I don't write about my political views here, although I am extremely opinionated in that arena. This is a happy place where no arguments on the economy or debates on gun control need to happen....it's a place where I can mindlessly enjoy sharing recipes and stories about mine and Main Man's life together and hope that a couple of you enjoy reading about it...an online, public diary of sorts. But, I have to speak about this now, because I have to express the anger in me that has built so much the past two days that I can barely type. I have to throw my hat into the debate about young people, rape, underage drinking, social media, and the recent conviction of Trent Mays and Ma'lik Richmond (I think everyone should remember these names) for the rape of their 16 year old classmate.
It needs to be addressed that I'm flabbergasted that there is even a debate on this subject or any slight amount of media or public sympathy for either of these two boys, whether or not they were "good kids", "star athletes", or "promising young men". Any promise you had was out the window long before this act occurred, there was never any real promise in your life when you weren't taught that a human being, male or female, should not be treated like a sack of potatoes or a sex doll. I was very surprised that I hadn't heard the story until recently, so if you're in the dark here, read this overview about the Steubenville rape case.
I'm not happy that I have to link to this article so that you can see the picture of the young girl that was assaulted that night. I went back and forth on whether or not to include it at all because I feel sharing that photo continues to revictimize the young woman over and over. But I need you to feel the wrench in your gut that I felt when I saw that photo. Seeing the picture makes this all the more real. If you really want to attempt to choke back the vomit in your throat right now, watch the video at the bottom of that link to see another football player's reaction to the ongoing attack. If you can believe it, I read transcripts of text messages between the "rape crew" that night that were more vile than that video. Now, try to understand how other GIRLS are being charged with harassing and threatening bodily harm to the victim (like she hasn't lived through enough) on social media because they are upset about the outcome of the case. If you can explain all that away by their age and immaturity, how about the supposed coverups from football coaches and other adults in the community? And if you think this is simply limited to a small town's moral degeneration, please tell me how you wrap your head around CNN's coverage of the verdict on Sunday.
What's going on here?!!? Am I living in the twilight zone this week? I cannot fathom how young men, who should obviously know better, could treat another human being like that when they most certainly have women in their lives that they themselves love...a sister, a mother, a girlfriend. I can't figure out how young women will attack an already victimized and terrorized girl who is trying to stand up for herself, as well as THEIR right not to be treated like a sex toy. And for the life of me, the most asinine of it all, is how the adults in Steubenville, in the media, and all over this country aren't forming a lynch mob against these boys instead of having conversations about how drunk the girl was, if she liked and was flirting with one of the boys who did this to her, and the definition of rape.
Rape is the only crime these "promising young athletes" could've committed and still be getting this kind of sympathy. If they had mugged a man dressed in nice clothes, no one would be saying the victim was asking for it because they dressed too nicely. If they had been taking performance enhancing drugs, no one would have said they were just "star athletes being star athletes". Why is the focus on the potential these boys had instead of the trauma they imparted on their victim? The only potential I see is the potential to be a college athlete rapist over a high school athlete rapist. Would the attitude toward women or human life have changed in the next year or two when they are at school unsupervised with people's daughters who are learning to live on their own?
Why is it that rape is the only crime that gets turned around on the victim? Why is it that this girl deserved to be penetrated by them without even knowing it, because she chose to drink that night? I do understand that underage drinking is a crime, but if you can put that level of crime on the same playing field as the crime of rape, then there's no reason for me to argue any of this with you. If having an alcoholic bevvy equals consent, I don't know one female who isn't down for rape. By the way, it's still unclear whether she was drugged or not, but in my estimation, there's no question that a person who was that unresponsive so abruptly had some sort of foreign substance besides alcohol in their system.
This brings me to my point. I'm petrified. Terrified. Utterly trembling with anger and fear that I hope to bring children into this world someday. This world. A world where a girl can be put on trial for her mistakes but a boy can get off the hook (or get a slap on the wrist in this case, I'm not sure why they weren't charged as adults for a crime like this) for being an animal. A world where people say "boys will be boys", but "If you dress like a slut, expect to get treated like one." A world where the innocence of trying to hang out with a high school crush can be turned into him using your unconcious body as his playtoy without your knowledge or consent. A world where one night out with friends will haunt you for the rest of your life, even if you can't remember it. I could have been her. She could be my daughter someday.
I cannot fathom what I would want to do to those boys if they had hurt my daughter in that way. I also don't want to imagine the pain I would feel if my son had been involved in something of this nature in any way. There were boys who went to help the girl when they found out what was happening. There were boys that I would be proud to call my son that stood up and said it was wrong...that this was rape. But they didn't call an adult. They didn't call the police. They didn't get her home to her parents.
I'm not sure how to fix this. Social networking had a large role in the sharing of this girl's torture and the bullying of her since the verdict, but can we really blame the internet for these kids' actions? Can we blame the parents? Can we blame the "athletes can do no wrong" mentality or the victim shaming culture we have in rape situations as a society today? I'm not sure...what I am sure about is that I have full plans to have vivid conversations with my children about occurances such as these when they reach a certain age. Full disclosure about what can happen to my daughter when she's not expecting it, and specific expectations about what my son's responsibilities will be in situations where bad things are happening. Since, as a nation, we don't know how to prevent school shootings and gangbangs it seems, I guess the only way to prepare for the scariest things in life is to have an open dialogue about them. And then cross every finger and toe we have that we've done everything we can to raise a generation of people who won't stand for these things anymore. One kid at at a time. Here's hoping...