Today, I involved myself in a shitstorm on Twitter over a retweet made by @MaraWilson. It regarded the story of a girl in Houston, Texas, who was allegedly raped at a party and then subsequently shamed on Twitter by the accused. There are accounts of those white-knighting the guy, proclaiming his innocence. Whether he’s guilty or not, that is for a court of law to decide. The only judgment I pass is that the guy is a douche, having read his Twitter feed, and is in serious need of a dictionary. However, given the “facts” (and I use that term loosely), all we really know is that a party occurred that involved underage drinking and drugs. That’s all we have at our disposal.
— Mara Wilson (@MaraWritesStuff) July 10, 2014
Rape Is Wrong Regardless
I made a few tweets regarding the girls behavior, outlining that she created an opportunity for this to happen. Of course, Mara and many of her followers interpreted that to mean that I blamed the victim for the rape, which I did not.
Let’s be clear. Rape is wrong.
Even if a woman is standing buck naked on a street corner, it doesn’t give a man the right to rape her. End of story. Period.
“No Means No” Isn’t Enough
If you left your keys in the ignition of your unlocked car, would it be acceptable for a thief to steal it in the dead of night? Certainly not, but aren’t you culpable in some small way for creating an opportunity that allowed it to happen?
I know what you’re thinking. I can hear the outrage on your lips now. Your fingers are itching to write a scathing remark, telling me that it’s not the same. But hold that slanderous thought and step back. Think about it. If we applied the same mantra to unlocked cars, do you think a sign taped to the windshield that says “no” would deter a criminal?
The problem we have in society is that we push the idea of saying no and imply that the woman is absolved of any responsibility. She is not to blame for the rape. No sane person would say otherwise. That rests squarely on the shoulders of the man committing the crime.
The responsibility I speak of is the kind that comes with making the proper choices that ensure our own safety. I won’t deny that circumstances occur that are beyond our control. Sometimes, rape simply happens regardless, but in most cases, women have the power to ensure their own safety and avoid exploitation. When we go to a party, we don’t leave our drink unattended to be spiked with a drug, and we certainly have a buddy system in place to ensure a safe end to our evening. I’ve done my fair amount of babysitting girlfriends, who were three sheets to the wind while warding off men with less than desirable intentions. Reversely, I received the same courtesy. Our trust was equal.
I know the naked girl on a corner is a bit cliche, but our outward appearance speaks volumes to those around us as well. You can’t wear an outfit in public that shows as much skin as the day you were born and then feel outraged and objectified when a man leers at your body. Are you asking for it? Of course not! But we certainly send the wrong signals when we lack any reasonable decorum. How came we expect a man to take us seriously when our actions and outward appearance scream “yes” while we are screaming “no”? Sexy and demure will attract the right guy with gentlemanly intentions; looking like a two-bit whore attracts those looking for a quick and easy one off and nothing more. Unfortunately, these are the girls that find themselves trapped beyond reason and have created their own nightmare. It will haunt them the rest of their lives. Only the sting of it will lessen with time.
And this is where I take you back to the example of the car. If you think that the “No Means No” mantra is enough, then I invite you to leave your car running, parked on a crowded street, and unlocked overnight. Test the theory. I guarantee you’ll be less one vehicle by morning.
In short, “no” is never enough and never will be.
We Need Less Nancy Graces in the World
If anyone has ever listened to this vapid twunt, then you have to realize that most of the outrage expressed on Twitter is no different than same shit often spouted by this deranged, egotistical harpy. Despite the boy posting compromising pictures of the girl on Twitter and his ghetto-esque bravado from his ill-formed tweets comprised of 3rd grade English, he is still innocent until proven guilty under the law. Nevertheless, the public will vilify him due to his behavior online while the media sanitizes the girl’s image.
If you think I’m wrong, then look at the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case. The court of public opinion was quick to pass judgment as soon as the accusations started flying. Then, when charged, the ramifications of Prosecutor Mike Nifong’s action created a tidal wave of negative press and instilled unwarranted prejudice from mentors and peers toward the accused. In the end, the victim’s accusations were full of holes, which allowed charges to be dropped and their innocence proclaimed. Nevertheless, Nancy Grace still called for their blood long after.
Just like the victim, the accused often is shamed and has little recourse when they are found innocent. Even if the charges are dropped, the stigma will follow them for the rest of their lives. In a way, they are branded the male equivalent of Hester Prynne. A friend of mine went through this years ago. It was grueling to watch the torment he went through trying to prove his innocence. Twenty years later, he still deals with malevolent attitudes caused by the false allegations. (Side note: The “victim” targeted my friend at a party and cried rape after their encounter to hide the fact she’d gotten pregnant two months earlier by her ex-boyfriend. She didn’t want to deal with the wrath of her parents, as she admitted later. If you’re not pissed about that, then you should be.) It was hard to watch while everyone crucified him. After he was exonerated, he spent several years battling severe depression while the girl got off scot-free after her blatantly false accusations. Regardless of his innocence, several groups continued to praise her “bravery” to come forward while showering her with donations for her and the baby. The outpouring of support was sickening, and she milked it for all it’s worth.
That said, for every girl that’s genuinely victimized, there’s another crying wolf because she embarrassed by her own actions. We’d be wise to err on the side of caution, even if the accused is acting like a colossal dirtbag on social media. Even the guilty are afforded the right to a fair trial. We are not judge, jury, and executioner. Unless we are directly involved with the case, none of us know the facts involved. We have only a brief understanding of what stands as admitted by witnesses and both parties. Even then, it’s a case of he said, she said. Let the authorities sort through the facts in the case. That is their job.
One Nancy Grace is enough, wouldn’t you say?
Where Were The Parents?
Apparently, I’m not allowed to ask this question. And thus, I’ve deemed it acceptable for rape to occur if the parents weren’t involved. *cue incredulous eye roll*
— stop snitchin (@ItsTonyNow) July 10, 2014
Seriously, is it too much to ask? When my daughters go out with their friends, I verify their whereabouts and ensure a parent is present as needed. I’m not some helicopter parent that smothers their children, but I do have a right to know their what they are doing and with whom. What kind of mother would I be if I took my child’s request at face value only to have her lying in a ditch somewhere or raped like this girl? I take a vested interest in their well-being. I’m not their friend. I am their mother.
And I am proud enough to say I have a trusting relationship with my children. I may have mentioned in the past that both of my girls have Autism. If you believe this hinders their social life, then you are mistaken. My oldest will be a senior in high school and has a healthy social life that allows her to spend time with her friends without my needed presence. She has a phone, which allows her to text her friends often, and has spent time in the company of other boys without direct supervision. She’s even gone on a date a time or two. I’ve been there for her first crush, her first heartbreak, and along the way, I’ve given instruction on how to conduct herself as a lady amongst it all. Behavior and outward appearance were stressed in equal measure.
While her father often joked about bringing home a burka on deployment, we’ve always taught her the importance of protecting her body. I’ve shown her ways to dress that were flattering yet trendy, which highlighted her quirky sense of style and beauty. Her self-esteem was key, and I never wanted her to succumb to the pressures of her peers, feeling that she needed to dress like a whore to gain attention. “The first impression is a lasting impression,” I’ve always told her.
Lastly, I’ve always stressed that my daughters can rely on me in any situation. Even when they make mistakes. They know I won’t sugar coat it when they’ve fucked up, but I’ll dry their tears, give advice, and get them back on their feet in the end when needed.
Unfortunately, the children involved in the article weren’t afforded the same luxury as my own. Their parents were non-existent, and as a result, they’ve paid the price early in their lives.
And that is the biggest tragedy of all.
The thing that strikes me in all this… the girl feels embarrassed. The last time I checked, embarrassment was nowhere on the list of things I felt after my own experience two decades ago. For some reason, I can’t help the feeling that something is decidedly off about this whole affair. Nevertheless, I’m fairly certain the whole situation is rotten given the other activities of said people involved.