Wednesday, August 07, 2002


That's what one of the "Today Show" bookers bought one of the two girls who survived that rape/kidnapping in California, one of the two girls who gave Katie Couric her exclusive. I have not watched the interview, exactly. I saw a piece of it on the gym t.v., closed captioned. Then I read the Times article yesterday that dealt with how the girls' interview came to be, and the knotty problem that those darned news organizations found themselves in because they had named the girls when they were kidnapped, then, when they found out they were raped, (mostly) began blanking out their faces, and removed their names. Then the girls, urged by a police minister, decided to go on TV to "out of a conviction that their story could help other young women facing a similar traumatic experience." (from the Times article)

Well, yes and no.

Here's the reality: if you live and breathe and are not a monk, you know someone--or are someone--who's a rape survivor. That's just statistics. But t.v. isn't actually all that interested in the average outcome of a story like this, which is: 1) the rapist is somone the victim knows and 2) the rapist never does jail time. When the rapist is convicted, the jail time is usually scant. Most rape survivors will never, ever see their rapist caught--let alone shot dead in front of them. Most rape survivors will not have someone buy an 80 dollar pair of pants for them, or get comforted by Katie Couric. Similar traumatic experience? No, this is the exception to the rule. This was a terrible thing, but this is a happy ending with a neat punchline--at least in the t.v. movie/instabook version.

But. But. I am all for lifting the veil of shame from rape, and I think those girls were kick ass brave: both to survive as they did, and to talk. But the lessons t.v. teaches aren't necessarily the ones it thinks it's teaching. Katie Couric is not going to be around when one or both of those girls deals with posttraumatic stress disorder, which is likely simply from seeing somebody shot dead in front of you. I hope they have wonderful families, and terrific therapists. Maybe what they did will help others; I know when I was working in TV Movieland, we'd get word that something we made had helped somebody--leave a marriage, report a crime, get involved. I hope these girls do help change the public conversation about rape. It couldn't happen fast enough.


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