But while both groups [ feminists and men's rights activists] agree that false allegations are a problem, they couldn’t disagree more on how to address the issue. MRAs can’t talk about them enough; many cite a false allegation as their “red pill” moment that opened their eyes to how evil feminists are. Feminists are much more uncomfortable with the topic. False allegations, after all, hold a disproportionate place in the public imagination; their specter derails productive conversations about sexual assault and supporting victims. Feminists, a group in which I include myself wholeheartedly, can dismiss the discussion by claiming that, because of their extreme rarity, false allegations aren’t worth representing or talking about. And when stories about false allegations are told in art and literature, we try to label them as “bad for women” and minimize their impact.This is a bad approach, and it’s counterproductive to the goal of supporting victims. The only way to dilute the power of stories like the ones cited by Whoopi Goldberg is by discussing false allegation narrativesmore, not less. We need to actively explore these stories to understand what they can tell us. Although false allegations are statistical outliers, the fact that people are so frightened of them and reflexively disbelieve victims tells us more about our society than it does about the woman or man making the allegation (or about the prevalence of rape in general). And the allegations themselves show how familiar, widely believed tropes about gendered behavior can be manipulated into plausible-seeming narratives.
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Thursday, August 25, 2016
HE SAID, SHE SAID. THE MYTHICAL HISTORY OF THE FALSE RAPE ACCUSATION