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 dictionary.com’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