#MadOnline: No Doubt

by Lacey Cencula

It’s me again, and you guessed it: I’m #MadOnline.

We’ve now seen in the last few weeks that everyone from politicians to producers have been accused of sexual assault. As both men and women step forward to recount tales of their sexual abuse, the public has reacted accordingly. For every comment I see condemning these horrid acts, I undoubtedly come across the comments that are enough to raise my blood to a piping hot 212 degrees Fahrenheit. You know the comments. I know I’m going to see the comments before I even get to them. But I keep scrolling until I see them anyway because I’m not allowed to feel joy on the internet, apparently.

“She just wants attention.”

“She’s just saying that for some money.”

“She’s just trying to ruin his life and reputation.”

“Why is she just now saying something?”

There are countless derivatives of the above comments, which you’re free to explore on your own time in the comment section of any online article. But you get the gist.

Come, join me on this journey, where I explain why each of those comments is so dumb, they make my eyeballs bleed.

Attention: You know what women do when they want attention? Post an Instagram or sing karaoke at a bar. We don’t falsely accuse someone of sexual assault for attention. In fact, the attention women receive for stepping forward is overwhelmingly negative. Threats, blame, and accusations are tossed at victims as if they haven’t been through enough. No one is seeking that kind of attention.

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Money: Can you literally name anyone that got rich off a sexual assault accusation? Like, do you seriously think a woman was walking around one day and was like “I’m tired of working, I’m just going to accuse someone of sexual assault, make a couple hundred thousand, and call it a day.” Recent examples of celebrities Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow speaking out about their sexual assault experiences are a good example of how widespread the problem is. And you know what they don’t need? Money or attention.

“Ruin his Life”: Donald Trump was elected President, so yeah don’t even try and act like this is a real concern.

Why is She Just Now Speaking Up: Considering the not-so-warm response women get in return to accusing someone of sexual assault (see above), it’s not surprising many women wait so long to report. Victims give the following reasons for not reporting: feared retaliation, didn’t think the police would do anything to help (see Megan Rondini), considered it a personal matter, and/or didn’t think they’d be believed.

Another interesting phenomenon to note is the difference of the public’s reaction when a woman accuses someone of sexual assault vs. a male accuser. Both men and women are affected by sexual assault; however, the court of public opinion has clearly ruled that men are more believable than women. One man accused Kevin Spacey of assault and the world took it as fact. His motives and credibility were not questioned; he was not accused of “just wanting some attention.” So why do we have such a hard time believing women?

One reason we tend to believe women less is because they tend to make these accusations more often. Yeah sure, women accuse people of sexual assault all the time, nothing new to see there. But when a guy does it, he must be serious, because that’s not as common. Now, in a world where an American is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds, is it so hard to believe that so many women have been sexually abused? When 1 in 5 college women are sexually assaulted, is it so baffling that so many women have these accusations to make? In a society that has been ruled by a patriarchy for centuries, is it so hard to understand that men who have the power, often utilize that power to sexually manipulate others in order to further exert their power?

So no, it actually isn’t shocking that so many men and women are stepping forward to speak of their sexual abuse. Matters of sex have been considered taboo for so long and are constantly pushed under the rug. Powerful people have always been considered untouchable when it comes to repercussions for their actions; few have been brave enough to speak out against them. People making sexual assault allegations in large groups at a time aren’t “bandwagoning” to catch on to some shot at fame; people always find their strength when they realize they are not alone.

Only 2-8% of rape accusations are false accusations, an amount comparable to every other crime. So yes, believe women. I bet you wouldn’t doubt a murder victim.

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Lacey CenculaLacey Cencula