Last week I stumbled upon the horrific story of fourteen year old Daisy Coleman, and her thirteen year old friend’s, rape at the hands of seventeen year old Matthew Barnett and his friend. Matthew Barnett, local high school football star, had his friend videotape the entire scene. Disturbingly enough, even though the two girls went to the hospital and went through the rape kit procedure, the charges were dropped against Matt and his friend. The most disturbing part of this tragic story, for me at least, was the hostile reactions of the Maryville community towards the two victims and their families. Additionally, I find it incredibly interesting that Matthew Barnett, the perpetrator, is the grandson of Republican Missouri representative Rex Barnett:
If that’s not a glaring piece of evidence for why a case that has not just a full rape kit, BUT a videotape of the entire scene, would be dropped then I don’t know what is. This case is so eerily similar to the horrors of Steubenville because there is the same vicious backlash of victim blaming in each case. In Steubenville, members of the community, especially the victims’ peers, laid complete blame on the girls for being “too drunk” or “ sloppy whores”. The same exact concept of victim blaming occurred in Maryville. Twitter accounts of Maryville high school students proudly announced that their loyalties remained with the perpetrators, as the hashtag #jordanandmattarefree so kindly demonstrates. Buzzfeed provides snapshots of the kind of tweets that were circulating the twitter world during this time:
Too add further fuel to the flame, the Coleman family was repeatedly harassed until they inevitably left town. Daisy’s mother was fired from her job at a veterinary clinic, and Daisy received many threatening messages on her phone, Facebook, and twitter. Even though the Coleman’s had left town their house was still for sale in Maryville, however, it was mysteriously burned to the ground the cause has yet to be determined. The reactions of the Maryville community towards Daisy Coleman and her friend are inexcusable and honestly terrifying. Cases like these are what keep me up at night worrying about the future and the implications of being a girl in today’s society. I am deeply saddened by how seemingly easy it is to find blame in a thirteen and fourteen year old girl for being raped, while the perpetrator is the one who walks free without guilt or blame. This type of mindset allows rapists a free pass and especially in the case of young men, it allows them to make these types of mistakes because “boys will be boys”. Therefore, it is up to an innocent girl to try and protect herself, however, if she fails it is ultimately her fault. I can’t believe that in the 21st century our society still suffers from such medieval thinking. The type of dress or actions of a young woman should not a legitimate cause for rape, yet, with cases like Maryville and Steubenville that is exactly the type of message being sent to young boys and girls. My only hope is that women in my generation will teach their sons the value of humanity, instead of teaching their daughters to be afraid. So to end this blog post I’d like to post a link to a slam poetry piece by Rudy Franciso and Teresea Siagatuno that is both powerful and harrowing as it highlights the main issues of rape culture in our society. Let me know what ya’ll think!