Friday, December 15, 2006

What does it mean?

So, the Duke lacrosse team is off the hook.

It's hard to know what to make of this.

I am prepared to believe that they didn't do it. But I'm also prepared to believe that she was raped at that party - perhaps not by the three men in question, but by others. I don't know.

Here's the thing: when a woman says she's been raped, I believe her. Why? Well, first because the FBI stats on rape tell us that only 2% of reported rapes are fraudulent.* And second, because I've known enough women and men who have been raped to know that they have little to gain by making up such a story.

And as Tobes writes in the above link, this case brought "to light...the difficulty in proving rape and the underlining dangerous misogyny in many male 'team-think' situations." As evidence, she quotes the Duke lacrosse team member who sent an email in which he joked about skinning women "while cumming in my duke issue spandex."

Should we take the position that all are innocent until proven guilty? Of course. But this does not mean that we do not take seriously charges of rape or that we assume that the person who is bringing the charges is lying because the men in question are good boys or white boys or smart boys or because they have their whole futures ahead of them. It does not mean that it is ever appropriate to make demeaning comments about the person making the accusation of rape.

(And, for what it's worth, any man who jokes about murdering and skinning women needs to be on medication and under observation. I'm just saying. I would certainly not attend any of his parties.)

Meanwhile, the Duke lacrosse team was a popular Halloween costume among college students this year, among both men and women. What does that tell us about how college students perceive rape? (And whatever can we take away from this pic and caption?)

Those are both rhetorical questions, obviously.

And if it turns out that the woman in question was not raped, if she made this story up, then what she has done will mean that college women will be even less likely to come forward when they are raped because they know they will be even less likely to be believed.

* I read this on an academic listserv within the past year, but I can't find the source. However, I did find this very interesting post on the matter, which challenges my claim of 2%. As I have not done the research myself, and as I have also not checked out the research on Alas, I'm simply going to allow that I may be wrong and direct you there for further information. I would add, though, that even 6-8% - the stat of false accusations according to the FBI, as per Ampersand's post - is quite small when you consider how that would work: it would mean that fewer than 1 in 10 women are making false accusations.


Anonymous said...

In this case, several men could have been sent to jail for life terms if found guilty of gang rape:

Videotapes were submitted as evidence where she was egging the guys on during group sex.

She only has to serve 90 days in jail for making a false rape allegation.

So much for feminist "justice".

plain(s)feminist said...

I don't understand how this is relevant to my post.

What is the point that you are making that is in contrast to something that I wrote?

Anonymous said...

You need to open your eyes on this case. The overwhelming evidence demonstrates that neither rape nor sexual assault occurred that night. I state that due to the following:
1) The stripper gave a statement that night that several of her attacker had an orgasm inside her. She also stated that she had not had sex with any male in the past week. On Friday last week, the director of the independent DNA testing lab testified that there was DNA samples found on the stripper and in her underwear from several males, none of which matched any of the accused or any Duke Lacrosse player. That directly contradicts the girl's statement.
2) The girl had drinks before attending the party and combined that with prescription muscle relaxing drug. The second stripper, Kim Robert, stated in the 60 minutes interview, the girl acted like she was under the influence. Pictures show that that several Duke players had to help her to the Ms. Robert's car after the party. Given this, how is this girl in any condition to identify men let alone give a clear and accurate testimony of what occurred that night?
3) Even more disturbing that the victim's actions and statements is the behavior of the Durham DA Mike Nifong and police Sgt. Doug Gotlieb. Sgt. Doug Gotlieb violated both federal and North Carolina rules on photo identification when he presented the photo ID to the victim. The only photos presented where of the Caucasian Duke Lacrosse players. In effect, the victim did not have the ability to make a mistake, since she was only shown pictures of men who attended the party. This photo identification will not hold in Court. Furthermore, the actions the DA, who publicly called the Lacrosse players thugs and called them guilty before the results of the DNA tests had returned, clearly violated NC law. Lastly, the DA and the head of the DNA lab admitted in court last week that they withheld exculpatory evidence from the defense.
These young men are victims of a politically motivated DA, who used this case to get reelected in Durham. While I find the actions of the young men at the party irresponsible and reckless (serving alcohol to minors and paying for strippers), this in no way suggests that they nor anyone

plain(s)feminist said...

It looks like Anon 3:36 timed out or something, but I think we get the gist.

What I don't get so much is what in my post gives the impression that I'm taking the position that the Duke team absolutely raped the woman in question (it's pretty clear at this point that there is no evidence for that, though I admit I haven't been following more than the headlines). I think I was also pretty clear about my ambivalence at the time I wrote that post. My comments were more directed toward the way in which the woman who filed the complaint was treated immediately following the event, and toward the way in which the whole issue has been treated as laughable on many college campuses. I don't think that this is because people don't believe that rape happens or because they didn't think that it could have happened in this case. I think it's because, as some students have expressed on my own campus, people believe that strippers can't be raped, or that at the very least, they should expect to be raped if they are going to go around taking their clothes off in front of men. And I think, too, that it's also because people prefer to believe that nice young athletes would never rape anyone. It's a lot easier (and happier), in fact, to be a woman and believe that rape doesn't happen (unless you've been raped).

So, again - I don't have anything invested in believing that this particular woman was raped by these particular men, beyond being pissed as hell if she is lying because that will have negative repercussions for all women. And I will continue to believe women when they say they have been raped because stats still do show that, overwhelmingly, women don't lie about it. I feel like I'm starting to repeat my original post, so I'll stop here and just refer y'all back to it.

Anonymous said...

Here's the thing: when a woman says she's been raped, I believe her.

What I don't get so much is what in my post gives the impression that I'm taking the position that the Duke team absolutely raped the woman in question...

Evidently you contradict yourself. If you believe her, then you absolutely believe that somebody on the Duke team raped her. They are the lone constituents of the falsely accused. You are so proud to be a feminist and this hubris clouds your judgment. Come forward and admit to all that you hate men. I suspect that you are a lesbian and your sexual preference is the true motivation that drives you to blindly rage against all things male. We heterosexual males are perceived as a threat by being the competition to lesbians. Deny my speculation while silently cursing my accuracy. For the sake of equality, my beliefs need no more proof than you absurdly believing the lying prostitute. This is where you convince yourself that you can shred apart my logic and return to your silly campaign of half truths. Tell us, does it feel good to live in a fantasy land where you believe yourself to be battling the evil tyranny of the world that you have identified as the XY chromosome? Your bias has revealed that you are just as bad or worse that what you profess to be against and this makes you a hypocrite. Know that I realize you are beyond any hope of appreciating one thought in my argument. You will not be convinced to see the world any differently and your site is for projecting your limited comprehension of reality onto others.

plain(s)feminist said...

Anon 11:01 -
I'm going to leave your comment up for the time being so that others will see it. Because I feel certain that I've read these words someplace before.

However, this is not an invitation to troll. Comments that simply repeat what you say here or elsewhere or that do not contribute to productive and civil discussion will be deleted.