Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Possibility Model Of Crime Determination

After writing yesterday's post on yet another college student making a name for himself as someone who refuses to treat non-stranger rapes as a serious crime, I was thinking about how people like him and those who agree with him present stereotypical summations and generalities such that anytime consent is a possibility in that scenario that the allegation must always be rejected as false.

This got me thinking about how to test the validity of this model. If their methodology is sound then the methodology must work just as well for other crimes. I'll call this the possibility model of crime determination. This model depends on gender-based generalities about how those who report being victims often are motivated by regret.

So here's Alex Knepper's statement:

Let's get this straight: any woman who heads to an EI party as an anonymous onlooker, drinks five cups of the jungle juice, and walks back to a boy's room with him is indicating that she wants sex, OK?
The assumption is that since there is a possibility that a woman who takes these actions is consenting then all women who take these actions must be assumed to be consenting whether they are or not and this action meets the standard of legal consent.

Use of this assumption model is often defended because of claims that to not use this model would allow for thousands of false accusations. The assumption model is also defended as the only objective way to assess allegations.

This is something which I think of as the possibility of consent becoming the definition of legal consent. If there is any prevailing well-known belief in any section of the demographic most likely to be accused that a particular action can be consent then that action is legal consent.

To test this model, I'll switch genders and crime.

Let's get this straight: any man who hands a woman a new iPad on her birthday is indicating that he wants her to have that computer as a birthday gift, OK?
The possibility here is high since gifts are frequently associated with birthdays.

Because of the release of the iPad and the interest in what this computer offers many men are currently handing women their new computers without explicitly stating that this is not a gift.

The possibility model will look at this behavior through a filter of gender based generalities and acceptance of miscommunication between men and women so we can state that, "Women cannot know what men do not tell them." This means that all men who did not explicitly state that the iPad was not a gift gave legal consent for the women to keep those computers. Any of those men who file a complaint to get their computer back will be making an untrue allegation if they say those women illegally kept those computers.

Since this is a new product it is possible that many men are giving an iPad to a woman even though it is not her birthday. Men do give belated birthday gifts and they do give early birthday gifts. Sometimes men give gifts for no reason at all.

These possibilities mean that all men who allowed women to hold their iPads gave legal consent under this model. To declare otherwise would make the assessment of whether the computer was a gift to subjective judgment which would expose all the women who in their own opinion correctly presumed that the iPad was a gift to being labeled a criminal.

Women who presume an iPad belongs to them aren't like those real criminal women who stalk unknown men and grab iPads out of those men's hands. These women who were handed iPads cannot be real thieves because they want those real iPad thieves arrested and convicted.

Using this model, every man who hands something to a woman and every man who doesn't protest when a woman picks up something he owns must be presumed by law to be presenting that item to her as a gift which she can keep with the full protection of the law. Compare these men's lack of negative response to their immediate negative response when their possession is ripped from their hands by a stranger. There is a clear difference which under the possibility model must be presumed to be those men's consent.

After all, men do give women gifts and men often regret the gifts they give to women. Men also lie about their gifts to women.

If men don't immediately report the theft or if they do have any social contact with the women they are accusing between the crime and the report of this crime these men must be presumed to be false accusers. Men do seek revenge when a relationship goes bad.

This would create a system where men would have to be paranoid about everything they own whenever they are in the presence of women and where women wouldn't need to be concerned about what the man doesn't want to give her. He must ensure that he doesn't mistakenly take any action which has ever been presumed to be a sign that he is consenting.

To prevent the actions which men report as a crime, men would be encouraged to improve their communication skills so that they stop sending mixed signals. Men would be told not to get so drunk that they present gifts and then cannot recall doing so the next morning.

We would need to have a narrative dismissing date theft as an incoherent concept and supporting the prosecution of all "real thefts" defined as thefts committed by strangers in situations where gift giving is impossible.

If this model were widely accepted, men would need to listen to repeated lectures on their behavior. If men don't live paranoid lives and are robbed, they would be lectured on their foolishness for believing they live in a perfect world.

Under this model only if a man can prove that this woman is a complete stranger to him who had to use force to take something from him can his claim of non-consent be taken seriously. Corroboration of this force would be required.

If this model was as pervasive in non-sex crimes as it is in sex crimes anyone who stands up for men who had their possessions stolen by women they know would be considered to be part of the anti-generosity brigade. Those who support the baseless presumption that a gift was given would call themselves pro-gift.

This way of thinking clearly helps women who want to steal from the men they know with little fear of being accused of theft. It just as clearly harms men who want to live their lives so they don't have to be afraid of losing everything they own if they are not constantly vigilant in mixed company.

It should be clear when looking at the possibilities model applied to thefts that this model is worse than useless since it actually supports the type of crime it is applied to. Yet many people continue to defend this model when it enables sexual violence and supports false allegations against victims of sexual violence.

Possessions taken by women from men have the potential of being returned, but what was taken in a sex crime cannot be returned. Therefore, it is imperative that we abandon the possibility model immediately.

This harmful approach to evaluating sex crimes based on stereotypes and group think has been around for generations, but that doesn't mean it has to continue with the support of college newspapers or any other institutions which have the legal duty to look out for the safety of those who live or work or learn inside this institution.

Those who claim there is no better system to evaluate and investigate sex crimes are wrong. The National District Attorneys Association has published Prosecuting Alcohol Facilitated Sexual Assault (pdf). The National Center for the Prosecution of Violence Against Woman has published False Reports: Moving Beyond the Issue to Successfully Investigate and Prosecute Non-Stranger Sexual Assault (pdf).


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:02 AM   3 comments links to this post


At April 06, 2010 11:17 AM, Anonymous Kali said...

Excellent analysis. Any time a man invites a woman to his home and says "make yourself at home", do we assume that there is implicit consent to take anything from his home? If she take valuables from his home, he should have no legal recourse to getting those things back or making a charge of theft? The man obviously wanted to give the woman those valuable things, otherwise why would he be inviting her to his home? Why would he leave those things around in the open? He was clearly asking for it.

At April 06, 2010 2:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If men don't live paranoid lives and are robbed, they would be lectured on their foolishness for believing they live in a perfect world.

Don't forget that if they DO lead paranoid lives, then they're ungenerous bastards who are tarring all women with the same brush. Just as women who obey all the rape prevention "advice" are made out to be frigid bitches. Oh, and he'd deserve to have his iPad stolen just to take him down a peg.


At April 06, 2010 8:11 PM, Blogger Melissa said...

I would comment on almost every single thing you post to talk about how fantastic your blog is, but that would get a little redundant.

Let's go with...yay! I now have yet another example in my arsenal.


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