Woody Allen

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Catchfire Catchfire's picture
Woody Allen

Why defend Woody Allen?

Dylan Farrow, Mia Farrow's daughter, recently published an account of the sexual abuse she allegedly experienced at the hands of Woody Allen. I have to say "allegedly," I guess, because that's what we have to do when the accused was never charged. Of course, as those of us who have known abusers and abuse (and that's likely most of us, as women) know, most abusers aren't charged. So "allegedly," I'll say. But I believe her.

There is no reason not to believe her. I know, I know -- it's just all so complicated, some say. Who really knows the truth? Well, Dylan knows the truth. And Allen knows the truth. So pick a side, any side; equipped with the knowledge that going public about our abuse and our abusers is no walk in the park. Know that coming out about abuse most certainly and almost always will be cause for punishment, ostracization, accusations regarding one's "mental stability," more abuse (verbal, emotional, psychological), more trauma, and concerted efforts to discredit the victim. Know that women don't go public about abuse for fun and kicks. Especially when your abuser is in a position of power (as men, most of them are...), like Woody Allen is.

 

Issues Pages: 
6079_Smith_W

Until the golden globes that issue was something I knew about, without knowing all the facts.

Personally, I don't really care about the personal lives of most artists. There are enough whose work I admire who are unquestionable creeps, murderers and other lowlifes, so I have no reason to rationalize this. I assumed Allen had committed the sexual assault; it doesn't get in the way of my appreciating his films at all.

... until I read Weide's article. With respect to the the breakup of his relationship with Mia Farrow, and some of Weide's attacks on her, it is definitely apologist. Though I'd say some of his criticism is fair.

As for the alleged assault, the points he raised have definitely sown doubt in my mind where there was none before. Kind of a hard thing to say, because ordinarily I'd take an accusation like that at face value, and as I said, until I read it I just assumed he was guilty.

The best I can say is that there may only be two people who can say for sure.

 

 

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Woody Allen’s Good Name

What is the burden of proof for assuming that a person is lying? If you are a famous film director, it turns out to be quite high. You don’t have to say a word in your defense, in fact, and people who have directed documentaries about you will write lengthy essays in the Daily Beast tearing down the testimony of your accusers. You can just go about your life making movie after movie, and it’s fine. But if you are a woman who has accused a great film director of molesting you when you were seven, the starting point is the presumption that, without real evidence, you are not telling the truth. In the court of public opinion, a woman accusing a great film director of raping her has no credibility which his fans are bound to respect. He has something to lose, his good name. She does not, because she does not have a good name. She is living in hiding, under an assumed name. And when she is silent, the Daily Beast does not rise to her defense.

In a rape culture, there is no burden on us to presume that she is not a liar, no necessary imperative to treat her like a person whose account of herself can be taken seriously. It is important that we presume he is innocent. It is not important that we presume she is not making it all up out of female malice. In a rape culture, you can say things like “We can’t really know what really happened, so let’s all act as if Woody Allen is innocent (and she is lying).” In a rape culture, you can use your ignorance to cast doubt on her knowledge; you can admit that you have no basis for casting doubt on Dylan’s statement, and then you can ignore her account of herself. A famous man is not speaking, so her testimony is not admissible evidence. His name is Woody Allen, and in a rape culture, that good name must be shielded and protected. What is her name?

 

6079_Smith_W

We could go even further than that. The New York Times did:

Quote:

Yet the Golden Globes sided with Allen, in effect accusing Dylan either of lying or of not mattering. That’s the message that celebrities in film, music and sports too often send to abuse victims.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/02/opinion/sunday/kristof-dylan-farrows-s...

I have no idea when the Hollywood Foreign Press Association made any statement whatsoever about this incident, but evidently that is what they did.

I can see how a famous film director has a lot of pull (though not enough to sway the NYT). In that sense I agree with the theory in your last quote, CF. Thing is though, others don't have such pull. And famous or not, the core issue is no different. The Martensville case is far from the only one, but for years it was just assumed that it was true, moreso because it involved cops and a straight religious community. I am sure there are plenty who still believe it is true. I know I still doubt a bit, even though it has been pretty thoroughly settled.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martensville_satanic_sex_scandal

There was just another case in Regina two weeks ago where an accused teacher was aquitted. Does it matter?

That's why, all the theory and respect for the complainant notwithstanding, one needs to be careful.

 

Jacob Two-Two

Sure you have to be careful, but how careful? So careful that you can't accuse people of crimes? That you can't take a side where there are conflicting accounts? That's too careful by half in my estimation and a function of the comforting mass delusion that it is possible to be neutral on these kinds of issues. But there is no middle ground here, because all this hand-wringing is fundamentally intertwined with power and privilege in our society. When you do nothing, you actually support the status quo: rich white men abusing and oppressing everyone who's vulnerable or powerless. That's the default in our society and at least 80% of the time, all other things being equal, when it looks like more of the same, it really is.

Of course, sometimes the disadvantaged person is lying. Obviously that happens. But to make an assumption of dishonesty for no reason, knowing what people go through when they make these kinds of accusations, is a huge tactical blunder. In the absence of a clear reason for doubt, I am always going to believe these kinds of accusations. Surely I will be wrong every once in a while, but I consider it far better than countenacing all the abusers who will get a free pass from me in every situation where "we can't know what happened", which is almost every situation like this. I know what I consider to be the lesser of evils here.

6079_Smith_W

I'm not accusing anyone of lying. I have no idea, so how can I?

All I am saying that in a case where I - like you - automatically assumed someone was guilty, the information in that article has led me to no longer be so sure. It certainly had nothing to do with the fellow's status.

And middle ground has nothing to do with it, nor does the fact that a power dynamic exists, or going with the "lesser of two evils"  change the fact that the only people who probably know are those directly involved.

You want to take a side, go ahead; I'm just telling you how I feel about it.

And whatever free pass you assume there is happened long ago . As for right now,  you can take some comfort in the fact that plenty of people feel exactly as you do about it.

(edit)

Here:

http://www.thenation.com/blog/178203/choosing-comfort-over-truth-what-it...

 

quizzical

gag

 

MegB

Hey, it's not like Allen has a predilection for girls and very young women. Oh wait ...

Ever since it became public knowledge that he had a long-standing sexual relationship with one of Farrow's daughters from the time she was quite young, I have been unable to watch his films. I don't care if it was "consensual", it screams predatory behavior and disgusts me to no end. Nope, no separation of the man and his art for me. As for Dylan Farrow's experience with Allen, so long as his films continue to make obscene piles of cash for everyone, Hollywood has his back.

Slumberjack

Yes, he couldn't have made it clearer in his relationship with Farrow's daughter that his own predicates and desires trump all other considerations.

quizzical

mr smith do you understand the difference in sexual assault cases between an acquital and not guilty?

quizzical

mr smith do you understand the difference in sexual assault cases between an acquital and not guilty?

6079_Smith_W

Rebecca West wrote:

Nope, no separation of the man and his art for me.

To be clear, I didn't mention it in order to argue that we should be obliged to do that, but rather to point out that I just assumed the accusation was probably true until I read the Weide article.

Woody Allen has a terrible reputation - most of it deserved. Many people don't even remember he was successfully sued by his first wife for making a joke on stage about her being sexually assaulted.

Some might not like that there are people who stand by him as an artist, though not everyone does. And working with him isn't the same as assuming that he didn't betray his partner and wife, take up with younger women, and not the same as assuming that his daughter must be lying. It's not even the same as liking him as a person.

For that matter, who is defending him? Barbara Walters has, and she has herself been criticized for it. Cate Blanchette and Alec Baldwin had to defend THEMSELVES being called out as people who work with him. But I don't see how Hollywood is rallying behind him, and his movies haven't made tons of money in years. Look at his catalogue from the last decade; some of them are completely unknown.

From what I see, the most common perception is that he is a manipulating deceiving freak., albeit a talented one. Even with that, I don't think those who consider these very serious accusations of paedophilia and incest unproven should necessarily be accused of supporting rape culture, or accusing the alleged victim of lying. Not everyone who holds that position does so because they support powerful men, or assume that accusers lie.

6079_Smith_W

@ quizzical

As in do I think Allen might be guilty? Yes.

quizzical

no acquital in sexual assault means there's no burden of proof either way. this seems to be the usual findings 'cause lawyers were paid large to get an "acquital" but it doesn't mean not guilty. not guilty means he proved himself innocent. guilty means he didn't.

josh

I don't know what the truth is here. The charges arose during a bitter divorce after Mia Farrow found out about the affair. Allen was not prosecuted. So I'm not prepared to say yes or no one way or the other.

I will continue to judge his films based on their artistic merit. Which very few have had since Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Slumberjack

quizzical wrote:
no acquital in sexual assault means there's no burden of proof either way. this seems to be the usual findings 'cause lawyers were paid large to get an "acquital" but it doesn't mean not guilty. not guilty means he proved himself innocent. guilty means he didn't.

Not to quibble here quizzical, but an accused doesn't have to prove himself not-guilty.  They simply maintain that they are.  They can provide no statement and call no witnesses to that effect and still plead it.  It is for the prosecutor to bring before the court contrary evidence to the claim of innocence.  My understanding is that acquittal is the formal certification of a person's innocence by a court.

6079_Smith_W

This situation is bad enough without getting into character assassination of anyone involved here, IMO.

I take the letter Dylan wrote seriously. Beyond that I'm not going to start guessing and accusing.

If pressed I'd have to say I hope it is not true, not because I want her to be wrong or him to be vindicated, but because it is a horrible thing to imagine. But really, I don't know either way.

josh

Ed Smythe: Child molestation is a touchy subject, and the affiliates...

Mickey: Read the papers, half the country's doing it!

Ed Smythe: Yes, but you name names.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091167/quotes

DaveW

josh, Match Point (2005?) made essentially the same moral point about "getting away with murder", guilt and responsibility: quite good

and yes, Mia Farrow is a piece of work; my wife is very convinced she has pushed her daughter to create an issue to tarnish again her ex ... Mia is highly manipulative, by all accounts, and not above using her children for her own ends

DaveW

Rebecca West wrote:

 

..., so long as his films continue to make obscene piles of cash for everyone, Hollywood has his back.

I quite agree WA is predatory, but going back to the film "Manhattan" and his 17 year old high-school lover there (Mariel Hemingway), he has made no secret of that obsession for young girls; surprised that film has never really been a black mark for him;

BUT .... "piles of cash"???

um, he has to basically plead artistic merit to get any money at all, top actors play for a fraction of their normal rate practically pro bono, and he has shot several of his most recent movies in Europe (England, Spain, France) because only European financiers will touch his stuff ...

Allen is a minor minor niche of the film world, respected artistically but marginal financially

so, piles of money? hardly.

DaveW

and for Smith above,

it is certainly not me who is entering into the public debate notions that Mia Farrow is "highly motivated"' in this matter:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/03/woody-allen-dylan-farrow-abuse-allegations

Several weeks ago, during the Golden Globe Awards where Allen was given a lifetime achievement award, Mia tweeted her displeasure, and then Ronan, upped the ante, and tweeted more pointedly about the 21-year-old molestation charge.

Then last week in the Daily Beast, Weide, who made the 2012 PBS American Masters documentary about Allen, followed up with his close analysis of exactly what happened in 1992. It's quite a demolition job on the Vanity Fair piece, deconstructing timeline, opportunity, and circumstance. What's more, it paints a far more complicated picture of Mia from the one she has curated about herself, including that her brother is in jail for child molestation – Mia's own family is a horribly dysfunctional one – and that her son, Moses, no longer speaks to her and accuses her of "brainwashing".

The stakes were raised, in other words.

Hence, Mia enlists her good friend Kristof to provide a forum for Dylan Farrow's letter. Kristof says it is the first time Dylan Farrow has spoken, but, in fact, that's what Vanity Fair said three months ago, when Dylan spoke to Orth. But this time, Dylan appears in open-letter form – in her own voice. It's a riveting and astute piece of writing – a study in artful composition. It is a 28-year-old's absolute memory of being a seven-year-old. Some of this she recalled for the Vanity Fair piece. But there are now many new details.

6079_Smith_W

I know Dave.

We could toss arguments from both sides around. Thing is, we'd just be repeating second hand stuff, and getting into that isn't going to have any bearing on this situation.

THis situation is charged enough without getting into things that only serve to discredit someone who is making a serious accusation of sexual assault, and others who may themselves be victims here (in effect, what the OP warns against). I presume everyone who wants to can read those articles for themselves.

 

DaveW

agreed, there are times and places to make such serious charges of sexual abuse, and Vanity Fair is not one of them

Bacchus
Bärlüer

Catchfire wrote:

Woody Allen’s Good Name

In a rape culture, there is no burden on us to presume that she is not a liar, no necessary imperative to treat her like a person whose account of herself can be taken seriously. It is important that we presume he is innocent. It is not important that we presume she is not making it all up out of female malice. In a rape culture, you can say things like “We can’t really know what really happened, so let’s all act as if Woody Allen is innocent (and she is lying).” In a rape culture, you can use your ignorance to cast doubt on her knowledge; you can admit that you have no basis for casting doubt on Dylan’s statement, and then you can ignore her account of herself. A famous man is not speaking, so her testimony is not admissible evidence. His name is Woody Allen, and in a rape culture, that good name must be shielded and protected. What is her name?

What bothers me about this quote is that — it seems to me — it presents a false dilemma. It presupposes that presuming that Woody Allen is innocent (a fundamental principle of criminal justice I hope we haven't jettisoned...) and admitting to not knowing what transpired (which seems like an honest and reasonable admission to make) necessarily imply the following stances: 1) not taking seriously Dylan Farrow's account; 2) presuming that she is making it all up out of female malice; 3) participating in rape culture; 4) "doubting" and ignoring her statement; 5) not "admitting" her evidence.

It seems to me that 1) presuming innocence of the accused and 2) recognizing the limits to one's (potential) knowledge of the truth are in fact compatible with: 1) taking seriously Dylan Farrow's statement; 2) assessing it in good faith; 3) not participating in rape culture.

josh

Well said.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Well, not quite Barluer. What happens in a rape culture society when the coolest heads say "we can't know what happens" is that Woody Allen is given a lifetime achievement award while his alleged victim is subject to 5000-word character assassinations against her and her family. It says nothing about what compatibility is or is not possible, it merely states what the effect is when such compatibility is called into question.

It also makes very clear distinctions between the criteria of a criminal court (presuming innocence) and what should be the criteria everywhere else.

Bärlüer

So are you saying that the necessary implication relation I outlined (and decried) is actually valid? (I guess you did since you write "called into question"?) If you are, I'm sorry to say that I will not be able to participate in this particular conversation anymore. (Not to sound overly dramatic, but I don't think any fruitful discussion could arise on the basis of a divergence this fundamental.)

On the issue of the distinction between criminal court and elsewhere: I'm not proposing that all discussion be held on the basis of the standards of criminal law. What I am saying, however, is that if one does envisage the issue from that perspective (at least by positing innoncence as a presumption), it shouldn't entail the implications I've outlined above, that's all.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

I don't know what you mean. But surely you know that even your statement "calls it into question" even if you state what side of the question you're on.

Bärlüer

You're right, that assumption (ha) was just wrong.

What I mean is, do you think, like the author of the above quote, that presuming that Woody Allen is innocent and admitting to not knowing what transpired necessarily imply the following stances: 1) not taking seriously Dylan Farrow's account; 2) presuming that she is making it all up out of female malice; 3) participating in rape culture; 4) "doubting" and ignoring her statement; 5) not "admitting" her evidence?

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

I take the quoted statement as saying that in rape culture (which I believe we all "participate" in to some extent simply by being members of a society we can't opt out of) the effect of saying that "we can't really know what happened" is that Allen's version implictly becomes the accepted version -- irrespective of what I might consciously have worked out for myself (e.g. that I take Farrow's account seriously but remain ambivalent about Allen's guilt). That also means that the effect of saying "we can't know" is the same as if we said (as others have done) that she is making it up, etc. And I think that's true, yes.

Unionist

Is it too late to lay charges? Just curious, as I have not seen this point addressed anywhere.

6079_Smith_W

Looking at the coverage, including the New York Times and The Nation, I'd say Dylan Farrow's version of things has gotten a good deal of consideration and support. The lion's share, as a matter of fact.

Other than Weide's piece, and Allen and his lawyer, has there been any other serious rebuttal of the accusation?

Some of these articles talk about industry support for Allen, and while I agree with the theory behind it, that doesn't seem to be how it is playing out in the media.

As for attacks and character assassination, I think there are more than enough of those on both sides of this. And if anything Allen's film industry colleagues have themselves been targets. Contrary to the claim, giving him an award is not the same as denying the validity of a rape allegation.

And if it isn't clear from what I said above, I don't buy that just because some refuse to assume guilt (which is really what is going on here, not presuming innocence) that Allen's version is the default one. You only have to look at what people are saying.

 

@ Unionist

The statue of limitations ran out 16 years ago.

Unionist

What about civil suit? I'm just trying to figure out why this is being tried in the court of Hollywood gossip and social media, instead of a court of law. In a civil action, I'm thinking there's no issue of "innocence" or presumption thereof in the criminal sense. Am I right?

6079_Smith_W

Well in a civil suit you only have to prove the burden of proof (50%), not beyond reasonable doubt.

And it seems Margaret Wente cut and pasted Weide's article into a defense of Allen/attack on Mia Farrow. Kiss of death there.

 

6079_Smith_W

If you take exception to offensive language and triggers, don't click the link.

If you do, be sure to read the article through to the last sentence, which is the kicker:

http://defamer.gawker.com/the-internet-digs-up-woody-allens-creepy-child...

 

Tehanu

Can't say it much better than Melissa McEwan on [url=http://www.shakesville.com/2014/02/the-rape-apologia-parade-marches-on.h...

Quote:
I'm getting a lot of "so your position is that you just automatically believe everyone who alleges sexual abuse" type stuff on Twitter, and in my inbox, and in some (deleted) comments here. It is an accusation, made with incredulity and contempt.

And the answer is yes. Yes, my position is that I believe people who allege sexual abuse. Because, as Imani Gandy details here, a comprehensive study in the UK found that only 0.6% of all allegations of rape and domestic violence combined are thought to be false.

0.6%.

And that was the finding of a study using only reported rapes. The majority of sexual assaults go unreported, so if we include all the rapes that are never even reported to police in the first place, that number gets even smaller.

A fraction of a percentage.

My position is based on having listened to countless survivors' stories; on being a survivor who was disbelieved; on spending the time and energy to understand the rape culture; on knowing how there is usually precious little to gain and everything to lose even from making a truthful report; on the above facts about the rarity of false reporting.

And in [url=http://www.shakesville.com/2014/02/the-costs-of-disbelief.html]another post[/url] on the high cost of disbelief (I suggest reading the whole thing, it's damned powerful):

Quote:
... I also believe survivors because there is a steep cost to disbelieving them.

I don't just mean the personal cost to individual survivors—although that, too. Being disbelieved is a secondary trauma, for many survivors a profound exacerbation of an already devastating act. To survive that sort of physical harm, only to be disbelieved by people who you trust(ed), by people who are tasked with protecting you, to have your lived experience be audited and denied, to be victim-blamed and suspected of lying, to have reporting the harm done to you grotesquely twisted into an accusation of attempting to hurt the person who abused you, can create lasting psychological turmoil from which it is harder to recover, sometimes, than the original act of violence.

The depth of that betrayal in such a vulnerable moment is difficult to convey, to someone who has never experienced it.

I also mean the costs beyond what is taken from individual survivors, when they are disbelieved.

I mean the cost of communicating to other survivors, when we publicly disbelieve one person, that they will be disbelieved. That there is no point to reporting the crimes done to them, because they will not find justice. And may instead find in its place an aggressive avalanche of hostility and suspicion and contempt.

I mean the cost of empowering predators, who are grateful indeed to everyone who participates in the systemic disbelief of survivors. Even if their victims report the abuse they perpetuate, their chances of being charged and convicted are vanishingly small, because of our cultural investment in disbelief.

I mean the cost of failing to stop predators, a majority of whom attack again and again. I mean the cost of creating more victims.

This whole parade of discussion and debate has been sickening to watch (and yes, I'm counting the articles but also the comments/tweets/posts/blablablas and Barbara-fucking-Walters et.al.). Beginning with the prurient speculation of did-he-or-didn't-he which is almost certainly revictimizing for Dylan Farrow. And speaking of Dylan Farrow, it's a lot less about Dylan Farrow (other than to lambast her) than it is of Woody Allen - the rich white male celebrity. Even *ahem* the thread title here. In fact, what's been written about Dylan Farrow has been overwhelmingly dismissive, attacking her independence of thought, shredding her right to speak out, questioning her individuality, even incredulity about her ability to remember what happened. She's been accused of being the catspaw in her mother's attack on Woody Allen. Oh, and her mother is also being questioned and attacked.

I'm bolding Dylan Farrow's name in the above paragraph because wouldn't it be nice to be talking about supporting her, and focussing on her needs, than on what's been happening instead?

Did Dylan Farrow know what would be unleashed when she went public? Probably, she's seen it unfold before. And boy does this reinforce to survivors to keep their mouths shut, especially if men of power and influence are involved because all kinds of people will come out of the woodwork to defend them (c.f. Roman Polanski).

But if you actually read [url=http://kristof.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/02/01/an-open-letter-from-dylan-fa... letter[/url], she says she's speaking out because she no longer wants to remain silent. Including about the impact of the continued Woody Allen adulation has on her.

Quote:
... Woody Allen was never convicted of any crime. That he got away with what he did to me haunted me as I grew up. I was stricken with guilt that I had allowed him to be near other little girls. I was terrified of being touched by men. I developed an eating disorder. I began cutting myself. That torment was made worse by Hollywood. All but a precious few (my heroes) turned a blind eye. Most found it easier to accept the ambiguity, to say, “who can say what happened,” to pretend that nothing was wrong. Actors praised him at awards shows. Networks put him on TV. Critics put him in magazines. Each time I saw my abuser’s face – on a poster, on a t-shirt, on television – I could only hide my panic until I found a place to be alone and fall apart.

Last week, Woody Allen was nominated for his latest Oscar. But this time, I refuse to fall apart. For so long, Woody Allen’s acceptance silenced me. It felt like a personal rebuke, like the awards and accolades were a way to tell me to shut up and go away. But the survivors of sexual abuse who have reached out to me – to support me and to share their fears of coming forward, of being called a liar, of being told their memories aren’t their memories – have given me a reason to not be silent, if only so others know that they don’t have to be silent either.

Today, I consider myself lucky. I am happily married. I have the support of my amazing brothers and sisters. I have a mother who found within herself a well of fortitude that saved us from the chaos a predator brought into our home.

But others are still scared, vulnerable, and struggling for the courage to tell the truth. The message that Hollywood sends matters for them.

Perhaps a more seemly thing to discuss would be her bravery, and the bravery of all survivors who speak out, even in the face of immense opposition.

 

MegB

Tehanu, thanks so much for that post. Articulate and honest.

josh
6079_Smith_W

We can count People Magazine among those sympathetic to her story.

http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20782530,00.html

I'd say that, and the fact that the real story on The View wasn't Barbara Walters, but the fact that there was heated disagreement with her comments says more about the court of public opinion than anything else.

 

 

Unionist

Tehanu wrote:

[quoted from Melissa McEwan]

Because, as Imani Gandy details here, a comprehensive study in the UK found that only 0.6% of all allegations of rape and domestic violence combined are thought to be false.

0.6%.

And that was the finding of a study using only reported rapes. The majority of sexual assaults go unreported, so if we include all the rapes that are never even reported to police in the first place, that number gets even smaller.

A fraction of a percentage.

What bugged me is that 0.6% is already a "fraction of a percentage".

You know, Tehanu, that's a very extreme mathematical result. And when I looked at the report that McEwan linked, I couldn't find it. I also don't understand phrases like "are thought to be false". "Thought" by whom?

I guess what I'm saying is that if an amazing claim like that is worth making, it's worth validating. I'm not saying it's false (though it certainly seems statistically incredible). I'm saying I'd like to see exactly where which study has drawn that conclusion.

Because if it's true, it's really not worth having charges and trials. Just convict, sentence, and allow some right of appeal for the 1 in about 200 that might have been wrongly convicted.

 

 

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture
Tehanu

Unionist wrote:
What bugged me is that 0.6% is already a "fraction of a percentage".

That's what bugged you?

Quote:
You know, Tehanu, that's a very extreme mathematical result. And when I looked at the report that McEwan linked, I couldn't find it. I also don't understand phrases like "are thought to be false". "Thought" by whom?

She linked to a blog post "[url=http://angryblackladychronicles.com/2013/03/17/women-dont-lie-about-rape... don't lie about rape as often as you think they do[/url]" which includes a link to a [url=http://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/research/perverting_course_of_justice... Crown Prosecution Service study[/url] (opens a pdf) which reviewed in detail false rape allegations. I've only briefly skimmed the study but I'll likely go back and read it in more detail.

I'm thinking the 0.6% was comparing the prosecutions for rape versus the prosecutions for false allegations. Comments on the blog post point out that this is the number of prosecutions, not the total number of false allegations (haven't checked to see if that's in the actual study). That said, we know that estimates on the number of rapes that get reported, let alone prosecuted, are disproportionately low, usually cited in the neighbourhood of one in ten. Let's say something around the equivalent one-in-ten false allegations was prosecuted -- and that number would be interesting to find out, and feel free to read the study to see if they address this. If they're anywhere near the same order of magnitude, the number of false allegations would still be incredibly low ... notably so, given how the men's rightists like to trumpet all over the place any time a rape case is dismissed (so very often because it's her word against his) that here's another example of a man being targeted by some evil man-hating harpy, and rape is a myth, dontcha know, women always lie about it, buyer's remorse, etc., etc.

What would be a not-low percentage, do you think? 2%? 5%? 10%? I would never say that people accused of rape should automatically be found guilty. But I've also wrestled for years and years with the conflict between a belief in fair justice, and the knowledge that it can be almost impossible for a rape survivor to see her - I use the pronoun intentionally - rapist successfully prosecuted. Which is why I focus so extensively on education about sexual assault prevention, feminism, development of empathy, personal responsibility, and if all that fails, on alternative/restorative justice, particularly with younger people.

Anyway, I wasn't paying as much attention to the "fraction of a percent" but rather to the eloquent point that people who have the courage to speak out about rape and sexual abuse can and should be believed. Because so often that isn't the case.

Unionist

Tehanu wrote:

Unionist wrote:
What bugged me is that 0.6% is already a "fraction of a percentage".

That's what bugged you? [...]

She linked to a blog post "Women don't lie about rape as often as you think they do" which includes a link to a UK Crown Prosecution Service study (opens a pdf) which reviewed in detail false rape allegations. I've only briefly skimmed the study but I'll likely go back and read it in more detail.

Not really. It was the amazing statistic, referencing a linked study (yes, I skimmed through it too), and I couldn't find the statistic in that study. That really bugs me. Because if you're going up against a patriarchal society and rape culture, the real facts are horrendous enough without having to exaggerate or misread or make them up. It doesn't help anyone one single bit. Now, if I'm wrong, and somehow that statistic is to be found in that report, then I'll apologize and read more carefully. But I couldn't find it or anything resembling it.

It disturbs me that anyone would "defend" Woody Allen without having first-hand knowledge of what happened. Yes, if it's a criminal matter, there's a presumption of innocence. But there are no criminal charges here - just an eloquent and (to my eyes) credible accusation by a victim. Somehow, when people come forward decades later to report abuse by Catholic priests, we have a greater tendency to believe them. Why not here?

And the celebrity aspect of all this bothers me as well. Why are so many people wrapped up in this situation? Are there more lessons to be learned here than in the rampant abuse that takes place in our own society, under our own eyes? If this celebrity story somehow encourages ordinary victims to come forward and speak out, then bravo... but somehow, I'll believe that when I see it.

 

Tehanu

Okay, well why not focus on these numbers? In the UK over a 17 month period there were 5,651 prosecutions for rape and 111,891 for domestic violence; during that time there were only 35 prosecutions for false rape allegations, 6 for false DV allegations, and 3 for both false rape and DV allegations.

So let's go for 38 false rape allegation prosecutions, compared to 5,651 rape prosecutions. 0.67% of cases that go to court are for false allegations compared to those for rape.

That's a pretty compelling number, no?

If you add in domestic violence, it gets even more tiny. 117,572 prosecutions. 44 false allegation prosecutions. 0.037%.

Now either the cops and courts in the UK are exceedingly tolerant of false allegations and never, ever prosecute them, or that's a surprisingly low number. Certainly I'm surprised.

Note that the report says this:

Quote:
At the outset it is important that we acknowledge the very damaging impact that a false allegation of rape or sexual assault – be it either malicious or misguided – can have on the person falsely accused. Reputations can be ruined and lives can be devastated as a result. Such cases will be dealt with robustly and those falsely accused should feel confident that the Crown Prosecution Service will prosecute these cases wherever there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to do so.

Don't seem all that reluctant to pursue false allegations to me!

 

6079_Smith_W

As that slate article correctly points out, Weide published his article before Dylan Farrow even wrote her letter. It was in reaction to tweets her mother and her brother made during the Golden Globes, and the past record.

Yes, accusations of sexual assault should always be taken seriously. And while one can't argue with the distress having to speak up, and her father's recognition is causing the alleged victim, accepting the degree to which this story has been taken - accusing co-workers and claiming accusations of lying where there are none, and an automatic assumption of guilt don't follow from that.

And painting this as universal disregard and condemnation against Dylan Farrow simply is not true. Of course there are some who are taking Allen's side, or who don't want to get involved. If they are anything like a majority I don't see it. And to take it to the point that any presumption of not being guilty is just a foil that enables a climate where everyone is condemning the accuser?

Here's the new Atlantic:

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/02/woody-allens-ad...

To be clear, I'm not posting these articles to try and make it look like Allen is being persecuted. But we don't need to speculate about how people are reacting to this.

Unionist

Ok, Tehanu, I get it. Only 0.6% of rape accusers are prosecuted (criminally, I'm assuming) for perjury or mischief or whatever the equivalent charge would be. I can very readily believe that. But McEwan takes a little short-cut and says that those are the only ones "thought to be false". That's pure sophistry, it doesn't follow from the study, and it proves nothing. And I don't see why we need to defend that erroneous conclusion in order to affirm the principle that victims deserve to be heard, believed, and their cases pursued by all available means.

Sorry to be arguing about one person's column based on a misinterpretation of another person's blog about another study. I appreciate your bringing these items to our attention.

 

Tehanu

Apology accepted, and I do see the point that there's value in precision; I don't think though that the number in question was the main point of Melissa McEwan's post, nor was I defending it, just clarifying where I think she got it. And regardless of how you slice it I maintain that that's a useful and rare study and I'm glad to have been directed to it: it DOES put the lie to the men's rightists' claims of legions of false accusations.

She could have said 10%, and it still compels us to believe and support survivors. Her heartwrenching point was that disbelieving them has a significant cost. And she includes her own story in the complete post.

(Another interesting tidbit to consider: Even if a rape is reported, it will not likely go to prosecution if there is insufficient evidence. What constitutes insufficient evidence? She says he raped her. He says he didn't.)

Jacob Two-Two

Weide's article was nonsense, even if it had been written years ago. The pains he goes through to nitpick what happened with Allen and Soon-Yi was literally embarrassing to read. How a person deludes themselves to such an extent is beyond me, but once again the power of celebrity (especially over its fawning courtiers) rears its head.

"He wasn't really a father figure", "He didn't have much contact with her", blah blah blah. Who cares??!! He makes it sound like Allen just happened into a random relationship with a person who was coincidentally the daughter of a former girlfriend. That would be a tad creepy by itself, but hey, if it makes you happy, who's to judge, right? Except it wasn't nearly that innocent, and Weide knows that (or at least, ought to if he's going to write about the subject).

In fact, what actually happened is that Allen started an affair with the teenage daughter of the person he was still in an ongoing twelve-year relationship with. And how did Farrow discover this? Allen left a naked picture of her child on her mantle for her to find. Leaving all else aside, it's clear that such a person is a grade-A creep and seriously unbalanced. Knowing this, why should we believe anything he says about further accusations?

shartal@rogers.com

Some of this discussion conflates criminal charges with guilt or innocence. Criminal charges involve the authority of the State to incarcerate. Historically it is an important political struggle to hold the state to account. Thus the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt. It means the state has the burden to prove the offence. In Canada there is no legal distinction between acquitted and not guilty. In Canada they mean the same thing; that the state did not have enough evidence to make out the offence. Court is a State action. In essence law is always a snapshot of the political balance of power at a particular time. Courts enforce laws that are enacted. It is an important distinction. Law is always about power. It is not about justice, or about good and evil. When it comes to all forms of sexual assault courts are terrible places that commonly additionally traumatized survivors. civil action is not decided on 51%. It is much harder and reflects that civil procedure is established to resolve conflicts between monied parties. it is always about property, even if the case is about personal damages, the arguments are about monetary value and liability. It is a brutal expensive forum that tears people to shreds.

Slumberjack

Part of the justifiable and underlying frustration appears to stem from the fact that it doesn't matter what percentage of cases are finally brought before the courts and disposed of accordingly.  The systemic reasons as to why such horrible violence is routinely inflicted on victims like Amber Kirwan and many others beyond count are never addressed.  Every suspected rapist could be thrown behind bars as standard practice, but countless other perpetrators around the world will take their place within the respective societies.  Systems of power as they've been constructed are incapable of coming to terms with the rationale for their own predatory behaviour, except to say ‘because we said so.’  Transformational inquiries of this nature will never be taken up by the courts because they utterly represent systems that are constantly providing such violent examples to everyone, constantly internalizing within everyone the way things are supposed to be when one has power.  Provided with enough evidence, occasionally the courts will sanction and punish a few who appropriate violence and domination to project onto others, that the state and the global economic order jealously monopolizes for its own benefit, primarily for its supposed deterrent effect and as a demonstration of the state’s own power to act.  If there’s violence to be meted out as a demonstration of power and authority, it’s strictly within the domain of the state after all.  Systems of power will have people foolishly believing that the odd punishment here and there for rape and sexual violence contains a deterrent effect, at the same time as the violence that power structures are responsible for around the world continues unabated.

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