If feminist activists see this post, they’ll probably accuse me of slut-shaming rape victims. Bully for them, I guess, because I don’t give a damn about the angry offense that they’ll take. Their outrage at the prospect of acquitting a rape defendant on account of the incredibility of the complainant must be subordinated to the interest of due process for the defendant. There is no other way. I suppose we might count the “justice” systems of Indonesia, Japan, the Soviet Union, and so forth as other ways, but I’m not thus inclined. Also, I’m not attempting to slut-shame, but to skank-shame. Sluts, unlike skanks, often have manners. The skanks I currently have in mind barely even have morals, and some of them are plainly evil.
We should note in passing that there’s something unseemly and tyrannical about the argument that rape complainants should be spared intrusions into their backgrounds during trial. Scrutinizing the backgrounds of prosecution witnesses for evidence of weakness in their testimony is what defense attorneys do. These witnesses include complaining victims. The trial process certainly isn’t fun for a victim who is mentally normal, but they don’t get to testify without being subject to cross examination, which should be expected to be brutal at the hands of a competent defense attorney.
The great mercy of being murdered is that one is not present to hear one’s name smeared at trial, or to be annoyed or hurt by intrusive questions from the defense. Pity, then, the survivors of crime, who must suffer these indignities. But their complaints are rather beside the point. As mightily as it may suck to have their character savaged by their attackers’ defenders, their right to an emotionally sensitive trial experience conflicts with the defendants’ right to a fair trial, and the interest of fairness demands that all credible deficiencies in the prosecution’s case, certainly including evidence that the alleged victim is a sexually wild woman, be aired in court. The way around this grand airing of counteraccusations is not to press charges. Sure, it’s a shitty, unsatisfying way out for a crime victim, but it’s a decision that the victim must make: complain and be smeared, or hold one’s peace and watch a cretin get off Scot free to prey again.
This is true for the victim of any crime. Again, the exception here is homicide, which really is the optimal crime victimization experience for those who hate making decisions. It doesn’t matter if the crime suffered is petty theft, simple assault, rape, threats, or attempted murder: if the defendant proceeds to trial with competent counsel and there are any weaknesses in the accuser’s story, including extrinsic ones pertaining to her past, the accuser will be challenged. The unpleasantness of this experience for the accuser is not something that a just court can rectify or limit.
The X factor in rape accusations, of course, is sex. In the discussion of any other sort of crime, monomaniacal solicitude for the feelings of the victim at the expense of the rights of the accused is left to a rabid authoritarian fringe, one composed largely of bored housewives and layabouts who compensate for the anhedonia of their own lives by watching Nancy Grace work herself towards an inevitable on-air trifecta of stroke, heart attack and hernia. These people are really, really into rules, rather the way Dennis Rader is really into rules when he isn’t really into breaking the ones against kidnapping, torture and murder. Feminist raisers of rape-consciousness are a different sort. They have a much narrower authoritarianism, one that focuses on accountability for men who sexually mistreat women, so that women might have the freedom, or, it might be said, the license, to unabashedly make their own sexual decisions without fear of or favor to any outside arbiter of sexual mores. Some of these activists aren’t really authoritarian at all, but instead incidentally abet authoritarianism by being ignorant about civics and not thinking through the implications of their arguments for rape defendants. They’re so adamant that rape and rape culture be stopped that they won’t face the very messy truth.
It has become something of a trope in men’s rights circles that rape accusations are inherently unbelievable because women routinely make false rape accusations. Arguments to this effect are often suffused with some of the most noxious misogyny imaginable, so that they sound at once vile and ridiculous to people who have reasonably normal and healthy relationships with women. The sad truth, however, is that they aren’t awfully far off the mark. They’re wrong to ascribe bad morals and evil intent to women as a group, but they’re absolutely right to ascribe them to women who make false rape accusations, and they’re absolutely right that false rape accusations are a serious problem calling into question the credibility of all rape accusations, both false and true.
As awful as the implications may be for genuine sexual assault victims, deliberately false accusations seem to be common enough that a prudent, informed juror or judge has an ethical obligation not to convict in the absence of unimpeachable witness testimony or unimpeachable forensic evidence. False accusations seem to be an especially pronounced problem in rape cases and a much more serious problem in cases of other sex crimes than in cases of non-sex crimes. Only in homicide cases do jurors and judges have an equally strong ethical obligation to be so reflexively skeptical of the prosecution. (In drug cases, the much more applicable duty for jurors is nullification of bad law.)
The skepticism needed here goes beyond mere impartiality. The underlying sociology, which is rarely adequately presented at trial, is so disordered that it amounts to an extrinsic source of reasonable doubt. It’s pervasive enough that jurors and judges should consider it a given unless the prosecution can persuasively demonstrate that the victim lived an upright, stable life. It most heavily affects exactly the sort of impulsive, dramatic women who are most likely to make rash accusations, women who can safely be assumed to make a disproportionate number of rape allegations.
The trope in the “manosphere” is that women often make false rape accusations in order to cover for consensual cheating on their possessive boyfriends and husbands. This is often presented as a slur of women as a bunch of histrionic, treacherous Jezebels. Keep in mind, though, that the men who hang out in the manosphere are disproportionately entangled with unstable bar skanks, and often deliberately so, as they consider the sexual conquest of these women a great achievement. Their sense of women as a whole is distorted by their chronic exposure to manipulative bitches and isolation from the hordes of decent women who don’t have the time, energy or inclination to mix it up in the bar scene. Their understanding of sexual psychology is similarly distorted by their exposure to a self-sorting cohort of extremely manipulative and shallow people of both sexes, the men puffing themselves up into buffoonish frauds and alpha thugs, which manosphere bloggers refer to as “game,” and the women amplifying their coquettishness and gratuitous emotional cruelty, which is known on the manosphere as “shit-testing.”
This is bizarrely stupid and unhealthy behavior, extreme enough that many readers might be unable to believe it. I believe it because I’ve seen it at frat parties at Dickinson and at clubs in Philadelphia. I’ve seen public behavior that is entirely consistent with what I’ve seen described on “game” blogs. Some of this behavior has been extreme enough that I have no difficulty extrapolating to false rape accusations the morning after, especially since I have to assume that even more outlandish monkey business is conducted out of my earshot.
The overall prevalence of this sort of dipshittery needn’t be high at all for it to have serious effects. I’ve personally witnessed variations of it in Old City, Manayunk, Somerton and West Chester. On the other hand, I know for a fact that it does not significantly affect the environment at all bars in the Philadelphia area; the Great American Pub in Conshohocken, for one, seems immune from it, ironically so given the open trashiness of my drinking buddies from Penn State who regularly held down the fort there around 2008. (To be fair, at rock bottom these drinking buddies had morals, if not taste.) My rough estimate is that on a big Friday or Saturday night there are maybe thirty thousand people in and immediately around all the true dipshit clubs in the white neighborhoods of greater Philadelphia; ten to twenty percent of these clubgoers are black, so any shit that gets started in the ghettos has to be instigated by a diminished pool of idiots from the hood, and the hardcore morons at the majority-white clubs are probably less than ten percent of the total, with maybe another ten or twenty percent of the total making some common cause with them on a bad night. In other words, it’s quite plausibly the population of Colby, KS, that is responsible for a majority of the public monkey business in the drinking districts of a ten-county metropolitan area of several million, or possibly even the equivalent of Goodland, the next county seat to the west and the last one before the Colorado state line. These clubs are lodestones for idiocy, and I’m pretty sure that they attract an exceptionally unstable, rash, and alcoholic cohort of young Philadelphians, a cohort whose women are probably likelier than average to press false rape charges. Even so, the trouble around these places is enough to potentially cause serious miscarriages of justice.
The same is true of the trouble in the fraternity scene. In the Philadelphia area, I’d roughly estimate that it’s a bit smaller than the white club scene, but with significant overlap, since the same alcoholic party animals who frequent frat parties also frequent the clubs. Even at the most notorious party schools, it’s probably a fairly small minority that starts serious shit (rape, brawls, that kind of thing), but they’re enough to throw a wrench squarely into the works. When I was at Dickinson, the hardcore fraternity asshats seemed to be limited to Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Phi Kappa Sigma, and I was unaware of any really deranged, i.e., criminally predatory, behavior on the part of the college’s women or unaffiliated men, even though Dickinson had a huge population of disgusting social climbers. Word on the street was that Bill Durden wanted to dissolve Greek Life because it had become a nexus for binge drinking, date rape, and pointless rowdiness, but that he couldn’t bear to part with all the money that Greek alumni gave Dear Alma Mater.
Freakouts under the pressure of asshat boyfriends fit the bill, too. I’ve personally been a beta confidant (a white knight, I guess) for at least two women who were unhappy with the emotionally abusive behavior of their boyfriends. One of these girls was something of an ex-girlfriend of mine; we had never officially been an item, but she had told other people that we were dating, and on a number of occasions we were quite physically affectionate. Her complaints to me were mostly over IM services, so I only had a rough idea of her true emotional state, although it sounded pretty bad. The other girl, however, voiced her complaints to me entirely in person, and in a demeanor that was unambiguously and sincerely distraught. I think she had a mild crush on me, and I all but know that she felt some sexual attraction to me for at least part of our friendship, as she initiated very intimate physical affection on several occasions. This girl clearly enjoyed her boyfriend’s overall alpha badassery, and she volunteered that she had divorced her ex-husband because she had grown bored with him and felt drawn to an Eat Pray Love lifestyle, for which reason she was openly guiltridden at the mere thought of the film. She was also, however, clearly sincerely unhappy with her boyfriend’s paranoid possessiveness, typified by demands that she not have any contact with other men (she kept her friendship with me pretty much of the downlow for this reason) and an escalating round of accusations that she was having an affair.
Neither of these girls felt comfortable with their boyfriends playing brinksmanship with their relationships. I don’t consider this the mindfucking rationalization of their “hamsters,” but rather genuine ambivalence brought on by the conflict between their desire to remain involved with the men they had come to love and their desire for these men to stop crossing the line from Fabio-style romantic to Chris Brown-style saber-rattling asshat. Men, too, get drawn into similarly unhealthy relationships all the time. The insurance schmuck was manipulated in a particularly egregious fashion in college by a sexpot girlfriend whom I ended up sending a e-mail with instructions to stop disrupting life for his friends, causing her to swear unending enmity towards me and him to cut me off on her orders, except for two instances when we ran into each other on campus, for the remainder of their romance. Women may be more prone to suffer such manipulation, but they are not uniquely prone.
What further upped the ante for both of the girls who sought me out as their beta confidant was that they were cohabiting with their possessive, paranoid boyfriends. For all the conservative handwringing about cohabitation ruining couples for marriage, the more salient point for women who shack up with asshole boyfriends is that in the near term these living arrangements often leave them with no refuge from domestic trouble caused by their boyfriends’ vindictive tempers. They’re put not only under threats to end their relationships, but also under the threat of homelessness, since the living arrangement is generally construed to be governed by an implicit (and hence contractually unenforceable) clause demanding sexual fidelity.
Domestic violence is a very credible threat in these scenarios, too. Women who get in over their heads by shacking up with assholes end up damned if they do, damned if they don’t. It’s no wonder that some of them try to safeguard their own physical safety after cheating by throwing their consensual side pieces under the bus.
The ugly truth here is that men who force their girlfriends into these predicaments by even implicitly threatening violence need to be put in fear of their own physical safety. There is no other way to get through to them. Many of them are monsters who respond only to violence and threats of violence. The same goes if they credibly threaten their girlfriends with homelessness; if their girlfriends do not have backup housing plans ready at the drop of a hat, evicting them in response to alpha male rage over their sluttiness is reckless endangerment tantamount to violence, since anyone who is forced to sleep rough is immediately exposed to an elevated risk of violent crime, if not also injury or death in inclement weather. People who endanger or even threaten to endanger their cohabitants by summarily evicting them in response to anything short of menacing or violent behavior need to go to work with unexplained bruises.
No, this isn’t a civilized proposal. It’s the law of the jungle. Nature raw in tooth and claw, and all that. The problem is that these situations are beyond the capacity of the police to resolve, especially for the steroidally jacked-up, Salvadoran junta-grade combat veterans and Rambo wannabes who have been recruited en masse onto American police forces in recent years. Some people just need to be threatened into submission. If it takes an ICU sleepaway adventure, pity the nurses, but so be it. If, God help us, these guys are so obstinate and antisocial that they have to be laid out on slabs, again, pity the coroners, but so be it. Some of these guys are so evil that there’s a compelling social interest in adapting a policy suggested a few years ago by a member of Radley Balko’s peanut gallery: “At this point, I don’t care if it’s a jail cell, an ICU bed, or a morgue slab. Bad cops don’t go home.”
There is, of course, an alternate policy approach that could short-circuit a great deal of this domestic abuse: basically, a studio apartment for anyone who wants one. Every developed country has the economic and organizational capacity to immediately rehouse anyone who perceives a threat to his or her welfare in Spartan but safe, secure and private quarters. The impediments to implementing such a safety net are, of course, political. American politicians, for instance, would much rather spend many times more per capita rehousing sad sacks in expensive but unsafe and dysfunctional prisons.
What we’re left with, then, is inherent extrinsic reasonable doubt for accused rapists, due to the prevalence of skanky liars in the pool of accusers, and inherent extrinsic reasonable doubt for women accused of murdering their live-in boyfriends, due to the prevalence of OJ Simpson-style antisocial predators in the victim pool. It ain’t pretty, but adult sexual self-determination, with all its rights, like not being beaten on for fooling around on the side, and responsibilities, like not filing false rape accusations because one is a cowardly bimbo, is a long way off in these quarters.
Things will probably get even gnarlier among the amateurs if the “wisdom” of the “red pill” keeps spreading at current rates. The blowback from that kind of thing isn’t necessarily direct, but it isn’t usually placid, either, and it is definitely the wrong kind of giggity goo.
Get thee to a whorehouse.