This week, I submitted a piece to the Huffington Post, entitled Child Rapist whose victim was called “predatory” has sentence reviewed, on the erasure of the feminist activism of Ending Victimisation and Abuse [Everyday Victim Blaming] in the Neil Wilson case. Wilson received a suspended eight-month sentence for sexually assaulting a thirteen year old girl, making indecent images of a child and possession of an extreme pornographic image after the prosecuting attorney, Robert Colover, and the Judge, Nigel Peters, referred to the thirteen-year old victim as “predatory”. The activism of EVB, in both starting a petition and mass tweeting links to the case, forced the national media to report on it. As a consequence, the Attorney General has referred the case to the Court of Appeals for a “possibly” unduly lenient sentence. Both the prosecutor and the judge are under review by their respective professional organisations.
I ended the article with this:
Neil Wilson is one of numerous sexual predators whose personal culpability for their crimes has been minimised in our rape culture. Erasing the activism of Ending Victimisation and Abuse in the media reports of this crime just helps to perpetuate rape culture because it implies that the failures within the Wilson case are atypical when, unfortunately, they are all too common.
We need this case contextualised within a rape culture which consistently blames victims for being raped rather than holding perpetrators responsible for their crimes. …
Literally two hours after I submitted this article, EVB started tweeting out media reports on the sentencing of Stacey Rambold who received just 30 days in prison for the rape of his student Cherice Moralez.
Cherice Moralez was just fourteen years old when Stacey Rambold raped her.
Cherice Moralez was just sixteen years old when she committed suicide.
Stacey Rambold, who is fifty-four years old, received a suspended sentence with only thirty days to be served in jail for raping a fourteen year old girl, who committed suicide
That same day, Rolf Harris was charged with nine counts of indecent assault and four counts of making indecent images of a child this week. He is one of a number of “celebrities” to be charged with serial child sexual abuse in the Operation Yewtree investigations in the wake of the public outing of Jimmy Savile as a serial, child sexual predator and rapist who was given constant access to vulnerable children despite his crimes being fairly public knowledge. Today, Ending Victimisation and Abuse [Everyday Victim Blaming] published a piece by a woman who was raped repeatedly by her teacher.
These cases aren’t “atypical” nor are they aberrations. We live in a rape culture where the sexual abuse and rape of children is constantly minimised. We refuse to believe that adult men rape children because they choose to. Instead, we pretend that the children somehow “egged on” the men; this being the expression used by prosecutor Robert Colver.
Or, we pretend that Cherice Moralez as “as much in control of the situation” as her rapist as stated by District Judge G. Todd Baughe. Judge Baughe was not just content with holding Moralez equally responsible for being raped; he felt the need to fall back on that pernicious rape myth about their being a difference between rape and “some violent, forcible, horrible rape”. Cherice Moralez was a 14 year old child who was groomed and raped at least three times by her teacher but Judge Baughe felt she was “older than her chronological age”. Of course, he couldn’t quite explain what he meant by “older than her chronological age” and he’s certainly confused as to why people are angry at the sentence given to Rambold. Judge Baughe thought that Rambold had been punished enough what with losing his house, losing his job and his marriage ending. The fact that Rambold’s crime led directly to the death of a child is somehow elided from Baughe’s sentencing.
We need to stop talking in terms of badly behaved judges, promiscuous teenage girls and poor misunderstood men who are punished enough by public shaming. These aren’t isolated cases. These just happen to be two examples of sexual predators who were prosecuted for their crimes. Neither the victim blaming nor the sentences meted out were atypical.
We need to start talking seriously about male violence. Every time we discuss cases of child rape as “isolated incidents”, we ignore the obvious problem. We need to name it. We need to contextualise every single case of child rape and sexual exploitation within rape culture. Anything less serves only to harm children.
Louise Pennington is a feminist writer and historian with a background in education. She blogs for the Huffington Post and her personal blog, My Elegant Gathering of White Snows [http://therealsgm.blogspot.co.uk/], is part of the Mumsnet bloggers network.