Remember Tonya Cooley, the Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Ruins contestant trying to press charges on the show’s production company for allowing (and perhaps even encouraging) her to be raped? Not only was she assaulted while passed out drunk–which, by the way, is not against the fucking law–she was raped with a toothbrush by two other contestants, Kenneth Santucci and Evan Starkman. All of this occurred with the cameras rolling and producers completely aware of what was happening, and some contestants allege that producers egged the males on to touch the women while they were drunk.
However, some people believed, in all seriousness, that Cooley deserved what happened to her because she had frequently been drunk and flirty. Now, despite settling the lawsuit, Viacom (MTV’s parent company) is trying to make sure nobody thinks it’s their fault by releasing the statement: “[Cooley] failed to avoid the injuries of which she complains. [She] was frequently intoxicated, rowdy, combative, flirtatious and on multiple occasions intentionally exposed her bare breasts and genitalia to other contestants.” [via Jezebel]
This is victim blaming at its finest. Viacom is not only not denying what happened, they’re also shifting blame toward Cooley because she didn’t “avoid” her “injuries.” Oh, the rape injuries? Because you’re referring to rape, Viacom, so I assume that means you know what it’s actually called and the word is not “injuries.” She was raped. Call it that.
A while back, an ex of mine had a friend who worked on Survivor. Now, I’ve never really watched the show, but apparently there was a contestant who, in an attempt to make a flame grow, blew directly into his fire and–because the ash went straight into his nose, eyes and lungs–he lost his balance while coughing and fell face first into the coals. Because of contractual obligations, nobody was allowed to help him on the crew. The contestants, regardless of serious injury, were apparently on their own when it came to the actual act of getting injured.
While I fully understand people’s desire to fulfill contracts and keep their jobs, as well as the general disdain we collectively feel for reality television stars, there shouldn’t be contracts that involve a “if you get assaulted or severely injured, you’re on your fucking own!” clause. It is a risky type of job, as most reality shows involve a ton of drinking, yelling and overall mayhem, but being sexually assaulted is not entertainment. Assaulting somebody is not a “prank” nor is it a thing that you can avoid by not being drunk. I don’t care if her “breasts and genitalia” were all over the place; that’s like saying that if you take out your wallet in public, people are allowed to try and steal your money.
So there you have it, my friends: if you ever, ever show your breasts or vagina, get ready for two horrible excuses for human beings to rape you with a toothbrush. High five, MTV: you get the victim-blaming award this week.