Friday, 18 March 2011

On the Daily Mail and rape

For a paper famed for its pearl-clutching prudery about sex, the Daily Mail often seems to get surprisingly defensive about the wayward wang deployment of men accused of rapes and sexual assault. It's rare that more than a couple of weeks go by without the paper running a story about a woman convicted of lying about a rape, as if to create a narrative whereby women routinely use sex and subsequent lies about it as a form of manipulation.

If you want to know how far the Mail's attempts to muddy the waters surrounding rape cases will go, then look no further than today's Six footballers jailed over gang rape of 12-year-old girls in midnight park orgy. Here, the Mail comes across as largely sympathetic to the six men involved, despite them being a) footballers, b) accused of raping two twelve-year-olds, and c) largely of ethnicities permanently forbidden from entering Midsomer.

Straight off the bat, in the first line, words like 'rape' and sexual assault are replaced by "midnight sex orgy". By the fourth paragraph we're told that the poor lads "were encouraged by the schoolgirl 'Lolitas'" who apparently ensnared them with text messages. We're informed that one of the two girls, the "most active" (shouldn't that be "more active"? - Pedantry Ed.), "called the defendants over one-by-one to have full sex or perform sex acts on them", whereas;
The other girl was more reluctant and was raped by just one player.
Ah, just the one rape there, then. Good job she looked reluctant, and therefore only got raped rather than gang-raped.

The entire tone of the article continues in this manner. The girls, or one of them at least, were up for it, and so it was unfortunate that these six men took it in turns with her, apparently believing she was 16 or over. We're then told the men all made the exact same "mistake", and informed;
They were said to have been shocked and disgusted to learn the true ages of the girls, with one stating: 'I've got a little sister about that age.'
The most worrying part of all this is that the Mail doesn't seem to agree with or believe in the established legal position that 12-year-olds cannot legally consent. Yes, if the story is to be believed, this wasn't a violent, physically coercive stranger rape. However, even given that, what we have here is a group of 18-21 year old men taking sexual advantage of two children too young to legally consent to sex. Even the Mail's rather sympathetic-to-the-convicted retelling of the story admits that one of the girls was 'reluctant'. But all this is rather glossed over in favour of what seems like a narrative which deflects blame from the men involved and onto the slutty, cock-hungry 12-year-old girls who ruthlessly tempted them to gang-fuck them in a park without first checking if they were 16. It's difficult to imagine a 21-year-old not being able to tell that the girl he's about to have sex with is under 13, but the Mail seems to buy it unreservedly. This isn't a 16-year-old having sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend that he's in the same class with, the gap is much more distinct than that. This is important.

The girl-blaming tone continues into the comments section:
They did a reprehensible thing but I cant help having sympathy for them. The 12 year old girl is clearly a danger to herself and should be removed from her parents no question.
Another commenter says;
Ummmm am i the only one who took any notice of the parts where this girl had lied - saying she was 16 - and had willingly called them over one by one!!!
And yet another;
It wasnt rape, girls nowadays look much older than they actually are, if these girls state they 16, one even having a facebook page with a fake age, then im sorry it is their fault. Guys of that age are always persistent when it comes to sex, its hardly a girl being pinned down and violated...
And one more for good measure;
abslutely that's not rape. the girls were cooperative
It's depressing to see the lack of seriousness with which those below the line are treating the story, but on this occasion they're not much different to DAILY MAIL REPORTER'S rather one-sided account.

Still, at least these men didn't buy the girls some penis-shaped sweets, that would have been a real fucking scandal.