Earlier today, I stumbled upon the Jezebel article “Woman Accused of Raping Girlfriend With Sex Toy.” In this article, the writer describes the details of an instance of sexual assault between two women in Florida. One woman, Mia McCarthy, has been charged with attempted murder, sexual assault, battery and domestic battery strangulation. Allegedly, McCarthy beat her girlfriend and then raped her with a “marital aid,” which the author interprets as a sex toy (as seen in the title). The article reads mostly as a news story, and the commentary on the occurrence is minimal (one paragraph).
When I read this article, I was somewhat surprised. It is rare that I see a news story on a specific instance of sexual assault if it does not involve high-profile people. I found myself wondering why this particular instance of sexual assault has gotten so much attention. Before I read the article, I expected it would focus mostly on discourse surrounding sexual assault and sex toys. I thought that the author chose to write about the assault because it addressed a topic that isn’t often discussed . However, contrary to the title, the author actually does not specifically discuss or even address the use of a sex toy. When I realized this, I began to wonder if the author chose to write about this assault because of the perpetrator’s gender. Would people take note of the assault in the same way if the perpetrator was a man? I ask not because I think McCarthy’s actions should be ignored. I ask because it seems to reveal how we scrutinize women’s actions more than men’s, and how so much sexual assault committed by men goes unnoticed.