I remember Michael Mineo vividly. I wish I didn’t, but I don’t think I can ever forget that moment, as I sat alone in my apartment watching the evening news, when his humiliated face flashed upon the television screen. He had just been raped by NYPD officers and was being “interviewed” as he sobbed in his hospital bed.
My blood ran cold at that moment as I watched in sick shock. Did they really just flash a sexual assault victim’s name and face all over the news while he was in a hospital gown, crying in bed and trying to bury his face in his hand?
Yeah, they did.
In the days that followed, they also gave all kinds of updates on his medical status. Police baton. Rectum. Ruptures. Bleeding. The media was more than happy to throw those terms around repeatedly, sensationally.
Mineo has long since come out to talk about the rape. He’s spoken about the extensive damage done to his body, and the case is now in trial.
The media, however, seems unwilling to call the assault what it is: rape. They’re still more than willing to talk about the rape in graphic terms, but won’t use the actual word. Thomas at Yes Means Yes makes an excellent point on the subject:
What they will and won’t call rape is part of what shapes public consciousness about what is and isn’t a rape narrative…The man alleges a rape. I think the newspapers should say that what he’s alleged is a rape. They largely have not, but they also largely have not said why.
Furthermore, when did it become okay to show/describe parts of a rape victim’s testimony on the news (after basically introducing the victim as a dreg of society, no less), and include snippets of the video from the night of his attack?
Not only did Mineo experience a gross injustice when he was splashed all over the news in one of the most vulnerable states a person could possibly be in, the media continues to exploit his ordeal with their sensational headlines (‘Anal Assault’ Trial Begins?). It’s even listed in Wikipedia as the NYPD subway sodomy incident. Again, not one mention of rape in those headlines. It’s sickening, and it’s yet another chilling reminder of the media’s narrative on rape.
EDIT: I fixed the Wiki link. Sorry about that!