Lies, Lies, Lies, Nothing But Lies…
The approval of false allegations is an assassination of the presumption of innocence
Let’s take a minute here and think about the reasons for why someone would be lying, just in general. A simple but realistic explanation is that if an individual lies they want to hide something, gain something, or change something. It can also be any combination of these reasons. They might want to hide something they did, change the way they’re viewed or how someone else is perceived, and through this they will gain something, either for themselves or for something they care for. For this publication I am mostly interested in lying in cases of sexual harrassment, assault or any other case of sexual misconduct. If you don’t know why, you should read my previous work, seriously… Actually, let’s play around a bit with an example regarding lying in a situation where a sexual encounter is in focus. But first, what does science say about lying and making false allegations? There’s been studies made, and a somewhat long summary is as follows,
“The majority of complainants were motivated by emotional gain /…/. The most frequently reported motivation to file a false allegation of rape was the so-called alibi subcategory /…/. These complainants used the false allegation of rape to cover up other behavior. The false allegation, for example, was used to cover up adultery, lateness, or skipping school. Nine complainants tried to gain attention by filing a false allegation. Five complainants stated that they filed a false allegation to take revenge on someone. Some complainants sought sympathy by filing a false allegation /…/. Regret was the factor for another three complainants. Two complainants felt ashamed after they willingly participated in group sex and one complainant was ashamed after consensual sex. Two complainants relabeled their consensual sexual encounter as rape and consequently filed a false allegation of rape. For two complainants, psychopathology was the motivation to file a false allegation. /…/ One complainant was driven by material gain and sought financial compensation from Victim Care /…/. The current findings were consistent with Kanin (1994). In his study, more than half of the complainants used the false allegation to cover up other behavior. Nine complainants used the complaint to attract attention and three complainants to gain sympathy. Kanin combined both categories and found that 18% of complainants used the false allegation to gain sympathy or attract attention.” (1)
Now for our example. Let’s call our person Jan. Jan met someone at a party and they ended up at that person’s place, where they were engaging in consentual sexual activities, neither one of them were sober but they werent really drunk either. Both of them were at the time married, and both were afterwards adamant to keep the night a secret. But they had been seen by mutual acquaintances during the night, and soon “everyone” was talking about it…
Here is where the story can take several different turns, but for the sake of argument, let’s stick with an example with the chain of reasoning given in the first paragraph above. Jan could on one hand make up a lie about the events of that night, and in the made up story posing as a reluctant or an unwilling participant or even a victim of force and coercion. Jan does this to protect a reputation, the relationship, or perhaps because there are regrets and shame around the specific sexual acts Jan engaged in involved. The consequences of this choice can be devastating, mostly for the other person Jan had the sexual encounter with, because the blame will be on something or someone else but Jan.
On the other hand, Jan could choose to simply confess and admit what happened and open up a discussion about why — perhaps the marriage isn’t really that great or there is some resentment and anger towards themself, the partner, or someone else that contributed to the poor choice? Consequences for this choice of action can also be devastating, but mostly for Jan as the blame isn’t put on someone else. There could also be a number of variations in between these examples, but I’m trying to keep it simple here. What both of these examples of choices have in common though is that the action taken will have life changing consequences, for better or worse.
Now let me ask you — who is Jan? Is Jan a woman or a man, a fictional character or real life person, a special kind of stupid or your average person making a poor choice, is it possible it could someday be you, or perhaps me? (footnote)You see, I chose a gender neutral name on purpose, because I want you to see your own automatic bias in the eye. For some Jan must be a man because of the described behavior, and “of course” a man would choose to lie just to make themselves look better and avoid negative consequences for themselves. Because men are selfish bastards, right?
But if Jan was a woman she would be truthful, regretful, and honest and put all the blame on herself. Because, yeah, women are considerate, sacrificing, and unselfish like that, right? Now read the example again, play with the scenario from both gender perspectives, experience fully how the story changes, how the expected consequences and their seriousness differ, and that the possible choices seem more or less likely. Be your own bias police. You see, lies don’t have a gender, neither do liars.
In our western, modern day culture it is the norm to assume that a man is the offender and the woman a victim, that a man can and often lie but women rarely do. In cases of sexual misconduct of any degree the assumption is also that there is a black-and-white situation — there’s the truth and there’s the lie, period. This view has major flaws, and this quote from an article about the Woody Allen case puts the light on what conclusion this often leads to,
“Aaron Bady at The New Inquiry takes things one step further, proclaiming that Dylan Farrow must be afforded the same presumption of innocence as Allen, and that the presumption of Allen’s innocence requires a presumption that Farrow is lying, which only happens, Bady writes, in a “rape culture”: “You can’t presume that both are innocent at the same time. One of them must be saying something that is not true. But ‘he said, she said’ doesn’t resolve to ‘let’s start by assume she’s lying,’ except in a rape culture, and if you are presuming his innocence by presuming her mendacity, you are rape cultured.”” (4)
To assume that the presumption of innocence cannot be applied to both parties, and that the presumption is a direct consequence of the strange and repulsive term “rape culture”, and that it naturally is the man that must be the lying, guilty party, rather than accept that there can be more than one truth, one lie, a grayscale, and that an assumption isn’t a proof of guilt, is nothing but appalling, disgusting, and very cheap. This kind of thinking is what leads to cancel culture, radicalisation of feminism, and weaponisation of the #MeToo and similar movements — all aiming at the wrong target, shooting for the wrong reasons, and killing the sense of logic, rationalism, and common sense that used to be the golden standard. Let’s repeat what presumption of innocence means, for the crowd in the back,
“A presumption of innocence means that any defendant in a criminal trial is assumed to be innocent until they have been proven guilty. As such, a prosecutor is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person committed the crime if that person is to be convicted. To do so, proof must be shown for every single element of a crime. /…/ The presumption of innocence is not guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution. However, through statutes and court decisions–such as the U.S. Supreme Court case of Taylor v. Kentucky–it has been recognized as one of the most basic requirements of a fair trial.” (3)
Of course this leads me to once again come with criticism of the feminism that rules today’s society, a radical feminism that “/ … / belittles and demonizes men, treating them as presumptive rapists while encouraging women to see themselves as victims.” (2) And those of us that dissent are supposedly chanting mantras where ““I am not a victim” and “I can take responsibility for my actions” are recurring themes. Many also challenge the notion that American women in the 21st century are “oppressed”, defiantly asserting that “the patriarchy doesn’t exist” and “there is no rape culture.”” (2) Can I agree with this? Yes, to a large extent, but not entirely, because nothing is as easy and cut and dry as these quotes make it seem, and that’s what I hope you can see too.
The assumption that men are natural liars and women are truthful, in combination with a standpoint that men are perpetrators and women victims, creates a normalisation of a heavily gender biased and seriously distorted foundation for how we as a society look at lies versus truths in regards to sexual misconduct. Facts, evidence, and a due process that leads to the discovery of the most likely scenario/chain of events, and subsequently the truth, isn’t as important as highlighting the falsely assumed differences between the genders these days. And to go after a general thumb rule that favors gender privilege before truth, and an approval of false allegations because they fit in with the preferred, but not necessarily true, narrative — leads to a society where we efficiently have chosen to assassinate the presumption of innocence and buried the demand for evidence as a measure of justification and truth.
In Jan’s case it would then be true that, as a woman, Jan can say whatever and do whatever — it is all good, because of… gender. It is also true that, as a man, Jan is expected to say whatever and do whatever — it’s a lie no matter what, because of… gender.
So here we are — surprised over the polarisation of and separation between the genders, surprised over the unwillingness to be uncomfortable but truthful, surprised over the “who cares anyway, mind your own business” attitude… NO, it is not surprising! It is an expected and anticipated outcome when we as a society value popular opinions higher than factual truths as our guiding light. It is expected when we willingly and consciously choose to embrace the comfort of simple lies that doesn’t need to be poven and turn a blind eye to the assassination of the presumption of innocence. All in the name of a failed attempt of justice for “the weaker sex”, when there was no injustice to begin with, just a gender bias that distorted reality and tainted the truth. We must do better as a society, we can do better, we will do better. Right?
Footnote: For those curious, I did base Jan and the events on a real life person and real life events. Some will see the likeness, some of you just have to take my word for it. I can assure you though — it isn’t me.
- De Zutter, A., Horselenberg, R., & van Koppen, P. J., 2018. Motives for Filing a False Allegation of Rape. Archives of sexual behavior, 47(2), 457–464. Available at: Motives for Filing a False Allegation of Rape | SpringerLink
- Young, C., 2014. ‘Stop Fem-Splaining: What ‘Women Against Feminism’ Gets Right’, Time, July 24, 2014. Available at: Stop Fem-Splaining: What ‘Women Against Feminism’ Gets Right
- Definition taken from: presumption of innocence | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute
- Sasson, E., 2014. ‘Don’t Express Doubt About Woody Allen’s Guilt, or These Columnists Will Condemn You’, The New Republic, February 4, 2014. Available at: Woody Allen Abuse Allegations Brings Out Worst in Online Media | The New Republic