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One Woman's Word
June 21, 2006
by Gordon E. Finley, Ph.D.

It once was taken for granted that a man's word was his bond and carried great weight. Today, however, a man's word carries but little weight and it is a woman's word that not only is beyond reproach but is also her meal-ticket. Even more critically, the bearing of false witness by a woman only rarely bears consequences for her (as it once did -- and continues to do -- for men) but can be of horrific consequence to those against whom false witness is borne. Two cases, one specific and one general, make the point.

The currently breaking Duke University case essentially boils down to One Woman's Word vs. the available scientific evidence (including DNA evidence) and the testimony obtained immediately surrounding the alleged rape. So far, One Woman's Word trumps all.

The consequences in this case include: Duke University has lost its pristine reputation; one Coach has lost his job; all members of the Lacrosse team live under a cloud of suspicion; and three members have lost their freedom and face criminal charges. All consequences flow directly from One Woman's Word flying incredibly in the face of the available scientific evidence and testimony. Can Americans continue to believe that the woman holding the scales of justice in every American courtroom truly is blindfolded?

The second case in point is the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). As one nation under VAWA, One Woman's Word in an ex parte civil hearing (where one party is excluded from the hearing -- virtually always the father/husband) carries substantial criminal consequences which not only are the norm but are built into the law. One Woman's Word in such hearings violates the man's right to present his side of the case, violates his civil rights, and ensures injustice through the complete absence of due process protections. As enshrined in law, the consequences of One Woman's Word under VAWA are such that a Civil Court Judge can strip a man of his home, remove his children from him, require him to immediately support the woman and children who just have been stripped from him, or face debtors prison should he fail to comply with the Judge's orders. Most critically, these consequences are criminal consequences in a Civil Court where One Woman's Word serves as judge, jury, and executioner.

These two cases represent but the tip of the iceberg in a society governed by a simple mantra: woman good, man bad. As seen in the light of day, the inequality of this mantra must be replaced by a mantra of equality.

One Woman's Word must be made exactly equal to One Man's Word -- nothing more and nothing less. Equality in bond and sanction is the only inherently defensible position.

Gordon E. Finley, Ph.D. is Professor of Psychology at Florida International University.

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