“Rape is the only crime in which the victim becomes the accused.” – Freda Adler

// 9 March 2011

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5166706887_e5cb692d25_z2.jpg If I was a journalist, and I was reporting on the alleged gang rape of an 11 year old girl, I imagine I would discuss the horror of the situation. I would talk to experts on child rape, and perhaps provide sources of support and information. I would write about the long-term effects that such an assault can have on a girl, and I would perhaps discuss what may be involved in the legal process ahead for this child and the accused men and boys.

However, in researching the story, I found this,

But this is a case that has divided this Liberty County town.

Some sympathize with the suspects, saying the alleged victim was a willing participant, even though she is too young to give legal consent

as reported in My Fox Houston and elsewhere.

That information would change my approach altogether. Her local community and fellow students coming out with statements like,

“”To be honest, she looks older than she really is,” says Brandi Foster”,

and

““Where was her mother? What was her mother thinking?” said Ms. Harrison, one of a handful of neighbors who would speak on the record”

This girl was allegedly raped by as many as 20 men and boys. She was 11 years old.

Not only are the child, and her mother, being blamed for her assault, an awful lot of concern is expressed for the defendants.

“It’s just destroyed our community,” said Sheila Harrison, 48, a hospital worker who says she knows several of the defendants. “These boys have to live with this the rest of their lives.”

and

“It’s devastating, and it’s really tearing our community apart,” she said. “I really wish that this could end in a better light.” (from NY Times)

and

Sherry Fletcher, whose 20-year-old son Devo Shaun Green is among those charged, spoke to the network about her son’s arrest. She said: ‘It just seems like a dream. ‘I just hope everything comes out well, because some of these kids are innocent.’ (from Daily Mail, safe link).

Why is nobody asking what happened in one community to potentially create 20 rapists? Why is nobody expressing concern for the child at all? Why is it that the concern about the legal action is focused on the effect on the accused men, not the effect on the girl?

And if I was a journalist reporting this story, I would never, ever do what the New York Times in particular did, and report uncritically on a community’s victim-blaming of an 11 year old girl who has had video of her alleged gang rape passed around her school, and which is now being investigated by the police.

James McKinley, the journalist, considers it newsworthy that

Residents in the neighborhood where the abandoned trailer stands — known as the Quarters — said the victim had been visiting various friends there for months. They said she dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s. She would hang out with teenage boys at a playground, some said.

He does not report that it does not matter what a woman or girl is wearing. It does not matter if she ‘dresses her age’ or not. It does not matter if she wears make-up. He does not even question these statements, he just quotes them as they stand. He does not even mention that an 11 year old child is considered to be always incapable of consent in the law.

People should know better. The New York Times in particular should.

Other online reports of this story have comments like,

It doesn’t make it right but when all the truth comes out I won’t be surprised if it turns out that she was telling everyone she was 17 yrs old and that she probably orchestrated the whole thing. A lot of young people’s lives will be ruined by this young, promiscuous girl. Something this big had to have been planned. Put them all in jail including the young girl.

This misogyny has to end! It does not even matter if she had told anyone she was 17. Or 27. Or 87. Women and girls get raped through no fault of their own. How many times do we need to report this until it is understood?

Thank you to Women’s eNews for the photo, and to Liz Henry for the heads-up to the story.

(cross posted at incurable hippie blog).

Comments From You

sianushka // Posted 9 March 2011 at 5:29 pm

this is a disgrace. what about her life? what about what she has to deal with.

so so angry.

this misogyny has to end. We have to stop blaming and shaming women for the violence committed against them.

enough!

Jennifer Drew // Posted 9 March 2011 at 6:36 pm

The fact this 11 year old survivor of male sexual violence lives in a mobile home means she is not considered as being ‘worthy of protection of male-centric law.’ If she was the daughter of a well known white powerful male I’ve no doubt her creditability would not be questioned.

But even if we disregard her class that does not mitigate the deliberate sustained focus on excusing/justifying this latest instance of male sexual violence committed against a female because she happens to be female not male.

What about the responsibility of the fathers of these boys who are now charged with group raping an 11 year old girl? Why didn’t these fathers keep a closer watch on their sons? Why did these boys who are charged with rape believe it was their right to commit group rape? Remember these boys have now been charged and that means a crime has occurred and no I am not saying these boys are guilty – I am saying they have been charged with the crime of group raping an 11 year old girl.

Malestream media once again shows its true colours which is to portray the boys charged as supposedly ‘victims’ and the female victim as supposedly the perpetrator. Would malestream media portray a male victim of male assault as being the supposed perpetrator? I think not but when the crime is one of male sexual violence against women, malestream media immediately twists the facts and deliberately attempts to discredit the female victim(s).

This is another example of how male supremacist system operates because males must never be held accountable for their crimes of violence against women. ‘Accountable’ means charging the male perpetrators as and when they commit a crime and then proceeding to court in order that prosecutors can produce evidence to prove male defendants are guilty. It does not mean the male defendants are automatically guilty because that is why we have courts of law. But if we believe that any male who has committed a crime against a woman/girl must not be charged and prosecuted then we are in effect condoning and promoting male violence against women as men’s innate rights.

The real question we should be asking is why so many men and women too believe women are always responsible for supposedly ‘allowing’ innumerable men to rape them? Does this not excuse and justify male sexual violence against women because males must supposedly never be held accountable or responsible for their actions. Then too there is the fact males who commit sexual violence make a choice – a free and informed choice to commit said violence against women. Women and girls as we know, are constantly subjected to constraint and blame because unlike males we are supposedly always responsible for the actions of males.

Mica // Posted 9 March 2011 at 8:00 pm

This is so depressing and not the first time that I have heard a child being accused of asking for it while the rapists are portrayed as victims. Things like this make me wonder how so many people can be convinced that women have it so much better than men.

DE // Posted 9 March 2011 at 8:01 pm

Elephant in the room ?

Philippa Willitts // Posted 9 March 2011 at 8:04 pm

What would that be?

saranga // Posted 9 March 2011 at 8:05 pm

aaaaaaaaaaaaand now i’m sickened.

Humanity, you fail.

At least, a certain proportion of it does.

Kit // Posted 9 March 2011 at 8:12 pm

There’s a petition to the NY Times about this story here.

(found it through @theriotmag on Twitter)

karen pastore // Posted 9 March 2011 at 10:31 pm

The ‘malestream’ media…is just that…I call it a MEN’S -MAG MEDIA.

foley // Posted 10 March 2011 at 12:01 am

well sean, and personally i find this disgusting and the girl is not to blame at all

childerowland // Posted 10 March 2011 at 11:37 am

Thanks for drawing attention to this. I agree with Adler’s statement. There was a high-profile case last year in which two young boys (aged 10?) were accused of raping a young girl (aged 8?). People at my workplace talked about this case and several of them expressed great concern for the boys (‘those poor boys!’). They didn’t show any concern at all for the girl’s welfare. It seemed that they thought the girl should have just kept quiet. This was pretty disturbing to me as my colleagues aren’t exactly misogynists and the one who was most strongly ‘pro-boy’ has three daughters and several young grand-daughters.

Miranda // Posted 10 March 2011 at 5:35 pm

This is a terrible story and the comments quoted blaming the young girl are horrific. But equally scary are some of the other comments in the article at Khou.com. These include “get a rope” and “can’t tell them apart; they all look the same, ugly black thugs”.

When people respond to a tragic event like this with overt misogyny and racism, and the news site sees no need to moderate such comments, I am afraid for the future – the present – of humanity. Thank God I don’t live in Texas.

Philippa Willitts // Posted 10 March 2011 at 5:41 pm

I agree, they’re really appalling attitudes on display. Horrible.

RM // Posted 10 March 2011 at 8:02 pm

Since being volunteering for a Rape Crisis Centre, statements like “These boys have to live with this the rest of their lives.” make me so angry.

RM // Posted 10 March 2011 at 8:03 pm

@DE – I honestly don’t see the elephant. Can you enlighten us?

Kev // Posted 10 March 2011 at 8:14 pm

words are inadequate to describe the shock at the attitudes expressed towards this young girl, it’s bewildering and disgusting…

the worldwide culture of “victim blaming” is inexplicably getting worse, it may be that I’m showing my ignorance here but I can’t comprehend why rape has become so acceptable and “normal” behaviour, it’s a sad, sad world we have created for our selves and our kids

when I speak out against and campaign against rape, other men treat me like a pariah, i’ve had my “manhood” questioned, my sanity questioned, I’m told I have “issues” I’ve even been accused of being a feminist!!

some men would like me to shut up because what I say through poetry and music is “uncomfortable” to listen to!? discomfort is a very small price to pay compared to the horror and lifelong pain that women and girls are forced to endure through the actions of some of my fellow males, I will never call a rapist a “man” nor will I call him a “brother” nor even a fellow human…

Kev

DE // Posted 10 March 2011 at 9:02 pm

@RM I saw an Elephant who wasn’t there. He wasn’t there again today.

Oh, how I wish he’d go away!

Cath Elms // Posted 11 March 2011 at 6:02 pm

Excellent article Philippa! This story just sickens me.

joyce gwatidzo // Posted 16 March 2011 at 10:24 pm

so sad.That some peoples views are so warped as to even imagine the girl was partly to blame.i would like to believe that if the said sympathisers and rationalists were to experience rape first hand like maybe within their immediate family they would so know that it is probably the most traumatic experience.if this was my world i would surely hang ,quarter and castrate those heinous men.this may sound rather strong bt hey tough times call for tough measures.thank heavens it aint my world.and to that sad sad girl…..my heart bleeds for you honey.do find it in yourself to heal and let go….one of these days.

Elaine // Posted 18 March 2011 at 7:38 am

I wouldn’t say rape is the only crime in which the victim becomes the accused. Basically any kind of sexual crime or domestic violence is that way. I am still reeling from having lost my 4 children both physically and spiritually to a man who abused me. Here is a story that is about why men abuse women (because they can), and although the story itself applies to domestic violence, the same principles apply to any crime against women or girls. http://www.helium.com/items/1880483-why-men-abuse-women

Ths whole situation is just sad. The good news is that with the proper support, even women and girls who have had their lives torn apart by rape or domestic violence can pick up the pieces and live a normal life, or at least mostly normal. The nightmares may not go away, but they do lose their full effect over time, as long as she is being supported.

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