Reflections on the Duke Lacrosse rape case

Published Jan 13, 2007 7:33 AM

Following are excerpts.

On Dec. 22, Durham County, N.C., District Attorney Michael B. Nifong dropped the first degree rape charges against all three Duke lacrosse players. As of this writing, the kidnapping and sexual abuse charges against Dave Evans, Colin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann are still pending. According to the corporate media—including a recent editorial in the Washington Post—the remaining charges should also be dropped.

Meanwhile, the needs of the survivor are completely invisibilized and ignored.

Rape is a crime against humanity that violates and dehumanizes a person in the most invasive way imaginable. But rape is also a tool of sociopolitical dominance, and it is a main weapon in the arsenal of white male capitalist supremacy. Rape was and still remains a key component of genocidal imperialist campaigns across the globe. Imperialists understand very well the old dictum that once you have destroyed a nation’s women, you have subjugated that nation.

The concept of criminal law in the United States is based on capitalist property rights. This property concept includes interactions between individuals; in fact, all relations between people in U.S. society are commodified. Traditionally, women under capitalist law were defined as a man’s property, and the property rights over a woman were passed from her father to her husband upon marriage. Therefore, any injury upon the body of a woman was seen not as a violation of the woman’s bodily integrity, but as a breach of the man’s property rights. Even as women have fought for and won basic citizenship rights over the past two centuries, this basic ideological concept of rape as a breach of men’s property rights still stands.

This property concept forms the very basis of white supremacy in this country. Slavery as a system held Black bodies to be the property of white men, to be used for whatever purposes those men deemed fit. Male and female slaves were purposefully used as sexual and reproductive tools by slave-owners, in order to perpetuate and maintain white male wealth. Female slaves in particular were raped to ensure their total compliance to the master’s domination and will, and the children who were fathered as a result of these rapes legally assumed the class status of the slave mother, ensuring yet another generation of productive slave laborers. In short, it was a win-win situation for the slave-master.

From the beginning of the [Duke] case in March 2006, the corporate-owned media has sensationalized every detail of this case, while making no pretense at reporting the facts or informing the public.

Supporters of the three defendants profess an unerring faith in the criminal justice system, especially the supposed American principle of “innocent until proven guilty.”

When we are discussing sexual violence, or any issue of systemic power in society, it is imperative that we examine and question the conventional narratives that we have all been taught throughout our lives.

Yolanda Carrington
Raleigh, N.C.

The writer is a member of Raleigh FIST-Fight Imperialism, Stand Together-youth group.

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