TRIGGER WARNING please note that as this post talks about rape it may be triggering.
So, a week after the NYT blamed the gang rape of an 11-year old girl on her, whilst the rapists received sympathy for having their lives ruined, the same thing happens on our side of the pond.
Of course, it is no surprise that it was the Daily Mail. After all, this is the paper who praised their natural enemy, Julian Assange, as a “crusader”, when it became clear the extradition proceedings around him gave them an opportunity to indulge in a bit of ‘all women lie’ reporting.
The article opens with:
"Reading Crown Court heard how the soccer players were encouraged by the schoolgirl 'Lolitas'"
Now, it just so happens that I read Lolita at school and at university. Clearly, our friends at the Daily Mail have done neither. If they had, they would know that contrary to the porn-ization of Lolita in magazine editorial, mainstream movies and porn films, Lolita is a victim of rape. Humbert rapes her repeatedly, and then when she leaves him, the other man is a rapist also. We know this because, when she goes to Humbert’s room after the first time, he writes ‘you see, she had no-where else to go’. We know this because he threatens her with abandonment if she doesn’t give in. We know this because he murders her mother in order to rape her. And even if all of this didn’t happen, we know this because she is TWELVE and he is a GROWN UP. Seriously, one of the greatest tragedies of literature is how fucked up people’s responses to Lolita are. The whole book is Humbert’s fantasy of being seduced by Lolita. As you read the book, you are struck by how upset, frightened and disturbed Lolita is by the experience. She is not a ‘tease’ or ‘seductress’ she is a little girl who chews gum, has greasy hair, and is the victim of a paedophile.
But anyway, I digress.
Apparently, according to the Daily Mail, the girls had ‘sneaked’ out of a party to meet the men, who are footballers, and told them that they were older then they were. The defence reportedly told the court that the girls could not be trusted, and that they had exchanged suggestive text messages with the men. Apparently one of the girls had a false age on Facebook.
The Mail reports that one girl was raped by five of the men, but one girl “was more reluctant and was raped by just one player”. Don’t even get me started on the utter horror of that sentence. Reluctant to be gang raped? When you’re a teenager? Fancy that!
Apparently the rapists were shocked and disgusted when they discovered the age of the girls. Which makes me furious. They should be shocked and disgusted with their own actions of raping the girls. Whatever age those girls are. They should be horrified that they thought it was ok to coerce girls to have sex with them, with no thought or respect for what the girls felt or wanted. They should be disgusted with their actions.
The Mail writes about the girl who was raped by five men:
‘She was initially reluctant but eventually gave in to his persistence.’
It is sentences like this that mean the Assange defence lawyer could describe having sex without someone’s consent as the ‘ebb and flow of sexual relations’. It is sentences like this that mean people go ‘she wanted it really’. It’s sentences like this that mean the conviction rate for rape stays low, at 6.5%. Five older men (their ages ranged from 19-21) pressuring a girl to have sex with all of them, no matter what age she is, or what ages she says she is, is wrong.
The Mail also writes:
"They [the defence] added that the careers of the promising young footballers had been ruined by 'the biggest mistake [of their] lives'."
And the girls? What about their lives? What about the psychological trauma of being 12 years-old and being forced to have sex with five men. And don’t pretend that ‘eventually gave in to his persistence’ is anything but being forced. These girls are children.
Of course, thanks to being groomed by the Daily Mail to think that all rape victims are liars, or are asking for it, because they are outside, or have drank alcohol, or have spoken to the rapist, or have spoken to any men ever; the comments place the blame squarely on a 12 year-old girl. She’s a slut, apparently. They’re wayward, who are ‘more at fault than the lads’ (notice affectionate term for rapists there). They ‘claimed to be 16 and we all know how tarty girls can look’. Apparently we should save space in prison for ‘genuine criminals’ and it is the ‘girls who should be punished.’ Yes Daily Mail reader, lets punish girls for being gang raped. Lets call the men, adult men, ‘misguided’, and lets say that children, young girls, are ‘slutty’ and ‘instigated it’. Well done. Congratulations.
I can’t even be bothered to point out the irony of a news media that wants to bring back the death penalty for paedophiles, insinuating that a 12 year-old girl deserves to be gang raped. With this thinking, it is apparently ok if men want to rape 12 year-olds who look older, it’s only bad if the girls look 12. I don’t quite understand the logic.
So, here’s a lesson for the Daily Mail and their readers.
1. Having sex with a 12 year-old girl is statutory rape.
2. Pressuring and coercing a child into having sex is rape
3. If someone is 12, 16, 26, 48, 97 or ANY AGE and they are forced to have sex, it is rape
4. If someone looks 12, 16, 33, 52, 75 or ANY AGE and they are forced to have sex, it is rape
5. If a woman or girl wears a short skirt, or a low cut top, or skinny jeans and is forced to have sex, it is rape
6. If a woman or girl flirts with, talks to or knows a man who then forces her to have sex, it is rape.
7. Lolita was a rape victim
8. If you lie about your age on Facebook, and a man forces you to have sex, then, amazing I know, this is rape.
It astounds me that we are still having these conversations. But so long as this keeps happening, and the news media keeps blaming the victims and sympathising with the perpetrators, and their readers keep blaming the victims and sympathising with perpetrators, then we need to keep reminding why this is wrong.
As Coventry Rape Crisis tweeted earlier:
‘We have 12 year old clients who have been raped but don’t call it that, they call it 'love' or what you have to do 2 have a boyfriend’
We need to educate our children about active, informed consent. Starting now.