Why would a woman make a false accusation of rape?
When I first heard of date rape allegations and the possibility of false accusations, my personal response was, ‘ Lots of guys don’t know when to take no for an answer, and besides, what would motivate a woman to make a false accusation if there wasn’t at least some truth to it?” But when the governor of New York was fooled by Tawana Brawley’s convincing claim of gang rape (which turned out to be a hoax) and the governor of Illinois refused Gary Dotson a retrial years after DNA tests virtually proved him innocent, I felt I had to open my mind. Which led to my wondering what motivated false accusations.
The Washington Post investigation found a wide range of motivations.42 Anger toward former boyfriends was common. Kathryn Tbcci’s former boyfriend spent thirteen months in jail before Kathry n acknowledged she lied (Kathryns punishment was community service.) Perhaps most common w;L4 the need of younger girls to give excuses to their parents for arriving home late, staying out all night, or being pregnant.
One woman accused her newspaper delivery man of raping her at gunpoint because she needed an excuse to be late to work. This was her second false report in a year. The first time no charges were brought against her so she thought there would be no a>nsequences the second time. The second time there were consequences: she received counseling.45 The air force study has the only systematic reporting of motivations:
Motivations given by the women who acknowledged they had made false accusations of rape44
Dr McDowell found that most false accusations are ‘‘instrumental" – they serve a purpose. If the purpose isn’t avoiding guilt or getting revenge, it might be to allow her to tell her parents, "I did not purposely go out and get pregnant -1 was raped"; or tell her husband, "I did not have an affair; it was not my fault.1 was raped
When society lays judgments on women who have sex before it thinks they should, it sets women up to make false accusations to avoid those judgments. One of the cases from the air force study illustrates this:
A 22-year-old enlistee attended a party and while there had intercourse with her companion. She admitted to being intoxicated at the time and subsequently began to feel ashamed because others at the
party knew what she had done, so she decided to claim that she had been raped.40
In the past, the woman would have had to take responsibility for being sexual too quickly Now the date rape accusation gives her a way out. She can transfer the burden of guilt and shame to the man. What the society needs to confront is whether it is really necessary to create the guilt and therefore to have to find someone to blame There is, though, a time to accept blame – when we break a commitment. When accusing a man of date rape holds so much power that the entire U. S. Navy is intimidated into not investigating whether the woman is using that accusation to avoid blame for a broken commitment, then we are creating an incentive for false accusations to be used by the least responsible women.
Kermit Cain, a friend of mine who had been chosen Sailor of the Year in 1980, found his career a victim of just such a motivation when he and a female service member returned to his place after a date and, Kermit explains. .
I told her I was going upstairs to my room. She followed me and as soon as the door closed, she took off most of her clothes and got up onto my bed The next morning we went back to her place.
Weeks later, I was ordered into my Department Head’s office where I was informed I was going to prison, no explanation given as to the charges, only that "anything else you do will only add time to your sentence." After that the command’s Internal Affairs officer began questioning every female that I’d come in contact with, stating that I was a rapist and implying they’d be helping to protea women if they gave a statement against me In two cases, they were able to get further false statements against me by making the women think they were doing the right thing
No lawyer would take my case. So my dad and I conduaed our own research for three years and found that the girl had gone AWOL to avoid a drug test, having already failed a previous test and knowing that a second conviaion would give her a Bad Condua Discharge. When she returned home and her parents asked her why she had left the base, she said she’d been raped. The mother called the congressman who called the Office of Legislative Affairs who called the Commanding Officer who called the Captain. . .
I discovered pan of this when one of the girl’s three roommates, seeing what had happened to me (I had lost 50 pounds and was on the verge of suicide), took pity on me and told me that she had overheard my accuser planning the whole scenario with her roommate – who was also her lover – as an excuse to be off base at the time
of the drug test. She reported she heard them laughing and joking about it.
By the time I completed my research, my evidence was so overwhelming that I was able to get an attorney When we went to the Naval Investigative Service, we found they already had enough statements to prove my innocence – but they would not give them directly to my attorney, we had to discover them on our own. Only after this process was I eventually cleared of all charges and reinstated But obviously my career as it otherwise would have been was ruined. I don’t know that I would be alive today had I not met Susan I the woman he now lives with], or if my accuser’s roommate had not overheard the planning, or if my dad had not helped me when I most needed it47
Kermit’s experience allowed me to see how one or two women could set into motion the machinery of male protectors who were so fearful of not protecting a woman that they steamrolled over the mast basic rights of humans, and in so doing trapped themselves into covering up even more of the woman’s lies for fear of looking like fools. Male chauvinism is about protecting women Male chauvinism and feminism have this in common.
Protecting women from assuming responsibility is not limited to conservatives in the armed services. At universities from Berkeley to Harvard to Swarthmore, a woman can now have sex while drunk on the drinks the men paid for at night and claim in the morning she was raped because she was drunk and therefore she couldn’t really consent.48 The man’s social expectation to pay for the drinks is now seen as evidence he was plying the woman with drinks and luring the woman to bed Now, especially on liberal campuses, this is viewed as evidence of man as oppressor and woman as innocent.
One would think that the universities with the best and brightest women would pioneer the effort to socialize women to ask men out, take initiatives, pay for men’s drinks. . in preparation for running their own businesses (and their own lives) Instead, they are simultaneously treating these women as children who cannot take responsibility while socializing men to take all the responsibility. These universities then blame businesses for discriminating when these women are less successful in business.