[Trigger warning: sexual abuse of a minor]

The New York Times would like us to know that an 11-year-old girl was assaulted in Texas. Let me see what I can glean from this story with my keen awareness of rape culture:

– Please note that the story’s headline is “Vicious Assault Shakes Texas Town” but the title bar of the page reads “Gang Rape of Schoolgirl, and Arrests, Shake Texas Town.” The headline is both better and worse in that the euphemism assault replaces rape, but the title bar suggests that the rape alone is not shocking enough to shake the town.

– Sadly it seems the original title was more accurate to the story, which focuses more on the rapists than the victim. (And yes, I understand that the police aren’t saying much and there are lots of privacy laws against reporting about underage victims, but still.)  The first direct quote in the piece is paragraph 5, which says,

“It’s just destroyed our community,” said Sheila Harrison, 48, a hospital worker who says she knows several of the defendants. “These boys have to live with this the rest of their lives.”

How the victim will live with this for the rest of her life is not mentioned beyond a brief reference to prayer vigils at local churches (last graph).

– I don’t even want to get into the details of the assault because what the fucking fuck, but here’s another interesting tidbit:

Residents in the neighborhood … 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.

She was only 11? Wow, we had no idea. We thought she was in her 20s. That totally makes it okay for 18 young men to threaten to beat her up if she doesn’t comply with her rapists and to record the rape on cell phone cameras, right? (And while we’re on the subject how the fuck do eighteen dudes think any part of this is okay?)

Other coverage seems depressingly similar. All of the quotes have to do with “why was the child missing for two days?” and “some of the accused are innocent!” and even “where was her mother?” Because it never, ever, has anything to do with men who are steeped in the culture that says women (and girls) owe them sex and they’re allowed to get it however they can, and that rape is just enthusiastic sex.

Advertisements