Some thoughts on victim-blaming and Michael Le Vell

The actor Michael Le Vell has been found not guilty of rape and crikey, this makes some people angry. If only he’d been a convicted rapist! Then we could all sleep easy at night.

According to Phillip Schofield, “it’s bloody ridiculous a man’s life and reputation can be so comprehensively trashed in this way”. Is it just me, or is this an odd way of portraying what “being a rape defendant” means? It’s as though being on trial should be considered a crime itself. While I don’t doubt it’s horrible, not everything that is horrible is horrible in quite the same way. No one should be falsely accused of rape, but accusing someone of rape — even without securing a conviction — is evidence neither of malice nor criminal intent.  

Whatever the impact, making a complaint of rape or sexual assault is not an act of aggression on a par with committing rape or sexual assault. It’s not even an act of aggression. It’s just making a complaint. And why do women make such complaints? By and large, it’s not because being able to make rape complaints is one of life’s bonuses for womankind (guys, you can do it too!).  It’s not as though women wander round thinking “well, if all else fails, I can accuse the next bloke who annoys me of rape”. There is no feminist superhero called False Rape Accusation Woman. The main reason women make rape complaints is because they’ve been raped.

Making a complaint is no walk in the park. It can be hugely distressing and humiliating. There are serious consequences if a woman is found to have been lying. She can be imprisoned for perverting the course of justice, which is a crime. Merely accusing another person of rape, on the other hand, is not an offence. I think this needs to be emphasised. Rape is the one crime where making the accusation is itself seen as a form of equivalent attack. It is ludicrous. Men get to rape, women get to accuse men of rape, so the story seems to go. Fair’s fair. Except then it’s not fair, at least not for those in the dock.

On the one hand rape complainants are told not to expect too much from the legal system (after all, there are “grey areas” — what if it’s all “he said/she said”?). On the other, a “not guilty” verdict is seen as proof positive that women are vindictive liars. We tell women that you cannot always prove a rape has taken place, yet we tell men that you can always prove when a rape has not taken place (no “grey areas” for the victimhood of the man acquitted of rape). This makes no sense.

I don’t think those ranting about Michael Le Vell’s accuser really care all that much about the actor’s reputation. If they did, they’d be asking why, for instance, newspapers see fit to go over the details of Le Vell’s private life. His drinking habits and whether or not he has had affairs are none of our business. We don’t know what the motives of Le Vell’s accuser were. We do know what the motives of the Daily Mail and the Independent are. They are the ones naming and shaming.

Meanwhile, attacks on the court case reek of aggressive sexual entitlement. They suggest, effectively, that women should not complain about rape because rape complaints damage reputations. If every single “not guilty” verdict is seen as evidence of a grave injustice, then millions of possible rape victims are cast as aggressors. If whenever a woman makes a complaint, she is seen as the one committing an assault until a “guilty” verdict proves otherwise, then it’s not perjury but female sexual autonomy that we’re opposing.

Many rape victims live with the fact that they will never gain redress for what happened to them. The crime will never be formally acknowledged. Those accused of rape and subsequently acquitted also have to live with the fact that their “not guilty” verdict doesn’t necessarily imply that another person is guilty of something. It would be better not to have these uncertainties, but there we are. Uncertainty isn’t the same as tabloid- and twitter-driven driven suspicion, and uncertainty — followed by silence — is better than aggression, victim-blaming and hate.

55 thoughts on “Some thoughts on victim-blaming and Michael Le Vell

  1. An incredibly sane post. I have my doubts about Le Vell’s innocence, but they are broadly capricious. This article makes a far more important point, however. Rape and the false accusation of rape are not commensurate, but are treated as such in the media. It is a fact that a lot of rapes go unreported. If the false accusation of rape is an equivalent crime, are we to assume that a lot of false accusations of rapes go unreported? That is perhaps beside the point, but I just wanted to show support for your insightful piece.

  2. Have you read the piece in The Guardian?

    I think that about sums up my disquiet with this process. This guy had every facet of his life and character – even stuff that appears to bear no relation to the allegations – exposed and utterly trashed by the prosecution in open court, and gleefully reported in the press. But they’re not allowed to report the identity of his accuser or of his ex-wife, even though the relationships are well-known.

    It sure as hell looks to me as though he’s been severely punished before being found not guilty. I know I would feel that if I had been in that dock.

    There must be a better way of providing justice for both the accused and the accuser. I think anonymity for both is the only way to go. Yes, he can move on with his life, or try to – but only after having the most private details of his person life dragged out in open court; he’s paid a hellish price for being on the receiving end of unproven allegations. I can’t call that justice.

    1. I find the quotes of what was said in court profoundly weird. It worries me, too, that it seems to be a contest between barristers to see who can create the most convincing caricature of either a remorseless villain or a lying harpy. Nothing seems to be to do with plausibility, evidence or how human beings interact.
      I worry anonymity for the accuser essentially reinforces the idea that an accusation is a form of attack until proven otherwise. Defendants for other crimes are not anonymous. If reputation is the issue, the press and public should manage their responses, not sacrifice the credibility of all possible rape victims.

      1. “I worry anonymity for the accuser essentially reinforces the idea that an accusation is a form of attack until proven otherwise. Defendants for other crimes are not anonymous.”

        Well, the thing is, rape IS *unique* amongst crimes. 99.9% of murders, muggings, frauds, thefts, and other crimes of violence are non-consensual.

        99.9% of sex IS consensual; it’s the circumstances that make a serious crime out of what is normally an act of pleasure. That’s what makes rape unique, and uniquely difficult to PROVE to a jury. A lot of the time is IS a matter of he says / she says, with little or no other evidence. Given a convincing account of rape by a victim, and a robust convincing defence of consent by the accused, how is a jury supposed to decide? Unless of course the circumstances are so bizarre and outré as to make a consent defence not credible.

        (But be it noted that the accused can’t make that defence without laying their sex life bare to the press and public, and admitting to what they claim is a consensual encounter or relationship)

        The brutal fact is, a lot of the time it won’t be possible to prove that other 0.1% to the required standard for a jury to convict, and frankly there isn’t much we can do about that. That’s a hard truth.

        Given that, I think rape does deserve unique treatment – and I would point out that *accusers* in other crimes are not generally anonymous either; it is already treated differently to all other crimes in that respect.

        There is no good answer – but I think there has to be a better one than the present system.

        1. Mike,I’m speaking as a female, & I am totally with you on this one. He and his family will always have that taint, now, even if he is totally innocent – and it’s too easy for women to cry ‘rape’ about a well-known person. On the other hand, notoriety of all kinds is one of the prices you pay for the desire to be in the public eye.

    2. I agree entirely that the actor should not have been openly ‘accused’ as it were by the media before being proved innocent, but consequently now reveling in the ‘perks’ of being found innocent at trial in retrospect. The success of this case has now given the very public message that if you are celebrity material, then you are guaranteed to make a killing!. He will never have to work again and live a quality of existence, and unlike the vast majority of ‘victims’ who have gone through childhood abuse and also have no evidence of what happened to them by their non-celebrity abusers.

      1. Well he’s evidently already fond of the booze, and we don’t know how he’ll cope in the future; “guaranteed to make a killing” and “never have to work again” are both premature judgements in my view. This has already cost him his wife & children remember.

        I think the system we have here in NZ is good; ALL accused in ALL crimes get ‘interim name suppression’ until at least their second court appearance, and that’s often continued until the end of the trial. It certainly would have been if this case had been tried in NZ; Le Vell would *never* have been named here, and quite rightly, because of the circumstances of the accusation.

      2. OK *now* it’s working… please delete test comment🙂

        Well he’s evidently already fond of the booze, and we don’t know how he’ll cope in the future; “guaranteed to make a killing” and “never have to work again” are both premature judgements in my view. This has already cost him his wife & children remember.

        I think the system we have here in NZ is good; ALL accused in ALL crimes get ‘interim name suppression’ until at least their second court appearance, and that’s often continued until the end of the trial. It certainly would have been if this case had been tried in NZ; Le Vell would *never* have been named here, and quite rightly, because of the circumstances of the accusation.

    1. I’m sorry, “or else”? Or else what? Is this some kind of a threat? As for “level playing field” – it is not a competition. Rape victims deserve anonymity. Those accused of crimes deserve to be considered innocent until a verdict is reached. These are different things.

        1. You use the mask, but they’d hate your comments. Did you read the article, or are you just putting your piece in here regardless? Please read the article and then reflect. BTW, I agree that identities of accused people need absolute protection, but I am also aware that genuine rape victims very rarely get a conviction. Also, the police are not brain dead, they do a difficult job, and IMO they do their best.

  3. It al seems to depend on whether you believe in two concepts:
    Trial by Jury and Innocence unless proved guilty.

    I do, and in this case I an glad Mr Le Vell was not guilty, because it means that this poor girl wasn’t raped. That must be good news.

    Unless you are suggesting that someone else was responsible – or you don’t believe in the two concepts.

  4. Having witnessed first hand the fallout from a false allegations of rape I can only say that you have to walk a day in those shoes to truly understand. Everywhere I go I hear or read comments from people saying “there’s no smoke without fire” or “he must be guilty if they arrested/charged him” or “here come the cries of victim blaming from the so-called rape apologists” .. I could go on and frankly it makes my blood boil. I went to hell and back because a vile, disgusting piece of work casually threw around unfounded allegations that were not supported by witnesses who were there or by the medical practitioner who examined her 12 hours or so after the “alleged” attack .. nothing, not a shred of evidence to back up her claims that she fought him off with all her might, no red marks, no bruising, no dna/body hair transfered and no evidence at all that this girl had in fact been subjected to any sexual activity of any kind.. I have no doubts in my mind that this girl lied – why? Only she knows why she said what she did and yet the young man she accused and his family went to hell and back all the while she was going about her business like nothing had happened telling anyone who would listen “oooh guess what happened to me” like it was nothing more than idle playground gossip. To top it off this girl had to go to court after accusing another man of hitting her. She was openly bragging about howshe couldnt wait for him to be found guilty because of the money she would get as a result and then in coyrt she had to admit she hadnt been truthful and the guy was found not guilty. Surprise, surprise no action was taken against her for not being truthfull but it makes me wonder what her motives were when she made the rape allegations. Fortunately for the young man she accused common sense prevailed in court and he too was found not guilty and not because he had some flash, showy barrister out to beat his opponent .. in fact his barrister was the total opposite of what most people would expect and was incredibly respectful and fair to both the accused and his accuser but the fact is what the girl said was not true and the startling lack of any evidence spoke for itself. I honestly think that the case went to court because the girl was a few months short of her 16th birthday and I have no doubt in my mind that she will go to the grave saying she was raped when she wasnt.

    1. and with a heavy heart I admit that I am now sceptical when I read about sexual abuse/rape allegations in the news.. my first thought is what if she’s lying because I know that even if it is a very tiny number of allegations that are false tney do happen. And that makes my heart ache for the people out there who live with the consequences of rape/sexual abuse everyday (my sister being one of them). I want justice for what this poor lad went through and the truth is there won’t be any for him and we will still have to listen to comments people make, no one will open their eyes to the fact that people can and do lie about rape and sexual assault and this girl will still be swaggering around with a big smile on her face acting like she is untouchable.

        1. Unlike you I know this so-called “rape victim”.. I see her swaggering about laughing and shouting abuse at the family of the young man she accused, hanging around outside their house making threats against them, egging her mates on to do the same and then getting drunk at basically going out of her way to get as close to the younger siblings of the young man she accused and abusing anyone and everyone who speaks to them and i can tell you that having known this girl and her family for many years i can also tell you that this isn’t new behaviour symptomatic of her “rape experience” and i appreciate people cope in different ways but the general consensus from people I have been in touch with that have suffered at the hands of rapists and abusers is that being within a country mile of the abuser or their family is the last place they want to be. The problem with people who make comments like yours is you believe that a person who would go so far as to make a complaint wouldnt make it up because of what they go through to bring the case to court and so they must be telling the truth but that is utter bulls@#t.. just because someone makes a complaint doesn’t make them a victim and I would wager that you have never experienced a false allegation and that really gets on my wick .. just like the way you seek to generalise my reference to this girl swaggering about with a smile on her face .. if I was talking about “all rape victims” I would’ve said “all rape victims” but I am in fact referring to one person who I know for fact is a bare-faced liar.. perhaps if people like this girl didn’t get away with telling such foul lies then people – like my sister – wouldn’t have had such a traumatic experience when she came forward, an experience she said felt worse than the attack. I look foward to a day when those who have truely suffered or are suffering from sexual abuse would feel more confident about coming forward and then get the justice they actually deserve instead of getting bad press for something that is in fact not their fault because when people lie they get tarred with the same brush!!!

      1. When i read comments like this, which make generalisations about women who make a rape complaint, I think about how it’s similar to if I said that all men are rapists or potential rapists because i know women who have been raped and sexually assaulted. We don’t accept the latter so why do we think it is ok to make generalisations about the former, and silence survivors?

        The difference is of course that every week according to the BCS 1500-2000 women are raped and in a 17 month period there were only 35 convictions of false accusations of rape.

        I’m sorry this happened to your friend. However it doesn’t change the fact that every week over a 1,000 men are raping women, of which only 1 in 10 will be reported to the police, and only 6.5% of them will lead to a conviction.

    2. False accusations are disgusting but please remember that rape victims freeze, not fight, when raped. Its an evolutionary survival response to just freeze. Evidence of fighting back is unusual in rape cases because victims just don’t fight back.

      This causes problems in rape scenarios, if an especially assertive male misreads the freezing response as some kind of permission. That’s why its always so important for men to say ‘are you sure? Is this ok?’ before penetration takes place.

      If a male is not interested in consent, ploughs on excitedly, uses physical strength and ignores that his ‘partner’ has completely frozen, then sadly that partner has been raped and fully feel raped too, and will be traumatised.

      To be honest, someone freezing is a bigger clue to rape having occurred than someone fighting back.

  5. I think the general sentiment of this article is that there are no such things as false accusations of rape and that if a man’s accused he’s guilty end of.

    1. My concern is the assumption that she has lied. The point is there is no justification for a witch-hunt against her when gaining a conviction for rape is nigh impossible with trials conducted as they are.

      This does not mean Le Vell is guilty.

  6. It’s not as though women wander round thinking “well, if all else fails, I can accuse the next bloke who annoys me of rape”.

    im sorry to disappoint you but thats exactly what the woman who accused me of rape did. She tried everything to get me sacked from my job and eventually accused me of rape

    1. “Glosswitch beautifully dismantles the ridiculous false equivalence that posits that accusing someone of rape is as bad as raping someone.”

      I’d invite people to think about that.

      Rape is not a pleasant experience, but hopefully the victim gets whatever support and assistance they need in the aftermath If they don’t they bloody well should. And hopefully they get justice and see their attacker punished.

      A false accusation of rape is not a pleasant experience. It’s a long drawn-out ordeal. It can very easily cost someone their family, their job, and their house, and THEN, if things go badly, after the horror of the false accusation and trial, the VICTIM goes to jail, labeled forever as a sex criminal.

      False accusations are thankfully rare. But they are NOT equivalent to rape.

      They’re WORSE.

        1. I wouldn’t wish rape on anyone. Its a life destroyer, your whole life. identities in trials need to be kept private though, most people are raped by someone they know, mainly family. Victim and accused are both damaged when names are revealed.

        2. Rape ruins a person’s whole life, they are destroyed inside and out. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Rape affects the rest of your life. rape victims rarely get justice and due to lack of privacy (most rapists are family members/close friends) the victim’s life is ruined because people will just assume they lied, if they fail to get a conviction (and the chances of getting a conviction are very low). Remember males are often rape victims too. The only answer to this is for those few bad men to stop raping people. Taking a man to court for rape is the most humiliating and terrifying experience of someone’s life… except for the rape itself.

        3. Would you care to enlarge on that Caitlin? What in the name of the Goddess is ‘rape culture’? It sounds like one of those neologisms deliberately designed to skew the debate.

          If you have specific points opposed to the view I’ve stated I’d be interested to discuss them in a civilised fashion. I’m seldom dogmatic; my mind can be, and has been, changed by reasoned arguments, and being presented with new points of view I hadn’t thought of.

          Simply denouncing something as so-called ‘rape culture’ doesn’t do that.

  7. From the very outset of this case I felt that Levell was guilty and even though he has been found not guilty, I still feel he did indeed rape his accuser. A finding of not guilty does not mean hes innocent, just that there was a lack of evidence to prove his guilt.
    Many sexual offences against children aren’t committed by paedophiles, but by child abusers who, for a number of reasons, look for sexual gratification elsewhere with those who they see as weaker and more vulnerable, often with children. They may be in a sexually unfulfilling relationship or marriage, or they may just not be in a relationship full stop. These are common reasons behind child abusers’ acts.
    Looking at Levell, his marriage was obviously lacking in some way; he was drinking and having one night stands with women. This not only shows he was looking for gratification outside the marriage but also indicates a selfish and controlling nature. Looking at his character in Corrie, which Ive always seen as snivelling and controlling, I don’t see his real character being too far removed from his on set one.
    We must also remember that he is an actor. This odious man can give expressions of hurt and sadness upon demand and this was seen throughout the case as he was constantly pulling faces for the camera to drum up sympathy and make people believe he was the victim.
    Its amazing what good acting skills and a good defence can do, especially when youre a celebrity of sorts. People pour so much sympathy on these people, refusing to believe they could be guilty of such crimes while overlooking that celebrities are just people at the end of the day and equally open to vices and perversities as everyone else. Theyre no different and, in many cases, theyre far worse than the people around us.
    As for the victim in this case, I haven’t heard of her being accused of making false allegations and I doubt we will because I believe the attacks took place and her case was genuine. Like Ive said, its just the lack of evidence that was the factor in his being found not guilty.
    If I were the victim, Id go public. She has every right to do so although it would not be easy for her. Many victims of abuse find it difficult to talk about their abuse or revisit it, but doing so is more often than not a step on the path to healing. And, just as Levell is being rewarded with a big new contract, why shouldn’t she sell her story to the media and cash in just as he is? By doing so, people would have more insight into the case and would be in a better position to judge for themselves. It may be precarious as far as slander goes, but again, a finding of not guilty doesn’t mean hes not guilty, and her persistence would certainly add weight to her claims. After all, she would not be expected to pursue the matter if there was no weight to them.

    As for the treatment of victims who bring rape, abuse or sexual assault cases, there has to be a change in how they are dealt with throughout the process. Its a difficult step to even admit to being raped or abused, without the additional stress of a case going to court. Far too much emphasis is placed on it being a case of ‘her word against his’. In Levells case, it was stated that the victim showed no signs of being raped……..well considering these offences took place over a number of years this comes as no surprise and should not be used to say she was lying. Wounds heal over time, regardless of the age of the victim, and if she is at the age where shes sexually active, then it will be beyond impossible to prove. But that doesn’t count as grounds to say that no rape took place. Rape is often regarded as a swift and violent act, but its not always the case. A woman, or child, can be forced into having sex without the violence, simply by using the threat of violence and preying on the victims fear.
    In any case, any sexual act of that nature on a child is rape, pure and simple. Rape is where the victim doesn’t give consent and in the case of a child, there is no way a child can consent, even if no violence is used.

    So no, I don’t think he is innocent and I make no apology for saying that, nor do I have any sympathy for him, only his victim and how she was failed by the system.

    As for his so called deep dark secret, it wasn’t that he was an alcoholic. That was well known by those around him, just as the one night stands were known about among his closest friends.
    He still carries that Deep Dark Secret with him, its just not a secret any more.
    Its just unfortunate that he will now find it easier to live with.

    1. I feel uncomfortable about attacking Le Vell as a person – I know these court cases often end up being a battle of characterisations but I wish there was another way. Being a total sod who treats your family badly isn’t a crime, and I worry about rape being seen as ‘seeking gratification elsewhere’ – isn’t it more than that?
      I agree with you about the complete wrongness of expecting a victim to behave in a certain way. But I guess this is one area where I think it does have to cut both ways and I’m still not sure it is fair to bring Le Vell’s private life into post-mortems of the case (even though this is being done by others regarding the accuser and her family – today’s Sun headline is a case in point).

      1. Of course rape/sexual abuse/sexual exploitation is about far more than the act itself and the whole spectrum of peripheral factors can be quite broad, but Im referring more to ‘child abusers’ than paedophiles or rapists. People in general, due to their limited knowledge or experience, regard anyone who commits a sexual act upon a child as a paedophile when this is wrong; paedophile references those who have a sexual attraction towards pre pubescent children. There is also a clear distinction between paedophiles and child abusers, the latter of whom rarely have a actual sexual attraction towards children but, like rapists and most sex offenders, are manipulative, can be controlling and are also out to satisfy their sexual urge.
        Im not saying rapists are looking for gratification elsewhere. Rapists are by their very nature devious, somewhat callous, manipulative, often violent and controlling. Its about power for them, with very little or no consideration about the rights of others or empathy for their victim, or indeed anyone around them.
        Rapists, paedophiles, druggies, robbers, granny bashers….theyre all part of humankind and will continue to be so. It cannot be about combatting each, and erradicating them. That would be impossible. It is about understanding and looking for effective ways to handle and manage the problems.

    2. “From the very outset of this case I felt that Levell was guilty”

      So right at the beginning you come in with an agenda; you FELT he was guilty even before you heard any of the evidence. And you didn’t hear any, or much, of the evidence; just the very limited subset reported in the media. And you STILL feel he is guilty.


      1. I felt uneasy about Levell long before he was even accused, so it had nothing to do with what was flaunted in the media. And FYI, I had my suspicions about Rolf Harris and Jimmy Saville for years. I watch people and I study their characters. Call it a hobby.

        As for anonymity of the accused, I don’t think its a good step at all. Its not the cases themselves that destroy a persons character, but the media, who drag all the turgid crap up about a person. By having no anonymity, it often gives other victims the incentive and strength to come forward who may have been afraid to do so before due to the fear of not being believed.

        1. I’d point out that here in NZ, *all* accused in criminal matters, not just rape accused, have what’s called ‘interim name suppression’ which prevents them being publicly identified until at least a certain stage in the court process. That can often be extended until the verdict, and may be made permanent – innocent or guilty – if there are good enough reasons. A case where the accusation is incest would certainly be a good example of ‘good enough reasons’.

          This system seems to work well for us in NZ; I can say with a high degree of confidence that if Le Vell had been tried here, he would NEVER have been named publicly.

  8. I ended up here,as i was interested in the case. I thought there might be some sensible and interesting thoughts. Sadly, much of the discussion seems to have been used as a platform to propogate the myth that all accusations of rape must have some foundation. They dont. It is not a feminist or gender issue,as someone pointed out, men can be raped too.

    1. Of course men can. They’re very rarely accused of lying about rape, though, aren’t they? The belief that there is something to be gained by doing so seems to apply only to women (if you disagree with that, I suggest you tell this to all the men’s rights activist groups for whom false rape accusations are such a central concern).

    2. the vast majority do though. According to the BCS there are between 70,000 and 90,000 rapes every year in the UK. That’s between 1500 – 2000 every week. Between 1 in 10 – 1 in 15 are reported, and the conviction rate is 6.5%. In a period of 17 months the CPS had 35 convictions of false accusations.

      So the truth is that false accusations of rape are INCREDIBLY rare and many actually come from parents who believe their child has been abused. Some also account for women who have falsely retracted a true allegation, as was the case of a woman jailed after she retracted an allegation because her abuser and his family were harassing and threatening her. This makes the number of malicious accusations even smaller.

      The issue here is that there are a huge number of men out there who rape women with impunity. Be angry with them.

  9. This article makes me rather disappointed. It started out with such a gender neutral tone too. I am pretty sure you are a radical with an impressive lexicon, otherwise you would not try to defeat generalizations with more generalizations… like this little gem: “Men get to rape, women get to accuse men of rape, so the story seems to go. Fair’s fair.” AND “It’s not as though women wander round thinking “well, if all else fails, I can accuse the next bloke who annoys me of rape””. Of course most women don’t think this, but you can’t tell with a straight face you speak for every last woman on the planet. Are you willing to take responsibility for their actions? If not, you should probably think twice about representing them in your argument against basic justice and due process for rape cases.

    The aspect of your argument (and indeed many others) against mutual anonymity that still eludes me is the need to begin the spectacle of public shaming and humiliation before a guilty verdict is read, as if there wont be enough time after the guilty verdict. It’s not rape apology to shame someone after a guilty verdict, nor is it rape sympathizing to withhold that gleeful practice until a decision has been reached by a jury of YOUR peers. Would you have your own son subjected to this treatment, or your own husband?

    I never condone victim blaming, nor do I think the press can be expected to “behave themselves” as you suggested here. Did you know your entire conclusion falls apart if you just implement mutual anonymity?

    “They suggest, effectively, that women should not complain about rape because rape complaints damage reputations.”

    If there were mutual anonymity than that suggestion is moot, as the only way to shame his reputation would be for HER to take his name to the press (not the courts, as they are required to do). That empowers women, and protects men. Women can still make any complaint or accusation they want, the accused stand trial and no one else gets to take to twitter (or their own blogs) with their own opinion. Accused don’t need to loose their jobs and have their families needless embarrassed just by association – no one needs to be socially exiled and explain their not guilty plea to every interested passer by. The convicted still get punished, shamed and exiled – the world goes on.

    In response to your last comment to ‘nick’ –
    Men are not often accused of false allegations of rape – and this should be painfully obvious to anyone who has any involvement in gender studies – because its very uncommon for men to even report rape in the first place. If you are any sort of feminist you would know that the construct of masculinity effectively emasculates any man who would admit his weakness and inability to protect himself. it should then come as no surprise that should a man seek to file a complaint of rape it would be taken just as seriously as a woman doing the same.

    Mens rights groups – while not so subtly misogynistic – bring up a great point. All men are being taught by society that rape is akin to murder, that its one of the ultimate trespasses, and more men now know that to be accused of rape is so utterly damaging that you should be taking unreasonable precautions to protect yourself from potential partners. By denying men (or any accused) even the a simple level of protection from the fallout of a rape case, regardless of the verdict, you are sending a message that they, as accused rapists, are not Innocent. Thus, men rights group take up arms against false accusations, where this scenario plays out. Tackling the monumental task of altering domestic violence, sexual violence and process laws – against the efforts of extremely well funded womens groups would take a much longer time a leave a much larger wake of shamed accused victims. Should they not raise awareness of a problem? Their message could use some work, and you should know I don’t claim to be one of their ranks.

    I hope you see one day that a care must be taken, and sympathy must be felt for everyone in a rape case – because its not your right to decide who is guilty, nor is it your right to make an example of an accused person so that you can sleep easier tonight.

    1. So rape is a gender neutral issue – except it isn’t when you and MRAs want it to be? Great.
      And if you’re suggesting it’s somehow easier for women to report rape because they don’t have to worry about being emasculated, well, god, get some fucking empathy.

      1. First of all – thank you for not moderating away my comment. In an effort to not reduce this to bickering I want to point out that I have used gender neutral references wherever possible, and I do so to make a point. That by framing rape as solely a woman’s issue you are not creating a dialog with men – something that would seem entirely necessary given the changes to the construct of masculinity that are needed to address sexual violence world wide.

        I have always wanted rape as a crime, and indeed all crimes – to be simply social issues that everyone can participate in finding a solution to. Is that acceptable? Or is it just inconvenient?

        Either way, I am still curious as to your thoughts on my actual commentary – which is – what benefit do you see to anonymity pre-conviction vs. post conviction?

        Perhaps I was not clear in my explanation of a mans experience reporting rape- which has completely zero to do with a woman’s experience reporting rape. At no point did I even begin to suggest that a woman’s rape experience is easy – so please, please, don’t pin that on me in an attempt to disqualify my statement. And, as I mentioned in my response, I think that the MRA movement has some serious flaws – but that does not keep me from listening and understanding their position – this is empathy. I hold this same opinion and respect for feminism, and that too is empathy because i don’t self identify as a modern feminist.

        As I mentioned in my last few sentences, empathy is the central theme to my entire attempt at a dialog with you.

  10. OK Pete, I have to take issue with you.

    Firstly I will apologise in advance if I am unclear, overlong or pedantic. Argumentative prose isn’t my chosen mode of expression. So I’ll start there: For someone who struggles to remain coherent in prose, you don’t half take a condescending tone to GW, who is a model of clarity, both in style and argument. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Bertrand Russell, but it’s the attitude of superiority I find objectionable not the lack of linguistic finnesse. I especially don’t wish to be snotty about that if, as your writing seems to indicate, that English is your second language)

    Secondly you take two quotes as examples of “generalizations,” as if generalizations were bad. One is an informal statistical generalization, that you agree is true:

    “It’s not as though women wander round thinking “well, if all else fails, I can accuse the next bloke who annoys me of rape”.”

    but having accepted this fairly uncontroversial statement you write:

    “…but you can’t tell with a straight face (sic) you speak for every last woman on the planet. Are you willing to take responsibility for their actions? If not, you should probably think twice about representing them in your argument against basic justice and due process for rape cases”.

    There’s a lot of flatulent rhetoric in here, Pete, but little sense. Affirming the truth of the generalization implies nothing about one’s attitude to the exceptions. At least, if it doesn’t in your case, it doesn’t in GW’s. Still less does it require taking on moral responsibility for someone else’s actions.

    Again, sorry to be so formal and pedantic, but you seem very impressed with your own moral clarity and unimpressed with GW’s, and I am just a bit mystified as to the source of this confidence.

    More to the point, I see nothing in the article “against basic justice and due process for rape cases.” An absence of basic justice is already missing from rape trials, as there is a notoriously high rate of attrition, firstly in reporting the crime (this is not unique to the male victims of rape as you appear to believe), secondly in making it to court, and thirdly in securing a conviction (see sianushka’s post, or the BCS). Further on in your post you favour protecting the identity of the accused. If this is what you are referring to, then the violation of due process is not unique to rape cases but pertains in every category of crime. What you are asking for is not due process, but special treatment for alleged rapists. Why are these poor poppetts so close to your heart?

    The other “generalization” is a characterization of a latent attitude towards rape and accusations of rape, which is manifest in public discourse, both in the press and generally, and seems accurate and perceptive to me. GW gives examples and links. You don’t clarify what your problem is with it other than: it’s a “generalization”.

    Your next couple of paragraphs bang on at length about “mutual anonymity” as if that had been the topic of the article.

    It appears that the present rate of attrition is not enough for you. You would prefer a special stigma to hang over the reporting of rape, as if this were itself on a par with rape.

    Why you dissociate yourself from the mysogyny of MRAs I do not know. Your further comments about the “shamed accused” in cases of domestic abuse elicit no sympathy from me.

    The statistics show that the vast majority of rapists get away with it, and the vast majority of victims go without justice, and yet you and your ilk still think that men are the victims.

    We are not fooled by your talk of “empathy” and “compassion”, Even if you are. After all you may be sincerely deluded. Everyone believes in such values for their equals. Its just that deep down, Pete, I don’t think you reckon the women who suffer abuse are your equals. But the men who are accused of doling it out rightly or wrongly are.

  11. This is not great news for the ‘vast majority’ of victims of sexual abuse whose abusers are non-celebrity material, because the media have applauded the actor’s innocence in a way that screams ‘it’s okay to be a child molester’ even if the perpetrator/s are found innocent. I am yet to take my ugly step-father to court who began abusing me and my brother in 1975-1988 almost 40 years ago and there was no ‘medical or ‘forensic’ evidence that would have proved what he had done because he had not ‘raped’ me, but did everything else as well as attempted rape. My brother was raped several times by him, blamed himself for so many years, but my family broke up as we all became victims of what he had done.

    Whether or not I agree with Le Vell’s innocence, he is capitalizing upon the media fame so that he can become a multimillionaire and laud it openly to the public, and where I am pretty angered by his reveling in this craziness. What about the millions of innocent people who have experienced sexual abuse as children and current ones?, it sends out a frighteningly awful message that a child’s voice should never be heard (whether) they are innocent or not – very few children or young people are brazen enough to fabricate such damming claims and because they have to go through intensive and repetitive police questioning and court trials etc, and why I am still left wondering the genuine innocence of the teenager in this case and/or how she was put through the trails if lying?.

    This high profile celebrity culture is dangerously consuming the public, and in a way that is stamping feverishly upon people’s voices and opinions. The real danger here is that, the more the support for it, the more that even legal systems will dismiss the very real ‘ordinary people’ claims whose abusers are not even celebrity material.

    1. kira, did you read that defending this case has cost him 200,000 pounds? Money that rule changes mean he may well not get paid back from the government? And of course he hasn’t been working, and there are still question marks over if and when he will work again. He already had drink problems, and I doubt this helped. And of course he’s lost his wife and kids over this too.

      So I don’t think your portrayal of “become a multimillionaire and laud it openly to the public” is… quite telling the whole story, to put it mildly.

      I could comment about what I’ve heard concerning the background to this case, and how and why the allegations came to be made, but this blog would NOT be the appropriate place to do so – and it’s mostly hearsay anyway. Suffice it to say I tend to think the verdict was likely to be correct – but none of us know for sure.

      Your point about the majority of victims, however, is well-taken and accepted by me. And your personal experience has my sympathy and understanding.

      1. We don’t know he lost his wife and kids over this. ‘Sources’ in the media have said he split with his wife before the allegation, some that it was shortly after the allegation. Friends of LeVell have said he hasn’t seen his kids for quite a while. We are given no confirmation of the reasons why he divorced or hasn’t seen his kids.

  12. Sexual assault accusations are different from other accusations in that, clearly, they carry a large amount of stigma even if the person is found innocent. It is my belief that those accused of sexual assault should have their identity hidden until they’re convicted and I don’t see why anyone would object to this. If the person is seen as dangerous to society, they won’t be realised on bail. If they’re not seen as dangerous, they’ll be allowed out until the trial. Either way, they won’t be at risk of harming someone.

    In Michael La Vell’s case, it appears that he was a victim of an attention-seeking woman’s quest for attention and cash. Had his identity been kept a secret, he would not be a continuing victim of ignorant opinions such as those seen in some of the above comments. The court has found him innocent; it’s time to move on.

    1. The accuser was and still is a child. In what way did this child think she was going to get cash exactly? If they were going to sell their story what was the point of the anonymity in court? If she wanted cash and was such a twisted individual why didn’t she just blackmail LeVell and save the bother of a court case?

      1. Yes, it’s The Sun, but I strongly suspect they’re publishing something close to the truth here:

        In summary: it appears the entire process was driven by the alleged victim’s mother, who appears to be a complete kook, quite probably actually mentally ill, obsessed with Satanism and the occult, and with a vendetta of hatred against the accused.

        It MIGHT be that this case has more in common with the false ‘Satanic abuse’ panics that destroyed so many families in the 1990s, and the girl in this case MIGHT be a genuine victim – but a victim of the machinations and manipulations of her mother, not of the guy who ended up in the dock.

        I don’t know the full truth and neither do you; only two people know that. But it’s as valid a speculation as any other, and appears to have some evidence to support it.

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