In Her Shell
Friday, April 21, 2006
I found out today that another one of my students has been raped. Like the other girl, she suspects that it may have been a gang rape, but was too intoxicated and out of it to be sure.

Actually, I should say another one of my former students, since she too has since withdrawn from school. She is living with her grandparents, and the family plans on moving when the school year is over.

This time the attackers were graduates of the school. Last time they were current students. One of them is one of my current students.

Once again I am enraged that these girls' lives, their friends' lives, their families' lives, are upturned and shattered, and those assholes who attacked them continue to move through their worlds unscathed--pitied, even, for being inconvenienced by their victims' audacity in naming them.

And I am repeatedly stunned by how little has truly changed: the girls' most vicious critics are other girls. They are blamed and branded. In the court of high school public opinion, the rapists are coddled, then exonerated.

The righteous rage with which one girl will condemn another is heartbreaking.

Disheartening too are the attitudes of many faculty and staff members, which are reflected in the entire school culture. The dress code focuses almost entirely on female flesh. Disparaging remarks about a girl's character, based entirely on her clothing, are frequently heard in the faculty rooms.

So what can we expect to trickle down? Trying to make a model of myself, I sometimes feel like I am pushing through sand, watching as it fills in the gaps just as soon as I've made them.

"There is no textual evidence to indicate that Sir Lancelot sells women's bodies for money."
(He's a pimp, yo...)

"The Wife of Bath was married five times; she doesn't have sex for money."
(She's a whore...)

"Please don't use my gender as an insult."
(He's acting like such a girl...)

I know that there will always be people who think that women are temptresses and boys will be boys. But I thought that in a metropolitan area in 2006, things wouldn't be quite so depressing.

And these girls, these two smart, funny, interesting, talented and outspoken girls--will they believe that they were the agents of their own exile? Watching the media crawling over any rape case accuser's "character," will they join in the judgement? What will become of them?

At least one thing is different this time.

This one is pressing charges.
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