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Sunday, October 05, 2003

On Sex Accusations


What many people -- and most women -- seem to forget is that just because an accusation of sexual misbehavior is made does not mean that it happened.

This was a topic of conversation at Harvard a few years ago; many shrill voices insisted that no woman would ever dream of alleging even the slightest hint of misbehavior unless it were absolutely true. But, seriously, there are quite a few reasons why a girl might want to fabricate an accusation. One, of course, is simply to get attention, but there are several other reasons:

My cousin, lately of Brigham Young University, says it's rather common among girls there to make false accusations -- if it comes out that you've had sex, or even just gotten a bit hot and heavy, and you're not married, it's much easier for you to save face and claim you were forced and go through the process (generally designed to shield the girl's name, at the request of those complaining how hard it is on the girl to say anything) than it is to own up to your Mormon family and friends that you've screwed up.

Additionally, your boyfriend breaks up with you, your date decided the next day he didn't want another date (both after consensual goings-on), he turned you down in the first place and nothing at all happened, or someone you may never have met runs for office in a party you don't support? In processes (which vary from place to place) where your name will never come out, such as in a university setting or in a Los Angeles newspaper, you can do a lot of damage to the person you hate at absolutely no cost to yourself. We women have a very dangerous resource here.

Now, about Arnold. I'd say it's most likely that he's told his fair share of off-color jokes; I'd bet he's whistled and said, "nice legs, baby"; and I'd be surprised if he's never pinched a girl as he walked by (heck, even Yeltsin does that on international TV). None of those things are acceptable today (and the third one ought to be unacceptable), and all of those things were acceptable in the 1960s and 1970s. But, taken a girl's shirt off in a gym, the girl complains to her husband, and the husband says, stop whining and don't come back to the gym with me? For one thing -- in the extremely unlikely event that such a story is true, that girl needs to check to see if her husband is actually a male. Someone messes with your wife and you tell her to stop whining? You don't go beat up the guy, or, if you're puny, at least tell the people in charge of the gym? Umm, yeah.

So, I think he probably did several things he probably shouldn't have then and which are definitely inappropriate today, and I think he was quite right in apologizing for them. On the other hand, I'd lay even money at least most of the more outrageous accusers are making it up, either to hurt him or to get attention for themselves.

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