More Media Victim Blaming and Dehumanization

UGH This is the type of stuff which really gets my blood boiling. I swear I write about this every single day. And I am sure I could spend my entire life battling the media’s sick obsession with portraying rape and DV victims as liars, deviants and/or less than worthy of society’s support.

Cross Posted at WomenUndefined

Reporting a crime that did not happen is in and of itself a crime in the United States. The basic premise being, don’t make shit up. I won’t get too deep into the American prison system and all of its injustices, but headlines like this make me want to scream in frustration.
“Biurny Peguero, Fake Rape Victim, Gets Up To 3 Years For Sending Innocent Man To Prison”
In how many ways is this headline offensive and damaging? I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count them all, no doubt there are hundreds of ways this one sentence causes tremendous trouble.
First and foremost the content of the article above which the headline is placed is important in order to establish context.

Biurny Peguero, 27, pleaded guilty in December to perjury, admitting she made up the September 2005 incident that unjustly put construction worker William McCaffrey in jail and prison for nearly four years. A judge overturned his rape conviction in December, with new DNA evidence also playing a role.

According to the news source, a woman reported to police and testified under oath that she was a victim of gang rape and physical assault. This week she was sentenced to prison after she testified against herself, telling the judge she essentially made the story up. She has been sentenced for the crime of perjury and will serve up to three years in prison. It is not clear based on this article what role pressure from the D.A. and purported “new” DNA evidence had in her “voluntarily” coming forward to “clear her conscience” .
But I digress.
Why is this front page news? By all accounts, she deserves no more mainstream retribution and criticism than any other person who commits an act of perjury or falsely reports a crime. It is not readily apparent to me why this woman’s particular story was featured on the front page of a high-traffic , mainstream, online media outlet. After digging through the related news stories spanning many years, I still can’t recognize why her story is national-media attention worthy?
And this is where my mind starts in.
The message ingrained in this one headline, regardless of the content and context of the article, is that women will make up being raped or physically assaulted by men. Women are meant to be recipients of a male’s sexual appetites and when she rebukes this role, innocent men go to prison.
Reading the words “fake” , “rape” and “victim” strung together carelessly, in effect sensationalizing an otherwise mundane perjury case, conveys a sense of illegitimacy and unimportance. The title of this story simultaneously portrays the story of this woman as a slight against all innocent men, perpetuates the sociological theme of the wanton Jezebel and contends that rape and its victims are no real problems in our society.
I am disgusted.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

Join the Conversation