As Oberst’s Accuser Recants, Let’s Remember The Real Victims Here: Everyone But Oberst

Tyler McKay /">Tyler McKay /
Tyler McKay /

Joanie Faircloth, the woman who bravely announced her celebrity rape in the comments of a xoJane article, has finally recanted her story. And as the piece thinkers purse their lips and tent their fingers, the internet has already produced the exact responses everyone was expecting.

What’s the angle? What’s the takeaway? What does Faircloth’s story do for rape victims? What does this lie mean about women in general? Get out your rape statistics spreadsheets, everyone! It’s time to update the numbers.

Conversations are heated, but despite where sympathies fall, everyone seems to agree on one thing: this story has wide reaching consequences, and if there’s any victim at all, it’s everyone except Conor Oberst; the singular man falsely accused of rape by a specific woman named Joanie Faircloth.

Feminists are mad because it flies in the face of their oft-asserted claim that women simply do not lie about rape, and if they do, it’s statistically insignificant. Quick to the comments, they ignore the case and the details, and remind us of what’s really important here: false rape allegations, statistically speaking, do not happen. Overall, only about 2% of rape allegations turn out to be false. Just to give you a little perspective, that’s roughly the same percentage of Jewish people in the US Population, and let me ask you this: when was the last time you’ve seen or heard about a Jewish person? Never, right? Exactly. So let’s stop pretending like fake rape is either a real thing or something we should ever take into consideration. And let’s certainly not discuss anything else other than how Faircloth makes REAL rape victims look bad.

And, that’s really who suffers here, right? Not Conor Oberst, the man falsely accused of rape, but REAL rape victims. And when I say real rap victims, I don’t mean, like, REAL rape victims, of course, but hypothetical REAL rape victims. The rape victims of the future. The large swaths of women that won’t come forward about their assaults because society will immediately think, “oh man, this is just Conor Oberst all over again!” You know, because people are completely incapable of judging things on a case by case basis? Either all rapes are made up, or false rape accusations never happen.

And this will most certainly affect victims in the future. Just think about how many women haven’t been able to come forward since 2006 because of that abject fucking disaster that was the Duke lacrosse scandal. Remember, the one where it wasn’t just an internet comment and some gossip on Tumblr, but instead a trial where charges were filed and people’s lives were seriously put in jeopardy? Remember? It was the one where 88 professors and several journalists announced the boys’ guilt and claimed that they did not deserve the presumption of innocence? Remember the case where the DA was disbarred? Remember the one where the woman who lied about the rape ended up being a fucking murderer?

Remember the case that was in so many ways so much worse than this one? Remember how much the Duke trial changed the dialog about believing rape victims? Or did that not happen at all? Is the Duke case now just something that’s immediately dismissed as ammo for trolls and the MRAs?

No, it’s had a huge impact. Since 2006, women have stopped reporting rapes because society has obviously deemed all women to be liars based on the actions of one horrendous piece of shit woman. Just like the Duke trial, this Oberst case will somehow make it even harder for hypothetical real rape victims to come forward. Just like the Duke trial, people will now see things in even blackier blacks and whitier whites.

But, is it just the hypothetical real rape victims that suffer here? No, men suffer, too.

Enter the MRA’s. The PUAs. The mansplainers. The rape apologists. The men that interpret feminism as an assault on a masculinity that they never had in the first place. Enter the other side of the coin.

“See? This proves women lie about rape!”

No, it proves that a woman lied about a rape. And, even if it was indicative of higher instances of false rape allegations, so what? What are you really saying here? That we live in some kind of culture that promotes false rape allegations? Doesn’t that sound an awful lot like rape culture – a thing that you deny the existence of?

The saddest part about the men’s rights activists is that they ostensibly stand in opposition to what they perceive to be a cult of victimhood, and they do it by, well, acting like victims. The Faircloth/Oberst situation plays into an MRA’s innate fear of women – and make no mistake, if they’re bitching about widespread false rape accusations, they’re most certainly afraid of women. They’re afraid that at any moment, men stronger than themselves will knock on their door and whisk them away to a butt-rape factory just because some feminist decided to file fraudulent charges.

Suddenly, to them, this story isn’t about one single moonfaced hick leaving a bullshit comment on an article, on a whim, because she was feeling lonely that day and wanted upvotes. It becomes a story about a woman who carefully constructed a false rape scenario, sat on it for ten years, and unleashed at the moment she knew it would take off, just to hurt this man’s career. Just to hurt men. And to the MRA’s, this kind of thing can happen to any one of us at any time. They’re the victims here, not women. And not Conor Oberst, the man that was actually falsely accused of rape.

And, I suppose they’re right, too. Because the real victims here are both the feminists AND the MRA’s, and again, certainly not Oberst, because now both groups have to change the way they incessantly bicker with each other on social media.

From here on out, this case will have to serve as another bullshit talking point in their quest to make a declarative, sweeping statement about the veracity of rape claims, the mindset of women, and about male attitudes towards sexual violence. Updating the rhetoric will be a long, difficult process, and my hat goes off to the brave men of women of the comment sections. They are the true heroes here, and if there is anything to be taken away from this story, it’s that the words strangers write in the little “me too” boxes under articles should be taken very seriously, never with a grain of salt, and interpreted as bellwethers for the thoughts, feelings, and actions of everyone else in the world. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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