Chloe and Lori Ride Bolt Bus, Talk Victim-Blaming

Chloe and I rode the Bolt Bus yesterday on our way to Harvard for Feminist Coming Out Day. On the way, we realized we had some things to get off our chest! Transcript after the jump.

CHLOE: Hey everyone, it’s Chloe and Lori

LORI: What’s going on?

CHLOE: Coming to you live from the Bolt Bus, Boston bound

LORI: Indeed we are…

CHLOE: We’re heading up this week for Feminist Coming Out Day at Harvard and we got to talking while we were on the bus and we’re really pissed off at the NYT.

LORI: We are. So in today’s edition of “what are the feminists pissed off about today?” We are just appalled by the coverage that the NYT issued yesterday about a horrific story about a gang rape of an 11year old girl. Some of the choice quotes included in this lovely piece of journalism voiced concern about the alleged rapists, although I don’t remember – maybe you saw this?- but I don’t remember them issuing a similar amount of concern for the victim.

CHLOE; Actually no concern for the 11 year old gang rape victim.

LORI: There were a lot of quotes about how the men were going to have to live with this for the rest of their lives, and…

CHLOE: What was her mother thinking

LORI: Yeah, what WAS she thinking, going out and getting her daughter raped?

CHLOE: So first of all, I think it’s important to say that we understand that the quotes in this article don’t reflect the views of every single person in the town of Cleveland, Texas. However I think it’s pretty bad reporting on the part of the NYT to not include any commentary on those comments, perhaps a suggestion that this might not be the best attitude to take, sympathizing with the rapists, or blaming the girl herself, or her mother, and I find it hard to believe that they weren’t able to find any comments expressing that sentiment from citizens of the town of Cleveland, Texas, and that was a point that Mac McLellan mad at Mother Jones yesterday, that this was some terrible reporting.

LORI: So the tiny little sliver of a silver lining…

CHLOE: I think it’s a large sliver….I think it’s a considerable sliver

LORI: A large sliver, ok. We have a significant sliver, and it’s that over 16,000 people have stepped up to tell the NYT that their coverage of this story has been incredibly unacceptable and they’ve signed a petition on saying so. And that’s actually a really amazing reminder that people don’t want to accept victim blaming and we’re moving away from that slowly but surely.

CHLOE: And there is some great reporting going on from the Houston Chronicle, more well-rounded reporting that includes quotes from people that managed to muster sympathy for an 11-year-od gang rape victim.

LORI: It’s hard, I know. It’s hard.

CHLOE: And a lot of critique coming out of the blogosphere of the reporting and of the victim-blaming attitude, or rather the rapist-sympathizing attitude. Lori?

LORI: So basically what we want to do is remind you guys to go onto and sign the petition. This isn’t just about something being politically incorrect or some piece of journalism that didn’t live up to our expectations. This is about our health and lives. I personally reading that article found myself thinking: well I’m someone that wears make up, I’m someone who socializes with boys, I’m someone who wears clothes that I think are pretty and attractive, does this mean that I am more deserving of getting raped?This is about our lives and our health and it’s really important that we show the NYT and other news outlets that it matters how they’re covering these issues, and we care.

CHLOE: So sign the petition. Encourage your friends and family to do that. Keep writing, keep blogging. Write a letter to the editor of the NYT. Take action. This is up to us.

LORI: And happy Thursday. Hope you’re not stuck on a bus like us.

Brooklyn, NY

Lori Adelman is a writer and advocate focusing on race, gender, and sexual and reproductive rights. In addition to serving as an Executive Director at Feministing, Lori is the Director of Global Communications at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Lori has previously worked at the United Nations Foundation, the International Women’s Health Coalition, and Human Rights Watch, and has written for a host of print and digital properties including Rookie Magazine, The Grio, and the New York Times Magazine. She regularly appears on radio and television, and has spoken at college campuses across the U.S. about topics like the politics of black hair, transnational movement building, and the undercover feminism of Nicki Minaj. In 2014, she was named to The Root 100 list of the nation's most influential African Americans, and to the Forbes Magazine list of the "30 Under 30" successful people in media.

Lori Adelman is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Partnerships.

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