James McKinley has this to say about an eleven year old gang rape victim in a small East Texas town:
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.
“Where was her mother? What was her mother thinking?” said Ms. Harrison, one of a handful of neighbors who would speak on the record. “How can you have an 11-year-old child missing down in the Quarters?”
Because she had it coming, right? It's her fault, it's her mom's fault (but not her dad's!) - anyone but the group of older teenage boys who raped her. There are pictures and videos to prove it. But we see women as the gatekeepers of sexuality, so if she dressed in a way some other people think was inappropriate and her mom might not know where she was, she totally deserved it. They boys were powerless to not rape her! And as another person interviewed in the story says, “These boys have to live with this the rest of their lives.”
WON'T ANYONE THINK OF THE RAPISTS?
This just makes me want to vomit. 1) When I was 11, I'm pretty sure my mom didn't know where I was at every minute of every day. Neither did my dad. I have fantastic parents, but... I was 11, not six. I never did anything terrible, and I'm lucky I didn't get into trouble, but lordy day, people. Her mom is probably devastated. Compassion?
2) I don't think I need to say this, but I'm going to say it anyway: It does not matter how you dress. It does not matter how much you drink. It does not matter what alley you walk down alone or at what hour of the night. Rape victims are not to blame for their rape. Rapists rape. Rape victims are never asking for it, and they never have it coming. Never. No exceptions. If you try to raise an exception in the comments, your comment will be blocked.
3). Eleven. Years. Old.
I see this as part of the trend of misogyny that the right wing has been working really hard to perpetuate, but also part of a victim-blaming, showing-no-compassion trend that really bothers me. Why do we have to be so awful to other people? No one in this story shows any feeling for this little girl. It's all about how boys don't deserve to have to deal with this, the mother was wrong, these people are poor.
If you would like to join me in writing angry e-mails to the New York Times, you can use this e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Edited: Thanks to Steve and Terror for posting these very good takes on this issue: