Steubenville and the Dominant Rape Culture

saysomethingThis nationwide campaign has become the MTA’s security rallying cry to prevent and stop dangerous acts from occurring on trains and buses. The seemingly simple “if, then” command seems obvious and even easier to follow.

“If you see something, say something.”

Enter Steubenville, a small industrial town with under 19,000 residents.

Enter two male high school students (star football players), a raucous party (crazy amount of underage drinking), and a victim (a sixteen year old girl raped by the two students while many stood by and instagrammed and/or commented via facebook about her drunken helpless body throughout the night).

“If you see something, say something.”

Not so simple when surrounded by others who are also watching, disgustedly or interestedly. Not so simple when surrounded by others who are witnessing multiple crimes simultaneously, specially rape, sexual assault, and underage drinking. Not so simple when one is actively partaking in one or more crimes. Not so simple when one is concerned that saying something will result in becoming a social pariah.

Not. So. Simple.

I found out about the case while perusing Facebook, an activity that has increased in the last couple of days since I am on Spring Break and am enjoying a “staycation” in my living room. I read a couple of articles and most of them focused on the perpetrators and the lasting effect that the conviction would have on their lives. And I thought to myself, what about the victim? In mid-thought, I randomly remembered being in my tenth grade History class and hearing my teacher’s voice comment on a movie about rape. I could not remember the name of it, but remembered Jodie Foster starred in the film. Later that evening, by happenstance, the movie, The Accused, was playing on Hbo and I watched it, with Steubenville on my mind.

“How were you dressed?” Were you drunk?” “Did you go to the party alone?” and other demeaning questions imply that the victim somehow asked to be violated and raped. Somehow her attire invited others to use her body sexually without her consent. Somehow her intoxication level solicited and made it ok for others to watch her get raped, haplessly dragged from party to party, instagrammed, and ultimately left on a lawn.  Somehow being alone at a party permitted others to blame her for her victimization, fault her for “ruining” the lives of these young men, and betray her as someone who “asked” for this outcome.

“If you see something, say something.”

Well, I see something, so I’ll say something: Rape is never justifiable!America’s double standard surrounding women and violence and sex greatly disturbs me. The attention, love and care should be heaped only upon the victim, who must now struggle to live through this experience publicly. Those young men deserve everything that they will get (currently, each boy is sentenced to one year in a juvenile center, while one may receive an extra year for distributing images of the victim to his friends via text). They deserve to carry with them the mark of sexual criminals because that’s what they are (in a different alternative judicial system, they should have the ability to atone for their crimes, but that’s not the way we do it in America. Nope. We punish, which often makes the situation worse). They made that decision to rape that young lady that night, and must face the consequences of their actions. And to all the people who are claiming that the victim’s a whore because of her past sexual experience, be quiet! We all have sexual experiences in our closet. One cannot judge others, and I definitely won’t judge.

I saw something, and said something!



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