Friday, February 21, 2014

Woody Allen and Believing Victims

I thought it was creepy when Woody Allen married his adopted step-daughter. I believed that both Woody and Mia Farrow must be weirdo fucked-up people. So when Mia discovered that Woody had molested his own kids right after his betrayal, and that these allegations were successfully denied in the courts, I put her accusations down to a desire for revenge.

Why am I talking about these two celebrities?

Because the issues involved effect all of us. When Dylan Farrow reacted to Woody's life-time achievement award from some organization, by insisting that he had molested her, my response was: Perhaps. But maybe not. I don't know who's telling the truth and I never will. Again, I thought Mia's accusations were too conveniently timed and he'd successfully defended himself against them. It's possible for a parent to turn a child against the other parent.

But what about the memories of abuse? Some people think that the "false memory syndrome" people are a bunch of dangerous flakes and there's plenty of evidence for that apparently. Other people falsely remember satanic ritual abuse experiences and some broken souls have "confessed" to such imaginary crimes.

I thought that IF Mia had invented those accusations, and worked on a small child for years and years, it's possible the child would end up believe in things that never happened.

But a whole lot of people (mostly feminists) said that giving a man the benefit of the doubt is a political, anti-feminist act. To believe by default that a man (or anyone accused of a sexual assault) is innocent is to say that the accuser is lying. That not deciding one way or the other is to allow a possible perpetrator of abuse to walk free and to deny the claims to suffering of the victim. "Not deciding" is actually a decision against the accuser.

Furthermore, it is absurd to imagine that there is an epidemic of false rape or sexual abuse accusations. Police statistics themselves say that only 2-4% of rape allegations are false. Most sexual assaults aren't reported out of fear of reprisals or due to the stress and abuse suffered by victims at the hands of the system (including police, media, families and the courts). For someone to actually make the charge takes great determination for justice.

With regards to Woody Allen, a lot of stuff came out that made me think there might be something to those allegations after all. The clincher for me was imbecile Margaret Wente wading in on his side. But regardless of this specific case, I still say it makes me uncomfortable to go from "believe the victim" to "condemn the accused." Because I thought "believe the victim" was meant to be an antidote to the mindset of "you weren't raped, you were asking for it, look how you were dressed." It was meant to treat a claim of sexual assault with a claim of having been robbed. Somebody reports a crime and the police are supposed to act as if they believe them and set out to find the guilty party.

I mean, the problem is that we'll have (for example) a teenaged girl go to a party at some guy's house and she winds up dumped in the snow on her front lawn in the cold of a freezing winter's night, and she's only barely sober enough to tap on the front door so that her parents can find her and save her from dying from hypothermia. Then it turns out that the charming young men at the party have used their cell-phones to record themselves plying her with booze until she's incapacitated, whereupon they record themselves raping her, and this is further corroborated because the girl's mother takes her down to the hospital the next day and examinations show she's been raped .... and police don't lay charges because there isn't enough evidence.

I'm sorry, but is the only antidote to that bullshit to be that you automatically believe that the accused is guilty from the get-go?

I wouldn't be surprised if people reading this disagree with me. If it's not too much to ask, I'd like to hear back from people. Believe it or not, I've learned stuff online over the years. About gay rights and about feminism and about racism. (I've also heard that it's bullshit privilege for me to ask for these insights and that I should educate myself. If you believe that, then by all means, don't bother to interact with me.)

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