I’ve been following the Steubenville case pretty closely. Frankly, I’m livid.
America is a developed nation. We, as Americans, have the opportunity to succeed and are granted life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I do not live in a third world country; I am accustomed to an ideal American lifestyle.
Although we have options galore for success and happiness, what exists (and really blows my mind) is the rape culture present in the good ole’ USofA. HelloGiggles writer Julia Gadzag describes “rape culture” as “a culture in which attitudes about rape are tolerant enough to be an enabling factor in anything ranging from sexual harassment to actual rape.”
In the case of the young girl (not a woman) who was raped and was photographed while naked in Steubenville, Ohio, her life has changed dramatically. She will no longer be viewed as innocent or pure–perpetuating the prevalent double standard–and will most likely find it difficult to experience a healthy relationship or sex life for that matter.
I was ashamed watching CNN discuss the trial and “promising futures” of the two football players. SN: An athlete is a human being, first and foremost. What he/she decides to do illegally with his/her free time should be punishable regardless of talent on the field. Being an athlete is NO excuse to rape someone. EVER.
What about the young girl who is now receiving death threats because she actually…gasp…confessed to being raped? Her life is over. A dark cloud now hangs over her head because mainstream media has made her out to be the villain in this sick and twisted scenario. It’s not fair.
Let me put it to you this way:
- Just because I smile at you doesn’t mean I want to have sex with you.
- Just because I flirt with you doesn’t mean I want to have sex with you.
- Just because I’m wearing something revealing DOESN’T mean I’m “asking for it” if you decide to “be a man” and force sex upon me. (We’ll get into the culture of hyper-masculinity in a later post, don’t fret.)
- Just because I drink a few glasses of wine and look like I’m “ready for it” doesn’t mean you can take advantage of me.
It’s not okay. Here’s a little more perspective thanks to STAR (Sexual Trauma Awareness & Response):
- In the US, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men report experiencing an attempted or completed rape at some time in their lives
- In Louisiana, the rate of forcible rapes in 2009 was estimated at 30.3 per 100,000 inhabitants
- 9 in 10 rape survivors are women
- 93% of juvenile sexual assault survivors know their attackers
This brings me to my point. This young girl knew these men. They had been in contact before the night in question. She flirted with one of them. Does that mean she was asking to be raped and photographed? No. She was drunk…not an excuse either. These young athletes were popular, I’m assuming, in their hometowns. So that makes it fine, right? Hell to the no.
We HAVE to stand up for victims. We cannot victimize perpetrators, and we certainly can’t blame the victim based upon variables that can attribute to the act of rape. It’s not okay. She didn’t ask for it. We have to do better.