Apparently certain people in society feel obliged to feel sorry for rapists. The New York Times article by James C. Mckinley Jr. on March 9, reported on the gang-rape of an eleven-year old girl rocked the journalistic boat. Although journalists may take non-bias approaches, this journalist captured the communities responses of sympathizing with the assailants. Some blamed the girl for her “older” appearance wearing make-up and dressing “provocatively”-insinuating that the girl asked for it. Other community members believed the girl made the story that eighteen boys and men gang-raped her and wanted her culpability for the charges being made.
This all began back in November when a fellow classmate of the girl showed her teacher a cell-phone video and pictures of the assaults that took place. The police were eventually lead to the trailer where some of the film took place, found more evidence and has resulted in the roundup of eighteen teenage boys and men in participation of the gang-rape. This started in November and yet arrests are still being made. So far, all the assailants arrested are African American and the young girl was Latina. The arrests have even sparked racial tensions within the town from past racial violence of predominantly white police and the African American community.
After reading various renditions of the story, I felt disgusted by the allegations of an eleven-year old girl being gang raped by eighteen men. Rape by one man is already appalling, yet eighteen men of various ages disturbs me even more. The New York Times addressed how the Texas community is coping with the allegations and “if proven, how could their young men have been draw in into such an act?” Which makes me wonder how any community would first ask that question instead of, “How is that young girl dealing with this tragedy?” Because the town feels so destroyed by this, (especially since five basketball players at the high school were involved), that one women who knew some of the defendants actually said “These boys have to live with this the rest of their lives.” What a reaction. I have to ask, what rationality is there to show sympathy for these boys and men that allegedly participated in this gang-rape of an eleven-year old girl; and took pictures and videos of their assaults? This girl already has to live with this ordeal for the rest of her life. Does she need it to be literally shown among videos and pictures? Those eighteen assailants better damn well live with what they did for the rest of their lives. They made their decisions. They need to deal with the consequences and punishments.
Another problem with these responses is how the people notice quickly that the girl dressed “provocatively” and wore make-up, apparently looking like she was a consenting twenty-year old woman. Oh and she would hang out with these older men on the playground. This all rolls back to the reversal of blame directed at the victim instead of the accused. One woman of the accused assailants told her son who swore to her that he thought she was seventeen that he should have checked I.d. GASP. Evidently, rape has an acceptable age range for the empathizers for the accused. While claiming that “she knew what she was getting into,” I must state the important fact that NO GIRL OR WOMAN DESERVES TO BE RAPED. It does not matter if the girl wore a mini-skirt, make-up or was standing naked in the street. To blame her appearance is an excuse to justify why it happened. Those men and boys (and every other perpetrator) know what they’re doing and if they can’t control their desire to dominate women through rape, sexual assault, harassment and violence, then they have the problem and need to be punished and locked away from society. I don’t care if the girl looked twenty or eleven, her age doesn’t make a difference to the atrocious attacks that took place.
This horrific story is not the first to be heard nor the last. What is even worse is that the responses of victim blaming will most likely continue because of sexism and the perpetuation of acceptance of sexual terrorism towards women. Yes men experience violence from men and women and that shouldn’t be ignored, however looking at the overall facts, women are predominantly the victims and survivors of sexual assault, rape, harassment and abuse by male perpetrators. Although there are laws against these crimes, one should question how these laws can be improved. What happened to that girl and all women/girls that have experienced any form of this violence is fully dehumanizing and degrading no matter the circumstance. Men…no means no. To all the survivors… you have survived one of humankinds worst actions….and remember it is not your fault.