There is a prevailing myth, created by gender stereotypes, biased crime data, and the mainstreaming of feminist dogma that men are fundamentally aggressive in nature, that there is a “rape culture” in America, and that women are its victims while men are the culprits.
Like all cultural myths, there is some truth in this. Men are socially conditioned to be providers and protectors, to be tough and assertive and competitive, and to see themselves as actors rather than victims, often ignoring or suppressing their pain – both physical and emotional.
Feminist ideology is based on the myth of Patriarchy (which also has a basis in reality, but has been so distorted and demonized as to be unrecognizable), which defines women as a class as the disempowered victims of men and male institutions. This myth takes its most pernicious form in the cultural blindness to, and denial of, male sexual victimization by women and domestic violence by women against men.
As Dr. Warren Farrell demonstrated in his seminal book, The Myth of Male Power (1993), the few studies which investigated domestic violence among both genders found that men were equally victimized – at all levels of violence – but it was perceived as only a women’s issue. There are no White House task forces on male victims, nor are there any shelters or support groups for male victims of female domestic violence. This is, in part, because men are far less likely than women to report such victimization, as it would shatter their culturally-programmed personas.
Today the issue of rape, particularly campus rape, has risen to the headlines and the top of news reports, and it is reported as a women’s issue and a symptom of men’s inability to control their sexuality and their aggression.
Unbiased research, however, indicates a very different story.
A 2014 White House report on campus rape states that, when women report unwanted sexual activity, “most often (about 9 out of 10 times) it’s by someone she knows – and also most often, she does not report what happened” because in half of all cases they “don’t call what happened to them rape”. They don’t call it rape because it involves an acquaintance and ambiguous or vague consent.
In the 1994 book, The Morning After: Fear, Sex and Feminism, author Katie Roiphe asserted, “There is a gray area in which one person’s rape may be another’s bad night.”
Laura Sessions Stepp, Washington Post journalist, wrote a 2007 article on “gray rape” describing sexual encounters where usually both parties were very drunk and really didn’t know what they had said to each other the next morning. In such cases, consent is uncertain.
There is a higher rate of false reporting for acquaintance rape than for most other crimes.
A research report in the May, 1988 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, found that undergraduate college women saying “no” but meaning “yes” was acknowledged by 39.3% of the women, with reasons being either practical, inhibition-related, or manipulative.
A research report in the March 1995 Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that 83% of token resistant women had more than one sexual intention during the episode, and the authors concluded that most token resistant behavior is a change of intention that is poorly recalled because of memory consolidation.
Rape of Males by Women
If any unwanted or not fully consensual sexual activity is defined now as rape, then more men then women are victims of rape.
An article about college students published in the Journal of Sex Research in 1994, noted that Muehlenhard and Cook (1988) found that 46% of women and 63% of men had acquiesced to unwanted sexual intercourse, while Muehlenhard and Long (1988) also found that more men (49%) than women (40%) had engaged in unwanted sex. Muehlenhard and Rodgers (1993) found that 34% of women reported having engaged in token resistance to sex, in which they said “no” when they really desired to have sex. US women acknowledge a 55% rate of consent to unwanted sex, which is consistent with the findings of 50% false rape allegations in university studies.
[Charlene L. Muehlenhard, PhD, the author of all those studies, is a Professor of Psychology and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Fellow in Three Divisions of the American Psychological Association (Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, Society for the Psychology of Women, Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues), and a Fellow in the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality]
According to a 2014 paper published in the American Psychological Association journal, Psychology of Men and Masculinity, 43% of high school and college-aged men say they’ve had “unwanted sexual contact”, and 95% of those say a female acquaintance was the aggressor.
Researchers found that 18% reported sexual coercion by force (including by use of weapon), 31% said they were verbally coerced into sex, 26% said they’d experienced unwanted seduction, and 7% said they were compelled after being given alcohol or drugs.
Dr. Bryana French, who teaches counseling psychology and black studies at University of Missouri and co-authored the study, says that male victims are often less willing to describe sexual coercion in detail, “but when asked if it happened, they say it happened”.
French said, “Seduction was a particularly salient and potentially unique form of coercion for teenage boys and young men when compared to their female counterparts.”
The Sexual Victimization of Men in America: New Data Challenge Old Assumptions (American Journal of Public Health, June 2014) is co-authored by Lara Stemple, Health and Human Rights Law Project, UCLA, and Ilan H. Meyer, Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law.
The authors assessed 12-month prevalence of sexual victimization from five federal surveys conducted, independently, by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 2010 through 2012. The review of these surveys provides an unprecedented wealth of new data about male victimization, challenging long-held stereotypes about the sex of victims.
In one of the studies included in the analysis, the CDC found that an estimated 1.3 million women experienced nonconsensual sex, or rape, in the previous year. Notably, nearly the same number of men also reported nonconsensual sex. In comparison to the number of women who were raped, nearly 1.3 million men were “made to penetrate” someone else. The CDC data reveal that both women and men experienced non-consensual sex in alarming and equal numbers.
The study also included the 2012 National Crime Victimization Survey, which found that 38% of all reported rape and sexual assault incidents were committed against males, an increase over past years that challenges the common belief that males are rarely victims of this crime.
“These findings are striking, yet misconceptions about male victimization persist. We identified reasons for this, which include the over-reliance on traditional gender stereotypes, outdated and inconsistent definitions used by some federal agencies, and methodological sampling biases.”
The 2011 CDC analysis referred to in the 2014 report found that 6.7% of men (7.6 million) reported that they were made to penetrate someone else, and that 82.6% of male victims of “made to penetrate” events and 80% of male victims of sexual coercion reported female perpetrators, meaning they were raped by a woman.
The CDC report’s statistics for the preceding 12 months showed that a higher percentage of men were “made to penetrate” (1.7%) than women were raped (1.6%), such that if you properly include “made to penetrate” in the definition of rape, men were raped as often as women.
False Rape Allegations Against Males
Studies have shown a high proportion of documented false rape allegations by women against men: McDowell (Air Force, 1985) 27%, Buckley (DC, 1992) 24%, Kanin (small Midwestern town in which polygraphs were used, 1994) 41%, Kanin (two large Midwestern state universities) 50%. These studies maintained a very high bar, requiring an unambiguous recantation in order to determine false reporting.
In the McDowell Study, a follow-up evaluation was performed on the “inconclusive” cases by three independent reviewers, based on a list of 25 criteria that were common among the women who had acknowledged they lied. In order for any of the inconclusive cases to be recategorized as false, all three independent reviewers had to agree that it was false. This increased the percentage of false allegations to 60%.
In the study of false rape allegations by women in the Midwestern town and state universities, more than half of the accusers fabricated the rape to serve as a “cover story” or alibi, following consensual sex with an acquaintance that led to some sort of problem for the accuser, such as contracting a sexually transmitted disease or becoming pregnant. The next most common reason was revenge, rage, or retribution (27% of the non-student and 44% of the student accusers). The Air Force study also found that spite or revenge and the need to compensate for a sense of personal failure were the primary motives for women’s false rape reports.
Peter Neufeld and Barry C. Scheck are prominent criminal attorneys and co-founders of the Innocence Project that seeks to release those falsely imprisoned. They stated, “Every year since 1989, in about 25% of the sexual assault cases referred to the FBI where results could be obtained, the primary suspect has been excluded by forensic DNA testing. FBI officials report that out of roughly 10,000 sexual assault cases since 1989, about 2,000 tests have been inconclusive, about 2,000 tests have excluded the primary suspect, and about 6,000 have “matched” or included the primary suspect.”
The authors continued, “these percentages have remained constant for 7 years, and the National Institute of Justice’s informal survey of private laboratories reveals a strikingly similar 26% exclusion rate”. Even when there is a DNA match, that proves only sexual intercourse, but not rape, so the actual percentage of false claims is likely to be greater than 25%
Veteran sex-crimes prosecutor Craig Silverman said in 2004:
For 16 years, I was a kickass prosecutor who made most of my reputation vigorously prosecuting rapists… However, during my time as a prosecutor.. I was amazed to see all the false rape allegations that were made to the Denver Police Department.
Any honest veteran sex assault investigator will tell you that rape is one of the most falsely reported crimes that there is. A command officer in the Denver Police sex assaults unit recently told me he placed the false rape numbers at approximately 45%. Objective studies have confirmed this. See Purdue Professor Kanin’s nine-year study published in 1994 concluding that over 40% of rape allegations were demonstrably false.
The above statements are heresy to say publicly for many politically correct prosecutors. That is especially true if they want to maintain good relations with the victim advocacy community.
“Several years ago, I tried to track down the origin of the much-cited statistic that two percent of all rape reports are false. The first instance I found of the figure was in Susan Brownmiller’s book on sexual assault entitled “Against Our Will” (1975). Brownmiller claimed that false accusations in New York City had dropped to 2% after police departments began using policewomen to interview alleged victims. Elsewhere, the 2% figure appears without citation or with only a vague attribution to “FBI” sources. Although the figure shows up in legislation such as the Violence Against Women Act, legal scholar Michelle Anderson of Villanova University Law School reported in 2004, “no study has ever been published which sets forth an evidentiary basis for the 2% false rape complaint thesis.” – Wendy McElroy is the editor of ifeminists.com, a research fellow for The Independent Institute in Oakland CA, and the editor of Liberty for Women: Freedom and Feminism in the 21st Century (2002)
Catherine Comins, assistant dean of student life at Vassar, was quoted in Time in 2001 that men who are unjustly accused of rape can sometimes gain from the experience. “They have a lot of pain, but it is not a pain that I would necessarily have spared them. I think it ideally initiates a process of self-exploration. ‘How do I see women?’ ‘If I didn’t violate her, could I have?’ ‘Do I have the potential to do to her what they say I did?’ Those are good questions’.”
Former ACLU board member Wendy Kaminer is famous for saying “it is a primary article of faith among many feminists that women don’t lie about rape, ever; they lack the dishonesty gene”.
“Politically, I call it rape whenever a woman has sex and feels violated.” – Dr. Catharine MacKinnon, Feminism Unmodified
Feminist Amanda Hess argued that a woman who has consensual sex she later regrets once it becomes public “must defend her femininity by saying that she had been coerced into sex”. – False Rape Accusations and Rape Culture, Sep. 17, 2009
Reasons for the Prevalence of False Rape Accusations
1) False rape accusations are rarely punished, removing the deterrent to falsely accuse (including the notorious Duke lacrosse team accuser Crystal Mangum and Hofstra University’s Danmell Ndonye, who falsely accused five young men of gang rape as an alibi to her boyfriend for having sex with several of men in a restroom).
2) The higher the rate of rape underreporting, the higher the rate of false rape reports will be. While there are disincentives to reporting rape, there are only incentives for reporting false rape.
3) It is difficult to prove a rape accusation is false, which is to prove a negative in a he said / she said incident. Also, accusers can also make false accusations of rapes that supposedly occurred years earlier and tarnish the reputations of those they accuse, while being unable to produce evidence given the passage of time.
4) The institutionalization of extralegal definitions of rape on college campuses effectively teaches female students that any unwanted sexual contact is rape, but accusations of rape that fall outside the legal definition of the crime are false rape accusations.
“Sexual violence includes any physical, visual, verbal or sexual act that is experienced by the woman or girl, at the time or later, as a threat, invasion or assault that has the effect of hurting her or degrading her and/or taken away her ability to control intimate contact.’” – Dr. Liz Kelly, Surviving Sexual Violence
Goshen College defined “psychological rape” as “verbal harassment, whistles, kissing noises, heavy breathing, sly comments or stares”.
Occidental College declared that “no always means no” but “yes does not always mean yes,” and insists that body language, context, tone, etc. – even when they contradict words expressing consent – may be used to convict a male student, but cannot be used to acquit him.
Most colleges now accept that women who are drunk are not capable of agency, whereas the men they choose to be with who are drunk are not only capable of agency but solely liable for what ensues.
The new and increasingly common “affirmative consent” policies state that the accused must prove that the accuser verbalized her consent by explicitly stating “yes” – not just once – but at each escalation of the sexual encounter.
An “enthusiastic consent” standard advocated at Harvard, whereby sexual assault occurs if a woman’s consent is not sufficiently “enthusiastic” was adopted at Vassar College and Loyola Marymount University. In other words, a “Yeah… I guess, whatever” from the woman can get the man expelled.
5) In domestic violence, men are conditioned to use physical force or aggressive verbal dominance, while women are socialized to engage in manipulative psychological and emotional blackmail and verbal violence. One consequence of this differential socialization is that, while men are socialized to not report sexual (or other) abuse, women are inclined to cry rape to exert their dominance or exact revenge over a man or to protect their status in other circles.
False Rape Accusations as a Political Tactic
There are many personal ego-maintenance motives for making false claims of rape, but perhaps the most egregious reason is to advance the “cause” of “rape culture” activism.
In 1990, Mariam Kashani, then a sophomore at George Washington University and a rape counselor who worked for a rape crisis hotline, told the school newspaper about a white woman who was raped by two black men on campus. The men held the woman at knifepoint, she swore. She also felt compelled to add that the men had “particularly bad body odor,” according to The New York Times.
Once the two men had finished having their way with the female student, Kashani said, they laughed at her and told her she was “pretty good for a white girl”. Kashani even managed to coordinate having someone impersonate a policeman who confirmed the story by telephone.
When her story crumbled, Kashani said she was really sorry and insisted that she “had hoped the story, as reported, would highlight the problems of safety for women”.
In April 1991, Princeton University student Mindy Brickman falsely accused a fellow Princeton student of raping her, according to The Daily Princetonian. She libeled the student by spreading “her claim through conversations around campus”. She also repeated the smear at a campus “take back the night” rally.
Once Brickman’s claim fell apart, she wrote an apology in the pages of the Princetonian newspaper. “I never intended for anyone to be hurt by my statements,” she said. Instead, she explained, her claim was intended to “raise awareness for the plight of the campus rape victims”. She noted she had actually never once even talked to this man.
Brickman appears to have later attended Tulane University Law School and passed the ethics portion of a state bar exam. According to LinkedIn, a 1991 Princeton graduate named Mindy Brickman is now a partner at Christovich & Kearney in New Orleans, La.
In November 2004, Desiree Nall, a student at Rollins College in Winter Park FL told police that two men raped her in a bathroom on campus. Nall was the president of the local chapter of the National Organization for Women and this claim was made during Sexual Assault Awareness Week. The allegations caused police to warn students at the tiny school to stay inside as much as possible to avoid a team of rapists on the loose.
Police became skeptical of Nall’s claims after she couldn’t keep her story straight and was unable to provide descriptions of the two men. Also, an examination of Nall at a sexual assault treatment center showed no evidence of any sexual assault.
Nall, 23, eventually recanted her fake rape allegations. Police suggested that Nall could have been attempting to “make a statement” about sexual assault. Local police ultimately spent $50,000 investigating Nall’s imaginary claims. After the hoax was exposed, Nall was charged for making a false statement to police. Her husband defended her, saying cops targeted her not because of her lies but because “she is a women’s-rights activist.”
In April 2013, former University of Florida student Tanya Borachi lied to police about getting bound and gagged in a Gainesville apartment complex parking lot. Borachi, 22, said a man dressed in black and wearing a black mask and gloves brutally tied her hands and gagged her while she was getting out of her car, according to The Gainesville Sun. She only got away, she claimed, by kicking the man in the groin and fleeing – still tied and gagged. Her roommate, who fell for her story, unbound her.
Boarchi initially defended her fabricated story by saying that she was trying to teach the world “a lesson to women in the area that an attack could happen to them”. Police told the Sun that the ex-student was likely under some psychological pressure because “her family was expecting her to graduate” from the University of Florida later in the spring, and that wasn’t going to happen. Police charged Boarchi with filing a false police report.
In April 2013, University of Wyoming student Meg Lanker-Simons, then 28, anonymously posted a rape threat directed at herself on a Facebook page called UW Crushes.
The post by Lanker-Simons read:
“I want to hatefuck Meg Lanker Simons so hard. That chick runs her liberal mouth all the time and doesn’t care who knows it. I think its so hot and makes me angry. One night with me and shes gonna be a good Republican bitch.”
A ruckus followed. There was a big feminist rally. A school official denounced “rape culture”.
Police investigated the incident and determining that Lanker-Simons posted the message on her computer while it was in her possession. She eventually pled no contest to a misdemeanor charge of interfering with a peace officer and paid a small fine.
Later, Lanker-Simons – who seems to have changed her name to Meg Simons – added a later removed entry to her blog suggesting that she attends Gonzaga University School of Law.
Rape is About Sex, Not Power
In 1994, Richard Felson coauthored the book Aggression and Coercive Actions: A Social-Interactionist Perspective, which argues that sexual fulfillment is the motive of rapists, rather than the aggressive desire to dominate the victim. Felson believes that rape is an aggressive form of sexual coercion and the goal of rape is sexual satisfaction rather than power. Most rapists do not have a preference for rape over consensual sex. Numerous studies support this theory.
The feminist theory of male-on-female rape is summarized by Susan Brownmiller’s statement: “Rape is nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear.” Some feminists assert that male domination of women in socio-political and economic domains is the ultimate cause of most rapes, and consider male-on-female rape to be a crime of power that has little or nothing to do with sex itself. However, a 1983 study comparing 14 indicators of male dominance and the incidence of rape in 26 American cities found no correlations, except one where greater male dominance actually decreased the incidence of rape (Lee Ellisa and Charles Beattie, 1983, “The feminist explanation for rape: An empirical test”, Journal of Sex Research 19: 74).
Biased Crime Data
Effective January 1, 2013, the FBI changed the definition of rape that is used in the collection of national crime statistics. The old definition was “The carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.” The new definition of rape is: “Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”
While this new definition of criminal rape for the first time eliminates the female-only blinders, it is still limited to penetration of the victim and excludes male victims “made to penetrate” a female perpetrator (which the 2011 CDC study indicates happens at least as often to men as penetrative rape happens to women).
The fact that, until 2013, no crime data was collected by the FBI on the rape of males, is emblematic of our nation’s willful blindness to male sexual victimization, particularly when it is at the hand of a woman.
Until we’re willing to remove the cultural blinders, we can not deal responsibly with issues of sexual and domestic violence, let alone achieve gender justice for all.
by Robert Riversong: may be reproduced only with attribution for non-commercial purposes
For the backstory on how Feminism has created and defended this socially-destructive mythology, see When Progressive Social Change Becomes Regressive Ideology: From Women’s Liberation to Cultural Misandry – ReHonoring Masculinity & Achieving Gender Justice.