When I first heard that the Hofstra student who was the alleged victim of gang rape recanted her accusation, I was a bit skeptical. To me, it sounded as though she was harassed and forced into saying that it was a consensual act in order to clear the four men of charges. I later learned that there was apparently a cell phone video of the event, in which she claimed she was tied up and beaten, which the video showed no evidence of.

I’m naturally still skeptical of the entire situation, but what I’m more upset at is the media portrayal of it. I read the news on a daily basis and would like to think that I keep up with major events in today’s world. However, I hadn’t heard of this case until after she recanted her accusation. Now, the media’s painting the four men as the victims. I’m not denying that they are victims, that they were wronged and they deserve justice. If this woman really did falsely accuse these men of gang rape, then she deserves to be punished and these men deserve to have their names cleared.

But that’s not the issue. The issue is that too many times these are the only stories that we hear. So many times, either through the media or through the friend of a friend, the stories we hear are the horrible women who falsely accuse men of rape, assault and harassment. These men will forever have their names tarnished, and that is a shame. I am in no way justifying the actions of women who charge false allegations against innocent men to either hide their own actions or to simply be vindictive, because it is a crime.

But what about the millions of women who actually get raped, beaten and harassed, and their perpetrators are never found nor tried? What about the millions, yes millions, of women who are true victims and are too scared to speak out, who are shamed into thinking it was their fault or that they deserved it, who are never given justice? What about the millions of rapists who go unnoticed, undetected and keep on raping, who live their lives every day knowing that they got away with something? Where’s the justice there? Why don’t we hear about those stories? Why is it that these stories exponentially outnumber the cases of false rape accusations, yet we hear so little about them unless it’s an extreme situation such as a father kidnapping and raping his daughter for 30 years?

A few months ago at home for break, my mom’s boyfriend was reading the local newspaper. A woman who worked for the county clerk accused her boss of sexual harassment and he was fired. It made front page news. My mom’s boyfriend picks up the paper, reads the headline, and the first thing he says is, “Oh my god, this woman accused her boss of harassment, how dare she, she ruined his life, all these women, ruining men’s lives over false accusations of harassment, they’re just overreacting!” It never occurred to him that maybe, just maybe, this white man was actually guilty of the crime he was being accused of. It never occurred to him that just possibly, her right to freedom from harassment at the workplace overrides his right to say and do whatever he wants simply because he’s a white male.

White men think that whatever they say goes, they make the rules, they set the standards, and anyone who disagrees is obviously out to get them. If a man says to a woman in the office, “Those pants make your butt look great!”, they think they’re giving a compliment. They think, “Well, if a woman said that to me, I’d think of it as a compliment, so therefore it must be a compliment.” I.e., “If this is what I think, anyone who disagrees with my white male view of the world is obviously a lunatic and just needs to suck it up.”

Newsflash: not everyone is a white male, and not everyone processes things the same way. If a man that I worked with said my butt looked great in a pair of pants, that would mean he was staring at my butt (which is inappropriate for the workplace), and that he felt that he had the right to comment on it. Why does he have that right? Why does he think that my body is out for display and he is free to comment on it in any way he sees fit? Some may say, “Well if you didn’t want to be complimented you shouldn’t wear such form fitting clothes, you slut, you’re asking for it.” I’m sorry, since when were baggy pants in fashion for women? Since when did a woman wear baggy pants to work and not get criticized for “not being feminine enough”? Double standard anyone?

Point is, we need to stop making women out to be the badguys. We need to stop only focusing on the few cases in which some women abuse the system set up to protect them. There are people that abuse every system; does that mean we should take away the systems altogether? E.g. Just because some people kill others with guns, should we take away the 2nd Amendment, are all gun owners bad people? Certainly not. We need to direct our focus on the women who actually are victims, the women who are assualted and raped on an hourly basis and have no voice in this world. I (and many other feminists) are not trying to paint all men as evil, or assume that every man is a rapist. We’re not trying to accuse every man of wrongdoing. We’re calling those men who aren’t rapists to stand with us and end the violence, to end the pain, and to give a voice to those women and men who are sexually abused and assaulted. Don’t let them remain silent in fear.

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