Legal Slut Shaming

In 2011, a 14-year-old girl was raped at school by an 18-year-old classmate, Sir Young, at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, Texas. Young pleaded guilty and the girl testified she had told her assailant to stop several times during the rape. Apparently, a sentence can be up to twenty years incarceration for such a crime.

Recently, State District Judge Jeanine Howard sentenced Young to five years probation and 45 days in jail with no obligation to follow many of the restrictions typically given to sex offenders, supposedly a clear deviation from the standard procedure in such cases. Howard explained her light sentence to The Dallas Morning News by saying that the girl had texted Young asking him to spend time with her; the girl had agreed to have sex with him but just didn’t want to at school; medical records show the girl had three sexual partners and had given birth to a baby.

“She wasn’t the victim she claimed to be,” Howard said. “He is not your typical sex offender.”

A firestorm erupted as the victim’s family, advocates for sexual assault victims, and even the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office condemned the judge for basically holding the victim responsible for this happening.

The victim, now 17-years-old, spoke with reporters. “I have never been pregnant ever," she said. “And three partners? I don’t even know where she got this. I feel like this was her way of trying to make herself feel better.”

Judge Howard has since recused herself from the case and State District Judge Carter Thompson has taken over and reinstated the stricter terms of probation. At trial, prosecutor Josh Healy asked for a sentence in between the probation the defense requested and the maximum of 20 years. Thompson cannot give Young prison time now that Howard has sentenced him to probation.

my blog: Justice Robert Dewar: rape is inconsiderate – Feb 25/2011
The judge in the case is in hot water now over remarks he made during the sentencing of Kenneth Rhodes. Dewar made mention of the women wearing no bras (you don't wear a bra with a tube top), of the women talking about going swimming even though they didn't have bathing suits, of wearing high heels and having "plenty of makeup". Manitoba Queen's Bench Judge Robert Dewar described Rhodes as a “clumsy Don Juan” but said the circumstances were "inviting" and that "Sex was in the air." He concluded by saying, "This is a case of misunderstanding signals and inconsiderate behaviour."

The Crown was seeking a three-year jail term but Dewar spared Rhodes jail time and gave him a two-year conditional sentence allowing him to remain free in the community.

Victim Blaming
Victim blaming occurs when the victim of a crime or any wrongful act is held entirely or partially responsible for the harm that befell them. … A rape victim is especially stigmatized in cultures with strong customs and taboos regarding sex and sexuality.

Victimization and Dress
In the United States, one the most prevalent allegations against female victims of sexual assault is that wearing provocative dress stimulates sexual aggression in men who believe that women clothed in body-revealing dress are actively trying to seduce a sexual partner. The myth that victims are responsible for inviting their own sexual invasion is tied to collective misperceptions about women and provocative dress. Women who have been victimized are blamed as complacent in their own victimization because their style of dress is interpreted as sexually suggestive. Accusations against victims wrongly assume that provocative clothing conveys consent for sexual actions and that the only women who are targets of sexual assault wear attention grabbing revealing clothing. Despite the lack of evidence for a correlation between a revealing form of dress and any type of victimization, the feminist movement has been unable to debunk the myth that women’s clothing has some bearing on whether or not they are likely to be raped. It is evident that the American public strongly believes women’s dress plays a role in determining who is assaulted, but research has yet to prove that a victim’s attire is actually a significant causal factor. In fact, there is some evidence that suggests, quite ironically, that women who wear more body-concealing clothing are actually at greater risk than women who dress provocatively. It has been found that rapists look for signs of passiveness and submissiveness in their victims. These traits are more often found in women who wear more conservative clothing. By dressing provocatively and exhibiting a degree of confidence, women may be less vulnerable to victimization. Regardless of studies suggesting body-revealing clothes are not related to likelihood of being raped, victim blaming still dominates American culture, essentially victimizing the survivors of sexual assault for the second time. -Wikipedia: Victim Blaming

Final Word
A woman is a virgin or she’s not a virgin. A woman has had one lover or twenty. A woman is dressed modestly or is dressed provocatively. It is curious to note how not just our society, but its laws and its justice system reflect the view that female sexuality is the instigating factor in cases of unwanted advances. Men are out of control mindless sexual predators and any public display of anything remotely sexual is akin to waving a red cape in front of a bull. What else did you expect?

Are men mindless sexual predators? Is it part of their genetic make-up? Are they literally incapable of controlling themselves? Are they totally bereft of morality, civilisation, and any rationale judgement?

I’m not sure I understand how this state of affairs developed. I’m not sure how the situation can be changed or how long, as in how many generations, it will take. But the above stories clearly indicate that sexism is deeply entrenched in the thinking of the collective we, so much so, it is even part of our legal system. Sexism is law, if I take it that our laws represent our attempt to codify our thinking about morality.

As a man, I can’t help thinking that being thought of as an out of control mindless sexual predator is an insulting condemnation of me as a man, as an intellect, and what I like to think of as a moral, just, and kind human being. Nevertheless, you only have to pick up a newspaper to see another headline which indicates our thinking is severely f**ked up. Peace, love, and understanding? The hippies of the 1960s may have been on the right track with that slogan, but we have a long, long, long way to go before we ever arrive at such an era of universal goodwill towards one another.

References

Dallas News – May 1/2014
Judge says sexually assaulted 14-year-old 'wasn't the victim she claimed to be'
A man sentenced to five years probation by a Dallas County judge after admitting he raped a 14-year-old girl won’t have to follow many of the restrictions typically given to sex offenders. And the judge who issued the light sentence said Thursday that she did so in part because the girl wasn’t a virgin and “wasn’t the victim she claimed to be.”

CNN – May 5/2013
Judge under fire for rape sentence, implying victim was promiscuous by Nick Valencia, CNN
Critics fear the decision could discourage other victims from reporting rapes. "We're certainly concerned about the message that's being sent to victims of sexual assault," said Andrea Moseley, chief prosecutor for the Dallas County District Attorney's Office. "We expect that our victims will be protected and that their reputations will be protected and that they will feel safe in coming forward and reporting these crimes."

Dallas News – May 8/2014
UPDATE: ‘Do not expect a third chance,’ judge tells admitted rapist in Booker T. Washington High case
Judge Carter Thompson has granted the DA’s office request and reinstated all sex offender restrictions on Sir Young. That includes a mental evaluation and sex offender treatment and prohibits him from being near children or watching pornography. The ruling reverses a controversial decision by state District Judge Jeanine Howard, who tossed most of the common restrictions given to sex offenders. “This judge made the right ruling,” said District Attorney Craig Watkins, who attended the hearing.

 
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