Thursday, September 25, 2014

Hannah Graham

The horrible story of Hannah Graham took an ominous turn this morning with the arrest of a suspect in Galveston, Texas. The UVA girl is still missing. It doesn’t look good.

I have watched this sad story play itself out on the news and on social media over the past couple of weeks. As a father who nervously sent his daughter 7 hours away to attend college, I know a little of the anguish Ms. Graham’s parents must be feeling at this moment. But in my case, the anguish lasted only a few minutes after I received a telephone call from an Ohio State Trooper informing me that he was with my daughter at the hospital after she had slid off the road and crashed into a guard rail off of highway 35. My heart nearly leapt out of my chest, all the air rushed out of my lungs until the moment he told me that she was unhurt and that his call was merely to verify her ownership of the vehicle. I only had to endure 90 seconds of terror. I simply cannot imagine what Hannah Graham’s parents have endured for over two weeks now.

Unfortunately, I have seen more than once an opinion expressed by people on Facebook which I think is quite disturbing. It goes something like this, “Well, it’s horrible what happened to that girl, but, for goodness sakes, any 19 year old girl dressed like a slut who gets herself all liquored up is asking for trouble.”

Where to begin?

First, it is a fact that getting drunk impairs our ability to make clear judgments, getting stumbling around drunk, even more so. It is also true that how we dress does communicate to others what we expect from an evening out. Human beings generally dress in black when in mourning, we wear sports jerseys to signify allegiance to our favorite team, and when women want to be noticed by men, generally they dress accordingly, and I for one am so glad that they do. However, was in fact Hannah Graham asking for it when she got drunk and dressed in a skimpy top? To answer yes to this questions assumes several terrible things about men and women. It paints men as knuckle dragging apes unable to control sexual urges at the mere sight of cleavage. It serves to tacitly justify criminal assault based solely on visual stimulus. It also assumes that every girl who steps out in a low neck sweater does so because she wants to be attacked by a total stranger. My experience with women, even the ones back in my college days taught me that tons of 19 year old girls LOVE to flirt, but I never met one who longed to be sexually assaulted. To equate one with the other is insulting.
As far as the drinking goes, there is little doubt that if Ms. Graham had not been drunk, she would have made better decisions that fateful night. Still, a girl who gets drunk does not forfeit her rights as a human being not to be molested. I know of no legal defense for rape that starts with, “she was drunk, so…” Furthermore, all of these accusations of drunkenness and slutty attire tend to take the focus of what really happened that night which is that a girl, someone’s precious child, in all probability got abducted, raped and probably murdered by some lunatic. Let’s save our rage and indignation for the perpetrator, shall we?