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Every Story Gets Attacked

June 29, 2010

When a woman says that a prominent man sexually assaulted her, her story gets attacked. It doesn’t matter what her story is. I said it already once in response to Amanda Hess’s post on the allegations against Al Gore, here. What I said was:

Every story gets attacked. A narrative that is bizarre and has unexpected elements gets attacked as too weird to be true, but if it’s straight from a made-for-TV-movie it’s “too perfect” and must be made up. If she freaks out and destroys evidence by showering or throwing out clothes, it must be untrue; if she keeps her wits and preserves evidence she’s a schemer and must be making it up. If she’s drunk or high she must not remember or asked for it or deserved it anyway; if not they why was she in the room with him and why didn’t she try to get away sooner or more effectively?

There is no right story. The apologists come out of the woodwork to attack any story. If they even attack Samantha Geimer, thirteen, coerced to take depressants and still said no, then there is no woman who can tell a story and just plain be believed. Not even Mother Theresa. Not even dead.

Thanks, Amanda, for picking it up as Comment of the Week.

It bears repeating. Every time I read the comments come rolling in, usually almost universally to the effect that some element of the story is inherently implausible, I wonder why it happens every time. It’s almost like there’s a segment of the population that feels some deep need to knock down each and every allegation, who want none of them to be believed. Almost exactly like that.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 29, 2010 3:14 pm

    I’m not sure if this explanation really, well, explains rape apologists, but I found some comfort (no, that’s not the right word…) in regards to the slut-shaming and rape-apologizing I experienced (experience) in this, the Just-World Fallacy. It’s no excuse, but provided something to fill in the blank of “how could they…?” What do you think of it?

    (My apologies (ha!) for my inability to accurately or eloquently express anything above. I still struggle with words for what I’ve been through.)

    • June 29, 2010 3:31 pm

      I think just world thinking, in combination with sexist social structures, explains a great deal of rape apologism — especially among women. I think that women victim-blame to avoid having to confront the reality that rape is a threat to them. It’s hard to accept that something so dire can be largely or entirely beyond our control.

      And you expressed yourself just fine.

  2. July 6, 2010 4:50 am

    I think it’s because most people like to think this couldn’t happen to them, they like to preserve the fake feeling of security and the belief that if they act in a certain way, do everything right, then nothing bad will happen to them.


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