20 April 2007
Posted by Maia under Violence
(Pictured: Artemisia Gentileschi’s “Susanna and the Elders”)
Just one last post on this – because many people quote and rely on “the FBI 8% statistic” as a valid rate for false rape allegations in the USA. From what I can gather, this “FBI statistic” is based on evidence such as the following paragraph in the 1996 Uniform Crime Survey, in which the FBI says:
“As with all other Crime Index offenses, complaints of forcible rape made to law enforcement agencies are sometimes found to be false or baseless. In such cases, law enforcement agencies “unfound” the offenses and exclude them from crime counts. The “unfounded” rate, or percentage of complaints determined through investigation to be false, is higher for forcible rape than for any other Index crime. Eight percent of forcible rape complaints in 1996 were “unfounded,” while the average for all Index crimes was 2 percent.”
This particular report does not define “unfounded”. However, various other bits and bobs I found described “unfounded” as meaning either that there was a deliberate false allegation or that there is other good reason to believe that no crime was committed – for example if the woman genuinely thought she had been raped but in fact since she consented as a result of blackmail and/or was married to her rapist and/or fell into some other bullshit loophole her experience did not count as “rape” in her state; or if the woman thought she had been drugged and might have been raped but, as it turns out, forensic tests show no sex took place at all; or if a disgruntled parent marches his daughter to the police station and she denies having been raped at all; or if someone suffering from a delusional illness falsely claims that she was kidnapped by aliens and raped by Elvis.
(Two random sources: Department of Justice guide, and MCASA presentation)
Various bits and bobs I found also described how police officers frequently “no-crimed” a rape report for dubious reasons. For example the DoJ document referred to said:
“Some police officers believe that there is an unusually high rate of false rape reports… The FBI does not separately track false reports; it tracks only the total number of unfounded reports. The category of “unfounded” consists of both baseless cases–in which the elements of the crime were never met–and false reports. In 1998, unfounded rape reports accounted for 8 percent of total reported rapes; however, this number is questionable. Some police officers incorrectly think that a rape report is unfounded or false if any of the following conditions apply:
• the victim has a prior relationship with the offender (including having previously been intimate with him);
• the victim used alcohol or drugs at the time of the assault;
• there is no visible evidence of injury;
• the victim delays disclosure to the police and/or others and does not undergo a rape medical exam; and/or
• the victim fails to immediately label her assault as rape and/or blames herself.”
In short – that 8% figure includes a LOT of cases that are not in fact false allegations at all, but only situations that were initially reported as rape but which either turned out not to be rape at all – for a range of reasons – or which were “no-crimed” by police officers acting on the basis of rape myths or other dubious criteria.
It is interesting to note that the British police records showed a rate of 8% for false allegations which, on analysis, proved to be an overestimate with 3% being a more likely figure. I wonder whether a similar result might be achieved by tracking false allegation reports that are included in the FBI’s 8% “unfounded” figure?
That’s it now.
I’ve had it up to the eyes with trawling through MRA hate-sites that exist purely for the purpose of “proving” by the power of Logic and Objective Studies and Scientific Evidence that women are all lying vindictive sluts who are asking for it, and care only about being allowed to go on abusing our power over white men in an anti-male world that is so rife with political correctness that nobody dares to stand up and speak the Truth about how downtrodden men are… oh and did I mention that all women are lying vindictive sluts? Especially those stupid, manhating bitches, the feminists.
Really, I’ve had it with being hated. I’m going to post something fluffy soon.
19 April 2007
[Pictured: "Rape" by Fran Peppers.]
Apart from Kanin’s study (discussed here), there is a study by Charles P McDowell, which is very frequently cited in support of claims that the rate of false rape accusations is high.
I have been unable to find his actual report to read and link to – please drop me a line if you know where I can get it! The best summary I have found is in an article by Frank Zepezauer entitled (not very encouragingly) “Believe Her! The Woman Never Lies Myth“:
“The McDowell team studied 556 rape allegations. Of that total, 256 could not be conclusively verified as rape. That left 300 authenticated cases of which 220 were judged to be truthful and 80, or 27%, were judged as false. In his report Charles McDowell stated that extra rigor was applied to the investigation of potentially false allegations. To be considered false one or more of the following criteria had to be met: the victim unequivocally admitted to false allegation, indicated deception in a polygraph test, and provided a plausible recantation. Even by these strict standards, slightly more than one out of four rape charges were judged to be false.”
First things first. Even from this one paragraph I can see that claims like “Dr. Charles P. McDowell found that out of 556 cases of alleged rape 27% of the women admitted that they had lied” are false. No. Out of the 300 cases where a definite “verdict” could be reached about truth or falsity, 27% of allegations were found to be false. That’s in fact 14% if you are going to measure the number of false allegations against the total number of allegations. So we’ve already halved the rate…
Secondly, I don’t have McDowell’s report so I don’t have his more detailed methodology for determining that an allegation was false. Essentially, it seems that the accuser must have admitted that the rape did not happen and provided a plausible explanation for what “really” happened. This is, it is said, a “strict” standard.
Sorry, but no. An important point to note is that these women were claiming that they had been raped in a military context. From what I gather, they were female soldiers reporting a rape by male soldiers. Given everything we know about how horrendously (re)traumatising the initial rape report and subsequent investigation can be for the victim, even in the most supportive of environments – if you add in the military context which I strongly suspect is far more male-centred than even the average police station, what do you get? A supportive environment for traumatised women to recount harrowing experiences with honesty and frankness? Or a challenging, hostile, suspicious one in which women are “crying rape” until proved truthful, where you can barely string two sentences together because you are so outraged and distressed?
I can easily believe that for a female soldier, coming to realise that she is not going to get justice, coming to realise that the easiest course of action is to recant and try to get on with her life, it would be a simple matter just to say – I made it up, I was wrong, it’s all a big mistake. I consented really, I was just upset afterwards. Whatever. Just leave me be now please. Can’t you see it now?
So where does that leave us? With a likely figure for truthfully admitted false allegations somewhere under 14%. We can only speculate as to the true figure.
But what about the unproven cases? Many ask. This is where the 60% figure comes in. A common claim is that: “McDowell’s study found that 60% of rape allegations are false.” Did it? Zepezauer says:
“If, out of 556 rape allegations, 256 could not be conclusively verified as rape, then a large number, 46%, entered a gray area within which more than a few, if not all, of the accusations could have been authentic. If so, the 27% false allegation figure obtained from the remaining 300 cases could be badly skewed… The McDowell team did in fact address these questions in follow-up studies. They recruited independent reviewers who were given 25 criteria derived from the profiles of the women who openly admitted making a false allegation. If all three reviewers agreed that the rape allegation was false, it was then listed by that description. The result: 60% of the accusations were identified as false…
Unfortunately, there is just not enough information here about the methodology to really understand how much credit this assessment should be given.
Who were the “independent” reviewers? How were they recruited? What were the criteria? How were they derived? How were they applied? How did the reviewers use these criteria to reach their conclusions? We do not know.
(I do wonder whether the fact that this article was the most comprehensive description of the study I could find gives you a bit of an idea how much those who cite it care about its validity. Surely, I also wonder, if the study was as bombproof as the MRA-types make it out to be it would be available somewhere in full? I digress.)
One thing I can tell you is that a blogger nameds Jack Yoest thinks the following “seven clues” are derived at least in part from McDowell’s work.
“1) Revenge — Is the girl out to get even with a man or boyfriend?”
Well, maybe she wants justice. Because he raped her? Is that the same thing as revenge? How do you know whether she wants revenge? Because he says so?
Translation: if your rapist is your boyfriend / husband / someone you once looked at funny, then you will not be believed.
“2) Alibi — Does the girl need an explanation for having sex?”
Translation: if the sex had been consensual, would it have been the kind of sex for which she would have needed an alibi? i.e. adulterous, kinky, underage, drunken, unprotected…
Translation: if your rapist is not your boyfriend / husband then you will not be believed.
“3) Emotional Instability — Does the girl have problems or a desire for attention?”
Does “the girl” have problems? You mean like the problem of having just been raped? Or do you mean that girls with pre-existing “problems” or unmet attention needs should not be believed and therefore can be raped with impunity?
“4) Timeliness — How long did she wait to report the crime? — Some women take a year to file a police report.”
And? That’s how some women deal with the trauma of rape. Doesn’t mean they are lying.
“5) Physical Evidence — There may not be any.”
And? Not all rapists beat their victims to a pulp. Some rapists even use condoms. Doesn’t mean it isn’t really rape.
“6) Self Inflicted Wounds — But never sensitive areas: no lips, eyes.”
Yeah, because if a woman comes to you claiming that she has been raped, the first thing we should do – after checking that she’s got wounds of course, for physical evidence – is make sure they aren’t self-inflicted. Because that could mean that she has “problems”. See above. Or is “attention seeking”. See above. Or is out and out fabricating evidence upon her own battered body. (Aside: Yo – laydees – we should be punching our eyes and knocking out our teeth! That is where we have been going wrong with all these false reports! Thanks, Jack, for your pointers on how to escape accusations of fabrication!)
“7) Incapacitated — Drunk or drugged remembering few details.”
So therefore likely to have consented. Because drunk or drugged womn can’t be raped, right? We all learned that off the news.
Seriously, if these were the sort of criteria that McDonnell was using to assess the “unproven” allegations for truth or falsity then it’s small wonder that he came up with a 60% figure for false accusations.
Ultimately, it seems to me that what McDonnell’s study of unproven allegations boils down to is – a bunch of men sitting around with a list of rape myths, ticking boxes. She was drunk and there was no evidence of resistance. False allegation. She had flirted with him in the bar the night before, and he ignored her. False allegation.
What amazes me is that, even armed with a list of rape myths, this bunch of men still managed to believe 40% of allegations that had not been prosecuted or otherwise considered wiorth pursuing by the authorities.
Another thing that is striking is that both Kanin’s and McDowell’s studies are based on such small samples. They each examine only about 500 allegations in total, with Kanin finding 45 cases of false allegations and McDowell finding 80 cases.
By contrast, I just want to finish with the Home Office study Gap or Chasm? That study used case-tracking analysis to investigate 2,643 rape reports. Of these, the police recorded 216 reports as false allegations, that is – about 8%.
It is worth remarking that of these 216 cases recorded as false allegations, there were 39 cases involving a named suspect and six arrests. Two men were charged. This puts somewhat into perspective the grand plaint – WHAT ABOUT THE POOR INNOCENT ACCUSED MEN! – that we hear so often when it comes to false allegations. Only 2 men were falsely charged (0.08% of all rape complaints), only 6 men were arrested (0.23%) and only 39 men were even placed briefly under private suspicion (1.48%). This stacks up with other studies, too – even Kanin records that almost all of the false allegations were weeded out at an early stage in proceedings, usually at the time of or very shortly after the initial complaint. It also shows that in most cases – contrary to what many MRA-types believe – the false allegation is not made for the purpose of revenge, because most women who falsely claim to have been raped do not name an attacker.
Back to those 216 cases recorded as “false allegation”. Further analysis shows some dubious designations by the police. In some, the admission of a false allegation was considered to be suspect. In others, the police had recorded an allegation as false merely because the complainant was drunk, drugged, mentally ill or had previously alleged rape in another complaint. In some cases, the police recorded an allegation as false because of an alibi provided by the suspect’s friend(s), or because the victim’s report contained inconsistencies or untruths. I don’t think I need to say that in my view none of these factors should be taken as determinative – all of these factors are consistent with the complainant having in fact been raped. The authors of this study were able to re-examine 144 of the cases where the allegation had been recorded as false. They found 44 cases where the allegation “probably” was false, 33 where it was “possibly” false and 77 (more than half!) where it was “uncertain”.
Based on this analysis, the total number of false allegations was recalculated at a more realistic figure of 3% of total allegations.
The Home Office report had a large sample, its clear methodolody is fully explained and you have all the information you need to know to understand how the figures were arrived at. All the factors are considered, the experiences of the raped women are taken into account, and the powerful rape myths influencing everyone concerned are understood.
In contrast, both Kanin and McDowell (in fairness to McDowell I have not read his original study so may be doing him some injustice) used small samples, failed adequately to explain their methodology, which appears at least superficially to be suspect, and failed to take into account the experiences of the raped women or the rape myths. Indeed, it seems that Kanin and McDowell may well have been influenced themselves by rape myths, as well as working to perpetuate them.
I know who I believe. Do you?
17 April 2007
Posted by Maia under Violence
Sally Henderson was jailed for 12 months last November for perverting the course of justice after she was convicted of making a false allegation of rape. She said that her husband had repeatedly raped her and treated her as a sex object. He said that he had not. The only real evidence against her seems to be that she had made similar allegations against a former partner – and this is only evidence if women never get caught up in more than one abusive relationship. We know that women who escape from one abusive relationship often find themselves trapped in another one next time around. Henderson was convicted of perverting the course of justice, even though her ex was apparently released as soon as the previous allegations came to light, which did not take more than a couple of days. She continued to deny that she made up any allegations and insists that she has been truthful throughout.
The media gave her the same treatment that it gave Katie Davis. They like stories in which they can vilify rape complainants as wicked liars.
So – some more about lying complainants. One study that seems to be quite popular in the “rape complainants are mostly liars” camp is the one carried out by Eugene J Kanin for Purdue University. (Link.)
In it, Kanin investigated “forcible rape” complaints in a US midwestern town with a population of 70,000. He found that there were 45 rape cases over a 9 year period – 1978 to 1987 – where the complainant recanted and stated that her complaint had been false.
Kanin states that there were 109 “total disposed rape cases” in the same period. “Disposed rape cases” clearly includes cases which are disposed of by a finding of false accusation, since he states that the 45 cases comprise 41% of the total disposed rape cases.
I would be most interested to know more about the other “disposed rape cases”. Surely, if you are using “disposed rape cases” as the total by reference to which your 45 false-allegation cases are to be measured, it is essential to say what you mean by “disposed rape cases”? Otherwise how can your 41% statistic have any meaning at all?
Based on my understanding of a disposed case as one that has been finally dealt with, I believe “disposed rape cases” must be those which have led to a definite outcome: acquittal, conviction or pre-trial recantation which is to be taken as strong evidence that the allegation was false. Thus, cases which are not proceeded with cannot be included as “disposed rape cases”. Cases where the complainant withdraws her complaint, or the police refuse to investigate properly, or the prosecuting authorties refuse to prosecute or elect to discontinue prosecution – none of these can be categorised as “disposed” cases.
Kanin does not say how many rape allegations there were in total. He only says that there were 109 cases that were disposed rape cases. Since he has failed to explain this crucial part of this calculation, I have had to conjecture that therefore 45 cases did not go to trial because the allegation was proved false to the satisfaction of the police, while a further 64 cases did proceed to trial and resulted in either a conviction or an acquittal – not counting technical acquittals as a result of the prosecution being discontinued.
From this, based on the Home Office study Gap or Chasm?, it is possible to guess how many rape allegations there may have been in total. The study in that report tracked 2,643 cases where rapes were reported to the police. Of these, 322 cases reached trial stage and 287 cases resulted in a “definite disposal” in the sense of there being either a conviction or a non-technical acquittal. (See pages 70-71.)
Thus in the “Gap or Chasm?” study, 287 cases out of 2643 police reports, or just under 10.9%, resulted in a definite disposal by acquittal or conviction.
In the Kanin study, there were from what we have seen 64 cases that resulted in a conviction or acquittal. By extrapolation assuming that similar proportions apply (a blatantly false assumption, but the best we can do and much fairer than not trying at all!) we can say that in the Kanin study the total number of reports made to the police could have been in the order of 587 (because 10.9% of 587 = 64).
If we use 45 as the number for false allegations and measure that against the guesstimated total population of all complaints, the actual proportion of rape complaints which are false amounts to just under 7.7% of all rape complaints. Yes. 7.7%.
Kanin’s true figure, if he had not massaged his statistics, would probably have been in the order of 7.7%. Not 41%. Not even close.
And this is before we examine the basis on which 45 false-allegation cases were identified.
Kanin concedes that some of these cases may have been as a result of a false recantation, e.g. under pressure from the attacker or from someone else, or out of fear and intimidation resulting from the police investigation itself. However, he considers the probability of this to be low for a number of reasons.
His first reason is that : “…with very few exceptions, these complainants were suspect at the time of the complaint or within a day or two after charging. These recantations did not follow prolonged periods of investigation and interrogation that would constitute anything approximating a second assault [by the police].”
However, as the “Gap or Chasm?” study cited above found, even the initial police investigation was enough to put off many, many complainants. Lots of women found themselves unable to go through the forensic medical examination and even more could not face giving a formal statement to the police about their ordeal. Many of them cited the fact that they had to deal with male examiners or officers, the non-supportive attitude of police officers, the police tendency to disbelieve or challenge them, and other similar factors such as a tendency by some officers to make clear right from the start how hard it is for a rape allegation to stick and how the complainant’s sexual history or other sensitive issues are likely to be raked over in court. If all this continues to happen despite the many victim-focussed initiatives in the UK over recent years, what do you suppose it was like for women in a small midwest town in the USA in the 1970s and 1980s? Better, you think?
So the fact that complainants retracted early in the process assuredly does NOT mean that the police investigation process itself could not have intimidated them into a withdrawal of the complaint.
There is a further point I wanted to raise in this context. Kanin says that in the particular police force that he studied: “The investigation of all rape complaints always involves a serious offer to polygraph the complainants“. Is he for real? A victim of rape is told (“seriously”) by the investigating officer that she should undergo a polygraph test to prove that she is not lying, and that is expected to make her feel safe enough and trusting enough to let that officer investigate her rape? I don’t think so.
Kanin’s second point is that : “not one of the detectives believed that an incident of false recantation had occurred. They argued, rather convincingly, that in those cases where a suspect was identified and interrogated, the facts of the recantation dovetailed with the suspect’s own defense.”
Given the prevailing attitudes of police officers towards rape complainants (i.e. “she’s lying”) it is unsuprising that no police officers thought a recanting woman might be doing so falsely as a result of external pressures. Nor is it very surprising that the facts of the recantation would tally with the suspect’s account – a woman falsely recanting is likely to do so by confirming the story that she thinks – or has been told – that the rapist has or will put out. Yes, I did consent. No, I never went to his house. Whatever. Just let me go.
Finally, Kanin states that : “the policy of this police agency is to apply a statute regarding the false reporting of a felony. After the recant, the complainant is informed that she will be charged with filing a false complaint, punishable by a substantial fine and a jail sentence. In no case, has an effort been made on the part of the complainant to retract the recantation.“
With respect, I don’t think a great deal of this point either. A woman in a terribly traumatic position – she has just been raped, the experience of reporting the matter has been so horrendous that she has been moved to say that she made the whole thing up – she is probably feeling numb, she no doubt understands that whatever she says the police will not believe her. Why would she try to retract her recantation? Why wouldn’t she just say whatever she has to say to get the hell out of the police station? What would you do?
To summarise the above points – Kanin feels that for various reasons there is a strong probability that every allegation recorded by the police as false actually was false, because there is no reasonable likelihood that a woman in the circumstances he describes would ever falsely recant on her rape allegation. To summarise my responses – Kanin’s reasoning is based on a total lack of any understanding for or empathy with the situation of a woman going through the process of a police investigation, and anybody approaching the question from a position that truly gets how it might feel to be a rape complainant will clearly see that there are lots of reasons for suspecting that a proportion of recantations are likely to be false.
In this context, and referring yet again to “Gap or Chasm?”, it is worth noting that the British police statistics studied showed a 9% rate of false allegations. Yet on more detailed analysis of those cases by the researchers, a rate of 3% was considered to be a much more appropriate and accurate figure. This was due to prejudices and inaccuracies in the way that police recorded allegations as having been proved false.
If it is the case that a significant proportion of the Kanin “false” allegations were indeed wrongly recorded as false – as common sense would suggest is likely to be the case – then it may be that even the guesstimated 7.7% I came up with is too high.
So, remind me. Who are the wicked liars?
Is it the women accused of making false allegations? Or is it the men who come up with massively inflated false-allegation statistics to support their collective inability to comprehend or accept the sheer scale on which women all over the world are being raped by men?
16 April 2007
Posted by Maia under Violence
Katie Davis went to prison last year, sentenced to six months for perverting the course of justice after she was convicted of making a false allegation of rape. She said she was raped in an alley and denied going to his house. He said they had consensual sex at his house after they met in the street, both extremely drunk. Forensic evidence showed that she had in fact been at his house. The prosecution said she made it up because she was scared that she might be pregnant. She was 16. He was 24.
I’m not going to link to any of the media reports. Because they disgust me. Google it for yourself if you like, or take it from me that the headlines all say things like: “Teenager’s wicked rape lies” and “Jail for woman who cried rape” and “False rape claim woman jailed.” The reports take great delight in detailing exactly what the judge said about how wicked she was; in detailing her “consensual” sex encounter with the accused man, Frank Chisolm. One blogger even suggested that a false rape claim is itself “as bad as rape”. Actually, judging by the sentence, it may be worse. Chisolm spent 10 weeks on remand for having sex with a drunken 16-year-old girl who may or may not have consented. Davis got 6 months.
She was vilified, and the only real evidence to support her conviction seems to have been that her story wasn’t straight in a few places (few rape victims are likely to get their story straight – would you?) and the forensic evidence showed that she lied about going to his house. That lie does not mean the rape was a lie. That lie may only mean that a traumatised girl of 16 thought nobody would believe it was rape if she admitted that she went to his house. Her clinging to that lie may only mean that a young, vulnerable woman knew that her rapist would escape justice if she changed her story, just as surely as if her story was proved inaccurate in any detail.
My usual reaction to rape allegations is – yeah, he did it. In this case, what is so interesting is not so much whether or not he did it (I believe he did, for what that’s worth) but how the authorities and the media responded to Ms Davis’ lie. When rapists lie, they go free. When victims* lie, they risk a prosecution and media feeding frenzy. Come to that, when victims tell the truth, they risk a media feeding frenzy. For a victim, the only smart thing to do is to be silent. To be silent. For any woman, that is the only smart thing to do.
(* Make no mistake about it. Davis was a victim of Chisholm. She was 16 years old, drunk and she found herself in the house of an adult man, a stranger’s house, being pressured for sex – even if she did “consent” – what does that mean?)
So, anyway, I was looking for some statistics on false rape allegations. It was Grace fired me up to do it. There’s one hell of a lot of bullshit out there. Again, I refuse to provide links, but this stuff is not hard to find. If you really want proof that Wikipedia is funded and populated by gits, try their entry on false allegations of rape for size. And the bloggers! Oh the bloggers! Some guy even claimed that 98% of rape allegations are false – I didn’t read more, but he may have been confusing “fabricated” with “did not lead to a conviction because of our pitiful criminal justice system”. Another idiot claimed that the idea that a man is more likely to rape a woman than a woman is to make up a rape allegation is “preposterous”, given of course how noble men are and how ridiculous women are, making up such allegations “for sympathy” or even, bless them, “more urgent reasons.” Therefore, the rate of allegations which are false MUST be very high, particularly given that most actual victims don’t make allegations… Er, so the very fact that she made an allegation makes her less likely to be a real victim and more likely to be a evil lying cow? OK. So, er, how exactly do we get justice?
Right. Some actual government research.
Home Office research carried out in 2005: A gap or a chasm? I’ll cut to the chase since it’s late and this is a very long report. Short answer. Case analysis. Indepth study. 3%.
I may blog this in more detail another day, but until then, I leave you with some light reading. Here is the transcript of a debate that took place in the House of Lords on 29 November 2006, at about the same time as Katie Davis was being taken down to serve her sentence for perverting the course of justice. Gotta love the way they did in Lards Campbell-Savours and Thomas, and their ridiculous MRA statistics:
Lord Campbell-Savours: I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name… whether the consultation on rape includes the issue of false accusations.
The Attorney-General (Lord Goldsmith): My Lords, the consultation paper… does not include any proposals to deal with the issue of false accusations, which, research indicates, represent only a small fraction of the cases reported to the police….
Lord Campbell-Savours: My Lords, but should not consultation include a review of statistical data on rape? Why should the rape conviction rate be calculated as a percentage of the total of reported rapes when we know from the Purdue University study in the United States of America that reported rape figures include a high level of false allegations? The Purdue study revealed that 41 per cent of allegations turned out to be false. That was on the basis of admissions by the complainants. Surely the 5.3 per cent conviction statistic in the United Kingdom is fiction and nonsense, and brings criminal justice statistics into disrepute.
Lord Goldsmith: My Lords, my noble friend may be surprised to hear that I do not agree with that last remark. I agree that the fact that the level of convictions of reported rape is only 5.3 per cent is a matter of concern. I cannot think that he is suggesting that the balance of those reported cases are false allegations. I certainly do not accept that.
I have taken the opportunity to read the Purdue University report, to which my noble friend has referred before. It was produced 20 to 30 years ago in relation to a small mid-western United States town. I doubt that it has much relevance to here. I also note that, rather surprisingly, the report states that someone thinks that the level of false allegations is 100 per cent. Home Office research much more recently comes up with a much more reasonable figure of 9 per cent or, more likely, 3 per cent.
Lord Thomas of Gresford: My Lords, with regard to the level of convictions, to which the noble and learned Lord referred, is he satisfied that the decision to prosecute is on the usual criteria of “more likely than not” that a conviction will be obtained? If more people are prosecuted than convicted, does it not follow that a lot of victims are men against whom false allegations have been made but who are named and shamed in the press nevertheless?
Lord Goldsmith: My Lords, the noble Lord draws attention to an important point. Rape is a very serious crime, which undoubtedly many women suffer. It is a difficult allegation to prove because often it is a question of one person’s word against another. That is why, in the consultation paper, we have been looking at whether there are aspects of the law—not the burden or standard of proof; no one is going to touch that—which may mean that those prosecutions can be brought more effectively. We hope to be able to announce the Government’s response to the consultation shortly, and I invite the noble Lord to see what we say then…
Baroness Gale: My Lords, does the Minister agree that any miscarriage of justice is a tragedy for all concerned? As a result of the consultation, will we see a better conviction rate, for example? Does he agree that most victims of rape are women, and that it is a terrible crime against women? Does he also agree that most women are very reluctant to come forward to report the rape? I hope that the consultation will give support, encouragement and advice to all victims of rape so that they can at least have some satisfaction, if that is the correct word, after the crime that has been committed against them.
Lord Goldsmith: My Lords, I agree with the very important points that my noble friend has made. We must strive hard to avoid any miscarriage of justice, but the fact remains, as she rightly said, that a large number of women are real victims of rape who are too afraid or reluctant to report it, and, as a result, prosecutions do not even take place. It is part of our responsibility to give them the confidence to report it so that it can be brought to the courts.
Lord Roberts of Conwy: My Lords, the Minister referred to the Home Office figures for false allegations as being between 3 and 9 per cent. Is that not an extensive range, and is it not possible to get a little more certainty?
Lord Goldsmith: My Lords, I gave those figures for this reason. The report called A Gap or a Chasm? by Kelly, Lovett and Regan looked at the level of false allegations. The police were applying the figure of 9 per cent to their statistics. The researchers examined the cases in detail and thought that the more accurate figure was 3 per cent. That is their preferred figure, but I gave the range for the reason that I have just explained.
Lord Campbell-Savours: My Lords, my noble and learned friend has dismissed the Purdue University research figure of 41 per cent of cases in which the women complainants themselves have admitted that their allegations were false. That is 41 per cent, compared with 9 per cent, compared with 3 per cent. Is there not a huge difference between the statistics, and does that not cry out for some new work to be done to establish what the real statistic is?
Lord Goldsmith: My Lords, of course it shows that there is a wide variation in the statistics, as the Purdue University report itself indicated by quoting figures for false allegations ranging from 0.5 per cent to 100 per cent. But, as I have indicated, that was an old report. The Home Office recently commissioned a report, which reported in 2005, and I have indicated to the House the conclusions that it reached.
15 April 2007
Many women live with overt, unabashed sexual repression.
There follow a few extreme examples of such repression at its most obvious:
- Physical mutilation of the female genitals, designed to prevent women from wanting or enjoying sex. This is still common in many African and some Asian countries.
- Imprisonment of women in their homes, or outside the home within stifling garments that cover the whole body including the face, designed to prevent women from doing anything unchaste or, indeed, provoking male lust. We all know that this happens, and the ongoing veiling row that reached frenzy last year covered only some of the ground.
- Extremely cruel punishments (such as stoning or “the women’s room”) for women who step out of line and act against the sexual rules, designed to keep all women in line. Again, we all know this happens, particularly in Islamic states such as Saudi Arabia. Ask Sultana.
- Religious indoctrination or other brainwashing, designed to make women associate sexual feeling with guilt, sin, damnation and shame. This happens practically everywhere, including fundamentalist Christian communities in the USA.
Another form of extreme sexual repression, one that doesn’t necessarily spring to mind immediately as repression, is the kind that sexualises women and girls in the wrong way.
For example, sexual violence, and other sexual abuse perpetrated against women and girls, designed to make our bodies the object of male pleasure instead of the means of our own pleasure; with the consequence of subverting the individual’s true sexuality for the purpose of male pleasure. How can a girl or woman even have, let alone express, develop or explore, any native sexuality, when all she knows about sex is that she is its object and its victim?
And what about unrestrained raunch in pop culture, pushed to children as young as six? – children who are not only pre-pubescent but also pre-awakening, pre-sexual. Pornified pseudo-sexuality being sold to non-sexual little children – designed to catch them not only while they are unbelievably impressionable and suggestible generally, but also at an age where they have had no chance yet to learn sex on their own and to attain any innate sexual feelings. This kind of unrestrained pop raunch aimed at very young people amounts to nothing short of mass indoctrination – teaching them what sex is before they have the chance to draw any conclusions of their own, and teaching them lies. Teaching them that sex is pornography. Stopping them from learning what sex really is.
Sexual femininity, too, is a form of sexual repression. By forcing or indoctrinating women into a parody of sexuality, the traditional sexual femininity of submission prevents women and girls from developing a true sexuality of their own in exactly the same way as the newer sexual femininity of raunch.
Keeping girls and women in ignorance is a form of sexual repression. Denying them any information about sex or any opportunity to find out about sex safely makes them prey to myths and lies. It puts them in danger.
Silencing women’s voices is a form of sexual repression. The lack of any authentic culture of female sexuality in the mainstream leaves girls and women with no resources other than male resources: books, magazines, films, music all produced or controlled by men, produced by large corporations totally invested in patriarchy; a literature and language that reinforces a binary gender system, that underlines and demonstrates and glorifies both masculinity and (objectified) femininity, in sex as in everything else.
In all this, where are we women? Where does this leave us?
It leaves us, I think, in a place where most of us have never had the chance to develop our own sexuality. We are stuck with the sexuality ordained for us by the culture in which we live. Of course, we are all creatures of circumstance: but in the case of women and girls, the development of their sexuality is utterly at the mercy of society. What should be the most private journey, becomes a matter of state, a matter of compliance, a matter of morality.
(WATM: The same applies, of course, to men. They too are at the mercy of social mores and cultural surroundings. But there are some important differences. For one thing, the system is designed to work for the benefit of men relative to women, and so the constraints on men are (a) less onerous (b) more flexible and (c) designed in any event for their pleasure. The constraints on men do not, for example, involve male genital mutilation or male “protective” imprisonment or male objectification. So, for men, the sexuality dictated to them is more enjoyable, if not more than a little better or freer than the sexuality dictated to women.)
I grew up in what may have been a golden time and place, from which many of these influences were more or less excluded.
Many, but not all, and I can trace the effects of these influences in my life. I can trace life-altering decisions I made or actions I took because of my unfree sexual development. Sometimes, now that I have awoken from the dream that was not a dream, I wonder what my life might otherwise have been like, how I could rewrite it if I had my time again. I do not do this in a regretful way, because I am happy with where I am and would not change my present merely for the sake of a different past. But I do it. And I know that, had I been free when I was a child, and after, things would be very different for me now.
And if my whole life could have been totally different, but for a relatively insignificant degree of repression… what of my sisters?
14 April 2007
The first sexual feelings I had were so unmomentous and stick so little in my mind that I can’t really say much about my early sexual life. I was certainly sexual awake by the age of around 7 or 8, probably earlier.
I remember feeling a weird sensation Down There that I didn’t understand although I didn’t dislike it. It would come when, for example, I saw people kissing on TV – although in all honesty the idea of actually kissing anyone not related to me was the last idea I ever had, so why the sight of two people doing it on Dynasty should have done anything to me I will never know.
I remember that I vowed at least 700 times as a child to stop touching myself Down There – not because I had any idea that it was something sexual that I was doing, I knew nothing about Sex. It was just because Down There was where you went to the toilet and therefore I thought it was not such a clean place to be touching. I had an idea that it was dirty, but only in the sense that involves germs and stuff, not in any wider moral sense. I did also have a kind of consciousness that this wasn’t the sort of thing you mentioned to people, but I really don’t think this consciousness put the matter in any more sinister a light than the consciousness that you shouldn’t really mention your nose-picking habits.
In preparation for the next post in my current mini-series, a post on Sexual Repression, I have been thinking about sexual repression in my own life.
When I was young (before my sexual awakening), my parents sent me to Sunday school, something which I found somewhat strange because they manifestly did not Believe and never themselves showed the slightest bit of churchiness. Of course, it later became clear that their motive was simply to get a bit of peace on a Sunday morning. Clever plan. I remember liking the bible stories that we were told, and that’s about it. I never got Religion. Phew. Avoiding (patriarchal / sex-control) religion was lucky.
And my parents pretty much kept quiet on the Sex front. I remember once my mother sending my dad and brother out of the room so that she could have A Talk, and then her embarassment at having to acknowledge that I had Breasts and did I want to go out with her one day soon and buy a couple of Bras… Then, one day when I was older, I had this boyfriend and one day my Dad decided it was time that I had The Talk. I don’t recall much of the Talk, except there was some rather vague muttering about self-respect and my reputation and how people do talk if they think things. Of course I knew what he was getting at but it wasn’t in fact going to make any difference to how I felt about anything because he wasn’t actually saying anything and it wasn’t a conversation. It was a somewhat embarrassing attempt at The Talk, no more. Phew. Avoiding parental interference was lucky.
At home, we watched a little television, but had no video, never went to the cinema and didn’t really listen to any modern music: Dad preferred Radio Two and Mum preferred animals. Since we lived in the middle of nowhere, going to friends’ houses was rare. Actually, since I had hardly any friends, going to friends’ houses was rare. We didn’t waste time on TV or on boring grown-up stuff. I went to a very small primary school, and even when I went to secondary school I didn’t mix much and learned next to nothing about the schoolyard facts of life. And “proper” sex education didn’t start until it was too late, either. I learned in good time that you had to use condoms if you were going to have sex, and that was about it. Again, lucky me!
Because of the lack of any religious moralising about sex, my parents’ “failure” to have any influence on my sexual development, and my relative isolation from the sex “education” offered by mainstream life, I grew up fairly innocent.
(By “innocent” I mean – undamaged, unscarred. I mean I found my own way, instead of being shown some preordained way by others, or being forced by others along that predestined path. By “fairly” I mean – not so you’d notice without digging a little deeper.)
On reflection, I think I was lucky to grow up this innocent. I grew up fairly unflustered by sex, pretty relaxed about the whole thing. I never felt guilty about having sex. In my day, I had a lot of sex, and I had a lot of fun. It wasn’t perfect, but I would take what I had over most of the alternatives.
Coming up next: where all this leaves me, writing a post about sexual repression.
13 April 2007
I pledge to you, dear heart:
Openness and honesty.
Truth and light.
My heart, I pledge that I will teach you to know yourself not through the images of men and the expectations of men and the eyes of men, but through your own eyes and the eyes of truthful women.
My one, I will not blush to speak of these things.
I will not perpetuate what was given to me.
I will not keep secrets.
I will be frank.
I will be clear.
I will not make things shameful or embarassing.
I will give you your answers, when you want them.
We will laugh together.
My beloved, I will give you an alternative to this pervasive idea that cruel, remorseless femininity is normal – that femininity is all there is. I will give you eyes to see with and a heart to love with.
I will give you freedom. If I can.
13 April 2007
A spider weaves
a silvery web,
and she likes to stand on eight legs.
She doesn’t like prawns,
she likes to eat flies.
A spider stands on – eight legs.
A bumble bee
is yellow and black,
and she likes to stand on six legs.
She doesn’t like flies,
she likes to eat nectar.
A bumble-bee stands on – six legs.
An elephant has
a great long trunk,
and she likes to stand on four legs.
She doesn’t like nectar,
she likes to eat leaves.
An elephant stands on – four legs.
A chicken lays
an egg every day
and she likes to stand on two legs.
She doesn’t like leaves,
she likes to eat seed.
A chicken stands on – two legs.
A flamingo is
a very pink bird,
and she likes to stand on one leg.
She doesn’t like seed,
she likes to eat prawns.
A flamingo stands on – one leg.
12 April 2007
Posted by Maia under Violence
An object, what is that?
When a person is Subject, she is the doer, the actor, the agency, the person.
When a person is the Object, he is the done-to, the acted-upon, the effect… we are not interested in him or his personhood or his preferences, because he is the done-to, not the doer. What he feels or wants is not part of the equation.
He: or she.
Women are objectified daily, especially in the context of sex and sexuality.
They are the done-to. Things are done to women by men.
They get kissed.
They get touched.
They get held in a manly embrace.
They get screwed, shagged, poked, banged, fucked.
What we feel or want is not part of the equation.
Because we do not do – we have things done to us.
Question: How did this happen?
Answer: Women became objects because of male culture.
For example… by forcing women to be different – feminine – they made us Other, and Less.
Men made women different because… well, patriarchy, duh. It suited the purposes of men to make women and men different, women “feminine” and men “masculine”. So that is what they chose to believe. Because they chose to believe it, because they wrote and painted and legislated and lived that belief, it came to pass. Male culture forced women to be feminine: they were educated to it, they were socialised to it, they were brought to femininity just as surely as a child born in Vladivostok is brought to speak Russian. It isn’t because children born in Vladivostok are inherently, biologically Russian-speakers – it is because Russian is the language to which they are exposed and which they will inevitably learn.
Patriarchy makes women and men different. It makes men the default and women, being made different from the default, Other. Patriarchy goes further: women are not just Other, but also Less. Femininity is not socialised womanhood, but socialised inferiority.
Thus women were ripe for objectification. Permitted no agency, we could not act but only be acted upon. Permitted no power, we could not affect anything, but only be affected. Permitted only an inferior personhood, what could we do, but allow our male superiors to take the lead, become the Subject to our Object? How could we have prevented it?
Male sexual domination makes us the done-to.
Wolf-whistles and bottom-pinching make us the done-to.
Unwanted sexual comments in the workplace make us the done-to.
Being looked at, without looking back, makes us the done-to.
Rape makes us the done-to.
We are the objects of male action, male attention, male agency.
We are the objects.
“Object” has another meaning.
An object is not just the done-to. An object is a thing. We women have become not just the done-to; we have also become things.
Naked women are used as dining tables* for male pleasure.
Naked or semi-naked women dance and strip for male pleasure.
Naked or semi-naked women are photographed, filmed, prostituted – for male pleasure.
And for male profit, too.
(* Yeah, Sparkle.)
When we become objects to eat off, to look at, to masturbate over, to masturbate inside, we become things. We become sexual objects. Not people, not at all. Sex toys.
Question: Can a man both view a woman both as an object and really get that she is also a person?
Answer: Of course he can.
I can look at women and men as objects, sometimes, without losing sight of their personhood. I can interact with a person who is the object of my actions or intentions without losing sight of the fact that I am also an object of their actions or intentions. And I can admire someone’s bottom and not give two hoots about his personality, yet care enough about his feelings not to embarrass him or invade his personal space. I can look at someone’s body parts as body parts, objects – her breasts, her vulva, her arms, her legs – and still understand that she is, when you zoom out from the body part to the whole person, fully human.
If I can do this, so can a man. So can anyone.
But just because they can does not mean that they do. And this I understand.
For women, there is no overwhelming daily bombardment with images of objectified men, there is instead an overwhelming culture that shows men as the Subject – in films, in literature, in art, in the news, in advertising: men are everywhere portrayed as fully human. We can empathise so easily with men because we have so many of their stories in our consciousness. We find it hard to forget that men are people too.
Yet, for men, things are different. Every day, everywhere they go, are images of women as Objects. Women are feminine. Women are different, mysterious, Other. Women are weak, helpless, devious, easily distracted by chocolate or jewels. Women are sexy, beautiful, desirable. They are accessories. They are victims. They are dependents. They exist for male pleasure and ownership, as beautiful, sexual – or even just plain useful – objects.
Women’s stories are not mainstream culture. Women’s stories told by women about real, interesting women are hard to find. You have to almost go underground to find a female culture that does not pander to the worldview that places women in the Object category.
For men, it must be very easy to forget that women, different and confusing and Other, are people too. It must be very easy just to let us be objects. And because we are objects, because we are something Other to them, because we are something different, it is easier to ignore or dimiss our suffering. To ignore or dismiss our relative disadvantage and our relative oppression. To ignore – and to dismiss – and to perpetuate – and to instigate.
Objectification, in short, is compatible with respect and equality. We can see a person both as an object (in either sense) and also as a person. But things have long since fallen out of balance – one group, women, are consistently the objects and the other group, men, are consistently the subjects. We are exposed over and over to the messages that objectify women and “subjectify” men. Over and over. We would have to be resilient indeed not to start believing the hype. The brief, individual, gender-neutral, mostly-harmless objectification that accompanies, say, curiosity about or appreciation of another person’s body has become an apparently permanent mass delusion that women are in fact things. Not people at all.
The mass delusion is – do I have to say it? – damaging.
And every image or message that confirms and reinforces the mass delusion, perpetuates it. Every time we create or promote images or messages that perpetuate the mass delusion, we harm women.
Men who objectify women reinforce the message.
Women who willingly become sexual objects reinforce the message.
Men who consume the products of objectification encourage the industries of objectification.
They reinforce the message.
I am not talking here about blame. This isn’t about blame. It is about understanding how harm happens. How it is perpetuated. How it can be stopped.
Because “object” has another meaning, too: It is not only a noun; It is also a verb.
11 April 2007
You get 26 chocolates (13 different kinds, two of each) plus six batons. Truffles, ganache, pralines and boozy chocs abound, and all of the highest quality. None of the chocolate was less than 60%, most was 72% or more.
For my taste, there were a few too many boozy ones or, at least, the alcoholic ones were too boozy. The Advocaat Cup and the 72% Truffle were the worst offenders, and the Amaretto Truffle was disappointing because I was expecting it to be gorgeous (love almonds, love amaretto) and the amaretto was somewhat overpoweringly alcoholic. Ho hum.
Tanzanian 75% Dark Chocolate Batons
Fabulous. Rich, smoky, dark – absolutely perfect to eat with port. Not sure how, but I’ve still got one left – Yay!
A dark chocolate ganache flavoured with lemon and cointreau, flattened to a beautifully dense texture, encased in 72% dark chocolate, and topped with a piece of crystallised lemon rind. The sharp citrus and creamy chocolate were just a brilliant combination. Loved it.
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