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Our Media Continues to Condone Rape by Vilifying The Victim.

Titian's image of the rape of Lucretia

Image via Wikipedia

Amidst the headlines of war in Libya, continuing unrest in the Middle East, and the ongoing war against the middle class and poor by Republican Governors, there was a report about an 11 year old girl in Texas who was raped by at least 18 men between the ages of 14-18. I remember at the time when the article came out, that the report seemed remarkably biased against the young girl. There were comments from the neighbors that the girl was always hanging out in this high crime area, dressed like an adult, and hanging out with a crowd not exactly known as moral young men. In their view, the girl was asking for it, and what little media attention that existed, reflected this bias. The girl in the meantime remained silent, and who could blame her?

Today, I came across this article from the New Agenda, an online feminist blog. The article reminded me exactly how prejudiced our society is when it comes to rape. Marina DelVecchio, who wrote the article, goes in to depth about how our society continues to marginalize rape victims, and instead focus on the circumstances in which the victim was attacked, raising questions about  the victims actions. Her column is centered on the gang rape in Texas, and touches on many salient points to consider.  In addition, Marina provides a few links to other articles that expand and support her points. This passage taken from one of the blogs linked in the article which discusses the media’s role in marginilizing rape, particularly hit home to me:

“It contributes to rape because it normalizes violence against women. Men rape to control, to overpower, to humiliate, to reinforce the patriarchal structure. And the media, which is vastly controlled by men, participates in reproducing already existing prejudices and inequalities, rather than seeking to transform them.”

This quote nails the problem right on the head. While rape is sexual within the act itself, it is not an act of sex. Rape is indeed an act of violence and control, and it does perpetuate the patriarchal structure of our society by humiliating and maintaining control over women. In my opinion, it is committed by men who feel powerless for whatever reason, and are attempting to take back some of their power through rape. The male controlled media is of no help; most men simply do not understand this concept of an act of power versus and act of sex. Furthermore, there is a plethora of explicit rape scenes on television as well as movies that are crafted so that women are depicted as enjoying the act. At the very least many of these scenes were designed to titillate the viewer sexually. 

I completely agree with Marina; our culture thouroghly betrays women when it comes to rape. I can not repeat enough that rape is not about sex, nor is it a crime that should be glorified or defended through the media. It is a vile disgusting act in which the attacker is making a desperate attempt to recover his or her power by overwhelming their victim, and forcing them to submit. Unfortunately in our still predominately patriarchal society, rape is a crime in which the victim is forced to defend themselves. It is the only crime where the victim is presumed guilty until proven innocent. Neither the media nor our justice system is doing anything to reverse the situation. That, in itself, is an egregious crime.

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