What Men Dare Do! "O, what men dare do! What men may do! What men daily do, not knowing what they do!"

31Dec/108

Assange and the Unfortunate Lessons Men Learn

Firstly, it's been a while since I posted.  I can't say I really have a good reason, other than that I've been busy with all the usual work and life.

Secondly…well, a lot of ink has already been spilled about Julian Assange and the allegations of sexual assault.  People have far better than I made the point that one can separate his wikileaks project and whatever stance one takes on them from the allegations of sexual assault.

What I'd like to briefly talk about is how the so-called majority man view this.

This case is not unlike some of the other sexual assault cases that the media has highlighted over the years.  As I've written about in the past, one of the problems with discussing sexual assault with men is that the only major media depictions of sexual assault are when (let's use the term very generally) "celebrities" are accused of it.  This leads to a lot of problems when discussing the issue with men.  Bring up Kobe Bryant in that context, and a man will ask, "Doesn't that woman have something to gain by accusing him of sexual assault?"

It's a difficult question to deal with.  On the one hand, our automatic (and quite correct) response is to give credence to any allegations made by a victim of sexual assault.  However, at times, that instinct leads us to deny the possibility that a false allegation could ever be made.  This leads to problems building credibility with men.  Statistics show that false allegations for rape/sexual assault are not made with any greater frequency than for other crimes.  There's a host of reasons why a woman would not make a false claim, from the lack of rape shield laws in many states, permitting attorneys in Court to probe their sexual past to the publicity (either on a local or national scale) and the difficulties that publicity brings.

When you have someone like a Kobe or a Roethlisberger, people with power or money, from a purely objective and rational perspective, one would think that the likelihood of a false allegation would be higher with them, because the women could stand to gain money.  When you do this kind of education, I think you have to admit that: "Sure, the gains could be higher," but on the other hand, you also have to tell men, "But the costs are higher too," due to the increased publicity and scrutiny.  (Of course, one cannot discuss either of those men without noting that the allegations seems to have been borne out, with Kobe Bryant pretty much admitting to facts that are rape, and with Roethlisberger's behavior being pretty much following the textbook Lisak-Miller definitions of the behavior of a serial rapist.)

You have to discuss these issues in all their nuances with men, or lose credibility.

As the media depicted Kobe Bryant or Ben Roethlisberger, we have now a man in the spotlight for sexual assault who is someone with power or money.  Unfortunately, we see a lot of people on the left unable to separate the two issues: the fact that Assange has a certain power and there are people opposed to it, and the allegations that he committed sexual assault.  And just like any other of these celebrities, perhaps these women have something more to gain by making an accusation against Assange than they would against a regular Joe, but also the costs are far higher.  The facts alleged sound like sexual assault within my humble and not-expert reading of the relevant law, and it's unfortunate that many on the left have chosen to distort those facts in order to defend Assange based on his political activities.

But enough about Assange.  What this incident unfortunately teaches men, is that sexual assault cases are like Assange's, or like Bryant's or Roethlisberger.  These types of cases are, after all, the only ones we see on TV and in the media.  However, it's simply not true.  Their cases are so far removed from the norm that to say that 99.9% of cases are not like theirs would be understating the fact.  Sexual assault cases do not involve grand politics on the world stage; they do not involve celebrities; they do not involve professional athletes.  The overwhelming majority of sexual assaults and rapes are perpetrated by "normal" people, without all these confounding issues of politics or money that seem to frequently confuse both the less-educated majority man who we would like to bring in to the movement, as well as much better educated progressive pundits who we would otherwise think we would be our allies on sexual assault.

Share