On people believing the extraordinary claims about rape

If I had known the story of my false rape allegation would be held up by so many dudebros as the reason why you can’t take rape allegations seriously, I almost certainly would have thought again about posting the story I told primarily for catharsis’ sake back in 2009, before the shit started hitting the fan in the secular community when people dared suggest maybe we should try not to chase out women so much.

Another comment today has hit my first-post moderation wall, as so many others have since the allegations had been made against Shermer, on that old post. My linking it in the Web of Trust post probably didn’t help matters, but neither did having a shitload of people who hate FtB latching onto it and deciding this meant that we at FtB, monolith that we are, are lying hypocrites and/or rapists and/or something something evil something something blog hits something take over the world.

This comment seems more reasonable than most of them, at first glance. It’s decidedly not, though.

Trigger warnings due to frank discussion of rape and rape-apologetics.

Author : Rohn

I have no doubt based on your story you were a victim of a false rape accusation. But a dilemma is raised.

Is it fair for us to believe that your ex-girlfriend who accused you years ago of rape, is a bat-shit crazy liar without hearing her side of the story? Isn’t this “the bitch be lyin’?”

Have I missed something?

You seem trustworthy but many would say Dr. Shermer does too. Only a minority of rape allegations are false, as you yourself say.

Hypothetically – If your ex-girlfriend approached Dr. Myers today with her allegation of being raped by you, what do you think ethically he should do: Ignore the allegation, liase with you about it, publish it on his blog, or go the the police?

I suspect raising this question will get me insta-banned, if not I’d be interested in your answer.

I absolutely love the preemptive defense of Freeze Peach at the end, but I have to say that seeing this nonsense used as a club to attack PZ Myers and the unnamed source of the allegations against Michael Shermer is emotionally draining — in no small part because it’s being used to ultimately undercut victims of sexual assault.

Let’s go through this Fisking-style.

I have no doubt based on your story you were a victim of a false rape accusation. But a dilemma is raised.

I provided no evidence for my story other than my word — I could have made up every single fact about it, up to and including the existence of a girlfriend when I was 16, and yet you believed me without reservation. Why is that?

And a “dilemma” is a problem with exactly two solutions, neither of them being acceptable. You do not raise a dilemma in this comment; you raise, at most generous, a conundrum.

Is it fair for us to believe that your ex-girlfriend who accused you years ago of rape, is a bat-shit crazy liar without hearing her side of the story? Isn’t this “the bitch be lyin’?”

Have I missed something?

Quite a few things, actually. Aside from the fact that lying about things causes an erosion of trust overall, and aside from the fact that trust is necessary for believing a case without corroborating evidence, I’m going to say this as absolutely plainly as I can: Even people who lie frequently should be able to report rape and it should be taken as seriously. There should not be a “you cried dickwolf” defense. This is morally reprehensible, and intellectually lazy, and it allows real rapists who target known liars to get away with their crimes.

Another thing that you missed is that I don’t mean “throw men in jail because a woman claims rape”. Nobody means that, to my knowledge. What “taken seriously” means is, trust but verify.

In my story, a group of her schoolmates who believed her came to my house ostensibly to beat the shit out of me. They trusted, but didn’t verify. They were trying to enact vigilante justice. In Shermer’s case, I don’t know of a single person advocating either that he get put in jail without evidence, nor that a mob of vigilantes take him aside and beat him to a pulp.

So, yes. She was a compulsive liar, which I should have recognized sooner with all my attempts at covering for her and providing apologetics for her that what she said wasn’t REALLY a lie. I was in love, and I didn’t want to think ill of her, so I mentally justified all the lies as mere misinterpretations and misspeakings. But people saw her do this and recognized that this was the case, prior to her rape claims, and despite the small circle of her friends who took her at her word, many people saw this as just another lie. This, I recognize, is ALSO a problem.

I never saw a court of law over this. Most claims of rape never do. I did see some repercussions though, psychologically — since then I have had a great deal of difficulty with being overly cautious even with enthusiastic partners, to their consternation when I move too slowly in bed for their tastes. As a result of the deeply in-grained fear that perhaps the rape allegation against me was predicated on my misreading signals, I have historically chosen to be as cautious as humanly possible in such matters. I know, intellectually, that I didn’t rape her, and I know, intellectually, why she made the accusations that she did, but the psychological damage is still there, and I’m still overly cautious decades later. This is something I need to work out between myself and my partners, though — and I’ve managed to some reasonable degree, given that my dance card is presently full. But she was not taken as seriously as she should have been, except for the small group that took her way too seriously without verifying.

I resent the hell out of the fact that my ex-girlfriend’s lying is being used as an example of why you shouldn’t trust-but-verify when people claim they’ve been raped. It’s an example of exactly why you should be measured and careful in treating such a situation without doing undue damage to the alleged victim, at the same time as not doing undue damage to the accused in case they turn out to be one of the rare cases of false accusation. NOBODY treated this situation correctly, in my estimation — not the people who dismissed it as a lie out of hand, and not the people who took her at face value. And if anyone took her seriously and fact-checked before taking action, I didn’t see it (probably because they were being as cautious as they should have).

You seem trustworthy but many would say Dr. Shermer does too. Only a minority of rape allegations are false, as you yourself say.

I’ve talked at great length about how trust is built up. Shermer’s trust is built up through his celebrity status, mostly, with regard to the people making this sort of apologetic. For the people who claim to be victims, perhaps they trusted him as well, and got burned as a result, and they are trying to let everyone know he’s less trustworthy than he seems by virtue of his celebrity.

In my case, a single person claimed rape, and made statements of fact that were demonstrably false. This is decidedly not sufficient evidence to send anyone to jail. However, I have absolutely zero problem with people taking her story into account when determining whether or not I am trustworthy to be around. If people misjudge me based on that story, it might hurt my feelings, but not enough to overcome my empathy for the position that that person is actually in when deciding whether or not they need to defend themselves.

This is the Schrodinger’s Rapist argument all over again. And my stance has not changed. I, as a male imbued with all the privileges of not having to worry about any social encounter ending with rape because rape of men is exceedingly comparatively rare outside of prison, empathize fully with someone who feels they need to cross the street or wait for the next elevator or walk faster to get away from me even though I have no intention of mistreating them. My feelings are not hurt by this — not really. In fact, it makes me angry at a society where such rapes happen and the rapists are almost never brought to justice.

A very small minority of reported rapes are false in the sense of being invented from whole cloth. However, depending on your definition of “false”, meaning everything up to and including claims of rape that cannot be proven in a court of law (and running through the gamut of excuses including “woman was inebriated and therefore untrustworthy” through “nobody’s been specifically accused” through “police didn’t want to bother”), the numbers vary greatly. The most commonly accepted number is about 6% being reported but being totally untrue.

That means 94% of rape allegations are probably true. And this with under-reporting being a huge problem. If all instances of rape were reported, despite monumental societal pressure against reporting since the person reporting rape is often the only person whose life gets turned upside-down, then I suspect the number of false rape cases would decrease precipitously.

By comparison, most theft is reported, and the victims aren’t unduly put through any legal wringers. False theft reporting happens about 2% of the time. I suspect if you took false rape claims and compared to a combination of both unreported rapes and reported legitimate rapes, you’d get about the same percentage.

So, when someone reports that they’ve been raped, chances are, they were. Calling them a liar is actually the extraordinary claim.

Hypothetically – If your ex-girlfriend approached Dr. Myers today with her allegation of being raped by you, what do you think ethically he should do: Ignore the allegation, liase with you about it, publish it on his blog, or go the the police?

Since you’re not being confronted with a person who is personally known to you, whom you trust to not make radically contrafactual statements in a climate where their lives would be turned upside-down by making such a claim, in my case you find me trustworthy because I’m the only one telling the story. In Shermer’s case, multiple unnamed people have either claimed being assaulted themselves, or established corroboration of patterns of behaviour described in those claims. You can distrust them, and by extension the people who brought those claims forward, if you want. You can (correctly) suggest that this isn’t enough by which to put Shermer in jail.

But the goal of the alleged victim is to make the pattern of behaviour better known, so in the future, others might more correctly judge how to deal with this person. Ethically, I see no problem with a multiply-substantiated account by credible sources that this person may not be trustworthy in those sorts of social situations, that this person might be a horndog on the prowl. However, it’s up to individuals whether or not this is a turn-off. There could very well be people fully interested in taking him to bed despite these issues. Philosopher groupies, as it were. The issue is one of INFORMED ENTHUSIASTIC ONGOING CONSENT. This is primary in any discussion of sex — nobody here is against sex if there’s consent. Sex is great, when all parties involved are into it. Have as much sex with willing partners as you want. But consent must be INFORMED.

This is merely more information with which people can make an informed choice to consent.

Ethically, if the goal is to prevent people from being raped, and if a statute of limitations has passed and the evidence available is grossly unlikely to land Shermer in jail even if all these accounts were absolutely true, then the correct ethical choice is to make these accusations known to the audience that might use that information to better protect themselves. Since we are an internet-based community primarily, I see no problem with using the internet to get this information to the people that might be most in need of it.

If my ex-girlfriend were to — almost twenty years after the fact — approach someone in a position of power to make the allegations widely known in our community, and the person in a position of power were to believe her uncritically without independently verifying the facts of the case that are verifiable, or to compare notes against other patterns of behaviour that have been observed and reported on for years within our community — then I would suggest that that might be ethically questionable. However, even then, the people receiving that information would be able to gauge how credible the accounts are and modify their behaviour around the accused, either with being around Shermer, or with being around me. As I said before, the worst that can happen if people shy away from intimate situations with me is that my feelings get hurt. I empathize enough with people trying to avoid rape that if they gauge me as a potential attacker, they should do what they need to to feel safe (short of preemptive assault), my feelings be damned.

If, ultimately, Michael Shermer learns that he needs to be a lot more careful about consent — even if he ends up with hang-ups about it, like I did — that’s not a horrible result. Especially not where we have multiple witnesses to multiple events suggesting he’s taking the issue of consent a lot less seriously than he should.

Now, does that answer your question to your satisfaction, first-time commenter who airdropped into a post from four years ago to talk about Michael Shermer?

Somehow, I doubt it.

On people believing the extraordinary claims about rape

95 thoughts on “On people believing the extraordinary claims about rape

  1. 52

    I don’t really have anything to add except my voice to the chorus thanking EEB for your story. It’s such a moving and necessary counterpoint to Jason’s story, and gives voice to the policies like the one in Virginia where victims were assumed to be lying.

  2. 54

    @52-You mean a blog isn’t the same thing as a court of law? The same standards of proof don’t apply really? Really?
    (sarcasm off) Sheesh. You’d think all that was so obvious it didn’t need to be spelled out. I guess Smurf proves that wrong.

  3. 55

    @EEB: I want to join those expressing horror at what you went through, gratitude for your willingness to share it, and appreciation for your bravery.

    @Smurf: Way to smurftastically smurf the point. Take your fetid smurfy load of smurf and smurf off.

  4. 56

    Seconding others in this — jesus, EEB, that’s horrific, and it illustrates a number of very important points about why people might not report to the police. Because your experience is not, as I understand, unique.

    Thank you for sharing. And I’m sorry you went through all that.

  5. 57

    EEB, I am in awe of your courage and the strength I know it took to post that here. Same goes for you Jason.

    Sometimes I tell myself I should stop reading and commenting on these blogs; that it has nothing to do with me really, I could walk away tomorrow and it wouldn’t change my life at all. But what kind of person would I be if I let something like that go without at least saying something? Every voice that isn’t raised in outrage at that ignorance and injustice is another voice lending silent support to a destructive status quo.

    I can’t do much, but I promise you I will do what I can. I will not be silent, here or in “real life.”

  6. 58

    God Damn EEB…I am halfway through your first post.

    Thank you so so so much for telling your story…I am shattered just reading it…

    Hat’s off for telling it. I can’t imagine how hard that was.

  7. 59

    EEB, thank you for your courage in posting your story. I’m enraged, but not particularly surprised.

    GrzeTor and Smurf, off is the direction in which you should immediately fuck.

  8. 61

    EEB, I’m so sorry.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

    And thanks to Jason for the OP.

    ~ ~ ~

    It is obvious you idiots have no interest in the right of the accused to face his accuser.

    If this were a court of law, we would certainly support that right.

    In order to placate a bunch of spoiled brat attention whores…

    People who have been raped are “spoiled brat attention whores”? Something’s seriously wrong with you. Seek help.

    …you are willing to indulge complete speculation and rumor mongering rather than do the responsible thing and await a legal resolution to the matter.

    “Speculation”? “Rumor mongering”?

    Have you bothered to read the OP you’re responding to? The original accusation and the ensuing discussion on PZ’s blog? Or are you just another dishonest wanker?

    This is not “speculation.” This was a first-hand report by somebody who is known to PZ. Others who know her have vouched for her. There is independent corroboration that she was distraught after the incident.

    A “legal resolution”? If you’re not bright enough to notice that this is not a court of law (and that Shermer’s accuser has stated she does not plan to go to the police,) you might at least have the intellectual honesty to read the comments in this very comment thread explaining how the legal system fails rape victims.

    But I’ll bet you’re one of those derpwads who believes that American jurisprudence is all about figuring out the Truth, and a conviction or acquittal corresponds to the guilt or innocence of the accused.

    I swear, Big-S Skeptics are some of the stupidest people on the goddamn planet. Dunning-Kruger poster boys.

  9. 63

    EEB, my heart goes out to you. I commend you for sharing such a painful experience in hopes that it may educate others. It certainly hammers home the point that one cannot trust the police even in a violent case of stranger rape with plenty of physical evidence, let alone the far more common case of acquaintance rape.

  10. 64

    CAVEAT : English is not my mother tongue, sorry in advance

    I would like to share a few things:
    First of all, I am a privileged white guy and I have been pretty ignorant of many issues, but when looking back, I see some disturbing patterns. For example, is rape so rare ?

    Of the three girls I am (or was) close enough to be considered as a safe confident, 2 were “acquaintance raped” (and both didn’t dared to report it) and one was harassed in a way that could have been prosecuted. Another friend was severely beaten and raped. This time, rapist was jailed (it’s quite sad when you have to end up injured to be taken seriously).
    Btw, I live in a REALLY safe country…

    Another point is that often, women don’t dare call it rape or harassments. One of the raped friend was so cautious, it took me time to realize that yes, what she was explaining me is a rape… she never used the word, only saying that he was threatening, that she was afraid, so she let him do “what he wanted”.
    All that to say that I do NOT believe that a rape claim is an extraordinary claim.

    For the harassment case, the girl told me of an awkward situation with her former boss and then made me read a letter from that guy and asked me if it was really appropriate that he would send her that (hint : it was absolutely not). She didn’t dare to call that harassment even when it was obvious AND with a written proof.

    Regarding the sad story from EEB and in relation with the whole affair. Even if I wanted to be “skeptic” (i.e. dismissive and assholish) and dismiss it as an unfounded claim, it should still have at least ONE effect. I would make sure that if someone I know had to report a rape, I would make sure that she (he) is never left alone. You don’t need physical evidence and proof before you decide it may be a good thing not to trust the system to handle such complains seriously.

    PS : super skeptic skill should also goes in the other direction : was this rape accusation dismissed because it IS false, or because it was CONSIDERED as false?

  11. 66

    @ EEB: Joining others in thanking you for sharing your story. I can’t imagine how hard it was to do so, and I wish I had more eloquence at hand to express my revulsion at how you were treated.

  12. 68

    What I hear from people I trust is that poor girls without a support system are raped again by the police, literally. After all, whom can they complain to? It’s completely understandable that many women, even crossing off those who wonder if they are partly to blame, won’t go to the police. I wouldn’t (didn’t).

  13. 71

    @EEB, I am new and therefore an unknown quantity to you. Therefore my individual sympathy can not have the same impact as that of your friends here – I just want to add to the numbers. I am so sorry this happened to you and I have no problems believing your account of the aftermath. I don’t know – can’t know – what it cost you to share that.

  14. 72

    EEB, I’m seconding what Bozjemoj said, with all my heart. You had a right to expect to be treated with respect and taken seriously. Instead you were victimized again. I wish you could sue the bastards. And why don’t their illegal actions get reported and disciplined? And meanwhile, no one is looking for a rapist. I’m so sorry this happened to you.

    The objections to dealing with sexism and harassment, that these are just individual incidents with no public consequence, are meaningless. Economics, law enforcement, public health, education, and a myriad of other activities need to be managed, even though they are made up of individual actions and reactions.

  15. 75

    I, as a male imbued with all the privileges of not having to worry about any social encounter ending with rape because rape of men is exceedingly comparatively rare outside of prison

    As a male survivor, I would appreciate if you did not present misinformation. One in six males face sexual violence by the age of 16. That is hardly “exceedingly comparatively rare.” While we have no conclusive data on how frequently adult males are raped, we do know that the vast majority of sexual violence against males occurs outside of prison at the hands of people the male victims know, and usually at the hands of women (see the 2010 CDC report on sexual violence). While I understand that as a feminist you need to play to your feminist audience, it is dismissive and harmful for you to downplay what hundreds of thousands of men and boys experience every year.

    That kind of comment does not help men like me, although it does ensure that many of them will remain silent since they are apparently too “privileged” to experience rape.

  16. 76

    Jacob, I don’t want to minimize your experience in any way, and any number is horrifying, but I would like to know where you got your stats. US DOH statistics say 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys experience sexual abuse.

    The problem here is one of universalizing experience. The MRAs making political hay out of my false rape claim believe it proves that most rape claims are false, when really all it proves is that the number of false rape claims is more than zero — which nobody here would argue with, staunchest feminist or otherwise. The fact that I experienced it and yet do not universalize it to everyone makes them think I’m a brainwashed feminist stooge, when really, I’m evidently the only one of us looking at the actual numbers. In your case, I strongly suspect you are primed, by your own horrible experience, to believe numbers that may be otherwise skewed by a source that’s motivated to play up abuse against boys and play down abuse against girls. I don’t think the US DOH has any such motivations.

  17. 77

    Wait, I misunderstood that all your stats came from the CDC 2010 study. The NISVS, right? This one? That says:

    Nearly 1 in 5 women (18.3%) and 1 in 71 men (1.4%) in the United States have been raped at some time in their lives

    Though that’s excluding forced to penetrate, studied separately:

    Approximately 1 in 21 men (4.8%) reported that they were made to penetrate someone else during their lifetime; most men who were made to penetrate someone else reported that the perpetrator was either an intimate partner (44.8%) or an acquaintance (44.7%).

    And when you add in all the types of sexual violence together, including harassment and stalking:

    More than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

    Therefore, I’m entirely confused as to where your 1 in 6 comes from.

  18. 78

    The 1 in 6 statistic is separate from the CDC report. It is curious that you found the CDC report, but not the 1 in 6 statistic. I typed “1 in 6 male” into Google, and immediately got this on the first link:

    *A 2005 study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, on San Diego Kaiser Permanente HMO members, reported that 16% of males were sexually abused by the age of 18.
    *A 2003 national study of U.S. adults reported that 14.2% of men were sexually abused before the age of 18.
    *A 1998 study reviewing research on male childhood sexual abuse concluded that the problems is “common, under-reported, under-recognized, and under-treated.”
    *A 1996 study of male university students in the Boston area reported that 18% of men were sexually abused before the age of 16.
    *A 1990 national study of U.S. adults reported that 16% of men were sexually abused before the age of 18.

    The US DOH results are based on reported cases, and therefore are not representative of the actual rate as male survivors are less likely to report their abuse. Even the 1 in 6 statistic is a low estimate, so the actual rate of sexual violence against boys is higher. That rate would never change as the boys became men, meaning that at least 16% of the adult male population experienced sexual violence. Again, that is hardly “exceedingly comparatively rare.”

    I know of no source that plays up abuse against boys and plays down abuse against girls, although I can find plenty examples of the reverse. I would not support either because I take this issue seriously, do not like anyone playing politics with it or anyone pretending to care about male survivors just to save face.

    As for other matter, I think the problem is that by quibbling over the rate of false accusations you and other feminists appear to find it acceptable for innocent people to go to prison for a crime they did not commit as long as the “guilty” ones go as well.

  19. 80

    And here is where you screwed this up:

    “What “taken seriously” means is, trust but verify.”

    Wrong. Innocent until proven guilty. That’s what our nation of laws is built upon. You can’t automatically trust an accuser without breaching that very basic tenet of our great nation.

    The correct answer would be “Take note an investigate.” That’s it. No trust. No implication of guilt or innocence. If you do anything else you are wrong.

  20. 81

    @76-“I know of no source that plays up abuse against boys and plays down abuse against girls, although I can find plenty examples of the reverse.”-You must not have read too much by MRA’s. Their focus generally isn’t childhood sexual abuse but they frequently play up sexual violence against men and downplay sexual violence against women. A good case in point is with the CDC data-the MRA’s have cited over and over the 12 month prevalence of “forced to penetrate” for men which is almost equal to the 12-month prevalence of rape in women, while never bothering to acknowledge that the lifetime prevalence of men “forced to penetrate” is roughly one fourth the lifetime prevalence of rape in women. Then too, the MRA’s angst about male victims of sexual assault is usually just to complaint that they get fewer resources than women do-which is true. But I’ve also noticed MRA’s generally seem to devote far more time and energy looking out for men accused of sexual violence than men who are victims of sexual violence.
    also@76-” I think the problem is that by quibbling over the rate of false accusations you and other feminists appear to find it acceptable for innocent people to go to prison for a crime they did not commit as long as the “guilty” ones go as well.” I’ve never read where Jason wrote that innocent people should go to jail to make sure guilty people never get off. Or PZ or Ophelia or Stephanie or any of the other writers at FtB.
    Victims of sexual assault of both sexes have to deal with disbelief, victim-blaming, and slut-shaming when they come forward. Male victims also have to deal with homophobia whether with a male perpetrator (“No REAL MAN would let another man have sex with him”) or a female perpetrator (“What’s the matter with you? What REAL MAN would be upset about having sex with a woman?”) But those memes are rooted in patriarchy, not feminism. The assertions that we should distrust accusers and always trust the accused are just as harmful to male victims of sexual assault as female victims.

  21. 83

    But in addition to Thascius’ remarks, Jacob also said:

    I […] do not like […] anyone pretending to care about male survivors just to save face.

    I don’t like anyone pretending to care about anything just to save face. It’s deceitful. But in this specific case, for this specific allegation: When has this ever happened? Where? I’m confident that’s not a position commonly taken up by humanists.

    Who doesn’t care about male survivors and how does that group overlap with the people here?

  22. 84

    Voodoo Idol nailed it at #77. Never forget that what some people view as ‘the victim’ is in reality ‘the accuser,’ until evidence is gathered to determine what actually happened.

  23. 85

    “I provided no evidence for my story other than my word — I could have made up every single fact about it, up to and including the existence of a girlfriend when I was 16, and yet you believed me without reservation. Why is that?”

    Why would you have to disprove you’re guilty? Isn’t it innocent until proven guilty, not vice versa.

    This is the issue PZ’s MS serial rapist accusation. PZ decided to be the jury and the judge and claimed “guilty”, now prove you’re innocent. If there are rapes behind the story the trial should not be held in public forums but in a court of law.

  24. 86

    Raiskausapologisti @81

    No, your nym is not clever and neither are you. Repeating an already refuted assertion makes me suspect you don’t read very well and that you may have be a bit unlucky while thinking.

    I’m saddened that you live up to stereotypes, though. People may get the impression that not even the hailed Finnish school system can improve the poor stock they have to work with.

  25. 89

    @11, 19

    PZ has every right in the world to publish a 3rd hand account on his blog. False accusations are really rare. You can whinge about his politics all you want but the fact is women usually don’t have safe alternatives to report rape. Every avenue is like another rape and the least harmful is to stay anon and report it publicly so 1) other women are aware and can prevent another victimization 2) disclosing feels good 3) other women come forward 4) the person who did it is socially outed and probably many more personal reasons.

    Deal with it.

  26. 90

    Saelpalani, there are a few things wrong with your assertion. First, the alleged victim is personally known to PZ, so she(?) is only third party to us. Second, catharsis from making your allegations public doesn’t necessarily “feel good”, and there are other considerations than just what “feels good”.

    But yes, I agree that victims speaking up is its own good because it will help achieve critical mass and make this community a safe space.

  27. 92

    i like your statistical analysis, but i think you’re kind of an asshole and probably shouldn’t have written about this, at least not as a personal anectdote. not that its dumb to write about this, it just doesn’t accomplish anything and makes you seem a bit neurotic when you apply semantics to an agument about rape, and when you deem your personal life newsworthy in its non-happenings. one wonders why you felt the need to write about this in this personal a way in this personal a venue. i know its frustrating, and you probably wish you could shout about it on a hilltop for the world to hear, but what you wish you could do and what you really should do are usually a bit different.
    this kind of thing is probably best left to serious academic study and expert handling, not crowdsourced steam-blowing. so to publish or not to publish, or to speak out or not speak out- these are not the correct questions. who to talk to is very important in this kind of situation. the way you describe it, it seems like this is more a very personal mental health issue that your ex gf has, and not really something we should all know about you.
    by the way, ‘cathartic’ processes are usually those that involve the expulsion of bodily fluid containing human waste and/or poison, i.e. vomitus, urine, feces, sweat, but usually feces. in fact the term ‘cathartic’ is also a noun that, since the 17th century has continued to denote a medicine that causes the bowels to purge themselves. you really don’t need to purge on us. this is not a semantic correction-your use is also semantically correct as using a seperate definition for the same word- rather, it is a psychodynamic insight. In a non-freudian psychodynamic framework, an anal fixation developed in early childhood can manifest later as ‘oral expulsive/agressive’, because of the condition of fixation on witholding and expelling waste. thus the unintended double entendre of the ‘cathartic’ experience. The writer need not even know of the traditional relation of the two meanings, because they are present also in the mutual synonym ‘purgative’. now do you see why your personal life doesn’t always belong in public eye?
    Also, the best way to make a story go away is to stop writing about it.

  28. 93

    Congratulations, motoko K, for what might be the least helpful comment ever. “I like your statistical analysis but you’re an asshole for having done it and shouldn’t have done it” is not particularly useful as advice or feedback, except in telling me exactly what YOUR values are and how they don’t intersect with MINE.

  29. 94

    [meta]

    C’mon Jason, #85 may not be helpful, but it sure is risible.

    …and makes you seem a bit neurotic when you apply semantics to an agument about rape…

    <smirk>

    Also, the best way to make a story go away is to stop writing about it.

    <snicker>

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