46 members of the Duke Lacrosse team are taking DNA tests after some of the players were accused of gang raping a woman who they invited to be a dancer at a party. I also don’t want people to think about this story as a gender issue, but as incident that reveals how racism, sexism, and classism intersected to make this young woman particularly vulnerable to a sexual assault. If you read this report from ABC News you will hear very little about race. However, if you this story you get a better idea of what most likely went on. A group of young wealthy White men felt that it was ok to assault this woman, raping her and yelling racial slurs at her. This should be blowing up in the blogosphere folks. This is also one of those “if this had happen to a White woman would we have already heard about it” stories.
From the Duke student newspaper:
Police photographed 46 of the 47 lacrosse team members and collected DNA samples in the form of cheek swabs Thursday afternoon following allegations that the athletes gang-raped, sodomized and strangled a dancer at a March 13 party.
The young woman is a student at North Carolina Central University (a historically Black University), and she is the mother of two. She was working for the escort service as a dancer to support her family and pay for college.
The race/class/gender dynamics of this whole case are really scary, and they reveal a great deal about our power structure in this country. This young woman ended up in the vulnerable position of being a sex worker because she was trying to better her family and her education. The two young women left the party after the racial slurs began and they feared for their safety, but I can’t help wondering if they were thinking about how they were going to pay their bills or feed their kids when they went back in, something most of these young men don’t even have to think about. I wonder if these guys were thinking about how much power they had over this young women when they yelled racist slurs and when they physically and sexually assault this women? I also wonder if those guys who remained silent were more concerned about protecting their buddies than stopping this terrible assault. How much do they think this woman’s life is worth?
UPDATE: Terrance has more:
I grew up and went to school with kids probably much like some of the guys on the Duke Lacrosse Team. In college, I remember a lot of them as kids who didn’t have to worry about much of anything. Let alone where they money to meet their needs and fulfill nearly all of their wants was going to come from. These were the kids who drove around in their own BMWs from the start of freshmen year. These were kids whose families’ money could bail them out of whatever trouble they got into (like a roommate of mine who’s bank president father got him off with community service for shoplifting thousands of dollars in clothes, when my broke black ass would have ended up in jail).
These were kids who didn’t have to worry about much, including their grades or their futures, because many of them would almost assuredly land a job in dad’s firm or due to mom and dad’s connections; if they don’t end up in public office. These were the kids my folks warned me not to run around with when I went off to college, because I’d be in for a rude awakening if doing so got me into trouble as well as them. There was a big difference between me and them, after all.
In other words, these kids were entitled. They knew it, and they knew everyone else knew it. So, I don’t believe these guys were thinking about how much power they had over this young woman, even as she probably sat in the car wondering where the money for food, clothes, bills, books, tuition, etc., was going to come from if she walked out on this job. They were probably enjoying it, but they weren’t thinking about it because they hardly ever have to think about it.
They don’t have to think about it, because it’s their right. It’s a given, as is probably much else, to them. That is the very essence of entitlement. They were entitled to behave as they did. And, since in their minds they paid for her, entitled to this young woman’s body as well. It’s their due. And they days of wealthy white men being entitled to the bodies of black women they paid for in one way or another, are not so far gone that one can’t hear their echoes in this story.
For the young men involved, what happened at the party was just good fun, mere sport, and they wouldn’t give much more though to it than they would to joining in a fox hunt. And they wouldn’t worry much about the fox either. After all, that’s what it’s there for. And they’ll do with it as they please.
Justice 4 Two Sisters is staying on top of it.