This past week I decided to give Netflix’s new documentary, Audrie & Daisy a try. Especially pertinent following the increase of attention in the media revolving around rape and sexual assault, the documentary expands upon these issues by focusing on two victims. Although the media tends to focus its attention largely on rape within the college environment (check out The Hunting Ground, if you haven't already,) the documentary instead focuses on rape in the high school environment. If you are interested in the topic, or want more information, I highly recommend Audrie & Daisy. The documentary opens with the case of Audrie, 16, who was sexually assaulted at a party by a group of boys. Upstairs at the party, the boys made her unconscious state a game of drawing all over her body, leaving no area unexposed. They video taped the incident, and took turns assaulting her while she lay half conscious on the ground. Audrie was simply another game for the boys, and her body was an object to manipulate and draw all over. Aside from the legal offense of distribution of child pornography (she was under 18,) this likewise points to an even bigger issue of objectification. Audrie, unable to cope with her assault and the coinciding damage to both her emotional state and reputation, took her own life.
The documentary continued with the second victim, Daisy, who was only 14 when she was assaulted. Daisy’s story, though both are equal in severity, made my blood boil. In both scenarios, the girls were heavily intoxicated, and this proved a detail that, in some eyes, weakened their cries of assault. Of course, as most of us understand, whether one is drunk or sober, no always means no. On the same note, to clear up any confusion, having sex with or sexually assaulting someone who can’t keep their eyes open isn’t consensual either. However, within Daisy’s small town of Maryville, Missouri, where football rules the town, and everyone knows everyone, Daisy’s police report backfired. Most infuriating is the fact that the Maryville Sheriff, Darren White, defended the boys. When discussing the case, White said, “Everybody wants to throw the term rape out there, it’s very popular.” Not only is this belittling Daisy, but likewise dilutes the crucial issue of rape. Just as I was bracing myself to punch the computer screen, he continued shortly after stating that the boys involved are moving forward with their lives, insinuating that Daisy should do the same. Moreover, he posited that one of the “fatal flaws” of our society is the tendency to blame boys, and that girls are likewise capable of crimes. Of course we know that females are capable of committing crimes as well, but this was a laughable objection. Daisy’s house was burned to the ground later that year, and when she lost the cause to her rapist, Twitter exploded with hate geared towards Daisy.
If there’s one thing I hope this documentary brings to the table is the effect of the crimes on the victims and not on those responsible. It’s no wonder that many victims opt out of reporting cases of rape. Audrie’s life became one that she no longer wanted, and Daisy attempted suicide multiple times. Blaming the victim is not only wrong, but it’s backwards. The opinions of Sheriff White of Maryville are exactly what we need to reform. Similarly, with the influx of technology, it also brings to light the dangers of sending pornographic photos underage. Taking or requesting pornographic photos of someone under 18 can land you in the slammer, and so can assaulting someone sober or unconscious. So please, for the love of God, think before you act, and remember, a girl who is assaulted or raped isn’t a slut. She’s a victim…and I still don’t understand why that’s so difficult to understand.