I have been debating if I should write about this. So many talented writers and great minds have weighed in so I thought everything that could have been said, has been said. Then I found out that one of the convicted Steubenville rapists was appealing his sentence based on the grounds that his mind is not yet fully formed. It could be argued that because the convicted rapist is a juvenile and therefore does not have a fully formed brain, that is exactly why he is getting such a light sentence. Had his mind been “fully formed” then he might be facing 10-15 years in maximum security prison. As it stands he might serve a year or more in a juvenile institution.
What would be terrifying is the unlikely scenario of a judge buying this nonsense. That would set up a precedent that rape is perfectly acceptable as long as the attacker is underage. The brain of a child is not responsible for committing such a heinous act and the violent predator shouldn’t have to pay for his or her crimes.
Can we please remember the victim in this case is also a child? What about her brain? What kind of damage did this one act of violence do to her developing mind? What did the subsequent harassment, bullying and death threats do to her psyche and self-esteem? How will she be tormented, humiliated and scorned in her small community for years to come after this trial is over? Will she have to relocate and change her name thanks to Fox news releasing her identity? Her brain is also still not completely formed and the damage that has already been done to it is tantamount.
But what really makes me insane with anger is the fact that anyone would feel it necessary to lament the lives destroyed of these two young men and not of this young woman. These boys not only violated this young woman, but then they bragged about it afterward. They urinated on her and thought it was hysterical. She was an object and a plaything – ridiculed and tossed away once finished. Rape is a crime of violence. Would another violent crime be treated the same? What if they had beaten her? What if they put her into a coma? What if they had accidentally killed her? Would the media lament their lost football careers? How is it any different.
What if the situation were reversed? What if the boys had been anally raped with found objects, urinated on and then dumped naked in a cold basement only to be photographed and humiliated on the internet afterward? Would the issue of consent even be brought up? Why is it that a woman or in this case a girl is somehow always available for sex? What the hell is going on here?
According to the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network
- 44% of all rape victims are under the age of 18
- 80% are under the age of 30
- Every 2 minutes someone in the US is raped
- 207,754 are victims of sexual assault every year
I don’t need statistics to know the truth. I know from my own experiences and from those of my friends – rape happens, attempted rape happens, molestation happens as does sexual intimidation and harassment. In any group of adult women it is usually more difficult to find someone who doesn’t have a story to tell. We are not all victims of course, but we have all had to deal with sexual intimidation or violence on some level. If nothing else, harassment or intimidation is meant to put us in our rightful place – sexual object and nothing else.
Those boys are responsible for their actions and if they have ruined their football careers they only have themselves to blame. They may have only been 16, but so was their victim. My heart goes out to her as this is only the beginning. She will likely face more grief, ridicule and hatred in the months and years to come. All because she had the nerve and strength to stand up to her attackers.
If nothing else this case has at least awoken our consciousness to the rape culture that is still so pervasive in this country. A sixteen year girl was raped – that is the real tragedy.
- Steubenville: this is rape culture’s Abu Ghraib moment (newstatesman.com)
- I don’t want to write about Steubenville. (emilylhauserinmyhead.wordpress.com)
- [link] I Am Not Your Wife, Sister or Daughter. I Am A Person. (feimineach.com)
- [link] Without Media Focus, Would Steubenville’s Rapists Have Been Found Guilty? (feimineach.com)
- Lessons learned from the Steubenville rape case (thegrio.com)
- Petition Demands CNN Apologize For “Disgusting” Steubenville Rape Coverage (buzzfeed.com)
- Here’s What CNN Should’ve Said About the Steubenville Rape Case (jezebel.com)
- Fox News Runs Name Of Steubenville Rape Victim (thinkprogress.org)
- Rapists Aren’t Victims (thegloss.com)
- Stop the Next Steubenville (helloladies.com)