|Lauren the false-rape denier Nelson|
I'm not keen on quoting Wikipedia, but it has a decent definition of "Rape Culture:"
Rape culture is a concept used to describe a culture in which rape and sexual violence are common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and media normalize, excuse, tolerate, or even condone rape...Although the concept of rape culture is a generally accepted theory in feminist academia, there is disagreement over what defines a rape culture and to what degree a given society meets the criteria to be considered a rape culture.
It is long acknowledged that "rape culture" is a Feminist catchphrase. It has long been used to shift the balance in courts to the point accusations of rape are accepted without collaborating evidence to support it. In today's society, an accusation pretty much guarantees conviction in at least the court of public opinion. One look at the comment section in any news article where a person is arrested and charged with a sex crime would reveal that much.
So why is the concept of FALSE RAPE ALLEGATIONS so repugnant to Feminists? The main answer is because anything that serves as a counterbalance to their inflated claims about the prevalence of rape in our society. Christina Hoff Summers, a well-known critic of the Feminist movement, has already exposed many myths propagated by Feminists, including the GENDER PAY GAP MYTH and the famous ONE IN FOUR WOMEN ARE RAPED MYTH. But that's a story for a different day. My focus is on Nelson's blatant disregard for false allegations.
Nelson attempts to justify her denial of false rape discussion by minimizing false rape cases. Nelson makes the following claim:
"First off, the idea that false accusations are a significant problem in rape is patently untrue. For this point, we turn to data." The problem is, Nelson refuses to even mention the studies or link to them, while offering her opinion as to why they are false. Lets look at her reasons.
1. "The sample sizes are painfully small. 1,300 participants is on the high end, while some had as few as 18. Not exactly representative." If sample size is an issue here, the same can be said for the studies that rape culture proponents claim. Many of the outlandish claims have come from relatively small sample sizes. Even the Koss survey (aka, the Ms. Study, so consider the source), the much-heralded study that Feminists use for the 1-in-4-women-are-raped myth, used a sample size of only three thousand. Many research conclusions are across the board use relatively small sample sizes, so the same principles apply to rape studies.
2. "The data is inconsistent. Even when it’s the FBI analyzing larger pools of data on crimes committed, false accusations are largely measured according to police report labels such as 'no crime' or 'unfounded.' The problem with these labels is that they do not translate into a false accusation." And by the same token, the few studies that address the under-reporting claims have relatively broad definitions of rape AND attempted rape. Christina Hoff Summers' critique of the Koss study reveals that the definition included having sex while intoxicated. So if you woke up next to who you thought was George Clooney but looked more like George Costanza the next day, and you regret your choice of partners, that fell under Koss's definition of rape.
Even the National Crime Victimization Survey uses "attempted rapes" under "unreported rapes." And, as I mentioned in my Sex Offender Myths Fact Guide (under Myth #9), even the NCVS admits their sample size is relatively small, and the estimate of underreporting; the NVS found 57 "unreported cases" out of sample size of nearly 71,000 people. To even rely on the NCVS then is a bit of a misnomer.
3. "The data is also only reflective of reports of a man raping a vagina with his penis. Until early 2012, the federal definition of rape excluded such crimes as female rape of male, same sex rape, digital rape, anal rape, oral rape or rape with a foreign object (they also exclude incest for some reason). The most recent data you’ll find is 2011. That means the available data on reported cases is so far from complete, it’s not even funny." And yet the NCVS includes not only completed rapes and attempted rapes (which I just described in the last paragraph). Nelson blatantly ignores this fact. Of course, the Koss/ Ms. study used pretty much the same criteria as the criteria Nelson study.
4. "The data is plagued by rape culture. The studies most frequently cited by those stumping on behalf of the falsely accused have been the subject of criticism in subsequent studies for failing to qualitatively evaluate the methodologies of the case categorizations. Many found that police officers frequently used subjective judgment calls in dismissing cases as unfounded. Other studies found direct evidence of bias in such dismissals when studied in the field." And what is the basis for this claim? Nelson does not offer any evidence to support this claim whatsoever. Who are the "many" who can verify what Nelson said? Who knows. Where are these studies that found bias? Nelson leaves it up to you to find them. I guess she didn't feel like sending us to fringe Feminist sites as the source. That's be like getting smoking stats from Joe Camel.
5. "In studies where data was not provided but gathered in the field, the methodologies used for determining a false report were suspect (and that’s putting it nicely)." She offers no further elaboration. It is merely opinion. Of course, ever study has limitations. Read any scholarly journal and you will see the researchers discuss limitations. Sample size, methodology, focus of the study, the goals of the researchers, and the reliance of laymen to interpret expert matters of law influences any study like this. Nelson's arguments are just as valid when used against her.
Now we reach the point where her logic takes a strange turn. Nelson starts out with 8% of known rape cases as false allegations, purportedly from the FBI. Then she claims that according to the FBI, only 37% of rape cases are reported. But she does not post a link to the FBI study; she posts a link to the CONTROVERSIAL and INACCURATE Enliven Project Meme that was passed around earlier this year (and thoroughly dissected and found to be bogus). In fact, I ranted about this same meme earlier this year. So Nelson is not even using an original rant. (As an aside, the 2010 NCVS numbers state only 50% of sex crimes go unreported, going by the same criteria as the previous studies.) It is like quoting a friend of a friend who heard it from Faux News. The Enliven Project meme got much of their info from RAINN, a victim industry advocate.
Regardless, using this logic, Nelson divides 8% by 37% and now false allegations are 3% of the total rape cases. She's not satisfied with these numbers, mainly because the numbers are still too high for her liking. So she invites us to think "hypothetically."
"Still not fantastic, I’ll admit, but far from justifiable as an interruption to important discourse. Still, I’m not satisfied with leaving it at that. Let’s talk hypothetically.
Let’s give the police the benefit of the doubt, and assume that their frequency of subjective dismissal justifies an adjustment down in the false reporting rate to 7%. There’s enough out there to justify a stronger cut, but we’ll be conservative.
And let’s say that, with only 37% of rapes being reported and sexual violence education woefully lacking, the amount of “unfounded” cases labeled as such due to lack of evidence to take it to trial – as women shower, dispose of clothing, and so forth post attack - brings false accusation rate down again to 6%.
And lets assume – given that only 9% of cases ever go to trial and only 3% of rapists will ever spend a day in jail - that rape culture factors such as dress, former sexual encounters, use of alcohol, and so forth, account for enough perceived potential for reasonable doubt to derail an additional portion of those “unfounded” cases bringing down the rate once more to 4% (and that’s being generous).
I know this is all conjecture. It’s an exercise. Stay with me."
So at this point, even Lauren Nelson admits this entire exercise is a smoking pile of horse shit. But I wish to take just a moment to return to the under-reporting myth. Because under-reporting is truly an unknown factor (simply put, we have no way of knowing how many claimed unreported crimes exist or are indeed crimes), we can claim any number greater than 0% and less than 100%. Rape Culture proponents will claim numbers as high as the upper 90s, as suggested by the Enliven Project Meme. I already noted the NCVS, which is rather generous with its definition of rape and attempted rape, finds low numbers of under-reporting in a very large sample size. Nelson tries to argue this is "rape culture," but her argument falls flat.
If there is such a thing as rape culture, then there is also such a thing as False Rape Culture. Lauren Nelson makes the same arguments as many other false rape deniers. The justification is "It makes victims feel as though they won’t be believed if they do come forward." I find that hard to believe. After all, rarely do false accusers face incarceration, and in the very rare event a false accuser is convicted, they are rarely punished.
When a false rape accuser gets off with no penalties, THAT IS FALSE RAPE CULTURE.
Lauren Nelson: "If you want to comment about false rape accusations, it won’t be on this blog."
When Lauren Nelson denies and minimizes the harm of false rape accusations and states she will not allow anyone to discuss it on her blog, THAT IS FALSE RAPE CULTURE.
When a person finally gains an appeal due to faulty and contradictory evidence at trial, and a victim industry profiteer like Laura Ahearn accuses him of still being guilty and denying the chance he may be innocent, that is FALSE RAPE CULTURE.
When TV Analyst Wendy Murphy famously proclaims "I never, ever met a false rape claim, by the way. My own statistics speak to the truth," and maintains this position after watching the Duke Lacrosse case turn into an indictment against overzealous prosecutor William Nifong (and still put this crazy lady on the air), that is FALSE RAPE CULTURE.
When it takes 11 false allegation cases before a woman serves time for ruining lives, that is FALSE RAPE CULTURE.
When people serve decades behind bars and after being exonerated, and 2 of every five of them doesn't get any compensation for losing many years of their lives, that is FALSE RAPE CULTURE.
There is always more than one aspect of any issue. Feminists, and people like Lauren Nelson, would have you believe that acknowledging its existence is some kind of power issue, like rape. So denying their argument is basically tantamount to raping them. What faulty logic!
We have seen the power of false allegations that came as the result of overzealous prosecutors and awareness campaigns in the very recent past. Remember the Satanic Ritual Abuse cases of the mid 1980s-early 1990s? Bakersfield? McMartin? Little Rascals Day Care? Even the "West Memphis Three" (which were recently allowed release after taking an Alford plea, which prevents them from suing the state for wrongful imprisonment)? Or the many stories we hear of individuals serving years for crimes they didn't commit, released after DNA tests exonerated them or the accuser finally admits she lied?
False Rape Allegations and the culture that fails to address it should be as much a part of the conversation as rape culture discussions. It takes an honest approach from all sides, and denying one side only distorts the overall picture. There are brutal rapes, cases where the circumstances are not clear, cases where a rape occurred and the wrong man is imprisoned, and cases where someone flat-out lies about rape. This is all a part of the overall picture of rape False Rape Culture is very real, and will be around long after Lauren Nelson slinks back into obscurity.