A few weeks ago I responded to a question on Reddit’s Ask Feminists board. The question was “How do we know when equality has been achieved, and feminism has accomplished its goals?”
One of the things I listed in my answer was “Rape would would be seen as an atrocity of the past like witch burning or slavery.” Two commenters took issue with this. They seemed to think I was proposing some kind of fascist state. I wasn’t. I was saying that in a feminist utopia, rape would not be commonplace. This could be due to several factors, but mainly I was thinking of better sexuality education and changes in cultural mores.
One commenter persisted.
It might be valid to say right now, the rights of the accused are given too much weight compared to the rights of the victim. But, if the goal is “no rapes” with no mention of the rights of the accused, the result may be problematic also. Some women will take advantage of any such system (very few, but not all sociopaths are male) and bring sympathy back to the accused. I guess what I’m trying to say is, if rape is eradicated at the cost of justice in the criminal court system (more innocents being convicted) that result is not an equilibrium that society will accept in the long run.
When feminist ethics says only one of those parties matters (the victim of rape, not the accused) then their analysis is incomplete.
Do you see how that works? In his mind, wanting to eradicate rape means wanting to get rid of the rights of the accused. I don’t see the connection, at all.
Talking about the rights of the accused, so as to prevent the punishment of an innocent individual is important. But it should not take the spotlight in discussions of rape.
Person A: Rape victims….
Person B: But what about the rights of the accused?
Person A: Rapists….
Person B: Don’t you mean alleged rapists?
This conversation goes nowhere. It’s as if feminists cannot address rapes that actually occur or talk about a hypothetical situation where a rape actually has occurred without always also addressing a parallel situation that was either just a big misunderstanding or where the woman was blatantly lying.
And yet he persisted.
Do you see what he did there? I said that feminists need to be able to talk about rapes that occur. He insisted that we cannot, because even in hypothetical rapes of feminists own construction, they must consider that women are liars.
As frustrated as I was, I had a moment of clarity. I had always accepted arguments about “false accusations” in good faith. I thought that it was just simple misogyny that some people could not sympathize with a rape victim, but only with her attacker. Or possibly they are brought up by a person who was so repulsed by the idea of rape that they let themselves believe it was extremely rare as a way to comfort themselves.
But as the conversation above shows, it’s not just about those things. When someone enters a conversation about rape, and the only thing they want to talk about is the possibility that the victim is lying, they don’t want you to be talking about rape. They want to talk about how women are liars. Does any other conversation happen this way? When the Clean Water Act was proposed, did its opponents say that perhaps Federal Regulators, communities or private property owners would lie that their waterways were being polluted? (Hint: No.)
It’s no longer acceptable to suggest that rapists shouldn’t be punished or that their crimes aren’t a big deal. And so the conversation tactic of anti-feminists has shifted. Instead of denying that a rapist causes harm, deny that he exists at all in the first place.