AUTHOR: Beth TITLE: DATE: 1/07/2004 12:55:00 AM ----- BODY:
Backlash Watching television as usual... I suppose it's also usual that something would piss me off. Invariably in the course of human events, things piss me off. First let me give this unfortunately necessary disclaimer: prone to anger I may be, but man-hater I am not. I respect and admire the men in my family. I have many, many male friends. Most of my friends are male, in fact. And my boyfriend is the light of my life. Also: most of the time I think of myself as a person before I think of myself as a woman. It doesn't even occur to me that liking sports or playing them (at one point in my life) or knowing how to fix a computer or check my oil or understanding science concepts are particularly gender-determinate things to do. Chalk that up, actually, to being raised by two egalitarian parents who don't just believe, but know that women can do anything. Maybe this makes me ill-informed, but I don't walk around wringing my hands about the plight of women day to day. I only read Bitch magazine every once in a while--let's just say there's only so much victimhood I can stand. But goddamn. Tonight I'm watching my crime shows. The New Detectives on The Discovery Channel has two particularly horrifying case histories. Scenario one involves a woman who was raped. Not just raped, as a matter of fact: she was given water laced with GHB by her boss, then abducted and raped. Since the purpose of this show is to describe the investigative process, things are then described step by step. First the officers let the woman sit there on a stoop after responding to her 911 call. They are pretty sure she is drunk. The man who drugged and raped her is questioned for "his side of the story." The arrogant bastard tells the police with the woman he's just brutalized sitting right there in front of him that she is his girlfriend, that she is drunk, and that he just put her to bed in his apartment after a wild night out. He almost convinces the officers, in fact, that she should return to his apartment with him. But just in case, they take the woman to the precint. Where they give her a Breathalyzer. When it comes out to be 0.01--eight times below the legal limit--only then do they decide to do a rape kit. The story she's been telling all along, that the man they discovered her fleeing from had given her water that tasted funny, and the next thing she remembered was waking up naked in that same man's bed--is immaterial before they determine if she's intoxicated. Heaven help her if she had been. Because apparently if a woman is drunk, she can't be raped. So they do a rape kit on the woman. They find semen secretions on her. Then they conduct internal examinations. She has tears in her rectum and bruising on her cervix. Bruising on the cervix, as the narrator of the show explains, but I already know, is incredibly, incredibly rare--present only in cases of extreme brutality. Most often it occurs in cases of child rape where the anatomy is, how shall we say, not as accommodating. For a mature woman to acquire such injuries requires a force you don't want to imagine, much less experience. This, however, is still not enough proof. They take statements and test her urine for GHB, with a control sample taken a few days later for comparison. The control sample turns out to contain 1 microgram per millileter of GHB. The sample taken shortly after the rape? 425 micrograms per millileter. So, case closed, right? Wrong. They test the semen found in her anus, along with blood and tears, as well as in her vagina, along with the cervical bruising, which, of course, was in the same body that contained massive amounts of GHB, and guess what? It matches the same guy. So, case closed, right? Wrong. The narration explains, "The Deputy DA believed they had a strong case, but knew getting a conviction would not be easy." Excuse me?? What part about it isn't easy? The fact that she said she was drugged, and she was? The fact that she said she was raped, and she was? The fact that the man who did all this was her boss? Or was it the fact that this cowardly excuse for a human being felt completely entitled to render her comatose and then use her body like some kind of object he could steal? Or was it the fact that if he'd taken off with her motorcycle, or her car, or her purse, convicting him on this much physical evidence would be a no-brainer, but when he takes off with her body it's "not easy"? No, wait. That's just what's not easy for me. But all's well that ends well. "The jury," the narrator concludes, "believed her testimony." "Believed" her?? "Believed" her. What is there to "believe"??? So let's review what we've learned, here. If you are a woman and your boss drugs, abducts and rapes you, consider yourself lucky if you haven't had a drink. And if there is also overwhelming physical evidence that the crime happened as you said it did, and if you're lucky, people might "believe" that you didn't "want it". "It", of course, being cervical bruising and anal tears. Wait, we're not done. Case #2 on the forensics show involves a two-and-a-half-year-old boy, discovered dead in his bed in the apartment where he lived with his mother and her live-in boyfriend. Things about the case look fishy from the get-go. The boy looks posed in his bed. There is no apparent cause of death. Finally an intrepid (female) investigator, after finding cellophane from a cigarette wrapper in the boy's airway, determines that if the boy had accidentally swallowed it, his saliva would have dissolved the tax stamp printed on the cellophane. The tax stamp found in his throat, however, is intact. So someone stuffed it down his throat. Guess who smokes. Do I even need to say? The live-in boyfriend, of course. Boyfriends are somehow notorious for treating children from their girlfriends' previous relationships with contempt if not abuse. If you picked up the Lowell Sun a couple of years ago, as I recall, you'd have heard of a man who bashed his girlfriend's six-month-old son like a sack of potatoes against the headboard of a bed, till the little boy died of massive brain hemorrhaging. Apparently men are entitled to brutally kill offspring not their own if they interfere with their genetic supremacy. Apparently men are entitled to act like wild apes. Scratch that. Apes don't act like this. Because what's even more appalling than stuffing your cigarette wrapper down a baby's throat, letting him suffocate, and then leaving him posed in his bed for his mother to find dead the next morning is the reason why, it turns out, that the boyfriend did all that: because the child's mother had been unfaithful to him. That this infidelity had taken place on the boyfriend's birthday was apparently enough of an aggravating factor to justify the fact that he killed her child. So let me get this straight. In this man's mind (and apparently, in many), his girlfriend failing to reserve use of her body solely for him justifies murdering her baby? Apparently killing her child is just punishment? Or maybe taking away her baby seems like an even trade for his precious pride? Furthermore, of course, this story reminds us that babies are apparently only important to women. And it sends the message, however subtle, that women ought to behave themselves or men will take them away. I'm not usually shocked by much. But this show made me sick. It made me sick to think of the way some men--SOME men, not all--see women as property and treat them as such. No, scratch that one, too: they treat their property better. They don't burn their pickup trucks with cigarettes or smack the shit out of their dogs. They don't deliberately scratch their own CDs or smash the screen of their televisions. They don't punch out the speakers on their stereos or tear the surface of their pool tables or stab their recliners in the guts. But a woman's arm, they'll burn. A woman's face, they'll smack. A woman's eyes, they'll scratch. A woman's jaw, they'll smash. A woman's stomach, they'll punch and stab. Because apparently women are not only property, but less valuable property than any of the above-listed items. And you can forget about their kids. But these two women apparently got lucky. Because the court system and public at large graciously "believed" that they were victimized, and so, seemingly as a voluntary favor to them, put a rapist and child-killer, respectively, in prison. I don't know what makes me sicker--the way the women were treated by the men in question, or by the system charged with protecting them. But what really sends me over the edge--what sends me charging down here to blog it out of my system after experiencing something like fireworks inside my head, so enraged am I, is the next show on The Discovery Channel's lineup: A show chronicling women who have murdered their husbands. The fact that they have to go back to the early 19th century to find six examples to fill an hour show notwithstanding, the title of the show is (drum roll) Poisonous Women. It literally makes me see red.