Republican-American blames rape victims' parents, calls rape a 'tryst'

Republican-American | Connecticut Newsroom

A (Waterbury, Conn.) Republican-American editorial looks to spread the blame for rape around a little bit:

Unfortunately, it's considered bad form in today's social climate to "blame the victim" or even acknowledge the degree to which her actions put her in harm's way. ... Certainly, young girls cannot be held to account for responding to signals from the dominant culture that it's OK to be sexually provocative, especially if they're receiving insufficient countervailing guidance at home or in school.

But boys and young men get the same message and respond predictably.

The editorial responds to a sexual assault case that's roiled northwestern Connecticut this spring in which an alleged victim was bullied online. "The newspaper could have saved some space," Journal Register Company editor Matt DeRienzo writes:

One of the students who bullied the victims following their alleged rapists’ arrest in February summed up the point they are trying to make in the editorial with this tweet: “Young girls acting like whores there’s no punishment for that men acting like boys is a sentence.”

DeRienzo oversees papers that compete with the Republican-American, a fact he acknowledged as he dinged the paper for referring to the incident as a "Tryst," something it later corrected online. "The use of the word 'tryst' in the headline was not the best choice, and it has been removed from the online version because of the implications that word carries," Litchfield County Editor Anne Karolyi wrote in a comment on the piece.

Both the Republican-American and the JRC-owned Register Citizen used the word "scandal" to describe the case, and DeRienzo accepted criticism of that from Lauren Wolfe, who directs the Women’s Media Center’s Women Under Siege project. "I guess I’m mainly weighing in here to urge all of us to be more careful, more accurate, in how we write about rape," he writes.

Related: Why asking & answering readers’ tough questions is helpful when covering rape

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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