Thursday, September 29, 2011

What We Stand For

It's very difficult to get a fish to understand that water is wet. Some would say impossible. Especially because the only way to achieve this, really is to hold the fish out of water for a while, but the shock of it makes the experience less than instructive, for the most part.

Looking at the kyriarchy is like that. We've swum in it, breathed it in, and when we are made aware of it for the first time, it makes us acutely uncomfortable. This happens because it is the first time we starkly realise that life isn't fair, that the individual is not as in control of his/her on circumstances as much as we would like to believe. It's also the first time we're made to think about our own privilege and realise that there are things we've gained in life because we belong to the right groups and classes. The first time is never an instructive moment, because it's very difficult to push past the gasping horror and discomfort at it all.

We understand that, and we keep blogging, because hopefully, the more you see these things, the more the discomfort will subside. Ideally, the discomfort will give way into outrage, into an attitude of "What can we do about this?" Before that though, we need to look at some of the assumptions the people who find their way here are making.

With that, I'm now going to respond to a comment made by someone who is still operating from a position within the kyriarchy.

The comment:
Xavier said...

Does Slutwalk plan to take a stand against false rape accusers?
Or are all rape accusations supposed to be viewed as completely true?
The short answer is no.

The long answer, is no, because we don't have to. Before I delve into why we don't have to secure that front, let me turn that question around a little. Do we regularly ask if a stand needs to be taken against people who report being burgled? Who report being robbed? Who report being assaulted? These are all crimes that involve one party aggressing another, yet we dont feel a pressing need to get up in arms about these charges.

Rape, on the other hand, seems to get everybody all fired up.

This persistent attitude that "the bitch is lying" means that the cost for a woman to allege rape is very high. This is particularly true if the case is taken to court, where the accuser's past sexual history is dredged out as a possible defense (to properly see how absurd this is, think of someone being mugged - the person whose wallet was stolen is never asked about the many times they've walked that route with a wallet on their person and then being treated as a liar for it). This is so traumatic that in the UK, 97% of accusers attrition out of their court hearings. Take that statistic, against the well-researched figure that only 5.9% of all rape allegations are false and you see why we don't have to take a stand against false rape accusations. I'll even spell it out for you in case you haven't quite been able to follow along: we currently live in a society where the default is to treat anyone alleging rape as a lying slut. The stand has already been taken. (See also: Rape Culture)

This default stand is harmful and disenfranchises victims of sexual assault. And there are many of them. And they deserve better.


  1. So what do you think about the False Rape Society?
    They are part of the kyriarchy?
    Because it seems that even women agree that some rape allegations are false.

  2. Perhaps in the same way 'some men' seem to believe that women should fastidiously avoid situations that might result in them being raped, the men you worry about should avoid putting themselves in situations where they might falsely be accused of rape.

    Like, I don't know. Not having sex.

  3. Perhaps you think men get falsely accused of rape after sex.
    The reason false rape accusations are so heinous, is that the person being accused doesn't even have to have had sex with the person doing the accusing. They don't even have to know each other.

  4. It's good to know your stands on things; it's now clearer to me why the birthrate in Singapore is dropping.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. So basically there are two repercussions to a false rape accusation, and I'm not sure which you're labeling heinous (though I highly doubt that it's nearly as heinous as actually RAPING someone).

    1. A miscarriage of justice resulting in false imprisonment etc.
    So... the justice system you trust to (in Singapore) hang murderers and drug traffickers, to arrest burglars and robbers, and to protect your general safety and well being, you don't trust enough to be able to handle a rape accusation where there has been no actual sex? Seems like fear-mongering to me. Quite clearly it's a bit hard to accuse someone of rape if they were in another country, spotted on an MRT camera at the exact time of the crime etc. etc.

    2. The stigma of being an accused rapist
    Look, there are false accusations in every crime. We don't stigmatise victims of assault or attempted murder because GOSH what if the accused murderer was innocent! We don't fret about random wild accusations regarding most other crimes! Are those accusations somehow less "heinous"?

    What really confuses me is why some men have this irrational fear of being falsely accused of rape. Is there some "typical male activity" I'm not doing that predisposes the women I interact with to want to accuse me of rape?

  7. You removed a post, nice. Had something to say that you didn't want me to see?
    Stigmatising a VICTIM is not the same thing as accusing someone else of doing the crime.
    Since there are at least 2 people involved in a crime (person the crime is done to, and person that does the crime),
    if the wrong person is accused publicly of having done the crime, before the trial has concluded, that's a violation of the right to be innocent until proven guilty.
    Or do you think if somebody makes an accusation, it is right to simply say the person having had the accusation made against them, does not deserve a fair trial?
    I don't blindly trust any government to give me justice, least of all in a country that purports to be a democracy but has had no change of political party that governs it, for many decades. Since the essence of a democracy is change of political party in leadership.

  8. Uh. No actually. I removed the post because there was a typo where I said not nearly as heinous instead of nearly as heinous. The double negative made no sense with respect to what I wanted to say. Sorry to disappoint you.

    Ok, I have loads to say on your framing of the legal process, since a case does not always go to trial (it depends very much on the evidence and the prosecutor's decision on whether there's enough to convict).

    But I'd prefer to address your focus on the notion of 'innocent until proven guilty'. Don't you think you've actually decided all women are guilty of false rape accusations the moment you don't support a movement to enable true victims to report crimes with stigmatisation and disbelief?

    Don't you think that women too should be considered innocent of the crime of falsely accusing someone? Your leap to assume that all/many/any woman is going to lodge a false accusation just because we no longer blame women for being victims of rape is just as culpable, and far less productive than what you're fixated on.

  9. The moment the idea that a person is not entitled to a fair trial by virtue of the type of crime they have committed, is considered okay, and hence the name of the alleged perpetrator is splashed out in the media ...
    is the moment I actually think that the person making the accusation needs to be outed too, and possibly prosecuted if the case they bring forth has little merits on the basis of proof.
    You can't run a system where every case that doesn't bring forth a conviction based on sound evidence and legal principles, is allowed off - for the simple reason that it degrades the real cases of crimes and the victims ...
    and tells others that telling lies to get others in trouble carries no penalty.
    Does that sound like the society you want to live in?
    Remember - your kids will be living under that system. If you have any.

  10. Hey Anonymous, name a single person here who has suggested that rape defendants are "not entitled to a fair trial". You can't, because no one here has said that. Stick with facts please, and stop making things up.

    Publicly naming defendants is standard practice for all crimes, not just rape. It has nothing to do with eroding the standard of presumed innocence and everything to do with the public interest being best served through a transparent justice system. Again, stop making things up.

  11. Here's one for ya, I hear she's a feminist too.
    Men who are unjustly accused "have a lot of pain, but it is not a pain that I would necessarily have spared them." - Catherine Comins, assistant dean of student life at Vassar, 2001.

  12. Since you are holding your protests in solidarity with the ones in Canada and the US, it is not a stretch to assume you hold their principles as worthy of support - and by extension, the principles of people such as Catherine Comins.
    Or are you saying that's not a fair assumption to make?
    If that's not a fair assumption to make, what are the principles that are different to that of Slutwalk Canada and the US? I note that those two mention nothing about holding false accusers accountable - and saying "we don't have to" means that you definitely think they have a right to do that, without being punished for making such allegations.
    "Publicly naming defendants is standard practice for all crimes, not just rape."
    Yes, but a person has a right to know who is accusing him. You don't think that's necessary at all? Or is that something unique to systems considered dictatorships or autocratic?

  13. Anonymous, nothing in that quotation suggests that the presumption of innocence or ordinary standard of proof should be done away with in the case of rape. So you're still making stuff up. Please don't try again if the next attempt is going to be as weak.

    There is also a perfectly reasonable position that could be behind that quotation, namely that the price of having a functional criminal justice system is that sometimes false as well as true accusations need to be properly investigated. (I-n-v-e-s-t-i-g-a-t-e-d, not automatically resulting in conviction, before you start up again.) This is true of every kind of crime, not just rape.

    By the way, this business of dredging out random quotations from other people (quotations that don't even support your point, in this case), and then asking other feminists to comment on it, is really pathetic. If you're interested in discussing the issues, and not the picture of the Feminist Borg you've constructed in your own mind, then stick to the things people are actually saying in the conversation with you.

    "Publicly naming defendants is standard practice for all crimes, not just rape."
    Yes, but a person has a right to know who is accusing him. You don't think that's necessary at all? Or is that something unique to systems considered dictatorships or autocratic?

    Again, stop making stuff up. Rape defendants know precisely who the people are who accuse them. Complainant anonymity applies only to media reporting, not to the legal process itself. Here's an idea: why don't you actually inform yourself first, before coming up with groundless accusations?

  14. ”This persistent attitude that "the bitch is lying" means that the cost for a woman to allege rape is very high.”

    Um, even if they get caught, they are unlikely to be charged because, in most jurisdictions in the US, the top chargeable offense is a mere misdemeanor for false reporting. Add to that this that legislatively imposed sentencing guidelines will typically allow for a “first-time offender” to be given a deferred sentence. If you were to actually do some research into the matter, you’d find that most false accusers, who get their innocent victims into serious trouble, costing them jobs and careers, rendering them “guilty” in the eyes of many of their peers, causing the break-up of their marriages, and even driving some to suicide, well, most of them end up doing a few hours of community service. So, the legal cost isn’t very high at all, especially considering the cost to the person they so blithely accused.

    ”This is particularly true if the case is taken to court, where the accuser's past sexual history is dredged out as a possible defense…”

    Um, perhaps before making such an erroneous statement, you should have done a simple search on “Rape Shield Laws”. It is absolutely forbidden to bring up an alleged victims past sexual history.

    Given such woeful ignorance of the issue, perhaps you should stick to just talking about cows. For any of your readers who aren’t afraid of the truth (even if it might just mean seeing the women-folk as less-than-perfect), I’d recommend The False Rape Society

  15. "Publicly naming defendants is standard practice for all crimes, not just rape."

    is true, but

    "Publicly naming complainants is standard practice for all crimes, except for rape and sexual assault."

    There seems an imbalance there. The reputation and lives of innocent young men can be destroyed by false accusations.

  16. Dear slwerner,

    Perhaps you could take the opportunity to review Singapore's laws, which permit marital rape, and which permit the dregding up of the accuser's past sexual history, the type of clothes she was wearing that day and basically any damn thing the defence counsel feels like asking.

    Before the accused is charged, investigators undertake a thorough questioning of the accuser and a doctor's report is necessary as well.

    Any further questions?

    - Puja

  17. Zimba, did you even read the original post? The stigmatisation of rape complainants as lying-sluts-who-asked-for-it explains exactly why complainants in rape and sexual assault cases are in a different position from those in many other crimes. The funny thing is, it's precisely what SlutWalk and us at the barn are calling for - getting rid of victim-blaming and slut-shaming - that would lead to a position where complainant anonymity would be less important. We are providing a solution for precisely the situation that gets your goat. Fancy that!

    By the way, the same protection of anonymity applies to children in criminal cases, including cases of both sexual and other forms of child abuse, on the highly important grounds of child protection. There can also be witness protection in cases where that is necessary to ensure that testimony is given. All these protections help cases to be properly investigated and considered. You have to wonder why so many people have a problem with that goal.

  18. Puja - The laws of Singapore have nothing to do with US law. If you want to make a point about marital rape laws there, well fine. But that has exactly ZERO to do with the no-costs to those who make serious false rape claims here in the US.

    It may be too big a logical leap for you to make, but lack of marital rape laws in Singapore do not render the Rape Shield Laws of the US null and void. they have absolutely nothing to do with one another.

    If the best counter-argument you false rape allegation apologist can muster is some unrelated laws in Singapore, then it seems I was quite right in suggesting that the topics here be limited to cows.

  19. Hey slwerner, THIS IS A SINGAPORE BLOG. Fuck off.

  20. Perhaps a quick stroll around this blog will give you a hint as to the geographical context of the posts here.

    - Puja

  21. Puja - "Perhaps a quick stroll around this blog will give you a hint as to the geographical context of the posts here."


    But the subject matter of the post is NOT about Singapore. It references the "Slut Walks" of the US which have spread to other Western/Anglosphere countries, and even uses an article and statistics from the UK, as well as posting a link to an organization (RAINN) in the US.

    Perhaps the mistake of the blogger was to try to take on an intentional issue from the narrow perspective of of a rather limited locale.

  22. Singapore has a SlutWalk. Now fuck off.

  23. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  24. Comment from slwerner has been deleted due to failure to follow clear moderator instructions (i.e. "Now fuck off").

  25. Err - Cat, I just remembered this is your post to moderate. Hope I didn't step on your feline toes too much by deleting slwhiner. But his sneering US condescension pushed too many Chicken buttons. I will restore his snot if you like.

  26. Heh, Chicken..I was just gonna ask if the American SlutWalk was the only way. But that sounded too dictatorial for a BEACON OF FREEDOM like 'merka.



  27. Indeed Puja, a SHINY SHINY beacon, and of course the only place we could possibly have been talking about. Singapore is a "limited locale" not worthy of discussion, don't ya know.

  28. @Magical Chicken

    RE:- "Zimba, did you even read the original post?"

    I might asked the same of you wrt my post. It seems to me that anonymity for the complainant is fine to protect her reputation but anonymity for the accussed to protect his reputation is not fine.

    Seems to be a contradiction or least a lack of concern there.

  29. A friend astutely pointed out, how does an American person randomly end up here? It's almost as if he/she were monitoring SlutWalk results on Google just to troll on them. >.<

    I also like how folk from the limited locale know that "other Western/Anglosphere countries" is just so ignorant, when you have locations such as Singapore, KL, Hong Kong, Bangalore. Sigh.

    @Zimba: I would point out that when if the criminal justice system determines that the man was innocent, and the woman was making a false accusation, then she would be publicly named as well.

    PLUS, the person is only publicly named if the entire case goes to trial. If the man is innocent, it's just as possible he'd be dismissed as a suspect by the police.

    There seem to be many preconditions for a man to be false accused and publicly shamed; including the police finding evidence and opportunity, the deputy public prosecutor agreeing that evidence is sufficient, and finally in the unfortunate world we live in, for the victim to be a paragon of virtue that is above reproach.

    What is of course really sad is that for some odd reason, the world we live in sometimes sees that there is sufficient evidence, there is opportunity, and yet because of a victim's past decisions, society deems that she's more likely a false accuser as opposed to a genuine victim. Funny that, eg?

  30. Zimba, the whole point of the original post is that there are good grounds to protect the complainant against victim-blaming, slut-shaming stigma (namely, there is a hell of a lot of such stigma going around, in a way that there isn't in relation to complainants in other crimes). The grounds to anonymise the defendant, by contrast, are no greater than those in most other criminal cases. It's not a contradiction. It's a reasonable response to reality.

  31. I should've known better than to write a post like this and walk away from my computer for a few days to enjoy the weather with visiting family.

    Thanks Chicken, Puja and bastard for holding the fort in my absence. See, here I thought I made a simple point: that the world does not stand with victims of sexual assault and that does them a disservice.

    That this point is one of so much contention is frankly alarming, and contributes to why we need Slutwalk and Take Back the Night. Women should feel safe as we move about our world. This is why we don't.