News - Rape as party game
It's enough to make you want to holler
The recent rape of a 13-year-old girl with the mental capacity of an 8-year-old by some two dozen men and boys in Cobb County set off public soul-searching. How could the men have moved the child, mid-assault, from one apartment to another without anybody noticing? Why did the rapists videotape their own crimes? How depraved do you have to be to force sex on a handicapped child while other men stand around watching?
I can think of no better way to answer these questions than to defer to an authority, and Emory University just happens to employ someone who knows a great deal about gang-banging minors. In his 1994 memoir, Makes Me Wanna Holler, former AJC staffer turned journalism professor Nathan McCall recounts several gang rapes (or "trains") he participated in as an assailant.
"I was sitting at home, watching TV, when the telephone rang. 'Hello,' I said.
'Yo, Nate, this is Lep!'
'Yo, Lep, what's up?'
'We got one. She fat as a mother****! Got nice titties, too! We at Turkey Buzzard's crib. You better come on over and get in on it!'
'See you in a heartbeat.'"
McCall began raping girls when he was just 14, following the lead of older relatives and neighborhood men. He ran one train with a boy who was 8 or 9 and "probably didn't even have a sex drive yet. He was just
imitating what he saw us do ... " The victims were moved from apartment to apartment so others could take their turn. "I think few guys thought of it as rape," says McCall, "It was viewed as a social thing among hanging partners, like passing a joint."
This is soul-killing stuff, made more difficult to read by the author's lack of remorse, the fact that he never served time for any of these crimes, and the extent to which he is currently profiting from his ability to tell these stories in a way that suggests he was the victim.
Nevertheless, Makes Me Wanna Holler should be required reading for legislators trying to reform Georgia's rape laws, because it is impossible to come away from reading it without understanding that our own attitudes toward consent and force and "asking for it" often bear more in common with the outlook of McCall and his buddies than with the experiences of their victims.
"Afterwards," McCall writes, "most of the girls were too ashamed and freaked-out to tell. They knew that if they snitched to the cops, the thing would become public news and their name would be mud. But every now and then, some chick squealed ... Then guys got their buddies to go to court and testify that the girl was a footloose 'ho whom they each had boned."
"Most girls seemed to lose something vital inside after they'd been trained."
This community is our community: these courts are our courts. In Fulton County, prosecutors rarely prosecute rapes. Cases that make it to a jury rarely result in guilty verdicts. Our system for punishing rapists is broken, but more disturbingly, we seem to lack the will to confront the degree to which it needs to be repaired.
Only one in 100 rapists ever serves time for a rape.
Last year, legislators set about trying to raise conviction rates for rape in Georgia by reducing sentences for some assaults. They reasoned that juries would be more willing to deliver guilty verdicts if sentences for the crime could be as short as one year, as opposed to the current mandatory minimum of 10 years.
In other words, the proposed rape law reform, which died in committee but will be introduced again, is supposed to convince the public to take rape more seriously by making it a lesser crime. This is an act of desperation.
It also won't raise conviction rates by much. Juries didn't convict rapists back before mandatory minimum sentencing. The problem isn't time served: the problem is that we still don't believe men should go to prison just because they "did" some 'ho who probably did something to deserve it.
If that girl in Cobb County had been a day above the age of consent, and if she were not handicapped, it's unlikely that her assailants would be in jail right now.
A few days before the first suspects were arrested in Cobb County, four high-school football players charged in a gang rape in Detroit were permitted to return to school and to the football field. Their attorney had argued, successfully, that keeping the boys from playing football would hurt their chances of gaining sports scholarships for college. The accused rapists were greeted as heroes by a cheering crowd of fans.