argue that the very rare false rape accusation actually DOES have a significant impact on the stereotype that women lie about rape all the time. Honestly I think that the people who believe that women commonly lie about rape are the peopel who won’t accept simple facts, and even if no woman in the history of the world had lied about it they would STILL believe the stereotype.

          Our rape culture is the larger cause of the “rampant false rape accusations” stereotype. The fact that false accuastions may occur very rarely is a drop in an already full bucket, not a major contributing factor.

        2. James
          James November 9, 2012 at 3:05 pm |

          Confirmation bias dictates that people see what they want so see and hear what they want to hear, so I highly doubt the rare, highly publicized false rape accusation really ever changes anyone’s hearts or minds. Rape culture ingrains it into people that all accusations are false to begin with, and not even documented fact can reverse it.

          I think it’s a part of rape culture and general misogyny that society can’t even talk about a false rape accusation hurts women, no; it apparently only hurts men. Over at the Guardian comments it’s all ‘libel’ this and ‘slander’ that. That’s how deeply ingrained the dialogue of ‘accused rapist as victim’ is.

    3. E.
      E. November 9, 2012 at 9:39 pm |

      Yes, sometimes people lie about rape. But statistically, there are more people who are survivors of sexual violence and did not report the crime (perhaps for fear of accused of making it up?) than there are people who fabricated stories of SV.

      (Information from “Rape Myths in Review” by Lonsway and Fitzgerald. Published 1994, p. 136.)

  2. Patu
    Patu November 9, 2012 at 2:13 pm |

    Urgh, the comments over there :/

    I thought it was a great article. The myopia displayed by some people is shocking. I know who raped my friend, though she never reported it to the police. She didn’t want everyone to know she was raped, as is her prerogative, but she and the rest of our friendship circle made sure that word was spread that this was not a good guy, and that you’d be wise to stay away from him. I don’t know what happened to him in the end, but he disappeared from our lives pretty quickly.

    It makes me mad that people read anecdotes like mine and think, well what if she were lying. Because in this case, she wasn’t. In the VAST majority of cases, she isn’t. But the unbelievable lack of trust men have in women really comes through when this kind of thing is discussed.

  3. matlun
    matlun November 9, 2012 at 2:13 pm |

    I am not sure about your examples of other crimes since they are not at all the same level of seriousness. They are not comparable crimes.

    Your larger point may still work, though. Even if I were accusing someone of some other very serious crime, would the reaction be the same as for a rape accusation?

    Consider as an more comparable example if I were to state that I know that some widow X actually murdered her husband (and let us assume for the example that I was telling the truth). Could I still expect to get the same level of pushback? I guess it would depend on the context.

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune November 9, 2012 at 2:43 pm |

      I am not sure about your examples of other crimes since they are not at all the same level of seriousness. They are not comparable crimes.

      Eh, I don’t know. I mean, for example: I was sexually abused for ten years. My grandmother had 4000 rupees (about $60) stolen from her purse once. Number of times I have been immediately accosted with “move on and forgive!” when I talk about it = several dozen. Number of times she has been immediately accosted with “move on and forgive!” when she rages about it = 0.

      Sure, society doesn’t think they’re comparable crimes. Society thinks much less of rape or abuse than it does of the stealing of a sum of money my father earns in three hours of work.

      1. matlun
        matlun November 9, 2012 at 3:09 pm |

        Society thinks much less of rape or abuse than it does of the stealing of a sum of money my father earns in three hours of work.

        I do not think that is the case. Laws and societal norms puts rape as the most serious crime after murder.

        Paradoxically I think one of the reasons that rape victims have such a hard time to be believed is exactly because it is considered such an extremely serious crime. Since it is so serious and “beyond the pale”, then the natural inclination for many is to disbelieve in it happening, that such things never happens. An emotional, unthinking response to the perceived horribleness of the crime.

        At least that seems to me to be the attitude in mainstream western society.

        1. Chingona
          Chingona November 10, 2012 at 7:47 pm |

          A thousand times no. No one goes around asking corpses whether they’re positive they were murdered, or if they were asking for it or complicit in their own murder. Questions about how many times they were willingly murdered in the past. What they had been wearing while murdered. How they had been behaving up until their murder. Comments about how murder “was in the air.” The concept that some people murder “easy.”

          Victims of rape are nay-sayed because to acknowledge how common rape is would upset men and might prevent them from getting laid. And that would be a very serious crime, worthy of being investigated.

        2. matlun
          matlun November 10, 2012 at 8:01 pm |

          Victims of rape are nay-sayed because to acknowledge how common rape is would upset men

          That far I agree with you. I still think this is due to the perceived horribleness of the crime. That type of horrible crime could only be done by monsters and not “normal” people. Only by “them” and not by “us”. And so rape victims are disbelieved.

          Jadey below discusses many of the same points.

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 11, 2012 at 10:44 am |

          Laws and societal norms puts rape as the most serious crime after murder.

          Really? What’s the murder conviction rate? What’s the murder reportage rate? How often do murder victims have articles run on them speculating about just how murder-worthy they were?

          Or, even if you’re looking at a gendered definition of rape, how many female victims of non-sexual assault get convictions compared to how many victims of sexual assault?

          Also, basically, everything Chingona said.

        4. matlun
          matlun November 11, 2012 at 12:44 pm |

          @mac: Yes, getting convictions in court and getting believed in popular opinion can often be hard.

          But if you look at the punishment and social response once guilt has been established, then rape is seen as an extremely severe crime. As has been discussed elsewhere on this thread, few persons are as reviled as the recognized rapist. Especially if the victim is a child.

        5. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 11, 2012 at 4:22 pm |

          But if you look at the punishment and social response once guilt has been established, then rape is seen as an extremely severe crime.

          Is it? Remind me again what the popular opinion is, in non-feminist circles, of Roman Polanski. Or Tolstoy. Or any of a hundred other accused-and-admitted rapists that nobody really knows about because who cares? They just raped somebody, god, it’s not like it was a REAL crime.

          Meanwhile, ask everyone what they think of Lindsay Lohan or Britney Spears or Beyonce – people who’ve never afaik raped or killed or even assaulted anybody – and just brace yourself for the tirade of misogynist/racist/homophobic slurs and declarations that they’re the WORST EVAR OMG to follow.

          As has been discussed elsewhere on this thread, few persons are as reviled as the recognized rapist.

          Few people are reviled as the recognised rapist…

          …unless he’s a Catholic priest, in which case he gets promoted/retired with benefits.

          …unless he’s a famous director, in which case he gets to lounge in a chalet in France without consequences other than not being able to enter ONE country.

          ….unless he’s a politician and she’s a housekeeper of colour.

          …unless he’s a celebrity and she’s just some Scandinavian harpy who cried rape because he wouldn’t wear a condom.

          …unless he raped a prostitute, in which case suddenly “nobody really knows”.

          …unless she was wearing a miniskirt and lipstick, even if there were literally a greater number of rapists than she was years old.

          …unless he’s in the military and the victim’s from an invaded country.

          …unless the rapist and victim are both in the military, then the victim gets discharged and nobody ever gets told.

          ….unless. Unless. Unless.

          Yeah, okay, matlun, what the fuck ever.

        6. amblingalong
          amblingalong November 11, 2012 at 5:02 pm |

          Or, even if you’re looking at a gendered definition of rape, how many female victims of non-sexual assault get convictions compared to how many victims of sexual assault?

          Leaving the difference in reporting rate to the side for the moment (because it’s so hard to calculate), slightly more prosecutions for sexual assault result in convictions than prosecutions for battery.

          I mean, I have zero interest in arguing there aren’t huge, huge fuckups with the way the justice system treats rape victims/ approaches rape generally, but this idea that rape prosecutions are incredibly unlikely to succeed is just false. They succeed roughly the same percentage of the time as other violent crimes.

        7. Chingona
          Chingona November 11, 2012 at 9:30 pm |

          But if you look at the punishment and social response once guilt has been established, then rape is seen as an extremely severe crime.

          Guilt is rarely “established” by a court–which is what we’re talking about–because the minority of victims who are lucky enough to find themselves in court are not believed, and attempts at proving guilt invariably descend into hypothetical reasons as to why the victim might be lying or mistaken. Even in instances where both circumstantial and physical evidence are buttressed by first-hand testimony of the victim, most cases don’t end up in court and those that do rarely result in a conviction. This is rape culture 101 territory, dude.

          As has been discussed elsewhere on this thread, few persons are as reviled as the recognized rapist.

          Rapists recognized as such are few and far between, precisely because, as you say, they are common. Most rapists aren’t slavering, twitch-y perverts lurking in bushes. It’d be a fatal blow to the patriarchy to recognize that het men are brought up believing banal forms of rape are acceptable expressions of male sexuality and that sexual violence is a characteristic of a desirable “conquest.”

          Recognized rapists always have defenders, guaranteed. Rape victims who out themselves as such–rather than keeping schtum like good victims are supposed to–rarely enjoy the universal support and blind faith accused rapists receive.

          I still think this is due to the perceived horribleness of the crime.

          Again, that’s more to do with our culture’s ever-narrowing definition of rape, that must involve the right kind of victim (straight, female, young, white, attractive according to prevailing standards, non-working class) who goes to extreme lengths to defend themselves, up to and including “getting” themselves killed.

          Scratch the surface of the average man who professes to kind rape “horrible”–a distinctly odd way to characterize it–and you’ll probably find a man who thinks sexually experienced women are “damaged” goods. Rape and consensual sex: shit you don’t want happening to (certain) women because it lowers their value as a sexual commodity.

      2. Kerandria
        Kerandria November 10, 2012 at 12:15 am |

        Number of times I have been immediately accosted with “move on and forgive!” when I talk about it = several dozen.

        Mac, I’m so sorry that you had to endure not only the abuse but the shit sundae people who ought to care serve up to you instead.

        I’ll add to this with my own experience. As someone who survived eleven years of CSA and intense grooming from my earliest memories, I was (and continue to be) given that bullshit line. It’s extra-special awesome when they add religion to their already holier-then-thou admonishments.

        It was flamingly obvious to anyone that knew me or my family that I was being abused. Instead of doing something, the entirety of my nuclear family turned the other way, especially when I was finally able to understand that what my father did to me wasn’t right. The night I told my mum was the night she threw me out, all the while begging me to pull myself up by my bootstraps, stop being sorry for myself and how could I ask her to choose between her entire life and me – one person.

        For a few years I thought that maintaining a cordial (if distant) relationship with my nuclear family was important.. meaningful, that they would someday acknowledge what happened. That never happened, and I have since cut (with the exception of a very few people) the entirety of my nuclear and extended family away.

        I think that a lot of families would rather things always got on as before. To acknowledge that something happened (esp when sharing a home/close association with the abused or abuser and knew/thought something wasn’t right) is to also acknowledge your own place in that evil situation and that sort of responsibility isn’t something that many are likely to take.

        I mean, it’s so much easier to blame the victim, and how dare they talk shit about X person? Those stupid victims, don’t they know that they ruin people’s LIVES with their ridiculous stories and wild accusations!? I mean, REALLY.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 11, 2012 at 11:38 am |

          Kerandria, that’s a truly horrible thing you went through, and fuck, I’m really sorry about it.

          To acknowledge that something happened (esp when sharing a home/close association with the abused or abuser and knew/thought something wasn’t right) is to also acknowledge your own place in that evil situation and that sort of responsibility isn’t something that many are likely to take.

          Yep this pretty much. It’s easier to blame the victim than to take the crime seriously. How do I know this? Because of the thousands of people I’ve talked to/read of/read blog posts by who finally told, the overwhelming disbelief ALL OF THEM faced from immediate/extended family/friends/the court systems etc was literally the only common denominator.

          I mean, I don’t personally have experience with the justice system (my perp was a relative, a priest and never actually “rape-raped” me, so I never had forensic evidence – and I’m sure that was half his motive – and would never have been able to win any case), but. Fuck. It’s pretty damn obvious how seriously rape/sexual abuse is taken, unless you’re not a clueless privileged person.

    2. pictishmonster
      pictishmonster November 9, 2012 at 4:52 pm |

      Murder is not comparable to rape because with murder the victim can’t testify. Also, no one will pressure the murder victim to get over it, it wasn’t so bad, you’re not REALLY dead.

      1. Bagelsan
        Bagelsan November 10, 2012 at 10:08 pm |

        *sits corpse up in a chair, taps it gently a few times* C’mon, you slacker! Quit pretending you were murdered! Hello!

    3. Samantha's.
      Samantha's. November 11, 2012 at 5:29 am |

      Family members of murder victims make public accusations all the time. And that’s in instances where there was no witness to the crime. If anything, your comparison is less apt than Jill’s because she’s discussing crimes where the victim can name the perpetrator without doubt. Or at least her own doubt.

    4. im
      im November 12, 2012 at 12:39 pm |

      The way we deal with rape as a culture is really, really weird.

      -Legally, it’s supposed to be the second worst crime behind murder, but this is not properly enforced.

      -Culturally, it’s considered (in the abstract) a Super Atrocity. If you want to show that a fictional character is totally, totally, irredeemable, you have them rape somebody.

      And yet there is STILL rape culture. Things are MESSED UP.

      TLDR: Culture treats rape in a self-contradictory way, in abstract it is the worst thing ever.

  4. Drahill
    Drahill November 9, 2012 at 2:33 pm |

    Overall, I think it’s a good article. However, I was sort of surprised that it did not address the issue of defamation, and how dangerous that can be for victims. Of course, it is only an issue if the rapist has not been convicted (which seems to be the case with the woman you cited, from New Orleans). Its especially dangerous when you consider that a rape accusation would also be defamation per se (because it involves moral turpitude) and would leave the woman in the position of having to prove her statement true (instead of traditionally leaving the man to prove it false). Even if the suit is unsuccessful, its a trauma to have to go through such a mess.

    I can truly understand the importance of these narratives, and how they help. But my first instinct to always cringe a little and hope that the rapist does not choose to sue his victim and potentially harm her financially. I do recall seeing a few instances in which this happened, and they break my heart. So that’s why this stuff makes me so…antsy, i suppose. Many rapists take a particular joy in continuing to mess with their victims, so this stuff sometimes makes me worry.

    Please don’t take this as a criticism, I liked the article very much. I hope that woman’s father does not use this as a chance to harm her any further.

    1. Anon21
      Anon21 November 9, 2012 at 2:48 pm |

      Its especially dangerous when you consider that a rape accusation would also be defamation per se (because it involves moral turpitude) and would leave the woman in the position of having to prove her statement true (instead of traditionally leaving the man to prove it false).

      What jurisdictions are you thinking of that have this burden-shifting scheme? It’s certainly not the majority rule in the U.S., where the burden to prove falsity remains with the plaintiff whether the statement is per se defamatory or defamatory only in context.

      I agree with you that it’s awful when rapists use defamation law to further harass and sometimes even get judgments against their victims. At first blush, I don’t know what to do about it, though—I think private persons should have legal mechanisms available to them to obtain redress when someone falsely accuses them of a crime, and just having those mechanisms available will lead some actual rapists to abuse the legal process. Perhaps there should be anti-SLAPP-like statutes, such that the victim can recover damages from the plaintiff if the victim can show by a preponderance of the evidence that the plaintiff actually committed the crime.

      1. Drahill
        Drahill November 9, 2012 at 2:52 pm |

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defamation_per_se#Defamation_per_se

        In per se cases, damages are presumed on the plaintiff’s part. The burden is then on the Defendant to show that the Plaintiff was not harmed.

        And remember, this is civil court. All the accuser (in this case, the rapist) would have to show is that it’s more likely than not that the accusation was false. And if the woman never pressed charges, that’s pretty easy to do. So yeah, all but 4 jurisdictions shift that damages burden and make recovery for a rapist really easy in these cases.

        1. Anon21
          Anon21 November 9, 2012 at 3:06 pm |

          Yes, damages are presumed, but damages are only one element of the tort. The burden to prove the other elements (including falsity) remains with the plaintiff. Again, this is as to most U.S. jurisdictions—I have no idea how any foreign jurisdictions do it, and there may be a few U.S. states that do shift the burden of proving truth to the defendant.

        2. Drahill
          Drahill November 9, 2012 at 3:16 pm |

          Ah, I can see how my initial statement sounded off. In defamation per se, the damages slip to the defendant. However, the rest of the issues still remain a “more likely than not” argument. In cases where a woman never brought charges, she’d have a near impossible time making her case. There is also a presumption in most jurisdictions that if somebody is the victim of a crime, they report it. Thus, a rapist would have a very easy time making a case. (Unless there was corraborating evidence to support the woman – but most women who don’t report don’t seek out corraborating the claim either). Usually, in defamation cases, the damages element is the toughest to prove. And even if there are damages, they are often nominal. So in reality, defamation per se is a pretty scary claim to have made against you.

          I think you’re suggestion like SLAAP suits is okay, but I think it would be tricky. In most rape cases, there is little corraborating evidence (or evidence that can’t be explained away). I don’t see how it would work in a civil context.

    2. Henry
      Henry November 11, 2012 at 1:09 am |

      A criminal would have to be stupid as all hell to sue a victim for defamation….they are getting off lucky not being in criminal court to begin with.

      1. Alexandra
        Alexandra November 11, 2012 at 1:34 am |

        I think that’s a very naive thing to say when talking about rape, Henry. We’re speaking here of women (and men) who have not gone through the criminal justice system for one reason or another (impossibility of proving crime in a court of law, stigma, general hostility to rape victims within the system). By the time that a defamation suit might be brought, likely all physical evidence of rape would have been destroyed, and so you’re left with he-said she-said … and we all know who tends to be believed about rape.

        1. Henry
          Henry November 11, 2012 at 4:11 am |

          yes and when they sue for defamation and it comes out they were in the location where the crime occurred, went out on a date with the victim etc., they are gonna look guilty as hell. I seriously doubt victims need to worry about defamation suits – so go ahead and out them if they want. It may save some people down the road.

    3. Henry
      Henry November 11, 2012 at 3:58 am |

      http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/10/world/europe/uk-bbc-abuse-claims/index.html?hpt=hp_t3

      Funny this article comes out at the same time as the OP…there actually are false reports, but that does not morally preclude someone from posting outing their abuser. You have the right to accuse people of a crime all you want.

  5. matlun
    matlun November 9, 2012 at 2:41 pm |

    On a more general point. I believe very strongly in free speech, so my natural reflex would certainly be to say that she should be allowed to tell her story.

    On the other hand, if we are coming only from a pure free speech position, then why do we condemn those that accuse her of lying? Though we may claim to have absolutely no knowledge as to whether any of these accusations are true or false, I do not think that this in fact reflects our real attitude.

    If person A says “I am convinced she is telling the truth” and person B says “I am convinced she is lying”, then I doubt anyone here would judge them the same. I know I (who has gotten in hot water on these subjects fairly regularly here) may think that person A is a bit of a fool, but I would judge person B much more harshly.

    I think there is some deeper analysis needed here to explain the discrepancy.

    1. Esti
      Esti November 10, 2012 at 4:52 pm |

      Because a “pure free speech position” doesn’t mean that you need to like or value all speech equally?

      1. EG
        EG November 10, 2012 at 5:14 pm |

        For real. I am absolutely in favor of free speech for everybody. But I sure as hell condemn people who express racist, misogynist views. Free speech just means that I don’t call for the government to prevent them from expressing such views.

      2. matlun
        matlun November 10, 2012 at 5:43 pm |

        Right. But why do we take that position in this case? Because we do.

        I see two main arguments. Either we could argue that even if both possibilities are equally likely, believing that she speaks truth is less damaging than believing she is lying. Because assuming the lie feeds into misogynistic narratives.

        Or perhaps we are not in fact perfectly agnostic about whether she is lying or not? Perhaps we believe it is more likely that she is speaking truth than not? So that assuming a lie would be more irrational than assuming that it is truth.

        These I think are both defensible arguments. But ones I did not see Jill make in the OP.

        1. amblingalong
          amblingalong November 11, 2012 at 4:20 am |

          The OP is specifically about the ethics of naming your rapist. It emphatically does not address how you should react to someone else accusing someone of rape. They’re related, but different, ethical issues.

    2. Henry
      Henry November 11, 2012 at 10:10 pm |

      because we thinking people are more likely to believe an accusation of this type, just like we are more likely to believe anyone accusing someone of a crime. that’s exactly why courts created innocent until proven guilty – to make people back up their gut reaction. personally i believe all such accusations until there’s some reason to disbelieve them, and even then w/o ironclad proof of innocence (like the accused was not present at the time) i still reserve judgment in favor of a crime victim. sadly many people do not, but still outing them serves a very useful social function. the question would you have let MJ babysit your kids answers it all

  6. Kathleen
    Kathleen November 9, 2012 at 2:56 pm |

    It was a great article. But oh god, the comments — even at the Guardian, where they are often at least okay — I stopped scrolling down when EVERY SINGLE ONE, as far down as I got, ignored the entire content of the article to empathetically project into the position of the potentially falsely accused. clearly, clearly, clearly what is Really Important.

    1. Drahill
      Drahill November 9, 2012 at 3:00 pm |

      We do need to consider the wrongfully accused. During law school, I was part of a project that helped wrongfully accused / exonerated people get their records cleaned.

      First thing, in most cases of wrongful accusations, there is no false claim. Most men who are wrongfully accused are implicated by women who were, in fact, assaulted. They’re not lying. Most men are implicated through mis-identification, bad police work or overzealous prosecutions. That does not make these women liars. However, being falsely accused of anything is a terrible experience, and people who are need as much support as anybody else.

      Your statement just comes off as callous in light of stuff like that. It’s not “us vs. them.” Wrongfully accused people are victims. Victims who make mistakes in identifing their attackers are victims. It is not a zero-sum game.

      1. James
        James November 9, 2012 at 3:15 pm |

        Jill’s article deals with accusations made in a public forum, not those formally accused in a criminal system. It’s an important distinction she makes, and while we should always beware an overzealous police force, I don’t really think we need to be to rush to the defense of someone accused of a crime in a non-criminal context.

        1. Drahill
          Drahill November 9, 2012 at 3:22 pm |

          The problem with your argument is that even though it is outside of the criminal context, it is not outside of the legal context. A criminal allegation outside the criminal court context (even if true) can still form the basis of a civil action because it can result in damages. In fact, in this case, it would be presumed to result in damages. And even accusation made in public forums can form the basis of criminal charges against the accuser if it is done in certain ways – criminal harassment is one example. So the forums overlap quite a bit.

        2. James
          James November 9, 2012 at 3:34 pm |

          I might be off base here, but don’t those laws and penalties only apply where there is malicious intent? I mean, if I accuse someone of a crime but it was actually their identical twin, that’s not exactly slander, is it?

        3. Drahill
          Drahill November 9, 2012 at 3:43 pm |

          James: Defamation has varying levels. A good faith misidentification wouldn’t be defamatory, because there is no level of fault (not all defamation requires malice – some kinds only require recklessness). However, even good faith statements can form the basis for liability (civil or criminal) if they are carried out in certain ways (that is where harassment can come in). That’s where you can have the overlap of the forums.

      2. Kathleen
        Kathleen November 9, 2012 at 4:02 pm |

        oh yes, *my* position comes off as callous.

      3. Andie
        Andie November 9, 2012 at 4:53 pm |

        Drahill,

        I understand that many of those who ARE wrongly accused may be a case of mistaken identity by women who were really assaulted but mis-identified their rapist.

        However, the common response to a rape accusation isn’t “How does she know she has the right guy?” It’s usually “How do we know the bitch isn’t lying for whatever reason?”

        When people bring up wrongful accusations, it’s almost NEVER in the contest of a good-faith misidentification, because A) most rapists are known to their victim and B) society seems all too willing to believe that a woman is a liar than a man is a rapist.

      4. Andie
        Andie November 10, 2012 at 12:40 pm |

        I’ve got a comment in mod just basically saying that most of the time when people talk about false accusations, they’re not saying “Well, how do we know she’s got the right guy?”

        Usually it’s “How do we know she’s not lying?”

        Discussions of false accusations are almost never based on the good-faith misidentification scenario. It’s always based on a malicious intent on the part of the woman.

    2. matlun
      matlun November 9, 2012 at 3:11 pm |

      As someone who has been following the CiF comments for quite some time, I think the comments have actually become significantly worse in just the last year.

      Anyone else share this observation?

      (Sorry for OT post)

    3. im
      im November 12, 2012 at 12:42 pm |

      Yeah, I am a little worried about the negative consequences when feminism inevitably wins the War of Wrath. But it is nothing compared to what is happening now.

  7. Jadey
    Jadey November 9, 2012 at 3:02 pm |

    I would not criticize someone for outing their rapist. Not with the tremendous pressures and silencing. From a criminal justice standpoint, I don’t think it’s a particular effective way to monitor and address a perpetrator’s behaviour, but then again in many cases we aren’t do that at all anyway, because the perpetrators are never convicted.

    It does strike me again, though, how unbelievably polarized our reactions to sex offenders are. And not *between* groups either – even for the same person, responding to different scenarios. Once someone has been deemed a “legitimate” sex offender (legitimate in the sense of accepted as a sex offender; i.e., fits with a stereotype of “who” sex offenders are), they are among the most reviled and hated people on the planet. Anyone working in corrections can tell you that the only thing worse than being a sex offender in prison is being a child sex offender. The experiences in the community are just as bad, even to the point of interfering with meaningful supervision. The reaction can be negative to the point of being disproportionate.

    But on the flipside, as most people here well know, there is an enormous resistance to labelling some people, however much they have earned it, as sex offenders. As much as we hate (some) sex offenders, we also hate victims of sexual assault. We bend over backwards to justify, validate, and explain away some truly awful sexual crimes, perhaps because we know that we have reserved some of the worst social punishments we can concoct for “legitimate” perpetrators, and want to make sure that only certain people have this dished out to them. (And I am so very much using the general “we” here.) It’s like we only have two settings for sex offenders – drastic overreaction and equally drastic underreaction. It’s baffling and frustrating.

    So on one hand, I don’t think that outing rapists on YouTube is going to be productive in reducing or addressing sexual offending on the whole – not just because the criminal justice system is dysfunctional, but because the entire social responses to sexual assault is dysfunctional, because the bloody thing is built on misogyny, racism, classism, and so forth. So I can also understand when someone’s only recourse for any kind of voice in the matter, when the justice system and our social discourse are so incapable of helping, is YouTube.

    I know of people who have published non-fiction books about their history of child abuse at the hands of their parents, and been given literary awards for it. I don’t have a problem with that. Why would I have a problem with this?

    1. Anon21
      Anon21 November 9, 2012 at 3:17 pm |

      I think the instinct to understand sex offenders as inhuman monsters is responsible for both of the trends you identify. On the one hand, our society says that trash like that doesn’t deserve any rights, and so licenses violence against them in correctional environments and restrictions on paroled sex offenders that make it nigh-impossible for them to successfully reintegrate. On the other hand, we refuse to believe that anyone we know could be such a monster, partly because that would call into question our own judgment of our friends’ and family’s character. (Although I guess that doesn’t account for why so many defend accused rapists in the news when there’s no personal connection.)

      It’s an intractable problem. It’s good that society recognizes on some level that sexual assault is one of the most serious, horrible crimes. But both for purposes of detection and, in my view, for purposes of just punishment, we have to get away from this idea that sex offenders are literal monsters, rather than human beings who have committed awful acts.

      1. im
        im November 12, 2012 at 12:47 pm |

        I’d say I have to disagree. If the number of sex offenders imprisoned is few, but their suffering is high, it will put a healthy fear of committing the act into other people. Plus the numbers work out that way as well. (Yay for utilitarianism!). Not optimal by a long shot, but the idea of a punishment that fits the crime is kind of ridiculous.

        1. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan November 12, 2012 at 1:18 pm |

          People are notoriously terrible at statistics, and even worse at applying said statistics to themselves — I don’t think that rapists will be deterred by low-rate-but-super-mean* legal sentencing. We need a cultural change, not a prison tweak.

          *Like, making them watch only the middle episodes of Battlestar Galactica seasons over and over.

        2. Jadey
          Jadey November 12, 2012 at 1:26 pm |

          *Like, making them watch only the middle episodes of Battlestar Galactica seasons over and over.

          YOU MONSTER.

        3. Jadey
          Jadey November 12, 2012 at 1:29 pm |

          I’d say I have to disagree. If the number of sex offenders imprisoned is few, but their suffering is high, it will put a healthy fear of committing the act into other people. Plus the numbers work out that way as well. (Yay for utilitarianism!). Not optimal by a long shot, but the idea of a punishment that fits the crime is kind of ridiculous.

          Deterrence is a popular theory. Empirical support for it is pretty much absent, however. The people who are most susceptible to deterrence are the ones who are least likely to commit crimes in the first place. Deterrence just does not address the empirically-supported criminogenic factors (pro-criminal attitudes and associates, unsatisfying work or unemployment, substance abuse, etc. on the psychological side of things – poverty, relative deprivation, and structural ambivalence, etc. on the sociological side).

        4. matlun
          matlun November 12, 2012 at 1:38 pm |

          Human psychology does not work like that.

          Deterrence as a principle does not work well in the sense of very severe punishments decreasing crime. The difference in deterrence between say ten years in prison and the death penalty seems to be very limited.

          What works much better as deterrence is a high perceived likelihood to get caught. Even if the punishment is not as harsh.

        5. matlun
          matlun November 12, 2012 at 1:41 pm |

          the idea of a punishment that fits the crime is kind of ridiculous.

          Is it? I would say it is a very important principle for the justice system to have any legitimacy at all.

          Whether in some cases this could include slowly boiling the rapist in cooking oil is a separate discussion.

    2. moviemaedchen
      moviemaedchen November 9, 2012 at 6:17 pm |

      This. I think you brought up some good points, Jadey.

  8. Scott Cunningham
    Scott Cunningham November 9, 2012 at 3:08 pm |

    Ugh. The comments are reminding me of my witnesses.

    “But what if it’s a false accusation and I saw the situation wrong too and the security footage was photoshopped and you can’t call it rape because you’re a man and it didn’t happen on the solar equinox and Jupiters moons weren’t in the right alignment and oh that poor man! You’ll ruin his life if you tell, Scott! Boo hoo hoo!”

    Heck, I’m going to post that at the Guardian.

  9. Unree
    Unree November 9, 2012 at 3:44 pm |

    Once someone has been deemed a “legitimate” sex offender (legitimate in the sense of accepted as a sex offender; i.e., fits with a stereotype of “who” sex offenders are), they are among the most reviled and hated people on the planet.

    True, Jadey, but men who rape women are not in that category. Especially if they knew their victims before they raped them. These men seldom go to prison, and if they get there, nobody has a problem with them. Jill’s examples of victims who outed their rapists don’t fit your point.

    1. Jadey
      Jadey November 9, 2012 at 4:08 pm |

      ? Yes, that was my point. On one hand, I abhor the uselessness of our extraordinary antipathy toward a select (and largely already marginalized) group of offenders (which does not negate the actual harm they have done), while simultaneously recognizing that the *rest* of the perpetrators (and we really don’t know exactly how many there are) are completely protected, to the point where publicly outing them on YouTube is probably one of the few reasonable responses left, even if I also recognize that it’s a pretty futile effort itself. I’m going beyond just the examples in the OP, to be sure, but my point was never that Jill’s examples *were* the ones being viewed as “legitimate” sex offenders. Quite the opposite.

      “Men who rape women” is a pretty broad term though – it’s about more than gender. A rich, well-connected white man raping a poor/disabled/non-white/sexually-active woman is going to be in a very different situation than if those characteristics are reversed.

      1. Unree
        Unree November 9, 2012 at 10:49 pm |

        I agree with you in principle: but has there ever been a rapist who got in serious trouble, public-opinion wise, when his victim was an adult woman of any race or class or identity? The closest nominee I can think of is Mike Tyson twenty years ago, and I suspect that most people in the US think he’s pretty much okay.

        1. Jadey
          Jadey November 10, 2012 at 12:25 am |

          If you are relying purely on celebrity rapes, which are the ones most likely to get a lot of play in the media, you are adding a whole other characteristic (on top of wealth and frequently whiteness) that makes it very unlikely that that man will be labelled (widely) as a sex offender.

          But if you don’t think that non-white, non-rich, non-celebrity rapists aren’t more likely to be prosecuted, convicted, and sanctioned by the community, especially when their victims are white, wealthy/middle-class “legitimate” victims… I don’t know what you to tell you.

        2. Zluria
          Zluria November 12, 2012 at 2:00 am |

          I remember two recent examples of this:

          There was a French guy, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was forced to resign from the European fund and couldn’t run for president because he raped a hotel worker in New York. There was a lot of buzz about him.

          I live in Israel, and our last president was a rapist. When it got out, there were giant demonstrations against him. Now he’s in prison, by the way.

      2. AnnieD
        AnnieD November 10, 2012 at 12:40 am |

        On your point about intersectionality and relative privilege, you need look no further than the treatment of Aboriginal girls who are sexually abused in my state, Queensland, Australia. There were two cases recently: one young

  10. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan November 9, 2012 at 3:52 pm |

    Ethically I am 100% okay with someone publicly outing and shaming their rapist, and best of luck to them in doing it, too. The question isn’t the ethics of outing some-rando-dude-who-might-be-a-rapist, much as the “but…but… FALSE accusations!” JAQ-offs might like it to be; it’s the ethics of outing someone who actually raped a person. Easiest fucking question ever. If you can do it, do it.

    1. Andie
      Andie November 9, 2012 at 4:58 pm |

      it’s the ethics of outing someone who actually raped a person. Easiest fucking question ever. If you can do it, do it.

      I know right?

      It’s INCREDIBLY unethical to go on Youtube and falsely accuse someone of rape. Of course it is. Nobody is trying to say it’s not unethical to do that.

    2. Beatrice
      Beatrice November 10, 2012 at 7:07 am |

      This.

      Outing one’s rapist is totally ok with me.

      Falsely accusing someone of any crime is deplorable and also has nothing to do with the topic.

      1. matlun
        matlun November 10, 2012 at 10:00 am |

        It depends on how you read the topic. There is the question on how we, as a society, should react to this type of allegation.

        Since none of us know the truth of the case, trying to simplify the discussion like this does not really work from a practical standpoint. Should we assume that the accusations are true or false? Should we just ignore the issue?

        1. Beatrice
          Beatrice November 10, 2012 at 5:05 pm |

          There is the question on how we, as a society, should react to this type of allegation.

          With compassion and understanding. For the raped woman, that is.

          Should we assume that the accusations are true or false? Should we just ignore the issue?

          Which issue? How probable do you think it is that a woman would put herself in the spotlight where she is sure to get all kinds of abuse (hello, internet, hello, youtubefuckingcommenters), in order to make shit up about someone? Especially when it comes to rape. Sorry that I’m not willing to question a woman in this situation simply on a miniscule chance that she is actually an evil lying monster determined to ruin some poor man’s reputation forever (I think I’ve seen that movie… er, movies).

          Seriously.

        2. matlun
          matlun November 10, 2012 at 5:50 pm |

          I was trying to counter the argument that we should assume a true allegation, since otherwise there is no ethical problem.

          The point is that if we actually knew 100% the truth, whether it is a true allegation or not, then there is no ethical problem in any case.

          Ie. If the reputation and life of an actual rapist is damaged by the truth coming out, who is going to argue that is unjust? It is not problematic at all, any more than saying that a false accusation is wrong.

          It is only if we look at it from the realistic position where we simply do not know the truth that the situation becomes unclear and we have a question to argue about.

        3. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan November 12, 2012 at 12:45 pm |

          matlun, I’m not sure what to do with this observation exactly, but I noticed that your argument assumes you will be told about a rape, and will have to judge the veracity; the arguments of many women on here assume they will be the target of that rape, and will only have to judge the ethics of their response to it.

          Just something I lady-noticed.

        4. im
          im November 12, 2012 at 12:53 pm |

          I would definitely urge this. It’s always seemed so tragic how people cannot speak out, how lacking in badassery the human race is.

          With the current state, the accused certainly will be questioned.

          In the future, we will hopefully have cooled down to the point where we dare urge restraint.

          So it all works out.

  11. John
    John November 9, 2012 at 3:57 pm |

    I don’t have any view whether the Complainant is telling the truth, but as a former criminal barrister (and Guardian reader) practicing before the higher courts in England, I can say that I don’t approve of this.
    If she has been abused by her father, then he belongs in prison, for a very lengthy bit of “bird” indeed.
    This video makes that objective harder to achieve. I appreciate she may not want to go down that route, but society as a whole is better off for having these creeps behind bars. If every rape victim did a video instead of going to the police, then criminals would always be able to get away with it. It will certainly make a conviction harder to obtain rather than easier as it could be said to prejudice potential jurors.
    I’m surprised that Jill as a wannabe lawyer has not emphasized that part of it. Society as a whole has a part to play in this. I don’t think YouTube videos actually serve the interests of justice at all.

    1. Anon21
      Anon21 November 9, 2012 at 4:06 pm |

      Jill as a wannabe lawyer

      Or as, you know, an actual lawyer. Seriously, what the fuck?

      As to your broader point: in a lot of cases, prosecution is highly unlikely, whether because of the passage of time or because police and prosecutors have made it clear that they aren’t interest in pursuing the perpetrator. In other cases, I can’t see how a public accusation on Youtube would make prosecution more difficult. You can certainly spin hypotheticals in which posting a public accusation would warn the perpetrator to destroy physical evidence or put an alibi in case, but I don’t know why you assume that’s the typical case.

    2. Donna L
      Donna L November 9, 2012 at 4:07 pm |

      Wannabe? Jill is a lawyer, and has been for some time, to the best of my knowledge.

    3. Scott Cunningham
      Scott Cunningham November 9, 2012 at 4:27 pm |

      Speaking as a guy who was victim-blamed by his witnesses who refused to testify and refused to hand over the security video, I don’t think the legal system actually serves the interests of justice at all.

    4. Pidgey
      Pidgey November 9, 2012 at 4:56 pm |

      From what I’ve read, many feminists and survivors think the criminal justice system is woefully inadequate at lowering the incidence of rape in society. I doubt that marginally increasing prosecution rates is worth keeping women silent about their experiences. My hope is that the social impact of women sharing their experiences will educate people about the harsh realities of rape and how common it is. There are way too many rape apologists, and I feel the remedy must be a social change, not just a legal one. That is why I support survivors publicly sharing their experiences, even if it makes the already difficult legal battle even harder.

    5. Alexandra
      Alexandra November 9, 2012 at 11:55 pm |

      I think you’re missing the fact that a lot of women know they don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of proving that they were raped in a court of law, because – and I’m speaking as an American here, forgive me I don’t know much about how criminal law works in the UK – effectively, in rape trials, the standard of proof is no longer that the prosecution needs to prove beyond any reasonable doubt, it’s that there can be no doubt at all, and also that the victim needs to have been raped in the right way by the right people at the right time, while having been the right sort of victim. Hell, there could be eye witnesses and videotape, and if victims weren’t nuns walking to mass at the time of their assault, courts of law will treat them like shit.

      1. matlun
        matlun November 10, 2012 at 5:16 am |

        That is a dangerous myth. The statistics actually show that the conviction rates and attrition rates are not markedly worse for rape than for other crimes of violence.

        It is a dangerous myth to spread since it will discourage many women from reporting that actually could get a conviction. If there is evidence, then the chances of a conviction are not that bad.

        1. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan November 10, 2012 at 10:19 pm |

          Evidence like the decade-old rape kits that never get processed? Or maybe evidence like the multitude of witnesses that… oh wait, do rapists usually rape in the middle of the street? They don’t? Well, then perhaps the actual videotape of the rape? But, honestly, the court can’t be sure she wasn’t pretending to be gang raped while unconscious* for a porno…

          Face it; the only “evidence” that you can truly count on to work 100% would be a married virgin white girl whose husband and father both taped her screaming “no” while a swarthy rapist jumped out of a bush at her and raped her. Also there should probably be a signed statement from the rapist that he was totally on-purpose knowingly raping her and knew it at the time.

          *True fucking story.

        2. samanthab.
          samanthab. November 11, 2012 at 5:40 am |

          Hmm. Yeah, you should be able to provide those stats then. You’re also ignoring that a rape victim is a clear witness to the crime. It’s not like getting a glimpse of a dude across the street.

        3. samanthab.
          samanthab. November 11, 2012 at 5:43 am |

          Also, autocorrect changed my screen name up thread, for anyone that cares. I wasn’t attempting to be the most transparent sock puppet since ever.

        4. amblingalong
          amblingalong November 11, 2012 at 4:55 pm |

          You’re both right, actually. There’s no contradiction between saying “there are huge systemic problems with the way the criminal justice system approaches rape” and “rape convictions are not actually as rare as you’re suggesting, and spreading that misinformation discourages people from reporting rape.”

          Two quick definitions: the attrition rate is the percent of reported crimes that end in conviction, and the conviction rate is the percent of prosecutions that end in conviction.

          Rape attrition rate: 13%
          Average violent crime attrition rate: 15%
          Rape conviction rate: 58%
          Average violence crime conviction rate: 54%

        5. amblingalong
          amblingalong November 11, 2012 at 4:56 pm |

          * all these numbers are specific to the UK

        6. samanthab.
          samanthab. November 11, 2012 at 5:44 pm |

          Hmm…well given this is a us-Ian based blog, I will use Us-Ian based stats: the arrest rates of rape vs. other violent crimes is 25 vs. 74 percent. I fail to see how that’s comparable. No, if we’re speaking in US-Ian terms, we are not both right.

        7. matlun
          matlun November 11, 2012 at 6:34 pm |

          @samanthab: Where did you get those statistics?

          When looking it up now, the latest FBI stats I could find showed a clearance rate of 41.2 for “forcible rape” and 47.7 for all violent crimes.

        8. amblingalong
          amblingalong November 11, 2012 at 7:20 pm |

          Hmm…well given this is a us-Ian based blog, I will use Us-Ian based stats: the arrest rates of rape vs. other violent crimes is 25 vs. 74 percent. I fail to see how that’s comparable. No, if we’re speaking in US-Ian terms, we are not both right.

          How in the world is arrest rate (that is, the number of arrests per 100,000 people in the general population) a useful indicator here? I don’t think you understand the statistics you’re throwing around.

          What you want is the attrition rate.

        9. amblingalong
          amblingalong November 11, 2012 at 7:40 pm |

          To break it down further: if your thesis is “people who report rape are significantly less likely to win a conviction than people who report other violent crimes,” what you need to do is find out what percent of reports of violent crime result in conviction, than find out what percentage of reports of rape result in a conviction, and compare the two. It turns out that there is a meaningful, but relatively small, difference.

          Knowing that a numerically larger number of people are arrested for, say, simple assault than rape is much less useful.

    6. William
      William November 10, 2012 at 10:09 am |

      I don’t have any view whether the Complainant is telling the truth, but as a former criminal barrister (and Guardian reader) practicing before the higher courts in England, I can say that I don’t approve of this.

      Well then I suppose its a good thing that appeals to authority don’t have much traction for me.

      I appreciate she may not want to go down that route, but society as a whole is better off for having these creeps behind bars.

      Way to make punishing someone for rape about protecting society rather than getting justice for a victim. I’ll also congratulate you on erasing a survivor’s agency in the name of social good. Rape culture does that, too. Just because in this case you’re talking about sending a rapist to prison doesn’t change the fact that you’re undermining the basic humanity of the person who was transgressed against.

      Society isn’t the victim of rape, nor are parents of a raped person, nor their husband or boyfriend. The victim of a rape is the person who has been raped and it is they who are owed justice. If they choose to out their rapist I couldn’t give two tugs of a dead dog’s cock what someone in a position of power approves of. God knows I didn’t when the courts failed me.

      I’m surprised that Jill as a wannabe lawyer has not emphasized that part of it.

      Fuck you for ignorance.

      Society as a whole has a part to play in this.

      And also for moral bankruptcy.

    7. seisy
      seisy November 10, 2012 at 2:12 pm |

      And what’s the conviction rate for all reported rapes in the UK? It’s like 5%, isn’t it?

      You want to know why I looked it up? When I was living in Scotland, a friend of mine was raped. She reported it. And one day, she got this little letter from the Crown office telling her that they didn’t think the case was worth pursuing, so they were dropping it.

      I think it’s fair to say that, going through the courts or not, the rapists are already getting away with it. But y’know, if the victims would just shut up about it and just report it- well, actually, I can’t see how that would change anything, considering the circumstances.

      1. William
        William November 10, 2012 at 4:42 pm |

        I think it’s fair to say that, going through the courts or not, the rapists are already getting away with it. But y’know, if the victims would just shut up about it and just report it- well, actually, I can’t see how that would change anything, considering the circumstances.

        It would maintain the status quo nicely and keep those who have a monopoly on disciplinary power the only game in town. Something tells me that both of those things lurk beneath John’s paternalistic clucking.

  12. Donna L
    Donna L November 9, 2012 at 4:17 pm |

    This is a different kind of situation, but it’s been 40 years, and I’ve still never publicly named the doctor who sexually abused me over a period of years beginning when I was 11. The thought of doing so still makes me anxious, even though he finally died a few years ago, in his late 90’s (to my great relief), and, legally speaking, you can’t libel the dead. Because I think there’s a small part of me that still wonders, what if I was misinterpreting what he did? What if there’s a rational explanation for it, even though neither I nor anyone I’ve ever told about it has been able to think of one? What if I made his name public and some grandchild of his happened to read it — do I really want to spoil someone’s memories of their grandfather? What good would it do, other than give me the satisfaction of actually saying his name out loud after all this time? (And such a classic WASP name it was, too; some people probably wouldn’t even believe a person with that name really existed.) I’m tempted, but I probably never will.

    1. PrettyAmiable
      PrettyAmiable November 9, 2012 at 7:45 pm |

      Donna, I obviously can’t know the specifics of how you feel, but everything you’ve posted on Feministe in the past suggests that you’re unlikely to be someone who misinterprets an assault. I don’t really think it’s possible to misinterpret assault, to be honest.

      Every decision you make as an assault survivor (or maybe I mean woman, here) will always be second-guessed. I’m sorry that you’re struggling this, but I hope you find the support here and in your offline life to do whatever will make you happiest. You’re in my thoughts.

    2. gahanon
      gahanon November 9, 2012 at 10:12 pm |

      Donna, I want to just remind you, because I can totally get possibly blocking this out, but you did name him in this comment when we were talking about abusers:

      http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2012/02/13/the-shit-list/#comment-433253

      I remembered it because your recounting was powerful. Hugs if you want them.

      1. DonnaL
        DonnaL November 10, 2012 at 10:22 pm |

        Wow. I feel like an idiot now. I completely, utterly forgot that I wrote about this before. Less than a year ago.

        Well. Now I’ve named him twice.

        Sorry, everyone.

      2. DonnaL
        DonnaL November 10, 2012 at 10:23 pm |

        Shorter version of comment in moderation: You’re right. I’m sorry. I completely forgot.

    3. Li
      Li November 10, 2012 at 9:32 am |

      Donna, as meaningless as it might be, I want to express my outrage and fury at all of the terrible injustices and violence you’ve had to face, including this one. i hope you find justice and peace.

    4. DonnaL
      DonnaL November 10, 2012 at 1:24 pm |

      Thanks, PrettyAmiable and Li. I guess the reason I was always reluctant until the last 8 years or so to identify what happened as sexual abuse (and still sometimes can’t help wondering) is that my parents sent me to the doctor in question, who was an endocrinologist at a famous research hospital, because I was so tiny at 11 (barely four feet tall), and he was a famous “growth doctor.” So he always claimed that all the things he did — including among other things photographing my genitals in various configurations, and directing me to masturbate (or try to, initially, since at 11 I had no idea what that was) in front of him so he could collect “samples,” which, once I was able to produce them a couple of years later, he “collected” himself with his hands and a test tube — were part of the examination process, so he could measure my “maturity” and calculate how close I was to reaching my final height.

      I was so embarrassed (and the whole process of going through male puberty* was so emotionally difficult for me for other reasons that of course I never said anything about it) that I never told my mother what happened, even though she used to ask, “what took so long? What was going on in there?” But he was a tall patrician doctor in a white coat in a position of great authority, and I made myself believe him, or try to. (When I was a child, nobody ever said a word about sexual abuse.)

      Until about 8 years ago, when a close friend of mine who used to be an assistant DA specializing in sex abuse case against doctors told me that there was no way this was legitimate, and I wrote to the hospital for my records, which they still had in their files, and lo and behold there wasn’t a single word about photographs of my genitals, or sperm samples, or anything like that.

      (I can’t help wondering what happened to all the photos and samples, not only of me but of other children. Maybe he still had them in his basement when he died 35 years later!)

      So I’ve kind of accepted that it was some form of sexual abuse, although I still wonder a little how he knew I wouldn’t say anything, or why I’ve never been able to find anything indicating that he ever did this to any other child. I can’t believe I was the only one, and that nobody else would ever have “talked.” And I’ve always been afraid that if I said anything, people would say I was imagining or misinterpreting what happened, and besides, why did I wait so long, until he was 90 years old or dead, and couldn’t defend himself.

      And I’ve also acknowledged to myself that contrary to what I always used to tell myself — that even if it was abuse, it didn’t matter because it didn’t really affect me — what happened was almost certainly the reason that for the next 30+ years I had anxiety attacks every single time I had a doctor’s appointment that I knew would involve taking my clothes off and/or having a genital examination. I don’t think it was a coincidence.

      Sorry for the derail.

      * Induced prematurely by the high doses of testosterone (in the form of an anabolic steroid, halotestin) which the same doctor prescribed for me beginning when I was 11 to help me grow; I had to take it every day for the next 3 or 4 years, and, ironically enough, it ended up substantially reducing my final height. Even back then, I hated taking it and secretly wished it were estrogen, which I somehow already knew about. And hated the results even more.

      1. DonnaL
        DonnaL November 10, 2012 at 2:57 pm |

        And besides, even if he thought he had legitimate reasons, it just wasn’t right, and he shouldn’t have done it.

        And I’m not making any comment about anything, but: http://www.pelhamweekly.com/obit.php?sid=3406

        1. MrRabbit
          MrRabbit November 11, 2012 at 11:28 am |

          When you’ve been abused it’s really common to doubt yourself and wonder why it happened to you and maybe you just misunderstood, etc. That’s because we hear other people dismiss or deny abuse, so we learn early on that we are living in a world that silences and shuts down the truth of victims. We get really hostile and disbelieving reactions, how can we not internalise that? How can we not feel shame even though it’s not ours? And of course this is the exact environment in which abuse and abusers thrive.

          It was his actions, so in speaking his name you aren’t to blame if his relatives find out what kind of person he was. You do not need to protect them. You are also under no obligation to talk about the abuse and name him. I understand the dilemma though. I went through a lot of internal arguments about whether to name my abuser to my extended family. He was dead and some people in the family didn’t know he was a pedophile and they talked about him as a great man. I decided I wasn’t strong enough at the time. Now all the family knows, except the ones who passed away in the meantime.

          I’m angry this happened to you. It was so, so wrong.

      2. Bagelsan
        Bagelsan November 10, 2012 at 10:22 pm |

        Donna, not that you need to be told this, but: that was so so SO totally sexual abuse. If I saw a doctor acting like that I’d be reaching for a scalpel and not asking questions.

      3. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune November 11, 2012 at 4:45 pm |

        Jesus, omg, Donna, that is pretty obviously sexual abuse and a particularly horrific abuse of power to boot. Huge hugs if you want ‘em.

  13. John
    John November 9, 2012 at 4:27 pm |

    Sorry Jill if I have impugned your professional standing: 2nd year law student is how I read you described this evening. Sincere apologies if that is untrue. (What type of law do you practice out of professional interest?)

    Anon21
    If it is a widely-viewed allegation it may prejudice potential jurors. That is not a fanciful scenario at all.

    1. umami
      umami November 10, 2012 at 2:55 am |

      If you’d written “law student” and not “wannabe lawyer” I think people would have been a lot politer in correcting you.

      Even allowing for your mistake, your phrasing was rather condescending. Just saying.

    2. William
      William November 10, 2012 at 10:17 am |

      How to get a conviction is not a survivor’s concern. That is a concern for the courts. If your system is broken then it is on you to fix it. Fixing it by restricting the rights of survivors, which necessarily exposes them to legal liability for refusing your directions, is perverse. Remember, you are here to enforce the rule of law. It is not a survivor’s responsibility to make your job easier, it is your responsibility to pursue justice.

      But us survivors? You can blame us all you want, but all that does is make some of us see the law as a poor avenue for justice. Naming a rapist is an act of vigilantism and it is always ethical. That people feel the need to do so should signal to you that you are failing. Do better before people decide they need more drastic measures to make up for your weakness.

  14. Bob W
    Bob W November 9, 2012 at 4:28 pm |

    I strongly support the right of a young woman who has reached a cathartic point in her recovery from childhood abuse from her father to strike out in any manner that offers her “voice” to publicly leave that horrid part of her life to the past.
    For those that argue the legal sematics and possible untruths in such actions JUST WATCHT THE VIDEO
    There is no doubt in my almost senile old mind that she is being truthful and she has earned the right to proclaim her freedom from the horrors of her past
    Forget the intracacies of the legal system…. She did what was needed!

  15. BHuesca
    BHuesca November 9, 2012 at 4:41 pm |

    “Better 100 guilty go free than one innocent be convicted” – the Innocence Project that was working at my alma mater, though I’m sure I’ve heard it elsewhere. The issue in contention, then, is : does convicted mean by a jury of a court or a jury of public opinion?

    1. Bagelsan
      Bagelsan November 10, 2012 at 10:25 pm |

      “Better 100 women get raped than one man get accused.”

      Oh, sorry, I misquoted you slightly didn’t I? That’s what you sounded like. Must’ve got something in my ear.

      1. Alexandra
        Alexandra November 11, 2012 at 12:46 am |

        In the context of the innocence project, it’s talking about better 100 guilty people go free than one innocent person get executed by the state, more often than not.

        1. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan November 12, 2012 at 2:09 pm |

          Right. Because the death penalty is totally relevant to rape in the US, and not a derail at all.

      2. amblingalong
        amblingalong November 11, 2012 at 4:48 pm |

        “Better 100 women get raped than one man get accused.”

        Oh, sorry, I misquoted you slightly didn’t I? That’s what you sounded like. Must’ve got something in my ear.

        Oh, for fuck’s sakes. Really? You’re argument, purged of snark, is that we should just abandon presumption of innocence because feminism?

        1. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan November 12, 2012 at 2:11 pm |

          My argument is that, in the context of this discussion, saying that it’s better that 100 guilty men should go free than 1 innocent be convicted is telling rape victims to shut the hell up. The end.

      3. amblingalong
        amblingalong November 11, 2012 at 5:31 pm |

        Also, it’s really weird that in your mind “accused” and “convicted” are synonymous.

      4. im
        im November 12, 2012 at 1:04 pm |

        I am of the opinion that that ratio is way too high and is especially way to high in cases such as rape where 1. The perpetrators are usually serial perpetrators and 2. It is well established that the crime is both rampant and massively underpunished.

  16. Taylor
    Taylor November 9, 2012 at 5:21 pm |

    Lord have mercy, those comments.

    I’ve always been of the idea that survivors take what justice they can in a system that’s stacked against them to begin with, so if outing their rapist or abuser is what does it, then fine.

    But because these personal accounts can spread like wildfire on the net, especially on sites like Tumblr, maybe that’s why people look at it as vigilante justice, and as ‘bad’, especially when people can respond to the named/shamed person in the post/video with threats of violence. I’ve seen as much happen, especially if the person is on a site as well. Books just don’t get that response, for the most part.

    1. im
      im November 12, 2012 at 1:08 pm |

      That is actually a good point. Outing in a community context or something might be best…

      Although on the other hand, a false *community* accusation was what ruined Noah Brand’s attempt at college. Although that was with all fairly extreme feminists who would not dare urge restraint.

      I wonder about the possibility of ‘Name and Challenge’ rather than Name and Shame.

  17. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers November 9, 2012 at 5:38 pm |

    I am for this. Yes, in theory it could be used to defame an innocent person. But the backlash against those who accuse anyone of rape is enormous; in order to be willing to take the risk of putting your name out there and saying that a specific person raped you, the odds are overwhelming that you’re telling the truth.

    The false accusation brigade has always, always failed at empathic logic — basically the ability to imagine “what would lead a human to do such a thing?” Given two people, a person who says they were raped and a person who claims they did not commit the rape, where one of them is lying, who is more likely to be the liar? Let’s take this apart:

    Motivations to lie about being raped:
    You will be punished by friends, family or loved ones for having consensual sex. Cannot possibly apply in circumstances where the accuser was not known to have had sex with anyone, as you’re far safer never admitting to the sex than lying and saying it was rape, as long as no one knows it happened. Also, anyone who is open about their sex life and has little shame cannot have this motivation, so the idea that being sexually active makes you more likely to lie about rape is exactly the opposite of the reality here.
    You will be punished by friends, family or loved ones for something, unless you have a really good excuse, so you claim to have been raped. This will only produce a false accusation if the accuser is placed under enormous pressure to name someone, generally speaking; the accuser is lying to get out of being questioned about something he or she did or didn’t do, and does not want their story to come under scrutiny. Tawana Brawley was placed under tremendous pressure to name her attackers; her motivation for lying about a rape were that her stepfather would beat her for violating curfew.
    You are mentally ill. This may produce the delusion that someone did rape you, when in fact they didn’t. Countering this, the mentally ill are more likely to have been raped than the mentally abled.
    You were involved in a bitter breakup, and you are accusing your ex. Countering this, men use rape as revenge against women, and women are likely to want to break up with a man who raped them; so it is quite plausible that a woman in a bitter breakup really was raped by her ex, just as if not more plausible than the likelihood that she’s lying for revenge.
    You stand to gain financially if you can prove the rape, or you are seeking an out of court settlement. This only applies if the rapist is powerful, rich or famous and the accuser is not; countering this, rich, famous, powerful men are more likely to assume that all women must consent to sex with them just because of how awesome they are, and are more likely to commit rape based on their sense of entitlement. Also, in most cases the accuser went straight to the police; if the motive is financial gain, one would expect an attempt at blackmail.
    You are just an incredibly evil person. Countering this, you are not a character in a cartoon. This motivation is nonsensical.

    Motivations to commit rape:
    You will have an orgasm.
    You think it’s fun.
    You want revenge on someone, or on women in general, or on gay men in general, or some other general group.
    You believe you deserve sex.

    Motivations to lie about not commiting rape:
    You don’t want to go to jail.

    So. If the man committed rape — and the motivations to commit rape are ugly, but fairly obvious — he has an overwhelmingly good reason to lie about it. If the accuser was not raped, he or she has very, very little motivation to lie and claim to have been. Committing rape may get you revenge on someone *and* sexual pleasure; at best, lying about being raped can only get you revenge. No one gets off from falsely accusing someone.

    Logically, as soon as Chris makes the statement, “Joe raped me,” the question is not “did Chris have motivation to have sex with Joe” but “does Chris have motivation to lie about being raped by Joe, and is this motivation more or less likely than Joe’s motivation to rape Chris?” Under almost all circumstances, the person who is accused has greater motivation to be lying.

    Now, people do get accused falsely, almost always in stranger rape circumstances where the victim did not know their assailant and picked them out of a lineup, or in cases where adults in therapy are encouraged by well-meaning but inept therapists to believe that they were raped as a child when there is otherwise no evidence that this happened and the victim did not “remember” it before therapy began. In the first case, the victim was in fact raped, they’re just mistaken about who did it, and DNA evidence will usually solve that one way or another; in the second case, the victim is basically being mentally raped by the therapist, and is not to blame for suffering from false memories.

    But in cases where the victim knew their assailant, and no one is disputing that sex happened or there is DNA evidence that it did, then as long as the victim is not being pressured to call it rape, and has not attempted to blackmail, and does not suffer from any condition that may cause delusions, and does not have a negative history with that person… the victim has almost no motive to lie. Given a “he said, she said” where one of the parties has a reasonably good motivation to commit the crime and the other party has no motive to lie and claim they did, how is it that we don’t automatically draw the conclusion that the accused rapist is the liar?

    If I claim you stole my stereo, and the cops find my stereo in your apartment, you are probably going to be found guilty of stealing my stereo. If you claim that I gave it to you, you will very likely not be able to use that as a successful defense, because why would I give you a stereo and then lie and claim you stole it? What’s my motive? But somehow, women are thought to have more motivation to claim they were raped than people have to claim that a person they gave a gift to actually stole the item. Under most circumstances, evidence that you have the thing I claim you stole is ironclad, and while it is true that consensual sex happens, it’s also true that consensual gift-giving happens, and maybe I gave you the stereo and then I just claimed you stole it because I’m an evil cartoon villain and I want to ruin your life. Or maybe you really did steal it. Which is more likely? The same is true of rape.

    (Note that in the above list of conditions that may lead a person to make a false accusation, they are also almost all conditions that make a person more vulnerable to being raped. So evidence that, for example, the victim suffers from schizophrenia and has delusions only suggests that a false accusation is *possible*, not that it has actually happened. Such cases would need to be reviewed carefully and the evidence examined closely, as both the motivation to lie and the likelihood that the victim was really raped are higher than normal. I’m arguing not that people in such circumstances are probably making false accusations, I’m arguing that they are the only people who could possibly be doing so.)

    I believe that the accusation of rape, when presented with evidence that a sexual act happened, should be almost cut and dried. I believe that the accusation of rape, when the victim is claiming that it was a person he or she knows who did it and is not being unduly pressured to claim rape, is close to cut and dried, and there would need to be significant evidence to prove the accused’s innocence to satisfy me. At this point people will whine about innocent until proven guilty, but innocent until proven guilty doesn’t work the way they think it does. The fact that you were accused of a crime *is* a piece of evidence, and circumstantial evidence, such as “He likes to play with fire and one witness saw him near the house, therefore he is likely to be the arsonist”, is used all the time to convict people. Only in rape and domestic violence is the eyewitness report of the victim not respected as evidence in its own right. It does not violate the rule of “innocent until proven guilty” to say that if there is evidence that the bare facts occurred, then the fact that one party says it occured in a criminal way is itself evidence of guilt unless more compelling evidence of innocence surfaces.

    1. marle
      marle November 11, 2012 at 7:52 am |

      On the subject of motivations: I was recently involved in a bitter breakup. he’s a horrible person who cheated on me and lied to me. I wish the worst on him. But I’m not going to accuse him of rape, not because I wouldn’t enjoy seeing him in jail, but I don’t want to waste more of my life on him. I don’t want to spend a whole lot of time talking about him, and not even the horrible stuff he did do but some made up story that I have to tell perfectly everytime and if someone spots a flaw in it and realizes I’m lying then I’m outed as a horrible person. I think that’s something people don’t think about. Most people think lying about rape is a horrible thing, so are you going to lie to your friends too? Spend all your life hoping no body realizes you’re a liar? Even if you have a core group of friends who you tell and think you’re cool, what if one doesn’t really think you’re cool and outs you? What if you want to make other friends later on? I don’t think anyone really thinks about that stuff when it comes to rape accusations, but it’s there. One could say that the same could be said about rapists, but the problem here is rape culture gives them reasons they can tell themselves and everyone else that it was her fault. And that’s a terrible problem. 

      1. amblingalong
        amblingalong November 11, 2012 at 4:47 pm |

        I’m sorry, but I’m a bit concerned that you think the entire ethical reason to not lie about someone raping you is that

        a) it’s a lot of effort and
        b) your friends might not believe you

        Really?

    2. im
      im November 12, 2012 at 1:11 pm |

      Yeah. Although it happened to Noah Brand (In the context of a somewhat radical, super sex negative feminist college) so we know it has happened at least once.

  18. E.
    E. November 9, 2012 at 9:42 pm |

    I’m surprised no one has (to my knowledge) brought up the rapist wall at Brown circa 1990. Same idea minus the social media bits.

    1. T
      T November 10, 2012 at 12:47 am |

      The what wall?

    2. anon
      anon November 10, 2012 at 10:55 am |

      There was something similar to that in the women’s room at a bar where I used to work.

    3. Angie unduplicated
      Angie unduplicated November 10, 2012 at 10:57 am |

      More outing, please. I suspect that most of you are too young to remember the early second wave outing of a Daytona rapists. Five women decided to discourage him from further rapes by ganging up on him and beating hell out of him.

      1. William
        William November 10, 2012 at 1:17 pm |

        But but but but but…vigilantism is bad and we should trust authorities to protect us and advance the interests of justice through the courts (which are not racist, misogynistic, or oppressive).

        1. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan November 10, 2012 at 10:26 pm |

          The police were totally gonna catch him, honest, but they had to beat a black teenager up instead and that kept them, like, super busy!

        2. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve November 10, 2012 at 11:37 pm |

          But but but but but…vigilantism is bad and we should trust authorities to protect us and advance the interests of justice through the courts (which are not racist, misogynistic, or oppressive).

          Vigilantism is great. Just think how fortunate the victims of lynchings were compared to people who had to go through the racist court system

        3. William
          William November 11, 2012 at 9:50 am |

          Vigilantism is great. Just think how fortunate the victims of lynchings were compared to people who had to go through the racist court system

          While I recognize the reason in your argument I’m just not terribly interested in it. I know that vigilantism is bad, I know it leads to terrible outcomes when it becomes a societal norm but…that doesn’t help much when I know that the man who raped me is out there raping other people. The broader social argument of “what if everybody did” really didn’t come into play when I had to make my decision. In other, less serious, situations in which vigilantism has come up in my life the experience has been unmitigatedly positive and certainly both more effective and less humiliating than dealing with the police.

          I don’t expect anyone to like, or even approve of, vigilantism. But what you need to understand is that it will happen when you have a system which is broken. You will have people who call a brother or a friend instead of filing assault charges in a DV situation. You will have working class parents scrape together enough money for an Upstanding Italian Gentleman from Bridgeport to give a child molester a beating that is just shy of fatal. You will have teenagers with their entire lives ahead of them standing outside of their rapist’s apartment with a gun in their pocket trying to get over the fear of getting caught and chastising themselves for being accomplices in rape because they didn’t have the courage to commit murder. On the other side of the coin you’ll have opportunistic violence masquerade as justice because vigilantism has become normalized.

          I know you like to be snarky, so do I, but the question of violence isn’t academic for all of us. The failure of our justice system isn’t something we can be appalled by from a distance. For some of us this is where we have had to live. Some of us have been raped and seen our rapist go free. Some of us have seen our family members abused and known that there is nothing legal we can do. Some of us have been victims, some of us have had to understand what is meant by the term “survivor.” You’ll forgive me if I’m not immediately swayed by finger wagging from a person in the privileged distance.

      2. PrettyAmiable
        PrettyAmiable November 10, 2012 at 1:20 pm |

        Too young. Cheering in my head.

        Sometimes I think it would be awesome to write a comic book about a character who had been raped who masked-crusades her way into beating the hell out of rapists, but then I get sad because most badass chicks in the media have rape in their background. Maybe it’d work with a dude protagonist.

        1. Niall
          Niall November 10, 2012 at 3:56 pm |

          Maybe it’d work with a dude protagonist.

          That sounds a lot like a work of fiction I’ve got on the back burner right now. I’ve only got a very basic outline of plot and character sketches, and yes the protagonist is a guy. But his motivations for why he does what he does are very different from why the average dude would usually do them; like playing the hero, affirming his masculinity and manhood by dominating other men…you know all the usual bullshit that accompanies partriarchy and social conditioning.

          Even if it never gets published, I’ll be happy that I just put it down on paper.

        2. PrettyAmiable
          PrettyAmiable November 10, 2012 at 4:23 pm |

          Oh, I hope you end up pursuing it. Did you spend time struggling with the gender issue at all?

        3. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan November 10, 2012 at 10:29 pm |

          I had a similar idea for a comic, actually! But the protagonist was never raped herself, she just avenges survivors. Avenges them mooore or less with their knowledge and consent… She was morally a bit grey, in my head. :p

        4. jennygadget
          jennygadget November 10, 2012 at 11:08 pm |

          This is why whenever rape culture gets to be too much, I put on Hard Candy.

          It even avoids the “kickass girls/women are that way bc they were raped” trope bc she’s not avenging her own rape, but rather another girl who has been raped (and murdered, and thus can’t do her own avenging).

          AND since she’s a girl, not a woman, who turns the tables on an adult who tries to set her up, there’s not really even the vibe that girls _can’t_ avenge their own crimes. It’s just happens to not be what’s happening here.

      3. tomek
        tomek November 10, 2012 at 1:49 pm |

        would u be celebrate if it was men who ganged up on female rapist and beat up i think not

        1. William
          William November 10, 2012 at 2:13 pm |

          Yes, yes I would. I would also celebrate if men ganged up and beat a male rapist or if women ganged up to beat a female rapist. Gender don’t really come into play.

        2. Niall
          Niall November 10, 2012 at 3:39 pm |

          @tomek:

          would u be celebrate if it was men who ganged up on female rapist and beat up i think not

          Female rapists are so far and few between so it’s hard for me to imagine such a hypothetical scenario.

          Would I cheer if a bunch of male rapists ganged up on a male rapist and beat the living shit out of him? You’re damn right I would. After all in all the years I’ve been reading feminist/social justice blogs like this one, the importance of men being proactive and true allies is stressed over and over again and that it means letting other misogynistic assholes know their behaviour is vile and inexcusable. And dealing with rapists like this is one of the best ways I can think of, even if it only scares the shit out of would be rapists by making an example out of one of them so that the others get the message.

        3. tomek
          tomek November 10, 2012 at 4:08 pm |

          hmm i surprise william. i wonder how many other hear think like u

          niall it telling that you cannot answer original question i pose and have to change rapist gender to male

        4. Niall
          Niall November 10, 2012 at 4:36 pm |

          niall it telling that you cannot answer original question i pose and have to change rapist gender to male

          OK you little troll, if it makes you feel any better then yes I would be pretty satisfied with seeing a genuine female rapist being beaten up as well. But I should qualify that by saying I would have some concerns about the dynamics of a situation in which say five men gang up on one women, given the reality of gender privilege. A beating would probably be accompanied by verbal abuse and humiliation and few men (or women for that matter) seem capable of describing the reprehensible actions of a woman without using gender-specific insults like “cunt” or “whore” etc.

          There’s also the reality that a lot of people who generally believe rape is wrong, might actually approve of it in some circumstances by saying shit like “yeah rape is wrong, but in X case it’s justified and the perp deserves it.” To give you an example, a few years back I used to do some volunteer work for an online watchdog group dedicated to exposing internet sex predators by posing as minors in online chatrooms. (I won’t mention the name of the particular organization for the simple reason that I don’t like giving them publicity, but they gained some noteriety when they were hired by a particular TV network to collaborate with them in their investigative shows into exposing online predators. With this information, there’s probably more than a few people here who know which organization/TV show/network I’m referring to.)

          Anyway, back to my point; whenever there was a “bust” made of a perp which eventually resulted in a conviction, other volunteers would applaud and cheer but also make joke about how the perp would get a taste of his own medicine’, so to speak, taking glee in the fact that he’d become someone’s ‘bitch’ to use the prison expression or being befriended by bubba, his new big cell mate and what have you. I and a small few others tried unsucessfully to argue that joking about someone being raped under any circumstance is not OK. Needless to say, I am no longer involved with said organization.

        5. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve November 10, 2012 at 11:30 pm |

          Would I cheer if a bunch of male rapists ganged up on a male rapist and beat the living shit out of him? You’re damn right I would.

          WHAT? So you would empower a group of male rapists in order to teach one male rapist a lesson? You make less sense than Tomek (that’s not a reference to his language, which is all too easy to understand, rather his attitude, which is baffling,)

        6. Niall
          Niall November 10, 2012 at 11:57 pm |

          @Fat Steve

          WHAT? So you would empower a group of male rapists in order to teach one male rapist a lesson? You make less sense than Tomek

          My sincere apologies. That SHOULD have read “a group of men” and NOT a group of rapists. That’s what I get for not proofreading before hitting the ‘submit’ button.

          To Jill and everyone else I apologize for my mistake and any negative effects it may have had on those who read it. I’ll be more careful in future.

      4. Niall
        Niall November 10, 2012 at 3:28 pm |

        Five women decided to discourage him from further rapes by ganging up on him and beating hell out of him.

        I’ve never heard of them, (so maybe I am too young to remember) but it sounds like there’s a great story for a movie in there; even if only one of the made for TV variety.

        If I ever had an opportunity to meet these women – or anyone else like them – I’d shake their hands and pin a medal on each one of them for their courage and initiative.

      5. Niall
        Niall November 11, 2012 at 12:13 am |

        Again @Fat Steve:

        Vigilantism is great. Just think how fortunate the victims of lynchings were compared to people who had to go through the racist court system

        Sorry but you fail sarcasm 101 with this post. You’re comparing two situations that aren’t even remotely similar, save for the fact that they both involve citizens taking justice into their own hands.

        The racist white mobs, KKK, cops and others who lynched blacks during the Jim Crow / civil rights period (I assume that ‘s what you’re referring to, please correct me if I’m wrong) were doing so as acts of repressive terrorism and maintaining the status quo. People taking the law into their own hands when the justice system has failed the victim of a heinous crime like rape which violates not only their body but also their dignity, self-respect and sense of well being.

        Please not I’m not necessarily saying the latter is right (but I won’t say it’s wrong either) but seriously let’s not compare apples and oranges here.

        1. Niall
          Niall November 11, 2012 at 12:22 am |

          OK I have a response to Fat Steve which is in moderation right now, so I’ll take this opportunity to clarify something else I didn’t phrase carefully enough

          What I meant to say was:

          The racist white mobs, KKK, cops and others who lynched blacks during the Jim Crow / civil rights period (I assume that ‘s what you’re referring to, please correct me if I’m wrong) were doing so as acts of repressive terrorism and maintaining the status quo.

          Contrast that with people taking the law into their own hands when the justice system has failed the victim of a heinous crime like rape which violates not only their body but also their dignity, self-respect and sense of well being. A completely different matter.

          Also I should have specified that the racist mobs were taking the law into their own hands to mete out what they perceived to be justice under their racially segregated order.

          OK I think this shows I should stop posting for now and go do something else. My brain is fuzzy for lack of sleep.

      6. amblingalong
        amblingalong November 11, 2012 at 4:10 am |

        More outing, please. I suspect that most of you are too young to remember the early second wave outing of a Daytona rapists. Five women decided to discourage him from further rapes by ganging up on him and beating hell out of him.

        I’m sure they held a trial and found him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt first, right? Or is it possible they beat the shit out of a perfectly innocent man?

        Sorry, I’m with Fat Steve here. I don’t have the luxury of trusting gangs of people to make totally impartial and legitimate decisions when they decide to take ‘justice’ into their own hands. Or have you forgotten why so many of those lynchings actually took place?

        The amount of unexamined white privilege on this comment thread is making me retch.

        1. William
          William November 11, 2012 at 9:59 am |

          Sorry, I’m with Fat Steve here. I don’t have the luxury of trusting gangs of people to make totally impartial and legitimate decisions when they decide to take ‘justice’ into their own hands.

          No one is asking you to trust gangs, but when a victim decides that going to the police, likely having their case ignored, being called a liar if they do go to court, having a low likelihood of getting anything resembling justice, and having the entire process create a paper trail of motive should they decide to not trust the authorities who have never given a shit about them, I’m not going to judge when someone opts out of the process. I don’t like it, but I’ve been there. I know a lot of other survivors who have.

          The amount of unexamined white privilege on this comment thread is making me retch.

          I could say the same of the people who have never been forced into this choice judging those who have been.

          I’ll also say that I find it interesting that we’re somehow talking about lynchings instead of outing rapists. Its almost as if we want so badly to believe in the goodness of those in power that we’re willing to chastise victims for an extremely mild form of social vigilantism by comparing them to the Klan murdering black men for sport.

        2. amblingalong
          amblingalong November 11, 2012 at 4:43 pm |

          I’m sorry, how is a group beating ‘extremely mild?’

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 11, 2012 at 4:50 pm |

          Amblingalong, I think William’s referring to outing rapists there, not beatings.

        4. amblingalong
          amblingalong November 11, 2012 at 5:24 pm |

          He better not be, since he’s responding to a comment in which I explicitly talked about why mob violence as a response to rape made me uncomfortable. It would be incredibly racist, or at least ignorant, of him to erase that topic in favor of returning to a different narrative he finds more comfortable, while using that substitution to disingenuously accuse me of something like rape apologism.

        5. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 11, 2012 at 5:46 pm |

          amblingalong, I can’t presume to speak for William, but I read the whole thread like this: William disapproved of the conversation turning towards violence at all, and considered that a derail (not your comment, the whole thread), and wanted to turn the conversation back to outing. However, simultaneously, he approved of group violence against rapists.

          Maybe it’s my perspective (growing up in a relatively racially homogeneous yet incredibly patriarchal society) but I kind of agree with him. I agree that there’s racial/class issues that William isn’t necessarily seeing, though. That said, I think the fact that people on this thread leaped from “outing rapist on Facebook/Blogspot” to “beating rapists in great ravening female hordes” is telling, and William totally has a point there.

        6. amblingalong
          amblingalong November 11, 2012 at 7:11 pm |

          That said, I think the fact that people on this thread leaped from “outing rapist on Facebook/Blogspot” to “beating rapists in great ravening female hordes” is telling, and William totally has a point there.

          But the people who made that leap did so approvingly.

          Anyways, his snark about lynchings really isn’t appreciated. I get that we all come from different cultural contexts, and I respect that, but the link between vigilante violence against accused rapists (and no, I am not including ‘outing’ on Facebook in that category) and lynchings is not a remote one for some of us.

          I guess we’re not disagreeing that much (you and I, not William and I).

        7. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve November 11, 2012 at 8:29 pm |

          I’ll also say that I find it interesting that we’re somehow talking about lynchings instead of outing rapists. Its almost as if we want so badly to believe in the goodness of those in power that we’re willing to chastise victims for an extremely mild form of social vigilantism by comparing them to the Klan murdering black men for sport.

          You were scoffing at the idea that ‘vigilantism’ was bad. You used the term vigilantism. I pointed out a specific example where vigilantism was bad. Lynchings were not ‘murdering black men for sport,’ they were in many cases, as amblingalong keeps saying, murdering black men under the guise of preventing them from raping white women.

        8. trees
          trees November 11, 2012 at 9:03 pm |

          In this construct where all the victims of rape are white women and all of the accused rapists are black men, where do WOC (and so many others!) fit? Is there an issue with a made up scenario of an imaginary group of black women taking vigilante action against an imaginary black male rapist? How about Native women taking action against a white male rapist?

        9. William
          William November 11, 2012 at 9:17 pm |

          He better not be, since he’s responding to a comment in which I explicitly talked about why mob violence as a response to rape made me uncomfortable. It would be incredibly racist, or at least ignorant, of him to erase that topic in favor of returning to a different narrative he finds more comfortable, while using that substitution to disingenuously accuse me of something like rape apologism.

          I like you, amblingalong, and we tend to agree on more than we do not so I’m making a conscious decision to step back right now because it sounds as if you are activated and I know that I am.

          What I will say is that the “extremely mild social vigilantism” I was referring to was outing a rapist. Yes, that exists on the same continuum as the (probably not a random) “mob” beating you were reacting to which exists somewhere beyond the highly individual vigilantism I won’t apologize for advocating. We’re talking about a point where the rights of rape survivors and the things we have left come into conflict with some of the ways in which people of color in the US have been brutally oppressed. I’m not trying to erase that, but I’m not giving up on the idea that vigilantism can, in fact, be moral. Both topics are a part of the discussion. All I can really say is that mob lynchings are a lot closer, in terms of the oppression that is being marshaled, to rape apologist than anything you’ve said in this thread. I know you’re not a rape apologist. I also know that there is a pretty strong pull against vigilantism in our society that has absolutely nothing to do with disgust for lynchings.

          But the people who made that leap did so approvingly.

          And I won’t apologize for that, not even a little. The only reason my rapist is still alive is because I didn’t have it in me to pull the trigger when I had the chance. I know he raped me, I was there. I remember the rapes, I remember the one hearing that happened, I remember the way he hid behind the oppression of a minority group to frame the entire farce as homophobia, I remember how I felt when I found out there had been a conflict of interest. Vigilantism there would have had nothing at all to do with lynchings in the south. It wouldn’t have been mob violence. It wouldn’t have been people in power finding a scapegoat for a crime or a convenient way of maintaining the social hierarchy. It would have been a victim looking for the justice that they were denied or, depending on your perspective, a hurt child looking for vengeance. For me the social fabric was already unraveled and the rule of law was already a bad joke.

          I understand why the idea of that kind of vigilantism would be terrifying for others. I’m really not trying to be snarky about lynchings and I am truly sorry if thats how it came off. I understand that the fears it invokes are not distant for others, but what the fuck else do I have? Really, what else can I turn to to get rid of this heaping mound of black shit that was left inside of me? How else can I get rid of the shame and disgust and unbelievable fucking rage? How else can I get past all the pain I had to go through to lock down my bisexuality because the only narrative I had to deal with what happened to me was that gay men are monsters? How can I get back the years of thinking that I was a monster because we have a society that says rape survivors deserved it and violence is bad and I just couldn’t stop thinking about killing the man who raped me? How else can I heal from damage that all the repression and horror have done to my relationships? How else can I make the man who left me with this feel just a little bit of what I did? The rules don’t work and I don’t have any answers, I don’t have any solutions, I don’t have any way forward or socially enlightened response. All I have is pain and ruin and an overwhelming desire to hurt something, even if that meant myself, that left my life damned near over before it began. In all honesty, what else do I have besides directing all of this at the person who is responsible?

        10. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 11, 2012 at 10:54 pm |

          I get that we all come from different cultural contexts, and I respect that, but the link between vigilante violence against accused rapists (and no, I am not including ‘outing’ on Facebook in that category) and lynchings is not a remote one for some of us.

          Fair enough, amblingalong, but you might also want to consider that sometimes vigilante violence against rapists is pretty much the only recourse that victims – Native women raped by a white man, for example – might be able to have any realistic chance of getting.

          I guess we’re not disagreeing that much (you and I, not William and I).

          Eh, I didn’t think we were disagreeing at all, I just thought you were misreading William’s statement and wanted to clarify.

        11. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan November 12, 2012 at 12:52 pm |

          Lynchings were not ‘murdering black men for sport,’ they were in many cases, as amblingalong keeps saying, murdering black men under the guise of preventing them from raping white women.

          Yeah, “under the guise” — no one involved necessarily believed a rape occurred. So please don’t pretend that actual raped white women had as much to do with it as it was White Patriarchy doing it’s thing. For funsies and power.

        12. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve November 12, 2012 at 2:33 pm |

          Yeah, “under the guise” — no one involved necessarily believed a rape occurred. So please don’t pretend that actual raped white women had as much to do with it as it was White Patriarchy doing it’s thing. For funsies and power.

          Bagelsan, that’s exactly what I was saying. My point was that vigilantism (which I don’t consider outing your rapist to be,) has more to do with mob mentality than avenging any actual crime. You’re not actually disagreeing with me.

        13. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve November 12, 2012 at 2:38 pm |

          I understand why the idea of that kind of vigilantism would be terrifying for others. I’m really not trying to be snarky about lynchings and I am truly sorry if thats how it came off. I understand that the fears it invokes are not distant for others, but what the fuck else do I have? Really, what else can I turn to to get rid of this heaping mound of black shit that was left inside of me?

          William, if you find these sort of revenge/vigilantism comments therapeutic, by all means keep saying them. Just because I openly voice disagreement with the content does not mean that I think it’s wrong for you to put those ideas out there, especially if it helps you even in the tiniest way and I apologize if it seems like my retorts are judging you and not the concepts I disagree with.

        14. William
          William November 12, 2012 at 2:47 pm |

          William, if you find these sort of revenge/vigilantism comments therapeutic, by all means keep saying them.

          Its not just words, Steve, and I think thats a big part of the problem here. For you these are just concepts, abstracts to consider and challenge and mull over. For me I still remember the weight of the gun in my hand, the guilt over not killing another human being because my fear of prison probably meant that other children were raped, the fact that I’ve wondered what was wrong with me that I slept well after other times when no one died but lives changed. Its not just ideas for all of us.

        15. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 12, 2012 at 7:09 pm |

          William, for all the things you said that got out of mod just now… I am so, so, SO sorry. And fucking hell, there’s no way to win for us, is there? Get abused, no matter what our sexuality is, it’s just our trauma talking, we’re not REALLY bisexual/gay/poly/queer/kinky/asexual/sexual/trans. Unless what we are is monogamous, vanilla, (moderately) sexual, straight and cis. Then our sex life has absolutely nothing to do with our trauma, according to society. Fuck it, fuck. Fuck.

          William, if you find these sort of revenge/vigilantism comments therapeutic, by all means keep saying them.

          Steve, I know you meant that sincerely, but it came off pretty condescending.

        16. William
          William November 13, 2012 at 9:27 am |

          Unless what we are is monogamous, vanilla, (moderately) sexual, straight and cis. Then our sex life has absolutely nothing to do with our trauma, according to society. Fuck it, fuck. Fuck.

          No, no, no, then we’re repressed and frigid and just waiting to become a volcano of perversion.

          Less bitterly More substanatively, I do think that past trauma has a role in the development of sexuality. I don’t believe we’re hard wired with an in-born lust for this set of genitals or that. I believe that we’re all born, to borrow a pair of criminally underused terms from Freud, polymorphously perverse and fundamentally bisexual. Our lives and societies and traumas serve to decide which avenues of sexual expression are allowed, which are forbidden, which are cut off. Trauma doesn’t make people anything, it just restricts their range of options by creating triggers. I believe this not only because it appears clinically accurate but because it gives me the power to own (and to alter) my sexual expression. Trauma made some kinds of desire terrifying and demanded that I develop an aggressive homophobia to keep me from getting too close, understanding the role of trauma let me break down the terror and live my goddamn life again. I’m glad you found your way through the minefield, too.

        17. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 13, 2012 at 11:56 am |

          No, no, no, then we’re repressed and frigid and just waiting to become a volcano of perversion.

          LOL.

          William, that sounds really, really rough, and I’m glad you’re through it now. WEll, to the extent anyone ever really gets “through” trauma, you know? And I really agree with you about being born perverse and bisexual, haha. Luckily, I had a weird internal disconnect between my sexuality and others – not others’ sexuality, just other people in general – for the longest time, that let me sort shit out for myself, and left me more ragey and upset than actually doubting myself when people pulled the whole “abuse-created sexuality” thing on me.

      7. im
        im November 12, 2012 at 1:28 pm |

        THe rapist wall:
        I am of the opinion that that is not a very good idea. If people who don’t know the victim will be making serious harrassment or assaults against those who rape, then the incentives for false accusations rise from ‘near zero’ to ‘fairly high for people with a sufficiently large grudge’

        Like, I think that the accuser being anonymous is a bad idea. And while the survivor should be trusted pretty highly (but not considered infalliable) that trust MUST not extend to anybody not a direct victim or an eyewitness.

        On beating the crap out of rapists:
        Intuitively, the lynching comparisons seem really, really ridiculous but my intuition can be wrong on things like this plus most rapes are by somebody known (which will mean often the same race). I don’t know enough about the character of lynchings to really judge.

        I swear, though, I keep wondering whether I should stop reading about the daily horror before I get myself killed trying to be Batman.

  19. amblingalong
    amblingalong November 9, 2012 at 11:04 pm |

    There are two separate question here, right? I mean, the ethics of outing someone who assaulted you is (or should be) a no-brainer; if you want to, go for it, more power to you.

    The question people seem to be arguing over is how the rest of us (in the media or just as a society) should treat that disclosure. Personally, for example, I’m extremely leery of newspapers publishing the names of alleged offenders, because people get it wrong a lot. Saying that a significant number of people are wrongly accused of rape is not saying that a significant number of survivors lie about being raped; misidentification is way more common than fabricating the entire thing. And (entirely coincidentally, I’m sure) it seems that men of color bear the brunt of that trend. The Innocence Project has done some really good work on studying this.

    So where I come down is this; if people who are raped or otherwise victimized want to name their assailant, I am 100% behind that, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to get behind any specific act of naming myself.

    Two entirely different issues, I think.

    1. Alexandra
      Alexandra November 10, 2012 at 12:00 am |

      On the subject of misidentification and rape – I read an extraordinary book several years ago on this subject called Picking Cotton. It was co-authored (ghost-written, but co-authored) by a woman and the man she misidentified as her rapist. She was a white woman living in the south during the 1980s, she was raped by a black man during a home invasion, and during the police investigation a black man who had nothing to do with the crime was identified as her rapist.

      It was a powerful, challenging read because it underscored how the twin evils of racism and sexism destroyed these people’s lives… but the coda, in which they became close friends after his exoneration, was really something.

      1. Kerandria
        Kerandria November 10, 2012 at 2:34 am |

        That sounds like a powerful read. Thanks for the recommendation!

      2. Annaleigh
        Annaleigh November 10, 2012 at 6:28 pm |

        Thank you, thank you, I’ve just requested it through interlibrary loan, it sounds like an excellent book and a powerful story.

    2. William
      William November 10, 2012 at 10:20 am |

      misidentification is way more common than fabricating the entire thing.

      But misidentification is really only likely to be a problem in the very small minority of rapes which are committed by a stranger. The lion’s share of rapes, as we know, are committed by people known to the victim. If someone says “my father raped me” or “John Smith raped me” that carries a lot more weight than “this man who I identified in a line up and now know is named John Brown raped me.” Yet here we are, talking about the margins…

      1. catfood
        catfood November 10, 2012 at 10:38 am |

        It’s a case at the margins, and also likely is it for that accusation to get around to people who know or care about this “John Brown”? Unless the survivor is famous or manages to score significant media attention, telling all her friends about “John Brown” isn’t going to hurt him in any significant way.

        So yeah, the misidentified stranger scenario? Not so compelling. And when the rapist is an acquaintance or family member, the chance of misidentification is pretty small.

        1. amblingalong
          amblingalong November 10, 2012 at 5:17 pm |

          So yeah, the misidentified stranger scenario? Not so compelling.

          What does this even mean? Because it’s less common than other scenarios, it’s not worth giving a shit? And let’s just ignore all the racial/class baggage while we’re at it?

          What the hell is your point, exactly?

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 11, 2012 at 4:53 pm |

          For fuck’s sake, amblingalong, saying “statistically small chance” is pretty fucking obviously not “doesn’t ever happen”.

          Also, if someone was raped by someone they have difficulty picking out of a lineup, they’re probably not going to know the dude/tte’s name to out them on social media, again for fuck’s sake.

        3. amblingalong
          amblingalong November 11, 2012 at 5:08 pm |

          Also, if someone was raped by someone they have difficulty picking out of a lineup, they’re probably not going to know the dude/tte’s name to out them on social media, again for fuck’s sake.

          You’re responding to an argument I didn’t make. Come on. The original post that is making everyone flip a shit:

          Personally, for example, I’m extremely leery of newspapers publishing the names of alleged offenders, because people get it wrong a lot. Saying that a significant number of people are wrongly accused of rape is not saying that a significant number of survivors lie about being raped; misidentification is way more common than fabricating the entire thing. And (entirely coincidentally, I’m sure) it seems that men of color bear the brunt of that trend.

          \
          For fuck’s sake, it’s almost as if you didn’t read what I wrote, and you just were looking for an opportunity to pile on.

          Naw, that can’t be it.

        4. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 11, 2012 at 6:07 pm |

          \
          For fuck’s sake, it’s almost as if you didn’t read what I wrote, and you just were looking for an opportunity to pile on.

          Which would make total sense if I’d been participating in the thread at all, until just now. But please, by all means, take the opportunity to yell at me.

          I actually don’t have a problem with your statemetn that’s apparently making everybody “flip their shit”. I reckon a significant amount of stranger rapes, particularly ones where the victim can’t really see the rapist clearly, have the same risk of misidentification as assaults/attempted murders by strangers. Which is to say, fairly significant. Which isn’t the victim’s fault, it’s really just math.

          That said, I really do think it’s pretty irrelevant to this discussion, since a) the vast majority of rapes are committed by people known to the victim, and b) even in the remainder, stranger rapes where the victim finds the perp in a lineup tend to be covered in newspapers anyway, so are much more likely to be outed, and c) if the victim can’t identify hir rapist, then there’s no outing that’s going to happen, is there? I mean, an outing needs a name. That’s kind of the DEFINITION. “So this one guy with a mole on his left arm, wearing a red sweatshirt and neon pants, raped me in an underground parking lot last Friday” isn’t an outing. “Roman Polanski is a piece of shit rapist” is.

          So yeah, talking about stranger rapes really, really, REALLY is a derail here.

        5. amblingalong
          amblingalong November 11, 2012 at 7:07 pm |

          Which would make total sense if I’d been participating in the thread at all, until just now. But please, by all means, take the opportunity to yell at me.

          My post was really that much more yell-y than yours? And yeah, I assumed you’d read the thread before getting all ‘for fuck’s sake’ on me.

          So yeah, talking about stranger rapes really, really, REALLY is a derail here.

          Again, in the context of my original post, no; I was talking about the difference between the ethics of outing someone and the ethics of how other people should react to that outing.

        6. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 11, 2012 at 11:00 pm |

          My post was really that much more yell-y than yours? And yeah, I assumed you’d read the thread before getting all ‘for fuck’s sake’ on me.

          amblingalong, I was responding directly to your post that was above mine in the thread. And reading =/= participating. You can tell, because they’re different words and all.

          Again, in the context of my original post, no; I was talking about the difference between the ethics of outing someone and the ethics of how other people should react to that outing.

          And like I said, I didn’t actually have a problem with your original statement(s), I just didn’t think stranger rape misidentification relevant to the discussion. The thread didn’t begin there, but it had gone there by the time I piped up. So yeah. Had you and the others come in here talking about Republican policies wrt same-sex marriage, I would have had exactly the same response: accurate yes, relevant no, thus derail.

        7. amblingalong
          amblingalong November 12, 2012 at 2:13 am |

          Alright, I’m still confused by what happened, but I respect you and I’m happy to just leave it at that.

        8. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 12, 2012 at 10:25 am |

          amblingalong, sorry I got angry, this whole thread’s just been derail after derail and I guess I snapped. Also, I’ve been dealing with exactly this fucking thing in the last few months. Wondering whether to out my abuser to the rest of my family, and feeling horrifically guilty that I trusted my mother when she said she’d tell them, because of course she didn’t, and he was around my little cousins recently, though I don’t know if anything happened, and now I’m terrified he maybe got to them. Fuck knows he got to ME right in front of the rest of the family and everybody was all “lalala can’t see a thing”, so. So I guess I’m a giant raw nerve about the topic right now.

        9. amblingalong
          amblingalong November 12, 2012 at 12:09 pm |

          I’m so, sincerely, deeply sorry you have to deal with that. As many virtual hugs as you want.

      2. amblingalong
        amblingalong November 10, 2012 at 5:18 pm |

        Yet here we are, talking about the margins…

        Oh sorry, I forgot that literally the only thing we were allowed to think or care about was the statistically average case. Hey, black people are a minority to, so why do we give a shit about what happens to them? Well argued.

        1. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan November 10, 2012 at 10:34 pm |

          You’re right; just because there apparently cannot be a discussion of rape without incredibly rare occurrences being brought up that just happen to try and silence rape victims, why should anyone have a problem with discussing the margins? The margins is where the important people men get hurt! Frankly, what we need is more time spent talking about TEH MENZ.

          /sarcasm, if that wasn’t obvious.

        2. amblingalong
          amblingalong November 11, 2012 at 4:03 am |

          without incredibly rare occurrences

          No. Black men going to jail for crimes they did not commit is not an ‘incredibly rare occurrence,’ and neither is misidentification of rapists, whether by victims or the police. And stranger rapes are a minority, but they are not ‘incredibly rare’ either; they’re between about 20-25% of all rapes. A significant number of people are wrongly prosecuted for rape. Most of them are brown. That is not the same thing as saying many people lie about being raped. I can’t believe you’re non-ironically claiming that talking about people on the margins isn’t a valuable thing to do.

          Acknowledging that rape narratives impact black men as well as women is not ‘what about the menz’ you privileged asshole. What the fuck Bagelsan, you’re like one of my three favorite commenters here. Where is this coming from?

        3. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan November 12, 2012 at 12:38 pm |

          I’m not talking about ignoring marginalized people, I’m talking about how we always fucking start discussing the rare-ass marginal occurrences whenever rape is the topic. I’m sick of black-man-white-lady-stranger-rape getting trotted out when it’s off-topic in an outing discussion, it’s off topic in a discussion of incest and grooming, and when it’s off-topic in a discussion about outing the person who raped you, not a discussion about how police line-ups are useless.

          Yes, black men get the short end of the stick when it comes to false accusations. Duh. I’m totally on board. Is there some part of the “justice” process where they don’t get the short end of the stick? Men of color are disproportionately accused; women of color are disproportionately victimized. Often by their families, often by white men who they can identify perfectly. So why are you focusing on the dude end of the POC gender spectrum? When I hear “but BUT the black victims …of false accusations!” all I hear is that we’re still talking about the black men.

          Maybe if you’d give more of a shout-out to the not-at-all-rare cases where girls and boys and women are groomed and repeatedly abused by a known and downright trusted member of the community then I would take your less on-topic points more to heart. And maybe I’m being myopic about this, and you’re just trying to add nuance, but that’s not how it strikes me at the moment.

        4. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan November 12, 2012 at 1:04 pm |

          For what it’s worth, amblingalong, you’re one of my top commenters as well. I just really disagree with you right now.

        5. im
          im November 12, 2012 at 1:31 pm |

          Feminism (esp. trans-feminism) has a kind of weird relationship with the margins. Not really a double standard, exactly, but there seem to be all these hidden rules about when you are allowed to generalize and when you are not.

        6. amblingalong
          amblingalong November 12, 2012 at 7:39 pm |

          I completely understand where you’re coming from. For what it’s worth, I never intended for that particular discussion to go on for so long; all I wanted to do was distinguish between the ethics of someone outing their own rapist, and the ethics of believing someone named a rapist is automatically guilty, since a lot of people seemed to be arguing with different definitions of the OP in their mind. I definitely did not intend for the example I chose to make that distinction to become a derail.

          Intent being magic, and all. Frankly, I probably should have just stopped responding to the comments on my post.

          (esp. trans-feminism)

          Come again?

      3. amblingalong
        amblingalong November 10, 2012 at 5:22 pm |

        But misidentification is really only likely to be a problem in the very small minority of rapes which are committed by a stranger.

        Also, ~22% is not so vanishingly small that it’s not worth discussing. That’s almost a quarter of all rapes. For god’s sakes.

        1. William
          William November 11, 2012 at 10:06 am |

          Also, ~22% is not so vanishingly small that it’s not worth discussing. That’s almost a quarter of all rapes. For god’s sakes.

          Of all rapes or of reported rapes? Because if we’re going to talk about the impact of narratives lets talk about how much easier it is for someone to go to the police when they’re raped on their way home from work by a black man than when they’re raped by the white captain of the football team after a date.

          More to the point, when we’re talking about outing we’re, almost by definition, not talking about stranger rapes. Misidentification is a huge problem but its not generally a vigilante problem so much as a police problem. In this country in this time if we’re talking about a black man being misidentified and punished we’re talking about the police doing their usual “lets fuck up some brown folks” routine and not a victim mistakenly ginning up a lynch mob. If you’re going to look for vigilante justice you have to know who you’re looking for. I’d trust a lone victim to do a much better job of avoiding misidentification than a police force which is lazy, racist, violent, and willfully evil.

        2. amblingalong
          amblingalong November 11, 2012 at 5:17 pm |

          Sure, William, no disagreement. So why the fuck did you attack my original post, since I literally said nothing to contradict what you just wrote?

        3. William
          William November 11, 2012 at 9:22 pm |

          Sure, William, no disagreement. So why the fuck did you attack my original post, since I literally said nothing to contradict what you just wrote?

          Honestly? Because this is a raw nerve and I’ve spent a lot of years having to fight back against people who demanded that I shut the fuck up and stop reminding people that I’m tainted “forgive and forget.” I apologize if that got triggered.

        4. amblingalong
          amblingalong November 11, 2012 at 9:27 pm |

          Honestly? Because this is a raw nerve and I’ve spent a lot of years having to fight back against people who demanded that I shut the fuck up and stop reminding people that I’m tainted “forgive and forget.”

          I’m sincerely sorry you have to deal with that. And I’m even more sorry if I gave the impression I would give the same advice.

        5. William
          William November 12, 2012 at 9:48 am |

          And I’m even more sorry if I gave the impression I would give the same advice.

          I recognize that that isn’t what you were suggesting. I’ve got a longish post in moderation upthread and it seems like we ended up at each other’s throats. I won’t presume to speak for you, but I know that this conversation has me triggered and activated so I came out swinging. Thats not an excuse, but I hope it will be an explanation. I still stand by what I’ve said, but you’re right that I should have been more sensitive to some of the other vectors of oppression that my personal experience of vigilantism are likely to trigger.

  20. Li
    Li November 10, 2012 at 9:27 am |

    Ok. So I am, for a number of reasons, linking this particular article with some hesitance, even though I think it’s both important and relevant to the discussion at hand (please don’t justify that hesitance by posting any form of abusive comment on the linked posts or by engaging in victim blaming). Earlier this year, a woman called Molly wrote a series of articles and put up a number of posters in Sydney outing the man who had raped her. Here is the blog post in which she details, explicitly, her rape and the grooming the man who raped her used (Content warning for detail physical descriptions of rape, grooming and victim blaming).

    Molly’s decision to out her rapist came after a long period in which he (Benjamin McCullagh-Dennis) specifically avoided accountability processes and manipulated the communities surrounding him to support him over his victim.

    For Molly, publicly outing Benjamin was the last of a series of options to hold him accountable for what has, especially with further information, clearly been a long pattern of rape and manipulation. And what’s important about her story is the way in which both standard justice systems and anarchist accountability systems have failed her.

    Outing rapists can sometimes be the only path to justice available to survivors. It’s easy, I think, to see rape within the paradigm of “innocent until proven guilty”. But it’s also sometimes a mistake. Rapists manipulate exactly those systems in order to continue operating.

  21. Stella
    Stella November 10, 2012 at 2:26 pm |

    What about the victim? The victim enjoys anonymity, would it be legal to expose her identity, if it isnt the court to do so?

    1. Lolagirl
      Lolagirl November 10, 2012 at 3:09 pm |

      What about the victim? The victim enjoys anonymity, would it be legal to expose her identity, if it isnt the court to do so?

      Are you referring to the U.S.?

      Because if so, no, rape victims are not entitled to a presumption of anonymity in most circumstances. Minors, maybe, but that is usually after the court has reached a verdict and only if the presiding judge uses her discretion to seal the record of that particular case. In general, the confrontation clause of the Constitution requires that a defendant be able to know the identity of the complaining witness/victim. Public record laws also make the identity of a CW easily accessible to anyone who wants to seek it out.

      In reality, rape victims who actually come forward and seek the conviction of their rapists commonly experience their own names getting dragged through the mud by their rapists as well as the scorn and shaming of those in their community.

      By the way, the tone of your comment comes off as, well the victim gets their anonymity, so why doesn’t the accused?

    2. EG
      EG November 10, 2012 at 3:40 pm |

      Because the victim has been raped. She’s not the one who has done anything wrong.

      And victims’ identities get exposed all the time.

      1. Stella
        Stella November 18, 2012 at 7:40 am |

        We are talking about alleged rapists not convicted rapists.

    3. amblingalong
      amblingalong November 10, 2012 at 5:21 pm |

      If I understand your question correctly, yes, if someone falsely accuses you of rape it would be entirely ethical to identify them publicly as having done so. Of course, as with the original scenario, that doesn’t mean everyone else should assume all such accusations are accurate.

  22. Stefanie
    Stefanie November 10, 2012 at 5:13 pm |

    If the so-called justice system does NOTHING about sexual assault- justice, prevention, intervention, even “punishment”- why shouldn’t survivors warn others in an open space? Has anyone ever heard of bathroom stall lists of “men to avoid”?- yup this exists, and why shouldn’t it? Until we live in a culture that asks what it can do to stop men’s gender violence, and support its survivors.

    1. TomSims
      TomSims November 11, 2012 at 11:49 am |

      “If the so-called justice system does NOTHING about sexual assault- justice, prevention, intervention, even “punishment”- why shouldn’t survivors warn others in an open space? Has anyone ever heard of bathroom stall lists of “men to avoid”?- yup this exists, and why shouldn’t it? Until we live in a culture that asks what it can do to stop men’s gender violence, and support its survivors.”

      Makes perfect sense to me

  23. tomek
    tomek November 10, 2012 at 5:52 pm |

    if we go by idea “innocent until proved guilty” the public need support this to so expose rapist is make disrespect of justice system innocent until proved guilty. so by logic if accuser woman show no evidence then is false acusation because no evidence no proof, therefore rapist innocent.

    1. tomek
      tomek November 10, 2012 at 6:05 pm |

      sorry i think wat i say come wrong because of poor english but in system innocent until proven guilty, not possible prove rape. can with forenstic show sex but prove not lack of consent, you see? so dificult to persecut rapist in justic

      1. Lolagirl
        Lolagirl November 10, 2012 at 7:03 pm |

        Tomek, the following advice is given only assuming for the sake of discussion that you aren’t some 16 year old kid in Tulsa sitting in his parent’s basement trolling for the lolz.

        What you are asking would require, at minimum, an additional year or two studying English language and grammer as well as a couple of classes in U.S. Jurisprudence.

        In other words, you have no idea what you’re talking about, and you appear as though you are being deliberately obtuse at times. Quit while you’re behind already. If my suspicions where you are concerned are correct? Get off the computer already, stop JAQing around on the internets, and go do your homework.

    2. amblingalong
      amblingalong November 10, 2012 at 6:30 pm |

      so by logic if accuser woman show no evidence then is false acusation because no evidence no proof, therefore rapist innocent.

      By logic. Indeed.

      1. Bagelsan
        Bagelsan November 10, 2012 at 10:36 pm |

        Tomek’s forte, clearly.

    3. matlun
      matlun November 10, 2012 at 7:42 pm |

      That is not how the principle “innocent until proven guilty” should be used. You could view it as three categories
      1. Proven guilty
      2. Proven innocent
      3. Not proven either way

      For very good reasons we have chosen not to bring down the power of the government and justice system on anyone not in category (1). That does not mean that there is no difference between category (2) and (3). That we do not have a conviction is not proof that there was a false accusation.

  24. Annaleigh
    Annaleigh November 10, 2012 at 6:21 pm |

    I think it’s ethical. Whether it’s a good idea, I guess depends upon the specifics of the situation.

    In the years I spent doing anti-abuse activism, I talked regularly about being an incest survivor, and what that meant, but I have been careful not to give details that someone who was familiar with my family or with my community could use to figure out my abuser’s identity. I don’t do that to protect my abuser, not at all. But I do feel that the situation with my family and with my community is a complicated one so I prefer not to out him. However, I have received a little bit of cosmic justice because someone in the community told my mother that people in town are saying that this relative is a child molester (my mother was smart not to tell this person that she knows he is because he molested her daughter for 5 years…). Just knowing that people in town are talking about this asshole has had a powerfully validating effect for me. Any doubts I may have had about what he did to me, how I felt about it, and the reality of it are settled. Also, my mother had a long period of not wanting to accept it and had been slowly making progress over the years. She started out saying that I was lying, then she said I was exaggerating, and then in recent years appears to have quietly accepted it, but now she has had to absolutely accept that what happened happened and that I absolutely did not exaggerate or lie. And I’m thankful for that. And while I will continue to not out him, I won’t feel a bit sorry if the whole town eventually knows he molests children, especially if it motivates people to not let their kids near him.

  25. Sarah
    Sarah November 10, 2012 at 9:45 pm |

    There are rape victims who choose to live life simply and moving forward, though they came up to the point of giving up. There are also sex offenders who are living their life freely.. Something is really wrong..

  26. Sarah
    Sarah November 10, 2012 at 9:50 pm |

    There are rape victims who choose to live life simply and moving forward, though they came up to the point of giving up. There are also sex offenders who are living their lives freely.. Something is really wrong..

  27. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve November 10, 2012 at 11:24 pm |

    I don’t even see the relevance of false accusations. The OP is entitled ‘The Ethics of Outing Your Rapist,’ not ‘The Ethics of Falsely Accusing Someone One Of Rape.’

    I would bet my house that amongst all the people who pushed back against James and Tomek’s nonsensical comments, not a single one thinks that falsely accusing someone of rape is ethical. The hypothetical person mentioned in the header of the OP is specifically a rapist (i.e. one who is guilty of rape,) and is more specifically the rapist who raped the person doing the ‘outing.’

    Ethically I see no issue with the aforementioned women who named their rapists on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, et al. However, I do see an issue if that ‘naming and shaming’ causes a judge to throw out the case against the rapist, so if I was being asked by a friend whether or not they should do it, I would probably tell them to wait until after the trial.

    1. amblingalong
      amblingalong November 11, 2012 at 4:12 am |

      I would bet my house that amongst all the people who pushed back against James and Tomek’s nonsensical comments, not a single one thinks that falsely accusing someone of rape is ethical. The hypothetical person mentioned in the header of the OP is specifically a rapist (i.e. one who is guilty of rape,) and is more specifically the rapist who raped the person doing the ‘outing.’

      Exactly. The false rape accusation question here is a total non-sequitur, though not a surprising one. The only part it’s even potentially relevant is on the related but different question of how other people should react once an alleged rapist is publicly named.

  28. Anon for this
    Anon for this November 11, 2012 at 12:56 am |

    This is a very painful subject for me, because to this day I continue to protect the public image of the man who raped me, and I am often baffled why… my experiences surrounding rape and domestic violence, my personal truths on these topics, align very poorly with the feminist narrative. All the people who have truly hurt me I have loved, and I cannot disentangle the hurt from the love. I wonder, sometimes, whether it’s what the Marxists would call a false consciousness – god knows it took me years to acknowledge that yes, that was rape, I was raped; or, yes, that’s domestic violence, that is abuse, that is alcoholism, that is the story of my childhood.

    But the family members who were alcoholics, who were abusive, are in therapy and have gone to rehab and have joined AA and god, I love them and they love me… and the man who raped me, I dated for two years. Why did I do that? Because I was in denial that he raped me. And after a while I loved him. But it never worked: he had raped me, and the pain was too raw to be wallpapered over. But I still am fond of him, even though I know he destroyed a part of me that I am still patching back together. What the hell does that mean???

    I get how public shaming can be a powerful tool for people who have been raped to assert some control over the situation and over their lives. Certainly among my friends who have been raped, personal communication – THIS GUY IS DANGEROUS – has been very common. It’s just one step beyond that website from a while back, Hollaback NYC, about shaming catcallers and street harassers.

    So why is it that when I think of what my grandmother used to call “airing my dirty laundry,” I recoil? That the thought of causing pain to the people who have hurt me is so horrifying? Part of it is that I am worried that I would not be believed, that I would be rejected. But the bigger part of it is that I don’t want to hurt these people. The guy who raped me – my ex-boyfriend – is dating someone else now. They appear to be happy, but I always wonder – was the good I saw in him the lie, the projection? Was I fooling myself? Do I owe it to this woman whom I barely know to tell her a half-understood truth from my past she probably won’t believe, and certainly will not welcome? How can I tell the truth when I don’t even know what it is?

  29. Alexandra
    Alexandra November 11, 2012 at 1:03 am |

    In brief: I hate vigilante justice. I think it’s dangerous, that it undermines the rule of law and the fabric of society. I distrust the internet in particular as tool for vigilante justice, because I think it often inflames outrage without reflection or consideration. BUT.

    We live in a society – and honestly by “we” I mean THE WHOLE DAMN WORLD – where there is a nonfunctioning criminal justice system for rape. We live in a world that actively, systematically protects rapists and child molestors and that persecutes rape victims and all who would stand up against rape culture. The clear parallel here for me is to John Locke on when it is morally not just permissible but in fact a duty to revolt and overthrow a tyrannical government – when the government of a civil society enters into a state of war against its people, the people are practically obliged to fight against that state and to defend their rights and liberties.

    It’s an imperfect analogy, but I think that when you have a system that not only fails to protect but in fact actively oppresses a people or a class of people within a society, those people are no longer bound by the ordinary laws and duties of society, and have the right to seek their justice elsewhere.

    1. Niall
      Niall November 11, 2012 at 3:24 am |

      I’m usually not one for making these sorts of ‘me too’ or ‘I agree’ type posts. However…

      We live in a world that actively, systematically protects rapists and child molestors and that persecutes rape victims and all who would stand up against rape culture. The clear parallel here for me is to John Locke on when it is morally not just permissible but in fact a duty to revolt and overthrow a tyrannical government – when the government of a civil society enters into a state of war against its people, the people are practically obliged to fight against that state and to defend their rights and liberties.

      Yes. THIS

      I couldn’t have said it better myself.

      It’s too bad that so many, if not most, people in progressive / social justice circles are too attached to the notions of pacifism and non violence to even consider this as an option, even when it may be the only realistic one after all else has failed. Someone once said “If you make peaceful revolution impossible, you make violent revolution inevitable.” I mean, I’d love it if major and radical change could come to be with out mass civil unrest and upheaval but history gives us no reason to believe this is likely.

      1. Bagelsan
        Bagelsan November 12, 2012 at 1:00 pm |

        It’s too bad that so many, if not most, people in progressive / social justice circles are too attached to the notions of pacifism and non violence

        I’m pretty sure Feministe was the forum where I made a bite-the-rapist’s-dick-off joke and got pearl-clutching on behalf of penises everywhere. So. Couldn’t agree more with you. Is it really wrong to be angry, violently angry, at the idea of rape? Is it wrong to react with violence to violence?*

        Fer fuck’s sake we’re collectively waffling about whether saying a rapist’s name is too violent. Maybe we need to get a little perspective on why pacifism isn’t the only activism game in town. :p

        *Yeah, yeah, question as old as humanity.

        1. im
          im November 12, 2012 at 1:35 pm |

          Pacifism is for deontologists.

        2. William
          William November 12, 2012 at 2:34 pm |

          Fer fuck’s sake we’re collectively waffling about whether saying a rapist’s name is too violent. Maybe we need to get a little perspective on why pacifism isn’t the only activism game in town. :p

          Inevitable accusation of Bagelsan being an internet-tough-guy/violent monster/serial-killer-in-waiting in 3…2…1…

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 12, 2012 at 2:39 pm |

          Fer fuck’s sake we’re collectively waffling about whether saying a rapist’s name is too violent.

          THIS.

          I left a massively ranty comment about that on the bottom of the page. It went into mod. I can see why; it’s discussing some pretty fucked up things. But you basically just stated it more concisely and better. Thanks.

        4. Amelia the lurker
          Amelia the lurker November 13, 2012 at 2:09 am |

          Let’s also make a distinction between fantasizing about violence and actually doing it. When I found out my friend was raped, I fantasized about cutting her attacker’s dick off with garden shears. That might make some people wince, but can we please remember a) it’s a thought, not an action, and b) we’re talking about fucking RAPISTS here.

  30. rae
    rae November 11, 2012 at 3:18 am |

    I realize it’s a minor point in the scope of this article, but the interpretation of St. Augustine here is entirely wrong, even if just reading the source for Jill’s statement. The author of that source makes it clear St. Augustine was posing a hypothetical, which he then tears down–likely posing the question in order to address what others were assuming of Lucretia. The author expounds: “Apparently some extremists were making the argument that Christians should commit suicide if there was the possibility that they would be raped, lest in the act of rape their wills would be seduced by pleasure and consent to the rape. This was an absurd argument (though regrettably it has echoes in much of our contemporary discourse about rape), and Augustine treats it as absurd. Even supposing that someone could take pleasure in rape, ‘its motions in the body of one who rebels against them are as blameless as its motions in the body of one who sleeps.’ (1.25) Augustine’s point is not that rape is pleasurable: no one who reads his sobering descriptions of the sack of Rome would think that. His point is that even if a woman’s body reacts to rape (as in conception), the victim is entirely guiltless.”
    The point of the source article is to contrast Akin and St. Augustine. To so completely misrepresent St. Augustine’s interpretation of Lucretia’s state of innocence in her rape is poor and nigh unethical journalism.

    1. seekingandfinding
      seekingandfinding November 15, 2012 at 2:31 am |

      I concur. While I support the spirit of the article I am somewhat taken aback by the -what I’m sincerely hoping is unintentional- wrong use of St Augustine’s words. He was very clear to repeat himself numerous times when writing about Sextus Tarquinius raping Lucretia that “Here was a marvel: there were two, but only one committed adultery” while thoroughly (and simultaneously) denouncing Tarquinius and lauding Lucretia.

      I leave room open for the possibility that maybe Jill is unfamiliar with his work. . .because considering his gender, the time in which he lived and the faith he confessed, he was pretty damn progressive. Not that St Augustine has set a benchmark to which men of today should aspire – we can do *way* better than that now. I just think there’s enough horrible things men did to women in history that we don’t have to make up more.

  31. amblingalong
    amblingalong November 11, 2012 at 4:17 am |

    I’m not addressing the ethics of outing your rapist- because I am 100% in agreement with Jill there- but the people who are openly advocating for mobs of people to enact violent vigilante justice against accused rapists are the same people who make (some) POC uncomfortable on feminist websites. Please, please, check yourself or crack open a history book, depending on where the problem lies. I’m really exhausted explaining over and over again why that doesn’t seem so great to some of us.

    1. William
      William November 11, 2012 at 10:10 am |

      I’m not addressing the ethics of outing your rapist- because I am 100% in agreement with Jill there- but the people who are openly advocating for mobs of people to enact violent vigilante justice against accused rapists are the same people who make (some) POC uncomfortable on feminist websites. Please, please, check yourself or crack open a history book, depending on where the problem lies. I’m really exhausted explaining over and over again why that doesn’t seem so great to some of us.

      I’m not advocating a mob going after an accused rapist. I am advocating an individual going after their rapist or someone who raped someone dear to them. I understand why that would make someone uncomfortable but, at the end of the day, our justice system doesn’t work and I don’t buy into the ridiculous Christian idea that vengeance is bad. Mob justice is a terrible animal, but a lone person full of rage and indignation isn’t even remotely the same thing as a lynching.

      1. amblingalong
        amblingalong November 11, 2012 at 5:15 pm |

        I’m not advocating a mob going after an accused rapist. I am advocating an individual going after their rapist or someone who raped someone dear to them.

        My post isn’t addressed to you. It was explicitly addressed to the people upthread who are valorizing gangs of women attacking suspected rapists.

    2. im
      im November 12, 2012 at 1:38 pm |

      Nobody ever said the valorization was not for you and yours.

  32. Stella
    Stella November 11, 2012 at 8:27 am |

    The anonymity given to the accuser should just be given to the accused as well. That way people who argue she is lying to destroy his reputation/career for revenge, hoping that him being on trial even if the ruling is not guilty will do the trick, wont have that argument either, because filing knowing he did not do it and that it will turn out during the process will not get the desired result a would be vindictive liar is looking for.

    On the other hand she should be able to tell her story with friends and family and the people close to her. But you dont want to see a public battle, where one accuses one of rape and the other replies just as publicly calling her a liar etc. . If she can act in a public space, so can the alleged rapist and if she was raped, being confronted by her rapist online, when he replies to her youtube video with his own video for example, might add to the trauma.

    If she really is lying her taking it public will just reinforce the stereotype of the woman lying about rape for revenge.

    1. Lolagirl
      Lolagirl November 11, 2012 at 2:49 pm |

      The anonymity given to the accuser should just be given to the accused as well.

      This was already addressed when you erroneously asserted it in your earlier comment.

      THERE IS NO ANONYMITY GIVEN TO ACCUSERS IN RAPE CASES.

      Yes, I’m yelling. Because you either disregarded other commenters pointing out that you were wrong about this issue or you prefer to continue misstating facts about how our legal system operates here in the U.S. Stop it.

      1. Fat Steve
        Fat Steve November 11, 2012 at 11:20 pm |

        THERE IS NO ANONYMITY GIVEN TO ACCUSERS IN RAPE CASES.

        Yes, I’m yelling. Because you either disregarded other commenters pointing out that you were wrong about this issue or you prefer to continue misstating facts about how our legal system operates here in the U.S. Stop it.

        Really? I freely admit to not knowing how the legal system operates, but I’m pretty sure at one time there was a ‘rape shield’ law in New York which did make identifying a rape victim illegal. Did they rule it unconstitutional or something? Sorry for my ignorance, I have like zero sense for local news, so I guess it could pass me by if they started printing victims’ names again.

        1. EG
          EG November 12, 2012 at 12:20 am |

          My understanding was that the shield law meant that the survivor’s past sexual behavior could not be made part of the trial. Various outlets printed the name of the Central Park jogger, back in the day, and I have a memory of the Times printing the name–definitely printing details about the “wild streak” she had in high school, allegedly–of the woman raped by William Kennedy Smith, though of course that didn’t happen in NYC. I’m fairly certain that the convention of not revealing a survivor’s name is just that–a convention, a gentleman’s agreement, with no legal force behind it.

        2. DonnaL
          DonnaL November 12, 2012 at 12:32 am |

          That’s exactly what it is — a policy that many media outlets observe, of not identifying the names of rape survivors, even in an ongoing court proceeding in which the name is theoretically public information, without the permission of that survivor. It’s purely a voluntary policy and has no force of law; not all media outlets (especially on the Internet) observe it.

          And, yes, the rape shield laws are designed to prohibit the use of a rape survivor’s sexual history in court as a way of implying, basically, that if they have any sexual history at all they can’t have been raped.

        3. matlun
          matlun November 12, 2012 at 2:43 am |

          There actually have been anonymity laws in multiple states. I say “have been” since I am uncertain if any are on the books still – there have been constitutional challenges that have invalidated at least some of those laws.

          Here is some info from Florida (NB: from 1996)

        4. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl November 12, 2012 at 5:31 pm |

          I’m unaware of any state here in the U.S. that mandates providing anonymity to a non-minor Complaining Witness in a rape case. A defendant has the Constitutionally protected right to be informed of the charges against him/her and to confront their accuser(s) in open court. Sometimes there are accomodations attempted to permit a CW to testify behind a screen or via closed circuit tv, but that is generally when there are concerns that the Defendant might menace or otherwise intimidate the CW from testifying truthfully in court.

          Judges often do have the discretion to seal the record in a criminal proceeding after a verdict is entered, and this can be done in part to protect the identity of a CW in a rape case. Anecdata, but when I clerked at the State’s Attorney here in Chicago (nearly 15 years ago) I saw a few rape trials where the judge did exactly that.

    2. EG
      EG November 11, 2012 at 2:55 pm |

      The anonymity given to the accuser should just be given to the accused as well.

      The rights of the raped woman and the rights of the rapist do not carry equal moral weight. She has done nothing wrong. He has. He merits no consideration at all, much less the same level of consideration the raped woman does.

      If she can act in a public space, so can the alleged rapist and if she was raped, being confronted by her rapist online, when he replies to her youtube video with his own video for example, might add to the trauma.

      1) There is nothing preventing a rapist from acting in a public space and adding to his target’s trauma right now.

      2) I do not believe that being raped means that a woman, or anybody else, should be considered less competent to make her/zir own decisions. I suspect that a woman who has been raped is fully capable of considering possible responses to her actions and making her own decisions about whether or not dealing with them would be worthwhile.

      1. Stella
        Stella November 18, 2012 at 7:42 am |

        EG, I am talking about an ALLEGED rapist, not a convicted rapist.

  33. miga
    miga November 11, 2012 at 3:20 pm |

    This has been on my mind recently because of an incident that really tested my commitment to my morals:

    A person i’d known in college was accused of rape recently. I found out through facebook- one of our mutual friends posted the victim’s blog outing him on her page. I clicked and, even though I didn’t know the victim I felt a big lump in my stomach. For a minute though, I faltered on what to do- I had considered the accused my friend while at school. He seemed like one of the “good guys,” and had apparently seemed that way to the victim until he assaulted her. She also accused him of having done this to more than one girl.

    I had a gut reaction to ignore this information because I didn’t know the victim, she outed him on a blog, it could be a mix-up (how can I tell this wasn’t another person with the same last name) , etc. ~ but then I remembered my own assault, and how I didn’t tell anyone for months afterward (didn’t even admit it to myself) because I was too afraid of the backlash of admitting it was rape. In addition to the standard concerns (I was drunk, I didn’t tell him I was a virgin, it was my fault, I’m making a big deal out of nothing) The guy worked with me, he was well liked and my superior, I was new to the city and the job, I was lonely and wanted friends. Plus, he wasn’t in the country legally and I didn’t want to get him deported. The fear of even talking back to him about what he did was so great I let him mistreat me and humiliate me even after our relationship became business only, and I believe I saw him attempt a similar tactic on another female coworker (I was too in denial to do much about it at the time, but ever since I subconsciously tried to protect our female coworkers from him). I ended up cutting off contact with him and our mutual friends; neither he nor our friends understand why i’m always too “busy” to hang out.
    This girl seemed to be in a similar position, and I would never EVER want anyone to go through what I did. So I ended up de-friending him. It’s hard to associate him and the word “rapist” in my head, but it has to be done. Even if I don’t know that girl well enough to let her know I have her back, it’s important for survivors to stick together.

  34. Sunset
    Sunset November 12, 2012 at 2:48 am |

    I have to say I have mixed feelings about this. I am in an unusual situation, as both a victim of sexual assault and a victim of a false, public (facebook) report of stalking. I would love to accuse my attacker publicly, but…I’ve also been hurt pretty badly by this sort of accusation, and I’m incredibly thankful that I have a common enough name to defy searches. Ironically, I think the accusations may have been motivated by my speaking out about the abuse originally.

    That said, might I also raise a few intersectionality concerns? In my case, my status as both a person with mental illness and a bisexual woman were outed and used against me. I worry that it might fall into the same sort of predictable patterns of being used against minorities traditionally painted as “dangerous.”

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune November 12, 2012 at 1:40 pm |

      That said, might I also raise a few intersectionality concerns? In my case, my status as both a person with mental illness and a bisexual woman were outed and used against me.

      Giant hugs if you want ‘em. I went through something similar, where I wound up being told I wasn’t bisexual, just traumatised, despite the fact that being constantly told my sexuality was shaped by abuse was itself traumatic to me. So yeah. I think there’s a lot of intersectional stuff to dig up, other than the “falsely accused black men” thing that seems to be being discussed to fucking death upthread.

      1. William
        William November 12, 2012 at 2:38 pm |

        I went through something similar, where I wound up being told I wasn’t bisexual, just traumatised, despite the fact that being constantly told my sexuality was shaped by abuse was itself traumatic to me. So yeah.

        Goddamn, goddamn, goddamn. There really is no winning, is there?

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 12, 2012 at 3:59 pm |

          No. There really fucking isn’t.

          Best part? My mother, who kept telling me this, was also the person who insisted that if I gave men a *try* I would find myself straight in no time. (I lean heavily lesbian, ftr.)

          Honestly, I would have settled for fewer men giving *me* a try.

  35. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune November 12, 2012 at 1:33 pm |

    (Trigger warning for abuse-related crazythink. Seriously.)

    Okay, seriously, to everybody discussing fucking vigilante justice:

    You are derailing. Outing is not vigilante justice.

    And if you think it is, because a whole whack of people here seem awfully interested in claiming that outing rapists=beating rapists, and that beating rapists=persecution of (a marginalised section of) Teh Menz:

    NAMING your fucking rapist is some sort of vigilante justice? In what fucking world is “this happened to me” some sort of horrific violent imposition of sanctions on someone else? Isn’t it the base of oh, I don’t know, OWNING YOUR OWN FUCKING REALITY?

    Oh, and others going off about how they’ll determine the “ethics of reacting to outing” based on whether charges are filed, or any “further action” is taken:

    Clearly you think it’s not bad enough that I was abused by someone for 10 years (that I recall). It’s not bad enough that this is a person I literally cannot take legal steps against, because I wouldn’t win. It’s not bad enough that my family’s responses were either a) to claim I was lying, b) to collapse into guilt-ridden puddles and force me to cover it up so they didn’t have to feel bad anymore, or c) to request salacious details in a public place where at least 20 other people could hear me. Who then went on to do things like tell me they’d warned other people with kids (they hadn’t), give my contact information to my abuser and tell me I’d said it was okay( I hadn’t), tell me they were paying for my phone/rent so they had a right to let whoever into my apartment anyway. Etc. Etc. Fucking etc.

    But that’s clearly all not bad enough. No, then I have to hear threads like this where people are all “oh, well, if they don’t intend to press charges they shouldn’t be outing anybody lol”. Cool. Guess I should just shut up. Or maybe I should have gone through with the plan I came up with in the depths of my pre-teen anxiety-riddled crazythink, to get him to abuse me in worse ways so there would be forensic evidence and maybe I could tell and be believed and I could take him to court and it would stop. (I didn’t do it; the abuse lasted six years after that. Guess the joke was on me.)

    Outing is vigilante justice my portly brown ass. This is the bare fucking minimum of what society fucking OWES me. It owes me for setting up the religious and family power structures that mean that adults and priests are invulnerable. It owes me for rape culture, which meant that I knew goddamn well that if I didn’t put myself between him and my friends, they were going to get abused too, and nobody would stop it. It owes me for institutional homophobia, which tries to erase my sexuality and turn it into trauma response. Society fucking owes me the right to speak my abuser’s name aloud.

    And my exercising that right – that’s somehow vigilante justice? If you think so, then fuck you. Fuck you, all of you. Fuck you sideways with a tree, twice.

    1. Annaleigh
      Annaleigh November 12, 2012 at 6:07 pm |

      I hear you, and I agree, Mac. Hugs if you want them.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune November 13, 2012 at 10:48 am |

        Thanks, Annaleigh. ^__^

    2. amblingalong
      amblingalong November 12, 2012 at 7:26 pm |

      First, of all, and most important by far, I completely agree with everything you just wrote, and (again) I’m so deeply sorry about the shitbags you’ve had to deal with.

      Second of all, I really strongly believe that after vigilante violence was interjected into the whole conversation (and I wasn’t the one that did that), somebody really needed to talk about why that is not a simple issue. I regret that I clashed with some people I think are great after doing that, but I don’t regret bringing up the issues that I did.

      I agree the vigilante violence is a derail. But when people derail in a way I think is racist/sexist/classist/problematic for whatever reason, the rule against extending the derail becomes less important to me than addressing what people said, especially when a lot of people seem to agree with the de-railers.

      Third and finally, reading back over the thread, I understand why that might look like an endorsement of the original equation (outing your rapist = violence) and I sincerely and deeply apologize for not being more clear about that.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune November 13, 2012 at 11:07 am |

        Thank you, amblingalong.

        Re point #2, like I said, I didn’t have a problem with (most of) your posts at all, I found the threads themselves to be derails on a massive scale. I’d honestly have preferred people sticking to outing, not leaping to violence. OTOH I maintain that an individual seeking revenge is in no way analogous to a lynch mob. Particularly since most sexual violence is intraracial for black and white women. And when it’s not, it’s more likely to be white men raping black women than vice versa.

        Point #3 – like I said, amblingalong, I didn’t think you were wrong in your statements, just that this wasn’t the place to make them, as you can no doubt tell by the pushback. So, no hard feelings from me.

    3. Donna L
      Donna L November 12, 2012 at 7:54 pm |

      I’m so sorry, Mac. And I completely agree with you as well.

      It owes me for institutional homophobia, which tries to erase my sexuality and turn it into trauma response

      I find that interesting, because one of the many reasons I’ve been so reluctant to mention what happened to me is that some people who happen to know about my history have suggested that my transness was a response to the trauma of being sexually abused at that particular time of my life. Because that’s a “theory,” of course, about transness in general. Because we were all just happy cis children until we were sexually abused. Every last one of us.

      In fact, I knew perfectly well what was “different” about me long before I ever saw Dr. A. Maybe that self-knowledge made me even more inclined to be secretive than I might otherwise have been about something like that. And maybe he sensed something vulnerable about me; who knows? But the abuse didn’t cause me to be who I was.

      1. William
        William November 13, 2012 at 10:11 am |

        If you’re interested in something heavily clinical, theres a really good, nuanced book (that I’ve probably brought up before) by a Lacanian analyst named Patricia Gherovici called “Please Select Your Gender: From the Invention of Hysteria to the Democratizing of Transgenderism.” In it she traces the development of psychoanalytic attitudes towards gender and sexuality in order to look at how gender identity (including cis experiences) can have psychological factors without necessarily dragging normalization into things. I think its especially interesting because she seems to have taken the stance that all gender development has a necessarily pathological/abnormal/perverse arc to it making any attempt to judge one kind of development as normal or healthy virtually impossible. Definitely not a perfect read, but I found it to be a pretty powerful challenge to some of the ways I thought about gender and sexuality.

      2. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune November 13, 2012 at 11:32 am |

        Donna, like William and I were raging about upthread, pretty much any sexuality that isn’t perfectly patriarchally approved is said to be caused by abuse, apparently. It’s fucking hateful, is what I think. And to have that applied to gender…what? That doesn’t even make sense! I mean, I can see, from a horrific skewed perspective, where the whole sexual orientation thing comes from, but… what is their reasoning, even? Aside from…agh, fuck it, it creeps me out just to think about it.

        And this:

        Maybe that self-knowledge made me even more inclined to be secretive than I might otherwise have been about something like that.

        THIS. I have been here, so much! Growing up keeping secrets, and being sure nobody else would Get It… and the heaping mound of religious bullshit I was dealing with back then made it perfectly clear to me how Telling would go. To the point where I was organising Perv Watch shifts with my friends and plotting out standing/sitting positions around him to keep others safe. It’s all kind of surreal in retrospect…

    4. Bagelsan
      Bagelsan November 12, 2012 at 8:22 pm |

      Nicely put, macavitykitsune. Owning your own reality — isn’t that like the most important step of practically any kind of grieving/coping/living strategy? And rape victims are supposed to opt out of this crucial ownership why?

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune November 13, 2012 at 11:36 am |

        Silly Bagelsan, owning your reality isn’t for abuse victims! It’s for clueless non-survivors who’ve never had anyone gaslight them ever. We don’t get to own our reality. I mean, think about the consequences. Dogs and cats living together, etc.

        1. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan November 13, 2012 at 11:56 am |

          Well, as ladies we already have “mass hysteria” covered, so the animal thing must be next!

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