In West Palm Beach, two male teens have been jailed after allegedly forcing their way into a woman’s home, beating and raping the woman vaginally and anally, and forcing her 12-year-old son at gunpoint to rape her, then pouring cleaning solution into the boy’s eyes. A palm print and DNA evidence places the teens at the scene, but formal charges have not yet been filed.
The coverage of this horrific, stomach-turning crime is unique in that the two assailants are usually said to have raped (or gang-raped) the woman, but her son is inevitably described as having been “forced to have sex with” her. Well, no. Unless she gave her consent, he was forced to rape her.
But, Melissa, you may be thinking, he didn’t mean to do it, so it isn’t rape. Except, see, the thing is, rape isn’t defined by a rapist’s intent; it’s defined by a lack of consent, which is easy to forget because of exactly this kind of reporting.
In this case, by the way, I would argue that the poor son isn’t really the rapist at all; the guys who forced him to rape his mother at gunpoint are the rapists, and they raped him by forcing him to rape his mother, too—which is all the more reason we shouldn’t treat it with kid gloves by saying the two of them were merely forced to “have sex.”
[H/T Jennifer Pozner.]