Christ Almighty, I Almost Prefer the Victim-Blaming Version

Remember when the New York Times ran their story on that poor girl being gang-raped in Texas and it was all “Where was her mother? What was she wearing?!”

They’ve done a follow-up story. It’s a better story in that it’s not victim-blamey, but holy shit, it will rip your heart right out for this girl. Her dad is sick and can’t work. Her mom has a mass in her head she can’t afford to get removed. The girl went from being a bubbly, happy honor student to the victim of multiple rapes over many months. Yeah, it’s like this group of guys figured out that her home life had taken a turn for the worse (with her mom being extremely depressed about her medical condition) and that they could swoop in and exploit her vulnerability.

This whole paragraph from the victim-blamy story?

Residents in the neighborhood where the abandoned trailer stands — known as the Quarters — said the victim had been visiting various friends there for months. They said she dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s. She would hang out with teenage boys at a playground, some said.

Turns out that her “friends” she’d been visiting for months were the adult and almost-adult men who had been raping her for those months. Those neighbors saw that her dress and behavior had changed and that she was hanging out with adult or almost adult male “friends” and they didn’t bother to see that as a sign she was in trouble, but as a sign she was Slutty McSlutterson. You wonder what kind of boys and men could decide to go on a months’ long rape and molestation spree of an eleven year old girl, calling their friends to come get in on it, without even a hint of remorse. And then you learn that their friends and neighbors saw them with that girl and got all judgmental about how she was dressed and behaving.


They raped her for months.

And the people in their neighborhood saw her with them and saw something was obviously wrong with her and said nothing, did nothing, turned their backs on her suffering.

Well, you know, sometimes you hear about shit like this and you wonder “How could this happen?” But, honestly, thanks to that shitty first article from the New York Times, at least in this case we know–it happened because these shitty fucks come from shitty fucks.

12 thoughts on “Christ Almighty, I Almost Prefer the Victim-Blaming Version

  1. Often people have asked me “how can you possibly be in favor of the death penalty?” — the above story is case in point.

    Sam, that statement? Holy shit, you win the internet!

  2. I live in Houston, so this story has been all over the airwaves. I just have to yell at the radio whenever I hear anyone comment on the poor girl’s behavior, clothing, or how she looked older than her age.

    Because it’s completely acceptable to gang rape an older, sluttily dressed girl over an extended period of time, right?

    How is there even such a thing as apologia of gang rape of a child? How does a world exist that includes this?

  3. O.C., I wondered, too, from the timeline one can glean from the newest Times article, if she wasn’t dressing that way at the behest of her rapists.

    But then I start to think about a world in which a bunch of men order their rape victim to dress in certain ways and it makes me want to throw up. They groomed her to be their perfect victim and the community uses the evidence of that grooming to argue that she was consenting.

    It makes me sick. And I agree–it’s hard to believe we live in a world where people are trying to let a bunch of child-rapists off the hook.

  4. Thanks, Beth. I wish I could say I was joking.

    B., I’m not trying to be smug or cynical, but this is an unattractive manifestation of human nature. Katherine Coble is right. One of the basic principles of our laws governing sexual conduct is that a child (e.g. an 11-year-old girl) cannot consent to sexual contact with an adult. The community in this case understands that principle, I’m sure, and they understand why it exists and why laws exist to uphold it. However, a significant number of their menfolk, for a significant period of time, have been violating this principle. This has apparently been happening in broad daylight.

    Human nature often encourages us to take the path of least resistance. Which do you think is the path of least resistance for this particular community: admitting that it has broken the most basic trust of one of its most vulnerable members, and proceeding to admonish itself and hold its (presumably privileged) male members accountable? Or slut-shaming the victim and putting the blame on her?

    Opting for the path of least resistance in this case seems particularly rotten to most of us, and rightfully so. But it isn’t the first time it’s happened on U.S. soil, and, arguably, it isn’t even close to the most egregious case. We’ve done it in larger numbers, and over deeds that involve the suffering of relatively infinite numbers of children. The perpetrators of these larger crimes don’t have to settle for the dubious impunity of the child rapists, either; in some cases we’re giving them phat pensions, lifetime health care, and generous speaking fees. Or even promotions.

  5. I haven’t heard od this case until today, so I am ignorant as to the facts.

    Who are the men in relation to this community? I mean, are they like the providers for all the slutshamers or are they the sons of the owner of the trailer park or what?

    I can’t otherwise conceive of a reason as to why people who are nosy enough to record all of this child’s comings and goings aren’t also calling the police.

  6. Oh brother. I am reiterating me “stay away from the news” stance. I just clicked through to RTFA, realizing that it might answer my questions. The first reaction statement is about how sad it is for The Community because THESE BOYS will have to live with it for the rest of their lives.

    The boys.

    The BOYS.

  7. Yes, the first story (the one you clicked on) caused just about everyone who read it to have a complete fit. That’s why the NYTimes had to do the second story.

  8. I could live with the ‘these boys will have to live with it’ comment if it’s referring to the middle school boys that were apparently involved. Middle school boys would basically be the victim’s peers and I just can’t see a boy that young really understanding the horror of what he’s doing or even being motivated to do that on his own. At some point the little guys are going to realize what they did just to be ‘cool’ with the big kids and it’s going to be tough on them.

    I realize that’s nothing compared to the girl’s trauma.

  9. Oh, I fully get that many of the boys are going to see their lives take drastic turns in grim directions as a result of all this. Especially the “basketball star” and some of the others who had previously not had a criminal record.

    It was just that that was the first reaction and the general gist of the whole piece. That this slutty girl tore the town apart and was the ruination of the Good Boys. (I’m guessing this was all covered in the initial conversations that I missed.)

    I can only imagine the additional friction caused by the fact that she was the child of Mexican immigrants.

    I foresee a movie about this in the next 5 years. HBO, probably.

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