Kids Raping Kids and Then Bullying the Victim – What the Hell is Wrong With Us?

Posted on April 11, 2013


Parents need to talk to both sons and daughters about rape.  The message is:  “Son, don’t do it,” and… unfortunately… “Daughter, never let your guard down.”

There was the Steubenville, Ohio rape case:  a girl passed out drunk at a party, two boys sexually took advantage of her and took photos of their actions, laughing about it later.  The photos ended up disseminated online.  With the boys brought up on charges, the victim was victimized all over again in social media; it seemed practically the entire town, adults included, supported the football-player boys and castigated the victim.  Witnesses not only did nothing to intervene in the incident, but refused to cooperate with investigators or testify in court.  Two girls have since been arrested and charged with threatening the rape victim with bodily harm and death.

Then there was the Torrington rape case in Connecticut.  Two 18-year-old high-school football players statutorily raped two 13-year-old girls, and just as in Steubenville, the public seemed to rally around the boys while blaming and threatening the girls through social media.  The girls were “snitches” who destroyed the boys’ lives.  Many online comments accuse the girls of being whores and question why they have not been punished for their behavior; it seems lost on the casual observer that they are minors well below the age of consent.  Basically, two 18-year-olds had sex with children, and the public blames the children.

Now there is the case of Rehtaeh Parsons of Nova Scotia, who was gang-raped at the age of 15.  Like the Steubenville victim, her four attackers took a photo of the assault and posted it online, with the result that Ms. Parsons was constantly tormented by her peers – both boys and girls – calling her a slut or telling her they wanted sex.  Unlike the Steubenville case or the Torrington case, however, Ms. Parsons was also victimized by the Canadian justice system; despite having a photo showing the attack, the police said there was “not enough evidence” to pursue a case,  and no charges were ever brought.  How horrible it must be to be raped and humiliated, then labeled a “slut” and abandoned and ridiculed by your ex-friends as a result.  How much worse it must be when the law isn’t even on your side.  What lessons about life, about her value, about her own prospects for happiness and success, must a young girl draw from this experience?  Retaeh Parsons committed suicide on 7 April, her bright young life extinguished by the callousness of her peers.

What do these cases say about our society?  Boys are heroes full of promise, to be protected and celebrated; girls are… sex toys, background scenery, arm candy.  When boys rape girls, the girls are to blame for “ruining his life.”  These cases clearly (and frighteningly) show that too many people in too many communities think that the rapist should be allowed to go on with his life of Doing Great Things, while the victim settles into her socially-assigned role of fuck-tube.

Offensive?  You bet!  Rape isn’t pretty or proper or nice, and neither is the mind that can do such a thing, ignore such a thing, or dismiss such a thing.  It’s dehumanizing, selfish, thoughtless, nasty, and destructive.  This is a view in which females are not people.

Don’t these parents, coaches, and teachers have daughters?  Don’t those rapists have mothers and sisters?  And how could any female possibly see a rapist as more worthy of defense and protection than the victim of his crime?  How could she cast her victimized friend down and and join in the post-rape torment, never thinking for a moment that this could have so easily happened to her?

Actually – maybe that’s exactly why the girls in these cases  are so abusive to the rape victims.  Maybe it’s why the parents, teachers, and coaches blame the victims while trying to save the rapists from the consequences of their own actions.  It’s a way for them to distance themselves from it, to convince themselves that the victim must be to blame somehow, because if it’s not the victim’s fault, then no girl is safe.

Well, wake up.  It’s not the victim’s fault.  “This does not define who my daughter is,” said the mother of the Steubenville victim.  And she is right.  It defines who the criminals are… and that would be the rapists.

ADDENDUM:  Just one day after this article was published, yet another similar attack was publicized:  that of Audrie Pott, 15, who was sexually assaulted by her peers while passed out at a party.  Photos were taken of the assault and posted online; eight days later, she hanged herself.  Like Rehtaeh Parsons, Ms. Pott is dead because of the callousness of her peers.  Andrea Billups reports in People magazine:

The family, which has set up a charitable foundation for music and art scholarships, two of Audrie’s passions, is calling for a new law bearing their late daughter’s name.   “Audrie’s Law would address some of the things that happened here,” [their attorney] told the paper. “There are two common elements here that are being repeated across the country – sexual assault by an adolescent and the cyber-bullying that follows.”