Commenter, “Village Snark”, asked me if I was going to write about the Steubenville rape case. It’s pretty traumatizing to go through. I mentioned it quickly on this blog after one of Traci Lords first interviews [here].
“We need to shine the brightest light on [rape]. The daylight is really the best disinfectant.”
Lords is from Steubenville and was raped as a young girl, which she goes into in her autobiography Underneath It All.
I got the bulk of the story in a video here. It’s interesting and horrifying to see how nonchalantly some of these people treat the situation. There is video of a boy who wasn’t present at the rape laughing about it, and other people are laughing with him in the background.
Is it really so hard to empathize when you don’t know what it’s like to be raped? I have barely an inkling based on two separate experiences, but I try to imagine it through having my car broken into twice. Not the best comparison, yet through that experience I know that having something stolen from you leaves a hollow, sick feeling of violation. Imagine that on a more personal level and I find it impossible not to empathize with someone who’s not only had something personal stolen, but was physically present and helpless to resist. At what point does empathy kick in? I suppose once you’re on trial and sentenced to serve time?
When I go on about education, I think facing the horrors of life honestly is part of that. We have got to talk about sexual abuses openly. It’s an incredible disservice to our youth that we squirm and turn away from topics about sex, especially when the topic confronts the violation of body and trust.
Nina Hartley retweeted this today, Finally! An Anti-Rape Campaign That Isn’t Victim Blame-y. From Rebecca Eisenberg:
“This ad helped reduce the rates of sexual assault in Vancouver by almost 10% after it went up in bars and schools around the city in 2011, but its message is (unfortunately) still relevant today.”
Also, I just read this article entitled, The Verdict: Steubenville Shows the Bond Between Jock Culture and Rape Culture. Dave Zirin writes:
“As a sportswriter, there is one part of the Steubenville High School rape trial that has kept rattling in my brain long after the defendants were found guilty. It was a text message sent by one of the now-convicted rapists, team quarterback Trent Mays. Mays had texted a friend that he wasn’t worried about the possibility of rape charges because his football coach, local legend Reno Saccoccia, “took care of it.” In another text, Mays said of Coach Reno, “Like, he was joking about it so I’m not worried.”
In this exchange we see an aspect of the Steubenville case that should resonate in locker rooms and athletic departments across the country: the connective tissue between jock culture and rape culture. Rape culture is not just about rape. It’s about the acceptance of women as “things” to be used and disposed, which then creates a culture where sexual assault—particularly at social settings—is normalized. We learned at the Steubenville trial that not only did a small group of football players commit a crime, but fifty of their peers, men and women, saw what was happening and chose to do nothing, effectively not seeing a crime at all.”
Zirin goes on to link the rape with a sense of entitlement.
You can’t extricate the entitlement at the heart of jock culture from [Sarah] McMahon’s comments about its particular prevalence in revenue-producing sports. The insane amounts of money in so-called amateur athletics and the greasy desire of adults in charge of cash-strapped universities to get their share also must bear responsibility for rape culture in the locker room. They have created a system where teenage NCAA athletes can’t be paid for what they produce, so they receive a different kind of wage: worship. Adults treat them like heroes, students treat them like rock stars, and amidst classes, club meetings and exams, there exists a gutter economy where women become a form of currency. You’re a teenager being told that you are responsible for the economic viability of your university and everything is yours for the taking. This very set-up is a Steubenville waiting to happen.
I suppose on some level–however inconceivable–a sense of entitlement can be attributed to most human atrocities; slavery, The Crusades, the Holocaust, the epidemic of pedophilia in church circles, teachers who abuse their position and trade good grades for sexual favors, etc. Too much ego leads people to abuse, thinking they are above rules and laws. What a terrible situation. I don’t know what else to say.
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