Today in Rape Culture

[Content Note: Media coverage of sexual violence against children; gun violence.]

I've seen this story from late December in a couple places now, because its facts are so unusual: It's an article from Utah's Deseret News about a child sex predator whose offenses were discovered in a very peculiar way—police found his 13-year-old victim hiding in a closet when they searched his house after one of his roommates accidentally shot another roommate in the chest while drunkenly attempting to shoot a mouse.

The 34-year-old abuser, Paul Daniel Kunzler, was "booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of two counts of rape of a child, three counts of sodomy of a child, and three counts of sexual abuse of a child."

There is no state in the union in which a 13-year-old is considered old enough to consent to sexual activity. And Kunzler is clearly not her peer. He is 21 years her senior.

Nonetheless, the Deseret News repeatedly describes Kunzler and the 13-year-old girl as being in "a relationship."
The four-month relationship was discovered after a bizarre incident at the man's house...

During an ensuing search of the house, officers found a 13-year-old girl hiding in a basement closet, Wyant said. The girl told police she had sneaked out of her house without her father's knowledge to see Kunzler, according to a jail report.

After further questioning, investigators learned Kunzler and the 13-year-old had been having a relationship for four months. The two had met through a common friend, Wyant said.

It was not known Wednesday whether any of Kunzler's three housemates were aware of the relationship.
That "relationship" is considered an appropriate and uncontroversial way to describe a sexually abusive situation between a child and an adult 21 years her senior is just another reminder of how pervasive and profound the rape culture really is.

The irrelevant note about the girl sneaking out "without her father's knowledge" is interesting, too. Not only is it implicitly victim-blaming, framing her as a naughty girl who was looking for trouble, and suggestive of the possibility that 13-year-olds can give authentic, informed, enthusiastic consent to sexual activities with people old enough to be their parents, but it reinforces the narrative that fathers are protectors and defenders of their daughters' sexuality, and that female sexuality is a commodity to be exchanged between two men.

She sneaked out without her father's knowledge. Presumably, given the opportunity, he would have selected someone more suitable to whom to grant access to his daughter's cunt.

Is what we are meant to infer. In less blunt and more palatable terms, of course.

Parallel to that is the implication that parents can protect their children from sex predators (if only those naughty children don't sneak out of the house). Which: No. An alleged (or real) lack of parental vigilance is not a justification for the exploitation of a child. The exclusive responsibility for rape is always, always, the rapist's.

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