Saturday, March 19, 2011

Things that make me sick.

Possible Trigger Warning

Unless you live under a rock, you've most likely heard about the horrific gang rape of an 11-year-old girl in Cleveland, Texas.

That NY Times article received quite a bit of backlash due to an implied blaming of the victim in this tragedy. But in the weeks since then, the responses have only seemed to become more disgusting.

It was also revealed that poor child was assaulted several times prior to the incident that was filmed and is receiving the most attention.

Then there was a town hall meeting in which there was blatant victim blaming going on. They cite things such as wearing more mature make-up, clothes, hanging out with older kids, the girl's mother, and being in a neighborhood where she did not live as reasons why the as many as 28 young men involved should not be held accountable for their terrible actions. Some even go so far as to say the boys were unaware of her age, and that she "wanted this to happen".

I'm sorry, but who the fuck WANTS to be gang raped?! Are you fucking kidding me? That is ridiculous. This is a horrific atrocity that was committed against a child. She's a little kid. 11-year-olds shouldn't have to worry about being raped, much less gang raped; especially multiple times. They should be playing with toys and worrying about how to con their parents into giving them one more cupcake before bed.

Amanda Marcotte has a piece over at Alternet that expresses my sentiments exactly. This incident, and the fallout from it, is just one more on a list that proves the existence of a rape culture here in the States. Another major headliner example can be found over at Yes Means Yes blog, on the Ben Roethlisburger case.

The blame here lies not with the 11-year-old that will most likely require years, if not a lifetime of therapy to recover from this; but with the environment in which the young men who thought this was acceptable behavior (to the point they were dumb enough to film it) were raised. This article articulates that best. We need to address rape. Seriously.I remember quite clearly in my Abstinence Only sex ed classes (I'll address the problem with that another time) that rape and sexual assault were mentioned a grand total of once. That was in 6th grade, at my elementary school, in which we watched a video about creepy uncles in basements and the teachers told us that if anyone ever touched us where we didn't want to be touched, we needed to tell someone. 

The only other time rape or sexual assault was mention was in one of my history classes with an over-muscled football coach who told us it was only rape if you said no. So if you got drunk or high or was drugged and couldn't say no? Too bad. Not rape. You asked for it by putting yourself in a compromising position.

It was only later, during my freshman year in college, at an information seminar on women's health issues put on by the Health Center and Women's Center that I learned otherwise. While I had always sort of known that coercion and other circumstances in which consent was not given were not okay and were some sort of assault, whether or not they had been legally rape confused me. I'd always had this image in my mind that it was only really rape if there was some sort of struggle.

We need to address, from an early age, what is and what is not okay. I have had people honestly ask me why women get so bent out of shape over rape. They seriously don't get it. Or the confusion a friend expressed when I tried to explain to him that rape can occur in a relationship and that rape isn't about sex, but power. He truly did not understand. This is a problem.

Early education on sexual morality and sexual law (even just the basics) needs to be an integrated part of junior- and high-school sex ed classes (Aside from actually teaching about...ya know... sex). Otherwise, the youth coming into adulthood will not know any better and the rape culture that persists in this country will just keep on cycling.

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