Friday, October 27, 2017

The Falsely Accused Trope

I've been watching season three of All Saints lately. Today I'm watching the episode, A Fine Balance.

In this episode, Amy, a young patient (Kate Sherman) accuses Dr. Stevens (Eric Thomson) of molesting her. As far as the viewer is shown, this is a false accusation.

I'm pretty sure this isn't the first time All Saints has had a storyline about false accusations. I vaguely remember an episode featuring Bridie Carter. I think I actually wrote a blog post about it. I'll go search for it later.

I also remember a storyline I saw a few years ago on Home and Away.  I think I wrote about that too.

And I know I've seen such storylines on TV shows from the US...and other places.

I'm wondering why these storylines seem to be so prevalent. More importantly, do real life occurrences of false accusations match their prevalence in fiction?

I'm also wondering if they make it more difficult for real women victims to be believed. Have our novels, TV shows, movies, etc. led us to automatically question if a woman is telling the truth when she talks about being attacked?

The thing about real life prevalence is, I think it would be hard to get an accurate measurement. In many cases, the only people who know for sure that an attack happened or didn't happen is the victim and the accused. If a woman takes back her accusation, it might not be because the attack didn't happen. It could be that she was convinced and/or pressured to retract the accusation. Maybe she was led to feel it was her fault. Maybe she was led to believe it wasn't that big of a deal.  Maybe she was led to feel that the authorities aren't going to believe her. Maybe she was led to believe that speaking out against her crime is going to cost her career and her reputation.

Some people could claim that they have a friend or family member that was falsely accused. I know my brother wouldn't do that. He's a GOOD man. 

But we can't know anything about a person 100%. We can have doubts that someone committed an act of abuse. We can't ever be fully sure. People have sides to themselves that they hide.

And sometimes it's a case of denial. Well, yeah. He's a bit of a creepy pervert sometimes.  But I can't imagine he'd ever actually rape anyone. Then you add the...Plus, she's a bit of a slut. And she's loves being the center of attention. I'm pretty sure she's just making it up.

Anyway....I'm going to look at my old posts. I'm wondering what I felt about the scenes. I have a feeling I wasn't bothered by the trope.  I probably was more frightened by it and angry at the characters doing the false accusing.

Here's the Bridie Carter post.  In it, I say,  I think that's something that really scares me. What if one day I get accused of a horrible crime I didn't commit? What if it happens to someone I love? And worse...what if, because of the accusations, I start to doubt this person? Maybe it's different when you know someone and you can have some amount of faith that they're innocent. But then you can never know for sure. We might think we know someone, and maybe they hide their darkest parts from us.

Some of it is similar to what I'm saying today—close to three years later.

But I think back then I was as worried about being false accused of something as I was about not being believed.  Were my fears valid?  Is there a good chance of being false accused of a crime. Or it it mostly a myth perpetrated by fiction and real perpetrators who passionately deny their wrongdoings?

The thing I'm noticing about some famous accused shitheads lately is they don't just deny their crime. They try to turn themselves into the victim.

I just had to pause my writing to take care of some feline child/human child stuff. And I had to pee. During all that, I started wondering if I was being unfair.  If I'm going to believe people who are victims, shouldn't I also give the benefit of the doubt to people who are victims of being falsely accused?

Maybe.  I think I did in the past. And I probably do a tiny bit still these days.

The thing that makes me less likely to do it lately is I'm seeing a sort of pattern with men who are accused.  First it's, I definitely did not do it. Then when there's enough evidence to the contrary, okay I did it. Oops sorry.

It reminds me of this narcissist prayer I saw online. That didn't happen. And if it did, it wasn't that bad. And if it was, that's not a big deal. And if it is, that's not my fault. And if it was, I didn't mean it. And if I did, you deserved it.  

As I said earlier, though, it's not just about denying the abuse and/or crime happened. It's about the asshole turning himself into the victim. They cry out about their reputation being ruined. They cry out about how this will hurt their family. They threaten to sue their accusers. If evidence mounts against them, they may slow down their denials but still paint themselves as the victim. Now they're no longer victims of false accusations. They're victims of growing up in the wrong time period or they're victims of some kind of deficiency. But if we give them a chance. If we give them our support and love, they will rise from the ashes.  They continue to paint themselves as the protagonist in the story rather than the antagonist.

I just went to search for the other post about false accusations. Back then I wrote, Hated Billie (Tessa de Josselin) and thought there should be a special hell for people who make false sexual assault allegations. Not only do they hurt the man they've accused, but they hurt the women and men who truly are attacked.

While searching for the post, I started to remember and understand why I had such strong feelings about false accusations.

It sort of happened to me.  It wasn't a sexual abuse thing, though. Thankfully.

It happened when I wrote a response to a young adult's harsh blog post about obesity.  My response was pointed, but civil.  The response to my response was extremely harsh.  My response was also deleted, so people couldn't see what I had actually written.  Then the mother of the young adult (labeled as mother bear), and her friend could paint me out to be someone who deserves to be verbally shit upon.

I've also encountered people online who've invented cancer storylines for themselves.

So yeah. There ARE awful, manipulative people who lie and/or exaggerate to bring attention to themselves or to perpetuate some kind of persecution fantasy.

Are these problems more prevalent than the problem of hurt people not being believed?  Is one problem worse than another?

I'm not sure. It was horrible having people hate me and gang up on me for simply writing a civil, disagreeing comment. I've also had the horrible feeling of having a problem and not being believed.

I'm reading more of my blog post.  One of the other things I wrote is, Thought it would be cruel for a family member not to believe a family member about being attacked, but if there's a strong history of lying and manipulation, there needs to be some reasonable doubt.

And I wrote,  Wanted to say that I also feel bad for people who are attacked and not believed. Nate is well-loved and respected in town. What if he HAD attacked Billie? Would anyone have believed it? Even if she wasn't a manipulative cow, there's a fair chance they wouldn't. I think there are highly-respected people who do bad things, and their victims are not believed.

What I'm starting to understand is that these confusing, conflicting thoughts I'm having today are nothing new for me. It turns out I had the same thoughts on April 18, 2016.

I didn't have any answers then, really. I don't have them now.

Today when I saw Dr. Stevens being accused, I felt annoyed.  Obviously, this comes from all the stuff I've read in the news...and Twitter...and remembering my own experiences of being dismissed and not believed.  I was bothered by the trope and felt it might add to the chances of an abused person not getting the comfort and justice they need and deserve.

I don't necessarily disagree with what I was feeling when I first started writing this post. The trope might very well be overused and an exaggeration of what happens in real life.  But I'm feeling a little more sympathy for the other side of the story.  No, I don't have any sympathy for the many shitheads who do shitty things and then have the nerve to lie about it and paint themselves as the victim.  I do have sympathy for people who are innocent and are hated for something they didn't really do.

In some ways, All Saints does a fair job of painting how fucked up the situation is. Though I've already seen two storylines about men being falsely accused of sex crimes, I've also seen two storylines where a woman is really attacked.  One of them happened a few episodes ago.  Terri (Georgie Parker) was attacked by her stalker. In the episode I watched today, she defends Dr. Stevens against the accusations. So even a victim of a sex crime might not believe other victims of a sex crime.

With a TV show it's easy.  The viewers are usually given the answers. This character is a bad person and this character is a good person who has been falsely accused.

In real life, it's much harder to know what is truth and what is not. When you have twenty women coming forward with similar accusations against the same man, it's easier to see who is lying and who is being honest. When there is only one woman, it's much harder.  Then we have to decide between making a woman feel a million times worse about what happened to her or helping to destroy the life of an innocent person.  

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Our Self-righteousness Aint Going to Help This World

I remember reading, a few years back, this book or article that talked about how sometimes Australians get so interested in American civil rights issues that they ignore the shit that happens in their own country.

And of course Americans do the the rare occasions that we actually pay attention to Australia.

I think we humans tend to do this a lot.

We avoid our own sins by finding those that are worse than us or finding villains that we imagine are worse than us.

Israel is another example that I often think about in terms of country issues. How many Americans, Australians, and other non-Middle Eastern folk label Palestine/Israel as an occupied territory? How many of these people get passionately angry about that?  How many of them participate in boycotts and protests?  Now out of these people, how many are also living in an occupied part of the oppressor group? Isn't Australia an occupied country?  Isn't the United States one?  If I'm going to shoot dirty looks at Israeli's, should I not do the same to myself?

Two of the big things on my mind lately are sexism and racism.

In my family, we talk a lot about white supremacy. We hate Donald Trump, We hate Richard Spencer. We hate Steve Bannon and Jeff Sessions. We enjoy hating them, and they deserve our hate.  

But we can't improve the world by simply hating, and fighting against, the worst racists.

I believe we have to also look inward and try to change.

I know I have stereotypes and prejudices about ethnic groups that are systematically oppressed.  Thoughts creep into my head and I feel really awful...ashamed.  

I could look at Richard Spencer and think, well...I don't need to worry. I'm not as bad as him.  

I'm not even close to being as bad as him. Still. Comparing myself to Spencer and feeling smug about my superiority helps no one.  I think it's better for us to examine our own weaknesses and spend our lifetime trying to improve them.

I've been obsessively following the Harvey Weinstein story lately. The MeToo campaign fucked with my head a bit. I've never been raped or assaulted. I don't remember being horribly harrassed in a way that made me nervous about my career. There were Tweets, though, that declared that pretty much every woman is included in MeToo. A part of me wondered what the fuck made me so different? Another part of me wondered if I actually could be included. I started thinking of stuff in my life that made me feel hurt, embarrassed, angry, stressed, pressured, a failure, discriminated against, etc.  I wondered whether or not that counted.  

Well....I still wonder.

A part of me thinks yes, of course they do. It all matters—big or small. And small stuff can add up.

Another part of me feels weird adding myself to the same list that includes women who have been violently raped multiple times.


You know...if a black man is stared at with contempt while walking through a predominantly white neighborhood. If the experience makes him feel sad, should we dismiss his feelings because at least he hasn't been shot by a police officer?  Or hey, at least he's not a slave!

I think we need to find a healthy balance of realizing there are those worse off than us while at the same time NOT dismissing our own problems. I have struggled with this my whole damn life.

My biggest MeToo story is this. When I was in my late teens or early twenties, my dad took videos that made me feel violated and embarrassed. I didn't know it was happening when the videos were taken. No, there wasn't a secret camera hidden somewhere.  It was more like he zoomed in on certain parts of my body without me knowing. I didn't find out until later when we all watched the video. I don't feel it was a sexual thing...more of a body-shaming thing. 

Some other women may not have been bothered by the incident. But I was very self-conscious back then.  *-see footnote below.

I told my best friend about it, and he laughed. LAUGHED. He seemed to think it was hilarious.

We grew apart years ago, and I've often regretted that. But after this whole MeToo campaign, I've started to change my feelings of regret. Now I'm thinking more along the lines of, Good Riddance.

Though that's probably not fair. My friend was young. I could hope that's he's grown up a bit.  

I wonder if he remember what I told him. I wonder if he remembers that he laughed. I wonder if he feels regret. I wonder if he looks at Harvey Weinstein and thinks, What an ass. I'm so much better than that.  

I actually didn't think much about the video incident through the years. It's not that I'm a peaceful, forgiving, let-bygones-be-bygones person. It's more that my head is crowded with so many other grievances.

But I thought about it after the Donald Trump harassment stories, and I thought again about it with Weinstein and the MeToo campaign.  

I've tried talking about it with Tim and again feel dismissed. It's not rape. It's not assault. So...does it really matter all that much? During these conversations, I end up feeling like I'm making mountains out of molehills. I'm made to feel that I'm selfish for having these feelings because OTHER women have been raped.  

I feel this post is a confused mess.  

Sorry about that.

I guess the underlying theme...I HOPE it's somewhat apparent... is that we should be not be dismissive— of our own sins and our own problems and bad memories.  

If the men in my life are dismissive of the sexism and body shaming I've encountered, are they also dismissive and/or ignorant of what they have perpetrated towards myself and other women?

What do they think when they look at Weinstein and Trump. Do they think, what an asshole. I'm so much better than them.  Or, The women in my life are lucky to have me. They could have it so much worse!  

I really hope they're not thinking stuff like that.

I hope they're reading about Weinstein this week and having some uncomfortable feelings...similar to the uncomfortable feelings that I have when I try to confront my own racism.  I hope they're not feeling too smug that they haven't done big bad things. I hope they're spending more time feeling guilty for doing small bad things, and I hope they're working on changing.  

*-I think another confusing aspect of the MeToo campaign is there is a wide opinion of what is bothersome and what is not.  I think this needs to be examined and respected. As I said above, some young adults might not have minded being videotaped in the way I was videotaped. They might have thought it was funny. Or they might have found it mildly annoying, but nothing to lose their shit over.

I'm not sure if I've ever been catcalled. I can't remember.  It doesn't seem like something that would hurt me.  In some circumstances, I might even be flattered.  But I totally respect that other women might be very hurt and bothered by this.  Their feelings are very valid even if I don't feel the same. 

I've encountered sexually explicit conversations online.  I can't say I find them entertaining, but I'm also not really bothered by it. One thing I will say is, I HAVE felt like a prude for not being entertained, so all this MeToo stuff has made me realize it's okay that I'm not into that kind of stuff.

That's the other thing.  I've allowed myself many times to feel like a prude because I haven't been amused by certain things. I haven't wanted to do certain things.  I haven't lived up to expectations promoted in women's magazines, etc.  I need to teach myself to accept myself and not label myself as a prude.  At the same time, I need to respect women who like all this provocative/sexual stuff more than me and also respect women who like it even less than me.   

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Lost Australians

I've been re-watching the first season of Lost and am realizing that the show doesn't exactly put Australians in a good light.

Warning: Spoilers below.

In "Tabula Rasa", an Australian betrays Kate by calling the police on her.  He needed the offered reward. To his credit, though, he did seem to feel bad about it all.

In "Walkabout", an Australian discriminates against Locke. Despite being in a wheelchair, Locke wanted to go on a grueling tour. The Australian refuses to let him. As sad as the scene was, I'm not sure the tour guide was wrong in saying no. I think probably Locke was at fault for not disclosing his disability early on. If he did this, maybe they could have had ways to prepare so he could be accommodated.  Then again, Locke is a smart guy and probably understood all his limitations. He probably COULD have handled the walkabout tour. But I can't blame the tour guide for his skepticism.  Still...he didn't come off looking like a nice guy.

In "Raised by Another" a fake or real Australian psychic manipulates Clair into getting on the doomed flight. The show might have revealed later if he was real, fake, working for Jacob and the Others, etc. I can't remember.  But still. I'm pretty sure he tricked her into getting on that flight. He was also a bit stalkerish. Or actually...a lot stalkerish.

Oh! And also in that episode, there's Claire's Aussie boyfriend. He convinces pregnant Claire to play happy family. Then when she starts doing that, he gets scared and abruptly dumps her.

Now I'm watching "Hearts and Minds". Boone is trying to get help for his stepsister who is being abused by her Australian boyfriend. The Australian police won't help.

So...what's the deal?  Why was the show shitting on Australians?

Or am I looking at things the wrong way?

There are also plenty of Americans who aren't lovely on the show.  For example, Jack's father killed a patient, because he was intoxicated while operating.  Then he tried to manipulate Jack into keeping quiet about it.

There's the American bank robber who was ready to turn the crime scene into a murder and would have if Kate hadn't stopped him.

And there are plenty more examples of Americans acting badly on the show.

I think the difference is there is more good-Americans to counteract the bad-Americans.

It makes me think of The Walking Dead, and the idea that black men are treated extremely unkindly by the zombie apocalypse.  It seems like every time there's a black man on the show, he dies...sometimes after a few episodes; sometimes after a season or two.

I think, though, that just as many (or more) white people have died on The Walking Dead.  The difference is there are more white people on the show in general, and there's not this feeling that one actor is being fired so he can be replaced by another actor of the same ethnicity.

I'm NOT saying this is what happens. I don't think The Walking Dead literally has some kind of quota. It just feels like it sometimes.

It's probably all some kind of coincidence. Or it could be subconscious on the writer's part. If it is subconscious, it might not be racist.  It might actually be sympathetic and symbolic for what black people have to endure in America. Life on earth isn't safe, but it's especially unsafe if you're not white.

So, what's up with Lost?  Did one of the creators of the show have a personal grievance against Australia?  Was it just coincidence?  Was it the fact that each of the characters needed a pre-island conflict, and since their journey began in Australia, the conflict was likely to involve Australians?

The other thing I wonder about Lost and Australians, is why were there not more Australian survivors on the plane.  I have a feeling I've complained about this before on the blog.  I'm not sure, and I'm too lazy to search. So...sorry (sort of) if I'm repeating myself.

I would think, though, that most flights have a pretty even mix of people leaving their hometown and people leaving their temporary destination.

We could assume that there were many more Australians on the flight. They just weren't lucky enough to survive.

Or maybe they did survive, but they're not part of the elite club that gets to talk and have storylines.

I was thinking that maybe they just couldn't find enough Australian actors to fill full-time roles on the show.  But that can't be true. The show is filmed in Hawaii.  It's probably just as difficult to get mainland American actors there as it is to get actors from Australia....or Australian actors living on the American mainland.

I'm not saying Lost needed to have an even number of Australians and Americans in the survivor's clique.  But I definitely think they should have had more than just one.

On the plus side, they did have four other characters that are not American—two Koreans, an Iraqi, and an English guy. And that's just in season one. I know later an African shows up. Maybe others?

How often do non-Australians/non-Americans take flights from Sydney to LAX compared to Australians flying from LAX to Sydney? Though I doubt the former is rare, I think the latter would be more common.

Anyway, I shall stop worrying about it, I suppose. Whatever happened, happened.  For the sake of fictional Australians, I shall hope there were not many on the flight rather than they were on the flight and all (except one) died tragically.

OR...maybe they survived and got lost on the island somewhere. Maybe THEY will be the focus of the reboot series.  Maybe, in that show, it will be Americans who are shitty and causing pre-island conflicts for the Australians.