Monday, April 13, 2009

False Allegations About False Allegations part 2

Since there are so many false allegations about false allegations it makes sense to turn my responses to all those false allegations into a series.

From an iFeminists post by Wendy McElroy:

Studies and statistics [about false rape accusations] often vary and for legitimate reasons. For example, they may examine different populations. But such a dramatic variance -- two percent to 50 percent -- raises the question of whether political interests are at work.

It is understandable why some feminists might wish to understate the incidence of false reporting. In the '50s, women who reported sexual assault or domestic violence were dismissed. To acknowledge false reports as a real problem might undercut the gains made toward taking women seriously.

But if the charges against accused men are proven to be lies over and over again, then against women reporting even real violence may occur. After all, rape usually carries a stiff sentence and extreme stigma. The highest level of evidence and credible testimony should be required before ruining a man's life in that manner.

Feminists should demand such a high level of proof.
Yet feminists are not supposed to demand such a high level of proof when the allegation is that a woman who reported rape filed a fraudulent police report.

Feminists are not supposed to ask why men are excluded from McElroy's list of those who file fraudulent rape reports. It can't be because men don't file fraudulent rape reports or have never been convicted, they have. This omission raises the question about what political interests are at work.

McElroy is acknowledging "real" violence against women who report rape yet she is not admonishing those who commit "real" violence to immediately stop what they are doing. She is admonishing feminists and is making them personally responsible for other people's decision to commit "real" violence against women.

Injustice in the name of protecting those believed to be innocent seems to be tolerable if that injustice involves "real" violence against women who reported being raped. I find this sickening so I guess by McElroy's standards there is something fundamentally wrong with me. It must be my feminist political interests.

I wonder how severe the "real" violence against women who report rape must get before the "real" violent person becomes the one held personally responsible for that "real" violence. If McElroy's logic is valid then "real" violence against men accused of rape must be caused by all those who help so many "real" rapists go unprosecuted.

Feminists are not supposed to understand why some people wish to overstate the incidence of false reporting. Reasons such as viewing most rapes as not "real" violence, for example.

Notice that while a high level of evidence is demanded, McElroy uses the statistically sloppy, "proven to be lies over and over again." Proven by whom and to what standard? If this claim is what leads to "real" violence then the level of evidence from those making this claim had better be at least as high as is used to rightfully convict men of rape.

If we count the number of times that rape reports have been proven to be lies (this would be convictions for those who repeat "innocent until proven guilty" when men are accused of rape) and compare it to the total number of rape reports this will tell us far more than, "over and over," does.

Yet McElroy doesn't cite the number of annual convictions in the US for this crime.

In 2005 the estimated number of forcible rapes reported was 93,934 for the US. If the rate of false rape reports has been proven to be 50% that would be 46,967 false reports. If the rate is 2% that would be 1,878 false reports of forcible rapes in the US in one year and almost 2 thousand false reports could easily qualify as, "over and over," which means that even if McElroy's claim that false reports are made "over and over" is true that fact doesn't disprove the lowest estimate for false reports.

There is data missing from my calculations above. The number of actual rape reports is higher than this estimate because of the uncounted number of reports which are rebuffed during the attempt at reporting and because of those who have their reports recorded as no crime. The number is also higher because rape isn't limited to forcible rape.

This means the number of rape reports proven to be false needs to be compared to the sum of the actual reports which are made (forcible and non-forcible) and the reports which people attempted to make but which were not recorded to get an accurate rate of proven false reports.

As McElroy admits, in the 1950's, most men rightfully accused of sexual assault or domestic violence easily saw the true allegations against them dismissed. To acknowledge that claims about high rates of false rape reports are used by those who wish to return to those good old days (for violent men, at least) might undercut the claim that these people are more objective than feminists.

The question about whether political interests are at work to get such a wide range of claims about false rape reports is valid yet the only people whose interests are questioned by McElroy are feminists. The only people she shows any concern for are the men accused of rape. Those decisions reflect on her political interests.

Some differences in the research on false allegations are legitimate, but most are due to bad methodology or measuring one item (investigator's belief about reports) while claiming to measure another item (proven false reports).

There is no acknowledgement by McElroy of false claims made by rapists or investigators. These false allegations don't seem worth counting or worth acknowledging.

The book Cry Rape: The True Story of One Woman's Harrowing Quest for Justice by Bill Lueders about the injustice done to a woman who was raped in Madison, Wisconsin should be required reading for everyone who brings up the issue of false rape allegations or who makes any assessment that someone who reported rape filed a fraudulent police report.

This lack of acknowledgement of an entire class of false allegations combined with statistical sloppiness mean that McElroy is not a credible expert on false allegations. Her decision to justify and excuse "real" violence against women who report being raped is the most telling about her political interests.

Here's part 1.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:41 AM   0 comments links to this post


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