In response to a federal Title IX lawsuit filed in April, Occidental College settled with several students and made a public commitment to making "Occidental a national leader in dealing with sexual misconduct." Victim advocates on campus created an online anonymous reporting system, through which students could submit reports of rape and sexual assault for support, and for statistical purposes. It allows victims to seek help without immediately having to grapple with often-discouraging bureaucratic and law enforcement channels.
So-called "men's rights" advocates on Reddit and 4chan have taken it upon themselves to sabotage that system by flooding it with false rape accusations. Because, apparently, one inalienable "men's right" is the right to ignore and silence victims. (Apparently not a "men's right": the right to report your rape via an online reporting tool. Strange how MRAs only care about male victims when it's convenient.)
Not only is this reaction cruel and misguided, it's also based in a falsehood. Here's David Futrelle:
Last night, a regular commenter in the Men's Rights subreddit — inspired by a thread on 4chan — posted a link to an online form on r/mensrights under the headline "Feminists at Occidental College created an online form to anonymously report rape/sexual assault. You just fill out a form and the person is called into the office on a rape charge. The "victim" never has to prove anything or reveal their identity."
This headline is not only inflammatory but untrue: Yes, Occidental College has an online form that allows victims of or witnesses to sexual assault to report the incidents to the school. But, as a statement at the top of the form makes clear, the point is to collect data on how much sexual violence there is at the school, who the victims are, and so on.
...No one will be charged with anything based only on information gathered using this form. As would be clear to anyone who thought about the matter for more than a few seconds, it's rather difficult to investigate, much less prove, a rape if you don't actually know who the victim is.
If you actually click through to the reporting form, it's clear that this is a resource for victims (victims who, on many campuses including Occidental's, are already underserved), not a handy app designed to oppress frat boys. I can barely fathom the putrid mental contortions required to look at a list of rape crisis hotlines, treatment centers, and counseling services and see a threat that must be destroyed. Not to mention the fact that the form's other utility—gathering data about the prevalence of sexual assault and the demographics of victims—is now tied up as well. So the MRAs aren't just harming rape victims who need help right now, they're stymieing the program's efforts to help all future assault victims.
False rape accusations are not a problem even remotely comparable to actual rape. People whose lives have been touched by sexual violence (or actual false accusations, I'd wager) don't treat it like a game. Deliberately interfering with rape reporting in a culture where 97% of rapists will never go to jail isn't a "protest"—it's an assault.
Image via Wikipedia.