Sunday, September 22, 2013

Media Moment: "Granting Rapists Custody Rights"

photo via flickr.

Recently, multimedia platform and publication VICE, which prides itself on its investigative journalism, published a piece titled, "Massachusetts Might Force a Woman to Share Parental Rights with the Rapist Who Impregnated Her." The article touches on a case where a man at age 20, raped and impregnated a, then, 14 year old girl. "Convicted of rape and sentenced to 16 years probation" and court-ordered to pay child support, this criminal is now fighting for visitation rights. In response, the mother of the illegitimate child is battling to prevent this from happening.

However, "Massachusetts is merely one of 31 states that do not have laws precluding men from seeking custody for children born as a result of rape." In a world where statistics revealed from "Centers for Disease Control & Prevention report[ing] that one in six women in the United States have experienced an attempted rape or rape, and [where] rape has been called the most underreported violent crime in America," are women's rights not held to a higher authority as rights that apply to the general public-- or, less gender-specific, applying to all of mankind?

Should rapists be given the privilege to become a father to their unintended child?

I chose to post this because it reminded me of the rape "joke" Daniel Tosh had directed towards a female audience member at one of his comedy shows last year. When the woman retaliated to the request of a rape joke to be performed by Tosh via another member of the audience, Tosh had blatantly posed the question, "Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, 5 guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her..." (via the Huffington Post, 7/2012).

Are men held less accountable for their actions? Daniel Tosh remains in show business, successfully at that, even after his telling of rape jokes on more than this particular occasion referenced above. Was Tosh trying to assert his power as a man over the female "heckler?" Laughing along only condones the oppression of women with sexual violence. Because it is told in a "comedic" setting, does this allow comedians a free pass to bring humor to all serious issues? Can "rape" be less offensive (to men, but more offensive to women) when used as a punchline because it is to this day an unresolved, yet widely unpunished and seemingly forgiven crime? Do these jokes about violent, sexual assaults and going unpunished give less weight to the crime, making it seem less harmful by society? Therefore, when a woman is actually raped like that of in the Massachusetts based article, do jokes have a subconscious effect on society; letting a man who had no intention of fathering a child with the woman he assaulted and victimized now be granted a privilege of joint custody instead of being punished?

Further readings: Here is the account of the girl who was the target of the Daniel Tosh gang rape "joke."

No comments:

Post a Comment