Rape Is Suddenly A Hot Button Issue For The GOP, But For All The Wrong Reasons

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On March 18, a 14-year-old girl in Rockville, Maryland was attacked at her high school by, allegedly, two older male students aged 17 and 18, who raped her. It is a horrible and tragic case, and it is one that happens far too often in the United States.

In fact, there are more than 321,000 victims of rape over the age of 12 every year in this country. An average of 15 percent of those victims are of middle and high school age. It is an epidemic that feminist groups and others on the political left have pointed in public forums to as a real and devastating problem since the 1970s, for which they have often been criticized by conservatives on the political right.

Yet, this particular case has created a battle cry for right-wing voters. The topic even went trending on Twitter after President Trump’s White House press secretary Sean Spicer was asked about it during a press briefing.

https://twitter.com/michellerj1019/status/844553855916560384

In case anyone was thinking that folks on the political right were finally beginning to grasp the very real issue of rape and its devastating impact, that isn’t what’s happening here. The teenage boys who raped this poor young girl happened to be undocumented immigrants who attended her same high school.

Now, suddenly, Trump’s voters are deeply concerned about rape, but only rape committed by undocumented immigrants. There’s no outcry for sexual violence prevention laws or education, just a whole lot of loud support for President Trump’s campaign rhetoric around border walls and “bad hombres.”

Let’s be totally clear here: liberals and feminists are not somehow okay with rape as long as the perpetrator is an immigrant. No one is excusing this particular instance of rape because we also support treating undocumented immigrants like human beings.

We simply know that rape is not, nor has it ever been, an immigration problem. It is a social problem that affects people of all genders, all races, and all nationalities. Period.

Politicizing the assault of a young girl to make a point about undocumented immigrants does not help anyone. It makes no point about the absolute outrage of rape; in fact, it ignores the impact of rape in an even more infuriating way than not addressing it at all or endlessly criticizing the anti-rape efforts as hysterical and nothing more than an attempt to “victimize women.”

Demonizing brown people is not the answer here. What is needed, what has always been needed and fought for by those of us who have been trying to raise awareness around it for decades, are real efforts to educate the community on the culture of rape in our own country, questions about the underwhelming funding for rape crisis programs so necessary in every community, and conversations about what rape is, what its effects are, and the best ways to address it.

Those of us who have always supported those efforts would be happy to welcome the political right to the table to discuss real answers.

What we cannot do is continue to pretend that rape is a crime that only certain types of people commit. We cannot politicize this tragedy to support our own political goals. That does not help the 14-year-old girl who was raped in Rockville, Maryland, and it won’t help or protect other 14-year-olds, or anyone else, from becoming victims.

If this rape angers people, good. It should. All instances of rape and sexual assault should outrage everyone.

Now, finally, let’s talk about it.

Featured image via Daily Mail