Rape

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Rape, in legal terms, is a form of assault where one person forces another into sexual intercourse.

Quotes[edit]

For most men, hearing a description of an encounter where the man is forcing the woman to have sex, and the woman is in distress or pain, dampens the arousal by about 50 percent compared to arousal levels during a scene of consenting lovemaking. Ordinarily violence inhibits sexual arousal in men. A blood flow loss of 50 percent means a man would not be able to penetrate a woman. ~ Howard Barbaree
Why should murder be so over-represented in our popular fiction, and crimes of a sexual nature so under-represented? Surely it cannot be because rape is worse than murder, and is thus deserving of a special unmentionable status. Surely, the last people to suggest that rape was worse than murder were the sensitively reared classes of the Victorian era … And yet, while it is perfectly acceptable (not to say almost mandatory) to depict violent and lethal incidents in lurid and gloating high-definition detail, this is somehow regarded as healthy and perfectly normal, and it is the considered depiction of sexual crimes that will inevitably attract uproars of the current variety. ~ Alan Moore
“Policy is being driven,” Yager wrote in his analysis, by the idea “that false allegations are exceedingly rare.” But we simply don’t know how rare they are. What’s more, no legal or moral system purporting to be just can make presumptions about individual cases based on statistics. For many years, feminist activists have said that the legal system and culture tend to prejudge assault claims, with an inclination toward believing men over women, accused over accuser. They have rightly pointed out the deep injustice of that bias. But it is also unjust to be biased against the accused. ~ Emily Yoffe
  • Perhaps it is the only crime in which the victim becomes the accused and, in reality, it is she who must prove her good reputation, her mental soundness, and her impeccable propriety.
    • Freda Adler, Sisters in Crime: The Rise of the New Female Criminal (1975), p. 215.
  • It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let's assume that maybe that didn't work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.
  • For most men, hearing a description of an encounter where the man is forcing the woman to have sex, and the woman is in distress or pain, dampens the arousal by about 50 percent compared to arousal levels during a scene of consenting lovemaking. Ordinarily violence inhibits sexual arousal in men. A blood flow loss of 50 percent means a man would not be able to penetrate a woman.
  • Rapists often recall being intensely angry, depressed or feeling worthless for days or even months leading up to the rape. Very often the rapists say that the trigger for the rape was when a woman made them angry, usually by rebuffing a sexual overture. The men experienced the rebuff as an insult to their manhood that intensified their emotional misery.
  • Societies with a high incidence of rape . . . tolerate violence and encourage men and boys to be tough, aggressive, and competitive. Men in such cultures generally have special, politically important gathering spots off limits to women, whether they be the Mundurucu men's club or the corner tavern. Women take little or no part in public decision making or religious rituals: men mock or scorn women's practical judgment. They also demean what they consider women's work and remain aloof from childbearing and rearing. These groups usually trace their beginnings to a male supreme being.
  • The way society trains its boys and girls to think about themselves and each other determines to a large extent how rape-prone or rape-free that society will be.
  • B.L. Benderly, 1982, "Rape free or rape prone", Science 82, vol. 3, no. 8. p.42-43; as quoted by Marlene Goldsmith, Chairman Legislative Council Standing Committee on Social Issues Parliament of New South Wales in, Sexual Offenders and Pornography: A Causal Connection?; study cited in Perspectives on Human Sexuality, by Anne Bolin and Patricia Whelehan, State University of New York Press Albany, (1999), p.36; in Human Stress and the Environment] by Allen H. Rose, Gordon and Breach Science Publishers, (1994), p.42; Theories of Rape: Inquiries Into the Causes of Sexual Aggression by Lee Ellis, Hemisphere Publishing, (1989), p.7.
  • Rape is a culturally fostered means of suppressing women. Legally we say we deplore it, but mythically we romanticize and perpetuate it, and privately we excuse and overlook it (because we always find a way to blame the woman for letting it happen). In other words, rape is awful— except in war, where the enemy's women are part of the plunder; except in marriage, where a man is entitled by law to have sexual relations with his wife even if against her will; and except in extenuating circumstances where the mere presence of a wornan is cause for a man to rape her.
  • Rubenfeld is right that most instances in which one of the parties having sex (or both) have failed to give consent to the act, the act is morally wrong. Immoral sex need not be rape (or sexual assault), however. For example, if both sex partners are minors, they are not legally in a position to give content. If they have sex, they have not given legal content. But it doesn't follow that one person raped or assaulted the other. 'Rape’ is better understood as follows:
    A’s sexual encounter with B counts as A's rape of B, just in case (i) A is in a position to give informed consent to have penetrative sex, (ii) A knows or ought to have known that B is not in a position to consent to have penetrative sex or is not verbally or physically agreeing to have penetrative sex, and (iii) A is proceeding to have penetrative sex with B, despite (ii).
  • Man's discovery that his genitalia could serve as a weapon to generate fear must rank as one of the most important discoveries of prehistoric times, along with the use of fire and the first crude stone axe. From prehistoric times to the present, I believe, rape has played a critical function. It is nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear.
  • In medieval times, opportunities to rape and loot were among the few advantages open to...soldiers, who were paid with great irregularity by their leaders...When the city of Constantinople was sacked in 1204, rape and plunder went hand in hand, as in the sack of almost every ancient city....Down through the ages, triumph over women by rape became a way to measure victory, part of a soldier's proof of masculinity and success, a tangible reward for services rendered...[and] an actual reward of war.
  • [R]ape by a conqueror is compelling evidence of the conquered's status of masculine impotence. Defense of women has long been a hallmark of masculine success. Rape by a conquering soldier destroys all remaining illusions of power and property for men of the defeated side. The body of a raped woman becomes a ceremonial battlefield, a parade ground for the victor's trooping of the colors. The act that is played out upon her is a message passed between men - vivid proof of victory for one and loss and defeat for the other.
  • In 1997, we told [the New Zealand] government we needed people in the health system to be trained on how to deal with victims of male rape, but it fell on deaf ears.
  • a product of a living organism (the rapist) is used to attack a biological system (the reproductive system) in members of the enemy population. Although this attack need not produce illness, it is designed to produce social chaos … . Sperm so used becomes a social and psychological toxin, poisoning the futures of victims and their communities by producing children who, if they survive, will remind whoever raised them of their traumatic origins in torture. … Unlike bacteria and viruses, sperm is easily containable, storable, preservable, and deliverable by means of men's bodies.
    • Card, C., 1991, “Rape as a Terrorist Institution”, in Violence, Terrorism, and Justice, R. Frey and C. Morris (eds.), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press p.187; as quoted in "Feminist Perspectives on Rape", Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, first published Wed May 13, 2009; substantive revision (Wed Jun 21, 2017).
  • People will say "you can't joke about rape. Rape's not funny." I say "fuck you, I think it's hilarious! How do you like that? I can prove to you that rape is funny. Picture Porky Pig raping Elmer Fudd."
  • Rape is not a sexual crime. It is not sexual. Rape is a violent crime...it's a violent crime, where you cum at the end. It's no different than if you robbed a liquor store... and then came.
  • Rape is the forcible violation of the sexual intimacy of another person. It does injury to justice and charity. Rape deeply wounds the respect, freedom, and physical and moral integrity to which every person has a right. It causes grave damage that can mark the victim for life. It is always an intrinsically evil act. Graver still is the rape of children committed by parents (incest) or those responsible for the education of the children entrusted to them.
  • It’s in the Ten Commandments to not take the Lord’s name in vain. Rape isn’t up there, by the way. Rape is not a Ten Commandment. But don’t say the dude’s name with a shitty attitude.
  • I want to see this men's movement make a commitment to ending rape because that is the only meaningful commitment to equality. It is astonishing that in all our worlds of feminism and antisexism we never talk seriously about ending rape. Ending it. Stopping it. No more. No more rape. In the back of our minds, are we holding on to its inevitability as the last preserve of the biological? Do we think that it is always going to exist no matter what we do? All of our political actions are lies if we don't make a commitment to ending the practice of rape. This commitment has to be political. It has to be serious. It has to be systematic. It has to be public. It can't be self-indulgent.
  • I don’t believe rape is inevitable or natural. If I did, I would have no reason to be here. If I did, my political practice would be different than it is. Have you ever wondered why we women are not just in armed combat against you? It’s not because there’s a shortage of kitchen knives in this country. It is because we believe in your humanity, against all the evidence.
  • Eva Fogelman, a New York City psychologist who has worked with survivors and children of survivors for more than 30 years, hopes for their own sake that survivors with secrets will open up. She contributed to Hedgepeth and Saidel's anthology and says the book -- as well as the events and discussions around it -- can help validate the feelings of those who were raped and offer them permission to voice their stories and seek professional help.
    "They need the validation for that particular pain and suffering ... to help them in their healing process," Fogelman says. And barring documentation, testimonies can provide "a more authentic sense of history."
  • Whatever they may be in public life, whatever their relations with men, in their relations with women, all men are rapists, and that's all that they are. They rape us with their eyes, their laws, and their codes.
  • The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. “My lords,” he said, please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.”
“No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.”
But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”
Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. 8 Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”
  • Genesis 19:1-6, (NIV).
  • "[w]omen shall be especially protected against any attack on their honour, in particular against rape, enforced prostitution, or any form of indecent assault."
    • Fourth Geneva convention (1949) as quoted by Stemple, Lara (February 2009). "Male Rape and Human Rights" ,(PDF). Hastings Law Journal. 60(3): p.642. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 June 2010. Retrieved 2011-07-17.
  • We have to keep saying that this was still not the norm. This was not the Holocaust. It was the murder of Jews that was the Holocaust," she says. "But to assume the subject is untouchable is wrong. Women were tortured and raped. Breasts were cut off. How do you not talk about that? How do you not acknowledge that?"
  • In no state can a man be accused of raping his wife. How can any man steal what already belongs to him? It is in the sense of rape as theft of another man's property that Kate Millett writes, "Traditionally rape has been viewed as an offense one male commits against another — a matter of abusing his woman."
  • Women quickly learn that rape is a crime only in theory; in practice the standard for what constitutes rape is set not at the level of women's experience of violation but just above the level of coercion acceptable to men.
  • History, sacred and profane, and the common experience of mankind teach that women of the character shown in this case are prone to make false accusations both of rape and of insult upon the slightest provocation for ulterior purposes.
  • "I have no doubt that some women were raped," says Lawrence L. Langer, a preeminent Holocaust scholar.
    But while rape is undoubtedly significant for those who are victimized, "the historical significance is very small in the context of the Holocaust experience," Langer says. "To make rape a significant part of the narrative, the numbers would have to be in the thousands or tens of thousands. We will never know how often it happened."
  • "I always ask, 'What's the worst thing that ever happened to you?' No one has ever said, 'I was raped,'" he says. "This doesn't mean no one was."
  • I have turned roles down because they are rapists. It's something I don't even want to watch. If I even click on it on TV, I have to click it off or I'll put my foot through the screen... What you see on that screen is just my terror at having to do that scene.
  • Rape is loss. Like death, it is best treated with a period of mourning and grief. We should develop social ceremonies for rape, rituals, that, like funerals and wakes, would allow the mourners to recover the spirits that the rapist, like death, steals. The social community is the appropriate center for the restoration of spirit, but the rape victim is usually shamed into silence or self-imposed isolation.
    • Metzger, American Journal of Psychiatry, 133 (4), 405-408 (Metzger, D. (1976).
  • Extensive research exists on the numbers of women who have been raped, and much of the research shows that sexual assault and rape occur in extremely high numbers at colleges and universities. One recent study suggests that 15 percent of college women are raped in their freshman year of college, and that number would be much higher if it included the more general category of sexual assault (Carey, Durney, Shepardson, and Carey, 2015). Nevertheless, 15 percent is still an extremely high number when you consider how horrific and violent the experience is. What happens after rape? In terms of relationships and sex, how does rape change rape survivors?
  • According to a University College London study (2014), 40% of women surveyed with severe mental illness had suffered rape or attempted rape in adulthood, and 53% of those had attempted suicide as a result. In the general population, 7% of women had been victims of rape or attempted rape, of whom 3% had attempted suicide. If these statistics don't sound accurate to you, your hesitation or disbelief supports another reality about rape research: Because so many individuals who survive a rape may not report a rape (for a multitude of reasons), statistics have limited meaning.
  • Especially with dating, most women who have been raped will not disclose this part of their history until they know and trust a man well. (Yes, rape occurs in homosexual female and homosexual male couples, too, but that is a similarly complex topic that deserves its own article.) If you are in a position where a woman discloses that she has been raped, it can be overwhelming and even scary to hear. A million thoughts could flood your mind. Men in this situation often feel anxious and uncomfortable, unsure of what to say but feeling pressure to say the "right" thing. The reality is that you don't actually have to say all that much. Without exception, never blame her - out loud or privately to yourself.
  • The most important rule to remember is that there is no universal textbook for what to say or do when someone you are with shares this kind of trauma history. Focus on letting her know that you are listening and that you care about what this experience was like for her. Don't treat her like a lab specimen or museum exhibit by staring like she has three heads and don't tell yourself that she is an anomaly. (She isn't.) If you are completely honest with your feelings, you may have a moment where you have a mental flash: Is she damaged goods? Is she broken? Will she ever move past this? The answer: Yes, she will, and she will heal one day at a time.
  • Once a woman has shared that she survived a rape and the two of you have talked about it to a limited extent, let some time pass - hours or even a day or so - and then come back to her. Ask her if it's okay if you ask her some questions about it. In terms of the rape, you might want to ask her how it has affected how she feels toward men, or you might want to ask how it has affected how she feels toward sex. Ask her how she feels about the way you treat her in bed, and ask her if there are things you could do to make her feel safer and more comfortable.
  • Some women may want to talk extensively about their experience, while other women may not want to discuss it much at all. As far as you are concerned, however she chooses to talk about it is absolutely fine. One thing that I recommend, especially if you are with a woman who doesn't want to talk about it, is to read about other women's experiences. You will find that reading about other women's experiences, whether online or in books, will make understand better the horror of rape.
  • While some people like to believe that "Everything happens for a reason," I don't find any psychological truth to that when it comes to psychological trauma, whether it be rape or something else. I have found, however, that something good can always come from something bad. The female I worked with not long ago who suffered a rape found only one real benefit: She is more in touch with her feelings - especially her anger - than she ever was before. And while there is definite value in being in touch with your anger, let's all admit that suffering a trauma is a pretty awful way to learn that lesson.
  • Why should murder be so over-represented in our popular fiction, and crimes of a sexual nature so under-represented? Surely it cannot be because rape is worse than murder, and is thus deserving of a special unmentionable status. Surely, the last people to suggest that rape was worse than murder were the sensitively reared classes of the Victorian era … And yet, while it is perfectly acceptable (not to say almost mandatory) to depict violent and lethal incidents in lurid and gloating high-definition detail, this is somehow regarded as healthy and perfectly normal, and it is the considered depiction of sexual crimes that will inevitably attract uproars of the current variety.
  • Pornography is the theory, and rape is the practice. And what a practice. The violation of an individual woman is the metaphor for man's forcing himself on whole nations [...], on nonhuman creatures [...], and on the planet itself [...].
    • Robin Morgan, "Theory and Practice: Pornography and Rape", 1974 in Going Too Far: The Personal Chronicle of a Feminist (1977).
  • The only exception I have to have an abortion is in the case of the life of the mother. I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God. I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.
  • A victim of rape every minute somewhere in the world. Why? No one to blame but herself. She displayed her beauty to the entire world, strapless, backless, sleeveless, nothing but satanic skirts, slit skirts, translucent blouses, miniskirts, tight jeans: all this to tease man and appeal to his carnal nature. Would you put this sheep that you adore in the middle of hungry wolves? No... It would be devoured. It's the same situation here. You're putting this precious girl in front of lustful, satanic eyes of hungry wolves. What is the consequence? Catastrophic devastation, sexual harassment, perversion, promiscuity.
    • Fiez Muhammad, qtd. Miranda Devine, "Liverpool Muslim Cleric Hate", The Sun-Herald. (2005 April 24).
  • It is vital... to establish facilities for providing sexual comfort to the soldiers as soon as possible.
    • Okabe Naosaburo as reported by Karen Parker & Jennifer F. Chew, Compensation for Japan's World War II War-Rape Victims, 17 HASTINGS INT'L & COMP. L REV. 497, 503 (1994), citing "Order of June 27, 1938 by Okabe Naosaburo, Chief of Staff, Japanese Expeditionary Force in north China," reprinted in Rapes Sparked call for facilities, JAPAN TIMES, Aug. 5, 1992, p.3; qtd., Kelly Dawn Askin, War Crimes Against Women: Prosecution in International War Crimes Tribunals, (1997), p.49.
  • ...where a man does not engage in communicative sexuality, he acts either out of reckless disregard, or out of willful ignorance. For he cannot know, except through the practice of communicative sexuality, whether his partner has any sexual reason for continuing the encounter. And where she does not, he runs the risk of imposing on her what she is not willing to have. All that is needed, then, in order to provide women with legal protection from date rape is to make both reckless indifference and willful ignorance a sufficient condition of mens rea, and to make communicative sexuality the accepted norm of sex to which a reasonable woman would agree.
    • Pineau, L., 1989, “Date Rape: A Feminist Analysis”, Law and Philosophy, 8(2): pp. 239-40; as quoted in "Feminist Perspectives on Rape", Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, first published Wed May 13, 2009; substantive revision (Wed Jun 21, 2017).
  • Saidel, Hedgepeth and others who share their passion know they face obstacles in bringing attention to sexual assaults during the Holocaust.
    They say some people believe that focusing on gender-specific experiences takes away from the overall human and Jewish experience. Others have suggested that sexual violence against Jews wasn't a real issue because racial purity laws prohibited intercourse between Germans and Jews. And then there are those, they say, who are uncomfortable accepting testimonies as proof of occurrences.
    But Saidel wants to know this: If historians are willing to look at how the Holocaust experience differed from country to country and camp to camp, why shouldn't they also examine how experiences differed between men and women?
    As for the argument that racial purity laws protected Jewish women, she says, "That's absurd. That's like saying there are laws against rape so people don't get raped."
  • But is it necessary to talk about rape? Maybe women don't want it discussed. Maybe victims, no matter how rare or prevalent they were, haven't shared their stories for a reason.
    It isn't hard to imagine why a woman raped during the Holocaust might stay silent. Irrespective of circumstances, when it comes to sexual victimization, there's fear, shame and concern about being blamed or viewed as "damaged goods."
    In Yiddish, there's a word, "shanda" (pronounced shonda, like Honda) which means shame or pity -- the sort that, if revealed, might cast one's family or even the entire Jewish people in a bad light. Especially for older generations, it's considered a shanda to talk about certain things. Rape, molestation or sexual relations that kept women alive, whether they were forced or chosen, would be among the stories many might say would be better kept to oneself.
    Add to this, survivor guilt: the anguish many carried of having lived while millions perished. Still alive, some might wonder, what right would a raped survivor have to complain?
  • ...the rape of slave women by their masters was primarily a weapon of terror that reinforced whites' domination over their human property. Rape was an act of physical violence designed to stifle Black women's will to resist and to remind them of their servile status … . Whites' sexual exploitation of their slaves, therefore, should not be viewed simply as either a method of slave-breeding or the fulfillment of slaveholders' sexual urges. (1997, 29-30)
    • Roberts, D., 1997, Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction and the Meaning of Liberty, New York: Vintage Books p.31; qtd., "Feminist Perspectives on Rape", Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, first published Wed May 13, 2009; substantive revision Wed Jun 21, 2017
  • I believe too thoroughly that we create our own reality, for one thing -- an unpopular belief where violence is concerned -- but I'm convinced that the victim-to-be picks out the assailant with as much skill and craft as the murderer seeks his victim, and until we learn much more about both, we'll get nowhere battling crime. I'm not justifying murder by any means, but I'm saying that the victim wants to be murdered -- perhaps to be punished, if not by a vengeful god then by one of his fellows, and that a would-be murderer can switch in a minute and become the victim instead; and that the slayer wants to be slain.
    • Jane Roberts, in Psychic Politics: An Aspect Psychology Book, p. 205
  • The perpetrator invaded the body of a person by conduct resulting in penetration, however slight, of any part of the body of the victim or of the perpetrator with a sexual organ, or of the anal or genital opening of the victim with any object or any other part of the body.
    • Rome Statute, "Elements of Crimes", (17, July 1998). Archived from the original on 1 December 2008. Retrieved 2017-05-25.. PDF: Archive copy at the Internet Archive PDF. International Criminal Court.
  • I was attacked via nearly every facet of my online life by a loosely coordinated cyber mob. All of my social networks were flooded with a torrent of misogynist and racist slurs as well as threats of rape, violence and death. The wikipedia article about me was vandalized with similar sentiments. When I publicly shared what was happening to me, the perpetrators responded by escalating their harassment campaign and attempting to DDoS my website and hack into my online accounts. They also tried to collect and distribute my personal info including my home address and phone number. They made pornographic images in my likeness being raped by video games characters which they distributed and sent to me over and over again. Attempts were made to discredit me and my project by creating and posting false quotes or fake tweets attributed to me. There was also a flash game developed where players were invited to “beat the bitch up”. Unfortunately I still receive threats and explicit images on a semi-regular basis. In December 2012, I gave a TEDxWomen talk where I discuss in more detail what happened, and how these large scale loosely organized Cyber Mob attacks operate.
  • Does Djilas, who is himself a writer, not know what human suffering and the human heart are? Can't he understand it if a soldier who has crossed thousands of kilometers through blood and fire and death has fun with a wench or takes some trifle?
  • Both perpetrator and victim enter a conspiracy of silence and why male survivors often find, once their story is discovered, that they lose the support and comfort of those around them. In the patriarchal societies found in many developing countries, gender roles are strictly defined. […] Often, […] wives who discover their husbands have been raped decide to leave them. They ask me: 'So now how am I going to live with him? As what? Is this still a husband? Is it a wife?' They ask, 'If he can be raped, who is protecting me?.
  • We do not discount the seriousness of rape as a crime. It is highly reprehensible, both in a moral sense and in its almost total contempt for the personal integrity and autonomy of the female victim and for the latter's privilege of choosing those with whom intimate relationships are to be established. Short of homicide, it is the "ultimate violation of self." It is also a violent crime because it normally involves force, or the threat of force or intimidation, to overcome the will and the capacity of the victim to resist. Rape is very often accompanied by physical injury to the female and can also inflict mental and psychological damage. Because it undermines the community's sense of security, there is public injury as well.
  • If a rapist comes to your door, then your own fears and anger and aggression have brought him there. You have broadcast your feelings, and he has picked them up . . . There is a reason -- there are no accidents.
    • Susan M. Watkins in Conversations With Seth, Book 2: 25th Anniversary Edition, Volume 2, p. 5
  • Assuming rape was common "taints all women survivors," Weitzman says. "It is not that they don't want to discuss something that was painful, it is that they do not want to be branded by something that did not happen -- not to them or to their sisters or to their mothers or to their daughters. The real horrors they experienced were horrible enough."
  • "Of course it happened," she says. "If you have 6 million people murdered, everything happened. Anything in the world we might imagine could happen to a person probably did."
  • Rape is like bad weather: if it's inevitable, you might as well relax and enjoy it.
  • Their widespread and systematic nature indicates a structural pattern: rape is still used as an instrument of war and oppression. Sexual violence is used as a tool by the Burmese military to demoralise and destroy ethnic communities.
  • A CENTRAL TENET of advocates seeking greater accountability for sexual assault is that the complainant is virtually always the one telling the truth. As a 2014 White House report, “Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call to Action,” stated, “Only 2–10 percent of reported rapes are false.” Campus materials aimed at students make similar assertions.
    But as Michelle J. Anderson, the president of Brooklyn College and a scholar of rape law, acknowledged in a 2004 paper in the Boston University Law Review, “There is no good empirical data on false rape complaints either historically or currently.” The data have not improved since that time. In a 2015 working paper, Lieutenant Colonel Reggie Yager, a U.S. Air Force judge advocate who has defended men accused of sexual assault, took a comprehensive look at the research on the incidence of false rape reports, and concluded that the studies confirming the overwhelming veracity of accusers are methodologically unsound.
  • Yager writes, however, that about 45 percent of the cases Lisak reviewed did not proceed, because there was insufficient evidence, or the complainant withdrew from the process or couldn’t identify the perpetrator, or the allegation did not rise to the level of a sexual assault. In other words, no one could possibly determine whether these claims were true or false.
    “Policy is being driven,” Yager wrote in his analysis, by the idea “that false allegations are exceedingly rare.” But we simply don’t know how rare they are. What’s more, no legal or moral system purporting to be just can make presumptions about individual cases based on statistics. For many years, feminist activists have said that the legal system and culture tend to prejudge assault claims, with an inclination toward believing men over women, accused over accuser. They have rightly pointed out the deep injustice of that bias. But it is also unjust to be biased against the accused.

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