Too Drunk to be a Victim?
Itâ€™s an age-old belief that if a woman drinks too much and something bad happens, she deserves what she gets. Verbal abuse, physical violence, rape and even murder have been justified by this ingrained attitude.
It would be nice to think that we are making progress and that harmful opinions such as this are a thing of the past but the verdict in the New York â€˜Rape Copâ€™ case last month harks too loudly of antiquated attitudes.
In this case, a New York cop was accused of raping a woman after escorting her home. She was too drunk to make it to her apartment without assistance so the taxi driver called the cops. Two arrived.
Not only did they help her home, they made sure she got to her bedroom and one left her a parting gift.
When she awoke the next morning, she took a shower without thinking and it wasnâ€™t until she visited a friend later that morning that the whole sorry memory surfaced in her mind.
When she confronted him later outside his precinct, the accused cop admitted to wearing a condom. In court he claimed he said that just to quieten her.
The two cops in question have lost their jobs although they have been acquitted of the rape charge.
One of the jury members on the case, Melinda Hernandez, was so traumatised by the experience that she has gone into hiding. In the only interview she gave â€“ to Womens E News â€“ she said that what was so frustrating about the case and what led to the accusedâ€™s acquittal was the lack of forensic evidence.
Plus there were discrepancies in the victimâ€™s account. She used vague words such as I â€˜thinkâ€™ and I â€˜believeâ€™ as opposed to I â€˜know.â€™
She also asked for 57 million in compensation, which enabled some to paint her as a â€˜money grabbing whore.â€™
In effect, the trial was reduced to a case of his word against hers.
But few people will consider the practical elements, which led to the copâ€™s acquittal. They will register one fact and one fact alone. She was drunk. And drunk women are easy prey.
This is not my opinion but it sure is the opinion of a hell of a lot of people who are commenting on various websites about this case.
The Frisky, for example, contained a surprising number of comments from young women condemning the victim for being drunk. This, despite the fact that the site posted an article from a New York journalist who retold her own drunken near-miss in a bid to support the victim.
Sisterhood? Dead and buried?
Not so. When this verdict was announced, women protestors poured on to the streets of New York with placards and angry voices.
Sadly I wager it is going to take a lot more that one acquittal and a few placards to change this deep-seeded attitude.
I know because I have been a victim of it myself.
It was ten years ago now. I left a club after a night of partying and agreed to go with a close friend, her fiancÃ©e and his best friend to the best friendâ€™s house.
Shortly after our arrival I passed out on the couch. Thatâ€™s when Mr. Best Friend carried me to his room and got busy. I woke up to find him on top of me. It wasnâ€™t until the next morning that I discovered the sperm.
He promised me that nothing had happened. I believed him. I wanted to believe him. When I discovered weeks later that I was pregnant, all belief systems went out the window.
Having talked to many counsellors over the years, I know that the hardest thing for many rape victims is admitting that they were raped. No one likes to think that they have been violated.
Try to imagine how hard that is and then imagine how much more difficult it is when everyone is telling it didnâ€™t really happen or if it did, it was your own fault anyway.
Is that woman to blame because her night of celebration got out of hand? Was it my fault that I fell asleep?
The vast majority of people would answer those questions with a deafening yes. They say the world is not a safe place and therefore it is the responsibility of people to protect themselves.
Well, excuse me but I believe it is this kind of individualism that has made our world so fucking dangerous in the first place.
So many people are so happy to think, I am a good person therefore I am valid and fuck everyone else. How about assuming responsibility for other people? How about instead of condemning a drunk woman having some compassion for her?
I realise many people will consider me naÃ¯ve for having this opinion but isnâ€™t the opposite so much worse?
The victim in the New York case said the hardest part of the trial was having the prosecutors go through every detail of her private life, her intimate relations, her sexual history.
In no other type of case is the victim also put on trial.
Think of it this way. Two drug dealers are drunk outside a club. One takes out a gun and shoots the other. The courts do not assume the dealer deserved to be shot because of his history.
Or how about the drunk homeless man that gets beat up on the street. No one would say his circumstances justified the beating.
The only place where this kind of logic holds is in a rape case where the victim is a woman and she is drunk.
I never made any attempt to press charges against my rapist. I rang the police but never pursued it. I felt dirty enough as it was. I could not have coped with the kind of interrogation this woman suffered.
How many other countless woman have never come forward for the same reason? My mind shudders to think.
Why donâ€™t the same clear lines apply to drunk rape victims?
Itâ€™s very simple why? Because men with power always want to have the choice to take advantage of the weak in society and even the judges will do everything in their power to protect that status quo. Women know this, which is why they say nothing.
If every woman who was ever groped, mauled, molested or assaulted while drunk or otherwise was to cry out, it would produce a scream loud enough to shatter skyscrapers from Tokyo to Lisbon. I say, start screaming girls!!!
Note: The victim is this case was crushed by the verdict. Read her statement here.