Lorena Bobbitt Revisited

I’m not at all familiar with CNN’s correspondent, Alina Cho.  I know she wasn’t all too happy with former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown’s op/ed piece he wrote back in 2008 about the rise of Sarah Palin.  Other than that, I haven’t paid any attention to her…until a few weeks ago.

She recently interviewed Lorena Bobbitt Gallo.  You might remember she was the woman who, after being subjected to domestic violence and sexual assault by her husband, cut off his member.

Ms. Cho introduces Ms. Gallo as “the wife who employed, uh, shall we say, a dramatic response to an abusive relationship with her then husband, John Wayne Bobbitt.”  During the interview, we learn that Ms. Gallo started an organization called “Lorena’s Red Wagon” through which she helps women and children in domestic violence situations.

And then the following question and answer:

CHO: I have to ask you this. As you well know, there was a time when joking about the Bobbitts was a national pastime. I wonder after all of these years – are you finally able to laugh about it?

LORENA GALLO: I finally am. And it took a lot of time, it took a lot of years, and definitely a lot of – I went to psychologists, and thanks to the doctors, the therapies I’m here, and I’ll be able to now basically start all over again and start a new relationship and have a family and basically I can laugh now. But it’s not a subject of laughing matter when we talk about domestic violence, though. It’s a serious problem and what happened to me was very bizarre, obviously. But I was a victim, I’m not a victim anymore, and that’s the message that I come – I have to come across and say it, and domestic violence is a serious issue and it affects 32 million people in the United States and is a worldwide epidemic, it’s a social epidemic that if we don’t do anything about it, then we faced with a bigger problem in the future for our newest generations to come.

I appreciate the fact that Ms. Gallo recognizes domestic violence is a serious issue but the idea she can now laugh about it is outrageous.  But, I’m going to put that aside.

My problem is with Ms. Cho.  What was she thinking?

Could anyone even imagine Ms. Cho asking this question of a man?  “After all these years, can you now laugh about mutilating your wife?”

Let’s take it even one step further.  I recall a horrific crime in California in the 70s committed by Lawrence Singleton who raped a teenager and chopped off her arms and left her for dead.  Well, she survived and he was eventually convicted.  How about if Bill O’Reilly had interviewed him and asked the same question?  “So, Mr. Singleton, tell my viewers, after all these years, can you now laugh about mutilating your victim?”  The outrage would be deafening.

But, I see this double standard over and over in the media.  Another perfect example is the reporting of sexual assault on students by teachers.  When a male teacher assaults a female student, it’s rightfully called a “sexual assault” or “rape.”

I can’t count the number of times when I’ve read or heard reports of female teachers who sexually assault male students.  While criminal charges are brought and are described according to the local penal code, reporters very often describe these assaults as a “sexual liaison,” “sexual relationship,” or “a teacher sleeping with her student.”  Seldom is the teacher described as a rapist or pedophile but often characterized as “blonde,” “20-something,” “hot,” or “good-looking.”

Why the double standard?  Having worked in the area of child abuse law for over twenty years, I can assure you the long-term effects do not differ much between male and female victims.

I think the absolutely worst case involved 34-year old Mary Kay Latourneau, who began assaulting her 13-year old victim, who she eventually married after having two of his children and serving time in prison.  She initially pled guilty to child rape and was given a seven-year sentence but was only required to serve three months under certain conditions, one being that she wouldn’t have any further contact with her victim.  She served the three months, was released and was later caught inside a “steamed up” car with the victim.  She was sent back to prison for 7 ½ years.

What’s disturbing about this story is how it was described in the media.  Tru.tv describes its article as “Mary Kay Latourneau:  The Romance That Was a Crime.”  Gregg Olsen’s true-crime book was entitled, “If Loving You Is Wrong.”  Lifetime’s made-for-tv movie was called, “Mary Kay Latourneau:  All American Girl.”

Can you imagine the same treatment by the media had the criminal been a male and the victim a 13-year old girl?  Of course, you can’t.  It wouldn’t happen.  (Oh, except if you’re a rich Hollywood director named Roman Polanski.)

On a lighter side, tv sitcoms have changed dramatically over the years.  I remember the handsome men who portrayed husbands and fathers in shows like “Bachelor Father” (John Forsythe), “Leave it to Beaver” (Hugh Beaumont), “The Donna Reed Show” (Carl Betz), “My Three Sons” (Fred MacMurray) and “Father Knows Best” (Robert Young).  All these men were masculine, intelligent, successful, hard-working role models for their children.  I think the worst quality these Dads ever possessed may have been absent-mindedness.  Other than a lapse of memory, these fathers/men were not demeaned on early television.  Now, we too often see on sitcoms a bunch of overweight, doofus-looking, low achievers, where every joke is at their expense.

Can anyone imagine women portrayed the same way in sit-coms today?  I doubt it.

I’m sure Alina Cho won’t be fired for her stupid question but I’d bet a man would and NOW would have been picketing outside CNN headquarters.  I doubt we’ll see honest reporting of sexual assaults by teachers regardless of their gender.  I also doubt we’ll ever see a handsome and witty man married to a slovenly, dopey woman on a tv sitcom.  I wonder why the feminists aren’t seeking equality in these areas.  Hmmm.

I don’t get it, but if you do, God bless you.

Author Bio:

For over twenty years, Leona has tried to heed her husband’s advice, “you don’t have to say everything you think.” She’s failed miserably. Licensed to practice law in California and Washington, she works exclusively in the area of child abuse and neglect. She considers herself a news junkie and writes about people and events on her website, “I Don’t Get It,” which she describes as the “musings of an almost 60-year old conservative woman on political, social and cultural life in America.” It’s not her intention to offend anyone who “gets it.” She just doesn’t. Originally from Brooklyn, and later Los Angeles, she now lives with her husband, Michael, on a beautiful island in the Pacific Northwest, which she describes as a bastion of liberalism.
Author website: http://www.idontgetit.us
  • Sheldon L. McCormick

    If life were indeed fair and just, good people, crime victims and the innocent would prevail, right would win every time and evil doers like Lorena Bobbitt would be thrown in San Quentin’s gas chamber, sniffing hydrgen cyanide gas instead of a bouquet of roses. Then again, somestimes justice does win, though not always in a courtroom. As one sews, one shall reap.

  • Sheldon L. McCormick

    Lorena Gallo (Bobbitt can laugh about her sadistic crime against her then-husband now. I’m sure Klansmen who flogged, tortured and murdered their victims, dynamite their churches, homes and businesses could do so, too. Gang bangers may have a real knee-slapper with each drive-by shooting they commit. Alabama Police Commissioner Eugene “Bull” Connor and his racist, evil ilk must have laughed all the way to the fiery cross turning fire hoses, whips, buckshot, bullets, police dogs, tear gas and billy clubs on unarmed men, women and children in the 1960s and 1950s. In their time, they received cheers, support and delight over their actions. But Ms. Gallo doesn’t realize that justice, in a court of law or not, has a way of taking its course and striking hard. She inflicted harm, and nearly death, to another human being. Not to mention a man who served in and fought to protect the United States as a Marine. Judgement day has a rough, uncompromising gavel, Ms. Gallo.

  • Chris

    I’m with begbie on this one, Leona. I’m not going to deny that there can still be some possible mental abuse, but as I recall vividly at that age if any of my hot female teachers were remotely interested, I would have been very willing. And I am sure it would have been the fondest of memories. If a boy doesn’t want to do it, he doesn’t. Thank God you women hold the sex keys or we men would never accoplish anything!

    • begbie

      Haha…sex keys…hilarious!

  • Roger Ward

    Leona, you’re in lonely territory when you expect equal treatment of men and women. The fact is that women are routinely given a pass for behavior that will and does land men in jail.

    Whatever their statements to the contrary, the reality is that feminists and the National Organization for Women don’t want equality …. except when it benefits them. (Of course, that’s not equality.)

    Miss (I don’t use Ms) Cho’s question was too stupid to justify a response …. but it was an excellent starting point for bringing up the larger issues, which you so ably did.

  • Ron

    I agree that the question was stupid. I am not sure the response was. It is not clear to me that when Ms. Gallo says she can laugh now she is referring to the incident. I think there is a difference in questions asked Ms. Gallo and questions that could be asked Mr. Singleton. He was not physically abused by his victim. If you believe Ms. Gallo’s story, she was. I cannot remember if she was found guilty of a crime. As to Mary Kay Latourneau, I do not know if the crime she committed was assault. I am not familiar with the laws of Washington but usually assault implies lack of consent and some type of force, even if the victim is a minor. On the other hand, she should have been described as a predator and it certainly was not a romance. I do not watch or read much popular media but it seems to me that for the most part, female sexual predators are portrayed negatively.

  • begbie

    Ok, 13 years old….I can see your point. But I can’t imagine any teenage boy over 13 that WOULDN’T want to hook up with his hot teacher! Come on! On the other end, I can’t imagine any teenage girl who WOULD want to hook up with her male teacher (maybe the occasional looney bird, I guess). There is a different standard but I wouldn’t blame it on the media. I’d blame it on biology.

    Man, I had this teacher in high school that, with the hormones raging like they were, I would have definitely….well, you know what I’m saying fellas! “Hot For Teacher” was a good song. In my opinion, teenage boys are not so affected by this crime. I just don’t buy it. In fact, I bet it happens all the time.

    Now as far as the adult committing rape, put them away for a long time. There…..I’m not condoning this crime.

    • http://www.idontgetit.us Leona Salazar

      Thanks for your comments. I’m not referring to school boy fantasies. I was referring to under age males falling prey to female sexual predators. Having been in the child abuse legal field for over 20 years, I haven’t seen much difference when it comes to sexual abuse of boys or girls. Both suffer. This is particularly true when a teacher exploits his/her superior position over a student.

      • begbie

        By predator, you imply the teacher threatens some harm if the advance isn’t received to their satisfaction, i.e. “I will give you an F if you don’t blah, blah, blah”. In that case, ok I got it.

        But I would’ve liked to suffer just once at the capable hands of Mrs. Conners, grade 8 social studies! I know, that’s terrible.