Wednesday, April 11, 2007

By request, my thoughts...

A few weeks ago this bitch received an anonymous comment asking me to share my current thoughts on the Duke Lacrosse case.

It was clear that Anonymous felt that feminism has been damaged by a case that has resulted in a District Attorney under investigation for prosecutorial misconduct, rape charges issued and then dropped and now the news that all charges are expected to be dropped as early as today.

First, let me say that I own my response to this case.

That's right, I own it.

We don't get to claim the clear-cut victories and then ignore the challenging not easily tied up with a militant bow cases. This one's ours too. Feminism will only be harmed if we fail to explore our individual responses, the community's reaction and what the struggle can take from this to grow stronger.

So, I own my response.

Trust that I still have all manner of opinions about this case.

But I think my questions are more important right now.

Will I hesitate in the future to challenge the notion of who "gets to be" a victim?


Before the specifics of anything where clear in this case...and a lot of specifics still aren't clear...the language used by the press and many a person commenting on this blog made it clear that feminism has some work to do. A definition victim was exposed by this case that is unacceptable, unrealistic and bullshit. My commitment to challenge that definition and all the nasty historical baggage contained within it remains unshaken.

Will I hesitate in the future to take a woman's word as a result of this case?

No, I will not.

I learned long ago that justice and legal justice are often not the same thing. But I took this woman's word when she accused and I must take it when she chooses to withdraw the rape charges. As an advocate I have faced this situation before...and I have handled it the same way and with the same unflinching support.

That must not change.

Does the news that all charges are going to be dropped close the book on the many issues of race, class and gender that have been explored through this case?

It will for some and it won't for others. It was already difficult to discuss that shit and the outcome of this case will not make it easier. But the case itself demonstrates the need to continue the discussion.

Feminism applies to the aftermath of this case as much if not more so than to the original case. Creating campus environments that are safe and empowering for all...addressing the economic issues that force many into unsafe work conditions just to pay for their education...building a campus community that responds proactively to disciplinary issues...creating a legal process that functions without humiliation and in the pursuit of justice for all...and educating women about their options and their responsibilities.

That's our struggle and I own the hell out of it.


BigAssBelle said...

i've just checked technorati to see what folks are saying about this. the brilliant ones are making note of the fact that women have lied and deceived since eve and thus should never be believed.

setting aside that, i want to know more about this. i understand that the prosecutor did not wait for sufficient evidence to prosecute his case.

that alone, however, does not convince me that these young men are innocent. i worked so long in the field of child abuse investigations that i am aware of many, many instances when abuse certainly occurred, but there was insufficient evidence to try a case criminally.

it is a different standard of proof and while that experience does not prove that there is more to this one, i do believe the general public believes that all true crimes are prosecuted and that is absolutely not the case. in our little county here in tulsa, i'd estimate less than 5% of the confirmed cases of child abuse were prosecuted. less than 5%.

that's not to say that people don't lie about these things. obviously they do. women can lie just like men. it does not discount the atrocity of rape or sexual abuse because this woman made up a story, if she did.

i just don't know. i really, really want people to just say okay, there was not enough here, or she lied and these boys shouldn't have got in trouble or whatever they want to say about THIS CASE. but this case means nothing about the next rape case or the one after that. it is an incident and not the only one, but it is one incident and i am absolutely convinced that far more rape cases go unreported, unprosecuted than are falsely reported or falsely prosecuted.

Alain said...

Just a small correction of fact: according to the Attorney General's statement, the victim did not choose to withdraw the charges; the AG did. His words were, "The prosecuting witness in this case ... did want to move forward with the prosecution. However, the contradictions in her many versions of what occurred and the conflicts between what she said occurred and other evidence ... could not be rectified."

Clio Bluestocking said...

This is why you are one of my heroes!

Abby said...

I think the rape charges being dropped was the right decision based on the evidence as reviewed by the special prosecutor. I also think Nifong will be disciplined, possibly disbarred.

What bothers me the most about the entire situation is that all the focus of this has now become the victim's lack of credibility. Again, fair enough that the rape charges be dropped since she isn't credible. I totally agree.

However, there has never been any doubt that the strip party took place, racial slurs were used, and at some point the environment at that party was uncomfortable enough that both of the strippers wanted to leave. Based on the lack of judgemnet shown by the lacrosse athletes that were part of the party, I think Duke was right in cancelling the season AND dismissing the players. Student athletes should be expected to represent their school in an honorable way. The fact that Duke invited these former players back after their dismissals makes me angry. It makes me question what, if anything, was really accomplished by Duke's administration throughout this situation. It was the right thing for Duke to take a stand and show that it wouldn't allow it's players to behave the way they did by organizing and participating in that party, REGARDLESS of the rape allegations. That whole lacrosse team atmosphere was wrong.

I whole heartedly hope that the former lacrosse players learned something about themselves and that at some point they accept responsibility for the situation that THEIR ACTIONS set into motion. There would never have been this situation if they had not made the call to initiate and participate in that party.

Bottom line: don't roll around in the gutter and not expect to get dirty.

And, sorry, but; HAHA. Even poor little rich boys sometimes get caught, at least a little.

tinahorn_cae said...

ABB - you are seriously a class act.

Anonymous said...

Bottom line: don't roll around in the gutter and not expect to get dirty.

And, sorry, but; HAHA.

This is very similar to someone who says rape or assault victims who wear revealing clothing or hang around sleazy places sort of get what they deserve. I don't think either situation is funny but then I'm trying not to give in to double standards.