I knew when I saw this piece in today’s Guardian Family supplement that it would provoke a torrent of outrage from feminists that the matter of false accusations of rape by women and girls is even being discussed. (Incidentally, in the Saturday pages in the main section, there is another article on how Legal Aid Cuts are putting victims of domestic violence in danger, something the paper has covered at length.) Sure enough, within an hour I saw a series of tweets from a radical feminist claiming that what the boy did is rape even if it wasn’t, because the girl was 13 and drunk.
The tweets went:
At this point, you will notice that she ignores the fact that the boy was 15, and not in law an adult, as the words “young man” seem to imply. The article states that, in fact, both the author and the girl were drunk, as was their friend. Who was more drunk, and whether they were drunk enough to impair their liability, is not stated in the article. It could be that the girl was more drunk, or that they were all very drunk or a bit drunk. Someone (some adult) should not have allowed them access to so much alcohol, or perhaps they bought it from a shopkeeper who was negligent in selling it to them, or perhaps they stole it; we don’t know. We know that if a woman is so drunk as to be insensible, then having sex with her (regardless of one’s relationship with her) is rape, but this girl was not so drunk that she could not remember it only a few hours later. Her contention appears to have been not that it was rape because she was 13 and drunk, but that he actually raped her. Note: that word ‘raped’ I used was English, not legalese.
Neither can 15-year-olds, male or female, and the 2003 Sexual Offences Act removed the anachronistic doctrine that it was always the male that was committing the crime, whether or not he was below the age of consent or indeed younger than the female. The Victorians did not even consider the possibility that a 13-year-old boy would want to have sex, or that any female would want to have sex with him. We know that the girl was a year and four months younger than the boy. He was probably the year above her at school; as he was in care, however, his education may have been sufficiently disrupted that he was in the same year as she was. As anyone who has been in a British secondary school (that is, anyone who was not home-schooled throughout their education), young people will more often know what year group someone is in than what their age is. He will have seen her as a peer. They were both in the same legal age range, i.e. from 13 to 15; below the age of consent, but above the age (12 and below) where sex is actually classed as rape — even then, however, the law was not envisaged to be used against people just above that age, but far above it (e.g. a 16-year-old having sex with a 12-year-old, let alone a person in their 20s doing the same).
No they’re not, because British law does not classify sex with someone under the age of consent as rape. It never has done; that’s American law (or rather, the law in some US states). In any case, the fact that the law does not recognise consent does not mean it does not exist. Teenagers under the age of consent consent to sex, usually with others of the same or similar age, every day. It just so happens that the law and police practice recognises gradations of maturity: children under 13, minors under 16, young people and adults over 16, people over 20 in a position of trust. Even so, fiction is fiction, even when written in stone.
This is fairly typical of the feminist pattern of conflating legal doctrines that suit them with fact. Look at any feminist article on abortion, for example (and some of them demand abortion on demand right up to term), and you will find repeated in every one of them the legal doctrine that “a fetus is not a person”, i.e. they are not a legal person who can sue or be sued. That does not mean it is morally acceptable to kill them for no reason, especially if they are developed past the point where the mother can be relieved of her pregnancy without the loss of the child’s life; this is why the law as it stands does not allow it. However, some legal doctrines do not suit them. The law held until recently that women were not persons, and that slaves were not persons. It also held until much more recently that rape was not rape if the attacker was the woman’s husband. It is rather amusing to watch them picking legal doctrines from times and places that suit them and then presenting them as facts or as moral absolutes.
I pointed out to this feminist the fact that the “young man” was 15 and also drunk. She replied “And?”, as if his minor status did not matter; as if girls got a “child pass” but boys did not, when a girl knows full well she can get pregnant and a boy knows no better than she does (and has less reason to, and boys, despite being physically bigger, generally mature more slowly). She then tweeted:
@indigojo_uk note he didn't even withstand trial. He "got away with it", hence he believes he didn't commit rape. But he did.
The police did not pursue a case because they did not believe there was enough evidence, having heard both the girl’s story and his. They may also have believed that if they did put the case to trial, and the girl was lying, there was a chance of a miscarriage of justice if the girl put on a good enough performance. (He also notes that both of them could have been charged with having sex underage or with an underage person, but the police did not even take this action. In other words, if the man’s story is true, and there is no reason other than prejudice to believe it is not, both he and she were committing a criminal offence.)
Since I actually believe the man’s story, and it was published anonymously and gives no details as to where the event happened (I believe it was the UK as indicated by certain phrases, e.g. ‘binge drinking’, but it does not even give this detail explicitly), I suspect the ‘victim’ will neither know nor care. Who’s to say she reads the Guardian? Perhaps she got what she wanted out of making this accusation, as she moved schools and caused this boy a lot of hardship for several months and made him unable to hold down a relationship so far. It’s also possible that she thought she could get away with it, or get what she wanted out of it, because the boy was in care (we do not know if she was or not). It’s worth noting, however, that social workers appear to have concluded that he was not a threat to the girl also being fostered (or maybe they moved her instead). If they had, they would have moved him, and very likely into a much less favourable placement and in another area.
This woman’s attitude towards this boy’s age is another example of her cavalier, mix-and-match attitude towards the law. The law states that he was a child, and that sex with him was also illegal, including for the girl (unless, of course, he forced her), as she was above the age of criminal responsibility. She clearly thinks there should be a harsher law for boys in this regard than for girls, despite the well-known differences in maturity that I have already mentioned. I happen to think that young people that age are capable of taking more responsibility for their actions than we give them credit for, and that (for example) the chorus of disapproval at the naming of the boy who killed the teacher this year was misguided, as he knew what he was doing and planned his action, and there is no evidence that he had been bullied or otherwise abused, least of all by this teacher. However, when boys that age maliciously abuse children aged 11 or 12, we call it bullying and it rarely results in criminal charges. There is no such thing as consensually putting someone’s head down a toilet. Adults do not always teach people this age that they must not have sex until they are 16, let alone that boys must not have sex with girls their own age or slightly younger because it’s rape, because it’s not. They say it’s illegal, but if you must, make sure you use a condom or some other contraception but it’s better to wait. The exception, perhaps, is in some religious schools, and these may be getting fewer due to the present government’s clampdown on old-fashioned views being disseminated in these schools, particularly by Muslims.
I have no doubt that this woman’s attitudes are shared by dozens of feminists online and off. If you want to know why feminists are commonly regarded as stupid and illogical, you need to look no further than the logical fallacies they deploy. Besides the mix-and-match, convenientist legal absolutism I have already mentioned, there is also the matter of “particularising the general”: because most accusations of rape are true, this one is as well. In this case, they read an account by a man who was accused as a teenage boy of rape by another teenage girl and without even hearing the girl’s story, or anyone else’s, they assume he is lying. Since they are fond of filling in gaps in the story with details they have made up, I will take the same liberty here. The man’s explanation (that she regretted having sex and feared her parents finding out, so she cried rape) is one plausible explanation, but it’s also possible that this girl and her male friend could have conspired against this boy as a malicious stunt, to get Billy-no-mates care boy thrown out or at least isolated and have a good laugh at his expense. In this, they seem to have at least partly succeeded.
And this — the fact that feminists recognised the vulnerability of the girl by simply being a girl, but not that of the boy by not having the support of his own family and being in a foster placement that could have been taken away from him at a moment’s notice — is why feminists’ influence on policy-making, and their role in the care of vulnerable people, should be kept to a bare minimum. The chorus of “I believe her!” every time a man is accused, or found not guilty, of rape speaks of naked prejudice, of women feeling entitled to make baseless assumptions about an event they did not see and have never examined in detail, but also raises the danger that a woman can make a false accusation of rape so as to dispose of an annoying man, or one she disagrees with, or one who is a rival to a friend’s ambitions, or for any other reason. It does not even have to result in a criminal conviction; it can easily lead to someone’s relationship or friendship network collapsing overnight, as people cut that person off as it is socially unacceptable not to. I do not think for a moment these feminists are not conscious of the power this situation would give them.
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