Why did we even get out of bed this morning?

**Trigger warning**

Today’s headlines are grim. They’re beyond grim. They’re depressing as all hell. First, there came the news that in Cleveland, TX, an 11-year-old girl was gang-raped by as many as 18 men. The story is gruesome – she was beaten, a cell-phone recording of the attack was passed around her school – and my heart goes out to this young girl and her family.

You know who my heart doesn’t go out to? The people in the town of Cleveland, TX who are engaging in some truly spectacular victim-blaming. The Times reports that:

Residents in the neighborhood where the abandoned trailer stands — known as the Quarters — said the victim had been visiting various friends there for months. They said she dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s. She would hang out with teenage boys at a playground, some said.
“Where was her mother? What was her mother thinking?” said Ms. Harrison, one of a handful of neighbors who would speak on the record. “How can you have an 11-year-old child missing down in the Quarters?”

What was her mother thinking? What about the more than dozen men who brutally raped an 11-year-old child? What were they thinking? But no, let’s lay the blame where it belongs: with the mother of the rape victim, the slutty, slutty 11-year-old who wore makeup and therefore deserves whatever she gets. While we’re at it, let’s express our sympathy for the real victims here:

“It’s just destroyed our community,” said Sheila Harrison, 48, a hospital worker who says she knows several of the defendants. “These boys have to live with this the rest of their lives.”

Excellent point, Sheila Harrison, 48. You know who else will have to live with this the rest of her life? If you guessed “the 11-year-old girl who was brutally gang-raped,” you guessed right! But you’re right, this must be really hard for the rapists. Poor, poor rapists.

So there’s that. Then, there’s this story, about a trans woman in Arkansas, who was murdered, apparently shot and dragged behind a car until she died. While the investigation is still ongoing , the murder of Marcal Camero Tye appears to have been a hate crime. Oh, and the sheriff and the police reports refer to Tye as “he” and as a “cross-dresser.”

Then, there’s the rape-tastic email, purportedly sent on a fraternity email list at USC, that claims that “females” – referred to in the email as “targets” to be sought for their “pies” and “gullets” (guess) – “aren’t actual people like us men. Consequently, giving them a certain name or distinction is pointless.”

All of which leads us wondering: why did we even get out of bed this morning? Oh yeah, we got out of bed to fight this culture of violence and sexism and hatred, so that one day, headlines like these won’t happen.

That said, does anyone have any good news today? If you have some good news, please, for the love of all that is holy, post it in the comments section.

New York, NY

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia. She joined the Feministing team in 2009. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, Reuters, The LA Times and many other outlets in the US, Australia, UK, and France. She makes regular appearances on radio and television in the US and Australia. She has an AB in Sociology from Princeton University and a PhD in Arts and Media from the University of New South Wales. Her academic work focuses on Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis was about how the genre depicts gender, sex, and power, and grew out of a series she wrote for Feministing, the Feministing Rom Com Review. Chloe is a Senior Facilitator at The OpEd Project and a Senior Advisor to The Harry Potter Alliance. You can read more of her writing at chloesangyal.com

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

Read more about Chloe

Join the Conversation

  • http://feministing.com/members/say0anything9/ Amanda

    Sheila Harrison’s comments make me literally feel sick. Why did the Times interview her but no one else? These 18 young men got together and gang-raped an 11-year-old. There is simply no excuse for what they’ve done, yet this woman blames the girl and her mother. Disgusting.

  • http://feministing.com/members/deafbrowntrash/ deafbrowntrash

    Oh my fucking god. This is so fucked up and sickening and disturbing. 18 guys? Are you serious? These fuckasses need to be arrested and get thrown into prison and rot there FOREVER!!!

    P.S they dont deserve to be called “men.”

  • http://feministing.com/members/snowdenfairy/ Lloyd Sheridan

    I just wanted thank you for putting a trigger warning at the top of this piece. I ended up reading it anyway, but I really appreciated being able to make the decision, and then prepare myself.

  • http://feministing.com/members/contrabassic/ Sara

    What if I told you that the asshole who raped me is being removed from the university because his fraternity kept threatening me not to talk about it? Not the way it should happen, obviously, but it is good thing.

  • http://feministing.com/members/mandy/ Amanda

    From BBC News: “In Pictures: Rural women use science to fight poverty in India”
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-12660540

  • http://feministing.com/members/ldubs/ Laura

    It’s actually “trans woman” rather than “transwoman”. The latter is pretty othering, which I’m definitely don’t believe was your intention. Thanks!

  • http://feministing.com/members/rachelsholiday/ Rachel

    Like many others, I would like to thank you for the trigger warning. I always read the pieces, but I like to prepare myself. Those poor men *sarcastic*, how will they ever live it down? I honestly can’t believe that an 11 year old would be blamed for something that will be extremely traumatic to her for the rest of her life.

    Unfortunately I don’t have any good news for today (other than that I’m having chicken feduccine aflredo tonight), but I sincerely hope for a better tomorrow.

  • http://feministing.com/members/toongrrl/ Jessica “Jess” Victoria Carillo

    Is this a sign of the times? Blaming a little girl for her rape? It makes you wonder why people even have kids and once they have them, let them out. Kudos to you Brave Parents and Kids out there.

  • http://feministing.com/members/redupright/ Raychel
  • http://feministing.com/members/mollyb/ MollyB

    You’re right, we got out of bed this morning to keep fighting. And we will keep fighting, and we will keep talking, and we will keep sharing because these things can, and will, change.

  • http://feministing.com/members/mlines/ Meredith

    Here’s a video of sleepy cats with hats on their heads. If this doesn’t cheer you up…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3_rKO6c5jY

  • http://feministing.com/members/lucy89/ Lindsay

    This just shocked me beyond words. To even think that people can even consider that anyone, let alone a child, deserves anything like this, especially to that degree, literally left me speechless for several minutes after reading.

    I am glad you ended this on as positive a note as possible, because otherwise I would probably lie down in the fetal position right now.

    I woke up this morning so I could live my life as an example of what it means to be a woman with no apology, and to defend other women’s right to do so.

  • http://feministing.com/members/azure156/ Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

    A whole victim blaming town? Sounds like someone should take up a collection to move the girl, her mother, and any other family she has far far away and then burn that shithole to the ground. WITH the 18 rapists in it–then at least they wouldn’t “have to live with it for the rest of their lives.”

  • http://feministing.com/members/secondaura/ Laura

    Your post literally brought tears into my eyes. No matter how many times I hear stories like this (all too often) it always upsets and disgusts me.I hope the 11 year old girl recovers and that she gains happiness in her life, she deserves all the best wishes in the world, I will be thinking of her.

    I put up some rape myths postcards around my University building yesterday after getting clearance to do so. This morning when I went into Uni feeling fairly good that I was taking a small step towards raising awareness, my heart shattered when I saw that someone had taken them all down, only one remained, the sticky tack taken off it and stamped on complete with mud stains on the floor. Clearly someone didn’t like seeing the truth. What kind of bastard does that with a serious issue like this.

    Sorry, no good news from me either.

  • http://feministing.com/members/oceancapewell/ ocean capewell

    i wrote a letter to the NY times, because this seriously pissed me off. i wrote a letter to the new york times about it, you can read it on my blog if you want.

  • http://feministing.com/members/lacey/ Lacey

    I’d like to know what the mothers of those 18 monsters were doing or thinking rather then that poor girls mother! Honestly, is this what it’s come too? Blaming the victim and pitying the rapests? These people have lost thier minds!

  • http://feministing.com/members/victoriajayne/ Victoria

    Triggered anger and tears. I feel so helpless, what the fuck is so wrong with some of these people. Why the fuck can’t we stop it! Why, why… She was 11.

  • http://feministing.com/members/rhiannon/ Rhiannon

    Today I heard some men talking about watching a film where a “slut” “gets arsefucked” by 14 men. I also heard the viewpoint that “these women love it.. that’s why they act in porn”. Many men I think make such an assumption and without education and understanding many young men may think that the women they see in these types of films are always enjoying it.I think that with the nature of pornography today and the fact that the majority of men see it when they are very young, at an age when they are curious age about sex, the first thing they see is images of female sexuality being used as degradation and dehumanisation , it has a profound effect on the psyche and while i dont assert that pornography directly causes rape, I think there is a relationship. I wonder how much violent pornography these rapists have viewed.

  • http://feministing.com/members/septblessing17/ Maggie

    Although this article http://motherjones.com/rights-stuff/2011/03/new-york-times-texas-rape that I found on Mother Jones essentially iterates the same points as you Chloe, I consider it good news because it’s nice to know that it’s not only self proclaimed feminists like ourselves who are outraged by this and think it is blatant and obvious victim blaming and rape apology. Here’s to hoping that we hear the issue brought up on NPR and other more mainstream news outlets!

    And thank you for doing the tough job of writing about something so terrible, because in situations like these it’s most important that we don’t ignore the problem and instead call it out and hopefully, even if this poor girl doesn’t hear our outcry, someone who may have been similarly blamed for their attack will hear it and will realize it was NOT their fault!

    • http://feministing.com/members/austin/ Austin

      I do believe Mac McClelland is a feminist, actually. All of her articles are excellent and Mother Jones is the only magazine is subscribe to.

  • http://feministing.com/members/annacthulhu/ deanna

    the icing on the cake is of course the fact that they are not considering the trans womans death a hate crime.