Tuesday, June 03, 2014

[mibfoaok] Protecting yourself from false accusations of rape

Consider a campaign encouraging men not to rape, but (perhaps counterintuitively) packaging it as a campaign teaching men how to protect themselves from false accusations of rape, that is, how to avoid women who will falsely accuse rape. We describe it using stereotypical gender roles only for brevity.

This encompasses the ideas of consent and enthusiastic consent: A man should seek enthusiastic consent because enthusiasm is an indicator that the woman won't have regrets later and falsely accuse rape despite giving consent. Furthermore, a man should not be deceptive or manipulative about obtaining consent, because that would diminish its usefulness as an indicator.

Such a campaign may be more effective than a typical anti-rape campaign because it appeals to self-interest (protect yourself) rather than altruism (respect the woman). Also, it assumes good faith on the part of the targeted group (men), in contrast to typical campaigns which turn men off by assuming them all to be potential rapists.

It also encourages the man to look further than merely enthusiastic consent: are there other reasons the woman might later regret having sex, or be socially pressured into falsely accusing rape? These I feel are the actual important issues surrounding rape.

What are possible such reasons? Some ideas: differences in social class and other cultural barriers, amount of slut shaming done by peers, social expectations around marriage, degree of independence a woman has from power structures (e.g., parents) which seek to control whether and with whom she has sex. The prevalence of these and other possible reasons should be measured through study of actual instances of false accusations before launching this campaign.

It is unfortunate that the man is being forced to inquire about such things before agreeing to have sex, but changing society not to require this of men is a social movement for another day.

This also encompasses the idea that "drunken consent is not consent". If a woman would give consent when drunk but not when sober, then there may be rational reasons -- usually the presence of larger social forces that drunkenness makes the woman ignore or forget -- that she may later falsely accuse rape after she becomes sober.

However, the subject of false accusations of rape is very much a taboo topic, especially in the context of preventing actual rape. A campaign like this, no matter how effective it might be in decreasing actual rape, would likely be so politically incorrect as to be impossible to make happen. (This hints at deeper problems in society: what is going on? The reason for the taboo and political incorrectness might be because the reasons behind false accusations of rape are often ugly things which we wish weren't the case about society.)

Also unpopular will be that, in assuming good faith in men, it must necessarily assume bad faith in women. This issue I suspect is zero sum, so the net political acceptability will depend on the relative political power of each side.

Assuming this impossible campaign is successful, what would a woman have to do or say to convince a man that she is not going to later falsely accuse him of rape? This is tricky because a man might correctly judge the woman's social surroundings as high risk for inducing her to falsely accuse rape, but such surroundings are something that the woman cannot change about herself. Game theoretically, this is an imperfect information game, so we expect things like deception and signaling mechanisms. (Realistically, it'll probably involve the woman intentionally getting the man drunk so he won't think about such larger issues. I suspect this is already happening.)

Update: why this will probably not work.

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