Recently Hanna Rosin posted an article on her blog discussing the treatment of a 16-year-old autistic boy named Michael. This young man was abused by two teenage girls who took advantage of his awkward social behaviour.
The girls are sadistic bullies, and the boy is a pitiable victim. And this is likely true. Only in assigning these roles—which the prosecutors, who are trying Bush as an adult and the other girl as a juvenile, and the boy’s parents are quick to do—something is likely to get lost about the boy’s personality and the reality of what it’s like to be a kid on the [Autism] spectrum navigating the complicated world of teenage love and friendship.
In this statement she acknowledges the women as the perpetrators and Michael as the victim, then states it is “likely true” as if even with the video evidence there could still be doubt. She continues on by stating that assigning the proper terminology to the key players of this incident will somehow cause pertinent information about the boys personality to be lost. What does this mean? Or, more importantly, what, exactly is Rosin setting up? Because this feels like a set up.
The feeling of being set up by Rosin intensifies as she describes the abuse of this young man as “a kid on the spectrum navigating the complicated world of teenage love and friendship”. This suggests that this is normal teenage behaviour, that girls behaving this way is normal and that if a boy feels mistreated he simply is having a hard time navigating the “complicated world of teenage love.”
Rosin’s article also downplay’s Michael’s autism while at the same time using it as a tool for her argument. Rosin: “From the description in the Post, Michael probably had a milder form of autism, something like what used to be called Asperger’s, meaning a kid who was smart and high-functioning but had difficulty reading social cues.”
Though this statement is correct she neglects to discuss how difficulty reading social cues and being socially awkward can enable Michael to be more easily manipulated. She even states instances in which his behaviour could be classified as normal teenage behaviour. I have two younger brothers both with Asperger’s autism and growing up it was quite difficult for them to be socially accepted. My younger brothers would be willing to put up with abuse if it gained them the social contact they were craving.
Rosin’s article points out that Michael did not want to see these girls get into trouble, claiming he still liked them. Her argument seems to be that he is aware enough of his actions to claim these girls were just mean friends. He may be sad to lose his new-found friends even if they were cruel to him because he is lonely and just wants the attention. Being socially awkward can leave a person craving interaction – even harmful interaction just to be a part of the group. Would Rosin be so quick to defend other abusers just because their victims claimed to still love them?
Rosin then says:
For a boy like Michael, wooing a girl, winning her trust, and then trying to participate in her pranks, even while they made him uncomfortable and put him in some danger, took courage. The girls betrayed that, and Michael’s persistence in defending them is something to explore. Whether or not the girls should be prosecuted depends on the border between prank and crime; frat boys have ended up in jail for what they called mere hazing when the hazed get seriously hurt.
Let’s call him courageous and give him a medal for enduring female abuse, i.e., he is the socially acceptable disposable male. I think Michael’s persistence to defending his abusers suggests he needs a help group to sort through the emotions and events. I do not believe these girls actions are bordering on prank. It’s not a prank to try to force someone to commit a sexual act with a dog. It’s not a prank to hold a knife to some one’s throat. If these girls thought they were pranking him then their parents did a piss poor job teaching them right from wrong.
Rosin says, in classic victim blaming fashion:
Michael definitely showed bad judgment in continuing to hang out with these girls, but was it a different order of bad judgment than many other teenagers? Than, say, a slightly unpopular boy who is so besotted by the attention of a mean-girl cheerleader that he would beat up someone on her behalf, buy her drugs, spread rumors about a girl she hates, blow his savings on Rainbow Loom bracelets she was selling? Or for that matter, than what the average (non-autistic) frat boy might do on a Saturday night while his friends are watching?
Michael certainly had bad judgement, but what of the judgement of the parents, the girls, the girls parents, and the school? Has all the blame for this just been placed on the victim because of his bad judgement alone?
And finally, that set up I mentioned earlier? I think this is Rosin’s end game: hijacking a story of female malfeasance to focus on bad men, specifically fraternity brothers. At this point the article seems to be less about how terrible these girls are for manipulating and abusing an autistic boy and more about her perception of male behaviour. Tell me Hanna what do you believe the average frat boy does on a Saturday night with friends and how is that information relevant to this situation?
Let me answer that for you. It isn’t. It’s a deflection, a slight of hand, and a piss-poor one at that.
These girls need to be prosecuted for their crimes and everyone should recognize that Michael is a victim of cruel abuse who needs support from his fellow man. It must be recognized that women can be devastating attackers and their actions should not be downplayed to mere acts of whimsy. Their actions are serious and the effects are too.
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- Hanna Rosin Gives Female Bullies a Pass because… Frat hazing? - April 29, 2014