And it’s being touted as another sports scandal.
I would think that the allegations of gang rape of an eleven-year-old would be a scandal in and of itself, sports or not.
UPDATE: I’d like to point everyone toward punkass marc’s post about how the media spins child rape when it’s at the hands of “our boys,” and how the fact that this spin is effective reflects our opinions about the value of women. His post focuses on the reports of U.S. soldiers raping an Iraqi girl and killing her family, and media reports calling the 14-year-old girl a “woman.”
Gosh, it’s thoughtful of the mainstream media to credit Abeer Qasim Hamza al-Janabi for being so wise for her age. I mean, thanks to a few US soldiers raping her and then murdering her and her family, she won’t be getting any older, but it’s good to know so there’s unity on her maturity. After all, documents show she wasn’t going to turn 15 until later this year — August 19th, to be exact — but many of the news agents of this country have decided to refer to her exclusively as a woman.
The girl was 14. A kid. Hardly a “young woman,” barely a teenager, and certainly not a “woman.”
So why does this spin matter? Well, because we react far more negatively to the idea of a girl being raped than to a woman being raped. Raping a girl is considered a worse crime than raping a grown women. I fell into that trap, too, when I was writing this post — the eleven year-old-girl part of it was shocking, and it’s what I stressed, instead of just being disgusted that a human being was raped.
Now, I think part of that disgust comes from the idea that we protect our young, and the theory that we should especially look out for the most vulnerable of society. But I think another part of it is the conflation of rape with sex — that is, the thought that rape is at least sexually motivated, and what kind of disgusting human being is sexually attracted to an eleven-year-old?
As a feminist, I should have known better. I know that rape is motivated by power and dominance, not an uncontrollable sexual urges. I know that youth or virginity or innocence do not make one human being more valuable than another. And so I apologize for the initial tone of this post, and I’m embarassed that I presented it that way. I don’t have a good excuse, and I’m glad that a commenter pointed this mistake out to me. All I can say is that I’m still learning, and I’m glad that other people are better at flushing out these thoughts than I am. So I’ll leave you with Marc:
I recognize that ingrained in all of us is the inclination to care more about puppies than dogs and more about kids than adults. Most creatures have been known on occasion to exhibit some level of increased mercy to the young, their own or others’. I understand that attacks on children will inherently feel more outrageous to us, always.
But shouldn’t the rape and murder of a woman be almost as offensive? Shouldn’t the difference in outrage go from extra-extra-extra pissed off to extra-extra-extra-extra pissed off? Shouldn’t that sliver of distinction be small enough as not to warrant the AP’s framing strategy?
The earliest reports listed Abeer’s age at around 25. How is it that the press believes fostering this misinformation will make her agony and death _that much more_ palatable than if it were attached to her actual age of 14? Her life should not lose much value in those 11 years.
Sadly, for no small amount of our populace, the label “woman” implies your best years are behind you. A girl is full of hopes, dreams, and virginity, but they see a woman as used goods, overripe and discardable. At best, they figure, a woman can only give of herself to others — her kids and her husband — and as such, has little value on her own.
This is clearly a frame. The notion that this is an effective frame disgusts me, but it’s probably the truth. And it says an awful lot about what people in this country really think of women.