Emilie Townes, Dean of the Divinity School at Vanderbilt writes “Enough” in Feminist Studies in Religion, about trial of the four young men accused of raping an unconscious woman coed:
The first trial of the four young men accused of raping an unconscious woman coed has ended here in Nashville. Two of the four were on trial. The decision was guilty on all sixteen counts the two now 21-year olds were charged with. I was like many feminists, womanists, and other concerned folks on our campus and I suspect across the country—holding my breath, often unconsciously, and praying that this trial would not turn into an ugly toga-fest of blaming the victim. Well, it did turn ugly, but not in the way I feared. …
…in this case, the prosecution decided that it needed to send the message that sexual violence would be prosecuted and all of the resources of the district attorney’s office would be used to do so. Support services were and continue to be present for the young woman and she sat in that courtroom, facing two of her attackers (one of whom, the orchestrator of the rape, was her boyfriend at the time), for the twelve days of the trial. It is sobering that she had to be told that she was raped because she was unconscious after a night of alcohol consumption. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be told that this violence act happened to you but being brave enough to choose to look at the photographic evidence to confirm what the police are telling you. She took the witness stand and identified herself in the photographic evidence presented. She released her only public statement thus far after the verdict was announced and concluded it by saying to other victims of sexual violence “You are not alone. You are not to blame.” Exactly.
I hope that this message is heard loud and clear not only in Nashville, but also globally. It will take time to change the culture of dominance and denial, fear and disregard for the integrity of our bodies but many folks have been trying and I am hoping that more will join us to do so.
Read the rest of the article here.
posted by Ann Fontaine
Image from the article