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The Myths about False Rape Charges


Why Women and Men Must Join Forces to Achieve True Equality

by Cathy Young
© 1999 by Cathy Young


Cathy Young, Ceasefire: Why Women and Men Must Join Forces to Achieve True Equality (New York, NY: Free Press, 1999). Order on-line

Here's an excerpt about false rape, that shows the depth and style of Ms. Young's analyses.

(From pp. 150-51. Five footnotes, 15 references.)

Cathy Young
Cathy Young

Ceasefire: Why Women and Men Must Join Forces to Achieve True Equality
by Cathy Young
A "dissident feminist" links feminist advocacy to the growing gender antagonism in politics, society, and culture--and proposes in its place a new focus on equality for both sexes.

Order on-line

The media, for the most part, uncritically repeat the "advocacy statistic" that false complaints account for no more than 1 or 2 percent of rape reports, the same as for other crimes. Actually, FBI statistics show that about 9 percent of rape reports are "unfounded"ódismissed at the earliest stage of investigation, without charges being filed. The feminist party line is that many, if not most, of these are valid complaints, nixed because they lack sufficient proof or because the authorities distrust acquaintance rape claims. But dismissals due to insufficient evidence usually occur further down the pipeline, and those complaints, which may or may not be false, are not included in the "unfounded category. Generally, a complaint is unfounded only when the alleged victim recants, or when her story is not just unsupported but contradicted by the evidence.

Measuring false allegations is all the more difficult since policies on unfounded criminal complaints differ from one jurisdiction to another, resulting in very different numbers. A Washington Post investigation showed that in seven counties in Virginia and Maryland, almost one in four rape reports in 1990-1991 were unfounded; when contacted by the newspaper, many "victims" admitted that they lied. More shocking figures come from a study by now-retired Purdue University sociologist Eugene Kanin, who reviewed the police records of an Indiana town and found that 45 of 109 reports of rape filed from 1978 to 1987ó412 percentówere false by the complainant's own admission.

... Kanin also points out that when a specific man was accused, the details of the recantation always matched his story.

Nor can Kanin be dismissed as a backslider. His pioneering research on "male sexual aggression in courtship" goes back to the 1950s and is still cited in feminist literature on date rape. ...

Kanin cautions against generalizing from his data. Still, he says, they warrant the conclusion that "false rape accusations are not uncommon." Other estimates from prosecutors and law enforcement officers (some of whom say that they believed the phenomenon was extremely rare until they learned from experience) suggest that between one in eight and one in five rape complaints are fabricated.

To recognize that some women wrongly accuse men of rape for revenge is no more antifemale than it is antimale to recognize that some men rape women for revenge. Is it so unreasonable to think that a uniquely damaging and stigmatizing charge will be used by some people as a weapon, just as others will use their muscle as a weapon? Indeed, feminists could have argued that false allegations often reflect the lingering double-standard that may make a girl think it's better to be a rape victim than a slut.

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