I am so fucking sick of rape apologists.
The two teens accused of sexually assaulting an incapacitated girl in Steubenville, Ohio were found guilty yesterday in a juvenile court. They were sentenced to one year and two years, respectively, in juvenile detention. CNN’s coverage of the event focused exclusively on how difficult this verdict was for those poor boys:
For those of you who don’t care to watch, the Raw Story provides quotes along with extremely justified disgust.
For those of you who don’t care to click on links, here’s a choice quote from CNN’s Paul Callan:
There’s always that moment of just — lives are destroyed,” Callan remarked. “But in terms of what happens now, the most severe thing with these young men is being labeled as registered sex offenders. That label is now placed on them by Ohio law.”
“That will haunt them for the rest of their lives.
[EDIT]: It was pointed out to me in the comments that Paul Callan’s actual quote from the video was: “There’s always that moment of just — lives are destroyed, and of course lives have already been destroyed by the crime, and we’ve seen that. But in terms of what happens now…” The Raw Story edited the quote to omit Paul Callan’s mention of the victim, which is not fair.
However, aside from one passing reference, there is still absolutely NO consideration of how BEING RAPED is going to affect their victim. She was barely mentioned at all.
When rape victims are mentioned in the media, it is almost always an accusatory edge – even when those victims are 11 years old. What was she wearing? Was she drunk? Had she flirted with, looked at, spoken to her alleged rapist before he raped her?
ABC News shows exactly this bullshit in a rape-apologist piece they ran five days ago called “The Steubenville Rape Case: The Story You Haven’t Heard.”
20/20 anchor Elizabeth Vargas discusses “incriminating statements” made by the victim’s best friends, including that “she had made a plan to meet up with one of the accused rapists – one of the football players accused of rape – later on in the evening and therefore had given prior consent, [and] that she might’ve even had a history of doing this kind of thing before.”
Because flirting constitutes consent, which is something you give once, that lasts forever, even when you’re too drunk to stand up or know where you are! Because if you’ve had sex before (assuming that is the “kind of thing” to which she refers so ominously), you are a slut and therefore unrapeable! Oh, and let’s not forget, they are not accused rapists – they are football players, accused of rape by some girl who should’ve known better than to get drunk around men.
In fact, this ABC article spends three introductory paragraphs waxing poetic about the glory of the Steubenville football team, and how important it is to the small “all-American” town. It then discusses, at length, how the “social media frenzy” is tearing this wholesome town apart.
And then they put “rape culture” in scare quotes. Because this article isn’t horrible, glaring proof that rape culture is thriving in the most influential sectors of our society.
In a bizarre yet heartening turn of events, Yahoo! Sports covered the verdict without apologizing for the rapists, and called out the culture that led to two young men raping an unconscious girl while 40 of their friends laughed and took pictures – although they call it arrogance, and depict the culture as limited to one small town, rather than a national epidemic.
Yes, this was extreme arrogance. The arrogance to not just joke and brag like the teenage boys they were, but to commit those jokes to text messages, to snap a photo of the girl being carried out like she was a casualty coming off a battle field. Even guys who weren’t there sat around a basement laughing about how “the dead girl” was “so raped.”
A quick tour of social media reveals hundreds of people (unsurprisingly) echoing the message of major media chains. Here’s a typical one (from a female twitter user):
I’m not saying what they did wasn’t wrong but it’s not rape. . . it’s the girl’s fault. #dontdrink
Rape culture teaches us that if a woman drinks, she is asking for it. If a woman wears a skirt, she is asking for it. If a woman flirts with a man, she is asking for it. Rape culture teaches us that men are entitled to womens’ bodies. Rape culture teaches us that rape is something evil, shadowy rapists do to strangers at gunpoint. Good boys, football players, can’t be rapists. Therefore, they can’t rape.
Those young men who got convicted? They probably still think that what they did wasn’t rape. All of their friends who watched them didn’t stop them, because they didn’t think what was happening was rape.
Rape culture is not just disgusting and horrifying and wrong. Rape culture causes rape. That young woman had her life blown apart by rape culture. So did those young men. So do countless people, every single day.
Here’s what I’m writing:
I was disgusted and appalled by your coverage of the Steubenville rape case. Victim blaming, slut shaming, and rape apologizing are not okay. Your concern for the welfare of the perpetrators over that of the victim is clear indication of where you stand. You are perpetuating rape culture. And you should be fucking ashamed.
Feel free to use it, or write your own message (add or subtract profanity as you please!). But please – write one. Share this, or the original stories, on Facebook. Spread the outrage, mobilize your friends, tweet until your fingers bleed.
Because rape culture causes rapes. And major media outlets that perpetuate rape culture can not get away with this shit.