According to The Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network, there are approximately 237,868 victims of sexual assault each year. Michael Dunn says he’s one of them.
In November 2012, Dunn pulled up to a gas station and saw 17-year-old Jordan Davis listening to loud music in a SUV. Dunn asked the teenagers to turn down their loud music, they refused, and at some point Dunn fired 10 rounds into their car, killing Davis. Dunn was convicted of three charges of second-degree murder and one count of shooting into the vehicle; a separate count of first-degree murder ended in a hung jury. Dunn shot and killed a child and may well evade conviction for first-degree murder. And now, according to recordings released by Florida’s State Attorney General, Dunn feels he is a victim of rape culture.
In a taped prison call to his fiancée, Dunn fumed: “I was the one that was being preyed upon and I fought back. It’s not quite the same but it made me think of like the old TV shows and movies where like how the police used to think when a chick got raped going, ‘Oh, it’s her fault because of the way she dressed.’ I’m like, ‘So it’s my fault (laughing) because I asked them to turn their music down. I got attacked and I fought back because I didn’t want to be a victim and now I’m in trouble. I refused to be a victim and now I’m incarcerated.’”
Whom was Dunn a victim of? Was it the unarmed child he shot or the music itself? Did smooth jazz penetrate him, or was it soft rock? (Apologies to rapper Lil Reese for this line of questioning.)
Dunn said that violence was brought upon him and that he is now being judged as harshly as a victim of sexual assault. The difference is, he wasn’t attacked. The only imminent threat was Dunn himself. The only violence came from his hand. He raped his own self-perpetuated fear, the fault entirely his own.
In another call, Dunn said, “I’m the f*** victim here….I was the one who was victimized … I’m the victor, but I was the victim too.”
The issue with engaging in a conversation of rape culture – “an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women is normalized and excused,” where victims are seen as culpable when ‘factors’ such as clothing and appearance sound like sufficient grounds to ask for assault – is that Dunn immediately adds power to a system that systematically casts doubt on the victim first.
Dunn was not raped. He committed an act of violence. The real victim of this crime is a boy who is now dead. It is Jordan’s innocence, like victims of rape culture, that is now inextricably tied to a legacy of fear.
In response to Dunn’s claims, Jordan’s father told MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, “The victim was the one that had a bullet go through his lungs.”
Someone was definitely screwed that night, but my guess is it wasn’t Michael Dunn.