Thanks to the political horrorshow that has dominated the last week (not to be confused with the dozens preceding the current week, or those yet to come – I’m looking at you, greatest tax fraud scandal in the history of the presidency), we’ve gotten to hear from a number of men who are terrified they’ll be falsely accused of rape.
Good news, guys: Kavanaugh hasn’t been falsely accused, and you won’t be either.
Let’s do something CRAZY and look at evidence and facts, helpfully compiled by Jeremy C. Young, and even more helpfully pulled out of the Twitter cesspool by Tumblr folks.
First, how hard is it to arrange a false accusation of rape?
In the last week of the 2016 election, Democratic donors Susie Tompkins Buell and David Brock demonstrated you don’t need morals or brains to acquire wealth, and decided to find out. They offered $700,000 to any woman who would say Donald Trump raped her.
So. Women had whatever normal incentives women have to lie about rape (more on that in a bit), plus fistfuls of cash on offer.
The result: “It was not productive.” One woman requested $2 million, Bloom said, then decided not to come forward. Nor did anyone else.
This has happened before. During the Clinton impeachment hearings, Larry Flynt offered $1 million to anyone who said they’d had an affair with a GOP congressman. Only one woman got paid, and the man she accused, Bob Livingston, admitted she was telling the truth.
Let’s go back to that “whatever normal incentives women have” line.
Why don’t more women lie about being sexually assaulted?
Because the disbelief and ridicule they receive is so devastating that the lie isn’t worth it. They don’t HAVE any motive. They can try to “ruin” a man, but most of the time it doesn’t work, and they get ruined instead.
This isn’t to say there aren’t ANY false rape accusations. But let’s take a look at what those look like, courtesy of this outstanding article, which you really should read.
What kind of person makes false rape accusations?
It turns out there have been studies on the types of people who make false rape accusations, and they fall into a few consistent categories.
- Teen girls trying to cover up a pregnancy or missed curfew.
- People with extensive criminal convictions for fraud.
- People with Munchausen’s Disorder (who fabricate a million health conditions).
- People seeking revenge, usually for petty things like someone stealing their truck.
Also: “False accusers almost never tell stories that could, by any stretch of the imagination, be seen as an innocent misunderstanding.”
If Dr. Blasey Ford wanted to lie about Kavanaugh, based on the patterns observed in the article, she’d accuse him of torturing her in a basement, not of attempted molestation at a party.
The takeaway: “If a woman without any history of dramatic falsehoods says she went home with a man and, after they’d kissed a while consensually, he held her down and forced her into sex – in the absence of compelling evidence to the contrary, you can assume it’s true.”
(More to the point, you SHOULD do so, but that’s MY takeaway.)
When it comes to Kavanaugh, false accusations of this type simply don’t happen. Dr. Blasey Ford is telling the truth. So are Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick. If you know a man who’s faced accusations like these three, it’s almost certain they actually did what they’re accused of. (More on THAT in a bit.)
False accusations of rape do happen, but they are rare. Rarer than being struck by lightning WHILE SITTING INSIDE YOUR HOUSE. If you’re not lying awake at night worrying that lightning will come through your window and electrocute you, you shouldn’t worry about being falsely accused of rape, guys.
What we SHOULD worry about is what happens to women like Dr. Blasey Ford when they tell the truth and are still not believed. What’s been said about Dr. Blasey Ford would land most people in therapy for years. Meanwhile, Kavanaugh’s nomination trundles onward.
In summary, you literally cannot pay women to falsely report sexual misconduct.
But, as Donald Trump has demonstrated (repeatedly), you can certainly pay them not to report sexual misconduct that actually happened.
Okay: let’s loop back to “If you know a man who’s faced accusations like these three, it’s almost certain they actually did what they’re accused of.”
I’d like to make an edit to that sentence. Delete “almost.”
There are statistics about false rape accusations floating around that range from 2% (according to activists) to 10% (according to skeptics). (The highest rate in any credible study is 10.3%. If someone quotes you a rate higher than that, they don’t know what they’re talking about.)
But there’s a BIT more to it than that.
First, go back and read the article I linked. Seriously, do some legwork; it’s literally one click and moving your eyeballs.
What kind of person makes false rape accusations?
Second – and this is critical – not a single false accusation mentioned in the article involved more than one accuser. With multiple accusers who are (a) credible in their own right and (b) don’t know one another, the possibility of a false accusation drops exponentially.
Put another way, if you have even two credible accusers who don’t know each other, you have (for all practical purposes) mathematically removed the possibility of reasonable doubt.
Kavanaugh has three credible accusers, and two more potentially credible ones.
The chance they’re ALL lying is functionally zero.
SOME OTHER ARGUMENTS YOU MIGHT HEAR
“Memory is unreliable.”
Sure: people often don’t remember the face of a stranger who attacks them. They DO remember when it’s someone they know. And three women don’t MISremember being attacked by the SAME GUY. That’s light-years beyond lightning-struck-in-my-armchair odds. It isn’t a thing.
How Reliable are the Memories of Sexual Assault Victims?
Takeaway: People forget peripheral details of trauma, but not central details. They might misidentify the face of a stranger rapist, but they don’t misremember the identity of their classmate, whom they know, who attacked them.
Maybe you’re talking with (or are) one of the “why did she wait 40 years to come forward” crowd? I (or, rather, Jennifer Taub) have got you covered.
Coming forward is traumatic. Sexual assault survivors are 13 times more likely to attempt suicide than the average person, and most report that public victim blaming is one of the main reasons. The Mental Impact of Rape
But if he’s going to be ruling on the rights of 150 million women? Suddenly it becomes more urgent. Judged to be worth the pain, I must assume.
“Women just want to protect Roe v Wade.”
Okay. So did all the women David Brock offered fistfuls of money to in 2016. And yet.
Wanting to protect Roe v Wade, plus hundreds of thousands of dollars, wasn’t enough to convince anyone to make false accusations. It’s just too traumatic.
And, again, consider motive. People who make up false accusations ALWAYS trend toward the sensational. They’re easy to spot.
“I know someone who’s been falsely accused.”
Cool. How many people do you know who’ve been sexually assaulted? Data says it’s 27% – somewhat more than 40 MILLION WOMEN – in the U.S. – and 7% of men.
And let’s not forget 80% of women sexually harassed – that’s… 120 million in the U.S.?
But sure: hit me with the anecdata about that one guy you know…
“Innocent until proven guilty.”
That is a legal standard, not a job interview standard. I’ve worked inside HR offices as a trainer for years, and don’t know any who’d hire someone with these kinds of stories flying around about them, from multiple credible witnesses. It’s laughable.
No one’s suggesting Kavanaugh should be in jail without trial, just that he shouldn’t be on the Court.