“It was like all of us had been raped”

Before 1959 white men were never found guilty or charged for raping African American women. It wasn’t until Betty Jean Owens was brutally attacked against her will and raped multiple times by four white men. These four white men were found guilty and sentenced to life at the end of the Owens trial. Not only was this a random rape act but, these men admitted to starting out their night to find an African American women to rape.

Betty and her friends, who happened to be students at Florida A&M University, were enjoying their nights when they were stopped at gun-point by four white men to get out of the car and obey them. One of the four white men, Scarborough had the two African American men that were in the car leave which then left the four white men with only the two girls in the car, Betty Owens and Edna Richardson.

Edna surprisingly got away from the men and left her friend Betty alone with the four white men attackers who then led her to another part of town and raped her seven different times. The four men were to the point of thinking that the rape was a joke and since no cases had been found guilty before this one, the men even admitted on paper that they brutally beat Owens and raped her because they thought they would never be punished for it.

This caused as uproar at the trial with hundreds of students rallying and marching at protests about the abduction. The students were so powerful that even Martin Luther King got involved. Comparing the uproar and support of those students to today’s society, I think our younger generation does still have a stronger stance and voice on what happens in the world today and people are starting to listen; especially when it comes to these hard to hear topics like rape.

Like most rallies when people are seen on campuses or even social media or in the news, everyone tends to want to know what is going on and has an opinion on that topic. In my opinion, I believe that “it was like all of us had been raped” can be related to today’s society’s line of “it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing or how skimpy or how long your clothing is, anyone can be raped.” Quotes like these send such strong and powerful messages that I think people are suddenly listening to the rape victims saying them.

Bibliography: https://www.lipstickalley.com/threads/betty-jean-owens.550506/

10 thoughts on ““It was like all of us had been raped”

  1. This case really makes me sick. I hate the fact that these men even had he thought in their head that they were white so they would get away with it. Nobody deserves to be raped and I’m glad that justice was served.

  2. This case was a very hard one, but I really liked how you tied in there the quotes about rape. I would have to agree too that our younger generation does still have a stronger stance and voice on what happens in the world today and people are starting to listen. This can make such a big impact our our future. I hate that you hear so much in rape cases that she deserved it because of what she was wearing. I have to strongly disagree with those statements not only because you don’t deserve that and everyone is so different and has different back grounds, home life, and culture. What may seem revealing to one person may not be to another, i just don’t understand how one could ever deserve to be raped or how someone could do that to a person.

    1. I agree with your comment about the case being a really hard one to deal with. Although, the younger generation seems to have a bigger voice in the world today, but how much of it is actually taken seriously. There is a lot of talk about people “speaking out” just for the attention because they know they can get it that way, which is really sad to think about. So when there is an actual case of sexual harassment or rape, it seems to be questioned in some cases. I don’t understand how someone could commit rape and live with that for the rest of their lives. Just so sad.

  3. I agree that this current generation of youth is much more participatory when it comes to activism and social justice. It was interesting for me to read about how college students even in the 1960s protested. Certain people seem to think that protesting is a relatively new phenomenon that this generation of youth invented, but this document serves to disprove that false belief; protest’s existence has outlived most of its critics!

    1. I feel the same way. Now that we have so many forms of communication and outlets for self-expression, I think that our younger generations are more eager to protest and make their voices heard. Unfortunately, I think the current generation can also be desensitized and easily swayed at times. I don’t mean this as an insult towards the entire generation at all; there’s no way to expect blanket statements to apply to every member of such a large group. I just find it interesting that it’s becoming just as easy to defend as it is to attack. Take the movement in the entertainment industry, for example. Hundreds of celebrities are opening up about sexual harassment and rape inflicted on them by figures of authority. But there are just as many individuals who stand beside them in support as there are people who are saying that speaking such accusations about a person is a wrongful assault in itself. Everyone is eager to point fingers, but cautious when it comes to who to trust. Hopefully humanity can continue to fight for positive change and transparency when it comes to the injustices like these happening every day.

  4. I am glad that Owens got the justice she so deserved, but it is sad to think about how many cases were probably ignored because women, especially women of color were seen as objects at the time. I like that you mentioned Martin Luther King got involved in this post and I do agree that the four white men who raped her most likely assumed they could get away with it because no one had ever been punished for raping a black woman before.

    1. The fact that women, especially women of color were not taken seriously in cases like this is terrible to even think about. Times may have changed since then, and people are really being heard today in cases like this, but it is sad that rape is still even in the picture today. To hear about this case involving Betty, and the rape cases still being brought up today is hard to take in.

      1. We have certainly come a long way from this today, but you are right in pointing out how sad it is that things like this still happen. At least there are clear punishments when it can be proven, but so many still go unreported or there isn’t enough evidence to convict. I think the only way to truly stop this from happening is finding ways of prevention. Teaching young boys that this behavior is not ok, and teaching our girls how to defend themselves in a vulnerable situation. The men in this case really had no idea the extent of how wrong their actions were, because this type of crime was not punished before. I think with every generation we make another step forward in eliminating rape culture. Or at least that is my hope.

    2. It is crazy what people are capable of when they think there will be no consequences involved. Why someone would even consider violating another human being this way, I cannot comprehend. I guess back in this time their views on women, especially women of color, dehumanized them to the point that they didn’t view this as wrong. That to me is heart breaking

  5. Yes the men the attackers that did this got life sentences. They should have gotten the electric chair immediately what they did the victim will never be able to get over with. When a crime brings that much pain and sorrow to the victim they should be killed immediately and get the harshes punishment imagainable. I am glad they still got life but should have been worse than that! Very good post!!

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