Two weeks ago a man in France was arrested for raping his daughter. She’d gone to her school counselor and then the police, but they needed “hard evidence.” So, she videotaped her next assault. Her father was eventually arrested. His attorney explained, “There was a period when he was unemployed and in the middle of a divorce. He insists that these acts did not stretch back further than three or four months. His daughter says longer. But everyone should be very careful in what they say.” Because, really, even despite her seeking help, her testimony, her bravery in setting up a webcam to film her father raping her, you really can’t believe what the girl says, can you?
Everyone “knows” this. Even children.
Three years ago, in fly-on-the-wall fashion of parent drivers everywhere, I listened while a 14-year-old girl in the back seat of my car described how angry she was that her parents had stopped allowing her to walk home alone just because a girl in her neighborhood “claimed she was raped.” When I asked her if there was any reason to think the girl’s story was not true, she said, “Girls lie about rape all the time.”
She didn’t know the person, she just assumed she was lying.
No one says, “You can’t trust women,” but distrust them we do. College students surveyed revealed that they think up to 50% of their female peers lie when they accuse someone of rape, despite wide-scale evidence and multi-country studies that show the incident of false rape reports to be in the 2%-8% range, pretty much the same as false claims for other crimes. As late as 2003, people jokingly (wink, wink) referred to Philadelphia’s sex crimes unit as “the lying bitch unit.” If an 11-year-old girl told an adult that her father took out a Craigslist ad to find someone to beat and rape her while he watched, as recently actually occurred, what do you think the response would be? Would she need to provide a videotape after the fact?
It goes way beyond sexual assault as well. That’s just the most likely and obvious demonstration of “women are born to lie” myths. Women’s credibility is questioned in the workplace, in courts, by law enforcement, indoctors’ offices, and in our political system. People don’t trust women to be bosses, or pilots, or employees. Pakistan’s controversial Hudood Ordinance still requires a female rape victim to procure four male witnesses to her rape or risk prosecution for adultery. In August, a survey of managers in the United States revealed that they overwhelmingly distrust women who request flextime. It’s notable, of course, that women are trusted to be mothers—the largest pool of undervalued, unpaid, economically crucial labor.
Pop culture and art are just the cherry on the top of the icing on a huge cake. The United States is among the most religious of all countries in the industrialized world. So, while some people wring their hands over hip hop, I’m more worried about how men like Rick Santorum and Ken Cuccinelli explain to their daughters why they can’t be priests. I know that there is hip hop that exceeds the bounds of taste and is sodden with misogyny. But, people seem to think that those manifestations of hatred are outside of the mainstream when, in reality, it’s just more of the same set to great beats. Hip hop has nothing on religious misogyny and its political expression.
An entire political party’s “social policy” agenda is being pursued under a rubric that insists women need “permission slips” and “waiting periods.” The recent shutdown? Conservatives holding the country hostage because they want to add anti-abortion “conscience clause” language to legislation. Whose consciences are we talking about? All the morally incompetent and untrustworthy men who need abortions?
It’s no exaggeration to say that distrust of women is the driving force of the “social issues” agenda of the Republican Party. From food stamps and “legitimate rape,” to violence against women and immigration policy. “We need to target the mother. Call it sexist, but that’s the way nature made it,” explained the man who penned Arizona’s immigration law. “Men don’t drop anchor babies, illegal alien mothers do.” I could do this ad infinitum.
See entire piece at Role/Reboot here.