This is Not the Right Type of Equality

As most readers of this blog know all too well, rape trials have a tendency to be all about the victim, what she was wearing, what she was doing, how she acted, and how it was totally her fault for leading her attacker on. Even when winning a conviction, the victim of rape must go through an horrific ordeal. This is always worst when the defendant is more powerful than the victim, which is far from uncommon in cases of rape.

Most of us hope, I think, that eventually through hard work and education, this dynamic will abate, and women alleging rape will be treated the same as women alleging robbery, or men alleging assault, or anyone alleging any crime. That the gender dynamic at play in rape trials will be eliminated, and the focus of whether she was "asking for it" will stop.

Well, there's some interesting news on the equality front. A case where a 13-year-old was raped by a 26-year-old. And the male involved was attacked harshly by attorneys and supporters of the female. Of course, you probably already know where I'm going with this.

A former teacher accused of having sex with a 13-year-old student and fleeing with him to Mexico is expected to plead guilty to reduced charges, her attorney said Tuesday.

James Martin Davis, the attorney for 26-year-old Kelsey Peterson, said his client will plead guilty Wednesday to federal charges of transporting a minor across state lines for the purpose of sex.

Yep, not seven words in, and we've already disappeared the term "rape" from this story, just as if the genders were reversed. So hooray -- our news is gender-neutral in the way it pretends there's no such thing as rape! Forgive me if I'm not doing cartwheels.

But the fun doesn't stop there! Yes, we also have good old-fashioned victim-blaming:

Her family burst out of the court room Wednesday shouting at reporters, telling them to "ask (the victim) how old he is," and saying Peterson is being unjustly accused.

Peterson's attorney, James Martin Davis, has publicly questioned the boy's birth certificate. Davis said the boy was likely at least 16, and that he was the aggressor.

Amy Peck, an attorney for the boy and his family, said that suggestion was disgusting.

"He was a 12-year-old boy and the defendant knew it," Peck said Wednesday. "The result of this lower plea could have been obtained without playing to every racial stereotype that there is."

Racial stereotypes? Whatever could she mean?
"I resent the term 'child.' You're baby-fying this kid. This kid is a Latino machismo teenager."
Yup! The boy was Mexican, so his rape didn't count. He was asking for it. He looked older than he was. Heck, he was older than he was! Never mind that most of us would find it horribly wrong for a 26-year-old teacher to take advantage of a 16-year-old student; it's all the victim's fault.

Cases where women sexually assault men are vanishingly rare, and virtually all of them fall under the header of statutory rape. And in cases of statutory rape, there's a tendency to say the boy was actually making out like a bandit -- he's a stud for getting with his teacher. But a 12-year-old boy is no more mature than a 12-year-old girl, and no more ready to have sex with someone twice his age. He is, I'm sure, no less confused than any other victim of statutory rape, and no less traumatized. So it's good to know that when confronted with the rare male rape victim, our legal system will respond to him just like it would a 12-year-old girl -- by saying it's all about the victim, what he looked like, what he was doing, how he was at fault -- thus traumatizing him all the more. Hooray for equality. Where's the Tylenol?

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