Last week I came across an article written by a young man who decided to share his experience being on the other side of a rape accusation. He believed the woman’s claims were unfounded and went forward to express that. Obviously, heading up my series on SAAM (Sexual Assault Awareness Month) I felt compelled to comment. At the beginning I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, because while only less than 5% of sexual assault accusations prove to be false, there unfortunately ARE times when false accusations are made. The more I began to discuss things with him the more it became obvious that it was in fact the author himself making false accusations against his hapless victim. He knew the consent laws, and chose to ignore them based on circumstances. What made it even worse is that he attacked “feminism” for “empowering women to make false accusations”.
In short he was merely trying to justify his actions, and complain about consent laws. Consent laws that when followed protect not only women from being assaulted, but also men from being falsely accused. Or any combination of genders involved in any number of relationships. The laws, especially the laws in states that define consent as something one can NOT legally give under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances are designed to protect people on both sides of the equation, I fail to see the problem with them. Yet many people (not only men but men seem to be the most vocal about it) seem to think that by defining consent this way it is somehow unfair.
I look at it like this: much like the law defines how much alcohol you can consume to safely drive, the law must now define how much alcohol one can consume to safely consent to sexual activity. Sure, there are any number of people who can safely operate a vehicle at greater than the legal limit, but there are also many people who can not. The same is true when drinking before consenting to sexual activity. There are many people who can coherently consent after more than one or even a few drinks, but there are also many who can not. In order to protect the masses the laws must impose limits. It is fully within your rights to ignore such limits, but when you do you are making the choice to open yourself to numerous risks. Either of being assaulted, or being falsely accused.
It’s pretty easy to understand really. Now do the laws need more definition? ABSOLUTELY. Riding the wave of change, the challenge to what has unfortunately become a society and culture that not only glorifies, but normalizes sexual assault and abuse there will be backlash and fierce opposition. One step forward, and two steps back so to speak. It’s going to take time to find a middle ground giving the victims the necessary legal protection from further abuse, while also protecting those accused. There will be victims lost through the cracks on both ends, but does that mean we should stop the pursuit? No, most certainly not.
While I am not on board with a lot of feminist ideals, the movement is right on track as far as sexual assault awareness and advocacy. If feminism is what empowers victims to speak out and take a stand, I am all for that. Especially in the face of such vocal opposition from what seems to be a growing number of predatory individuals. As I stated above, it isn’t limited to a specific gender or sexual orientation. It’s not men vs women. It’s predator vs victim. PREDATOR vs VICTIM.