My Disgusted Response to Mr. McKinley

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/09/us/09assault.html?_r=1&hpw

So the gist of this horrid story is that an 11-year-old girl was raped by a 18 guys between the ages of middle-school to 27 in east Texas for hours. That’s it. It’s awful, and that poor girl must have been so scared.

The title of my post is meant for two things: 1. The act itself is disgusting and 2. The way the article was written was fine up until the author chose to include the follow:

Residents in the neighborhood where the abandoned trailer stands — known as the Quarters — said the victim had been visiting various friends there for months. They said she dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s. She would hang out with teenage boys at a playground, some said.” 


I really would like to know why the author felt the need to include a paragraph that basically mitigated the disgusting-ness of this crime? Have we not come farther in women’s right? “Oh this poor girl was raped. Well, she dressed like a whore, so she must have been asking for it a little” 


That’s not what the author is saying explicitly, no, never. Let’s break this down though: 


Quote: “Residents in the neighborhood where the abandoned trailers stand — known as the Quarters — said the victim had been visiting various friends there for month.” 


Translation: She went there a lot, who knows WHAT she could have been doing in those empty trailers.


Quote: “They said she dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s.” 


Translation: I’m not even sure what to say here…if you dress like you want it, then you want it? Oh yes, of course that makes perfect sense.


Quote: “She would hang out with teenage boys at a playground, some said” 


Translation: Well, she might have been doing it before too. 


I suppose my argument is that the paragraph itself is totally unnecessary and does not serve any purpose in the article except to make the crime seem less disgusting, awful, and grotesque than it actually is. Is there a real difference between this happening to a little girl who dresses in little girl clothes, plays with dolls, and doesn’t even think about sex and a girl who dresses like those she’s seen around her and the women in the media, plays with teenage guys because she likes the attention, and thinks she understands sex, but doesn’t really? The answer is simple — no. We might want to think there’s a difference because one girl is superficially more innocent than the other, but hey, news flash, they are both ELEVEN. 


I don’t know if you’ve seen an eleven year old recently, but I work with teenagers, 15 year olds, and 16 year olds that I would have sworn were 12 and 13. And every day when I drive home, the middle school is letting out, and all the eleven year olds are walking home…they are babies. No matter how much make up you put on them, no matter how skimpy their clothes might be, no matter if they stuff their bras till their boobs are as big as Pamela Andersons (pre-implant removal)…they still look like babies. 


This paragraph is an affront to how far we should have come as a society for women’s sexual rights. Though Mr. McKinley did not make the statements and was just paraphrasing the neighbors words, it’s inclusion in the article was an unnecessary choice that is not only an intolerable insult to this little girl, but feeds into an awful stereotype that women have been fighting against for ages. Just in case you are confused, let me sum it up: no matter what we wear, no matter what kind of make-up we have on, no matter how high the heels we have on are or how short our skirts are…no matter if we blow kisses at you, or dance up on you, no matter WHAT…no means no. 

Honestly — Mr. McKinley and the nytimes editor that let this paragraph get through should be ashamed. As a journalist, you have a responsibility for what you put out there, and as an editor, you have a responsibility for how you let your journalists write. 


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