Selective Anger and Small Numbers

[Trigger warning.]

Two local (to me) stories in the news today about sexual assaults, which I happened to read almost back-to-back while just browsing the news last night:

1. Gary Man Charged with Molesting Girl, Fathering Her Children: "A Gary man charged Thursday for repeatedly molesting his underage blood relative and fathering her two children was allowed to adopt the girl despite being a convicted felon, Lake Criminal Court records show."

2. Man Charged with Rape of Woman with Cerebral Palsy: "A Southwest Side man was ordered held on $1 million bond Tuesday after being charged with the Christmas Day rape of a teenage cerebral palsy victim—the visiting relative of his girlfriend."

My heart shatters into a thousand pieces every time I read something like either one of these stories.

And I get angry.

Most people will share my anger about these two stories in particular. People who will contort themselves into impossible shapes to dismiss and deny rape in almost every conceivable circumstances will nonetheless be angry about children and young adults (especially disabled children and young adults) being raped by men meant to care about and protect them, because they (quite rightly) perceive such victims as vulnerable—and there's something uniquely despicable about raping someone vulnerable.

But here's the thing: Rapists always prey on the vulnerable. Victims are targeted specifically because they're vulnerable—whether because of youth, a physical disability, intoxication, isolation, incapacitation, a betrayable trust born of familiarity.

And we should be angry for all of them.

Instead we collectively have this selective anger, anger only on behalf of those who we can find no reason to blame for their own victimization, in our ongoing endeavor to deflect responsibility for the rape culture. We reserve our anger strictly for those who can't be scolded for "getting themselves into the situation," who can't be questioned about why they didn't "fight back," who can't be dismissed by one of the ready-made victim-blaming narratives about not drinking, not "dressing slutty," not being alone on a dark street, not trusting strangers...

And thus having failed utterly to pay any attention at all to their rapists—all those Great Guys left to be "great" to another victim, and another—we see only the rapists for whom we can find no excuse.

Which is a very small number indeed.

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