We find the current trial result of a well-known sportscaster to be a lesson in our culture's duplicity relating to the criminal sexual activities of men.
We are told that our laws have become fairer because now a woman's past history is not admissible evidence in a trial, when for years previous, a woman who brought charges against a man was penalized and vilified. Her complete sexual and personal history was open to public gaze.
Now our laws are said to protect her privacy by prohibiting any "previous bad acts" to be admissible as evidence in a trial, and her identity may not revealed. In actual fact, the media may, and often does, dig into a woman's past and really the only thing that results from the law is that the victim's name is not published in the paper. This may be a moot point since so much may be written and published about a person that her identity becomes apparent. Following the plea bargin, Vanessa Perhach, the victim, pleaded for her privacy. Asking the press to leave her alone, she gave a short interview saying that justice had been done but she hoped Marv would not have to serve time.
We all know how differently the media treats any celebrity and how protective it may be of sports figures: the murderer, O.J. Simpson, or the rapist, ear biting Mike Tyson, for example. Now, we have a sportscaster accused of rape and sexual battering and the initial reaction of the press was to publish massive amounts of news stories telling what a great guy Marv is and how he just would not do such a thing and the woman must be just making it up to get money out of him. As one media maven so delicately put it: "The bitch set him up."
Although Marv's accuser's name was not mentioned in the media, this did not stop the condemnation of her and we submit that among the readers and watchers of the media are always the jury.
In Marv's case, the prior pollution of the jury does not matter. The trial suddenly stopped and Marv copped a plea after a woman stepped forward as a witness and testified concerning her experiences with Marv's sexual brutality. Really quite a shocker for the defense who had things going their way the day before. It had concentrated on maligning the woman who was the victim and who had brought the charges. During the short trial, the media showed all the enjoyment of a pig in mud as they revealed all the juicy tidbits coming out of the courtroom.
Now, in the aftermath, there is a return of sympathy toward Marv. We hear great sorrow expressed that he has lost his "career" over these "charges" that were never proven, and his attorney, Roy Black, hit every spot in the media that he could, to push that point home. This in spite of the fact that when the judge was ruling on the plea, he directly asked Marv if he were pleading guilty just to stop the trial or because he really was guilty.
Now as the media bemoans the end of Marv's career and suggests a come-back for him in the future, we ask, where's the lesson in all of this? We see two significant areas. As more and more women have come forth to accuse their tormenters of sexual battering, there is often a consistent pattern showing that many women take a lot of abuse before they take steps to stop it. Many times the final straw is an escalation of the abuse by the man. Love bites are a tad different from deep, flesh tearing bites.
There is also an interesting footnote to all of this. Despite all that was revealed, despite Marv's confession of guilt, many in the media now declare that the woman who made the charges is the guilty party, and call the other woman, who confirmed her testimony, a liar. It proclaims what our culture teaches -- it's always the woman's fault.
We insist that whether it be in the Garden of Eden or in a hotel room today, a man's sexual behavior comes from within himself and he should start taking responsibility for it and stop always blaming women. Marv had a long history of deviate sexual behavior and the women were victims, not instigators of cruel and punitive sex.
Patricia Masden, who had nothing to gain but notoriety and disparagement by the media, stood up in open court and SUPPORTED ANOTHER WOMAN. This is the most significant image for women to take from this incident. It just does not happen that often because we have been so well trained to support only men and tear down our own gender. We salute her.
Copyright 1997 Renee T. Louise and Ruth M. Sprague, Ph.D. These articles may be republished for noncommercial use only, provided that they are copied intact, and that this copyright notice is attached. Address all queries to: TWANDA@ConnRiver.net.
G e n d e r G a p p e r s T M