The Blame Game: Rape Culture's Attack On Our Girls5/05/2011
Last weekend I met up with some close girlfriends for dinner. As usual, we discussed a variety of current events that sparked our interest....
Last weekend I met up with some close girlfriends for dinner. As usual, we discussed a variety of current events that sparked our interest. Eventually the case of the 11 year old gang raped girl from Texas came up. It's a case that I had been following, but one that I could never quite lead myself to write/talk about too much. Much like the case of the teen girl in Richmond, California, I found myself getting angry and tormented just by the thought of it. The act itself is horrendous, however, there is another issue in these cases that bothers me: victim blaming.
Numerous articles have been written about this young girl, and most have been plastered with questions and comments like "she dressed old for her age", "she hung out with teenage boys", "where were her parents?" etc. Some are reasonable questions, but lets get one thing clear here, rape is WRONG, no matter how you slice it. Whether this young girl supposedly played a part in these sexual activities or not, there is one thing that remains true: she was raped. How? Well, I'm glad you asked. There is aggressive sexual assault, and then there is a little legal term called statutory rape. For those who may not be privy to the definition (or don't have access to Google), statutory rape is when an adult participates in sexual activities with a partner who is below the age of consent.
Many of the young men involved in this case were over the age of 18. Whether the girl willingly opened her legs or not, the minute they decided to have sex with an 11 year old, they committed a rape. I'm sure the notion that she "lured/tempted" them has been proposed, and I'm also sure that whoever proposed it is an idiot. We have to stop perpetuating this notion that men are these sex crazed barbarians that are only ruled by their penis. Not only is it a dangerous pathology, but it undermines the intelligence and humanity of our men. They are not savages. They are human beings with a mind and sound consciousness (well...some of them). An 11 year old cannot make responsible decisions about Pokemon cards (do kids still play with those?), let alone sex. Those young men could have very well had sex with a woman, but they chose a child. That's a choice they will have to pay for and live with. And the 11 year old, whether she willingly participated or not, will be paying for and living with her choice for the rest of her life as well.
The question was raised at dinner "if she is innocent, why would she go back to these different men on several occasions?". That, I do not have an answer for. But regardless of the answer, it doesn't not negate the fact that she was raped. Kudos to people who were wise beyond their years at 11 years old. I'm not so sure what my train of thought was as a child, but I know that even as an adult I make some really really unwise choices. We've all done it. Why does an abused woman stay with a man that beats her? Why would someone still love a family member that molested them as a child? Why would you have unprotected sex with someone knowing the risks that are involved? Why would you constantly spend your money on frivolous things, but then complain about being broke? Why would you keep eating highly fattening foods if you claim you want to lose weight?
There are many surface level answers that can be given to these questions, but perhaps the best option would be to get to the root of a situation. Maybe rather than questioning a child's innocence, we should question the psychology behind what would prompt her to feel the need to respond to the text messages and advances of these men to begin with. Maybe we should play more active roles in the lives of young people and teach girls to value their bodies more, and teach boys that they should make more responsible sexual choices. Maybe before we finger point and start blaming, we should take the time to understand other human begins. Maybe when we think about it, we'll realize that we're only one step away from an unwise life altering decision. So maybe...just maybe, in that case, we should start with ourselves.
Kenya D. Morris is a communications professional that hails from Los Angeles, California and currently resides of Washington DC. As a self-proclaimed “life enthusiast”, she prides herself in learning, exploring, and taking advantage of new opportunities daily. When she isn’t busy writing poetry, performing in dramatic productions, doing make up, or focusing on women’s outreach, you can probably find her screaming at her TV over a Lakers or Cowboys game, eating dessert, people watching, or tweeting her life away. More info can be found at www.kenyad.com.