Being on vacation last week and part of the week prior, I have gotten behind in the news. I have two half-finished posts on Israel/Palestine (yup, I will go there) and the Open Carry Fuckwits, but I saw this article this morning and simply….AAAAIGH!
The article the revealed that one of the convicted Steubenville rapists had rejoined his high school (American) football team.
The public reaction to the Steubenville rape case and the fact that a convicted felon was allowed back on the team reveal two major problems haunting America and American schools today:
1. We have a rape culture.
I really hate sweeping, sensationalist generalizations like this, but over the last couple years, it simply has become inescapable.
When the Steubenville case first hit the major news outlets, it was NOT a small number of voices placing blame squarely on the head of the unconscious victim. It was a large number.
She was a slut, she was a whore, she was just trying to “get” the players, she was trying to avoid responsibility, she should not have been drinking, women should know better than to drink around men, she had poor morals and bad parenting.
Even after the video tape was released of the rapists bragging and laughing about it, they were still not at fault. The attitude seemed to be “Boys will be boys and she should have known better.”
The recent case of the cosplayer at SD ComicCon brought the apologists out again. Before the investigation revealed it was an accident, while sexual assault was suspected, “If she dresses like a whore, she can expect to be treated like a whore,” was one of the many victim-blaming opinions I saw on Facebook.
I did not know wearing the equivilant of a one piece bathing suit was “dressing like a whore.”
(And even prostitutes don’t deserve to be raped.)
And let’s not even get into the “Men’s Rights” twats who assume every accusation of rape is a lie, which happens only a minute percentage of the time. (And by “Men’s Rights,” I am not talking about the groups who fight for equal custody and divorce rulings, I’m talking about the misogynist extremists who inspire people like Elliot Rodger.)
So many people think every time woman, or even a girl, dresses in a way that expresses her sexuality or is even trendy or attractive, she should expect to be raped.
The ones that really irk me are those who try to mask it under “friendly advice.” “I will waffle for a paragraph or two, but what I mean is that women should not go out dressed attractively. They should not go out and drink where there are men. If they do that, they are partly to blame if this happens to them. It’s just common sense.” Again, the attitude is that men can’t be held responsible for their actions and it is up to women to be in charge of men’s self-control.
Well hell, let’s just break out the burquas and chaperone laws already.
(The other rationalization that comes up in this context and the conversations about the double standard of woman “slut” vs. man “sowing his wild oats” that drives me batty is, “It’s just alpha-male, animal instinct baby, spreading the genes around. It’s totally natural. Deal with it..” Animal instinct, huh? Fine. Hand over your car keys, your house/apartment keys, your phone, your computer, your health insurance/NIH card and go hunt deer with your bare hands. O.K., I’ll let you have a rock. You want to enjoy the benefits of a civilized society, you have to act like a civilized human being.)
Nor were the apologists a small group of extreme outliers, or even a small minority. This was the huge, loud, group of people who roll out the victim blaming every time a story of a sexual assault comes up in the news. In the comments on every article about the Steubenville case, and every succeeding case of sexual assault on a school campus, could be found a significant number of people blaming the victim for their rape.
And this with the appalling rate of sexual assault on college campuses.
And before you think that is a lot, remember this is not a one rape victim to one rapist ratio. Recent studies have found rapists to be serial offenders, predators stalking easy targets.
The murderer is the blame for the murder. Thief is to blame for the theft.
I don’t care if you left your car or place unlocked. No one was holding a gun to head of the thief to make them open the door of a car or a domicile that does not belong to them. Every morning I walk by two gardens filled with fresh vegetables that I would love to eat. They are right there, out in the open. But stealing from them is still stealing and the fault is mine if I chose to do it. In a court of law, thieves get the book thrown at them whether the car or home was locked or no. In a case of murder or theft, the court would NOT find the victim at fault in the ruling.
Yet judges have repeatedly found the victim at least partially at fault in rape.
Rape is the only crime where the victim is on trial as much, or perhaps even more, than the accused, and the courts put them through hell.
And repeatedly is only the minimum sentence given to the convicted rapist. (In the rare instance the rapist is convicted.) In the Steubenville case, they received a minimum sentence and the judge recommended they be remanded to a minimum security…what sounded like essentially a psychiatric treatment center where they would be treated with warm fuzzies by the staff.
“Promising futures” of what? Sexually assaulting women?
Though with Richmond rejoining the Steubenville team, it appears that raping someone does not, in fact, ruin your life. Rape is O.K.. The Steubenville school administration has shown all the boys in the area that if you play well and rape someone, your life will go on and fans will love you no matter what you do.
And let’s not forget our politicians and “legitimate rape.”
So at every legal level of our society, we have people who think rape is excusable, the victim’s fault and/or a just punishment for not acting “like a good girl.”
(Which, again, for women who preach victim-blaming it is a fallacy they tell themselves to feel safer, “If I act like a good girl and dress like a good girl, this will never happen to me.”
Or a “good boy.” The prevalence of male-victim rape is just becoming known as men come out of the shadows to admit what has happened to them.
Women and men suffer the same trauma from rape, but men have to cope with the added inhibitor of society’s definition of masculinity that makes it difficult for them to confront and deal with being sexually assaulted, especially openly. In society’s view “real men” are not victimized in that way. Unless they choose to be and then we’re back to the victim blaming. In one famous case, a homosexual male rape victim was told by the LAPD, “Gay men can’t be raped.”
Nor are men the only rapists. If a man gropes a woman, it’s considered creepy at least, sexual assault at worst. But if a woman gropes a man, she’s just coming on to him. *wink, wink*nudge, nudge* You lucky bastard. If he doesn’t want to be groped and feels uncomfortable, “What’s the matter with you? Are you gay?” The entire definition of their sexual identity is attacked because a woman did not respect their personal space. And being raped by a woman? They have to fight the public perception that it is not physically possible and that there is something wrong with them.
It is physically possible.
Respecting personal space is the same whether the person is a woman or a man.
But the acceptance of rape in our society in this day and age is simply, appallingly, wrong. It simply should not be. We should have gotten over this decades ago.
And yet, we have not. In fact in the last couple years, it seems to have gotten worse. I don’t know if it is *just* indicative of a long, silently held prejudice roiling under the surface, and it has to be in part, or if the sudden large eruption into the public discussion has been prompted by something else.
2. The second cultural disease is the worship of sports in American society has gone too far and the damage it is doing to our schools.
More on that later.