“Several years ago, I came across an article on social media. It was written by a young man who wanted to share his experience after having what he believed to be an unfounded rape accusation brought against him. As I was moving forward with this book project I went back to see if I could find the article to share here, or at least cite for my work. Unfortunately, as social media often moves so quickly, the article has been deleted.
Being a very vocal supporter of survivors I felt compelled to engage this young man in discussion. At the beginning I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. While according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center only 2-10% of sexual assault accusations prove to be false, there unfortunately are times when false accusations are made. I was genuinely curious how it felt as a man to be falsely accused of such a horrendous crime. However, the more I spoke with him the more it became obvious that it was in fact the author attempting to cast blame upon his victim. He knew the consent laws, and chose to ignore them based on circumstances. They had been drinking, she more than himself. She allegedly suggested that they engage in sexual activity, and he agreed even knowing that she could not offer the legal definition of consent. When I asked him why he chose to engage her knowing that she couldn’t offer legal consent he began to change his narrative. What made it even worse is that he attacked “feminism” for “empowering women to make false accusations”.
In short he was merely trying to justify his actions, and complaining about consent laws. The very same consent laws that when followed protect not only victims from being assaulted, but also protect people from being falsely accused. The laws, especially the laws in states that define consent as something one can not legally give under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances are designed to protect people on both sides of the equation. I fail to take issues with the law. Yet many people (not only men, but men seem to be the most vocal about it) seem to think that by defining consent this way it’s somehow unfair.
I look at it like this: much like the law defines how much alcohol you can consume to safely drive, the law must now define how much alcohol one can consume to safely consent to sexual activity. Sure, there are any number of people who can safely operate a vehicle at greater than the legal limit, but there are also many people who can not. The same is true when drinking before consenting to sexual activity. There are many people who can coherently consent after more than one or even a few drinks, but there are also many who can not. In order to protect the masses the laws must impose limits. It is fully within your rights to ignore such limits, but when you do you are making the choice to open yourself to numerous risks. Not only do you potentially open yourself up to the risk of being assaulted, but you can also open yourself up to false accusations.
The laws as they stand aren’t perfect, but laws attempting to govern a diverse society rarely are. Riding the wave of change, there will be opposition. The challenge to what has unfortunately become a culture that not only glorifies, but normalizes sexual assault and abuse won’t be one that passes quietly any time soon. One step forward, and two steps back so to speak. It’s going to take time to find a middle ground giving the victims the necessary legal protection from further abuse, while also protecting those accused. There will be victims lost through the cracks on both ends, but does that mean we should stop the pursuit? No, most certainly not.
Feminism is right on track as far as sexual assault awareness and advocacy. If feminism is what empowers victims to speak out and take a stand, I’m all for that. Especially in the face of such vocal opposition from what seems to be a growing number of predatory individuals. That’s the real key here in determining how these laws should continue to evolve. It’s not men versus women, masculinity versus femininity, or Republican versus Democrat. It’s predator vs victim. PREDATOR vs VICTIM.”
To read more of Rebecca’s thoughts on surviving and overcoming sexually based crimes you can find her latest release Turquoise Boot Straps: A Survivor’s Thoughts on Amazon or by following the sales link above. Kindle and Paperback versions available now.
Copyright R. MacCeile 2019
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