[Trigger warning: discussion of rape, rape imagery, and victimization.]
Ahh, the editor’s note. Cure for all that ails you, the antidote to any poison. Except when it’s not.
On Wednesday, Jezebel.com posted screenshots of a woman being raped. They posted screenshots of a woman being raped.
They didn’t post the video, because the video had been removed from the Internet. Luckily for everybody, though, Jezebel had screenshots from the video, so even as the victim may have been feeling relief that it had been wiped from the Internet, hey! Jezebel still has screenshots. Like a white knight on a trusty steed, raping and raping and raping and raping and raping the victim with every pageview.
The commentariat was, thankfully, incensed: “As far as I am concerned they have raped her a second time”; “Seriously what the fucking fuck. Maybe I should have been better warned from the article title but jesus christ. Now I need to go drink a bottle of whiskey in the shower. Exploitative goddamn voyeuristic bullshit”; “I will say that rule #1 in dealing with a survivor of any trauma is to not retraumatize them – to respect them and their choices. So unless and until you can prove to me that the woman in this video gave you her blessing to post this exactly as you did, fuck you all.”
And because Jezebel is a responsible website, the editors… apologized? Explained? Justified? Justified their action in a short and sour editor’s note.
Justified like so many men justify rape: she was dressed like a whore, she was drunk, she went out to a bar alone. Or like a woman who beats her child: he was asking for it, he makes me so mad I can’t control myself. Or anybody who wants to believe that it’s okay to be a perpetrator, that it’s okay to use your power to victimize the weak.
We have since added additional pixelation to all of the images, including those of the attackers. This post is ultimately about the existence of a video, thus the images ARE the story – without them, there’s nothing. To remove them would be, in effect, to un-report the story. Which is not going to happen. -JC
Right. The images ARE the story. To take them out would be to un-report the story, and would be morally wrong. Because readers surely can’t be trusted to understand the horror of rape just by reading the words. Just like it is impossible to understand a story on child pornography without reposting the offensive images and then narrating each one in detail. Bull fucking shit.
I don’t need to see a picture of Rihanna’s black eye to understand domestic violence (oh, how Jezebel has changed), and I don’t need to watch a woman be raped in order to know the story.
Trust me, I understood what happened without watching the video or seeing the unpixelated shots (which were apparently left up for over a day, identifying features and all. Awesome.). Contrary to the editor’s belief, the story is not the play-by-play. The story is the horrendous re-violation of a rape victim through a publicly available video. A heinous crime became exponentially worse because the victim was not just raped but, in essence, she was publicly raped. The posting of the video took the violations to a whole new level.
So Jezebel got one thing right: the posting of the video is the story – a story that Jezebel became a part of. Instead of being reporters, though, they are on the same team as the rapist. They are complicit in the crime.
Jezebel’s post opens with a few questions; who raped her, who posted it on the Internet, and will she ever get justice? The first question remains unanswered. As to “who posted it on the Internet,” that award goes to Jezebel.com, and “will she ever get justice” – I sure hope so, and I sure hope that Jezebel feels some of the wrath. The post itself is disgusting, but the editor’s note, the non-apology justification, makes my stomach turn.
Apparently, if you want Jezebel to be a co-conspirator to your crime, you just have to promise them pageviews.