Faking Rape on the Tube

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Amanda Marcotte wrote a piece a couple of days ago called “8 Obnoxious Cliches about Men, Women and Sex in Otherwise Good TV Shows.” One of her items is about an episode of the teen sleuth show Veronica Mars in which campus feminists at Hearst college fake a rape in order to provoke a scandal that will damage the fraternity system:

A word to every television writer who thinks it’s clever to write a plot where a woman “cries rape,” is instantly believed, and turns out to be a liar: you’re not clever. That may be the stupidest cliché ever on television. To watch TV, you’d think all rape victims are instantly believed and comforted, and that the vast majority of them are lying. In reality, the percentage of rape reports that are false is 2-8 percent, in line with false reports of other crimes.

I don’t watch enough TV to have any idea about this, but it got me curious, especially considering the vast number of crime shows on the tube. So tell me, commenters, is this true? Are rape victims on TV routinely depicted as liars who, for one reason or another, have made a fake accusation? How common is this trope? Inquiring minds want to know.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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