“Wasn’t the victim she claimed to be.”

There’s a young man in Dallas who’s been convicted of rape and sentenced to deferred probation. Notable in Judge Jeanine Howard’s choices of absurdly lenient sentencing are that he is not held to the usual conditions of sex offenders and that she has ordered him to do 250 hours of community service at a rape crisis center. (They don’t want him there. I think that should be a consideration.) I am less interested in whether Mr. Young belongs in prison for the next 20 years than in how Judge Howard bases her sentencing on her views of the victim.

The girl was 14 at the time of the rape, and knew Young at school. She was interested in spending time with him. She did not, however, want to have sex at school. He raped her in a music practice room. They both testified that she said “no” and “stop” repeatedly, before and during the attack. There doesn’t seem to be any dispute over whether the girl gave consent in that particular incident. Young apologized to his victim and her family at the trial.

The way Judge Howard describes the victim is, basically, that she wasn’t a good enough victim. Look at this here:

Howard said she made her decision for several reasons, including: The girl had texted Young asking him to spend time with her; the girl had agreed to have sex with him but just didn’t want to at school; medical records show the girl had three sexual partners and had given birth to a baby; and Young was barely 18 at the time.

“She wasn’t the victim she claimed to be,” Howard said. “He is not your typical sex offender.”

The girl’s mother said Friday morning that her daughter has never been pregnant and she was “livid” over the judge’s comments.

The girl’s description of her relationship with Young is thus:

The girl testified that the two had discussed sex but all she wanted to do was kiss. During the trial, where Young pleaded guilty and Howard decided his punishment, the judge asked several times about whether the girl cried. The girl testified that she did not cry during the attack but cried afterward.

Judge Howard seems to be unfamiliar with the idea of consent. She might characterize the girl’s actions in this case as a “gray area” of consent. Just to be clear, there is no need to observe any gray areas. Consent goes like this:

  • If the girl said she wanted to kiss the guy, that is not the same as consenting to sex, and his forcing intercourse on her was rape.
  • If the girl said she was interested in having sex with him, but not at school, then she did not consent to that act of intercourse in the music room. What he did to her was rape.
  • If the girl had already had 3 sexual partners before that incident, that has no bearing on whether she gave consent to that boy on that day. What he did to her was rape.
  • If the girl, who was then 14, had already given birth before that incident, that really has no bearing on whether she gave consent to that boy on that day. We don’t even know that the conception of her child was entirely consensual.
  • Anyway, her mother says the girl has never been pregnant, and I think the girl’s apparently supportive mother is a better witness to her daughter’s obstetrical history than the judge in a criminal trial where the girl is not the defendant.
  • And if the mother’s lying out her ass, and the girl actually did have a baby by age 14? SERIOUSLY? Is that supposed to be argument for treating her rapist as “not your typical sex offender”? Does she think it never occurs to a “typical sex offender” to target a very young mother?

The judge has done everything short of saying, in so many words, “She’s a slut and she asked for it.” She’s operating on the belief that the damage of rape hinges on the innocence of the victim, where “innocence” is measured in a lack of sexual history. She draws a straight line from “she wasn’t such a victim” to “he is not your typical sex offender.” She’s saying he shouldn’t really be treated like a criminal because the girl was already degraded by supposedly having had sex already.

The girl now wonders if it would’ve been a better idea not to report the rape.

“I did what I was supposed to do. I went to the law about this situation,” she said. The judge’s probation sentence and the removal of the restrictions — “that says everything I went through was for nothing.”

“It would have been better for me not to say anything,” said the girl, who is not being identified because The Dallas Morning News does not typically identify victims of sex crimes.

With people like Judge Howard in the “justice” system, it’s no surprise that so many rape victims don’t even go to the police.

It would be really nice if AR Wear were a thing that worked.

Everyone’s talking about this IndieGogo campaign for a women’s clothing line that basically works like a modern-day chastity belt. My commentary is probably not the first you’ve seen about AR Wear. Tara Culp-Ressler, previously quoted on this blog as the bringer of much-needed evidence-based analysis on rape of intoxicated women, has already delved into what makes the AR concept unhelpful. I encourage you to read her article today.

You know what’s weird? I want this product to work. I want to be sympathetic, at least, to the makers of AR Wear. Their hearts appear to be in the right place, and they even acknowledge the limits of their products’ usefulness. Contrary to accusations frequently leveled at anti-rape-culture feminists, we don’t like being victims. We don’t want girls and women to feel helpless. We don’t want to send the message of “don’t bother doing anything at all to keep yourself safe.” We’re trying to be realistic. We’re trying to get our society to a place where we can start doing things that actually prevent rape, and in the meanwhile, to stop making rape victims feel like shit about letting their faces get too close to someone’s fist.

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They threaten their victims with exposure.

Here is yet another example in an expanding list of young males who act like sociopathic predators because they know they will be supported in their actions. We have the Roast Busters of Auckland, New Zealand. I’m at work and don’t have the spare hours to do a lot of analysis, so I’ll quote the salient parts here and encourage you to follow the link to read the rest:

Last month sketchy details were reported that two 18 year old young men were charged with the rape of a 17 year old young woman in New Plymouth. And that one of these young men along with a third man was charged with filming it.

This week we know that was not an isolated case. A group of Auckland boys who call themselves ‘roast busters’ have been busted themselves for their sexual exploits with young girls. TV3 News showed video footage (from the group’s Facebook) of Beraiah Hales and Joseph Parker promoting ‘roasting’ – form of sexual conquest that is juvenile in design and likely devastating in impact for the girls involved. The boys describe intentionally targeting young girls for something that involves two of them penetrating the girl orally and vaginally at the same time: “two or more guys.. one dick in pussy one mouth and if there’s more then two guys then you use your hands too [sic]” (as Hales explains it on ask.fm).

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For the Umpteenth Time, Rape is Not a Side Effect of Intoxication.

Tara Culp-Ressler brings us some much-needed sanity—and with evidence on her side—at Think Progress today, regarding the relationship between drunkenness and sexual assault:

A 2001 research project into sexual assault and alcohol commissioned by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism puts it this way: “Although alcohol consumption and sexual assault frequently co-occur, this phenomenon does not prove that alcohol use causes sexual assault.” In some cases, the researchers pointed out, it may actually be the other way around. The desire to commit a sexual assault may actually encourage alcohol consumption, as some men may drink before assaulting a woman in order to help justify their behavior.

National statistics dispel the direct correlation between alcohol and rape, too. The Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey has found that the number of Americans who say they’ve been raped — regardless of whether they reported that crime to the authorities — has been declining since 1979. During that same time period, binge drinking has been steadily rising. As Slate’s Amanda Hess points out, that suggests something else besides alcohol consumption is actually factoring into the nation’s sexual assault rate. Indeed, research has found that intimate partner violence declines not as people drink less, but as society moves toward gender equality.

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The Spaghetti-on-Wall School of Victim-Blaming

Shepard Smith of Fox News had a guest on his show, a criminal defense attorney named Joseph DiBenedetto, to do some song-and-dance about the Maryville rape case. And this is what Mr. DiBenedetto had to say about Daisy Coleman:

“There’s no denying that from the surface it appears to be some sort of cover-up,” the defense attorney said. “But when you look at the finer details, there are telltale signs of this girl actually lying. She is leaving her home at 1 a.m. in the morning and nobody forced her to drink. And what happens? She gets caught by her mom, she’s embarrassed and the easy way out here is, ‘Mom, someone took advantage of me.’”

“But what did she expect to happen at 1 a.m. in the morning after sneaking out?” he asked. “I’m not saying — assuming that these facts are accurate and this did happen — I’m not saying she deserved to be raped, but knowing the facts as we do here including what the prosecutor has set forth, this case is going nowhere and it’s going nowhere quick.”

You might notice that he’s going with two different stories here. The first is that the girl’s a liar, because she should be ashamed of sneaking out and drinking, so she tells her mother it was a rape, because in The Land Under Siege by Pubescent Sluts, reporting a star football player as a rapist is so much LESS attention-getting than admitting to your mother that you behaved like a teenager. It’s not like she got a raft of slut-shaming, victim-punishing cyber-bullying when the story came out, or anything. Yeah, she was totally covering her own ass by telling her mother she’d been raped. And we’re going to skip over the details of how her mother found her freezing outside, and found the physical evidence of sexual assault without her daughter’s explanation.

Then, in case that angle doesn’t work out, he says that even if she wasn’t lying, well, she was totally asking for it. If she’s telling the truth, then, you know, she should be ashamed of herself. Because, she snuck out and she got drunk, so the rape was inevitable.

If a creature from another dimension were listening to this guy’s account through a Babel-fish, that alien might get the impression that rape is an accident that happens to girls who aren’t sufficiently rule-abiding and cautious. DiBenedetto said all that without even once acknowledging that there were guys involved. There was an older teenage boy who was indispensably involved in Daisy’s sneaking out, her getting blackout drunk, and her appearing in a rape video on someone’s iPhone. Let’s say nothing about the actions of Matthew Barnett bringing much younger and smaller girls to his house, pressuring a 14-year-old to drink more than she could handle, and putting his cock in her while his friend got them on video, finally, leaving her inadequately dressed and semi-conscious outdoors in freezing weather. Clearly the kid has no control whatsoever over his own actions when a girl sends him a text, so he might as well not have even been there.

Let’s remember that as far as he’s concerned, his explanation doesn’t need to be coherent. He doesn’t need to worry about how it looks that he’s straddling the fence between She’s Lying and She Asked For It. He knows that plenty of people, many of whom could end up on a jury, will see Daisy Coleman as the guilty one if he just evokes the right images. Talk about the girl being less than a perfect angel, and the rapist disappears.

The Best Rape Prevention: Tell College Men to Stay Away from Booze.

Right after we learn of what Matt Barnett did to Daisy Coleman, one Emily Yoffe over at Slate gives us an essay that should be titled, “I will not let feminists ruin the self-righteous buzz of blaming women’s drinking for rape.” The advice she offers is pretty much indistinguishable from what everyone else on the Internet jumps up to say whenever we hear of yet another young woman having been sexually violated, but her thesis is that we’re not doing enough to send women the message that their behavior is to blame for their victimization.

Rather than merely rail against the evils of victim-blaming, I will make a few minor adjustments to Yoffe’s essay to make its advice more productive. In places where her writing is so absurd that mere translation is insufficient, I have screen-capped her exact words for your edification.

College Men: Stop Your Drunken Partying.

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Recommended Questions for the Maryville Rape

The questions are going around. Of course they’ve been going around for months already; these are the questions that come up whenever we hear about a rape. “Why did she put herself in that position?” “Why did she drink so much?” “No one forced her to be in that house with those boys.”

Rape is always in the passive voice, it’s always about what happened to the victim rather than what the rapist chose to do, and so on and so forth.

Now, I’m not saying that 14-year-old girls “should” binge drink, or that it’s totally a good idea to hang out with older boys without adult supervision. I’m just saying there are other questions we should ask before we get started on Daisy Coleman’s poor judgment.

Such as: “If Matt Barnett and his friends couldn’t control themselves in the presence of younger girls, then why did he drive his car to the Coleman house and transport those girls to his unsupervised, booze-soaked party? This whole situation would have been avoided if he had simply not gone to their house. The girls were texting him, but they didn’t force him to get in the car.”

Also: “If Matt Barnett was so sure that Daisy Coleman wanted to have sex with him, then why did he pour two large glasses of Bacardi Big Apple down the already-tipsy girl’s throat? A 14-year-old girl does not hold her liquor nearly as well as a strapping 17-year-old boy, and Matt surely knew that much better than Daisy. If Matt hadn’t put that liquor in her hands, and if he hadn’t encouraged her to drink up, she wouldn’t have gotten so drunk, and she wouldn’t have been so vulnerable. Why was Matt Barnett so eager to see a 14-year-old girl drink as much as possible?”

Finally: “Why did Matt and the guys leave blackout-drunk, inadequately-dressed Daisy out on her front lawn in dangerously cold weather? Why didn’t they take her inside along with her friend and put her to bed so she wouldn’t be in danger of freezing to death? If they’d taken her inside, her mother might not have discovered the evidence of her rape, and Matt would not have been charged with endangering the welfare of a child.”

After we’ve finished discussing those aspects of the incident, THEN we can start talking about what Daisy Coleman should have known beforehand.

Maryville, MO has blood on its hands.

How many more times is this shit going to happen?

A Missouri state representative’s 17-year-old grandson and his buddies pick up a couple of girls, ages 14 and 13, from their slumber party, drive them to the 17-year-old’s house, feed them enough hard liquor to make them black out, and record themselves fucking the intoxicated girls. They drive the girls back to the 14-year-old’s house, tell the 13-year-old to go on inside and that they’ll look after her friend until she sobers up; instead, they leave her outside, unconscious in freezing weather, wearing only a t-shirt and sweatpants. Fortunately, she wakes up and her mother brings her inside before she has time to die of hypothermia.

The girl’s mother takes her to the hospital, police are called, and, holy shit, arrests are swiftly made and appropriate charges filed. At the same time, folks around town start making threats against the 14-year-old victim and her widowed mother and older brothers. The girl is suspended from the cheerleading team. The mother loses her job. The usual talking points come up: “She was asking for it.” The girl and her mother are “crazy bitches.”

Despite the police having gathered all the evidence a prosecutor could ever ask for, the prosecutor drops the charges, but he insists it’s not about political connections, no, not at all. The prosecutor says it was all a matter of “incorrigible teenagers” drinking and fucking. “They were doing what they wanted to do, and there weren’t any consequences. And it’s reprehensible. But is it criminal? No.”

After the charges are dropped, the victim-punishing gets even worse. The girl is called a “skank,” and so forth. The sheriff blames the girls’ mothers for the justice system’s inertia. The widowed mother packs up her kids and moves back to Albany. Her house in Maryville somehow burns to the ground.

Her daughter has attempted suicide twice in the past two years despite regularly being in therapy. The girl has been repeatedly hospitalized and has spent 3 months at a group home for “struggling” teens. Her rapist is in college and Tweeting about how all women want to fall on his cock.

The Kansas City Star has wisely disabled commenting on the article.

Now Anonymous has taken up the case. I suspect Maryville will soon be casting itself as the victim of Anonymous’s vindictive witch-hunting. I’m sure they’re so sorry they’ve been caught.

Oh yes, Your Honor, DO tell us more!

Judge Baugh is back-pedaling like a maniac. He’s saying the right things for now, though still isn’t changing his mind about that joke of a non-sentence on Stacy Rambold. He should probably just stop digging.

Wednesday, the judge apologized for his remarks but not the sentence.

“I don’t know what I was thinking or trying to say,” he told the Gazette. “It was just stupid and wrong.”

He submitted a letter to the editor expanding, saying he was “not sure just what I was attempting to say, but it did not come out correct.”

“What I said is demeaning of all women, not what I believe and irrelevant to the sentencing,” Baugh wrote. “My apologies to all my fellow citizens.”

He told the paper he would more thoroughly explain his reasoning behind the sentence and add it to the court file this week.

Oh, boy! I can’t fucking WAIT to see him try again to explain his decision! Let’s see how he tries to justify a 30-day sentence for a sexual predator without blaming the victim! This Monster needs a new chew toy!

Serena Williams joins the ranks of victim-blamers.

Via Deadspin, Rolling Stone recorded some hot, steaming word salad from Serena Williams about the Steubenville rape case:

We watch the news for a while, and the infamous Steubenville rape case flashes on the TV—two high school football players raped a 16-year-old, while other students watched and texted details of the crime. Serena just shakes her head. “Do you think it was fair, what they got? They did something stupid, but I don’t know. I’m not blaming the girl, but if you’re a 16-year-old and you’re drunk like that, your parents should teach you: don’t take drinks from other people. She’s 16, why was she that drunk where she doesn’t remember? It could have been much worse. She’s lucky. Obviously I don’t know, maybe she wasn’t a virgin, but she shouldn’t have put herself in that position, unless they slipped her something, then that’s different.”

What the fuck does Jane Doe’s hypothetical non-virginity have to do with what Trent Mays and Malik Richmond did to her?

I’m going to turn this paragraph around. Let’s try this instead:

“Do you think it was fair, what she got? She did something stupid by getting that drunk, but I don’t know. I’m not blaming the boys, but if you’re a 16-year-old and you’re feeling rapey like that, your parents should teach you: don’t stick your fingers up an unconscious girl’s vagina. They’re 16, why were they at that party with so many other teenagers cheering them on? They could have gotten a much longer sentence than they did. They’re lucky. Obviously I don’t know, maybe they just didn’t realize that rape is still a crime when you’re a star football player, but they shouldn’t have put themselves in that position, unless they had brain damage from multiple concussions, then that’s different.”

When the shit started raining down on her head (note: it is a sign of progress that the shit is raining in that direction), she put this on her website:

“What happened in Steubenville was a real shock for me. I was deeply saddened. For someone to be raped, and at only sixteen, is such a horrible tragedy! For both families involved – that of the rape victim and of the accused. I am currently reaching out to the girl’s family to let her know that I am deeply sorry for what was written in the Rolling Stone article. What was written – what I supposedly said – is insensitive and hurtful, and I by no means would say or insinuate that she was at all to blame.

I have fought all of my career for women’s equality, women’s equal rights, respect in their fields – anything I could do to support women I have done. My prayers and support always goes out to the rape victim. In this case, most especially, to an innocent sixteen year old child.”

Well, at least she didn’t double down.

If you find yourself in the hot seat for saying something idiotic and irresponsible, it shows a lot more backbone to acknowledge that you fucked up than to call the magazine reporter a liar. We all make mistakes. We all grow up with some destructive ideas that we could do without. It’s okay to admit you were wrong. Rather than deny your mistakes, learn from them.