Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"20 present at gang rape": a case for the devaluation of female sexuality

Richmond, California (CNN) -- Investigators say as many as 20 people were involved in or stood and watched the gang rape of a 15-year-old girl outside a California high school homecoming dance Saturday night.

Two teenage suspects have been jailed, but more arrests, as many as 20 total, are expected, according to a police detective.

As many as 10 people were involved in the assault in a dimly lighted back alley at the school, while another 10 people watched without calling 911 to report it, police said.

Nineteen-year-old Manuel Ortega, described as a former student at the school, was arrested soon after he fled the scene and will face charges of rape, robbery and kidnapping, police said.

A 15-year-old was later arrested and charged with one count of felony sexual assault. A third teenager was being interviewed, Gagan said.

"Based on witness statements and suspect statements, and also physical evidence, we know that she was raped by at least four suspects committing multiple sex acts," Gagan said.

"As people announced over time that this was going on, more people came to see, and some actually participated," Gagan said. (source)

Being a rape victim, I am especially sensitive to stories like this. I'm saddened, sickened, and pissed the hell off. I am fearful of what could happen to my young cousins and my possible future daughters... My heart and prayers go out for this child. I won't go into my rant about how everyone involved should have their balls chopped off with a rusty paper cutter and stuffed down their throats. (Well I guess I just did.) This was beyond animalistic, and I hope these folks know that karma is not going to be gentle with them.

There are so many things about this story that make me want to reach out and hurt someone. Besides the obvious horror of this story, there is something else that bothers me at this moment. This story is one of many things of late to make me believe that feminine sexuality is regarded so cheaply. Out of the 20 or so young men that stood around and watched this girl be so brutally assaulted, not one was compelled to help her? Not one could imagine how they would feel if this was their sister or their mother in that situation? What has happened, that these young men don't value a woman's sexuality?

In many ancient cultures, sexuality was considered a form of spirituality. It was not only a means of procreation or expressing love and attraction to a significant other. It was a a means of pleasing the gods, a form of worship of both the heavenly and the carnal. It was a symbol of being one. It represented love and life.

Today, for some reason, sexuality has taken on an ugly, sinister form. You see it stolen, exploited and denigrated. It makes one a target for attack and abuse. These things aren't new, but they are not as "unheard of" as they once were. And strangely, this may partly be of our own doing. (Let me stop right here and not that I am NOT one of those "blame the victim" type people. That is not even what this is about. Besides, nothing she could have done would have justified what happened to her.)

Have we as women actually contributed to the fact that our society sees sex and especially our sexuality as a common commodity to be used and abused at will? For example, are the women we refer to as "video hos" affecting how we all are seen? I never thought much about how women are portrayed in the media. I figured "These actresses/models/video vixens/porn stars/whatever are grown women, so they can do what they want. It doesn't affect me anyway." However, as I get older I'm starting to rethink that. True, they do have a choice as to whether they will allow themselves to be portrayed in a certain manner, and I've never been a proponent of censorship & whatnot. But could it be that being constantly bombarded by these images and ideas has reduced us to our pussies in the eyes of some of these boys? I sometimes wonder if the man who raped me couldn't take me not saying "yes" because he was so used to images of women who never say "no."

And maybe it's not just the media. Can a woman be proud of her sexuality and not be considered cheap? I am one of very few women I know who-despite my experience and despite the way I was raised-is not uptight about sex. I have no problems expressing what I like, sharing pointers with others, bouncing new ideas off mixed company. However, I never felt like doing so could possibly be giving off a signal that, for whatever reason, it shouldn't be respected. We as women shouldn't have to hide our sexuality or act as if we're ashamed of it. It's a natural part of us. But does being upfront with it cause it to be less respected? If not, what does? And if so, how could that be rectified?

Of course I don't have the answers, and I may be the only one with these questions, but I'm putting it out there anyway... More on this upon my return.

Note: I'm still not quite back from my hiatus, but there was no way I was going to let this pass without speaking up about it.

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