Who are you? Why should I believe you?
I wrote an article recently — Men, We Need You To Tell Your Truths Too. My opinion, shared by others, is that the gender narrative is dominated heavily by victim feminists who see the world through the rust-colored glasses of powerlessness and a patriarchy looming larger in their heads than it does in ours.
One must wonder how galling it is for men to read endless — and I mean endless! — articles by women telling them how to court women (often contradictory) and how to be a better man.
It seems like a good time to discuss credibility levels with male, female and other truth-tellers.
Hail Ansari, full of ‘Grace’
It was Aziz Ansari’s accuser who made me consider the limitations of anonymous testimony.
‘Grace’ did for feminism what Jeffrey Epstein did for yacht parties.
She related an anonymous story of an evening with comedian and actor Aziz Ansari that came across as somewhat less rapey-sounding than portrayed. Aziz pushed her a bit for sex and stopped when she asked. She came nowhere close to getting raped, unless you count the inherent risk in going back to someone’s home you’ve only just met.
She felt the discomfort of a young woman who made a decision, was in over her head and came out of it less wise, it seemed, than she might have.
She didn’t consider when she got Ansari’s invitation to come home with him that celebrities are famously entitled and think they can (and often do) get away with what mere mortals can’t, but she was young so I’ll spot her her inexperience. Still, she was old enough to know going home with a guy you barely know isn’t exactly a Best Practice. She’s lucky he wasn’t another Coz.
Controversy erupted. For those of us who know equality means female responsibility and that men should accept no means no, Ansari did exactly that and she looked like a clueless teenager who shouldn’t be allowed to go to parties with beer and boys.
Only he took the fallout with those who thought the night was rapey, even if no rape occurred. ‘Grace’ took some criticism and fallout too, but until someone revealed her real name she could go about her day without anyone knowing she was that Grace unlike Ansari who was that Aziz Ansari.
‘Grace’ backpedaled feminism for women fighting the millennia-old perception that it’s not their fault when they get raped, while validating an infantilizing feminism portraying women as never responsible for their personal safety or for making their boundaries clear. The definitions of ‘rape’ and ‘sexual assault’ have bloated over the years to trawl a wide variety of male behaviors which didn’t fall under those categories before, and the victimhood set was plenty happy to rake another man over the coals even though he stopped when she asked while never wondering whether Grace should have an 11PM curfew.
Male critics accuse women of not knowing what rape is anymore, and I fear they may be partially right.
When Feminists Make It Harder To 'Believe Women': How can we be sure she was raped if she doesn't understand the difference between 'rape' and 'consent'?
‘Grace’ depended too heavily on subtle signals indicating lack of willingness to pursue a sexual liaison that Ansari failed to pick up. ‘Grace’ may have simply been unaware men often don’t pick up on nonverbal signals, so women need to be more verbal and up-front with what’s okay and what’s not. It wasn’t her youth; it’s uncommon knowledge. I won’t fault her, but we all need to understand men aren’t mind-readers.
‘Grace’ essentially held Ansari up for public ridicule, hiding comfortably behind anonymity (not unlike a troll) until someone dug up her name. Then she had to face the public consequences, too.
I came to realize something which will make the #MeToo set cringe or turn red with rage, but I think it’s true, like it or not: Truth rings more loudly when you tell it under your real name.
On some levels, anonymity is for cowards.
The feminist troll
I understand why women don’t want to tell violent tales of abuse, rape, sexual assault, stalking, genuine gaslighting and psychological manipulation under their real names. Men be crazy.
Especially vengeful exes. Especially angry, incel trolls, themselves hiding in sexually frustrated cowardice behind their 4Chan monikers.
I don’t condemn women for anonymous testimony. It’s necessary.
But, it also opens her up to the legitimate suspicion she may be lying, or not being entirely truthful, or stretching it a bit.
When #MeToo exploded, with tales of terror on Twitter and elsewhere, I wondered how many of the anonymous were lying?
Yes, I think some women lie about rape, but not the way men think — where she falsely accuses a particular man. That happens, less than men believe, more than women believe. I myself have seen it twice.
Feminist trolling is real, and it becomes easier to lie about rape and sexual assault — or anything, really — when there’s no chance anyone can identify you.
A few years ago here on Medium, I read a perfectly reasonable article on gender relations by a popular male writer who received a lot of positive response.
Then came The Feminist Troll.
She descended like a Pacific Northwest heatwave, spewing poisonous misandry and tossing wild accusations about how men have ‘brought it all on themselves after thousands of years of patriarchy’. She had a ‘name’ — common, the same as countless women across the world — no photo, and nothing in her brief biography to identify her. Maybe it was her real name. But it didn’t matter. She was anonymous. She was a troll, even if she
didn’t consider herself one.
She spoke of having endured much abuse throughout her young life including multiple gang rapes that rang so — damned false.
It was the first time I ever read such a thing and thought, “You’re lying.”
She listed her ‘cred’ almost proudly, like she was rattling off her university accomplishments. Rapes, a gang rape or two, sexual assaults, sexual abuse when she was a kid — but without the dead-serious feeling most survivors of such traumas express. Maybe she was telling the truth but — sounding almost proud of her alleged abuse, being anonymous added to her lack of credibility.
She made me wonder if some women lied behind anonymity to join the ‘sisterhood’ of sexual trauma survivors.
The benefits of traumatic sisterhood
When a woman claims to be sexually assaulted her word is considered sacred writ by many. She’s never, ever questioned, as that would be misogyny and blaming the victim. This sisterhood can damn men all they like, exhibit the worst kind of misandry, and be cheered on. Sure, they get hate comments and threats by misogynist trolls, but they don’t know who to stalk and dox.
Thou shalt not question the word of a woman who claims to have been abused.
It’s different when you #MeToo your way through social media or blogging platforms under your real name. There are ugly, real-world consequences to telling your truth the anonymous never have to face.
This is why my faith in anonymous testimony has been shaken both by ‘Grace’ and the Suspicious Rape Victim.
How to be anonymous AND credible
Given how abused anonymous social media accounts are, I favor a fantasy I don’t know will ever occur — The Internetz and social media banning anonymous accounts. I don’t know if it’s technologically workable, or even legal. I realize it means many genuine stories will disappear, because women and men will be afraid to tell their truths when people can stalk and hurt them, but it also means anonymous trolls will shut the fuck up too, when there are consequences for their words. Like not being able to create a new profile moments after the last one is suspended. Or someone stalking and threatening them. Or worst of all, someone telling their parents.
I believe identified truth-telling will always sound more credible than anonymous testimony. The reason is simple: It takes A LOT of courage to open yourself up to the kind of backlash, abuse, and public shaming dealt to those whose truth hurts others more even than it hurts themselves.
I salute and honor these supremely brave souls, whoever they are and whatever their story. Identified authors will likely take a lot more care with their words when they have to answer for them, rather than NarcissismSurvivor1608.
For those who simply can’t risk identification for insanely good reasons, you can add credibility to your anonymous story by being ever-mindful of your language and not allow your own personal narrative to obfuscate the truth. (Like every really minor ‘microaggression’ turning into the writer’s heroic Epic Battle With The Patriarchy or White Supremacy.) If it’s clear you have a toxic agenda — you hate women, men, white people, gay left-handed plumbers — you’ll come across a lot more troll-ish. You will open yourself to charges of ‘making it up’ or having an axe to grind. Your story will be, perhaps not unbelievable, but still less credible.
I’ve read plenty of anonymous tales of terror that rang true. They simply sounded honest, with minimal exaggeration or personal self-serving spin. I don’t suspect them of lying.
The response I got from my men and truth-telling article demonstrated that men, at least on Medium, are quite reticent about telling their truths to a platform often hostile to anything with a penis. I understand and respect that.
I encourage them to tell their truths, from anonymous accounts if necessary, and to keep it as real as possible. The backlash from bitter women may sting and stab one’s soul, but you’ll start the ripple, the kind that can become a tsunami.
We need to hear men’s truths as much as women’s truths. Not all feminists or abuse survivors are far-left misandrists, as not all male feminist critics are hateful right-wing incels. There’s an imbalance in The Force, gentlemen, and as I urge women to grow some labia, I urge you too to grow some balls and tell your stories.
If you must do it anonymously, be as truthful as you can, and you’ll be amazed at how much positive response and support you’ll get from women.
We get it, guys. We’ve been there for centuries.
This first appeared on Medium in July 2021.