A few days ago I wrote a post about the death of Meredith Emerson and women's safety.
More stories are breaking on the confession of Gary Hilton, the man who abducted and killed Emerson.
I stated previously that I did not know if Emerson had been sexually assaulted. Now reports say that yes, Hilton raped Meredith Emerson after she continued to give him the wrong pin number for her ATM card. He told police he raped her "because he was angry with her."
Wow, that line jumped out at me! Contrary to popular myth, men don't see beautiful women and become crazed with lust and attack them. More often, it's similar to what Hilton describes. They use rape as a tool to terrorize and harm.
To some I am stating the ultimate DUH-obvious point here. But I think it's worth bringing up that our culture has a HUGE problem with fetishizing rape. We make it about men's powerful sexual appetite and aggression that must be satisfied. We see it portrayed that way in many movies-- that men can't help themselves. And thus we have lovely victim-blaming "You were wearing that! What did you except?"
Melissa McEwan deals with this on her blog, Shakesville, with the most BRILLIANT POST EVER, "Rape is not a compliment."
Go and read it now and you will be amazed.
Meredith Emerson was a beautiful, young woman but she was not attacked because of her beauty. Hilton was a sick man, looking for an easy target. He used rape as another weapon.
In my training to work for a local rape crisis center, I learned that in many rape cases there is an absence of semen. Not because the rape didn't occur but because the male perpetrator has not climaxed. The crime was not about sexual gratification but about demeaning and injuring a woman physically and psychologically.
Stories with young, attractive female victims get media attention because our culture doesn't understand the dynamics of sexual assault. We don't know how to handle the elderly victim, the married woman assaulted at the hands of her husband, or the male rape victim. (side note: We REALLY don't know how to handle male victims!)
Most people in this country know next to nothing about rape save for a few "movies of the week" off lifetime or our national news media stories.
Too many women suffer fates like Meredith Emerson, who was abducted and raped by a stranger. That young woman I spoke off in my last post did. She was abducted from our community shopping mall by a stranger-- then raped and murdered. And I think of her often.
But our country would do well to remember that these young women were not targeted simply for youth and beauty. This confession from Hilton would serve as a great jumping off point for the media to discuss the politics of sexual violence in a country that continues to treat rape as a crime of passion, directed at young, beautiful (and seemingly only white) women.
I won't hold my breath waiting for that discussion.