The invisible men who raped two girls

There’s been a lot of good coverage on the horrid case in which several men raped two girls in Trenton, NJ. My problem is with the mainstream coverage, which insists on viewing this as the case of a 15 year old girl pimping her 7 year old sister to a bunch of paying clients.

No: this is the case of a bunch of psychopathic, remorseless creatures who don’t qualify as human raping two little girls. The men have been conveniently (for them) absent from the coverage. It’s as if they were just props on hand in the 15 year old’s drama. It’s like they had no free will. Like they had no responsibility to say, “I can’t do something like this and still live with myself” and walk away. Like trained fighting pit bulls, they aren’t at fault – it’s that vicious, sadistic person who set up the situation who’s at fault.

This is exactly why the patriarch teaches us early in life: men are naturally violent and it’s up to women to control them, yet they are our superiors. Without being conditioned to believe that, you might find yourself thinking the men are the cause of this sexual assault – or that women should run your country. And those ideas aren’t compatible with a successful patriarchy, now, are they?

New Jersey has tellingly decided to charge the men with statutory rape, since the 15 year old gave “consent” she’s not legally old enough to give, but also to try her as an adult for her role in the assault on her sister. This is a sad commentary on the narcissism of the NJ personnel responsible for this decision. You can’t be old enough to be tried as an adult but too young to agree to sex.

I personally have no doubt the 15 year old girl has been a victim of something. While many kids make all sorts of startlingly stupid mistakes, it’s actually not that easy to raise a girl who behaves as this one did. It’s also not that easy to raise men like these. Some abuse and/or extremely bad conditioning occurred along the way for her. It’s unfortunate that abuse got passed onto her sister, but the odds are the sister was going to be exposed to the same shit sooner or later.

I hope both of these girls get the help they need. But with NJ charging the older girl as an adult, that’s unlikely to happen. She’ll probably die in prison, since prisoners tend to prey on child molesters. Instead of focusing on the girls, the only victims in this scenario, let’s focus on:

  • The creatures who did this.
  • The press who doesn’t care if it revictimizes these victims all over again, so long as it gets the most sensational version of this story.
  • The entire American culture, which is so disconnected from its sense of community that most of us accept this press coverage. It’s entertainment, after all.
  • The self-involved, empathy-free politicians in NJ who, concerned no doubt with re-election and making big headlines so they can finally get the fuck out of the DA’s office and get their interview on CNN or FOXNews, are charging this girl as an adult while charging her victimizers for victimizing a child.

Comments

  1. I. Scott says

    I don’t know much about US law, but aren’t they likely to be undermining their own statutory rape cases by trying the 15 year old as an adult?

  2. cgeye says

    And I recall that the DA’s office was set on relocating the family to another state, since *they* were being victimized. I understand if the friends of the rapists are intimidating them, but how helpful is that protection in finding out what made the older girl pimp out her sister? Do her parents and their actions go unexamined, and is that good, really?

  3. Firebird says

    I read that the girl’s stepfather came forward defending two of the defendants, saying they were there but didn’t do anything and shouldn’t be tried…or something like that. Even the news writer was writing from a “this-is-a-bizarre-twist” kind of slant with that story as the stepfather was basically supporting alleged perpetrators. Just kind of…to mention what the home seems to be like.

    Here’s a source that has that story basically as I remember reading it: http://www.watoday.com.au/world/stepfather-defends-three-accused-of-gangraping-daughter-20100409-rvhm.html

  4. Mickey says

    Ive been following this story as closely as possible because it captured my attention from the beginning as hasn’t let go yet. However, from all the reporting that has been done around this, I really have no clear picture as to what is going on. Some reports foreground the male rapists, others the role that the stepsister took, some question the home life and spread a little shade in relation to the family, in others the family doesnt even make an appearance (a part from the stepsister). So, really, its really hard for me to form an opinion, and Im usually a very opinionated person.

    What I will say is this. I agree with this post…to a certain extent. I do believe that accounts of the 15year old tend to make her out to be a monstrous human being while having her male counterparts take a back seat. I think that there has not been enough attention to the fact that she is 15 (other than marveling at how someone so young could do something so heinous) and that more that likely she was responding to a situation that was probably created by abuse and was finally in a position to be an actor rather that just a “victim”.

    However, it is really important not to create false binaries here. Being a victim and being a perpetrator of a crime is not mutually exclusive. Furthermore, while we should be able to place her actions in larger context she still has to be punished. All of the arguments made her in her defense are probably extremely accurate for the male perpetrators as well. At one time they could have been victims, at some point the could have been sexually abused. We don’t know.

    Nevertheless all parties must be punished.

  5. says

    I. Scott, I would think so. It’s certainly an argument the defense should consider.

    Do her parents and their actions go unexamined, and is that good, really?

    Seems to me that’s typical in these cases. Politicians don’t want to alienate the huge voting bloc that is PARENTS so they point fingers in every other direction.

    Firebird, that is so deeply fucked up.

    Mickey, it’s true that most perps were victims at some time, but this perp is 15. She isn’t old enough to be diagnosed with a major personality disorder (18) or consent to sex (16), which is why I have a problem with her being tried as an adult. The men involved are definitely beyond the help of psychiatry (rape involves personality disorders, and by 18, you’re beyond much help from psychiatry), but she may not be. In fact, from what I know of psychiatry, I’d say it’s very likely with proper treatment, she’ll never do anything like this again.

    Now, as for punishment? I gotta admit I’ve never been very interested in punishing anybody for their crimes since it doesn’t restore what was lost*. What I AM interested in is goes much further: protecting the rest of us from them. Putting them in jail only works as long as they stay in – for sex abuse, it’s totally contraindicated because so much sex abuse goes on in prisons. From a pragmatic standpoint, the only way to really protect non-criminals from sex offenders is to put the offenders in jail for life (and they will still likely be committing sex crimes, just on other prisoners rather than people who haven’t been, possibly falsely, convicted of similar crimes) or give them capital punishment. Or, if they’re young enough to be rehabilitated, that’s worth exploring both because it could solve the problem for everyone and because it costs the state a helluva a lot less.

    So I don’t know what you have in mind when you say everyone must be punished, but if jail time dissuaded sex offenders from future crimes, there’d be no reason to maintain a sex offenders registry.

    *Punishment is really just for the satisfaction of non-criminals – it lets us feel our message has been sent: “we don’t tolerate that sort of thing.” Except we do, all the time, when the perp is rich and white or male or a celeb… you get the picture. So I feel until our society becomes a lot less hypocritical, punishment doesn’t do any good at all. Which is not to say I don’t want anyone put in jail ever… I just feel it’s a temporary fix at best.

  6. says

    Mickey, discussion of whether the 15-year-old has been victimized herself isn’t just “a larger context”. One of the very consistent patterns with molestation is that children who have been sexually abused is that they turn around and do to younger children what was done to them. Exactly what was done to them, without any changes or variations at all. This means that ‘older sister pimping out younger sister’ is a strong diagnostic sign that the older sister was pimped out by a relative herself. It also means that she probably isn’t malevolent, or even heartless—she’s just been told that ‘this is how the world works’ so often that she believes it. And that means that punishment is only required for the original perpetrator: bringing the original perpetrator to justice and teaching the 15-year-old that the world doesn’t have to work that way will be enough to make her stop too.

  7. Maria says

    One hopes that’ll be enough to help her. But honestly, I suspect she’ll need years of therapy to get to a point she feels safe in her skin, and like her sexuality isn’t a something that is simultaneously toxic and exploitable. Since the news story keeps casting her as a villain, I really doubt she’s going to get that help. :(

    • Maria says

      I wanted to add: it’ll be particularly hard because what sucks the most about this situation is that it’s an EXTREME version of particular social narratives where women and girls are reducible to body parts for fucking. How do you heal someone from an injury that’s really an extreme version of the kind of psychic and physical mutilation we experience everyday?

  8. says

    I live in the greater Trenton area and had no idea until you posted what the headlines in The Trentonian newspaper boxes were talking about. This is our local scandal-sheet newspaper, featuring GREAT BIG headlines (like the New York Daily News or NY Post). IIRC most of the relevant headlines have had the word “Rape”or “Rapist” (or variant) in them, and I now think maybe one implied that the father was a molester, I’m not sure.

    So I would say that *local* news coverage seems to be focused on blaming the parents and the rapists, above all. You should note that the Trentonian also tends to be the more Republican local paper, so it’s not because it’s some liberal rag.

  9. Scarlett says

    This brings to mind the case of Amy Fisher (Long Island Lolita), where the DA would give the older men she’d slept with immunity for statuotory rape in exchange for their testimony of how much of a slut she was. ‘Cos apparantly being promiscous was FAR worse that being a statotory rapist.

  10. Mickey says

    Jennifer,

    I will agree that punishment as equated to jail time is only a) temporary and b) not particularly productive most of the time (although I would also argue I dont think the point of punishment is to produce something, at least from a “progressive” lens). However, at this point and time, TODAY the jailing system is what we have. If the 15 year old can be rehabilitated, fine. If not, what then?

    ——————————————————

    Kathmandu,

    You’re actually saying pretty much the same thing I was but slanting it only in favor of the 15year old female. If we are to adhere to your logic (which was also the same logic I was prescribing) then the male perpetrators themselves would also have to be understood in “the larger context” that I alluded to as themselves being the victims of abuse and then turning around and handing that same abuse down to somebody weaker then themselves. I’m not saying that this is the case. I’m only saying that we have to allow for the POSSIBILITY of this. If we are to assume that the 15year old was abused and that her actions are a result of this, why is it so difficult for us to lend that same reasoning to the male perpetrators. Now, I can see someone responding and saying: The men are said to be adults in this. Good Point. However, the ages of these adults has not been released (at least not that Ive seen) “adult” in this case can be 18 or 19, these are arbitrary numbers that supposedly indicate adulthood…when all research points to the fact that significant reasoning does not develop until about 25 or 26…but this is besides the point.

    In the logic of abused abusing and then becoming the abuser there is no “original perpetrator” that can be brought to justice.

  11. says

    Mickey,

    Your logic needs some work. The fact that two men raped a 7 year old does not indicate sexual abuse in the same way a 15 year old pimping out her sister does. That some victims grow up to be abusers does not mean that all abusers were once victims any more than it means that all victims become abusers.

    As Kathmandu says “One of the very consistent patterns with molestation is that children who have been sexually abused is that they turn around and do to younger children what was done to them. Exactly what was done to them, without any changes or variations at all.”

    These men were clearly never 7 year old girls raped by men. That they are now capable of such things may indicate that they were once abused as well, but that they are willing to abuse someone in what is, sadly, a relatively common manner is not nearly as strong of an indicator of prior abuse as a 15 year old who participates in the abuse of her younger sibling in a very unsual manner.

  12. says

    It’s also worth pointing out that group psychology is a whole different bag of worms. One person who goes around raping people is very likely to have been an abuse victim of some kind (not necessarily sexual). But when people form groups and there’s peer pressure and daring and status issues and privilege issues, an individual can find himself doing something he would never have done alone (which is not to say he is one iota less responsible than if he had). So with group assaults, the odds of prior abuse for each individual perpetrator are lower than for a single abuse in a one-perpetrator assault.

    But since the 15 year old was acting on a competing rather than cooperating level with the men, she’s not part of their “group.”

  13. DragonLord says

    If I recall correctly, the statutory rape charge in most countries basically states that you have had sex with a person that is under the age (incidentally in some countries it’s a) as low as 12, and b) not rape if you’re married to them…) that they are ALLOWED to consent for sex, and is the default rape charge that gets applied as soon as the victim is below that age.

    However the law in most countries also states that a minor can be tried as an adult if it can be shown that they are mature enough to understand the consequences of their actions. Which is different to the law about becoming an adult which is basically an arbitrary number that was picked out of the air where most people have reached the developmental maturity to understand the consequences of their own actions.

    So IMO what the prosecutors are trying to say is that the 15 year old girl was mature enough to understand what she was doing to her sister and what the consequences of that would be. But regardless of that she is STILL a minor, and as such is not allowed to consent to what happened to her.

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