Spoiler Alert: If you want to watch the show before reading how it ends, it is on Netflix.
In the age of a #MeToo movement that initially seemed to be about giving women a voice about difficult experiences, but clearly became more intent on demonising all men under the false narrative of ‘toxic masculinity’, this latest episode of Criminal is timely. With an absolutely riveting performance by Kit Harrington (Game of Thrones), the story unfolds in an interview room with Alex having been arrested after a work colleague accuses him of rape.
Alex is described in some places as coming across as rather arrogant, although this wasn’t my take on him at all. I can’t imagine any man not being at least somewhat defensive when facing such accusations, and this is certainly how it looks to me. As the drama plays out we see police strategies of padding out the file of medical evidence in order for it to appear more substantial. We hear questions asked about tying up or holding wrists as though the medical evidence suggests such acts, even though it doesn’t. We see Alex scrambling to recall the drunken consensual sex he says he did have with the accuser for any time he may have held her wrists in some way. He says:
“I do not have any recollection of tying her or holding her wrists. That’s not the way I tend to do things when I do things, OK, but maybe I might have held her like that briefly… if I did… I don’t think I did… I’m not sure…”
As I watch him agonising to try and remember I am wondering how it is that any person is supposed to remember every move they make during sex even when not drunk, but in this day of ‘ongoing consent’ when moves are being made toward — ‘can I touch you here now… can I move to there now” — I guess the days of spontaneous, wrist-holding, non-thinking passion are well and truly out the window. How many people of either sex are going to maintain interest in the act when constantly interrupted by question and answer time?
It becomes clear that the existence (or not) of any evidence seems rather irrelevant when a ‘she says, he says’ scenario exists and the panic of Alex’s predicament feels palpable. How do you prove you didn’t do something? When evidence arises in a series of text messages that suggests the accuser is making it all up, police decide that with the absence of evidence supporting the accusation, and now some evidence that it is false, it is time to let Alex go.
Alex is dismissed. He is confused. So it’s all over? Not quite.
Nobody informs Alex about the reason they have decided to call it quits so he remains unaware that the police know the rape never occurred. In fact, they leave him hanging with the potential of ‘we are not charging you at this time’. They just expect him to now leave.
In Alex’s world of course, he was arrested in front of colleagues and clients. He has no idea who has heard the accusation. He is expected to go back to his work, to his life, without any remedy for what he has been put through. He demands they ‘clean up’ the mess he’s been put in: the mess they just casually overlook.
Typically feminists were furious about what they describe as the damaging episode that they believe fuels false narratives that women regularly make false accusation. They believe such a drama needs to be corrected given that ‘only’ up to 10% of accusations are estimated to be false.
Only up to 10%.
So 1 in 10 men accused of a sexual assault are arrested, questioned, sometimes kept in jail and even put through a criminal trial, are victims of false allegations? Well… what are we worried about then? We can breathe a sigh of relief at the reassurance that, according to one journal:
What’s equally important to know, however is that false rape accusations almost never have serious consequences.
It’s exceedingly rare for a false rape allegation to end in prison time.
Phew! What a blessed relief that must be for those men. Everyone will ‘just know’ that an injustice has occurred; that they’ve been put through the wringer and lived through a stressful event and they’ve done absolutely nothing wrong. Thank goodness!
Except we all know that isn’t how it works. Accused men are often publicly named and frequently the victims of online abuse. They lose jobs. They lose friends and family. In the case of Alex, his ordeal lasted 5 hours in a police station, but after a public arrest at work, there is no question the stain of accusation will remain.
Is it any wonder so many good men now wonder how they are meant to be in the world? A world where ‘believe women’ has become a mantra?
A world where ‘coercive control‘ laws are in place or being proposed; laws that leave them open to criminal charges for having a discussion, disagreement, or argument with their wives over money or who gets to use the car. This is policing to the extreme. A blatant governmental interference and control into the intricate negotiations of relationship where men are increasingly more vulnerable while women gain power that they often misuse.
How many men are we willing to sacrifice to supposedly ‘protect’ women? Either women are equal, strong and capable of independent thought, or they are weak willed victims in need of the government to protect them from every aspect of their lives.
Today’s feminism wants it both ways. I wouldn’t be a man for quids. And steer clear of the feminists!
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Dr Debbie Garratt (PhD) has more than 30 years of diverse professional experience across health, adult education and counselling sectors. She is currently practicing as a clinical supervisor for mental health staff, counselors, health professionals and psychologists. Debbie's community work educates, consults & supports professionals who are working with women and families experiencing challenges during pregnancy and parenting. Debbie blogs at DebbieGarratt.com.