So, there’s a bit of a kerfuffle (trigger warning for victim blaming, rape apologism, ableism, and general fuckwittery if you choose to go to the link) going on over on the Frankie Magazine facebook page at the moment regarding the use of the term “eye-raping” in one of their articles. It started off pretty standard—someone brought it up, it got a lot of likes, the magazine posted a pretty gross fauxpology, people responded to that.
Earlier today, it probably had about a dozen comments. Then I went to take a nap and, while I was snoozing, it exploded into a messy, derailing attempt to fill the anti-feminist bingo card. But at some point in the middle of it, after I woke up and for some bizarre reason decided to give rational discussion a go (before I was told that I should go back to swinging my man decapitator, and that I keep my husband’s testicles locked up in the drawer by my bed), I ended up posting about why it’s fucked up to try and turn the focus onto false rape allegations when rape is being discussed. I’m posting it here for posterity, because it is an important discussion to have, but also because the way that thread is going I’m guessing it will soon be gone.
The reason people get pissed off when someone comes into a discussion about rape with “but some women lie about being raped!” is that it’s a very common derailing tactic. It’s not relevant to the discussion, it doesn’t add anything of value; all it does is shift the focus of conversation from the huge number of sexual assaults committed (seriously, one in four women, one in eight men, one in two trans* people, and 60-90% of people with disabilities is a huge frickin’ number), to a discussion of false rape reports that are very much in the minority. False rape reports occur at the same rate as other false reports, and that’s before you take into consideration that the vast majority of sexual assault goes unreported in the first place. And funnily enough, it doesn’t seem to happen with any other type of crime. When I’m talking about a string of burglaries in my neighbourhood, no one has ever chimed in with “well, you know, some people make a false burglary report to get insurance money”. When someone gets beaten up on Courtenay Place on a Saturday night, I’ve never seen a Stuff commenter talk about their “sister’s boyfriend’s cousin who pretended he’d been beaten up because he wanted to get back at his mate”. Yet, somehow, in every discussion about rape that takes place, people feel the need to bring up false rape reports as though they are somehow just as, or more, important than the fact that, if we look ONLY at the sexual assault cases reported to the police last year (remembering that anywhere from 40-90% of sexual assaults go unreported), then nine people a day were raped in New Zealand in the year ending June 2012.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been told that false rape accusations are “the real issue here” when discussing the shockingly prevalent sexual assault rates we have in New Zealand. And I am all for discussing the issue of false rape accusations—as a separate issue to sexual assault. I’m all for it, as long as we’re discussing actual false rape accusations, not reports that are later retracted because the victim can’t face trial, or is pressured into recanting (by family, friends of their attacker, etc), or situations where it goes to trial and the accused is found not guilty.
But please, for the love of all that is good and holy, stop derailing discussions about rape and sexual assault with your “what about those bitches who cry rape and ruin men’s lives” bullshit. It’s not helpful, it’s not conducive to a reasonable discussion, and it makes you look like a giant jackass.
Unless, of course, that’s what you’re going for—in which case, carry on, you’re doing a great job.