From Tracie: Rape is Not Funny

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Rape is Not Funny

Yesterday I had a conversation. I was told about the number of times the word rape had been casually used by a group of men in Florida who are in their late teens and twentys.
One man was concerned that his video game account might get hacked and said if that happened, "the hacker would rape the items and bank his character had collected". Another man, playing a video game where a group was working together to complete a quest, got angry when they lost yelling, "We just got raped".  Several of the men also made jokes about rape. While watching a video where a woman said something he disagreed with, one man said, "I hope she gets raped"
All of these statements were made loudly, in a public place, and there were more of them, many much more vile than what I have shared here. The men in the room laughed at the jokes. Not one person in the room stood up and said that it wasn't okay to throw around the word rape, or make jokes about rape, or wish that a woman would get raped because she said something that you don't like. Not.One.Person.

- - - - - - - - - 

Earlier this month, the New York Times published an article by James C McKinley Jr. about an 11 year old girl who was gang raped in the small town of Cleveland, Texas. The article has received a huge amount of criticism, due to the fact that it is full of concern for the men and teens (18 so far) who have been arrested for this crime, instead of concern for the victim.

Although the article references reporting done by the Houston Chronicle, McKinley does not use any of the quotes that the Chronicle got from the victim's mother. But he did include a quote from a neighbor, who wondered, "Where was her mother? What was her mother thinking?".  McKinley was also sure to include comments about the 11 year old girl dressing older than her age and wearing makeup.

McKinley says that the community wonders, "If the allegations are proved, how could their young men be drawn into this act?" I happen to have an answer for them.

The 11 year old girl was taken to a blue house. She was told to take her clothes off, or she would be beaten and would not get a ride home. She was raped by multiple men. Then there was a phone call. More men were invited over to the house to rape her. At some point, an aunt of one of the suspects came home and the suspects and victim left through a back window.

The 11 year old girl was then taken to an abandoned trailer. Her bra and underwear, left behind at the house. At the trailer, the men continued to rape her. They took pictures and videos with their cell phone cameras. They recorded themselves raping an 11 year old girl.

How were the young men drawn into the act? At least some of them were recipients of an invitation. Then they had to get in their cars, or on their bikes, or hitch a ride, or get on their feet and walk to the blue house, so they could rape this child....and then after climbing out the window, they went to the trailer so they could rape her some more. They made a conscious choice, that is how they were "drawn in".

After videos of the sexual assault swept through the school, a student who recognized the girl and several of the young men, reported it to a school employee, and that is how the police investigation got started. (by the way, the police have said that there may have been more men involved, and the investigation is still ongoing) I wonder how many people received and watched videos of this child being raped before one of them stood up and reported it?

But wait...there is still more victim blaming to be done. Last Thursday, Quanell X, a community activist from Houston, led a town hall meeting in Cleveland called "What's The Real Truth Behind The Rape Allegations?".  During that meeting, CNN reports:
Among other issues, he said that the girl didn't do enough to stop the alleged assailants. "It was not the young girl that yelled rape. Stop right there -- something is wrong, brothers and sister," Quanell X said.
This man spewed his shit across the room, and people yelled out support.

What exactly is it that Quanell X expected her to do that would stop 18 (and maybe more) men and teen boys from raping her?

Let me make something very clear. I don't care what this girl was wearing, and I don't care how old she looked, and I don't care what color her lipstick was, or where her mom was.....she was raped....and it wasn't her fault.

- - - - - - - - - 

Back to yesterday's conversation. I asked, "Do you think it is okay for the men to say those things, to turn rape into a joke and an acceptable threat or wish against someone they don't agree with?".

The answer I got was, "No. But everyone does it. You don't understand how prevalent it is."

Angry and hurt, through my tears, I told this person that that was unacceptable. I told him that the next time someone makes a rape joke in his presence, he should not just sit there quietly offended, but he should stand up and speak out. I told him that he can not say he cares about sexual assault survivors, and then not challenge the thinking and acceptance of the rape culture that is all around him.

Either rape is serious, or it is a joke. Either rape is wrong, or it is okay.
You can not have it both ways. You must make a decision.

Yesterday's conversation came flooding back to me tonight when I read this quote from Oscar Carter, who is related to an uncle of one 16 year old who has been charged in the Cleveland, Tx case:
She is 11 years old. It shouldn't have happened....
Somebody should have said, 'what we are doing is wrong'.
The words you say have meaning, they have power, they are important. Just as important, are the words and actions you allow to go unchallenged in your presence.....if you don't challenge it, you are condoning it with your silence.

A society that marginalizes rape and turns it into a joke, makes it easy for rape victims to be marginalized and blamed for the crimes committed against them.

- - - - - - - - - 

I am sick and tired of the victim blaming.

I am sick and tired of seeing rape made into a joke. On tv shows. In movies. In conversations.

This 11 year old girl was raped.

Rape is not about sex or what someone is wearing. It is an act of violence. It is an act of power.

There is nothing funny about that.


  1. I just have no words. I wonder what these men would think if it was THEIR mother, sister, niece. Would it be rape then?? I can guarantee it would. I am just sickened

  2. How they can blame this little girl is so beyond me. It's so heartbreaking.

    And until people DO speak up and say that it's not okay, it will keep happening.

    Such a powerful post.

  3. beautiful words as always tracie. society and the media do try to have it both ways, rape is serious and your perspective is one of the ways in which the right voice can get out there, thank you

  4. Oh this breaks my heart. That 11 year old has the rest of her life ahead of her, and she's going to spend a large chunk of it trying to heal, while those jerks try to place the blame on her. ELEVEN years old. Is there any question? I don't think so.

  5. I had not heard this story on the news. I am so appauled. What is our society coming to, if an 11 year old is being blamed for her rape?

  6. I want to cry. And I have no words ... Thanks for being one of the people who DOES stand up, Tracie! Love you!

  7. This makes me SICK. That is a CHILD. And even if it had happened to an adult it would still be rape and still be WRONG.

  8. Very powerful post and very well-written. Thank you for speaking up about this!

  9. You are SO right. And you know what else? If that girl had stood there naked, chewing gum and yelling "Have sex with me RIGHT NOW!" it would still be rape in the worst way because, holy shit, she is ELEVEN. Society worries me. People are getting desensitized to all sorts of horror.

  10. She's 11.

    Every single one of those men should have known better. There's absolutely no gray area.

  11. My blood pressure is quite high after reading that article. Tracie, as always you have done a wonderful job with writing what is also a horrible epidemic that goes along with SA/CSA (those that turn the other cheek, victim blaming, etc.) As for the 11yr old girl, let us all pray she has the resources lined up and necessary support. Keep that passion lit girl! Education is key for all that are willing to 'listen'. Yet another reason why it is so important to teach violence prevention in our schools at an early age.

  12. Oh Tracie,
    My heart is hurting right there with you on this topic. Great job in articulating this post so well.

    I posted, just yesterday, on the gang rape in Cleveland, TX. It sickened me to think about it. The more I wrote, the angrier I became.

    I wish everyone would come together on this topic and make it stop! This is like horror movies coming alive.

  13. I am sitting here crying from sadness and anger. My heart hurts for this young girl who has had so much more than just her innocence stolen from her in that blue house and then again in the abandoned wharehouse. There is nothing funny about rape and I am appalled that anyone would think otherwise. I for one will certainly not stand by idly while someone throws around the word as if it were a joke.

  14. Tracie,
    this is shocking and sickening. I so agree that the word rape is used far to casually. I am ashamed of these people and it's disheartening and terrifying to think what this little girl was subjected too. The shock and horror of what happened to her will be with her forever.

    God Bless you for speaking out.


  15. I want to hand you a megaphone for you to more easily inform the masses.

    I stumbled, dugg and delicious bookmarked this. I think I'll buzz it up now, too.

  16. This is very powerful Tracie, I'm glad you said it.

  17. Thank you for sharing such a powerful post Tracie. This day and age more and more serious occurrences are beginning to be taken lightly. As society changes, and for the worst, bad will look upon a good eventually. So very sad!!!

  18. Tracie,
    Thank you for stopping by my place this week to read Amy Sullivan's post. I have spent a good portion of my morning reading your blog and hearing your testimony. Tears. Inspiration. Thankfulness...that you are advocating for others and openly sharing your story. I'm just glad to have found your place.

  19. Brilliant post. I'm so glad that you wrote this.

  20. stumbled over from PYHO ...

    thank you for this. thank you for being a voice for her.

    I hadn't heard of this particular story, but I hear similar ones like it all the time and it makes me sick to my stomach.

  21. Well said, my friend. As a former resident of Houston, TX, I have been the unfortunate witness to many ignorant statements made by Quannell X. There is so much ignorance, I don't know where to start. She was (insert expletive here) eleven years old. Who is he to know how she should react? Children (and adults for that matter) often shut down in traumatic situations. Her dress is inconsequential. Her makeup is inconsequential. The only thing that matters is that a CHILD was raped multiple times by multiple men and even in a case as deplorable, repulsive and heart-breaking as this, people are trying to blame the victim. I could go on for hours but you were well spoken enough to carry the day.

    On the other note, rape is a word that has become all too casual. A bank account cannot be raped. A video game cannot rape. Rape is a violation of such depth that we would be wise to not diminish the word.

    All right, I will put the soap box away. Boy, I got riled today. I am glad that you wrote about it. Your blog matters so much to me because you speak with such passion to such a deeply moving purpose.

    Speak on, woman, speak on.

  22. Tracie, thank you for adding your voice to those of us who are speaking out about this offense. When I write my next post on this same topic, I will add a link to your blog post.

    I hope that some of those who have read your post will do as Pastor Sharon and write their own post so that more and more people can find out about this subject and how the New York Times post is blaming an 11-year-old for her own gang-rapes.

    I was so disgusted when I read the NY Times article that I have already written 2 articles of my own about it and will be writing at least one more when my visiting company goes home in a few days.

    We have to do something to stop this abuse of our children. Children or adult, neither is ever responsible for being raped. The rapist is the one responsible. We have to stop blaming the victims.

  23. That poor little girl. Rape is not a joke and people should not use the word in a joking manner. This must have been a hard post to write but I think it is a very important issue to address.

  24. How anyone can even imply that an 11 year old girl could do ANYTHING to prevent such a horrible thing is beyond me. And I have noticed lately how the term "rape" is really overused in our society, used to mean a simple injustice or to symbolize something being taken away from someone.

    It's just wrong. And you did a great job of saying that.

  25. This is how victims always end up feeling ashamed and like these things possibly were their fault. Defense attorneys then try to annihilate their character in court cases on top of all the snide remarks made locally and through the media. It's sad.. and I wish that I could say I knew it would change someday...

  26. Tracie...I could barely read what you wrote human beings...we are disgusting...and violent....Everyone of those who participated in destroying that 11 yr old should be punished to the maximum...including those who knew...who stood by..who watched....who did nothing. We talk about 3rd world countires engaging in terrible acts...we need to look at ourselves....How do we change? How do we show living as the scum. Sorry...I have so many thoughts that are swirling around in my head. I hate this. :(

  27. I agree with you. Rape is not funny.
    I'm still here babe! Just limited Internet...Still love me?
    Hope all is well in your neck of the woods.

  28. Came back by to give you a hug today. ((((Tracie))))

  29. My heart aches for that little girl and all the children, women and men who are raped. Well thought out post!

    Stopping by from SITS!

    - CoconutPalmDesigns

  30. You are so right - rape is NOT funny! It drives me insane the way people use that word in such a joking way. There's a new word that developed in the facebook world "frape" fb rape. I can't stand to see people using that word so frivolously! I guess people who haven't experienced it don't connect with it the way they should. People seem so desensitized!

    Thanks for posting this Tracie.

  31. Tracie, I just saw this now, and it really makes me sick. This is a double assault on the girl who was raped, and offensive to all rape victims.

  32. This is so awful. I wanted to stop reading, but couldn't, as I felt like I needed the awareness of the this horrible story. What a tragedy, and what a crock of S*** that the press is adding.

    Just awful.

    I stopped by from Shell's. I'm just not sure what to say. So sad.

  33. Wow. I feel absoutely sick reading this. There are no words.

  34. VERY well said! I want to know what schools these people went to, because I was taught that it doesn't matter WHAT a girl wears or HOW she looks - it does NOT serve as consent to sex. Everyone knows (or should know) that by now! I was also taught that if you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem. Anyone who knows about something like this happening and doesn't alert the authorities IMMEDIATELY is just as disgusting as the people doing it.