Indiana: 14 year old rape victim impregnated by molester is slut-shamed by neighbors

In Indiana, a 13-year-old girl was raped by a 17-year-old boy who is accused of having molested other girls. This victim, who is now 14, is from a conservative Christian family and chose not to have an abortion, but to bring the pregnancy to term. Because she is now visibly pregnant, many of her neighbors and peers are mocking and harassing her, writing "whore" and "slut" on the garage door of her home. Sentencing is due in the case next week. The victim's child is due in July.


        1. *sigh* Probably all the non-misogynists living there too. Why do so many good people default to tribalism whenever bad people do something appalling?

          1. Rhetorical question is rhetorical.

            I don’t have neighbors painting “Slut” on the house of the local girl who got knocked up, if that’s what you’re asking.

          2. Well, if you think a state is what makes people slut-shame, best of luck with that outlook.

          3. Not so multicultural that you’d realise how offensive using the phrase “knocked up” is to many people, including you know, some women. Especially when it’s merely a part of your lighthearted amusement for the day.

          4. Jesus, Al, you’re coming across as a total douche on this one.  Elwood makes up 0.1% of the entire population of Indiana.  

            And people DO do shit like this where you live.

          5. And people DO do shit like this where you live.

            If you want to play False Equivalency, I can claim that women are treated exactly the same way in Rhode Island as they are in the Congo.

        2.  The sane people in Indiana. I live in Indianapolis. It’s a lovely city and WAY cheaper cost of living than many larger cities. Believe me, many of us in Indiana are just as annoyed by this crap as everyone else– more, maybe, because we’re embarrassed to see that yet again, our state only gets in the news when it does something awful.

          1. Evansville-dweller chiming in; this crap’s disgusting and disheartening. Being a Hoosier doesn’t preclude me from censuring and/or mocking nutters when they’re intransigent or from trying to convince them of the error of their ways when they aren’t. Nor does it keep me from trying to inculcate the idea that being raped is not shameful.

        3. I know Indiana has the reputation of being the south of the north, but condemning a whole state over a story like this is fairly narrow minded. If you don’t see bad shit like this happening around where you live, turn on the news and get out more. You said you live in California, right? Just look into the police reports for LA and I’m certain you’ll see something revolting. There are cretins everywhere.

    1. You live in a state where sick fucking shit like this doesn’t happen? Quit holding out on the rest of us!

      1. There are pockets of crazies everywhere, but other western countries don’t seem to suffer the same scale of fundamentalist madness that the US does.

        1. I was hoping RealHoopyFood knew somewhere. I could have my house on the market by the end of the week.

          1. Lived in L.A. for 3.5 years during college. Unless it’s changed since the 90’s, misogyny, racism and the like are alive and well in the Golden State. Which is not a knock on Cali, just on the misogynists and racists living there. Cali rocks, IMHO.

            I like new-age woo just fine. Adds to the diversity. And I’ve learned that magical thinking isn’t what makes bad people do evil things, or good superstitious people do kind things. The myths, suitably edited to validate their choices, are merely the excuses they find for the things they were already going to do.

          2.  Don’t call California Cali. And you’ve got your new age woo-woo even in Red state Arizona (Sedona), New Mexico, Massachusetts, etc.

          3. That does seem to be true. On the other hand, here in Austin hippies support a thriving economy. Maybe they’re not doing what I’d consider productive, but they are generally raising the material standard of living.

          1.  Az and Tx might wish they were sovereign countries, but they are not.

            Also what’s wrong with ‘Cali’?

          2.  It’s as crass as Frisco and sounds just plain ugly to the ear. Ari? Massi? Michi? You get my drift?

          3. When my son in nursery school he told me he wanted to go to Francine Disco. I had no idea what or where this disco was until I finally twigged he meant San Francisco where his mum and I went when she was pregnant with him.

          4. No worries.  Our previous governor called it “Collie-phone-ya”.  It’s simultaneously cringe-worthy and amusing.

          5. If you review my comment history you’ll see I’m pretty crass.

            I will add your contribution to my understanding of humans.

        2. I guess violent anti-marriage equality protests in France don’t count or the raging anti-Semitism across Europe are equally insignificant…

          1. In fairness, I think teapot meant rape culture specifically. On the other hand, rape culture is bigotry without borders.

      2. Come up to Canada, we still have religious nutters but they don’t get to make policy anymore. We have had full access to abortion for 25 years and gay marriage for 5 and the world didn’t end.

  1. This is the worst kind of evil crap that people can do to each other.  “Blame the Victim” is  a trope, a meme, a cliche, whatever.  This poor girl/woman will have to deal with this for the rest of her life.  Whoops, there goes her faith in the goodness of humanity.  OMG, people are such assholes. 

    1. I suppose a positive outcome is that she may start to question if she wants to be to part of such an awful “community” and she might grow up to have a fruitful, non-wasted life.

    2.  And how does this differ from the stoning of rape victims in the so called backwards (dare I say Islamic) nations? The Christian Taliban is alive and well in the USA.

      1. Well, for one thing, the girl didn’t die of blunt force trauma from the vandalism on her garage door. Don’t trivialize stoning is what I’m saying here. There’s a fine line between institutionalized murder and bullying.

        1.  Yes, there’s a fine line between institutionalized murder and bullying and the fine people of Indiana are getting very close to crossing it.

      2. Well, for one thing, it’s only verbal. Disgusting? Yes. Hurtful? Yes.   But if you can’t tell the difference between that and an usually state-sanctioned stoning, you are out of your mind.

        That said, you guys of over there still execute convicted people. Stop that, please.

        1. Given the dynamics of mob mentality people could be hurling words one minute and stones the next. All the mob needs is someone to make  the first move. And there is a movement (Christian faith based) about in the US that is starting to look more and more like the Taliban. I can tell the difference between bullying and state sanctioned stoning. That said, don’t underestimate the pain, fear, and intimidation “only words” must be having on the 14 year old girl.

      3.  Where do you get the idea that the people doing the shaming are Christians? I didn’t see this in the references. Perhaps you have another source of information? From what I read I would infer that the people doing the shaming are not Christians because they are behaving in an un-Christian manner.

        1.  Sounds like a “no true Scotsman” argument to me.  Christians routinely act in “un-Christian manners”.  Many people are judgmental assholes and they justify being so on the basis of their faith in Jesus Christ.

          What do you suppose is the religious affiliation of the folks doing this?  I’d say odds are they self-identify as Christian.  You don’t get to say “those people who self-identify as Christians and worship at a Christian church are not really Christians because I disapprove of their words and actions.”  That’s not how identity or religion work.

          1. I’ve probably said this here before, but more and more I think that there was, and only will be, exactly one Christian (and that one didn’t refer to himself as such).

          2. Except sometimes that’s exactly how it works.

            A Scotsman is not defined by his philosophy or behaviour, he’s defined by being born in Scotland, or born to a Scottish family. You don’t have to turn in your Scotsman card for, I dunno, refusing to wear a kilt or something.

            On the other hand, people who say things like “I’m a vegetarian, except I eat bacon” really are No True Vegetarians, because vegetarianism is defined by beliefs and actions.

            Where Christianity sits between those two points is up for debate.

          3. Where Christianity sits between those two points is up for debate.

            Another way of saying it’s “up for debate” is to say that different people have different opinions on it.

            If a particular person identifies as a Christian and justifies this identity according to their own criteria for being a Christian then guess what — they’re a Christian!  You can say “well, according to my own criteria you’re not a Christian.”  And the other person will rightly laugh in your face because they have no obligation to accept your criteria.

            “Christian” is much different from “vegetarian” in this respect.

        2.  Not only are you playing “No True Christian,” as Wysinwyg stated below, but as a non-xtian I take offense to the conflation of the word “Christian” with the concept “decent human being.”

  2. Choose life. 

    (Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television.) 

    1. I don’t take issue with her choice (if it really was her choice) because it’s hers to make.

      I do find it absolutely abhorrent that she’s being slut-shamed for that choice by the very people who’d be calling her a “murderer” if she’d chosen differently.

      1. I think it’s really hard to suss out her choice in all this. We can only say she was raised in a home where abortion is clearly not an acceptable choice. Most people just adopt the values of their parents, but some grow into different people. Even if you check the same boxes on your ballot that your parents do, almost no one is the same person they were at 14. 

        As a child, my parents taught me about all of my options, just in case. I think we can all agree that not all parents make those options seem so morally neutral. 

        1. That seems likely, but I don’t presume to know the details of this girl’s life. The only people I have enough information to judge are the horrible, hypocritical monsters who have the gall to torment a child for living by the very moral standards that her tormenters profess to embrace.

  3. This victim, who is now 14, is from a conservative Christian family and chose not to have an abortion

    The term ‘chose’ is being used pretty loosely here.

    1. Yep…

      Even if she wasn’t surrounded by Bible-bashing fascist rednecks, she would still be made to feel uncomfortable to some extent by normal people’s reactions.

      The reaction of her neighbours is obviously heinous, but she’s only managed to expose this ugly reality by making what the vast majority of sensible folks would say is exactly the wrong call, thanks to the malware running on her brain that’s known as religion. (And of course, we can thank same for the heinous reaction.)

      Malware, I say. Parasitic information, only pretending to serve a purpose, not only costing the opportunity to employ useful information instead, but sending folks in precisely the opposite direction required for progress.

      Malice may not be the intent, but that’s irrelevant because outcomes are what matter.

      Fucking malware.

        1. Do you deny the existence of Bible-bashing fascist rednecks?  I don’t think Kimmo is claiming all Christians are such and I think you have a loooooong row to hoe if you are going to try to demonstrate that there are no such things as communities of Bible-bashing fascist rednecks.

        2. You seem far more concerned with protecting the right-wing ‘brand’ than with empathy for the victim.

    2. She can’t legally consent to sex, and in Indiana cannot consent to an abortion without parental approval, but she can give consent to a procedure that is far riskier and more painful than abortion, one which involves yet another nonconsenting new person to boot.

      Glad they’ve got their priorities straight.

  4. Ugh… as I schedule my surgery I have to ask myself… do I *really* want to keep living on this Earth? Like, really?

  5. lol religion… And religos wonder why we look down on their beliefs.

    New headline: Belief in imaginary creator forces raped child to bear child of defective genes, neighbours punish raped girl for sticking to their mutually agreed made-up rules.

    Human Compassion > Imaginary Creator

      1. I am clearly meaner than you and would be lying if I agreed.

        IMO their actions are an extension of their beliefs. Without beliefs which they cannot reasonably explain (and for which they demand respect) such madness would never be allowed to occur.

        PS: I should be clear that I respect a person’s right to choose their belief but I do not accept anyone’s assertion that some beliefs should be automatically respected while others are not. Basically: believe whatever the hell you want but don’t behave like others should believe that too. I’ll stop being militantly anti-religious when religion stops being militantly anti-atheist.

        1. I don’t necessarily respect their beliefs. Like you, I merely respect their right to choose them, as if I could stop them if I wanted to. But I’ve also observed that not all superstitious people, or even all Christians, are bad people, or militantly anti-atheist. See, that’s just the thing. Religion isn’t militantly anti-atheist, the people who follow it either are or are not militantly anti-atheist. Me, I just don’t have the temperament to be militant period. I really don’t know if that’s a good thing or not. I can certainly be mean, I just prefer to be mean on an individual basis.

          1. You are probably a more tolerable person for it :)

            I find that some religious individuals can be the most accepting of others’ beliefs but religious institutions are almost universally dismissive of atheism because it threatens their base of power.

            I can think of precisely one person who I personally know that is *very* religious and who truly accepts the beliefs of others as equal in value to his own. I respect this man greatly for it.

            BTW, to mix the above topic into this one: who are these Austin hippies and what are they doing to support the economy? Not doubting, just wondering.

          2. Religious institutions, at least the one’s that have enjoyed political power for centuries or millennial, I will certainly give you. But I suspect that’s an example of power corrupting. I know a few fellow atheists who probably should not have power over the religion of others, and who would readily be corrupted by it. They’re not even bad people, just, well, militant.

            As for the hippies, my older sister is a small business owner who teaches people how to run Wellness franchises. One of the instructors who works part-time for me at the dojo also has her own traditional Chinese medicine practice. And while I don’t think her methods are as effective as rigorous Western medicine, I have come to realize that she did actually earn her doctoral degree learning about the vast herbal lore and corpus of physiological knowledge accrued by millennia of Chinese healers, and she does refer her clients to Western doctors whenever their needs exceed her knowledge. The woman I dated for four years of the last decade, and with whom I remain good friends, teaches Hatha flow yoga. One of the engineering students in the E&M class I TA organizes festivals and other activities for his Wicca coven and, having been to one, I can confirm that they spend money on catering and other service industries, and network like any social group. These individuals are by no means unique in the first city I’ve really felt at home in, even though I grew up on the East Coast and went to college on the West Coast. That said, we have our assholes like any place, so I won’t pretend our shit don’t stink.

          3.  There’s plenty of misogyny and racism within atheist/secular circles. And the belief that atheism somehow makes one immune to irrational prejudices is one major factor in sustaining them.

            To believe that you’re somehow immune to all of that
            because you’re secular, given a lot of what we know about human
            psychology thus far, is profoundly irrational.

          4. @fakefighter:disqus
            “the belief that atheism somehow makes one immune to irrational prejudices”
            Where do you get this idea… I certainly didn’t imply it, nor have any prominent atheists I know of.

            To believe that you’re somehow immune to all of that

            Straw man.. is.. straw?

        2. don’t foget the superiority complex they have over all other faiths and non-deist secular humanists…

          1. Atheists don’t get special legal exceptions, atheism didn’t have a significant hand in shaping laws of the modern world, our beliefs don’t require any illogical leaps of faith and nor do we tell non-atheists that they’re going to some ridiculous caricature of the worst place imaginable if you don’t agree with us.

            When religion can stand up to basic reason and can behave with decorum towards those who don’t agree (this won’t ever happen because they see it as a power struggle) we might reconsider our position.

            I notice you capitlaised ‘christian’ but not ‘atheist’.. way to prove jean_luc right.

      2. What’s wrong with looking down on beliefs?

        Some are clearly insane, but that’s kinda beside my point, which is that I have no respect for someone’s beliefs when they’re not really their *own* beliefs – they’ve merely gone with the first thing they’re told, or at some point they’ve changed their mind, but merely to take someone else’s word for it.

        To put it another way, the only kind of worldview I respect is one that has been tailor-made and actively fostered by the person who holds it. And if it dares to fly in the face of a large number of the closest things we have to established facts, it better well be fucking brilliant.

        Off-the-rack opinions can all go to buggery. They’re threadbare, not even good enough to wipe your arse on.

        People deserve a minimum amount of respect, and anything beyond that must be earned. That minimum amount of respect does not extend to me saying, ‘I don’t mind you walking around running and trying to spread malware.’

  6. When I skimmed in RSS reader I read this as “India”… now when I get to this tab to read full story I read “Indiana”… India would be sad, but really status quo… but Indiana.. really… no words for the despicable people the land of the free is capable of housing. Probably the same nuts that spout off on the moral superiority of America.

    1. I’m fairly sure the Westboro Baptist Church congregation are committed to the downfall of America, and they seem like just the sort who would do this type of thing.

  7. Exactly. It doesn’t matter what your beliefs are, they are ultimately just an excuse to justify one’s shitty actions…. and that kind of behavior isn’t limited to just theism. 

    1. You will struggle to find an example like this in a situation devoid of inherited theist dogma.

      (That’s a challenge)

      1. The natalist policies of the Nicolae Ceaușescu regime springs to mind. Though, IIRC, those included an exception for rape pregnancies. Whether that exception was ever made in practice I don’t know, but I think you’d be hard-pressed to excuse those policies from being misogynistic.

        1. Nice research!

          So we can agree then: a 1980’s communist regime is the same as, or possibly slightly nicer than, Christians in 2013 Indiana.

          1. What do you mean?  They’re just waiting for such things to come back into fashion.  They’ll be fashion forward in 5 years or less.  ;-) 

          2. That, and cracks about nuking an Eastern Bloc country from orbit would likely ignite a rather different discussion.

            But I’m still not sure I’m on board with playing misogyny bingo. I think we’d be better off just condemning people for their own hideous behavior irrespective of what others have done.

      2. The first-wave feminists (Susan B. Anthony and her crowd) strongly objected to abortion.  It let men bully women into having sex with them and then escape the responsibility for supporting their children. 

        1. Did the first-wave feminists paint “slut” on the houses of pregnant teenagers? Cause that’s a pretty relevant part of this story.

          pro-feminist atheist blog
          I prefer to read fact not opinion. Ideology-driven opinion is the WORST. I am strongly in favour of animal rights, but I cannot stand animal rights blogs and actively troll vegans who scream “meat is murder” wherever they please.

          I also detest the idea that I am part of any atheist ‘community’ because of my beliefs. Atheists don’t meet somewhere on a weekly basis to reinforce our beliefs, nor am I a participating member of any atheist organisation.

          Atheists and theists cannot be considered as comparable groups because to be a practicing atheist you don’t have to do anything. Being religious usually includes some sort of participation.

  8. One of my customers had a baby her freshman year of high school and I cannot think of her as anything but a very courageous girl who gave up the last years of her childhood to become a young mother. Am I really that much more reasonable than the average person? How can my perception of young mothers not be the default?

    1. I believe there is some question as to whether it was really her choice. If it was, then more power to her. Whatever her reasons, even if I disagree with them, it should be her choice to make for her body. But was it?

      If a religious teenager makes a decision I find irrational, I won’t make a false-consciousness argument. Doing so would make me no better than anyone else who wants to control her body. But if it wasn’t really her decision, I have a problem with that.

    2.  So at 15 her future was sealed? Would you have settled for that for yourself? What became of her education? What kind of life could she and her baby face and I mean all the needs people who aren’t poor can’t even imagine? I put to you she might have been more courageous had she the foresight to take control of her life and aim for a future where she called the shots.

      1. Would I have “settled” for a beautiful son like she has? I’m not sure if that is something one “settles” for but then again you have not seen the boy. Her fate is not sealed in any way and she can have a bright future. She is finishing high school and going on to college. Were you assuming that she would just drop out of school and do menial work?

    3. Am I really that much more reasonable than the average person?

      Nobody but delusional people ever say that sort of thing.

      1. Dunno about that; it’s not too hard to be more reasonable than the average person.

        A bit more intelligence than average would often do it, or even just an interest in any of the following topics:
        Cognitive biases

      2. It’s called a rhetorical question. I’m just a regular guy and for me to respect a teenage mother and not place stigmas on her is nothing special. It should be the norm. CWAA.

        1. I think the point is you could’ve said “Is that such an unusual point of view?” instead of saying “am I really so fucking super-awesomer than average?”

          We get it man, but this is about whether this girl (and any person who has children when they are a child) would choose to do so without external community pressures.

          1. It’s called irony. Questioning whether the basic common sense to not place stigmas on young mothers is somehow above average is a way of lamenting that a plurality of people actually fall short that level of common sense. I could have phrased it your way but didn’t.

  9. Weird. I was just reading about a slut-shaming community the other day. Oh wait, that was an anecdote from the 1700s. Nevermind.

  10. Subscription Warning:  Won’t let me RTFA.  A pop-up asks if I enjoyed my “complimentary access”, and when I try to close it, it takes me to the paper’s mainpage.

    It’s amazing how people can take a hippie’s peace and love and turn it into hate and violence.

  11. Sooooo. This shitty crap comes up again. Sure I can probably come up with a witty comment decrying these wang holes, but I’d really rather know if there is anything those of us with a more humanitarian bent can do. Does this young woman have a scholarship fund? Is there a way to send her our best wishes? 

    Whenever I see these stories I see all sorts of outraged comments, but what I always really want is a way to actually help. 

    1. As you’re an ethical cannibal, you know what to do; put the fundies on the menu.

      You want a band aid, or a solution?

      1. Band aid or a solution? I don’t understand your “either/or” here. 

        Perhaps reaching out to help the people we can, is part f the solution. There is no wide reaching easy solution to make any of this go away. I just want to help the folks that are hurt by this mind set, by the idea that a rape victim is a whore and somehow deserved it. 

        I can’t make what happened to her go away, but perhaps in addition to screaming our outrage on the internet, we can help in another way. Young teen mothers have so many additional challenges when it comes to education, and getting through life, I’m sure there is something we could all collectively do to help her reduce those challenges. 

        I’m willing to donate my free money to the cause. I’m willing to send her a card saying she’s an amazing young woman and I support her decision. (Because in the end, it’s a decision that has been made, by her and her kin.) 

        I guess I’ve just reached a point in my life where it’s great we all agree this sucks and should never happen, but I want to do more than just agree it sucks. It may not solve everything, but maybe if we all just reached a tiny bit farther, each time we see this kind of thing come up, it would grow into something bigger. 

        As a cannibal, I have to say fundies probably don’t taste good. Have you seen what passes for food in those circles? Not saying they are off the menu, though. 

        1. I didn’t mean to present a false dichotomy there; band aids help, and we should use them. To labour the analogy a bit much for many, IMO we should focus on preventing such extreme examples of dis-grace that make such band aids necessary.

          What I’m saying is we need to get serious about tackling stupid religious ideas and mores that have no place in a modern civilisation, and the notion of religious tolerance is an obvious hurdle.

          To cut through all the bullshit, I offer a handy distinction that may prove useful: is the philosophy in question tailor-made by the individual, or is it adopted wholesale off-the-rack? If the latter, it doesn’t deserve the time of day, and should be thrown in a pile somewhere between ‘yeah, so what’ and ‘shut up, idiot’. If the former, then its veracity should still be up for debate, rather than seeking refuge from reason in some bogus sacred cow status.

          The concept that reason should ever take a back seat to faith is pure malware; when it comes to reason, more is always better (as long as you can crunch the numbers in time). It is not a barrier to all things numinous.

          There’s a concept called life stance. That’s what deserves respect, to the extent that it can be justified, either by its holder or an advocate.

  12. .I’m always amazed at the striking similarities between these kinds of events and events in other “idealogically opposed” places – like rural muslim Turkey.  Granted, the Indiana bunch haven’t stoned her, but the reflex seems so similar.

    1. I’m pretty sure the Universe is fundamentally fractal… this reminds me how you see a lot of mirrored patterns in the M-set, but they’re almost always warped in some way.

  13. I’m thinking that keeping the kid was not her idea. No modern thirteen year old ever says, yeah I’m gonna have my rapist’s child. No parent in their right mind tells their kid to do that either. I don’t care what religion you are, it’s complete bullshit. Being pro-life in this situation is like saying that god meant for some asshole to rape a thirteen year old girl so that this kid could be born. 

    1. While I do agree that she probably faces a lot of pressure to keep the child, the choice was already made either all on her own in the face of the only set of moral parameters she’s ever known, or with heavy influence from her family. Either way, the choice has been made, and she is now going to have this baby. I’m not sure it’s terribly productive to decry that choice, given what she’s been through. It just doesn’t seem very supportive to me. 

      1. She almost certainly did not have a choice at all. Indiana requires parental consent for <18 year olds. Unless at least one of her fundy parents were willing to sign off on an abortion, her “choice” was between having her rapist’s baby and running away from home.

  14. If you believe that life begins at conception there really isn’t much of a ‘choice’ to be made.  Also bear in mind that she can always give the child up for adoption too.  There is no shortage of couples/families in the USA wanting to adopt.

    1. Yeah, I certainly had well-formed opinions at age 13.

      Also bear in mind that adoption isn’t the walk in the park pro-liars like to make it out to be.

      1. > Yeah, I certainly had well-formed opinions at age 13.
        Are you implying that a 13 year old is incapable of distinguishing right from wrong?  Or simply that their opinions carry no weight due to age?

        >Also bear in mind that adoption isn’t the walk in the park pro-liars like to make it out to be.
        I’m sure that has NOTHING to do with abortion being a 2 billion dollar industry in the US. /s

        1. I’m intrigued at how you’ve managed to make a hostile response while agreeing with the other commenter’s assertions.

          1. Could you perhaps elaborate on what makes my response ‘hostile’?  Additionally, which assertions am I agreeing with?

    2. If you believe that life begins at conception there really isn’t much of a ‘choice’ to be made.

      There’s also the choice of rejecting such Stone Age nonsense.

      1. I think the concept of conception might be a little beyond the ken of Stone Age Man.  All joking aside though, when do you say life begins?

  15. I would like to charge everybody who called her a slut as an accessory to the next rape.

    After all, they seem pretty intent on sending the message to future prospective rapists that the thirteen-year-old girl is a slut who “really wanted it”.  That’s pretty much encouragement, right? 

    Maybe we can get them on the sex offender registry and be unable to be around children, too.


    Edited to add: Even if it wasn’t rape (which it was) and just a girl who willingly had sex with a boy her own age, and even if you believe it’s appropriate to shame women who are promiscuous (dubious at best), it’s still absolutely not cool to call someone a slut for having sex at thirteen. A big chunk of our legal and ethical systems are based on the idea that they don’t really understand the consequences of their actions at that age… and why the hell would you make what’s already going to be a difficult life for the girl MORE difficult?

  16. Hi Xeni – I was wondering if I might suggest a brief change to the language you used: I would suggest that “survivor” is a better word for someone who is the target of assault than “victim” it more assertively calls into mind a connotation of the violence of the act, and at the same time changes the status of the target from something passive (a victim) to someone with agency who resisted such a horrific assault.

    Here is a good, short, straightforward explanation for anyone who is interested:

    1.  Thanks.  The view that language actively shapes our perceptions and how we engage with the world is often dismissed as “political correctness” or “postmodernism” or “philosophical bullshit” or whatever but I think you make a great point.  I’m certainly going to try to make this change in my own vocabulary.

    2. I get where your aspirational empowering language is coming from, but a thirteen-year old girl faced with a hulking 17-year old lummox rapist is very much a passive victim. This is the real world, she’s not Arya Stark, and furthermore she can simultaneously be a victim and a survivor. 

      I would concentrate more on de-pejorativizing (?) the word “victim” than ceding whatever disdainful connotations it may be acquiring. Otherwise you’re categorizing “victims” as “those who were too weak to fight back,” as opposed to the heroic “survivors,” who scratched and clawed and now bravely speak at Take Back The Night marches. Shaming someone for not fighting is just as bad as shaming them for “asking for it.”

      1. Yeah.  That.  I do not need to hear about how I should have been empowered when I was twelve and my father had a gun aimed at me.  When did it become wrong to acknowledge that some people are just victims?  Particularly when they’re barely into adolescence.

        1. What a horror, and a lot to recover from, I’m sure. But saying you’re a survivor doesn’t also mean that you’re not a victim. “Survivor” includes “victim,” plus more.

      2. Resistance can take many, many more forms than simply physically resisting an assault. Being the target of a sexual assault is an event that can completely change a person’s life, and using language to empower that person is helping to give that individual a little more support so that they can withstand the constant, from-all-angles oppression that is the product of the rape culture we find ourselves both living in and propagating. 

        I believe that this is a question of allyship: is supporting another oppressed human being in the face of overwhelming pressure from society important enough that you are willing to forgo the things you might personally think or believe in favor of listening to the oppressed human being and using your privilege to assist them however you can?

        I (and many other far more eloquent, experienced, compassionate people) believe that this sort of empathy and human connection is our best bet at truly dismantling the sort of culture that could create the situation in which not only can an assault like this happen, but also one in which the follow up from the community is so toxic. 

        An important part of allyship is listening to those survivors that experienced such a horrific event, and learning from them directly what we can do to help. As hard as it might be to silence your own voice in what I’m sure is a subject you feel quite strongly about, the support you can offer by instead using your voice to raise up the voice of another is a powerful tool.

        If anyone would like an idea of what rape culture actually means to some individuals who experience it, take a look at the following link. Please take the time to actually read through it and I would STRONGLY suggest that you take a moment to click on and briefly view every link the author has included. This constitutes a tiny number of the events/products that constantly reinforce rape culture. If you are overwhelmed by that task, imagine what it must be like to be a target of such a culture and to be unable to escape from it. (I’m sorry I wasn’t able to find the full suite of articles I would have liked – it’s late and I am extremely tired. I’ll do my best to find a few more, including some more intersectional takes on rape culture and allyship, tomorrow)

        1. using language to empower that person is helping to give that individual a little more support

          It reads to me like criticizing them for not having done something. It’s victim blaming. It makes it so horrible to be a victim that you’re not even allowed to admit it. It’s not empowerment; it’s a verbal assault on rape victims.

          1. I think that it would be fair to say that the choice of using victim/survivor is a highly personal one that should be made by the individual who experienced the assault and nobody else. That being said, the general consensus among individuals committed to fighting rape culture (in my experience) has been that victim has the potential to be a much more damaging term, and that using it as a default one helps to reinforce the perception that rape automatically results in a loss of agency. That is why I suggested the replacement of “victim” in Xeni’s post.

          2. I think that it would be fair to say that the choice of using victim/survivor is a highly personal one that should be made by the individual who experienced the assault and nobody else.

            Now that’s really not how language works. You don’t get to rewrite the dictionary just because something very bad was done to you.

          3. I’m sure that the intention is good, but as a victim of several violent assaults, being told not to use the word ‘victim’ feels like a slap in the face to me. People should use what word works for them.

          4. People should use what word works for them.

            Point granted, and I would never “correct” or whatever someone who labels themselves a victim. But more generally, I prefer and use survivor.

          5. I never meant to imply that the use of the word “victim” should be abolished – just that we should actively work to change the default mindset of labeling cases like this in any conversational context. It is calling out and discussing instances of this sort of subtle bias that can start to break down rape culture

          6. Rape culture is created and maintained by rapists, not by victims.

            But recovery is not. Or rather, should not be.

          7. Antinous – I think it is important to note here – rape culture is created and maintained by almost all of us. Your definition of rape culture is incorrect, and in order to dismantle it, we must dispel these myths.

            Rape culture creation and maintenance is not limited to rapists, and it can, occasionally, be contributed to by survivors. The true horror of rape culture is that it is such a subtle, pervasive, everyday thing that those of us not immediately affected by it so often fail to notice or can simply never experience what it is like to be a target of rape culture.

            To honestly point out the things contributing to rape culture, and then to work within your own sphere of influence to point out and change these things when you notice them is extremely powerful! It helps to demonstrate to the people around you that such language/behavior/actions are not okay, and in doing so, it can help to create an atmosphere in which a survivor of a sexual assault might feel more comfortable coming forward about the assault. Considering the truly horrifying number of sexual assault cases that go on each year, it is essential that we do everything in our power to aid these individuals in their quest to heal.

          8. rape culture is created and maintained by almost all of us

            This is blisteringly wrong and evil.

  17. Well, it’s Indiana… (Ryan White –

    Sadly, my mother is from Indiana and she’s quickly going “red state” as she gets older.

Comments are closed.