On Dec. 4, popular music artist Melanie Martinez was publicly accused of rape on Twitter by her former best friend, Timothy Heller.
“When I wrote this story about my assault, I initially wasn’t going to make the abuser. But I think it’s important for you all to know this is about Melanie Martinez,” she tweeted, followed by four images consisting of a detailed account about the incident.
The accusation soon caused an uproar of support for Heller and anger at Martinez. Martinez’s follower count on various social media platforms plummeted, and people who once claimed to be “die-hard” fans are now posting videos of themselves destroying her merchandise.
Despite the accusations, many fans refuse to denounce their idol, refusing to believe the news. Other than the shock of an idol being accused of a crime, part of this controversy lies within the rarity for the accused to be a woman. Although Martinez’s case is a recent and prominent topic, it brings up an issue that most people still fail to acknowledge.
It is no lie that the issue about disregard for sexual crimes has been circulating for quite some time. Accusations have surfaced all across the entertainment industry, and Martinez’s case adds to that. However, among the accused, she is one of the only women, if not the only one so far.
According to Rainn statistics on the criminal justice system, seven out of a thousand cases of rape will lead to a felony conviction. Perpetrators of sexual violence are less likely to go to jail than other criminals.
It is well-known that men are more commonly accused than women in the case of sexual crime. When taking this into consideration, female perpetrators are even less likely to be convicted for such actions. This is an issue that desperately needs to be addressed. A country that declares equality for all must carry that practice into all its components, even criminal justice. Gender equality does not just mean equal rights and opportunities; it also means equal responsibilities and consequences.
Part of Heller’s statement on Twitter highlights this inequality.
“If you begin to doubt the abuse taking place in this story, I beg you to imagine [Martinez’s] role in this being a man. Girls can rape girls,” she said.
Part of the issue may lie within the stereotypes already embedded into our culture. Men are generally considered to be the “rougher” gender. This, along with the fact that there are more male sexual criminals than female, make it difficult for people to accept that women can indeed commit the same crimes.
Furthermore, females are not the only victims. Boys and men suffer through sexual crimes, and even those already revealed to the public find little comfort in justice. Stereotypes once again come into play, with people even telling male victims that they “should have enjoyed it” if the perpetrator was female.
In 2015, a video showing a man admitting to being the victim of rape went viral on twitter. With tears streaming down his face, he tells his friend about the female stranger that assaulted him, speaking in a way that sounded like an attempt to keep the topic light-hearted. His friend, filming the video on his phone, laughs throughout the ordeal.
Responses were mixed. Many were humored, men and women alike, and others were upset at the fact that people refused to take the video seriously. One claimed that the victim’s friend, supposedly his brother, knew he was telling the story in a funny way to make him laugh.
Incidents like this happen more than people might think, and unfortunately, many of them do not receive as much support as the aforementioned victims.
Charter Oak High School senior Xean Nguyenla says that it is hard for people to label women as sexual criminals because of their tendency to see men as those who always enjoy sexual activity.
“[Men] are mainly the ones who uphold it, so it sounds unusual for a man to not enjoy sex,” he said.
He agrees that women should receive the same consequences as men, saying that “when forced to do something against their will, [they] will experience the same feelings of trauma. Being men should not undermine the significance of sexual crimes against them.”
Monica Lomeli, senior, agrees.
“Of course, there are female victims with the female perpetrators. Female on female assaults are seen as ‘friendly.’ I think it’s generally harder for female perpetrators to be prosecuted because male victims don’t get to talk. Because we ignore male victims, [they] can’t openly talk about it and prosecute the person who did it,” she said.
How do we, as a society, fix this issue? To Monica, “We need to get rid of the expectations surrounding male victims and the [assumption that] all female perpetrators are innocent.”
To Xean, “We should treat all sexual crimes equally, regardless of gender. Rape is rape. If we already uphold a particular bias, then we are simply reinforcing a society of true inequality.”
People are fighting for all types equality all across the nation. Among numerous others, there are movements for racial equality, religious equality, and equality for all sexual orientations. Within the scope of gender equality, it is time that this issue is brought into the light. If women are rightfully equal to men in all things positive, then it should not come as a surprise that women can also commit the same heinous crimes.