You’re a rape accuser until he’s proven guilty

Georgia state rep Bobby Franklin wants to mandate that victims who report rape, stalking, obscene telephone contact with a child and family violence be referred to as “accusers” until they secure a conviction against their rapists. Seriously.

Burglary victims are still victims. Assault victims are still victims. Fraud victims are still victims. But if you have the misfortune to suffer a rape, or if you are beaten by a domestic partner, or if you are stalked, Rep. Franklin doesn’t think you’ve been victimized. He says you’re an accuser until the courts have determined otherwise.

To diminish a victim’s ordeal by branding him/her an accuser essentially questions whether the crime committed against the victim is a crime at all. Robbery, assault, and fraud are all real crimes with real victims, the Republican asserts with this bill.

I’m honestly struggling to critique this bill because the flaws are just so obvious. If the accused were “innocent until proven guilty” of ripping off nice people’s car stereos, or vandalism, or burglaries (which often are a pre-cursor to home-invasion rapes), no lawmaker – especially a Republican – would dare suggest we call their victims anything but victims. Normally Republicans are right out there screaming ugly names for the “accuseds” of the world, and howling at “liberals” for suggesting some young criminals might benefit more from counseling than prison rapes.

Can you imagine the actual outcome of this law? There was a serial rapist in my then-neighborhood of L.A. years ago – and you could tell this story in a thousand neighborhoods in the US. Lots of women were raped by him. The news reported it. He was never caught. Therefore, these would would just be accusers under this law. He wasn’t even found, let alone tried, therefore they’re probably just lying bitches. You know how women are.

I suspect Franklin’s not even serious about this law. It clearly only even begins to make sense (in warped minds) when applied to acquaintance rape. I think he just wants to make a spectacle of himself.

But still: he is vile. Perhaps he needs to be reminded that men can be raped, too, and that if he himself were raped by someone who was never caught, and had to settle for being an “accuser” the rest of his life, people might laugh at the irony.

What we’re looking at here is a new backlash: emboldened by some good laws, women have started reporting rapes a bit more than they used to. Franklin sees this as an assault on the privileges of men. Franklin’s going to put those bitches back in their place.

And don’t think for a minute Franklin’s concerned about all these men – mostly of color – who have in recent years been cleared of wrongful rape convictions through DNA evidence. Calling somebody an “accuser” won’t save one of those guys, because their convictions are all about racism and the willingness of people of all colors to believe a man of color probably is a rapist. If you want to help those men, you would advocate things like DNA processing in every case instead of just a few, better public defense attorneys and screening to make sure police and prosecutors are doing thorough investigations.

No, clearly, Franklin is one of those people who believes every man on Men’s Rights forums screaming, “I don’t know why the judge won’t let me have custody – I did nothing wrong.” Rapists never believe they’ve done anything wrong. Men who molest their own kids never think they did anything wrong. Men who beat their wives never do either. Men who use emotional terrorism to keep access to their victims don’t either. All these men sound innocent when you talk to them because they actually believe they are.

Horrifyingly, it’s not clear from the bill whether children who “accuse” someone of molesting them will be allowed to be called “victims” or not. Feel free to speak out on Facebook.

Comments

  1. Attackfish says

    Oh my God, what is wrong with this man?

    I wonder if this language would also have an effect on “accusers'” access to victim services?

    • says

      I don’t think it would, because most victims services are private non-profits. But I think it would significantly impact many people’s recoveries if they came across themselves being referred to as an “accuser” in the press.

      • Attackfish says

        That’s good at least. *shakes head* I just don’t get it. The thing about rape culture is that I will just never get what’s in it for the non-rapists who help prop it up.

        • jennygadget says

          Well, not to get all accusing or anything, but it does make me wonder sometimes what kind of skeletons they have hiding in their closets. Especially as one does not need to be guilty of rape specifically to have done something that was wrong but that one was never brought to justice for, via being protected by rape culture and other privileges.

  2. I.A. Scott says

    Argh, what?

    I’d hate to call up the police and tell them there’s someone breaking into my house only to have them say what amounts to “I don’t believe you.” This just looks like a proposed extension into law of that rather terrifying scenario.

    Plus considering “victim” vs “accuser”, they are basically passive and transitive actions respectively, there’s no way that’s not going to affect outcomes of jury trials.
    There’s a lot of argument in the comments about whether or not this changes legal semantics, and perhaps it doesn’t, but it certainly changes the semantics for all us non-legals.

    • says

      It sure doesn’t seem like juries have difficulty deciding a victim isn’t a victim, when it comes to rape trials. This myth that any woman can yell “rape”, turn on the waterworks, and instantly hold the fate of any man in her hands via 12 jurors is just bullshit.

  3. Dom Camus says

    I agree with the principle of “innocent until proven guilty”, but that in this context means we don’t call people rapists until we know them to be guilty. It does not imply anything about someone’s right to describe themselves as a victim.

    • says

      Exactly!

      Something else that’s bugging me: every crime has a small percentage of cases where it turns out no crime was committed at all and the “victim” fabricated the whole thing. Why single out rape for this strange language adjustment? I imagine Franklin would say, “Oh, because being accused of rape instantly ruins your life!” And being accused of kidnapping doesn’t? There’s just no way to work this out logically so that it’s trying to protect men. I’m actually starting to think it’s about trying to hinder victims’ recovery efforts. I’m not accusing Franklin of consciously thinking that, but, you know, wtf IS he thinking?

      • SunlessNick says

        This. There’s no violent crime that can’t ruin your life if you’re accused of it, but only when it comes to crimes predominantly committed by men against women is this seen as so terrible a thing that we must cast all possible doubt on victims and presume no crime was committed at all.

      • Finbarr Ryan says

        Whenever I think of how rape victims are treated by the judicial system I wonder what the world would be like if victims of all crimes were treated with equivalent suspicion. ‘Trespassing? How do we know you didn’t invite them in?’ ‘Assault? Aren’t you a stunt person? Can you ever really be assaulted?’ ‘Theft? It’s Christmas, and besides, you donate to charities all the time, you gift-slut!’

        The idea of asking a victim to prove that consent wasn’t given is dangerous nonsense. How do you prove a negative?

    • Robin says

      Yes! There is a reason that the media is so careful about putting “alleged” in front of every crime during an ongoing investigation / trial. It seems as though Franklin is trying to compound the protection of the term “alleged rapist” with a second layer of “accuser”, which is basically the same as “alleged victim” but with an added hint of victim blaming and an extra dash of doubt.

      I just… I don’t know why he feels it’s necessary or even okay.

      • jennygadget says

        yes, exactly.

        There is a reason why we generally don’t use the term “alleged victim” in the first place, on of which is that the accused maybe not being the perp does not mean we aren’t sure a crime occurred.

        Franklin seems to have decided that – when it comes to rape cases only! – the question is never nothing more than who did the crime, but *always* whether or not a crime even occurred. On top of that, he has also decided that somehow the victim is immediately on trial as well, despite the fact that the police and prosecutors themselves do not have enough reason to charge the “alleged victim” with a crime.

        What sane, functional society treats the person claiming that harm was done to them in the same manner as the person that is accused of doing the harm, irregardless of circumstances? Not one that is actually interested in stopping crime, that’s for sure.

        Which, well, would rather be the purpose of all this.

    • Korva says

      Pretty much, in my experience, yes — especially if the man has even the smallest measure of prestige or fame or power.

      It seems to me that, while the media (here in Germany) are willing to sometimes speak sympathetically about women who are the victims of crime as long as a) the perpetrator is unknown or b) it’s in general terms without references to a special case, that changes when the perpetrator IS known. In that case, they will trot out some sob-story background with all the usual “excuses”. He was so busy at work, she always nagged him, he was in debt and lost his head, his mother was overbearing, his father was absent, she didn’t keep the house clean enough, he had to defend his (or his family’s) “honor” … It becomes all about the accused and the victim is sidelined if she’s really lucky, or saddled with at least partial blame.

      It’s really blatant and sickening to me when I compare the cases of women murdering their newborns and men murdering a daughter/sister “for honor” or even their entire family. A difference like night and day. Hell, they call a man wiping out his whole family a “family tragedy” — every time without fail! Tragedy is a house burning down and killing everyone. Tragedy is a car accident. What these men do is multiple counts of murder, plain and simple. But I never see that word used. It’s always “tragedy” or at most “killing”, plus of course the usual search for his “reasons”.

      • says

        I… how on earth could any of those issues from a person’s life explain his committing a felony? There are billions of people with similar and far worse problems who are not raping people. Therefore, no, not an excuse. Not even a reason.

        • Korva says

          Tell me about it. I can’t fathom why any respectable journalist would honestly engage in this kind of apologetics and borderline (or outright) victim-blaming. It’s one great big nasty case study for rape culture and male privilege even if they never outright say “it was her fault” — the readiness to seek “reasons” is more than enough.

          I mostly stay away from the popular media, and as I said I have the impression that things are improving slowly, but it is still supremely irritating. I mean, sure, write about the “why”, just do it with more critical reflection, and go deeper. They do this to an extent with “honor killings”. But take a man killing his family, or a man committing rape and claiming it was consensual because see, she isn’t all cut up and bleeding so she’s a lying bitch for making that accusation now — isn’t that just as much of a sickening sign of deeply entrenched contempt for women and the view of us as possessions? It sure is in my book, yet I’ve never seen that critical look at our OWN culture, only at the immigrant subcultures.

  4. Dani says

    I…just…what?

    I was at a loss for words when I first read this. What on earth is this politician thinking?!
    The more I think about this, the more it makes my stomach churn, especially considering that his bill is specifically targeting a crime mostly committed by men against women and will only add to the myths surrounding rape.

  5. Lika says

    Sure, because the term “accuser” doesn’t have any negative connotations at all.

    Why do people say things like “I wasn’t accusing you of anything, I was merely pointing out…” in defensive tones then? Why is adjectives like “accusatory” usually used in a hostile context? That’s been my experience – that the word “accuse”, “accuser”, “accusatory” are used to describe something or someone akin to being judgemental and hostile, usually in on the side of unfair.

    In my opinion, the words rape accuser makes the victims sounds like they’re judgemental and have more power than they actually do, and that makes me angry. I see that as adding to the myth that being accused of rape is just as bad as being raped.

    And considering how few rapists are convicted, I can’t imagine how horrible it would be for a victim to be known as a “rape accuser” for the rest of hir life.

  6. says

    Sally, I’ve seen that link – I think we actually had it on LoGI or talked about it somewhere here. Anyway, the article makes some good points (I know some people feel the “what if we victim-blamed robbery victims” argument positions rape as a property crime, but I think the point can withstand that problem), and many of the comments are excellent. But lord have mercy, some of the comments are unbelievable. The person who says basically, hey, the judge’s logic was that if you let “girls” complain about rape, next they’ll be complaining every time their boyfriends are unfaithful – wow. That’s got to be a child, because it sure rests on the idea that rape is about as unpleasant as getting poor service at a restaurant, and I don’t know how anyone could make it to age 20 without figuring out it’s a lot worse than that. Second, um, cheating is not a felony? I mean, hello?

    I have an alternative view. If we let guys by with rape, next thing you know, they’ll be rapist-murderers. And I can document my view.

  7. Sally says

    Jennifer Kesler:
    The person who says basically, hey, the judge’s logic was that if you let “girls” complain about rape, next they’ll be complaining every time their boyfriends are unfaithful – wow. That’s got to be a child, because it sure rests on the idea that rape is about as unpleasant as getting poor service at a restaurant, and I don’t know how anyone could make it to age 20 without figuring out it’s a lot worse than that.

    Many men – and some women – actually never figure it out – but then I imagine I’m not telling you anything new.

  8. Casey says

    Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems that line of “if women complain about rape, next they’ll be complaining when their boyfriends are unfaithful” logic kind of assumes something terrible about men; that they’re seemingly ALWAYS cheating on their wives/girlfriends/partners/etc. because INSATIABLE SEXUAL APPETITE or something. :|

    (I don’t really like the (hyperbolic?) conflation of being cheated on with merely being as unpleasant as experiencing poor restaurant service…I know I’d be crushed if my hypothetical SO was unfaithful to me…BUT IT IS NOT A FUCKING FELONY TO GET CHEATED ON, GODDAMN[/repeating some common sense to rape apologists that will go unread])

  9. says

    Casey: Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems that line of “if women complain about rape, next they’ll be complaining when their boyfriends are unfaithful” logic kind of assumes something terrible about men; that they’re seemingly ALWAYS cheating on their wives/girlfriends/partners/etc. because INSATIABLE SEXUAL APPETITE or something.

    It also conflates something that a healthy minded person can feel tempted to do (have sex with some attractive person when you’re in a committed relationship with someone else) with something only unhealthy minds are comfortable doing (raping people). This goes back to the assumption that rape is about lust rather than power/hate/violent disregard for another person.

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