The Thing Is, Rapists Lie

[Trigger warning for sexual assault.]

Greg Mitchell, who I normally really respect, just retweeted the following:
RT @DanielEllsberg Sex charges against Assange are grave, but having heard his account personally, I believe they're false and slanderous.
That's an interesting thing to say, for lots of reasons.

I wonder if Ellsberg has also personally heard the accounts of Assange's accusers, and found them unconvincing. I doubt it.

I suspect that he just assumes that they would sound like liars, were he to speak to them, because Assange sounded sincere. And why would he not make that assumption? One of the key narratives of the rape culture is that false accusations are extremely common. (They are not.)

Or maybe he just assumes that rapists are easily identifiable, that he can suss out a rapist by talking to him. Unlike the stupid women who trust them, date them, marry them, work alongside them unawares. Until.

It's funny, ahem, how much implicit victim-blaming is embedded in the assertion to know a man has been wrongly accused.

The truth is, it doesn't really matter what Assange or his accusers sound like to Ellsburg, or anyone else. Because sounding honest and being honest are often mutually exclusive concepts.

And rapists are excellent liars.

Who sounds credible is frequently cited as a sound method of determining the veracity of rape allegations, and that is one of the primary reasons that justice remains so frustratingly elusive in the majority of sexual assault cases.

Dishonesty comes with the territory. Vanishingly few accused rapists are inclined to be honest about their crimes, for what ought to be evident reasons, and, further, rapists know they can rely on a breathtaking scope of rape apologia to contextualize and excuse their behavior. It is accusers, survivors, who sound like the liars, the fantasists, as they stammer and fume in the face of an entire culture primed to disbelieve them.

And even if they are credible, and taken seriously, adjudicators (official and amateur) shrug their shoulders and murmur phrases like "he said, she said." Impossible to know.

Sounding innocent isn't proof of innocence.

Like Daniel Ellsberg listening to Julian Assange, I personally heard my rapist's account of what happened between us. He sounded sincere. His cool recounting made my charges seem false and slanderous to the men who were listening.

He was lying.

I don't know if Julian Assange is guilty or innocent of the allegations made against him. I do know, however, that Daniel Ellsberg's opinion of his truthfulness is evidence of exactly nothing.

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