This week, my colleague and friend Lori Adelman and I were making our way to Harvard, where we were scheduled to speak at Feminist Coming Out Day (it was a blast! Read the write up in the Harvard Crimson here!). The previous day, the New York Times had run an article about a horrific crime: the gang-rape of an 11-year-old girl in the town of Cleveland, TX. The article contained several quotes from local residents about how the arrests and accusations were tearing the town apart, and how they were living to damage the lives of the men – more than 18, so far – who were accused of sexual violence against this young girl. There were also a number of quotes, presented without comment or commentary, about how the 11-year-old dressed older than her age and wore makeup, and about how her mother ought to have kept a better eye on her.
Needless to say, such sentiments are outrageous: no one, regardless of how they dress, deserves what allegedly happened to this girl. The blame belongs with the perpetrators, not with the victim, and our first concern should be for her well-being, not for that of the 18 men who allegedly raped her. This was bad reporting on the part of the New York Times, and Lori and I were still fuming by the time we got on the bus the next morning. Luckily, Lori’s fancy Apple Mackintosh has a camera: