Audrie and Daisy and Slut Shaming

Netflix has released a new documentary entitled Audrie and Daisy that is an “unflinching account of high-school sexual assault and trial by social media”.

audrie and daisy

This documentary was important to me for several reasons, including because I have written about these young rape victims in my book The Jezebel Effect.

In the book I explained that:

Audrie Potts was also slut shamed to death. She was just 15 years old when she hanged herself on Sept. 10, 2012. A little more than a week before she had gone to a party at a friend’s and had (like many teens before her), decided to get drunk. Thinking she was safe among friends, she drank herself into a stupor. However, her safety was an illusion, as she discovered later when she woke up mostly nude and with obscenities written all over her skin.

Not only had Audrie suffered sexual assault by three boys she thought of as being her friends, one of the boys had filmed the gang rape on his phone and shared the images with several people. She confronted him on Facebook, violently upset that “whole school knows. . . . Do you know how people view me now? I fucked up and I can’t do anything to fix it. . . . One of my best friends hates me. And I now have a reputation I can never get rid of” (Burleigh, 2013). Humiliated and hurt, Audrie thought ending her life was the only way she would ever escape the pain of being slut shamed.

In the same chapter on young rape victims being slut shamed for having been sexually assaulted:

Slut shaming after having been a rape victim also happened to a Missouri teen named Daisy Coleman. Daisy was only fourteen when she snuck out of her home Maryville with her thirteen year old friend to meet with a high school senior on the football team named Matthew Barnett:

“Daisy and her friend slipped out a window and went to Barnett’s house. Daisy drank a big glass of something. She doesn’t remember what happened next. Her 13-year-old friend went into a bedroom with a 15-year-old boy, who later told the police that “although the girl said ‘no’ multiple times, he undressed her, put a condom on and had sex with her.” Daisy was carried out of a bedroom where she’d been with Barnett “unable to speak coherently.” The boys drove the girls home. The 13-year-old and three of the boys told the police Daisy was crying when she was carried to the car. Her mother found her scratching at the front door in the early morning. The boys had told the 13-year-old to go inside, saying they’d wait with Daisy until she sobered up. They left her outside in a T-shirt and sweatpants. She’d been out for about three hours, in 22-degree weather. Melinda Coleman, a veterinarian whose husband, a doctor, had died in a car accident six years earlier, sounds like she did everything right. She gave her daughter a warm bath, noticed signs of rape or sex, called 911, and took Daisy to the hospital.” (Bazelon, 2013)

The police officers who investigated the rape, including Sheriff Darren White, did a thorough and competent investigation, after which he “felt confident the office had put together a case that would ‘absolutely’ result in prosecutions … Within four hours, we had obtained a search warrant for the house and executed that … We had all of the suspects in custody and had audio/video confessions” (Bazelon, 2013). With the confessions of the rapists, surely this sexual assault was beyond contestation and slut shaming could not be employed to excuse it? Sadly, no.

Matthew Barnett, the grandson of a local political figure, and his family were popular in Maryville and the town rallied around the rapist. They didn’t want this poor boy’s life ruined just because some trollop snuck out of her house and got herself raped. In spite of the evidence, in March of 2012 Nodaway County prosecutor Robert Rice did not charge Matthew Barnett with a crime of any kind (Green, 2014). Daisy Coleman was slut shamed and bullied so viciously that she tried to commit suicide. The whole Coleman family was targeted so brutally by the good townsfolk of Maryville that Daisy’s widowed mother had to flee the area with her children. The Coleman house then burned down in “mysterious” circumstances. The only thing Maryville failed to do while driving the family out on a rail was to tar and feather them.

The case was only reopened when it came to national attention following an article in the Kansas City Star by reporter Dugan Arnett and the scrutiny of the hacker activists group Anonymous. Due to international outcry, a special prosecutor named Jean Peters Baker was assigned to investigate the rape in October of 2013. After a few months of searching, Baker “did not file sexual assault charges due to there being a lack of evidence to pursue the charge” and because “she also took into account the large amount of unrest the case has caused in Maryville” (Green, 2014). Did the audio/video confessions evaporate? One can only assume.

In January of 2014, Matthew Barnett – who was a student at the University of Central Missouri and had gotten to have a nice, normal life after raping Daisy and destroying the Coleman family before the world found out about his vile actions – plead guilty to the misdemeanor charge of endangering the welfare of a child. He is on probation for two years for his crime. Daisy Coleman continues to endure a harsher sentence; “Melinda Coleman said her daughter Daisy Coleman tried to take her own life on Sunday. Melinda said Daisy attempted suicide after being “terrorized” on social media by teenagers after she attended a party over the weekend” (Green, 2014). If you go by the punishment received, Daisy’s “crime” of telling the cops she was raped is worse than the rape itself. Is it any wonder so many rape victims are reluctant to report their assaults?

The boy who assaulted the 13 year old girl with Daisy, Paige Parkhurst, plead guilty to raping her and served time in a juvenile facility. However, his guilty plea to rape did not stop the upstanding citizens of Maryville from terrorizing Paige for her “slutty” behavior. As well as online trolling of the Paige and her parents, mutilated rabbits were dumped into the Parkhurst family’s car.

rabbits in parkhurst car

You should really watch the documentary, but you should prepare to be enraged and … if you have daughters, as I do … prepare to be scared out of your mind.

     

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