I feel as though I’ve been crying for a week. As the mother of a pre-teen boy and a teenage girl, I am horrified by the recent gang-rape that took place near Vancouver, BC. What prompts this violence, this degradation?
The fact that the victim’s peers are now coming out and saying that the crime was actually consensual angers me even more. If it indeed was consensual (which I highly doubt) does that make it any better? Of course not. The whole thing never should have happened in the first place.
Who are these so called “peers” and why are they speaking up now, after the fact? Why didn’t they say something at the time? DO something to stop it? If it was consensual (which, I repeat, is doubtful) where the hell were the girl’s “peers” at that point in time? Why didn’t any one of them, male or female, have the human decency to try to save this girl from herself, pull up her pants, try to drag her away from the situation before it got completely out of hand.
I don’t buy the psycho-babble mumbo jumbo “just-world” theory that suggests that these teenagers are deflecting their anxiety and disassociating themselves from the incident by placing the blame on the victim. I call B.S. I don’t buy it, or any other attempt to justify why no one present that night did anything to prevent or stop the incident, consensual or not. There is no reason for not immediately coming to this young woman’s aid.
And what about the young men? Did they think it was funny to stand in line waiting to commit rape? Did they think at all? In one of the first televised reports of the incident we were shown a close up of a condom wrapper as the broadcast concluded. What does this imply? What are we really being told here? That the incident was premeditated? That the perpetrators had thought to bring condoms? That in all the chaos that ensued they would have been capable to use them, or would even have remembered to use them? Give me a break.
Male or female, put yourself at that party. What would you have done? Would you have left? Would you have had the courage to step in? Would you have called the police, an adult, an older sibling, someone’s parents? Ask any boy you know if he would have participated and I guarantee you he will say no. So then why, I ask, why did this happen? Why was there no one “present and accountable” or indignant enough, no one morally outraged enough that night, to DO something to prevent this from happening?
And perhaps what is more mind boggling is how someone could actually stand around and take photos. And post them on the internet. The simple, knee-jerk explanations, drunk, stoned, Peer Pressure, suppositions that the woman was “willing”, are just not good enough answers, in my book.
We see this kind of thing all the time. Pack mentality: human history is riddled with it. We see it in battleground footage, in video tapes of prisoners being tortured and humiliated by their guards, it’s in film, on TV, the internet: rape and torture, acts of subjugation, murder in the name of religion, for territory, political or monetary gain, for peer respect. Scholars and historians have devoted their lives to the study of man’s inhumanity to man. Each generation likes to think they’re more evolved than their predecessors, and yet, nothing seems to change.
As Christopher Holt points out in his recent Life As A Human article, A Woman’s Place, history is also rife with violence and degradation directed specifically at women. There are recent reports that female-against-female violence is also on the rise.
We must dialogue with our boys and our girls. Hold them accountable for their actions. Impress upon them that not only do they have responsibility to themselves, they have social responsibility as well. If we do not set our standards higher and expect more out of ourselves and our children, male and female, history will continue to repeat itself.