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Feminspire | July 10, 2014

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Your Argument is Invalid: Rape Culture is the Problem, Not False Accusations

Your Argument is Invalid: Rape Culture is the Problem, Not False Accusations

Trigger warning for discussion of rape

Rape is no joke. At this point, on this site, we’re all aware of this. One of the most alarming and frustrating ideologies I constantly have to deconstruct as a woman is the claim that many women cry rape when they have not been. Some men (and some women) argue tooth-and-nail that a series of events could have happened to push a lady to press rape charges, including changing her mind about consent after the fact, or an outright fabrication of events altogether. Let me reiterate for the umpteenth time that I would never condone someone making up such serious and life-damaging allegations. However, the majority of the time, the percentage of rapes that are actually reported are the real deal, and there is finally evidence to back up that claim.

Studies of rape cases that have been through the criminal justice system in Britain have shown that the rate of false accusations pales at .03% of all reported rapes and domestic violence situations. Yes, .03%, meaning 99.97% of rape and domestic violence cases reported are the cold hard truth. So why do people think the instances of falsehood are so much greater than that? Do that many people truly believe, regardless of the statistics, that a woman would drag their “alleged attackers” through a courtroom juggernaut, smearing their name and shattering her nerves in the process, having to relive every sick moment of sexual violation, in order to bring justice to someone who is ultimately completely innocent?

My understanding of psychology leads me to saddle up nicely to these new-found claims. Confronting an attacker and branding him as a sexual predator is not something that weighs lightly on the human conscience. Out of 100 rapes that happen in America, only 47 are reported, 12 of those reported lead to an arrest, 9 get prosecuted, 5 of those lead to a felony conviction, and only 3 rapists will even spend a day in prison, according to RAINN. Those are some scary statistics for a country that swears up and down it doesn’t have a problem with rape culture. It’s no wonder with numbers as pathetic as these why so many women never come forward about their sexual assaults in the first place. It also explains why the women that do come forward are striving to right a terrible, irreversible wrong. One that most certainly happened.

Many people I know like to argue the point that “the absence of a ‘yes’ is a ‘no’” theory is complete bullshit on the basis that seldom do men get a “collect 100 dollars and pass go” invitation to enter a vagina. I tend to vehemently disagree. No fellas, I’m not asking you to mind read. But you have to understand that the sexual climate in which we’ve been raised in in this country teaches women to keep silent about our real wants and needs in the bedroom for fear of emasculation, rejection, and sometimes our own safety. We are afraid to speak up because we have been taught that we cannot.

There are cases of rape that are black and white, and there are cases that are grey. One does not negate the other. But legally, if a party is too intoxicated to consent, it is considered rape. If she is unconscious, it is considered rape. It doesn’t matter if you are both drunk. It doesn’t matter that she was dancing on the bar with her skirt above her head. It doesn’t matter that she said no three times but the fourth time she got fed up of your incessant nagging and said OK.  It’s. Still. Rape. If you took control of the situation, if you walked her home and lead her into your bed, or her bed, legally you are a rapist if she wakes up and does not remember what happened, or remembers what happened and feels violated. This is not my own bias, but a by-the-book summary of what constitutes as rape in the United States.

My definition of rape not convincing? Try’s: rape (noun): the unlawful compelling of a person through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse. Note that it says force or duress. If you didn’t touch a hair on her head, it’s still rape. If you “only fingered her” without consent, it’s still rape. I have a hard time understanding why this issue seems to get lost in translation time and time again, but those are the grounds on which rape is prosecuted. So if she’s convicting you, it’s probably for reals.

In fact, it’s 99.97% for real.

Written by Chelsea J. Leibow
Follow her blog, Chelsea Twentysomething

Header image courtesy of Chris Piascik

  • Jen

    I hate to be “that guy,” but it should actually be 99.97% if only .03% are false. Also, great article.

    • Chelsea J. Leibow

      Whoops! Thank for catching that. I’ll have it corrected. :)

  • Lisa Varrette


    • Kaitlin Powell

      Fantastically wrong?

  • zombieprincess

    Saying NO 100 times and finally giving in because he will not leave it alone… yeah…been there. Some guys do not understand that word at all. I’m buying a taser.

  • Brandon

    “But legally, if a party is too intoxicated to consent, it is considered rape. It doesn’t matter if you are both drunk.”

    This. Is. Terrifying.

    As well as complete bullshit. This idea is horrifying, and the sentiment behind it is the reason that men are scared about women “changing her mind about consent after the fact.” Arguments like this are a huge part of the reason there is even a debate about “false rape accusations.”

    So, a woman can consent to sex, but if she is too drunk, then it doesn’t count? Do you understand the double standard that you are establishing with this line of thought? If a man is too drunk but the woman wasn’t, was he raped? What about both parties? If both parties are too drunk, were they both raped?

    Look: if you drunkenly decide to drive home after a night at the bar, and on the way, crash into another vehicle, killing an entire family, YOU ARE STILL RESPONSIBLE. You don’t get a reprieve by telling the judge that you were too drunk to make the responsible decision not to drive home.

    Similarly, if you get drunk, decide to go home with the hot guy that you’ve been dancing with all night, and consent to having sex with him, YOU ARE STILL RESPONSIBLE FOR THAT DECISION. Period. It doesn’t matter how drunk you were. You can’t later say that you were too drunk to make the responsible decision not to have sex with him. I don’t even see how this is a debate.

    By including this in your classification of rape, you are actively contributing to the problem that led you to write an entire article about. And you wonder why people are concerned about false rape accusations? That is because people like you believe that they shouldn’t have to be held accountable for the decisions they make when they are drunk. Shame on you.

    Seriously, shame on you for watering down the definition of rape. It is because of people like you that the issue of rape has become so controversial, when it absolutely should not be.

    • Cadi

      ” If a man is too drunk but the woman wasn’t, was he raped?” – considering in what you quoted the phrase used was “a party” rather than “a woman”, then yes, although a lot of legal definitions of rape tend to focus on penetration so I think women taking advantage of men or forcing them to have sex tends to get classed as something else (hopefully with the same penalties though!)

      As to if both are drunk it depends on who actually wanted to have the sex that’s being had. Both parties do? Okay, have fun! One party doesn’t but the other decides make them have sex anyway? The other person’s still a rapist whether they’re drunk or not – like you say you’re still responsible for your decisions.

    • Tabatha

      Your argument is extremely invalid. First of all, are you aware that “victim” is different than “criminal”? If you are drunk and are a victim of a crime, being drink does not invalidate the crime. If you are drunk and commit a crime, being drunk does not negate the crime. Unless you were intoxicated against your will. Also, when most men are drunk and unable to make their own decisions, those men will probably not be able to get an erection. Men can still be anally and orally raped, however, so I concede on that point.
      The main point is that RAPE is rape. Anytime there is no clear invitation for sexual conduct, then it’s a NO. In our current time and society, most rapists are men and most victims are women. No one is saying that women aren’t rapists and no one is saying men aren’t raped. But what is the advice in “the 40 year old virgin”? Look for the drunk girl. That’s rape culture, whether you like it or accept it or not.

  • James Fullman

    Thats a politically motivated paper from the UK, actual data from the UK puts the rate at 8-12% for rape (not including undetected false accusations that went undetected in the categories unfounded, unprosecuted for other reasons and prosecuted. When feminists are talking about rape, you should beware of exagerations and outright false claims.

    • Kaitlin Powell

      There is a report in the US that puts its closer to 40% – Kahn i believe.

  • James Fullman

    “My understanding of psychology leads me to saddle up nicely to these new-found claims. Confronting an attacker and branding him as a sexual predator is not something that weighs lightly on the human conscience. Out of 100 rapes that happen in America, only 47 are reported, 12 of those reported lead to an arrest, 9 get prosecuted, 5 of those lead to a felony conviction, and only 3 rapists will even spend a day in prison, according to RAINN. ”

    RAINN do not provide figures the number of women that force men to penetrate them. So, RAINN are engaging in “rape culture” by not recognising the most common type of rape affecting men.

  • Anonymous

    Your 0.03% statistic is based on prosecuted instances of false accusations and prosecuted instances of rape. What you actually want is total number of false accusations and number of reported rapes. I also calculate 0.7% (38/5651), how did you get 0.03%? Studies here:, “DiCanio (1993) states that while researchers and prosecutors do not
    agree on the exact percentage of false allegations, they generally agree
    on a range of 2% to 8%.[15]“

  • Michael Steane

    At the same time as claiming that the incidence of false rape accusations is low, e.g. 2%, feminists also go on about the low conviction rate in rape cases,often citing the figure of 6%. Now if a case is impossible to prove beyond reasonable doubt in 94% of cases, then it is absurd to say that the rate of false accusation is definitively as low as 2%.

  • Chelsea J. Leibow

    Brandon, under LAW if a party is explicitly intoxicated and doesn’t give explicit consent and they wake up the next morning thinking they were raped, they were raped. The instance of a false accusation will never be washed out of the system completely, but these new statistics show it’s extremely low.

    And your comment about “The 40 Year Old Virgin” is ignorant. Rape culture is perpetuated by movies, tv, and the media.

    • Zachery Lorentz

      Under what law? Just because some women regret actions that they did willingly doesn’t give them ANY right whatsoever to imprison a man for their stupidity.

      It is a comedy, it is meant to be humorous. Humor is not one-dimensional, please learn that.

    • Willis

      Then perhaps we need to look into whether or not that law should be replaced with something that is slightly less contradictory. People seem to think that stating something as law automatically wins them the argument. Laws can, and have changed (obviously), and will continue to do so as society views evolve.

      I would like to point out that as a guy I do find what Brandon describes in his original post absolutely terrifying.

  • dillon

    “if a party is too intoxicated to consent, it is considered rape”

    “If you “only fingered her” without consent, it’s still rape.”


  • Ordinary

    From the beginning, the title of this article shows the writer’s complete mindlessness as if she has been suffering from a fake trauma obtained from a first-hand (hole) rape. The truth is exactly the reverse of what the title suggests. The false rape accusation is the true problem, not “Rape culture”.

    The writer needs to study deep into what she is writing about especially when writing a deeply controversial subject such as rape. In the analysis of data, anybody who is intelligent or has a college education knows that it is dangerous to rely only on one study.

    “In fact, it’s 99.97% for real.”
    The writer needs to make sure to at least check the Wikipedia about a relevant article before demonstrating shameful laziness. However, since diligence is not to be expected from, again, a rape-obsessed maniac, let us kindly follow the link below so that the author can have a moment of decent education (which she should have received in college).

    Anybody who can calculate “average” will surely notice that the rate of false allegation of rape is “0.03%” is nonsense. In fact, “0.03″ of false rape allegation is as credible and as probable as, say, the return of Jesus Christ within the next 10 years. If the author cannot do the math, Microsoft Excel may be of great help.

  • Jenny Rosenquist

    I think I might get what you are saying here (correct me if I’m wrong :)…. You feel the law issuing that imbibing cancels out consent will enable false rape accusations… That a perfectly sober person could lie about their imbibing later on.

    This is a very complex–and yes, often frustrating issue–and the law is set up this way for a reason that’s difficult to absorb for many. There are many facets of criminal rape; it’s not just about a dishonest grown woman. It is a crime to have intercourse with a disables/abnormal mind. For example, sexual intercourse with an adult autistic possessing the mind of a child. Sexual intercourse with someone not mentally present or capable of discerning the complexity and meaning and potential consequences of having sex.

    When a person is intoxicated enough, the brain function in the frontal lobes diminishes greatly. This is why people are “uninhibited with alcohol. This part of the brain is responsible for a lot of abstract thought, such as discerning potential danger, planning ahead, grasping what consequences come with behaviors. Think of it as much like temporarily being a dog (crappy comparison I know but I can’t think of a better way to illustrate this…). You can be happy, welcoming, affectionate for your immediate needs and desires and offer no resistance to perversions because you can’t grasp what’s what. You live only in the moment, and are primordialy impulsive/accommodating.

    • DrDoSoLittle

      So again, if they’re both drunk, have they both raped one another? If the woman is less drunk than the man, has she become the rapist?

  • B

    Where did you get your BS statistic. I can do a google search for false rape accusations and find a ton of them. Women can just point the finger at a random guy and accuse him of rape. They use it to extort men, punish them, and get money and sympathy and it’s all lies. 0.03%. GTFO. It’s a skewed statistic. A feminist statistic, not to be trusted. Show me the math. How did you figure this one out?

    • Kaitlin Powell

      Its baloney

  • B

    Yeah that figures. Moderation.

  • brookstyle

    Please learn something about policy and stats. You are using a low figure because it represents convictions for false accusations. It’s very hard to prove a person was deliberately lying, just as it might be to prove you were raped.

  • BooRadley

    Hi Chelsea,

    I just wanted to comment, as a woman, and a survivor of sexual assault, on something you wrote above; about bugging a person for sex being coercive, or being duress.

    You said that if:

    ‘she said no three times but the fourth time she got FED UP (emphasis mine) of your incessant nagging and said OK. It’s. Still. Rape. If you took control of the situation, if you walked her home and lead her into your bed, or her bed, legally you are a rapist if she wakes up and does not remember what happened, or remembers what happened and feels violated.’

    You have misunderstood the concept of coercion and unlawful duress. It is really important to understand that concept when you talk about rape. Coercion and duress occur when a situation feels scary or unsafe, or the power balance is uneven – not just when there is PRESSURE, but when there is a pressure accompanied by real fear of the consequences of saying ‘no’ – regardless of whether physical force was used.

    A person asking you incessantly for sex until you give in is engaging in some creepy sexual harassment, but unless there is real fear or intimidation or other duress, they are not committing rape.

    It is not rape if you ‘gave in’ to being pestered for sex, unless the person is pestering you in a bullying, intimidating or frightening manner, and you feel you have no option to say no. Being ‘fed up’ with their pestering does not imply an unequal power structure, fear, or intimidation. Badgering someone into bed is not coercion.

    An example that springs to mind of when pressure could lead to rape is when, for instance, an intimidating and socially powerful person, or older person, pressures a younger, or shyer, or weaker person, or a person they know to have anxiety or self-esteem issues, to have sex, in a way that makes the younger or weaker person feel terrified or embarrassed or afraid to say no. This is a situation that could lead to rape, because it is predatory behaviour leaving no room for the words ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

    A person, who, for instance, knows a big secret of yours, and who asks you for sex, and intimates that they might let people know your secret if you don’t have sex with them – that is coercive behaviour, and if they succeed, it is rape.

    And also, a person who takes advantage of another drunk person, is also likely a rapist. But two people who are both too drunk to consent to sex, but nevertheless have sex, cannot rape each other. Your writing seems to imply that this could be the case for the man in a heterosexual equation of this sort.

    If you take someone who is too drunk home, and you have sex with them, you are potentially committing rape. But this is only the case if you were less drunk than they, and able to assess their level of inebriation.

    As a woman committed to feminist activism and who wants to reduce the number of rapes that happen, I feel that it’s super important to ensure we write about rape culture and the like in ways which are accurate and not inflammatory. Otherwise, who will listen?

  • Ben

    I don’t know how I ended up reading this article, as I quite despise any form of clannishness, but I read it anyway, and as a man, I felt driven into a corner, I felt like my penis could do no good in this world. I felt compelled to rethink my whole life : is it possible that I may have been a rapist, because at some point in my life, I may not have had an absolute, undisputable “yes” ? This is ridiculous. I should not be questioning myself. I am a good person. But what’s most striking, as always with feminists, is the underestimation of male sexual desire. The assumption that if girls can master their desire, men should too. Hence this “what if i’m dancing half-naked on the bar”. Well, unfortunately, I’m a slave to my sexual impulses, as many men are. We’re not sorry. We’re like that. We do the best we can to control them. Some better than others, obviously. But in an article about rape, don’t write “what if i’m shaking my butt right in front of your face?”, like it’s of no consequence. It is of major consequence. There will be nagging. It goes to show that even though you can toy with it, you know very little about men’s desire. But i’m way off point, and I apologize. The article was about how women should keep on being unthinking and reckless and how justice should be protecting, if not encouraging, this behaviour. Sorry, I really didn’t want to sound aggressive like that. Maybe a more moderate article would have brought a moderate answer.

  • Andrew Ulrich

    You know, as a man, I’m getting really, REALLY tired hearing about “rape culture” as if men out there are systematically using rape as a weapon against women.

    I like your use of statistics though (except how, you know, you don’t actually give any numbers on how many rapes there actually are in the U.S). So here’s some for you:

    -According to United States Department of Justice document Criminal Victimization in the United States, there were overall 191,670 victims of rape or sexual assault reported in 2005. With 158.3 million women in the U.S. that means that 0.0012% of women were raped.

    -In 1979, according to a Justice Department estimate based on a wide-ranging public survey, there were 2.8 rapes for every 1,000 people. In 2004, the same survey found that the rate had decreased to 0.4 per thousand.

    -According to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, there are 747,408 registered sex offenders in the United States right now. Assuming that those are all men (they aren’t, but it’s still not that relevant) that puts the percentage of men (155.5 million) who are sex offenders at 0.0048%. That means that 99.9952% of men are decent human beings who don’t harm a fly.

    You notice how I’m only using recent information from the government here? Not studies done by any groups who may have an interest in skewing numbers in their favor.

    If you really want a discussion on a culture of violence, lets talk about how many men are murdered per year in this country.

    • Kaitlin Powell

      The who rape thing is really a way to say “woman good!” “men bad!”. Im hoping it will be over soon. I was always so scared in college that I would be raped by the “boogey man” – guess what.. Nothing happened.. To any of us… I was scared when I was a child that i would be abducted – again, nothing happened.

  • Ryan Petrick

    What you have basically done is apply a 1978 film on prison life and apply it to women with some of the worst use of statitics ever

  • Kaitlin Powell

    The story is bullshit, the statistics are bullshit, but the craving of “victimhood” is loud and clear!

  • kyle

    People probably think that the instances of falshood are greater… becasue it’s happened to them! I’ve never raped, I would never think of it. But I have been falsely accuesd of violence as a punishment for breaking up with an ex. In my universe the numbers are skewed. I’m always going to think, wait, maybe the guy didn’t do it, maybe she is lying… But that’s only my experience. Poplulat opinion is made up of different peoples experiences.

  • big j dizzle

    women…. am i right fellas!

  • Jordos

    So if two people have sex and they’re drunk, which one is the rapist? Is it the man or the woman? Is the man not as impaired to give consent as the woman in this situation?

    I also like your use of women’s “fear of emasculation” being a reason for keeping their feelings quiet.

    How is it fair that if a woman at first says no, and then consents that it’s still rape? Isn’t that the exact kind of thing that might lead to a “culture” of men believing that many accusations are false?

    8% of rape accusations are unfounded in the USA (Section II: Crime Indexes Reported, FBI, 1996,

    If a woman leads a man to her bed and he doesn’t remember the next morning, is it rape?

    If I crash my car drunk and wake up in hospital and don’t remember am I still a drink driver? But I was too drunk to know what I was doing!

  • Tyler

    False accusations of rape are not a problem, if I woman points her finger at a man and says he is a rapist we should lock him away forever. Forget about innocent until proven guilty. The sexism of the culture, as well as the fact that humans male and female sometimes act badly explains why false accusations of rape happen and are much more common than these made up statistics here. Rape is a horrible crime, false accusations of rape are also a horrible crime, both should be harshly punished. There really is not debate to be had here.