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Indybay Feature

The Horror of the Richmond Gang Rape . . . And Making the Connections

by via Revolution
Saturday night, October 24. A 15-year-old woman goes to a homecoming dance in Richmond, California. It should be a time for her to cut loose, have fun, and enjoy the company of friends. Her girlfriend said she was looking forward to it for weeks. “When we walked in the dance together she said, ‘I can’t wait to get my dance on!’” In any sane society, the worst fear on her mind should be a bit of teenage awkwardness.
But an occasion that should have been joyous turns quickly into a horrific nightmare. A male “friend” invites her to hang out with a group behind the school. There, for more than two hours, she is beaten and raped by more than 10 men. In the course of this assault, her attackers violate her with what has been reported to be a “foreign object.”

As the young woman’s humanity is viciously and violently robbed from her, a crowd gathers—not to interfere and stop this crime against humanity—but to laugh and take cell phone pictures.

By the time somebody finally comes to the young woman’s aid, she has been left semi-conscious underneath a bench. She is air-lifted by helicopter to the hospital, in critical condition.

To everyone reading this: Stop for a minute. Close your eyes—actually do it—and try to imagine what this young woman went through. Actually imagine the indescribable physical pain, the mental and emotional torture, she was forced to endure. Imagine her desperation and terror as she hoped with every fiber in her being that somebody—anybody—would come and save her from this nightmare. Imagine the humiliation of knowing that a crowd of people was gathering around to enjoy the “spectacle” of your destruction, taking photographs. Imagine hearing the taunting laughter of your attackers and the gathered crowd.

After imagining all this, open your eyes again. Reflect on this fact: many people in our society, in the wake of this brutal gang rape, are actually saying the young woman asked for this—that she brought it upon herself. That she shouldn’t have been out alone.

Now, ask yourself these questions: What human being on this planet would ever wish such a horror upon themselves? And what kind of society are we living in if a young woman cannot go to a school dance or hang out by herself without fear of being subjected to the most brutal crimes imaginable?

Think about it: if somebody is attacked because of their race, sexual orientation or ethnicity, this is classified (by any decent person at least) as a hate crime—and it absolutely should be classified that way. Yet somehow, the most horrific crime can be committed against a woman and it is either labeled as her fault or laughed off as “boys being boys.”

Enough! What happened to this young woman is a hate crime and a crime against humanity. But it is not enough to leave it there. Hard questions have to be asked about a society where this kind of thing goes on—and not just in this one instance either, but in every city, suburb and small town of this country.
Connections

Let’s ask ourselves: is there a connection between what happened behind a high school dance in Richmond and a multi-billion-dollar pornography industry—one that purveys images of increasing violence, cruelty and inhumanity and whose largest single audience is men under 20? Is there a connection between what happened in the dirt and leaves on a dark night in California and a society in which virtually every religion divides the female half of humanity into madonnas and whores—and which all devalue women in relation to men? Is there a connection between the horror behind the gym and a culture where young women are pressured to market themselves as sexual objects and to see their self-worth in this light and where those young women who are curious about sex are derided and defamed as sluts—while guys who see women as so many conquests to notch upon their belts are celebrated as studs? Where the media seize with glee on every mishap or misstep in the life of a Britney Spears or a Whitney Houston or a Lindsay Lohan to engage in shaming rituals that are as barbaric as they are high-tech, mercilessly spreading images of these women when they are caught at their most vulnerable moments? Where the “guardians of morality” slam and slander those women who would control their reproduction as callous and selfish “baby-killers” and devalue those women who choose not to have children at all? Where one in three women who join the U.S. military will be sexually assaulted or raped by their “fellow soldiers,” as part of a broader horror. Where every day in America, more than 600 women are raped or sexually assaulted, and nothing serious is undertaken to stop this?

And more than that—is there a connection between all that and a system that feeds off that morality, that rears young men in it in the sports teams of high school, that reinforces it in its laws and political campaigns, that fosters it in its armed forces as a key part of conditioning its young male soldiers to kill without conscience, and that uses that morality and conditioning to sell us everything from the cars we drive to the beer we drink?

If there was nothing else wrong with this system than the horror of what happened in Richmond, California, with its deep roots and its twisted branches, then that alone would be more than enough reason for revolution!

And in fact it will take nothing short of fundamental social change—nothing short of a revolution—to stop this kind of horror.
False Paths… and a Real Answer

But this is not what is being raised, or even allowed onto the air, by the wise men and women of the media. They make a big show of deploring the rape, even as they seize on it to promote an agenda of even more repression, even more policing, even more surveillance. Let’s leave aside the fact that the very police they would have people rely on are notorious for exploiting and, yes, raping vulnerable women whom they happen upon.1 Just think about the fact that the places in society that are most “secured”—the prisons—are precisely the places where rape is most widespread. Is that what we—what you—really want? A society even more policified, even more resembling the prisons that have sprung up like mushrooms over the past three decades? A society where more repressive force—repressive force, mind you, that is directed and managed from the very ruling institutions that have not just allowed but encouraged the oppressive relations and ideas to fester and grow and strangle people in the first place—is the answer to everything?

For the mouthpieces running their stuff on cable TV—these very same people who whip up the mass media shaming rituals of prominent women described above, who do everything they can to turn the people into this society into a nation of paparazzi2 and lynch-mob spectators, who hush up these kinds of outrageous crimes when committed by their “security forces”—for these people to even speak on this question, let alone pontificate 24 hours a day on it, is the height of hypocrisy. They have no right to speak—and the alternatives they propose will succeed only in getting people caught deeper into the quicksand that is rapidly dragging everybody under.

Let’s talk about a real alternative.

Revolution—real revolution—has taken huge steps toward doing away with rape, as part of an entire orientation of overcoming the oppression of women—of truly enabling women to be full actors in society, free of tradition’s chains, and the violence that enforces those chains. Such a revolution sets about dismantling all the institutions, all the ways from the most societal to the most intimate, that hold women down, that humiliate and degrade and debase and violently—yes violently—suppress their very humanity. We have talked about that at length in “A Declaration: For Women’s Liberation and the Emancipation of All Humanity” we published last March. Getting into this Declaration—and getting it out—should be a high priority of anyone seriously agonizing over the gang rape in Richmond.

Even before revolution can be made we need to be about beginning to change this NOW, as part of showing people that a whole different way can be brought in… as part of raising people’s sights to what could be possible if we had power… and as part of giving heart and backing to those who do hate this kind of thing. This can only be done by people. People who are willing to take a stand when shit like this goes down… people who are coming from a different morality about relations between men and women and who challenge and stand up against the ugly shit wherever and whenever it manifests, from the horrific to the seemingly small… people who see everything they do as part of building a different culture and a different ethos, straight up against the dominant relations and ideas of society, and as part of bringing in a whole different world, and who do everything they can to live according to those ethics.

It is in the back-and-forth process of standing up against the crimes of the system, and of struggling with the people who live in and get caught up in that system’s values to rupture with that degradation—with both of those carried through as part of contributing to making revolution and bringing in a whole different way—that the groundwork for a real fundamental change in society can be laid.

If you are one of those people who are willing to stand up to the madness now… or if you want to be one of those people… then we need to talk.

“Women are not breeders. Women are not lesser beings. Women are not objects created for the sexual pleasure of men. Women are human beings capable of participating fully and equally in every realm of human endeavor. When women are held down, all of humanity is held back. Women must win liberation, and they can only be liberated through the revolutionary transformation of the world and the emancipation of all of humanity, and through being a powerful motive force in that revolution...

“When so few will dare, this declaration is calling for something unseen in generations: an uncompromising outpouring of women and men the world over who refuse to see women oppressed, beaten, imprisoned, insulted, raped, abused, harassed, exploited, murdered, spat upon, thrown acid at, groped, shamed and systematically diminished.”

Excerpt from “A Declaration: For Women’s Liberation and the Emancipation of All Humanity,” Revolution #158, March 8, 2009, available online at revcom.us and at Revolution Books stores around the country.

1. In one recent example, two NYPD cops were indicted this April on charges of raping an intoxicated woman who they had “escorted home.” nydailynews.com/news/ny_crime/2009/04/28/2009-04-28_nypd_cops_charged_in_rape_of_druken_woman_they_escorted_home.html. [back]

2. Parasitical photographers who specialize in catching celebrities in compromising moments. [back]
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Many of us are too old to wait for any revolution anymore. The teenagers of today do not have any time either. The striking Philadelphia bus drivers have shown the way: ON STRIKE! SHUT IT DOWN! AND if labor finally does that nationwide, then TAKE STATE POWER to put an end to the profit motive that is the cause of the oppression of women, war and the exploitation of the entire workingclass. See
http://www.twulocal234.com/moving.html

More immediately, the victim in this latest rape can and should sue the school as the school has no business sponsoring any dances on or off the premises of the school grounds as all they are is an invitation for trouble, everywhere, rich or poor schools. The rape occurred in an open picnic area, poorly lit, no fences, where the hoodlum gang stood around, looking for trouble, and the dance hall security did not bother to patrol that area, knowing full well it was filled with troublemakers. I understand this "homecoming" (What are they coming home from?) has something to do with the hoodlum football garbage. The football team at all schools from grade school through college is always a source of grief and should be abolished. It costs a fortune to maintain this war game which at the professional level is simply a profiteering gambling racket that has nothing to do with sports and it is a breeding ground for vicious anti-women attitudes to the point where lots of football players are found to be rapists. Should the school insist on promoting dances, they will have to require that the little darlings be accompanied by a parent or guardian TO AND FROM THE DOOR OF THE DANCE HALL. If they cannot enforce that requirement, then the stupid dances should be banned from school sponsorship. The victim was trying to get to a phone to call her father to pick her up. HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE TO TAKE HIS DAUGHTER HOME THAT NIGHT. WHAT WAS HE DOING FOR THE SHORT TIME THE DANCE OCCURRED? If the stupid parents want their little darlings to wiggle their behinds somewhere in the mating ritual called dances, they can pay for the dance hall at some hotel out of their own pocket.

The whole preoccupation with the garbage culture on the part of the parents is part of the anti-intellectualism of this backward, bankrupt society. It is the parents who are the first and most important teachers of the children. It is adults who are the biggest buyers of pornography. You will note that 400 students showed up at this nonsense, the other 1200 students had the good sense to avoid this anti-intellectual stupidity and invitation to trouble. To the parents: So you sow, so shall you reap.

For more, see
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/10/30/18627192.php?show_comments=1#18627294
by anti-psychotic meds
"I understand this "homecoming" (What are they coming home from?) has something to do with the hoodlum football garbage. The football team at all schools from grade school through college is always a source of grief and should be abolished. "

Are you insane? It wasn't the football team that did this, it was a gang. And here you are calling against any effective measures to curtail such gang behavior.

"Should the school insist on promoting dances, they will have to require that the little darlings be accompanied by a parent or guardian TO AND FROM THE DOOR OF THE DANCE HALL. "

-It is clear that you have contempt for the young and their parents as well. Revolutions are about the young! Hating on young people is a terrible basis for your so-called revolution and you should be embarrased by your anti-youth sentiments.

"If the stupid parents want their little darlings to wiggle their behinds somewhere in the mating ritual called dances, they can pay for the dance hall at some hotel out of their own pocket."

-Yes, let's leave it all to the free market! No school should ever sponsor an event anywhere at anytime. Then the working class will find true solidarity. What have you been smoking? Sounds like you tried to wiggle your behind at some party in the past, found no takers, and are still bitter about that. Pretty pathetic...

"If I can't dance at the revolution, I want no part of it".
-Emma Goldman
by !
The school is liable for everything that happens on the premises or, if they sponsor anything off the premises, then whatever they sponsor off the premises. That is why the school is right now doing what should have been done: Enclosing this picnic area in fences and putting up bright lights for night and cameras. The security guards at the dance should have also been in this area. One security guard opened his big mouth and said that this was a tragedy waiting to happen. See the Sunday, 11/1/09 SF Chronicle at
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/11/01/MNR41ACRGU.DTL
and as to the school's new security measures, see
Tuesday, 11/3/09 SF Chronicle at
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2009/11/03/national/a084728S63.DTL
Here is the so-called security that existed for 400 children:
"Harter said the homecoming dance featured 10 chaperones: Six site supervisors and four police officers were at the school gym to make sure the dance and nearby parking lots were safe. They thought things were going so well that two supervisors were allowed to leave early, Harter added."
THE ONLY RELIABLE SECURITY IS TO REQUIRE THE PARENT OR GUARDIAN GO TO AND FROM THE DOOR OF THE DANCE HALL WITH THE CHILD. And there should have been 200 adults for the 400 children. This is standard procedure among parents who are serious about parenting; I have witnessed this care among such parents and it works very well.

You will note that 1200 of the 1600 students at Richmond High chose to avoid this event, a smart choice given the lack of security.

The article also mentions there was praying at this dance party. This is of course a violation of the First Amendment church-state separation at a school sponsored event. Clearly, the praying did not do any good either. It takes people to save a life; the victim could easily have died if not discovered in time.

The school should be sued by the victim; she will need the money for her recovery and her education.

We know it was not the football team that perpetrated this crime but a homecoming dance is associated with the football culture; I did go to American schools and heard about this nonsense, but of course, I was too busy being an A student to have anything to do with this and the same is true of all the rest of us in the college prep program. We do know that some of the accused rapists were high school students. As the security guard said, this was a horror waiting to happen given the very minimal security provided.

The children need an education, and that is really clear from the STAR results for Richmond High School. I do not care for standardized tests but it is as good a measure as any. See
http://star.cde.ca.gov/star2009/ViewReport.asp?ps=true&lstTestYear=2009&lstTestType=C&lstCounty=07&lstDistrict=61796-000&lstSchool=0735902&lstGroup=1&lstSubGroup=1

About 75% or more, depending on the grade and subject, of the students are performing at basic or below basic (the latter is a nonsensical term; they are failing). By 11th grade, only 12% are proficient or advanced in English. Considering the schools do not teach much, if you are not at least at the proficient level, you need tutoring. Instead of spending money on entertainment (and in this society, there is more than enough entertainment, starting with the TV perpetually on in most American homes), the school should spend the money on individual tutoring for everyone who is not at least at the proficient level. THIS WHOLE EVENT IS A RINGING INDICTMENT OF THE GARBAGE SCHOOL SYSTEM.

You might be interested to know that in other countries, the following occurs: Biology, chemistry and physics along with algebra, geometry and trigonometry are taught in 6th, 7th and 8th grades. In Russia, after the destruction of the Soviet Union in 1991, they still teach the first foreign language at age 7 and the second at age 10, and all the schools have the same standard curriculum, regardless of the economic level of the parents. High school in most countries is when the students start to specialize as they have had their basic education.

And those of us who were A students learned in grade school that after the homework was done, we went to the library every week to pick up a pile of books to read as reading is the key to learning. We did not have time to sit in front of the TV or to be endlessly "entertained." By the time high school arrived, we often had 3 term papers per semester to write, involving lots of research at the library as there were no home computers before 1987 or so, and this writer typed term papers on a manual typewriter on erasable paper, using 3x5 cards for my bibliography, far more difficult than today's students have it. Our academic achievements were the best entertainment we could have as knowledge is power and of course, good education means the possibility of a good paycheck.

We live in a country with utter contempt for education and learning, totally preoccupied with entertainment, clothes, drugs, make-up, hair-dos, fingernails, body mutiliation and possible blood poisoning schemes called tattoing and sex to the point that it is clear the brains of too many are between their legs. Of course, the various anti-intellectual preoccupations are profitable and the primary goal of a capitalist society is maximization of profit.

Revolutions are about the entire workingclass freeing itself from the oppression and exploitation of the capitalist class, and for a revolution to occur, we must have organized labor strong enough to carry out a national general strike to take state power.

As to young people, the young are simply future workers in any society. They have absolutely no concept of the world, even as teenagers, and including teenagers who are serious students. In drug-ridden, crime-ridden backward USA, the parents must be on the job constantly. While the parents of my generation, those of us who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, had the excuse that the crime problem was not as great in their memory of their childhood of the 1920s and 1930s (and many still provided strict security, especially for their daughters), that is not true for today's parents. To illustrate the change: In the 1940s, one could walk through Golden Gate Park at night with no fear of attack. In the 1950s and early 1960s, one could leave one's door unlocked. Both of my workingclass parents worked and I never needed a key to open the front door after school as the door was not locked. With the flooding of this country with illegal drugs by the US capitalist class during the anti-Vietnam War and with the decline in jobs and purchasing power of the dollar due to lack of a labor movement, the crime increased, more doors were locked, and parents had to get serious about parenting, which means close supervision of their children until their 18th birthday (and that majority age changed from 21 to 18 in 1971). The parents of today were children in the 1980s and 1990s, a time of continued decline of this backward, bankrupt society, with no labor movement. The school district will have to require far more parent participation in all school events or simply abolish these events as their liability is on the line and they cannot afford the lawsuits.

As to the football team everywhere, it is a huge expense that no school can afford and it is a complete waste. The glorification of the football team is always at the expense of academics and that must end. Many schools have abolished the football team, and they certainly benefit from it. I can assure you the 40 students in each of my college prep classes had nothing to do with the football team or the rest of the rah-rah crowd. That was the pre-occupation of the anti-intellectual students who never showed up at the honor society awards ceremonies.

As to the anti-women comment from this drug fixated "anti-psychotic meds" that "Sounds like you tried to wiggle your behind at some party in the past, found no takers, and are still bitter about that. Pretty pathetic... ", your male chauvinism and your contempt for education stinks like rotten meat. Your obvious poor logic and your street talk writing, combined with your preoccupation with drugs, demonstrates your need to concentrate on academics. We have all been to parties, some of which seemed entertaining, but the one thing every single adult cherishes the most is the education we have. I learned at an early age from what I observed and heard happen to others at parties that all parties are best avoided as they are usually an invitation to trouble. That includes house parties as well as school parties. If there is no structured program, and no serious security, then there is certain to be grief. TRY LISTENING TO THOSE WHO HAVE LIVED LONG ENOUGH TO KNOW WHAT IS IMPORTANT. EDUCATION IS WHAT WE NEED; IT IS TIME TO END ALL PRIVATE GREED, namely the profit motive. For that, we need a labor movement.
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