Gender & Sexuality Archive

Roundtable: Michelle O, Beauty, and the Strong Arm of the Media

Karima: Roland Martin hosted a very interesting conversation with four black female actors from TV and film, about the negative criticism Lady Obama receives on her style and body type. The discussion progressed ultimately to black

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Roundtable: 8-Year-Olds in Padded Bras and Thongs, Really?! 

Nichole: Ladies, what do you think of Abercrombie & Fitch's decision to sell push up bikini tops to little girls? Other than, this is ridiculous. I read the recent New York Times profile of Miranda Cosgrove, which in describing tween girl stars'

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Roundtable: Shaken By Sexual Violence

Lucinda: An 11-year-old girl is gang raped by a group of men and boys. It’s captured on cell phones. The authorities begin an investigation just after Thanksgiving, because one of the girl’s classmates tells a teacher about the video.

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Entries in sexual violence (1)

Wednesday
Mar092011

Roundtable: Shaken By Sexual Violence

Michael Stravato for The New York TimesLucinda: An 11-year-old girl is gang raped by a group of men and boys. It’s captured on cell phones. The authorities begin an investigation just after Thanksgiving, because one of the girl’s classmates tells a teacher about the video. This makes me nauseous. I have a child and the thought of someone hurting her brings tears to my eyes as I type this.  

The New York Times just reported on this heinous crime. The article offers the facts in the first three paragraphs of the story, and then we get these lines:

“The case has rocked this East Texas community to its core and left many residents in the working-class neighborhood where the attack took place with unanswered questions. Among them is, if the allegations are proved, how could their young men have been drawn into such an act?”   

The title of the article is “Vicious Assault Shakes Texas Town.” The town is shaken because they can’t imagine how their young men could do something like this? Really? There are also quotes in the article from people asking where this girl’s mother was. The town is shaken because they don’t know where this girl’s mother was? So this wouldn’t have happened if her mother was a better mother? Really? Is that what prevents gang rape—superior parenting? Why isn’t this town shaken because someone—a child—was brutalized by a group of people?

I am shaken because we live in a world where we let sexual violence happen. I’d love to see the guys lead the way to a world where being a man is not standing for sexual violence. I know two guys who are doing just that: Check out the work of Jimmie Briggs and Jackson Katz.

Lydia: But seriously, where were the men and boys' parents!? If you can be a grown-ass man and think it's OK to gang rape anyone, you have failed as a human being. If you are a boy and can be talked into participating in a gang rape, your parents may be able to take more of the blame, but you too are to blame.

I am trying my best to raise my two boys to be empathetic and sympathetic men that are not afraid to stand up for what is right and that includes standing against sexual violence, even when it means challenging the behavior of someone they thought was a friend.

Having been an 11-year-old girl myself, I would never wonder how these men and boys "have to live with this for the rest of their lives", as one WOMAN in the town told reporters. I'm wondering how that little girl is going to survive the rest of her life. I say survive, not live, because after going through something like that, it will take some serious support from her family, friends and the town to learn to live again and from what is being reported, they're more concerned about the "alleged" rapists than the brutally raped girl.

Nichole: The problem, which L'Heureux Dumi Willis hones in on, is that the age range of the males involved range from middle school to 27 and that "masculinization" of boys younger and younger creates a culture in which they can't even imagine or experience different ways of being a man.

I read a column in O magazine a couple of weeks ago about ways of raising boys you'd want to marry or partner with. I liked the piece because it focused on creating a relationship with your son in which, if I remember correctly, you don't let him get away with not being emotional. You talk and engage and remain physically as well as emotionally present. Right now, A is going through a phase where he's trying to work out how and with whom romantic relationships are formed as well as testing how and if there are limits on my love.

Lucinda: I love hearing this, Nichole, and I want the sweet boys in our lives to learn not just from us but from the men in their lives that there is more to being a man than that narrow ideal of the guy with muscles and a gun that gets glorified in our culture.

Sheryl: This story made me think of an incident that occurred in Manhattan last week and the ensuing public response. In an argument over a parking space, a man is reported to have punched a woman in the face so hard that she fell backwards and hit her head; she is now in a coma. He claimed that it was in self-defense because she hit or attempted to hit him first. She did something to provoke him to hit her and there are many members of the general public who agree (take a look at some of the comments related to this story).

Similar to this article which focuses on the townspeople's questions about the whereabouts of the girl's mother and how the young men could be drawn into committing such an act, a female news anchor, Megyn Kelly, who is also an attorney, responded by using a segment in her show to discuss the "controversy" surrounding the incident. To promote the segment she sent a tweet in which she asks if the man was right in his claim that the woman deserved it. What did the woman do to provoke the punch? What did the woman's boyfriend who was also at the scene do to provoke the punch? At the end of the segment, the anchor concluded that the woman did not deserve it. Thank goodness this anchor was there to sort it out because the question she posed is certainly what came to mind for me when I heard this story.

The Texas story is horrible. From sexual violence to physical violence perpetrated against women, it seems that the perpetrators, as well as other members of society, including the media, find a way to focus on what the victim may have done or not done to deserve the violence perpetrated against them.