The Standard Hotel in Manhattan’s meatpacking district has caused controversy in the past because of its risque vibe. It overlooks the High Line park, and guests of the hotel often have sex or just expose themselves in the windows. The management is notorious for tacitly encouraging this, and it has earned the hotel a reputation of being raunchy, if not seedy.
Recently, a maid was sexually attacked by Matthew Moorhouse, a guest staying in the hotel…
He pinned her down on the bed and did not let her up until another worker at the hotel heard her screaming and started knocking on the door. This in itself is obviously bad, and although the woman is fortunate that someone was passing by, it still must have been a traumatic experience for her. What really concerns me is the response–that it was somehow “to be expected” due to the reputation of the hotel. Commentor Sharke, for instance, argued “What did this hotel expect when they’ve gone out of their way to attract perverts and degenerates as guests? I think it’s only a matter of time before they have their first murder involving sex and drugs.” But it isn’t just trolls making anonymous comments; I was disappointed in the tone that Hamilton Nolan took in his article for Gawker. He seems to think that the hotel should have expected it:
“Hard to believe that not one marketing person, at any point, said, “These ads are edgy and all, but it sure would suck for us if any sex crimes happened in this place. Ya know?””
I was also disturbed by his comment, “One might say the hotel’s guests are really getting into the spirit of the place!” To me, this seems to be buying into the “blame the victim” mentality that has done so much to hinder the efforts of the anti-sexual violence movement. To say that “they should have expected it” because of the way they advertise is coming awfully close to condoning Moorhouse’s actions. It’s like saying “she was dressed so slutty, she should have expected all that male attention”. It’s totally vital to remember the IMPORTANT separation between sexuality and sexual violence–no matter how licentious you are, no matter how openly you advertise your sexuality, you are not inviting violence.
It reminds me of a moment that marked the beginning of an end of a friendship I had in high school. This boy said to me “I mean, is it possible to rape a prostitute? It’s like shoplifting, more, isn’t it?” What is wrong with people? I think a lot of people in our society have internalized such a negative view towards sexuality that they assume that people who are open about their sexuality deserve less control over it.