Wednesday, September 16, 2015

"You have a right to be believed"

Hillary Clinton recently tweeted: "To every survivor of sexual assault...You have the right to be heard. You have the right to be believed. We're with you."

Conservative pundits pounced on the glaring duplicity, given how she covered for her husband, whom several women accused of sexual assault.

But let's address the substance of the comment. I suppose this is feminist dogma, but is it true?

On the one hand, sexual assault can be hard to prove. In that respect, it can make it easier for a sexual assailant to get away with it. 

But that also makes it easier to level a false allegation of sexual assault, since the accuser can get way with it. 

The accused are motivated to plead innocent, whether they are innocent or guilty. 

But accusers are sometimes motivated to make false accusations. For instance, back when women had few legal rights, the rape accusation could be a powerful weapon. 

It isn't hard to consider examples in which some women might falsely accuse a man of rape. Take the days of slavery and segregation. Suppose a white woman had consensual sex with a black man. If she became pregnant, people could tell the father was black. Which carried a social stigma at that time and place, if the mother was white. A way of deflecting the stigma would be to accuse the father, or any conveniently available black man, of rape. That would suddenly make her an object of sympathy, and shift blame to the alleged rapist. 

Does Hillary think that never happened? Does she side with the lynch mob? Does she think black men during the Jim Crow era were never falsely accused of rape?  

Women have a right to be heard. But they have no more or less right to be believed than a man. It should be judged on a case-by-case basis. 

1 comment:

  1. Does the accused also have the right to be heard and believed?