People like to say that rape/abuse allegation ruin lives. They don’t, at least not today. They did ruin SOME lives back in the era where we were looking for an excuse to lynch people, or when police were more comfortable closing a case by fabricating evidence against any old black person, but thankfully our collective humanity has increased in this country just an inch past that. We’re starting to release some of these folks that were falsely imprisoned, but are now exonerated by DNA evidence. We have only had access to this technology for about 20 years, and though it has been instrumental in solving crimes, genetic labs are woefully underfunded. The lack of funding for DNA testing directly reflects the priorities of justice agencies everywhere, who are not interested at all in prosecuting rapes or freeing innocent black men.
I can at least understand why some black people would be haunted by the threat of racist violence, and I wanted to acknowledge that, but in my experience, it is usually white guys who are constantly warning me that I need to be careful about whom I believe, because someone (not the rape survivor, because fuck them) could really get hurt.
Here are a few reasons why I don’t think false rape allegations are this pressing epidemic, rampantly “ruining lives” anymore.
1) Because TRUE rape allegations aren’t ruining lives
Look at Roman Polanski, who was crowned king of the martyrs after he raped a young teen and simply fled the country to avoid his inevitable prosecution, taking an extended vacay to France. Look at Julian Assange. Look at R. Kelly. Look at Woody Allen. Look at Eldridge Cleaver. Look at Ben Roethlisberger. Look at Robert H. Richards IV. Look at Ma’Lik Richmond. Ask any of your survivor friends what happened to their rapists. Almost always, the answer is that nothing happened to them and that they’re fine.
Even when as many as about half of survivors are reporting their rapes to the police, only about 3% of rapists are spending any time at all in jail, including those simply being held until the day of their trial and then being given a no jail or time served sentence. It’s rare to see a divorce ensue, somewhat less so if the abuse is intrafamilial.
2) Because people are not afraid of telling people that they’ve been accused
If the very whisper of rape and abuse were enough to ruin someone forever, why are people so comfortable perpetuating such whispers about themselves? People jump at the opportunity to talk about how they were falsely accused once, or how some friend gave an account of being falsely accused, when the topic of rape is brought up . Maybe that doesn’t seem weird to you, but re-contextualize it just a little. Let’s think about a really damaging rumor.
Let’s imagine that that your boss decides he hates you and tells everyone you stole thousands of dollars from your charity-funded daycare for kids with cancer so you could buy heroin. That’s a damaging accusation! If an employer heard about that, they definitely wouldn’t hire you, even while not having any hard evidence. People would be hesitant to invite you into their homes, because they would be worried that you steal stuff, or that you’ll be in any of the unpleasant stages of heroin use. Your family would be scrutinizing the shit out of your actions, at the very least. That’s why, if you had such a boss make that kind of accusation against you, you probably wouldn’t bring it up in casual conversation. You wouldn’t be like, “hey… since they’re saying Robert Downey Jr. is on drugs, I just want to let you know that you should reserve your judgement, because at this daycare for cancer kids where I used to work…”
Blabbing about it all over town is not the behavior of an innocent person who has been nearly ruined by a conspiracy. An innocent person who has been nearly ruined by a conspiracy will run like hell, look for people who are untouched by it, and pray that they are out of its grips. Which brings me to my third point…
3) “False” allegations are usually not so false.
So if you’ve never had the experience of telling folks about a rape, I’ll tell you how it generally goes. You tell someone, or a few people, and you expect that they will envelop you in protective love so that you can not deal with anything other than putting your life back together. If you elect to tell the cops, you expect that they will lock up the person and you will have a decent shot at getting a night’s sleep.
None of that happens. No one believes you and shit gets really weird, really fast. There are a million questions, and many are intrusive to a degree that make you want to absolutely die. Some people start to avoid you. There are a lot of whispers and hushed conversations. There’s a lot of gaslighting. The police do whatever they can to get rid of you. They don’t want your case and they don’t want your crime stats in their district. So people recant. People say, “You know, this is not helping me, so fuck it. Ignore what I said.” And everyone breathes a huge sigh of relief. But that retraction goes in the books as a false accusation.
Similarly, there are other times when people are just kind of looking for loopholes where some really obviously shitty behavior “doesn’t count” as rape or abuse. They will cling to their loophole in a very self righteous manner, because they were so, so careful, in their mind, to avoid culpability. They’re mad because it didn’t work out that way, even though they think they have “followed the rules”. That is bad enough, but what’s worse is that they’re often factually incorrect in their belief that they didn’t commit the textbook definition of these acts. They have deluded themselves into thinking a man can’t rape someone he’s had consensual sex with before, or that it’s not rape to do that to someone who is in and out of consciousness, or that someone who comes back to your apartment alone with you has given you consent to do whatever by the sheer act of being there under those circumstances, or that sex stops when the man has ejaculated so when the other person says to stop, that means the man just needs to “hurry up” and keep fucking for several non consensual minutes until he is ready to stop and so on.
Which is to say nothing of the people who know what they did and are simply lying. Rapists who admit to being rapists are pretty rare. Like you see them on the dirtbaggiest forums, but other than that, almost no one admits it. Everyone knows a guy who was “falsely accused” and got inundated in sympathy, only to have another abused person appear, and then another, and then another.
So I am not worried about Jian, and not just because he’s guilty. He is guilty, though.