Picking Your Battles

I just came home from a wedding. It was a lot of fun and everyone there had a very nice time.

Amongst the many and varied conversations of the weekend (including someone inserting lyrics into the Jurassic Park theme) was a conversation that bugged the crap out of me; to the extent that I walked away from it. I’m not even kidding, I full on walked away, even clambering out fo my chair in order to do so. The conversation, perhaps unsurprisingly, was about rape.

I had made a comment about the rape conviction statistics being appalling. The man on the other side of the table took a certain amount of umbrage about this.

“But I know somebody who was falsely accused!” he said.

“Oh my goodness!” I said, “You have anecdotal evidence, I immediately revert my opinions.”

What followed was  a strained couple of minutes wherein he attempted to convince me of the absolute legitimacy of his friend’s story, along with sweeping generalisations about “feminists”.

I walked away.

Now, to be clear; I’m not saying that false accusations don’t happen, or that instances of rape shouldn’t have the burden of proof established under criminal law. But it’s the wrong conversation to be having. Not only that, but I’ve ended up having precisely the same wrong conversation ten years ago. Ten years!

It’s an age old piece of wisdom that the one who picks the battlefield will be the victor. You can see this time and again in politics (and why the ‘rise’ of UKIP played into an election victory for the Conservatives). So by even engaging in a conversation about false accusations, the argument is skewed in the favour of anyone wanting to make a point about feminazis, false accusations as and generally turning a blind eye to one of the most frequently unprosecuted crimes in the country.

It’s not that there isn’t a place for such discussions, but they presume a conversation has already been had, that prosecution of rape is treated justly and fairly, and that some new allowance should be made for those who are wrongly convicted. But the time for that is not now. And until it is I will continue to walk away from conversations like that. Maybe in another decade, I most sincerely hope so.