I can tell you first hand, that rape is a terrible violation of not only the body but the soul. Even though rape is ultimately an act of power that manifests sexually, society still uses rape against women as a weapon to control our behaviour. Have a little too much to drink one night, wear a short skirt or a revealing top, and for many this is an invitation to be violated. Rape is no respecter of age, class, ability or sexuality. It can happen to anyone at anytime. All that need happen for someone to be violated, is to be alone in the room with a rapist. This is an absolute fact and yet we socially express shock when an elderly woman is raped. Like many myths we function with, there is a false belief that we respect the senior population and yet they are subject to much abuse, infantilization, exploitation and oppression. Anyone that we view as marginalized in this culture is always vulnerable, because we privilege dominant bodies – we privilege the strong.
When we learn that a senior woman has been raped, we don’t stop to question where she was, what she was doing, or even what she was wearing, because we assume the rapist to be scurrilous. This attitude needs to extend to every single incident of rape. The victim is never responsible for the actions of hir rapist. Let me say that again because it bears repetition, the victim is never responsible for the action of hir rapist.
In Detroit a 90 year old woman was recently raped in her own home.
Grandson- Gordon Mosley:
She’s a 90 year old woman. She tried to fight them off, but how much fighting is she going to do? I called her, she didn’t answer the phone. I walked in and she wasn’t where she normally is. (note: she was pinned behind her bed). She woke up with one of them on top of her and she tried to fight them off, but she is 90 years old. What else could she do? You see they raped her. They have got to be the scum of the earth and they better hope that the police find them before we do. That’s with everything in me.
This story has very specific elements that caused the media to pay attention– first of course being the age of the victim and the second, the fact that this was a case of stranger rape. Even though acquaintance rape is far more prevalent, the media still loves to fixate on the idea of men jumping out of bushes to attack women, to encourage us to lead lives filled with fear. It is much easier to control someone if they are afraid. For the media, this incident serves the larger purpose of controlling women, even though the report itself appears sympathetic. Let’s consider that we are talking about an elderly Black women, a group which the media has most definitely ignored. They are erased in everyday coverage unless some form of benefit can be made — and so when we view this story, it is very important to think about who gains and how. FOX news in particular has a very specific history of denigrating Black womanhood. As tragic and painful as it is to learn about this violation, we must ask ourselves why we are we hearing about it, when the media ignores Black women unless they are calling us ugly, angry and aggressive.
The other point I would like to raise with this video, is that it will not go viral. A few weeks ago, Antoine Dobson saved his sister from being assaulted in their home. He quickly became an internet sensation, which spawned his own site, t-shirts, and a ringtone. This story was never about the attempted assault against his sister, it was always about holding a queer man up to be laughed at and ridiculed. Gordon Mosley was definitely terribly hurt by his grandmothers assault, at one point walking away from the camera, in what appeared to be tears. Since Mosley presented as a straight cis-gendered man, the media was forced to focus on what actually happened instead of him. This story will not go viral. As shocking as what happened is, people want to be entertained and it is only when they can obscure the crime of rape, to instead focus on something else — or as in the case of Dobson homophobia — will society pay attention. Mosley will not be getting a ring tone or a t-shirt line specifically because we have normalized certain bodies.
How we view rape changes from situation to situation. If we have the opportunity to obscure it, we most definitely will. It will only be the focus when we can push the idea of fake social morals — such as highlighting our supposed concern for the elderly now that a 90 year old woman has been raped, or we can use it as a tool to control woman’s body. This is specifically why those of us who have survived this terrible violation must speak out, if we have the strength to do so. As long as the media and patriarchy control this narrative, they will forever spin this in a way that benefits them, rather than demonizing the rapist or supporting the survivor. What happened to this woman was horrific and anyone who has been violated deserves to have this acknowledged without reservation or questions. Rape is about power and violence, no matter how many different ways the media chooses to obscure this fact.