Defending the lie

Originally posted on October 27, 2013

Washington Monthly published an investigative piece by Stephanie Mencimer detailing the story of Jamie Leigh Jones. Jones made headlines in 2007 when she appeared 20/20 and recounted being gang-raped while working as a contractor in Iraq:

As she described the fateful evening, Jones’s tone matched her somber, conservative dark dress. “I probably didn’t even drink the entire thing,” she told ABC’s Brian Ross. “Just a few sips. And I don’t remember anything after that.” She said she woke up groggy, confused, naked, and sore. “I felt like I’d been hit by a truck,” Jones said. She stumbled to the bathroom, where she said she realized she was bruised and bleeding between her legs. “Then I knew I had been raped,” Jones said, her voice shaking. A doctor at an Army hospital, she said, examined her, administered a rape kit, and declared that she’d been gang-raped. “She confirmed that I was raped both vaginally and anally,” Jones told Ross.

That began a media blitz in which Jones discussed her experiences on numerous networks. Her efforts garnered the support of Senators Hilary Clinton, Ben Nelson, and Al Franken, the latter of whom pushed for and passed legislation protecting female contractors.

That seems a positive outcome to a horrific story, except the evidence suggests that Jones was not raped at all. As Mencimer reports:

The physical evidence effectively debunked much of Jones’s story. A urine test done in Iraq had found no sign of Rohypnol, the date-rape drug she alleged had been put in her drink. The swabs taken in Iraq showed no proof that she had been “penetrated anally” or by multiple assailants. The rape kit showed DNA from a single person: Charles Bortz, who had never denied having sex with Jones. Prosecutors didn’t ask for an indictment, and in December 2008, Jones was personally informed that the Justice Department was dropping the case.

Mencimer details the lack of evidence so effectively that even Amanda Marcotte was forced to admit that Jones may have lied about the gang-rape. Of course, Marcotte is less concerned with Jones’ false account and more concerned about her perceived implications of it:

There is no doubt that there are women who make up rape to get attention and sympathy, as I’ve written about here before. But the takeaway from Mencimer’s piece should not be that women lie about rape. It should be that this woman lied about rape.

Mencimer seems annoyed that Jones’ fake case led to real legislation protecting the rights of rape accusers, and that politicians who voted against that legislation were, in her words, “vilified.” But the law that resulted from the situation, which forces these cases out of corporate arbitration and into court, is still good legislation. After all, without the jury trial, we may have never known the truth of what happened to Jamie Leigh Jones. Score one for those who demanded that trial in the first place, even if it had a
surprising outcome.

Mencimer does not seem annoyed that Jones’ fake case led to protecting the rights of rape accusers. She appears annoyed that everyone bought Jones’ story even though the evidence that Jones’ lied was in faces.

As Mencimer notes in her piece, Jones’ story fit the feminist narrative perfectly. It was exactly the kind of story feminists like to hear about: a female rape survivor denied justice by the system and now taking things into her own hands. Feminists rallied around Jones from the start, and supported her more fiercely when she lost her lawsuit against her former employer.

Marcotte wants to dance around that, but she cannot. If the evidence is true, Jones thoroughly conned everyone into believing she was raped. Reporters who should have investigated Jones’ claims did not. Everyone took Jones at her word when the evidence did not support her claims.

Arguing that what followed led to “good legislation” misses the point: Jones easily convinced people of her alleged lie.

That is the problem. If she could do that for years under intense media scrutiny–to the point that many of her supporters still believe her story–what does that say about the typical case? How easily can other women trick the police into believing their stories?

When one looks at false accusation cases like Duke and Hofstra, one can see how quickly things can get out of control, particularly when feminists get involved. Mencimer quoted Matthew Hale, a seventeenth-century jurist, in her piece: “Rape is an accusation easily to be made and hard to be proved, and harder to be defended by the party accused, tho never so innocent.”

That is unfortunately true. This does not mean that every person who claims rape is believed. However, it does show that it is easy to make the accusation, and if it sounds believable enough or fits a political narrative, plenty of people will buy it.

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14 thoughts on “Defending the lie

  1. Another good post TS…

    I sometimes say we need training, examples, experience around these issues to “see clearly”. And if we could see clearly, we might have a chance of acting in a way that is helpful. At least not harmful. To see, say, a false accusation eventually, or a true accusation, not ignore something that really needs followup, lots of things, etc.

    It’s so ironic. If anyone should be believed who makes a claim of rape or sexual abuse, it should be men and boys, since they have little to gain from a victim identity. Yet, so many times I’ve been told by sexual assault advocates and social workers and psychologists, men are not raped, don’t need help, never mind, are actually always perpetrators if we just knew… something, etc. Not believed. Not helped. Of course, all claims should be taken seriously to investigate and respond to what ever it is. Gender has nothing to do with that.

    And so it is now, I have a group of men contacting me, looking for help, telling me all the rape centers and mental health clinics told them they have nothing, not calling them back after weeks, saying they’ll be starting something soon (6 months ago, 2 years ago), etc. Including the center that hosted my group.

    I was told during my sexual assault advocacy training “men are an under-served community”. They could have at least admitted it was by design and stopped wasting my time. Instead, they even sabotage attempts to help men.

    So I guess I be starting up “my” support group again. It’s so badly needed. It’s not really a big issue in my life currently, and it can take a ton of time to do but somebody needs to keep trying to show the way forward. I can only hope things will be better for male victims but as you said here somewhere, there’s more visibility now, and more “pushback”. Hostility. Outspoken opposition. I don’t think here in Minnesota at least, organizations can help men without somewhat being anti-women it’s so polarized. So it keeps anyone from doing it. How crazy is that?

  2. And so it is now, I have a group of men contacting me, looking for help, telling me all the rape centers and mental health clinics told them they have nothing, not calling them back after weeks, saying they’ll be starting something soon (6 months ago, 2 years ago), etc. Including the center that hosted my group.

    It is ironic that you mention that, Allan. I have been debating feminists on Pandagon about my experiences with that, only to have one feminist accuse me of lying because I did not give a detailed account of what happened and Marcotte to delete any comments mentioning the poor treatment male survivors receive when they ask for help from feminist-run services.

  3. @ TS: “Marcotte to delete any comments mentioning the poor treatment male survivors receive when they ask for help from feminist-run services.”

    And that’s how feminists have created “rape culture.” By excluding maligned boys from the healing process, feminists know a small percentage will grow up to rape. That’s called job security for women’s crisis centers. And guess what? VAWA will tell you only 1 in 71 men have ever been sexually assaulted compared to one in five women, that’s why they need all the money. To hire big money femnocrats like Jackson Katz to go badger frat boys about, you know, how rape is a bad thing.

    Seems they’d have better results talking gently to adolescent boys about child abuse.

    But they know that and choose not too.

  4. Revspinnaker:

    I have seen the 1in 71 men have been sexually assaulted quote pop up several places lately. I have been trying to track down exactly where the NISVS 2010 finding that 1 in 71 men have been raped (by being penetrated) have morphed into the even more misleading phrase you quoted. Can you help me and specify exactly where in the VAWA that wording is used?

  5. Oh, I heard many reports like that the last few weeks. It’s routine. “Google it” as they say. What do they expect? An affidavit and a police report? lol

    “Marcotte to delete any comments mentioning the poor treatment male survivors receive when they ask for help from feminist-run services.”

    Well of course. but, What does this refer to?

    I don’t waste my time “debating” anyone about this much. It doesn’t seem to have any effect. It’s more effective to present something, audio visual, that provokes an emotional reaction, hopeful involving their compassion. If there is any. Some of the many documentary clips I have.

    I keep thinking of some internet project kind of thing, to shine a bright light on this. Like a “It get’s better” kind of thing, for male survivors who made the mistake of contact a RAINN RCC thinking there was some kind of gender equality to rape victims…. Or a photo blog, men holding up your sign, what they said, when you asked for help, like

    “We don’t help men.”, etc.
    –“Christy”. Sexual assault phone line advocate, XXXX Agency.
    2012 government funding: $250,000.

    Times 1000.

    But, would you provoke enough compassionate response to counter the shaming? or just more attack? And the personal risks are just huge. And… idk… Men just shut up and take it.

  6. You forgot to mention how Marcotte complained that many people weren’t automatically assuming those Duke boys were guilty. And when they got off, she promptly blamed it on the prosecution. Not the “victim” who was so unreliable that her story contradicted itself several times over.

    Then again, this is Amanda Marcotte we’re talking about here, http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/11/27/when-mens-rights-narratives-kill/

    That’s right. It’s MRA’s fault because some guy told a lie that sounds like something they say a lot. Which is ironic, since she’s willing to try and wallpaper over women who use false rape accusations to harm men.

    @ Revspinnaker
    >To hire big money femnocrats like Jackson Katz to go badger frat boys about, you know, how rape is a bad thing.

    He’s also asserted that men rape/abuse and don’t talk about their rape/abuse victimization because of social pressures from other men. As far as I know, he’s never actually admitted men are generally worse off in these areas, qualitatively. Ironically, his own website describes abuse as “gendered violence”, he generally talks about abuse in terms of something men do to women, and he recommends male feminism for men who struggle with their gender role, but describes it as deferring to the opinions of women.

    Yeah, I don’t like him.

  7. Tamen: Go to the PCAR (Penn. Coalition Against Rape) webpage and click Sandusky case in the left column. On the Sandusky page scroll down to “Survey: National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).”

    That will bring up the CDC page. Click NISVS 2010 Summary Report in the left column. I’m quite sure that’s where I linked to a description of the since debunked telephone interview process, conducted by women, that eliminated most men they called on technicalities, and tallied women’s cases according to the recent redefinition of rape.

    As with this case, even though proven a falsehood, the lie continues to be repeated incessantly.

  8. Well of course. but, What does this refer to?

    This happened on an article Marcotte wrote about the 20/20 report on the men’s rights movement.

    But, would you provoke enough compassionate response to counter the shaming? or just more attack?

    I think it would provoke attacks from many feminists, but likely support from the general public.

  9. I think it would provoke attacks from many feminists, but likely support from the general public.

    Though so myself, but more attacks from feminists isn’t the answer since they run the VAWA industry. The sympathetic ones will be silent. Male victimization is very easy to ignore.

    As karen straughan has been saying:

    A man asking nicely is viewed by society like the homeless guy bleeding in the gutter meekly saying “please, help me, help me”–people step over him and begrudge him the fact that they had to acknowledge his existence by stepping over him. When he finally stands up and screams “Help me you fuckers!” and people like them say “Hey, I was going to help you but then you got rude about it!”

    and also

    Those are your two choices, gentlemen. Disgust and disdain at your weakness, or fear of your anger. Men are not women, you can’t play the victim card for sympathy–all you’ll get by playing that card is revulsion over your weakness and demands that you man up.

  10. revspinnaker:

    Ok, actually the NISVS 2010 Report does not state that 1 in 71 men have been sexually assaulted, it states that 1 in 71 men have been raped. NISVS’ definition of rape requiring the victim to be penetrated ensured that a lot of male rape victims wasn’t counted as rape victims. When one is using the term sexual assault (a wider term than rape) when “citing” that number from the NISVS one is further minimizing male victimization. Even people who adhere to NISVS 2010 narrow definition of rape would include men being made to penetrate as being sexually assaulted.

    Examples are this Jezebel article turning “1 in 71 men (1.4%) in the United States have been raped at some time in their lives” (NISVS 2010) into

    “1 in 5 women have been victims of rape or attempted rape.

    1 in 71 men had experienced sexual abuse or rape”.

    Health Access | YWCA write:

    1 in 5 women have experienced some form of rape.
    1 in 71 men have been sexually assaulted.

    Another on is the University of Alaska Fairbanks Sun Star student paper who in an otherwise good article interviewing James Landrith wrote:

    “One in 71 men are victims of sexual assault in the United States, according to a 2010 Center for Disease Control’s Division of Violence national study on American adults.”

    Another one is this FOX 2 article who also made this mistake for female victims as well writing:

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men have been raped in their lifetime or have experience other forms of sexual abuse.

    I wrote a comment on FeministCritics on Soraya Chemaly “quoting” the CDC with:

    A woman’s chance of being sexually assaulted is 1 in 5, for men it’s 1 in 77, and assaults with male victims primarily take place when they are young, whereas for women there is no age-related end.

    Cleveland rape crisis center writes:

    1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men who have been sexually assaulted in her/his lifetime.

    Sexual Assault Awareness Month writes in a newsletter (pdf):

    1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men will be sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime

    .

    National Network to End Domestic Violence wrote:

    Given that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men have been sexually assaulted

    I had a deja-vu feeling and true enuogh: https://toysoldier.wordpress.com/2013/10/11/cnn-covers-james-landriths-story/#comment-32057

  11. Pingback: When rape is not rape is not rape | Tamen's writings

  12. Great research Tamen. Very depressing that THE BIG LIE has gained such traction. I first heard it on a Public Radio broadcast, and literally it was the basis of the VAWA argument for more money for women’s shelters..

  13. Arguing that what followed led to “good legislation” misses the point: Jones easily convinced people of her alleged lie.
    The reason they go on about the “good legislation” is the same reason prosecutors and courts will sometimes refuse to vacate convictions even after they have been proven wrong.

    Ass covering.

    If you can make the outcome look good enough you can justify any act no matter how horrible.

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