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.
What bugged me is that 0.6% is already a "fraction of a percentage".
That's what bugged you?
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 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.
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:
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!
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:
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.
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.
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.)
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?
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.
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.