A Different Perspective

I don’t have a topic in mind, so let’s just see where we end up, hm?

I know. Let’s go controversial and reasonably current. Let’s talk about the #MeToo movement.

I have sympathy for anyone who’s been sexually assaulted or raped. It’s a horrible crime than often has wreaks havoc on the victim’s mental health. Those who are fairly tried and convicted of the crime should be punished accordingly.

HOWEVER.

We have a legal system in place. It may not be perfect and I could probably come up with a few decent revisions with some serious thought. For example, I believe we should have professional jurors. But, never mind that for a moment.

An accusation is not a conviction.

I’ll say it again.

An accusation is not a conviction.

Yet, an accusation of rape can have devastating effects on someone’s career and personal life, whether they’re eventually found innocent or guilty. Hell, it’s even become the NFL’s policy to suspend players based solely on accusations. I can’t disagree with this enough. But, you know. They never asked me. Which is fine. I haven’t consistently watched their product for years now.

Don’t kid yourself. False accusations happen for a number of reasons, including someone who has been willingly unfaithful wanting to save face in front of friends and family. And maybe - just maybe - there has been a vindictive woman or two in history who has cried “rape!” as a way of getting back at someone.

I know, I know. Hard to believe, right?

Not so much.

I’m not saying someone you know who has said she was raped is making it up. I’m not saying those who make accusations shouldn’t be taken seriously. On the contrary; they should go through the legal process, and the sooner they get it started, the better.

Look, people who are smarter than me have gone through this and have better and more interesting perspectives. Feel free to poke around social media for their thoughts. In fact, I’ll share one:

(I can’t see how to link to this, so I’m just going to copy and paste it from Facebook. I won’t include credits because the writer wanted to remain anonymous)

A close acquaintance of mine wrote this. Please respect her desire for anonymity.

"I've been trying to figure out why this whole Kavanaugh thing has been getting under my skin so much lately. And I think I’ve found a piece of the puzzle.

"There’s been a lot of back-and-forth about how women need to be believed regarding sexual harassment. And I think that’s morphed into punishing without proof, especially career repercussions. In particular, I’ve been seeing a lot of folks post about how false allegations are super rare, and not really a big deal anyway, especially compared to the trauma of sexual assault.
"Yeah… that doesn’t match up with what I’ve seen, personally. I’m skeptical of that 2-8% statistic on false allegations, since most any official numbers on sexual assault are low. Most of it has to do with how it is reported, if it’s even reported at all. 'Unfounded' is not the same as 'false,' for example. That’s not saying it DIDN’T happen; it’s saying there isn’t enough to prove it happened beyond 'he-said-she-said.' A whole lot of charges get filed as 'insufficient evidence' and dropped. (Unfortunately, this also includes cases where the cops KNOW the guy did it, but they also know that the case won’t hold up in court, so they have to let him go, as much as they detest it.) The numbers I hear among LEOs and investigators regarding false allegations lean closer to 30-40%. I suspect the truth lies somewhere in between.


"I have personally witnessed a woman lie about sexual assault, with the described incident alleged to have happened *right in front of me* and 10-15 other witnesses, within our hearing. We were all there. Nothing happened. We still had to call in investigators, and when they were done, the female counterpart of the investigative team warned us that this kind of thing happens a lot, and to just keep all our conversations in English to cover our asses. (Part of the allegation was him hitting on and threatening her in Spanish. The Spanish speaking women present confirmed he said nothing of the sort.)

"I know at least one guy who had to pay thousands of dollars to prove his innocence in court. This is a country guy who once dragged a guy behind his pick-up truck for a couple miles, for scaring one of his female friends. Not even hurting her, just scaring her. Oh, and he beat up one of his buddies when that friend tried to skip out on child support payments. He’s supremely rough around the edges, but the man does much more for the women in his life than most of us ever have the courage to do. He got slapped with charges because the girl he was sleeping with—when he was young and dumb and crazier—had a boyfriend, and she claimed rape to try to get the boyfriend back.

"The others were a bit luckier. No charges were pressed so it didn’t go to court, but there were still other repercussions. I knew another guy who got ran out of his circle of friends based on rumors, even though both parties’ stories about the incident kept changing. Most signs pointed to it being a trifecta of alcohol/drug-fueled youthful stupidity and infidelity, and both sides trying to cover their asses. He ended up moving out of state.

"There are more. Enough that I’m not convinced false allegations are outliers—or maybe I’m just super-duper special to have come across so many 'exceptions.' Mostly, it is stupid people being stupid, and trying to cover it up—usually infidelity. Rape is horrible, and traumatic, and to be taken seriously—and none of that matters to a stupid, selfish person trying to weasel his or her way out of trouble.

"It is not hyperbole to say that an allegation, whether it’s true or not, can destroy someone’s social life, relationship, career, finances, even freedom. Even when the other party takes back the accusation, that shadow of doubt remains, and it can take a long, long time to go away. Even if it's as little as 2%, those statistics mean nothing when you're the one in the hot seat.
***
"Now here’s where I’m concerned about it backfiring, especially on women like me. I work in construction. 99% of the time, I am the only female on the job site and in shared housing when we travel. Often, it’s just me and one male coworker. (All those fun Europe pictures I’ve been posting lately? I took most of those day trips with one other coworker—all male.) Most of my career in electrical will probably be like this, especially as I work under a journeyman or a master electrician—or have a helper/apprentice of my own. This can’t always be avoided, especially if I work at a small company. Oh, and the mechanical rooms usually don’t have cameras, either.

"In other words, there is a lot of opportunity for something to happen, and chances are we wouldn’t be able to prove or disprove it either way. It really doesn’t take a whole lot to be in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong person—for either gender. Despite all this, I’ve never really feared for my safety with my male coworkers. (Having sharp and heavy tools on my person helps.)

"Let’s say a complaint of sexual harassment/assault pops up at work. I don’t even have to be the one to make it. The company may decide that it’s safer, from a legal CYA standpoint, to terminate the guy sans investigation. Won’t matter if he has a family to support, or if he’ll have to uproot and move because of industry restrictions. It may not even matter if *I* said nothing happened. And there’s a good chance it’ll follow him to the next job when they call up the old company for a reference—or it got filed away somewhere and it pops up in a background check. (That’s one example of what I mean, when I say that shadow of doubt doesn’t go away.)

"Boom. Everyone is scared to work around me. The ones who don’t know me now walk on eggshells around me. The ones who know me can’t trust that someone else won’t try to use me to get them fired. I lose out on networking and mentorship. A lot. Which is a pretty big deal considering how much the deck is already stacked against me when it comes to employment. And an even bigger deal when you consider how many trades jobs are acquired through knowing someone.

"Yes, this shit has happened. Not to me—yet. But I’ve spoken to guys who have seen it happen at their workplaces. I've had male interpreters who have had to position themselves in public view to ensure they stayed in the clear.

"I know a male college professor who won’t take on female graduate students anymore, because his field requires a lot of after-hours work and one-on-one mentorship, after everyone else has gone home. Some of his colleagues have made the same decision. The risk of losing their jobs, possibly entire career, over an accusation, no matter how unfounded, is not worth it. Even if the student herself reports no issues, someone else can start a rumor, or report on her behalf. Bye bye mentorship. Find a new mentor. Hopefully a female one. Oh wait, how’s that working out in a male-dominated major?

"Yeah… kind of hard to get that ratio reversed when you practically require a chaperone for your female students to begin with.
"None of those incidents will show up in a police report or in FBI statistics.

***
"Sexual assault sucks. No matter whether it gets reported or not, that person will have a lot of hard choices to make, and she’ll need all the support she can get. There is no good solution that will take away the pain and trauma overnight.

"But pushing this #believeher… movement? Thing? to the opposite side of the pendulum isn’t gonna work either, because people DO lie about this, and other people DO pay for those lies. Stop saying it’s for women. It’s putting good men at risk, and hurting women like me.

"It’s 100% up to the victim to report it, to delay reporting, or to not report it at all. She has to decide what is best for her own healing. But if there’s even the slightest bit of chance that she wants to publicly accuse someone and have him put away for good, it has to be done the right way. This means collecting all the documentation she can, before DNA decays and memories grow hazy. Her written record of what happened, confiding in friends so they can testify to behavioral and mood changes, video and audio recordings, DNA swabs, rape kits, police reports, maybe even private investigators. Yep, there’s a decent chance it still won’t be enough, at least for the time being—but it will be much, much stronger than her testimony alone.

"And-- it's way better to do this sooner rather than later. The longer she waits to do this, the less anyone else can do about it, beyond offering sympathy and referrals to a good therapist.

***
"Why shouldn’t someone’s testimony be enough? Well, the last time we believed that, a white woman’s word alone was enough to get a black man lynched. And women were expected to stay in the home, and if they went out in public, they were often expected to be with a chaperone, because society thought that neither women nor men could be trusted to handle themselves around the opposite sex.

"We cannot claim empowerment and victimhood at the same time. The freedom I am able to enjoy in my career does not come without responsibility. Farming out my safety to others when it comes to electrical is a poor long-term strategy, and doing the same when it comes to men doesn't work out much better. If someone says it, and she wants other people to act on her behalf, especially when that means someone else is going to lose his job or his freedom, she has to be able to back it up.
"That is the price of equality."
Well said.

On the musical side, progress is being made, though I didn’t get any recording done this weekend.

Y’all take care.

 

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