Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The problem with picking a preferred victimization

In the comments of my post, False Allegation Worse Than Rape? cross-posted to Alas Ed wrote:

Would you rather be raped or incarcerated for 1, 10, or 20 years. Maybe I am a freak but I will take a rape, ESPECIALLY the I am too drunk to remember kind, over giving up years of my life. No hesitation, no second thoughts.
Okay, I'll take your choice and run with it. Since rape by it's definition is beyond the rape victim's control, I'll create a full scenario from that to show how this "easy" choice may not be something that's over and done with in one night.

Since many rapes happen on college campuses, our fictional raped man is a senior who has landed his perfect job and his perfect fiance. He's at a party where he bumps into a girl he dated his freshman year. He broke up with her when he discovered that she was into drugs, porn and sleeping around. This night she hands him a Coke (he gave up drinking alcohol at the same time this relationship ended) and tells him that she's turned her life around and because he once cared for her, he sips his drink and listens to her financial plans even though he wishes he could be anywhere else.

The smoke and the noise start getting to him and he tells this girl that it was good seeing her, but it's time for him to go since he has a big test in the morning. She tells him that she's ready to leave also, but the walk to her dorm takes her through an area where a girl was raped the month before. Because he's a gentleman, he reluctantly agrees to see her safely to the entrance of her dorm.

The girl waves at those around them and tells them she's being seen safely home so they don't have to worry about her. A few people wink suggestively, but our man needs fresh air too much to correct anyone's impression about his intentions.

The next morning, our man wakes up naked in a strange bed. He's in a dorm room and it isn't his. He sits up and feels like he's going to puke. As he rushes to get dressed and get to his class which he's already late for, he nearly trips over a tripod.

By the time he gets his supplies from his dorm room and gets to the class where his big test has already started, he's so waxen that the professor suggests he go to the infirmary. He doesn't and instead somehow makes it back to his dorm room and collapses.

The next morning he's fine and he soon takes that exam and he just knows he aced it. Friday night, he and his fiance have a romantic encounter and everything is once again as it should be.

The end?

Not so fast. This man was raped, remember.

A few days later, a group of students he doesn't know well point at him. He hears something about him being movie star material. His fiance has told him more than once that he has the looks to be a model, but looks aren't what matter to him. Still, he gets a little ego boost.

The day after that, his fiance has her best friend return his engagement ring. He tries to contact her, but is told to stop stalking her.

A week later, his favorite professor stops calling on him.

A month after he walked his ex-girlfriend home, a representative from the perfect employer who made a written job offer, tells him that his job offer is being withdrawn. The person says something about a background and credit check. He immediately goes online and requests his credit report, but it is still pristine. His name isn't uncommon so maybe his future employer has mistaken someone else for him.

He goes online and searches for his name and finds it listed on his ex-girlfriend's web site. To see what she's written about him he would have to pay since she has a fee-based members-only section. Adults only.

He vaguely remembers her saying that she was paying her way through college by designing and maintaining web sites, but this isn't what he envisioned. He wants to know what's linked to his name, but he doesn't want to pay to find out.

He talks to several friends and the ones who, like him, stay focused on the goal of building a stable future don't have a clue. But a friend he parted ways with around the same time he broke up with this old girlfriend, winks and calls him a real stud. Feeling nearly as sickly as the night he walked his old girlfriend home, he waits while this old friend turns on his computer.

Far too soon he sees what happened that night. And he looks like a willing participant in the making of porn. The woman keeps her face averted so his identity is the only one that is unquestionable.

Without having to think about it twice he says, "She must have slipped drugs into my Coke. This was rape."

The other man laughs. "Yeah, that's your story and you're sticking to it."

Within hours it seems like everyone on campus starts calling him, "Raped Man."

He goes to the campus police and the officer tells him that's what you get when you do drugs or go binge drinking. The man then asks if he at least had enough common sense to use protection.

He hadn't even thought about STDs. With his ex-girlfriend's drug habit, she could very possibly be HIV positive. He gets tested, but he's told he needs to be retested for HIV even if this test comes back negative.

He scrounges together enough money to pay for an attorney without talking to his parents. The attorney sends a letter demanding that the video be removed immediately. A letter is sent to his lawyer saying he signed a consent form. He remembers signing a form his freshman year when she wanted to submit his portrait to a competition. The lawyer asks him how he could be so stupid.

The rest of his senior year doesn't get any better and college becomes an endurance event. He contacts other employers who offered him a job, but they tell them the position he was offered has already been filled. Six months after graduation, he finds a job but it pays far less than the position he lost. He saves every extra dollar and has a new lawyer make an offer to have the video removed. A ridiculous counter offer is made but he feels he has no choice so he pays it.

He gets involved with his local church and finds a safe place. He avoids talking about his college experience. Two years after he was raped, he has another HIV test taken and to his relief, it comes back negative. He then asks the woman he loves to marry him and hopes she will never learn about the video. He doesn't even think about telling her what happened to him.

As they build a family, he prays that video never surfaces again.

This sort of scenario could happen to a college woman. Even the refusal by so many people to see her as a real rape victim. Only a woman might get far enough in the process to be identified by many as someone who made a false allegation of rape.

The scariest part is my fear of posting this scenario since some will try to use it to minimize the impact of rape on women. "See, men can get raped too so stop talking about gender violence. If we can endure it without legal recourse, you can too."

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:53 AM   0 comments links to this post


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