Monday, November 9

Victim blaming & blog trolls


Just a few weeks ago, a 15 year old was brutally attacked and gang-raped in front of a group (of spectators) after she left a homecoming dance. According to various news reports, the young girl was found shirtless and unconscious under a cement picnic table, and was airlifted to the hospital in critical condition. Various witnesses now say the assault went on for as long as two hours, with a crowd of up to 15 people watching. Not a single person called the police, went for help, or attempted to help the victim.

You would think that people would read this story and feel nothing but horror. Because there's really some rather horrific aspects: gang rape, 'spectators,' and a brutal assault. You might even think that this particular girl would escape the victim blaming so often seen after less physically brutal or more "ambiguous" rape cases.

Apparently a large segment of the online community (where I read the comment sections after these stories) seems to think that the 15 year old victim is to blame for her assault.

Because she might have known her assailants from school.
Because she was careless enough to wait for her father to pick her up on the street.
Because she might have been drinking.

Salon highlights a particularly troubling reaction from one blog commenter, who writes:

wait wait wait…..she was drinking prior to this? hmmm. im not sayin its her fault or she deserved this or anything but shes 15 and drinking outside on a bench by herself in a dress….as much as people want this to be a perfect world, its not. what she wasdoin in the first place was asking for trouble. if your not gunna be smart about the choices you make, im not gunna feel bad for what happen

Despite the caveat that he/she isn't blaming the victim for what happened, this person clearly believes that women deserve to be sexually assaulted and brutalized if they make a decision that someone else might characterize as bad. And apparently, a bad decision might include:

1. Being outside

2. Wearing a dress

3. Underage drinking

It is these type of comments that make me so angry.

Why are people taking time out of their busy lives to chastise a brutalized 15 year old?

Why are these people not using the same time and energy to discuss the fact that a crowd of people spent 2 hours watching multiple men rape a young girl?

Why do people think that it's OK to "not feel bad" for a victim of sexual assault, even if they've done something you consider risky?