Monday, March 18, 2013

Getting it horribly wrong

Rape cultureYesterday, we got a piece of good news out of Ohio, when the judge found the two high school football players in Steubenville guilty of rape. It was a horrible incident, with a 16-year-old girl drunk, passed out, and violated by two young men. Some of the super geniuses involved decided to take pictures and video, and you know the rest.

The fact that they were guilty was the good part, but CNN and other news outlets had to go mess it up by talking about how these boys got good grades and now their lives are ruined and they have to register as sex offenders and blah di fucking blah.

Seriously? As if they had no culpability in this matter? As if they were good kids who caught being rapists? What the hell was the point of this bizarre defense of these two rapists? If they didn’t want their lives messed up, perhaps they shouldn’t have, you know...RAPED A GIRL.

This is nothing new. We’ve heard it all before. “She shouldn’t have gotten so drunk.” “She shouldn’t have been out that late.” And that extra-special one, “She shouldn’t have dressed like a slut.” It’s called blaming the victim, and I’m sick of it. How about we start blaming the rapist instead of the woman? Let’s understand, once and for all, that rape is a crime of violence, not one of sex.

This is offensive enough to women, but men should find it equally as insulting. It implies that they are idiot creatures who have no control over their testosterone, and are driven simply mad by the sight of a woman in a short skirt. If I were a guy, I don’t think I’d appreciate being thought of as that stupid and out of control.

It’s a dumb argument on both sides, and it’s time to alter the discussion. Instead of slut-shaming or portraying men as a bunch of dumbasses who can’t control themselves, let’s start sending the message that rape is rape, and it is always wrong. It’s not wrong only if you get caught, it’s not wrong only if the woman is aware enough to fight back, it is wrong. From the time I was a young woman, I was taught to stay out of dark alleys, not walk anywhere by myself, and to not dress provocatively. This is the wrong conversation and the wrong audience. Start teaching young men at an early age that it is. Wrong, wrong, wrong. What is so difficult about this concept?

If we have failed these young men, it is a failure of our society and culture. The message needs to be sent early and often: not to young women about dressing appropriately, but to young men about respecting boundaries and understanding that an assault is always wrong, no matter the circumstances. The blame is not on a woman for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It is squarely on the shoulders of those who assault her. That includes those two young men, sobbing so pitifully in court. Their lives are ruined? I would imagine that it would be more than a little disturbing and ruinous to see the video of your sexual assault all over YouTube.

Shame on the media for driving this false perception and feeding the “oh, those poor boys” paradigm. Time to change the conversation.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Beth, every time I think we have made progress, I hear shit like what CNN said yesterday. Oh, those poor poor boys, it was all that girl's fault.

    Today, when I was in the break room one of our managers, talking about another subject said something that I think applies here (in this world of GOP idiocy)... [we're taking] two steps forward, five steps back.

    I share your disgust and completely agree with your thesis... the wrong conversation has been made for far too long!

  3. Somewhere between puberty and that evening, these boys got the idea that if a girl is drunk at a party, the manly thing to do is screw her, not make sure she gets home safe. All the boys who watched likewise seemed to think making a touchdown is heroic, but intervening in a rape - not so much.
    Sometimes I am so ashamed of my sex. But there is something rotten to the core on a much greater scale. These boys have mothers for god's sake - if the father is not teaching them how to treat women right then why isn't the mother?
    Why aren't parents teaching their kids to never ever bully, and to intervene when they see bullying happen?
    And then the comments on twitter...douchebags across the land just doubling down on their douchebaggery...frightening.

  4. Beth, 2nd paragraph should begin "The fact that they were FOUND guilty was the good part." We already knew they were guilty, and there was nothing good about it. What's good is that justice prevailed, in the courts if not the media.

  5. Where to begin, where to begin...

    This Gawker story about an Onion spoof of an athelete being found guilty of rape and overcoming it exemplifies the culture of entitlement that atheletes get... and in places like Ohio where they deify teenage boys, whose brains can become so awash with hormones that they are literally not in the right minds, it is like putting out a fire with gasoline...

    I have not been following the story intently, but they both got a year... FOR RAPE..! Vainglorious, that is an essential slap on the wrist for something as heinous as rape...

    With the light sentence, the CNN coverage, and one news outlet NAMING THE VICTIM, this is one of the most egregious examples of slanted media coverage in many, many years...

  6. It is disgusting.
    Rape is rape.
    And boys who get good grades sometimes rape. But they had a choice to make that night, rape that girl or don't rape that girl, and all their good grades and prowess on the football field didn't help them choose the right choice, the moral choice.
    Their lives "might" be ruined, but they ruined them, themselves.

  7. i cant say anything more eloquently than you or the other commentators have already said. for once, justice is served in ohio. what about the other 49 states?


  8. Excellent post, Beth. All true.... sadly true.


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