Sunday, April 02, 2006

Jill Carroll backlash and the denial of violence against women

It didn't take long after the news of Jill Carroll's release for some pundits to begin questioning Ms. Carroll's behavior, sometimes to the point of asserting that her kidnapping was a hoax.

But what does a kidnapping in Iraq have to do with violence against women in America?


The underlying attitudes that harm so many rape and abuse victims came rushing to the surface in the last few days. Only this time I believe that the truth will win out over the screams that Ms. Carroll is just another woman making a false accusation.

First, let's look at the evidence that was used against Ms. Carroll?

1) Her unvictimlike behavior at the time of her release. According to these experts women who are real victims can't be strong at the end of their ordeal. Her critics wanted trembling and weakness (the inability to walk would have been even better) and they judged Ms. Carroll for not meeting their standard of female victimhood.

2) Her statements in a videotaped "interview" made before she was in the hands of Americans and sure she was truly free and safe. Real victims should never do what their assailants tell them to do even if the woman is trying her best to get home alive. Good victims would rather be dead than say or do what they need to in order to reach safety.

3) Her clothing. She didn't dress like a good American. Do I even have to go into how loony this is on the part of Ms. Carroll's critics?

4) Her history. In this case it seems like her decision to learn the language spoken by her kidnappers cast doubt on her ability to be a true victim. Apparently, you can't be a kidnapped American if we think you can relate to your attackers in any way. Women who are real victims don't do anything that increases their risk of being attacked (like go outside or talk to strangers) or do anything that we don't sympathize with.

The truth is that those who were most manipulated by the kidnappers in the last few days are those who attacked Ms. Carroll's character. If you bashed Ms. Carroll you let yourself be controlled by terrorists. Ms. Carroll had guns pointed at her and saw a friend murdered, what's your excuse?

If you are quick to bash women who make accusations against men and label them as the real criminals, you are being controlled with the very same techniques. Rapists and abusers are depending on you to keep the damage going long after they lose physical control over their victims.

Here's an offer of apology that typifies what women hear when the backlash against them can't be supported with evidence:

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:40 AM   2 comments links to this post


At April 03, 2006 1:40 PM, Blogger Txfeminist said...

perfect comparison. that's so true.

At April 03, 2006 8:56 PM, Blogger Marcella Chester said...


It was bizarre to hear the same wild speculation in a case that had nothing to do with rape allegations.


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