Wow, it’s been a really awful week in woman news, right? Obviously there’s the case in Cleveland that has just been the worst. On top of that, the Pentagon study on sexual assault in the military seems to have finally brought some attention to an issue that’s been widely discussed in feminist circles. These two stories have dominated the news cycle; cable news has particularly been obsessed with Cleveland. Charles Ramsey has been lauded as a hero, rightly so, and Castro is becoming the embodiment of evil, which seems pretty accurate to me. Hearing and reading about Cleveland and the Pentagon nearly non-stop all week highlights some of the major problems in our country when it comes to domestic and sexual violence against women – it’s pervasive to the point of commonness and we only care when it’s particularly gruesome.
When the Cleveland story broke, after the initial “Ho. Ly. Crap.” reaction, I felt an air of familiarity. The kidnapped, kept in captivity, sex slave/torture victim is a pretty common story line. I know I’ve read books by authors such as James Patterson and John Sanford, I’ve seen it on shows like Criminal Minds and Law & Order: SVU. We’ve seen it in real life as well – Elizabeth Smart, Jaycee Dugard; the more you think about it, the more you realize it’s everywhere. I’m not pointing this out to reduce the experiences of the women in Cleveland. I am saying these types of things happen, get sensationalized by the news media, get retold by our entertainment media over and over until it is a part of our culture. Abduction, rape and torture – our fascination teeters on, and often falls over, the line of decency.