Note: This post has nothing to do with my books or professional news. Skip if you only want business updates. Also, trigger warning for crimes against children and rape culture.
ETA: In the interim since this post went up, KMM released a statement on her Facebook page apologizing for her prior post (which I reference below) and saying that she will no longer be working with Phil Gigante. To avoid confusion over what is current and what is not, I have stricken through parts of the post below that are no longer relevant.
Also in the interim, several readers have accused me of personally bashing KMM by referencing the comments made in her now-deleted post, but that was never my intent. I also do not have a secret agenda to harm her release (another accusation I’ve seen.) I did, however, use the comments in her post as a springboard to discuss an issue I unfortunately have experience with and have talked about before: victim blaming. Sadly, victim blaming is not only limited to this incident with Phil Gigante. Instead, it’s prevalent in the society I live in and in societies worldwide.
I wrestled for two days about posting anything to do with the Phil Gigante scandal because frankly, I was being cowardly. I’ve had a rough month already with my mother’s unexpected passing, so I didn’t want to deal with more stress, and posts like this always generate controversy. However, every time someone else posted about it, I felt convicted over my silence because of what’s in my own past.
As I blogged about a while ago, a teenage neighbor attempted to molest me when I was eight years old. For many reasons, I wasn’t able to talk about what happened. When I eventually did, first privately to friends and family, then much later in two different public posts on my blog, most of the people who responded were compassionate. Some shared their own stories of abuse. But a few were outright dismissive or even defensive of the perpetrator’s actions. Things like “He couldn’t help himself” or “Boys will be boys” or “What do you expect with this oversexualized culture?” were said, thus shifting the blame from perpetrator onto anyone except himself.
That’s why I couldn’t stay quiet or mind my own business about this. For background, a couple days ago I read Bibliodaze’s post about
Karen Marie Moning and some commenters on her Facebook page defending Moning’s choice to continue using Phil Gigante as her audio book narrator [ETA: as per above, KMM has since apologized and will not be using Gigante for her audio books] after other readers objected because Gigante has been convicted of accosting a child for immoral purposes as well as possession of child sexually abusive material 1 . I am not claiming to know all the details of the case, but I do know that Gigante plead guilty and was sentenced in a court of law. By pleading guilty, Gigante waived his right to appeal. If there were mitigating “facts” proving his innocence, I can’t imagine why he/his attorney wouldn’t have presented them, or why they would have nixed any chance they had at presenting them later at an appeal, but that’s just speculation on my part. KMM is free to believe that her friend is innocent and there’s been a miscarriage of justice. She’s also free to keep Gigante on as her audio book narrator. [this is not longer the case] Readers are free to keep listening to books narrated by Gigante because they separate the art from the artist (none of this is me attempting to be grandiose because no one needs my permission for anything; this is me simply stating the same facts that others blogging about this have also stated.) What many people have a problem with, myself included, is the victim-blaming in the comment thread of KMM’s post, which inferred that the fourteen-year-old girl was more responsible for the illegal actions of the forty-nine-year-old Gigante than Gigante was. ETA: There is more victim blaming in the comment section of KMM’s apology post, though to be clear, not by KMM herself.]
That notion is pure and utter crap. If I commit a crime, *I* commit a crime. I might feel like I have a lot of good reasons for committing said crime (for example, all the times I go over the speed limit because hey, I’m just keeping up with traffic!) but the blame starts and stops with me. This is widely accepted in almost every crime except sex-related crimes. For example, if someone steals my car, I am not chided by police or the public in general for practically ‘begging’ for it to be stolen by driving it ‘all over town’ or letting ‘others’ drive it, too. No, instead I file a police report without any hassle or side-eying. If the thief is caught, they’ll be prosecuted, and all of the “But Your Honor, that car had its top down and the keys were in it! What was I supposed to do, I’m only human?!” won’t be considered an acceptable defense (just watch Bait Car on TV if you doubt this.)
Yet in sex-related crimes, the victim almost always goes on trial, either in real court or the court of public opinion, for what she (or he) was wearing, doing, drinking, saying, what she’s done before and/or with whom, etc., ad nauseum, etc., with the dark undercurrent being, if she did A or B, or especially A AND B, then the guy isn’t guilty because she brought it on herself. That’s what infuriates me, and it’s what I saw inferred in some comments on KMM’s prior post ETA: and on the comment section of her subsequent apology post. Victim blaming is what keeps many, many children and adults from reporting these type of crimes, thus creating an atmosphere where their perpetrators have a greater chance of striking again, and I’d rather make it harder for perpetrators, not easier.
I fervently hope that the young girl at the center of this isn’t following any of what happened over the past few days, but if she is, I would tell her that she is NOT to blame for the illegal actions of a grown man over three times her age. I would tell her not to listen to anyone who inferred otherwise, and I would tell her to be strong because brighter days are ahead.
But again, I hope she’s nowhere near this mess to know that I’m rooting for her.
1 Source: http://www.shorelinemedia.net/ludington_daily_news/news/local/phil-gigante-pleads-guilty-to-accosting-a-child-for-immoral/article_502116d2-71d4-11e5-a921-8b0e8f496b4a.html#.Vp2TfdoHX0g.twitter
Other posts about this: http://redhotbooks.com/2016/01/where-is-the-feverborn-review-there-isnt-one.html?utm_content=buffer47664&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer and http://jennytrout.com/?p=10022