That’s more or less the message behind yesterday’s New York Times article about an 11-year-old girl who was gang raped in Texas.
The girl was gang raped by 18 men and teenaged boys in an abandoned trailer home shortly after Thanksgiving. And yet, a central theme of the article is that somehow, the victim — a mere child — is at fault.
The case has rocked this East Texas community to its core and left many residents in the working-class neighborhood where the attack took place with unanswered questions. Among them is, if the allegations are proved, how could their young men have been drawn into such an act?
How could the men have been drawn into rape?! As in, they were victims of some uncontrollable, outside force or influence that made them do it, and thus are less responsible for their actions?
Residents in the neighborhood…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.
When are people going to realize that what a girl wears does not in any way, shape or form, excuse the incredibly violent, humiliating act of rape?!
“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?”
Right. Clearly it’s the victim’s and her mother’s fault, and not the rapists’ fault.
“It’s just destroyed our community,” said Sheila Harrison, 48, a hospital worker who says she knows several of the defendants. “These boys have to live with this the rest of their lives.”
Oh yes, those poor, poor members of the community. You know, the ones who apparently think its acceptable to blame the victim for her attack because she wore makeup, and are concerned that these “boys” have to live with what they did. I’m sorry to ruin your day, Sheila, but those “boys” are violent, misogynistic rapists. What about the victim and what she has to deal with for the rest of her life?
This article is sloppy and dangerously irresponsible. By choosing to only include quotes that direct blame towards everyone BUT the rapists, the journalist comes across as a rape apologist. The effect? It reaffirms the victim-blaming attitude that plagues our society and perpetuates a culture that accepts violence against women.
This is a well-respected national newspaper with wide reach, and there is NO excuse for this. Let the New York Times know that this article is completely unacceptable by signing this petition and writing the Public Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.