Woman Gang Raped in Homophobic Hate Crime

by Cara on December 23, 2008

in bigotry, homophobia, LGBTQ, misogyny, patriarchy, rape and sexual assault, violence against women and girls

Trigger Warning

Having just yesterday discussed the ways in which many depictions of rape uphold the violent act as an appropriate punishment for women who behave outside of patriarchal expectations, I couldn’t not post this story (h/t).

A woman in the San Francisco Bay area was jumped by four men, taunted for being a lesbian, repeatedly raped and left naked outside an abandoned apartment building, authorities said Monday.

Detectives say the 28-year-old victim was attacked Dec. 13 after she got out of her car, which bore a rainbow gay pride sticker. The men, who ranged from their late teens to their 30s, made comments indicating they knew her sexual orientation, said Richmond police Lt. Mark Gagan.

“It just pushes it beyond fathomable,” he said. “The level of trauma — physical and emotional — this victim has suffered is extreme.”

Authorities are characterizing the attack as a hate crime but declined to reveal why they think the woman was singled out because of her sexual orientation. Gagan would say only that the victim lived openly with a female partner and had a rainbow flag sticker on her car.

I imagine that few would openly condone this attack and say that because the woman is a lesbian, she deserved to be raped. But clearly enough people do feel that way, enough for the crime to have been committed. This violence was enacted as an act of hate not just against an individual — which is far more than enough — but specifically against an entire community for the purpose of instilling fear (which is what makes it a hate crime).  It was committed against this victim because she is a lesbian, and therefore didn’t live up to our society’s bogus standards of womanhood which involve being perpetually sexually available to men.  And rape was the weapon of choice because it is seen as an appropriate way of punishing women.

How funny is Rapeman, now?

The story adds:

Gay rights advocates note that hate crimes based on sexual orientation have increased nationwide as of late. There were 1,415 such crimes in 2006 and 1,460 in 2007, both times making up about 16 percent of the total, according to the FBI.

Avy Skolnik, a coordinator with the New York-based National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, noted that gay, lesbian and transgender crime victims may be more reluctant than heterosexual victims to contact police.

“Assailants target LGBT people of all gender identities with sexual assault,” he said. “Such targeting is one of the most cruel, dehumanizing and violent forms of hate violence that our communities experience.”

Skolnik said the group plans to analyze hate crime data to see whether fluctuations may be related to the gay marriage bans that appeared on ballots this year in California, Arizona and Florida.

“Anytime there is an anti-LGBT initiative, we tend to see spikes both in the numbers and the severity of attacks,” he said. “People feel this extra entitlement to act out their prejudice.”

I bet that those who promote anti-LGBT initiatives are among the vast majority of people unlikely to openly condone this crime.  (Just more likely to argue that hate crimes don’t deserve “special” recognition.) But their behavior and actions create the social climate in which it can occur.  And it needs to end.

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{ 8 comments }

1 Renee December 23, 2008 at 5:40 pm

One of my readers sent me a link to this story this morning. I was simply unable to post about it. The intersections between being a lesbian and patriarchy’s assertion that it has the right to all bodies of women deeply troubled me.

I found myself thinking over and over again how can people possibly think that rape is about sex? This was clearly done to express power. It was done to show women that we do not have the right to control our bodies. It was done to demean us and put us all in our place.

I found this haunting and heartbreaking on so many levels. I just did not know what to do with it.

2 Paul December 23, 2008 at 10:05 pm

Horrible and like Renee said, haunting and heartbreaking

3 jovan byars December 24, 2008 at 6:44 am

Right on, Cara. These homophobic zealots that banned LGBT marriage in some 29 states always stay silent whenever something like that happens.

How many editorials have been done in the New York Post or the Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle that condemns these kinds of gang rapes on lesbians? Answer: zero.

How many Catholic or Christian churches that support bans on LGBT marriage have come out and condemned hate crimes against LGBT people? This answer is really easy: zero.

These four savages should be locked up for the rest of their lives for what they did to this woman — no questions asked.

4 Paul December 24, 2008 at 11:14 am

Jovan:

I agree that it’s utterly shameful. How hateful can these people get? I’m not religious but I thought the great message of Christianity was love thy neighbour?

Lucky for them there isn’t a hell because otherwise this nasty bigoted movement would all be headed there.

There must be so many decent citizens and churchgoers who are ashamed of their fellow countrymen who spit this poison.

5 Genevieve December 25, 2008 at 10:27 pm

This infuriates me. And like Paul and Jovan said–no, those Christian conservatives will never step into help lesbians who are raped–because it suits them to have a class of marginalized queer women who they can throw their bigotry on, and to have one set standards of acceptable behavior for women–white, straight, feminine, and Christian–no lesbians allowed.

Anger.

6 Paul December 26, 2008 at 1:20 am

Gennie:

I feel just as angry as you about this

This person wasn’t the first to be raped because of homophobes and she will not be the last sadly

I am an atheist so I cannot pray for a better future but I will hope for one

7 Pizza Diavola December 28, 2008 at 8:35 pm

Hi Cara – planetransgender, Fight The Hate H8, Join The Impact, Civilrightsfront, and Dallas Transgender Advocates and Allies are supporting a donation & card drive for the victim.

8 Cara December 28, 2008 at 8:37 pm

Thanks for the info, Pizza Diavola! I’ll put up a quick post tomorrow.

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