I’ve been thinking a lot about victim blaming. I’ve been reading a lot about it. I’ve been reading about it concerning the racialization of Haitians as AIDS carriers (upcoming post) but mostly it’s come up time and again concerning rape.
“It was her fault.”
“She shouldn’t have been wearing such a low cut shirt.”
“She shouldn’t have been drunk, she shouldn’t have flirted with him like that, don’t you know that once you flirt with someone they might rape you?”
If you don’t get it, check out this awesome Scottish ad “She’s Asking For It”.
Have you heard about the recent case of gang rape in Cleveland, Texas? An 11 year-old girl was gang raped by 18 men and boys between the ages of 14 and 27. I’m not going to go into the gory details, since everyone else seems to be doing a great job of it (I particularly like the Good Men Project’s coverage of it). I also won’t be getting into the racial dynamics around this case, but if you are interested in reading some discussions of what it meant that the girl was Latina, and most of the men were black, check out this article.
What I do want to talk about is the way that the victim was again the one to be blamed in the New York Times article that was written about it. Usually I love the Times, and I was so disappointed to see the reporting that they did on this case. The writer of this article, James McKinley, suggests throughout the entire thing that the rapists were the victims of this 11 year old girl’s powers of manipulation and seduction, as if the rape was her fault. The guiding question of the article is “If the allegations are proved, how could their young men have been drawn into such an act?” and later on the only quotes included are those asking where the mother of this young girl was, and why the girl was allowed to dress so much older than her age.
I’m sorry, but beyond being incredibly offensive to women and survivors of rape, and flat out ridiculous to suggest that this could be the fault of the 11 year old girl who is not even old enough to have been able to consent to sex with most of her rapists this article is offensive to men. It gives this image that men are completely devoid of any agency and a victim to their own uncontrollable desires.
Please men, I know, and you know, that this is not true. How many flat chested, prepubescent 11 year old girls have you been desperately attracted to lately? Not a lot? Good. phew.
Well, let’s try this: how many women have you been attracted to lately? Did you find that you were able to control that attraction relatively? Ya? Great.
So don’t let the media paint it like you can’t.