By Sandy . . . Accusations of sexual wrongdoing fill the airwaves and crowd into the headlines. They reverberate from the hills of Hollywood, echo in Wall Street offices, and bounce off the walls of senate chambers.
And now they have found a place of their own, a place where they can come together with others, some true and horrific, some exaggerated, some trivial and petty, and some, almost without doubt, totally fabricated.
That place is called makethemscared.com. The name says it all.
It is, in the words of its creator, “…a communal wiki based out of the University of Washington created to give victims a voice and a place to expose the names of their sexual harassers/attackers.”
It is a place where anyone can make an accusation against anyone about anything of a sexual nature. One complaint is that her partner wouldn’t use protection and was emotionally distant. The majority are accusations of rape and sexual assault with a generous number of sexual harassment accusations mixed in. A very few say they were reported to authorities; the vast majority were not.
The accused include University of Washington students as well as others, some not even U.S citizens. Some of the accusations are of years-old incidents, one from when the complainant was in middle school, another an accusation of child molestation when she was six.
Initially the complainant could remain anonymous, but that appears to have lasted only two day before the site administrator realized that was a bad idea. Nevertheless, the complaints from those two day still stand. And, of course, for none of them is the person making the accusation named.
The site has been up since September 26, 2018. My reactions upon seeing it were, first, fury followed soon by a mixture of sadness and sympathy.
Young women flocking to a place where they could pour out the details of sexual violations speaks to many things that evoke sadness and sympathy: their need to talk about it; their reluctance, based partially on a fear of lack of support, to come forward in a more official manner; the lingering and corrosive effects of sexual violation, especially when it is not dealt with at the time of occurrence.
But far stronger than this is the fury that such a site can exist.
Regardless of the trauma to those whose accounts are truthful, a public forum that allows uncorroborated accusations of behaviors, many criminal, where no charges have been filed, where the accused have no opportunity to face their accusers or defend themselves, where the opportunity for lies and false accusations is rife, is an abomination that takes everything that is bad about a public sex offender registry – which is everything — and makes it worse.
According to an article posted about the site, the university is aware of its existence. Still, NARSOL sent a formal letter of complaint to the university president with a very strong appeal to do whatever it took to have the site taken down.
Another strong possibility is that one or more young man, falsely accused or not, will initiate legal action for public defamation. Hopefully, that will occur. Regardless, this is a situation that we will follow closely and report on with any significant new developments.
Sandy, a NARSOL board member, is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.