Lying Until Proven Honest

Following the appointment of Supreme Court Justice, Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump gave some wise words on the issue at the heart of the controversy: “It is a very scary time for young men in America, where you can be guilty of something you may not be guilty of. This is a very, very — this is a very difficult time. What’s happening here has much more to do than even the appointment of a Supreme Court Justice.”

Now before I begin, I’d like to make one thing very clear – typically, I wouldn’t like to only speak about women as sexual assault victims as it is obvious that they are not the only member of society to be targeted. Men, women, everyone in between, and children suffer the atrocity that is sexual assault. But unsurprisingly: Donald Trump has made it an issue of men vs. women.

Trump seems to be suggesting that false claims of sexual assault are on the rise, an epidemic even. But let’s examine that for a moment. Did you know that over the past 20 years, only 2-10% of rape accusations were proven to be fake? Meaning that in those cases 90-98% of those were most likely true. It is extremely important that women are given a fair chance to be believed when they come forward with a claim of sexual assault, and there are very simple reasons for this. Firstly, it happens all the time. According to recent statistics, 1 in 5 women have experienced rape. Making it an occurrence as regular as rain. Secondly, rape and sexual assault cases are very difficult to win as the prosecutor, due to the “he said, she said” nature of the crime, especially when the incident in question took place years ago. As a result it is very unlikely that a woman would come forward with such a personal, and traumatic story just for attention or simply to tarnish a man’s reputation, as it is entirely likely that the man will not be convicted, and the women will walk away from the deal worse off, being branded a liar, a slut, or an attention seeker.

So I ask – why is it that when Professor Christine Blasey Ford came forward about an alleged assault performed by Brett Kavanaugh as a college student, she became the target of death threats and online abuse leading to her vacating her own home? I believe that the answer to this concerns a bigger issue at heart, perfectly demonstrated by President Trump. The issue lies in the fact that women have finally been given a platform in which they can support one another and feel safe in coming out about sexual assault amongst the popularity of the “MeToo” movement, and the rise of influential women risking their careers in coming forward with allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein. But rather than this phenomenon being celebrated, it is criticised as an attack on men. Rather than it being a safer time for women it is a “scary time for men”. Christine Blasey Ford spoke out, risking a prestigious career and reputation, possibly in order to protect her country from appointing a Judge that could be biased against women and dangerous to the judicial system – but yet, Kavanaugh was still appointed, and Trump still mocked her testimony in front of thousands of people. This is the result of deeply embedded misogyny rearing its ugly head in the President once again; a President who has been accused by over 20 women of sexual misconduct; a President who admitted to “grabbing” women “by the pussy”; a President who believes “a woman who is very flat-chested is very hard to be a 10”. Here, the President of the United States has interpreted women using their voice in the media as a threat to men (perhaps something a little too close to home for him.)

And yet the fact remains – it is not a scary time for men, it is a scary time for sexual predators. My favourite spin on the issue came from a friend of mine “You can’t even talk to a girl without it being sexual assault nowadays”. On the contrary – yes you can. I’d assume that you, reading this now, talk to girls every day. I’ll bet that you haven’t gone a day this week without speaking to a girl. But have you been accused of sexual assault?

This argument seems to be just another way to invalidate the voices of women standing up for themselves. Above all, it must be remembered that sexual assault is much more common than false allegations of sexual assault. The real issue at heart must not be clouded over. Women who have come forward about sexual assault are very likely to be telling the truth as it is such a common issue; they have very little to gain and an awful lot to lose. Trump’s reaction to the case of Christine Blasey Ford is currently acting as an illustration of what happens in societies all over the world in the case of sexual assault and we must not allow ourselves to be convinced by his narrative that all women are man-hating liars, and all men are sexual predators.

Written by Sammy Cocker

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