Tuesday, March 19, 2013

On Steubenville and Rhetoric

The Stubenville case is almost too disturbing for words. It's almost too hard to write about.

This is a case that's so disturbing and polarizing, there is almost no way to react to it that won't cause some sort of backlash. Yesterday, the focus was on CNN, and its reporters coverage of the case. CNN chose to focus on the two boys convicted of rape, their ruined lives, the fact they will be branded as sex offenders for the rest of their lives, their academic and athletic records.

At first this outraged me. What about the victim? What about her ruined life? Did anyone talk about what a good student she may have been? What would this do to her future in academics or athletics? I was literally seething.

But then I kept reading more people's take on the subject, and it went from being smart commentary to ridiculous rhetoric, the throwing around of the terms rape culture, toxic masculinity and rape apologist. I realized this wasn't helping.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized we had to think about that victim, of course, but we also did have to think about these two boys, these rapists. We do have to think about the fact that these two boys were, on paper, very smart, good athletes, etc. It is important to think about this because we need to figure out what the FUCK went wrong.

We also do need to ask ourselves why this 16 year old girl was blind drunk. So drunk, that she couldn't remember what happened to her. A lot of people will tell you that her being drunk shouldn't matter, but it does. Not because it makes her deserving of what happened to her, but because it was a contributing factor to what happened to her.

Why do two seemingly smart boys, 16 year old boys, suddenly get the idea that it's ok to finger a passed out girl? Why on earth is the 16 year old girl (and probably other girls and boyd) blind drunk, to the point where a rape could happen, but what else? Maybe she could have died from alcohol poisoning? And even more worrying, WHO THE FUCK were these other kids, the ones who thought it made more sense to whip out their cellphones and secord a RAPE, rather than use those damn phones to call the police? They were the same assholes that thought it well and good to post the pictures and videos on the internet.

There was a storm of things that happened that night to put all these people, these supposed good kids, into the situation they found themselves in. We can't pretend like these kids, now convicted rapists, weren't otherwise smart because it won't do anything to solve future problems.

Who is teaching these kids that it is ok to touch ANYONE without express consent? How do these kids not know that NO MEANS NO and that if you can't say no (because you are too goddamn drunk) that you can't say yes either.

Where are the parents? Why were all these kids, rapists, victim and audience alike, all allowed out partying into the night, drunk as skunks?

Who raised these kids to think it's A-OK to stand by and do nothing while someone is being hurt? Worse still, how were they raised to think the first thing they should do is video tape and take pictures for any other purpose than helping the police?

I don't even understand.

It matters that these 16 year olds were supposedly so smart. It matters that people expected more of them and it matters that we talk about the fact their lives were ruined because WE NEED TO STOP THIS. We need to stop young girls from being victimized by these rapists and their supposed friends, but we also need to stop these young boys from thinking that what happened was ok. We need to be hammering home to these kids and adults that LOOK, these guys could have been something one day but they won't now because they conducted themselves in horrifying fashion.

We need to talk about it and make people see that horrific actions have horrific consequences.

We need to understand that NO ONE should have their lives ruined at the age of 16 for this because it was entirely preventable.

The way I see it, there was just SO MUCH that went wrong here, that it can't be so black and white.

This poor girl, I can't even imagine what she's going to. I don't feel a ton of sympathy for her rapists, but I do think we need to be talking about them and making an example of them. You don't want to be like these boys, they could have had so much better in their lives too.

1 comment:

Bio_vet said...

I think you raise a lot of important questions and this is one of the better posts I've seen on the issue.

One point I don't see being raised much at all is, where are the parents in all of this? A bunch of 16-year olds having a party where people are blind drunk?

I was a high school student once and I know that kids will go to parties and drink (I personally avoided those parties because I thought it was a stupid waste of time), but how can we expect a bunch of children to show any kind of responsibility when their parents are absent/irresponsible at best and at worse provide the alcohol and the environment where this can occur?