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Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Framing of Rape Culture

As we push for change in the way society views women and in particular the rape of women, we have to look inside ourselves, we have to dig deeper. We are the problem. For with every perceived outrage comes those who persist in their old-fashioned and wrong ideals as to what is right and wrong, and what action is appropriate at what time. Everyone fights each specific issue from within their given framework. It is this framework that can be the most dangerous of all.

Really, what we need to do is simplify. Get rid of the conditions, the conditions we don't even know we have. One by one they are being debunked and thrown out, but the process is slow, long and tedious. Finally, finally some of us have gotten to the point where, "she was dressed like she wanted it" no longer counts as a defense against rape. How long did that take?

And children. You would think children are safe from the judgement. You would think victimized children would never be able to be blamed. But did you know, apparently, this golden rule ends when the child becomes an adult? When the victimized child becomes a woman in her own right, she needs to just get over it. It happened a long time ago. The perpetrators are deceased or already convicted. Sorry it happened, sweetheart, but don't stand up for yourself. You've done so well cowering in the corner until now.

Yes, apparently there is a statute of limitations in the human brain. Disgusting.

Last month, I had a Facebook conversation about the girl who was raped by her teachers. It was around the time when the school system, in its legal defense, said "she was herself responsible. Carelessness and negligence on her part proximately contributed to the happenings of the incident."

A 12 year old was responsible for her own rape by her teachers.

Which wouldn't have been the case if the girl had been showing up for school naked and begging her teachers for sex during study hall, and certainly wasn't the case as the girl went to another teacher after the first incident, and that teacher, instead of being the "trusted adult" fable we're led to believe in as children, raped her too. Awesome. By which I mean, totally disgusting.

As this story made the rounds on Facebook, one gentleman expressed outrage that the girl's picture was being used and that she was being identified. He was on the "good guys" side, guy. He's against child exposure like that. (Now, this man deleted his comments, but he made them in a public forum, so I will paste some of his words here and there, and not use his name.)

Anyway, I popped in explaining briefly that the woman most likely gave permission for the photos to be used as she was now thirty and the case was 18 years old.

"Hmmm," was the response I received.

Because apparently rape 18 years ago doesn't count any more.

The man took vast issue with the suit being a civil one for damages. A "money grab" he called it. To which I say, give her all the money. All of it.

Yes, one of the teachers killed himself (after six other girls came forward), and one was convicted and is currently in prison.

Because the teachers are 'taken care of' the woman should shut up and be a good girl about it?

I don't think so. The school is responsible for not listening to her, for denying her help when she needed it, and for allowing this to go on, not to mention covering it up for as long as possible. Here are a few direct quotes from the Facebook debate.

First, the man defends himself admirably against being a victim blamer.

"I do not think that 12 year old girls should be held responsible for being raped, nor do I think that it is a good defense to claim otherwise. I'm still cynical in that I think that this sort of thing is still being used to fuel a lawsuit and settlement against the deepest pockets available - which happens to be a school district."

There are times to cry out against the abuse of school systems and their lack of money. After they've covered up rape is not one of those times.

My friend does a good job explaining this here:

"Except that the school was complicit in the cover up which makes them also responsible. Also, I don't think it's anybody's place to try to parse how exactly a sexual abuse victim deals with their trauma, be it civil or criminal litigation or both."

And I come around, too, because I like to talk.

"When someone is 12, they're not really going to be able to jump into a lawsuit right then, imo. They're probably trying to pass the eighth grade. Then there's high school, where they get to process how very much their own fault their rape was (oh, but wait, it was still going on...that hampers processing.) Then there's college, where they probably break down a lot or deal with coping mechanisms their childhood selves put in place, which may not be the healthiest. They certainly don't feel they can truthfully tell people what happened. I mean, they were there, in prime "tell a trusted adult mode" and look where that got them. (If you read the actual article, you'll see that the girl told her gym teacher that her science teacher was assaulting her gym teacher, wait for it, ALSO STARTED ASSAULTING HER.) No, I think 30 is a good age. The perfect age to file a lawsuit against these dicks and any other dicks involved in being dicks at the time. I'm 30 now. I'm just barely adult enough to handle it. I say give her a break. She's not a money-grubbing asshole. She's a rape victim. Hmm."

Then he does a quick switch, asserting that it's not only the woman who's out for the money, but the media inciting outrage to get her even a bigger payout.

"I just think that valid outrage is deployed as a tactic for litigation too often. I hate it when I see good intentions abused for personal gain, especially against schools, which are already vulnerable. I believe in holding responsible people responsible - and my initial outrage was at the assumption that someone had outed a rape victim and used a photo."


Wait, wait, I've got this.

"If the school system didn't want people outraged they needed to word their defense differently. Have they learned nothing from the Catholic Church? You cannot say a 12 year old's actions were responsible for her rape. Not when the rape happens, not 18 years later."

But, guys, what about the schools?!

"If not getting prosecuted as an individual isn't motivation enough, why would increased insurance rates for school districts and the defunding of programs be?"

He goes on:

"Because public education in California - and I mean K-12 - is fucking broken. For more reasons that just litigation, definitely - but I want criminal activity to be treated as such."

My friend replies:

"Well maybe forking over a few mil will make them think twice about not taking shit seriously next time. And I hope that chick uses it to buy her own private island."

And me:

"You don't get to say, "Honey, the bad guys went away! Therefore, you should be all better! Good girl. Now run along and be mentally healthy." If the school didn't want to be sued, now they know for next time that when someone says HEY! BEING ABUSED OVER HERE! They should pay attention. The first time."

Anyway, it goes on and on, and not to disappoint, the man does, in fact, compare this case to Nazis somehow eventually. So the internet won all around.

But the point is, with adults thinking like this, and speaking as such, perhaps having a conversation about the rights of a woman to press a civil litigation against a school system 18 years after one of its teachers raped her repeatedly, the kids don't quite understand it. The kids begin to form their own framework of rape and what's right and wrong about it.

The problem is, there is no right. None. You cannot rape people, you cannot cover up sexual assault and you cannot, as a school system, a lawyer or anyone, blame a woman (or a man) for her or his rape.


By treating a case like this as if it is not important, as if someone is whining or trying to get some money out of the deal for hoo-hahs, we express to our kids that this isn't a real thing. We fail to show them the gravity of the situation. They get snippets like this from us, they hear the headlines on the news, and then this happens:

At this link, you'll find a 12-minute video of high school boys in Steubenville laughing and joking about raping a girl deader than Trayvon Martin. You don't need to see it. The description says enough.

I assume they can do this because it's not real to them. We, as a society, have not made the ramifications, the effects, of such heinous acts real. It's a funny fiction. It doesn't count. They're not real people. It's just the news. Pictures the kids see. But it is real. Very real. And it's up to us to educate our children about it. It's up to us to decimate the framing around rape.

And we can't do that by arguing about lack of funding for school systems when the topic is the cover up of a rape of a student by the school's teachers.

Rape is wrong. Period.


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