I have been following the story of a Mexican child, who was impregnated allegedly by her step-father at the age of ten (the pregnancy isn’t alleged, but her step-father has not been convicted.) The story struck me for various reasons. Today, it wasn’t the abused child’s story that made my blood boil, but Fox News’ use of scare quotes.
The headline regarding the child’s choice to continue her pregnancy to term reads, “11-Year-Old Mexican ‘Rape’ Victim Wants to Keep Baby.” Do you see anything wrong with this picture?
“Rape”? Really, Fox? “Rape”?
I take no issue with the lede, reading that the child was “allegedly raped by her step-father.” Unless the man has been convicted, he is due his benefit of the doubt. However, there is no doubt that this child was raped.
The age of consent in her state of Quintana Roo is 12. The Mexican Federal Code is explicit that any sort of sex with a child under the age of 12, whether or not it is committed in an act of violence, is rape. Thus and so, a child who is coerced into thinking that he or she is consenting is still protected by the law.
So why the scare quotes?
The article goes on to use some very purple language to describe reports about women’s rights groups as detailed by pro-life activists, having no issue with wording their story to a clear bias. Again, really, Fox? That’s like using Jennifer Anniston as your source on the legitimacy of Angelina Jolie’s relationship with Brad Pitt, or using Sarah Palin as your source on the wisdom of electing Barack Obama to the presidency. In other words, Fox, stupid, bad, unbalanced reporting.
But, since they obviously have no issue with inflamatory sneering, why not just go ahead and call out the child as having been raped? Her age precludes her ability to consent, and her pregnancy precludes any question of whether or not she was used sexually… Why the scare quotes?
Is it because this is a little Mexican girl? I don’t recall Fox treating Elizabeth Smart or Jaycee Duggard as willing participants in their rapes. Is it because this little girl isn’t blonde and blue-eyed?
I sent them a letter asking. I doubt I will get any real answer.
But I am incensed as a mother. How does a news organization choose to cast doubt and suspicion on a child who probably still has baby teeth? Those quote marks suggest, imply, and raise an eyebrow at abuse. “Oh really, little Mexican girl?” They seem to sneer, “You were ‘raped’? Mmhmm. Sure you were.”
As a woman who was raped, I am enraged. How dare they? How dare they?! It’s hard enough to deal with that violation as an adult, and hard enough to deal with the raised eyebrows you get as a grown woman having to navigate what the world calls the gray-area. It’s hard enough having to deal with the Whoopi Goldbergs questioning whether you were raped or rape-raped? But to cast doubt on the legitimacy of whether or not a ten-year-old child was raped? That is unethical. No. That is immoral. That gives the pedophile a foothold. It is disgusting and shameful, nasty and self-righteous.
So I am sitting here, shaking my tiny fist at Fox with a strongly worded email to their news manager. I’ll probably get a canned response thanking me for giving them site hits. Actually… You know what? I just dropped the link. I do think you should search for it in order to assure yourselves that I didn’t make it up, but I’m not going to give them a link from my blog.
No hits for you!