Blaming rape victims’ parents is blaming the victim

15 Apr

“Unfortunately, it’s considered bad form in today’s social climate to ‘blame the victim’ or even acknowledge the degree to which her actions put her in harm’s way.” – Waterbury Republican-American Editorial, April 13, 2013

These are the “unfortunate” words of a Connecticut newspaper that on the same day in a front page headline referred to the rape of two 13-year-old girls as a “tryst.”

The editorial dismisses criticism of the Torrington High School football players accused of raping the girls and the students who bullied the victims as “an exercise in stating the obvious.”

rep-am front pageIt goes on to blame victims’ parents for failing to “exert discipline.”

It says girls are responding to a popular culture that says  it’s “OK to be sexually provocative,” and that “boys and young men … respond predictably.” (Emphasis is mine.)

The Republican-American editorial board completes the victim-blaming cycle with a reference to girls’ use of alcohol and drugs stepping in to “do the rest.”

The newspaper could have saved some space. One of the students who bullied the victims following their alleged rapists’ arrest in February summed up the point they are trying to make in the editorial with this tweet: “Young girls acting like whores there’s no punishment for that men acting like boys is a sentence.”

I’ll offer my own paraphrase of the Republican-American’s editorial: Stop talking about those poor young men who couldn’t help but “respond predictably” and blame parents for allowing their girls to act like whores.

The “tryst” headline could perhaps be excused as a really poor choice made in the rush to get out a newspaper. Editors actually changed the web version of the headline after being criticized on Saturday, and acknowledged that it was the wrong word. But the editorial was purposeful.

So what happens when the next Torrington girl is raped? Will she report it knowing that classmates called the last person who did so a “snitch” and a “whore” and rallied to defend her alleged rapists? Will she talk to police knowing how they described the football player case?

What will she think when she sees the last person’s rape described as a “tryst” on the front page and opens the paper to find the blame placed on her parents?


9 Responses to “Blaming rape victims’ parents is blaming the victim”

  1. Aldon Hynes April 15, 2013 at 6:34 am #

    “So what happens when the next Torrington girl is raped?” Those words jumped out at me as I thought about Rehtaeh Parsons, the Nova Scotia girl who committed suicide after being raped and bullied. I pray that we find better ways of addressing these issues than the Republican-American editorial has.

  2. Rick Thomason April 15, 2013 at 9:36 am #

    Just two things wrong with this column, Matt.
    Unfortunate should not be in quotations. That kind of thinking is unfortunate. No, actually it’s far worse. It’s simply stupid, not to mention a blatant slap in the face to every rape victim, past, present and future.
    Second, you are far too easy on the Rep-Am. That said, I will be a bit more blunt.
    The Rep-Am has always been about sensationalism whenever the slightest opportunity presented itself. This goes beyond. It crosses every line of decency.
    Rep-Am ownership should be ashamed. An apology — front page — should be forthcoming, though I doubt that will happen. Included in that apology should be an announcement of the resignation of the executive editor, the editor responsible for approving the editorial, and the writer.
    That editorial is inexcusable. There is no mea culpa here. This editorial is a calculated character assassination.

  3. championofwomen April 15, 2013 at 11:53 am #

    What is wrong with this society?! Why can’t anyone blame the victims? I don’t even blame the victims parents. In this day and age we know what rape is at a young age, and no one forces anyone to rape. People rape because they want to and think they can get away with it and they do as long as we keep blaming the victims.
    And the bullies are no better.
    But this starts from the top down. It starts in government with politicians that sexually harass and assault and get away with it, and the military that rapes,bullies and then dishonorably discharges the victims. Then they get out and become police or go to college and the cycles continue.

  4. Paul Bass April 17, 2013 at 10:53 am #


  5. IOU May 4, 2013 at 11:39 pm #

    this is a rotten headline and rotten of The Register Journal to feel the need to point this out so many times- jerks

    • mattderienzo May 5, 2013 at 8:38 am #

      I don’t understand your comment. What do you mean?

      • IOU May 11, 2013 at 9:39 pm #

        it’s extremely self serving of you Matt to repeatedly bash your competitors at the cost of rehashing rape victims being re victimized to sell a rag

  6. Michelle May 17, 2013 at 7:13 am #

    Rape is rape and should be punnished for to the fullest extent of the law. Stop making excuses for criminals, severe consequences the first time may prevent a re-occurance.

  7. Conor McCartney June 16, 2013 at 12:54 am #

    The whole ‘can’t blame the victim’ is fundamentally just dogma, liberal dogma. Obviously no woman deserves to be raped but telling women not to get really drunk because that is a good way to prevent rape is not the same thing as telling them it is their fault

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