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.
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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.
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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....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.
Somebody should have said, 'what we are doing is wrong'.
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.
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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.