"I didn't want to be the last person to look away"
September 19, 2018 8:59 AM   Subscribe

I reviewed police documents, interviewed witnesses and experts, and made several pilgrimages home to Texas to try to understand what exactly happened to Wyatt — not just on that night, but in the days and months and years that followed. Making sense of her ordeal meant tracing a web of failures, lies, abdications and predations, at the center of which was a node of power that, though anonymous and dispersed, was nonetheless tilted firmly against a young, vulnerable girl. Journalists, activists and advocates began to uncover that very same imbalance of power from Hollywood to Capitol Hill in the final year of this reporting, in an explosion of reporting and analysis we’ve come to call the #MeToo Movement. But the rot was always there — even in smaller and less remarkable places, where power takes mundane, suburban shapes.
posted by perplexion (17 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
People haven't often measured the shape of the hole in women's lives. They don't often understand that years' worth of life choices may be built around the wreckage of something shameful that happened in high school.

I expect that one or both of these guys will be outed on the internet, and that he will look like a human thumb in a suit.
posted by Countess Elena at 9:22 AM on September 19, 2018 [9 favorites]

I keep thinking of that baboon troupe where the most aggressive males all died suddenly and the troupe became a utopian paradise.
posted by schadenfrau at 9:31 AM on September 19, 2018 [7 favorites]

I don't know, schadenfrau, I think one of the points of the piece is that while 'the most aggressive males' might be the inciting factor, it takes a village to destroy a victim's life.
posted by perplexion at 9:34 AM on September 19, 2018 [7 favorites]

Oh yeah, my point was that the village couldn’t get better until the most toxic members were gone. It’s an ongoing infection. I don’t know what to do about it.
posted by schadenfrau at 9:38 AM on September 19, 2018

This story reminds me of my town - a class-divided place where people were stupid, so very stupid, and where there was an all-American culture of cruelty and hatred. This particular story took place in Texas, but I grew up in a nice suburb of Chicago. Plenty of horrible things happened there too, for which no one will ever be held to account. Most of the villains of my youth are probably hedge fund managers and so on just like their parents were, and they probably close ranks to protect their monstrous, violent, rapist kids just like their parents did for them.

I don't even know - sometimes you want to fix the world, and sometimes you just figure that the sooner humans wipe themselves out the better. "In nature there is neither good nor evil, only an abundance of horror" isn't really so bad when you think about it. Horror comes with embodiment; it's the knowledge of good in this evil world that grinds you down.
posted by Frowner at 9:41 AM on September 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

I can't imagine this type of thing will ever end. Women have been blamed for their own rapes and murders since the dawn of time. Towns close ranks around vile rapists, and the victim either leaves or dies, and is left with very little justice, if any.
posted by 41swans at 10:14 AM on September 19, 2018

An excellent piece, well worth reading. This paragraph in particular hit hard:

Montaigne and Wordsworth lived near enough to the bloody indifference of nature to spare a thought for its victims. But the veneer of civility painted over modern life has paradoxically revealed a certain contempt for victims and the condition of victimhood. And perhaps, lurking in all the complaints about our putative culture of victimhood, there is something uglier than generalized contempt: a disdain for the weak.

If there's an American religion, contempt for the weak is its first article of faith. Not that the rest of humanity isn't plagued by that vice, but by God, we Americans seem to love patting ourselves on the back for refusing to ever imagine ourselves on the wrong side of an act of violence or oppression and acting accordingly. The victim in this case may have struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, but the district attorney that declined to prosecute, the folks who spread rumors about the victim -- what were they on?
posted by Cash4Lead at 10:29 AM on September 19, 2018 [17 favorites]

I cannot contain my rage at the mother who Amber told of the rape, and who then washed her clothes and denied everything to the police.

So gross.
posted by suelac at 12:28 PM on September 19, 2018 [6 favorites]

sounds like an accessory after the fact to me
posted by some loser at 12:46 PM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I cannot personally understand how her parents can live in the same town with those monsters who raped their little girl. I know vigilante justice is wrong and bad for society, but If somebody did that to my daughter and walked free...me or him, somebody would end up in jail, one way or the other.
posted by Megafly at 4:46 PM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I hope the names of the perpetrators come out and their lives are destroyed. I hope that Marks woman finds herself abandoned by people who have decided that it's not genteel to be seen around her--not even because they think she's done something wrong, but because what would other people say, so that she gets to taste what it's like to live in a place that behaves that way. And I hope this article brings Amber some measure of support from those around her.

I also hope that she can move farther and farther away, because I know all of the above is a dream and if anything this article is going to make Arlington close ranks around itself and start her harassment all over again.
posted by schroedinger at 6:17 PM on September 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

I know people like the ones in this town well enough that I wish the author hadn’t posted the fact and identity of her dog. And I hate that I think that. But I do.
posted by Nancy_LockIsLit_Palmer at 7:54 PM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

There is a part of me that wants to know, very badly, what goes on in the minds of people who do these things — not just the attackers, but the enablers, the people who lead the shunning, the bullies. What do they tell themselves about what they’re doing, and who they are? How do they see their actions in real time? How do they reconcile it all? What goes wrong inside them that this is the result?

Because part of me still thinks that if we can just understand what goes wrong inside them, maybe we can fix it. Maybe.

I realize I don’t think I’ve ever seen that article.
posted by schadenfrau at 8:25 AM on September 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

The perpetrators are said to be Blake Barakat (soccer player) and Blake Atten (football player).
posted by aielen at 1:44 AM on September 21, 2018

Of COURSE they're named Blake. Jesus, both of them. The only more predictable name would be Chad.
posted by schroedinger at 4:55 AM on September 21, 2018 [3 favorites]

Bruenig answers some commonly asked questions about the piece, including why it's published in the Opinions section (Bruenig is an Opinions writer and was personally involved in the story), why they didn't name the culprits (the Post doesn't publish the names of minors), and whether it was purposefully released to coincide with the Kavanaugh hearings (no).
posted by perplexion at 5:33 PM on September 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

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