[image making gang rape "sexy" is from here. And how many men protested this ad's promotion of sexual violence against women by a group of men?]
Below is a copy of CNN's story about why people who witness sexual violence against women often do nothing to intervene. [In brackets and in bold are my responses to this analysis and major media reporting.]
Gang rape raises questions about bystanders' role
By Stephanie Chen, CNN
October 29, 2009 12:00 p.m. EDT
"Genovese syndrome" was coined after dozens watched or heard a killer attack Kitty Genovese and did nothing.
* Psychologists say bystanders in large groups are less likely to take action
* Police: As many as 20 people watched gang rape spanning over two hours
* Bystanders didn't report assault to police and some participated in the attack
* Some experts argue the witnesses may have feared retaliation from the gang
(CNN) -- For more than two hours on a dark Saturday night, as many as 20 people watched or took part as a 15-year-old California girl was allegedly gang raped and beaten outside a high school homecoming dance, authorities said.
[Social Code #1: Quickly dispense with others who were agents in this happening. Where were the school officials monitoring the site? For more, see this. Note the photo chosen by CNN: two white high school girls and one Black man in the background, watching. News media have gotten savvy about not overtly stating what is in white U.S. America's consciousness, or just under it: men of color are allegedly the greatest danger to white women, of any age. That this is a racist lie does not get exposed in this story. We can note that in that article, a white female schoolmate described the victim, "the 15-year-old girl as a churchgoer who struggled to fit in at Richmond High." Here we have the beginnings of Unwritten Social Code #2: rape, when it happens to "good girls" is evil. Rape, when it happens to, say, prostitutes, is not worth reporting and is rarely if ever reported by media. Social code #3: The rape of girls and women of color by white men or men of color, is rarely made into national news, even though this is far more common that boys or men of color raping white girls and women. For more, see this report by Amnesty International on the mass rape of American Indian women by white men who are never convicted and this piece, with pornographised details, that acknowledges the stats are of convicted rapists only, and also that gang rape is not the predominant form of rape women and girls experience: "Gang rape, while constituting only a tiny percentage of all rapes in the UK, is a horrible reality in this country. The nature of the crime is so appalling that much more research needs to be carried out into its causes. But what seems evident from my investigation is that the key to preventing it will be changing the way young men view women and the kind of group sexual activity they are engaging in at such a young age."
The conclusion is not that gang rape ought not be treated as a heinous crime. The point is that ALL rape ought to be treated as a heinous crime, including marital rape, date rape, acquaintance rape, and the rape of girls by their fathers, step-fathers, and other older male family members. All rape functions to terrorises all women, not just the victims of assault. If the press promulgates stories that support the racist rape myths that "those men of color are the ones to watch out for" we do two things simultaneously that puts women and girls at greater risk: we minimize the degree to which rapists are white, thereby not flashing a light on THEIR crimes against humanity. This is an old tactic of the U.S. white male supremacist South: lynch Black men for looking at a white woman, treat white women as possessions of white men, but do nothing to white slavers and slave owners who raped Black women and girls without criminal (or lethal) consequence to the wealthy white rapers. The history doesn't start there, though, of covering up the rapes and other atrocities of white men against women of color. We actually have a national holiday that reveres the white man who "a pioneer" of sexual slavery of girls and women. He was also a serial rapist and a genocidal murderer. And we in the U.S. have a national holiday to honor him. You tell me what it means that a country founded on the enslavement of sub-Saharan Africans, and the genocide of the Indigenous Nations of North America (and the rest of the Americas), honors one of its most notorious and ruthless rapist-killers, known instead for "discovering America". How much regard do we show those past survivors and non-survivors--all of them women and girls of color, mind you--when we call serial rape and the production of sexual slavery "a great discovery".
This sort of press also allows white men not to carry the stigma of "the image of the rapist" in the popular imagination. This racism not only negatively impacts men of color, especially those with dark skin, but it also adds to the racism dark-skinned women of color experience, as they too are branded socially as "the criminal element". It's not just men of color who are followed around in stores; it is women of color too. We completely invisibilise women and girls of color as the raped by perpetuating the Black rapist/white raped girl mythology. For implicit in the myth of the Black (or man of color) rapist, is the fabricated lie that Black men, when they rape, rape white women. This is not simply not the case. All of this allows white men to rape away without fear of conviction, as noted in the Amnesty piece linked to above, and it also means girls and women of color remain off the dominant presses radar as victims and survivors of rape, which only adds to the pervasiveness of rape against that female population.]
As hundreds of students gathered in the school gym, outside in a dimly lit alley where the victim was allegedly raped, police say witnesses took photos. Others laughed.
[The corporate press, bound and gagged by white male supremacist laws, must always use the word "alleged" even when their is no reason to doubt that such a common crime as rape occurred. But onto the matter of the witnesses who took photos, according to police.
Not mentioned, hardly ever, by the corporate press, is the connection between online corporate pornography, corporate cell phone technology, and the corporatisation of rape. This is what we know: the internet and digital cameras, often in cell phones, has made it very easy for men to violate women and girls in an astounding number of ways. From "up-skirting" to setting up cameras behind or in hotel rooms walls, the RECORDING AND MASS DISTRIBUTION of the visual violation of women is now "standard practice" among men. Social Code #4: Do not ever implicate corporations, capitalists, and pornographers in the reality and relentlessness of rape as a form of terrorism against women.
These men who sexually violate and degrade women and girls do not speak out against these practices, because they want the right to practice them. There is, instead, a code of silence among men, to not out each other for doing just these things which harm women and girls systematically. Social code #5: men protect one another's right to violate women.
Add to those methods of violation-recording the simple mass consumption and downloading of pornographic images of raped women that men take in and benignly call "using pornography" not "accessing images of raped women with impunity". That men, generally, believe "using pornography" is not only acceptable, but also a right and an entitlement also tells us a lot about the degrees to which men value women more when they are being degraded than when girls and women are not. Other proof of this is that men will pay women and girls more to gain sexual access to them, coercively at least, than to do anything else. Certainly women who teach children in elementary schools are not paid nearly as much by male administrators as the pornographers and procurers/purchasers of women and girls, who pay (or otherwise exploit) those same women and their female students. Social Code #6: Ignore all economic factors related to why rape occurs and who is most vulnerable to it. Ignore all social-political ideologies and systems of oppression, such as poverty, white supremacy, and male supremacy. What could THOSE things possibly have to do with rape?
That heterosexual men want women and girls to remove their clothes and be made to be visually and physically assaulted by men is so common and unnewsworthy that only when a "gang" rape of a "good" white student who was a churchgoer makes national news. Forget about daddy molesting and raping his daughter(s). Forget about hubby raping his wife or wives. Forget about all the women and girls of color who endure rape at the hands of men of all colors. Forget the girls and women in prostitution and sexual slavery who are raped many times by many men. That's just not newsworthy.
Social Code #7: never, EVER name patriarchy as a reality. And along with that, invisibilise all the ways men are socialised to want to rape and otherwise violate, terrorise, and subordinate women. See, it's not "gang" rape if many men rape you over a period of time. That's called "being a who*re." The stigmas on girls and women who are not "good", who do not go to church, and who do make money by working the streets, means that their rape cannot be registered in the dominant mind as "heinous" and "horrible". "She obviously put herself there to have that happen," is what too many people think. If you don't want to be raped, don't be a prostitute, is men's logic. And if you don't want to be sexually harassed doing office work, don't do office work. And if you don't want to be raped by your husband, don't marry. And if you don't want to be raped at all, don't be female, because being female--just that reality--means you are twice as likely as boys to be sexually assaulted in some way before you reach the age of eighteen. And among American Indian women, one in three are raped as adults, mostly by white men.]
"As people announced over time that this was going on, more people came to see, and some actually participated," Lt. Mark Gagan of the Richmond Police Department told CNN.
[Here we get to another heart of the matter: what "doing nothing" actually is. What it is, is SOMETHING. What it is, is the participation in the gross public degradation and destruction of a human being--a female human being--who gets to know, should she survive, that her rape was not only public, but not intervened upon by on-lookers and bystanders. And if any of those bystanders watch others take pictures or video of that rape, what are they now? Have they still "just done nothing"? And if they cheer, or otherwise encourage the rapists, is that also "doing nothing"? And if they are silent and afraid, and horrified and triggered, is that also "nothing"?]
The witnesses failed to report the crime to law enforcement, Gagan said. The victim remained hospitalized in stable condition. Police arrested five suspects and more arrests were expected.
[Stable condition? This is the press and medical establishment's way of completely minimising the harm that rape does to one's "stability". That her blood pressure is no longer dropping because wounds were sewn up means "she's stable". That she was gang raped and had that rape publicly recorded, now available to be sold or otherwise distributed on a massive scale, should not cause her any instability, right?]
So why didn't anyone come forward?
[This question is spurious. Clearly the rapists did come forward. Clearly the bystanders did loom. Images are also likely to "come forward". The question is meant to say "Why didn't anyone report this to the police" as if "the police" are on the side of the raped and prostituted. As if the police are not well-known for being racist assholes. As if the police are automatically sensitive to the needs of someone who has been sexually assaulted. I knew a woman who did trainings with police departments, on how to handle the gender-invisibilising term "domestic violence". Police officers, without such training, were prone to walk into a home where a woman is being beaten up regularly, and only speak with the man about what happened. Or watch her nod yes to being asked "Are you all right, ma'am?" and assume she's free to shake her head no, and say "This bastard beats and rapes me regularly, and if you don't put him behind bars now and forever, the chances are he'll hunt me down and kill me for having him arrested, as if it's not HIS actions that got him arrested!" A woman I knew for years had broken up with her boyfriend. He was distraught. So he waited for her to come home from work and he killed her. And police ask "Are you all right, ma'am? Do you want us to take him in?" With what other crimes do we ask the victim if the police should consider it a crime? Aren't the police supposed to know a crime when they see it? And don't they get that asking a woman IN FRONT OF HER BATTERER/RAPIST what she'd like to have happen to him is about the most stupid thing that can be done, if concerned in the least about her safety and well-being?]
Criminology and psychology experts say there could be a variety of reasons why the crime wasn't reported.
[Here we go. Social Code #8: Allow socially ignorant men to be THE spokespeople, THE experts, when it comes to understanding and naming the dynamics at work that create and bolster men's atrocities against women.]
Several pointed to a problematic social phenomenon known as the bystander effect. It's a theory that has played out in lynchings, college riots and white-collar crimes.
[In lynchings? "The bystander effect" was what was in place during lynchings?! I thought that was "Klansmen having a good time". I thought that was "whiteboys teaching the n*gger a lesson". I've never in my life heard such actions described in U.S. history books as "the bystander effect". Social Code #9: confuse the masses by allowing "spokespeople" with "media access" to stupidly combine differing social-political realities, pretending they are all the same. Social Code #10: don't ever allow feminists media access when the topic is rape or battery. Don't allow their points of view on TV, EVER. Not in news shows, not on talk shows. Only allow apolitical "psychological" and "sociological" perspectives into the minds of the masses, so we never get to understand what's really going on.]
Under the bystander effect, experts say that the larger the number of people involved in a situation, the less will get done.
w convenient to have a term that absolves people of responsibility. That makes it normal to do nothing. Or "understandable" or "reasonable". I guess non-Jewish Germans were suffering from "the bystander effect" as they saw Jews forced into cattle cars, off to be slaughtered. Only when crimes against women happen by men, do we go out of our way to find reasons to excuse others for not intervening.
Let's note the pornographic offerings of the news story:]
Video: Girl gang-raped for hours
Video: Gang rape outside school dance
Let's note how we can phrase a question in such a way as to make it clear we're not going to take a position on this matter:]
Video: Can witnesses be prosecuted?
Let's note how and what are considered "related topics":
* Sexual Offenses
[RELATED TOPICS wouldn't be "every U.S. state", "patriarchal atrocities", "the mass rape of women by men" or "how men terrorise women" or "how the pornography industry and pornographic mass media makes the public rape of a girl into a social spectacle to be observed and recorded, not reported as a crime". Social Code #11: don't state the obvious.]
"If you are in a crowd and you look and see that everyone is doing nothing, then doing nothing becomes the norm." explains Drew Carberry, a director at the National Council on Crime Prevention.
[To Drew Carberry: You should be fired. If you live in a society that normalises the objectification of girls' and women's bodies, do little to nothing to challenge men's entitlements to have visual and physical access to girls' and women's bodies, and, with your male colleagues, friends, and family members, regularly look at internet images of raped women for your male entertainment, might that just possibly contribute to "the norm" of people doing nothing to stop rape? How many men do you know who work full-time to stop other men from raping their girlfriends and wives? From raping prostitutes? From even acknowledging that "looking at porn" is acting out an entitlement to have sexual access to raped women?]
Carberry said witnesses can be less likely to report a crime because they reinforce each other with the notion that reporting the crime isn't necessary. Or, he says, witnesses may think another person in the crowd already reported the incident. The responsibility among the group becomes diffused.
[The responsibility of the group, if we understand "group" to mean people who surround a raped person, means all of those of us present to such a reality, doesn't it? Who among us isn't around women who have been raped? If the whole of a society doesn't even call pornography the production, distribution, and consumption of women being raped, what chance in hell is there of a small group of people recognising that a crime against humanity is even happening? To what extent do you see the pornographisation of society, and the general subjugation of women to men, taught in social and religious institutions, as "factors" in why people don't do anything when they hear or see a woman being abused by a man? Have you read the work of Jackson Katz and James Messerschmidt? If not please click here and here. Social Code #12: even when some men "get it" that what's going on has a great deal to do with patriarchal systems of men controlling and dominating girls and women, don't ever reference their analyses and studies.]
"Kids learn at a young age when they observe bullying that they would rather not get involved because there is a power structure," Carberry adds.
[Since when did the crime shift to bullying? (See Social Code #9.) We're talking about gang rape here, right? Since when did that become a criminologist's synonym for "bullying". See, folks, if we can just steer clear of looking at the sexual politics of rape, we can then pretend what we're dealing with here is the social bystanders' response to a "bullying" issue.]
The phrase bystander effect was coined in the 1960s after people watched or heard a serial killer stalk and stab a woman in two separate attacks in the Queens neighborhood of New York.
[Yes. Note she wasn't "bullied" per se, nor was she a child outside a school dance.]
Kitty Genovese struggled with the attacker on the street and in her building. She shrieked for help and was raped, robbed and murdered. When witnesses in the building were questioned by police about why they remained silent and failed to act, one man, according to the 1964 New York Times article that broke the story, answered, "I didn't want to be involved."
[Might this "uninvolved man" have been a perpetrator of rape himself? Did anyone thing to ask? Might THAT explain why he didn't want to report a rapist? What else might explain his utter callousness? Not "fear of getting involved". No. Complacency in the face of the horrors that happen to women inflicted by men. Yes. He could call the police and request help without "getting involved" right? He didn't have to go tackle the rapist, did he We accept this as logic: that making a phone call means "getting involved". It doesn't. It means doing the appropriate thing when you hear that someone is in danger, is being threatened, is being beaten, or is being raped. Let's not let that "one man" in 1964 go unanalysed, politically, that is. Because the fields of psychology and sociology, notoriously male dominated fields, are not likely to name "men's interest in not interrupting rape" as a reason why men "don't get involved". Or men's desensitisation due to consumption of pornography. Or men's desire to rape. Or men's sadism. We mustn't look at any of those issues, because clearly they are irrelevant, right? Wrong.]
Though the number of people who saw or heard Genovese struggle was eventually disputed, her case still became symbolic of a kind of crowd apathy that psychologists and social scientists call the "Genovese syndrome."
Nevermind that in the Kitty Genovese case, there wasn't just a "crowd", but also an apartment building of listeners doing their best to ignore her being raped and murdered. Consider how little we think of women that we can collectively allow rape to remain a crime against humanity, a war against women, not just "one tactic men use to conquer invaded lands" but THE tactic used to terrorise women, to subdue and subjugate women with men's misogynistic and racist values and practices.]
"I don't propose people get involved by running over and trying to stop it," the 73-year-old brother of Kitty Genovese told CNN, referring to the California gang rape case. Instead, Vincent Genovese advocates a call to 911. "Everyone has a cell phone," he said. "There is no excuse for people not to react to a situation like that."
[Well, the patriarchal and racist sociologists and psychologists actually will come up with any number of excuses. But thank you, Vincent, for telling the truth, and I'm sorry for the tragic loss all those years ago, of your sister.]
A similar incident took place at a New Bedford, Massachusetts, bar in 1983. Witnesses said several men threw a woman on a pool table where they raped and performed oral sex on her. Several witnesses failed to call police.
[No. That's not "similar". It was adults in a pool hall, not teenagers by a school dance. The dynamics are entirely different, except for one thing: the perpetrators are sadistic males. And people fear sadistic males. And even so, women fight them with all their might when attacked. And we can note the pornographic telling of the story: as if saying she was raped and otherwise sexually assaulted wouldn't be sufficient. And, lest we forget, the other rapists are ALSO witnesses. And there's little to no analysis presented by the media of why THEY don't intervene in stopping other males from committing rape. One reason, for certain, is that they want "their turn".]
"The people in the bar didn't do anything. They just let it happen," said Richard Felson, a professor of crime, law and justice at Penn State University in University Park, Pennsylvania.
Some of "the people" in the bar gang raped her. The people in the bar participated by howling and cheering. That's not "doing nothing". Social Code #13: Pretend the rapists aren't people, just like everyone else.]
This detached mentality can be especially pervasive among youth, who are too young to comprehend what victimization means, said Salvatore Didato, an organizational psychologist in New York. When a teenager -- or anyone -- doesn't have a personal bond to the victim, they are less likely to help out.
Even while incest perpetrators of daughters are not "youth" at all. Even while most men who find many ways of gaining physical access to women they wish to violate and degrade aren't "youth", we'll allow the media to put forth some stupid argument that it's because the males were young that they raped, or watched. Even though the "Genovese Syndrome" wasn't created to describe the actions of youth. Social Code #14: blame it on "youth".]
Experts say sometimes bystanders see the victim as less important than the person committing the crime, who appears to wield power. "The victim to them is a non-person," Didato said.
[Feminists say often bystanders see women as less important than men who commit crimes against women. And have written extensively about how victimised women, and women generally, are relegated to non-human status. See, for example, Are Women Human?, by Catharine A. MacKinnon.]
But in California, it's illegal for a witnessed crime involving children to go unreported.
[And how many arrests have their been for doing just that? How many people are found guilty of not reporting their own rapes of girls and women in any U.S. state?]
The Sherrice Iverson Child Victim Protection Act passed in 1999 makes it a misdemeanor to fail to report a crime against a child. However, the bill only applies to victims 14 or younger. The victim in the California gang-rape case was 15.
[What does that tell us about our collective will to actually ending this crime called child rape, and other crimes against children? What does this tell us about even regarding the rape of girls and women over the age of fourteen as worthy of such measly validation by patriarchal law? And why isn't it a felony? Oh, because that might actually mean we take seriously allowing rape to continue endemically.]
Phil Harris, a criminal justice professor at Temple University, who has studied juveniles and group situations for nearly three decades, offered another hypothesis on why as many as 20 witnesses failed to notify police. He said the witnesses could have been angry themselves -- or had a problem with the victim.
[Well now we're onto something, but it's not the right something. This would be the chance in this report to identify society's general lack of appropriate rage about systematical violence against women and girls, and the misogyny that fuels it.]
Richmond Police Department officials said some of the witnesses in the California gang rape ended up participating in the sexual assaults.
[Really. And this is what? A surprise?]
"A lot of kids don't know how to express anger and they are curious when anger is expressed," Harris said.
Social Code #15: Make up stupid theories that avoid naming gender when the crime is gender based. Turn "men and boys" into "kids". Turn misogyny into "anger". Turn desire to assault into "curiosity". Turn rape into "expression".]
Scientific studies over the last decade have shown that adolescent brain development occurs into the 20s, which makes it hard for teens to make decisions, criminologists say. In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court took this research into consideration when it ruled that children could not be given the death penalty.
[Social Code #16: Blame it on the brain, or genetics, or hormones, or anything at all that isn't social, economic, or political.]
It is still unclear the ages of the male witnesses who gathered around the victim in California and watched.
[And this matters why?]
In Boston, Massachusetts, Northeastern University criminologist Jack Levin says he believes the California gang rape was too violent -- and lasted too long -- to be the result of the bystander effect alone.
[Finally someone is willing to state the obvious. Social Code #17: In typical jounrnalistic fashion, toss out a bunch of bogus theories by people who are not trained to see the forest for the trees, and later maybe make one or two relevant points, if that.]
Levin, who specializes in hate crime research,
[I guess this is as close as we're going to get to a feminist analysis. And we might note that "rape of women" is not listed as a hate crime, primarily because it happens too often, and states don't have the resources to prosecute all the raptists. So THAT makes it NOT a hate crime.]
says the male witnesses may have kept quiet out of fear of retaliation. In his research, witnesses who live in violent communities often fear stepping forward because snitching isn't tolerated.
[This is supposed to allow the reader to think that rape is something endemic only in "violent communities" (you know, where DARK-SKINNED and POOR men live!) as if all communities aren't violent to women and girls. If battery, spousal rape, and incest are all routine atrocities, which white neighborhoods or middle class communities have a zero tolerance policy for such behaviors? Answer: not just the "violent" ones.]
Snitching could also bring dangerous consequences to their friends and family. "They don't believe the system will protect them from the offender," he said. "They think the offender will find out their name."
[Um. Has anyone noticed the fallout that came to MacKenzie Phillips for naming her father, Papa John Phillips, as her rapist? And this was disclosed after he died. Has anyone noticed how children who are taught to report being molested still don't report it, because they are too ashamed or terrified? Has anyone noticed most women don't report being raped because from hospital to courtroom, should a rape case ever make it that far, women are retraumatised and revictimised by "the systems"? Who DOES believe the system will protect them, if female?]
That may have been the case in Chicago, Illinois, in September when an honor student
["an honor student"? Was this person genderless? Social Code #18: Pretend victims of sexual crimes don't have a sex. This was done when the Montreal Massacre of women students by an outspoken antifeminist man was reported as "murderer kills students at an engineering school". We wouldn't want to confuse the issue my mentioning his militant hatred of women and activists who fight for women's rights, now would we?]
was beaten to death by four teenage boys outside a school.
[Were they also honor students or are we just supposed to assume the criminal youth were not so bright? Because we all know HONOR STUDENTS DON'T BEAT AND RAPE, right? Wrong. They do. But if the students, on or off the honor roll, come from wealthy white families, they are portrayed in the media as the "innocent" victims, and the those they victimise are called the lying perpetrators.]
Video captured by a bystander showed several students watching the attack, but police have found many of the witnesses tight-lipped in the South side community where violence has been prevalent.
[That's the section of the city populated by DARK-SKINNED people, in case you didn't know!]
Police have charged three suspects with murder.
[Really? Police go after poor Black men and other disenfranchised men of color while leaving wealthy white men alone? Who knew?]
While information from the Richmond Police Department in the coming weeks may reveal more about the bystanders and attackers, crime experts say one thing is clear: Third parties can affect the outcome of a crime. Witnesses have the power to deter violence -- or stop a crime from going on, experts say.
[Let's rephrase that, please: "TO ALL TEENAGE BOYS AND GROWN MEN: YOU CAN STOP THE RAPE OF GIRLS AND WOMEN!"]
Bystanders could have prevented the gang rape from lasting more than two hours, if they had reported the crime to authorities sooner.
[Wow. What a shocking conclusion to come to. Did you even see that coming?!]
The victim was found under a bench, semi-conscious.
"This just gets worse and worse the more you dig into it," Lt. Mark Gagan of the Richmond Police Department. "It was like a horror movie. I can't believe not one person felt compelled to help her."
[Maybe, Lt. Mark Gagan, that's because for them it WAS a horror movie, or a drama, or a comedy. And they didn't want to press fast forward and miss any of the action.]
Nick Valencia contributed to this report.
[I'm not sure what to say, Nick. Surely it isn't "Thank you for the responsible reporting".]