Dear Steubenville, Sexual Assault Victims Are Never "Asking For It"
I should start by saying that don’t really want to write about this.
I don’t want to let you guys know about the now-viral video of some teenage boys from Steubenville, Ohio boasting and joking and admitting to gang raping a girl who was passed out at a party.
I don’t want to let you know that the girl only found out about the full gravity of the sexual assault via social media the next day.
I don’t want to let you know that there was a house full of people who saw her being roofied, gang raped and abused and did nothing, except tweet and post to Instagram about it. And of course, people also then later made videos laughing about how she had been raped “dead.” I don’t want to tell you that, either.
I also don’t want to tell you that some people thought she got what she deserved because she was young and female and drinking underage and therefore, “asking for it”.
I certainly don’t want to also tell you that some members of the community are ignoring all this evidence and calling the victim the “train whore“. I don’t want to add that the reason the boys are considered innocent by their community is because they are superstar athletes on the town’s football team or that the victim is being accused of lying about the rape because, and I quote what Steubenville resident Nate Hubbard actually said to the The New York Times, “What else are you going to tell your parents when you come home drunk like that and after a night like that? She had to make up something. Now people are trying to blow up our football program because of it.”
I don’t want any of this to exist because I don’t want rape and abuse to exist.
I’m sure none of you want me to talk about these things, either. I think we would all prefer to live in a world where everyone gets along and we all have mutual respect for each other’s bodies and we ride unicorns everywhere, but we don’t. We live in a world with a lot of good and with a lot of evil, and until we call out that evil and root it out as a society, it’s going to continue to exist.
So, because this disgusting video exists and because this horrifying crime took place, I have to let you know about it. (And if, you want to learn more about it than what I’m able to share here without puking, The Atlantic and Jezebel both have a ton of insightful and informative coverage, including Anonymous’s involvement, and all the information I cited came from those places and The New York Times.)
The thing that really infuriates me about this case isn’t all of the horrifying things I’ve already mentioned. I mean, everything I’ve told you makes me want to hide in a cave far away from humanity from the rest of my life, but what really pisses me off is that on the video there is actually one guy in the room who tells the other boys that what they have done is wrong and that it’s “rape”. He gets laughed at.
While I’d love to take this moment to celebrate that there are good people in the world who speak up, I can’t. We can’t applaud people for merely “speaking up” in protest of rape, domestic abuse, harassment and misogyny anymore. It’s not enough. Especially when it doesn’t stop it, and especially when they so often deplore such crimes after the damage has already been done.
We need to stop these violent acts from happening in the first place. We need to make sure that we live in a society we don’t idly sit by when we see women and children being threatened and abused. We need to make it clear that rape, domestic abuse and sexual harassment are morally wrong. No question. NO JOKE.
I mean, how can a person in our society even entertain the thought of raping someone who is unconscious and think they are in the right? I mean, if you enter a room and someone is sleeping, you never think, “I could totally murder this person right now and it would be okay because I don’t know for sure they don’t want to be murdered because they are unconscious and can’t tell me. Mwahahahaha!” You know instinctively that another human being would never agree to being murdered and that murdering someone is wrong.
It’s the same thing with rape. No human being wants to be murdered and no human being wants to be forced to have sex against their will. It doesn’t matter if a girl is passed out and wearing a mini-skirt, walking alone at night or drinking and flirting and kissing guys at a party. She’s never, ever, ever, ever asking to be raped. It’s to the point where Taylor Swift should rewrite her hit song to go, “We are never, ever, ever, ever…asking for ‘it‘.” I mean, how is this still something we as women have to repeatedly speak up about?
Unfortunately, until stories like the Steubenville case cease to exist, we have to keep screaming and yelling and fighting for our rights.
Women should never be blamed for sexual assault.
Women and their families should never be shamed or blamed for reporting rape or assault.
Men and women alike can not excuse rapists behavior because the victim was “asking for it” because being raped literally means the victim was not asking for it.
If people see someone being assaulted, they can’t stand by idly or weakly protest and then back down. They need to actually stop it.
We need to make it implicitly clear that raping someone means you have not only committed a terrible crime, you’ve also done something unconscionably evil.
Oh, and the United States Congress needs to explain why the Violence Against Women Act wasn’t reauthorized and why in this day and age, any nation still needs to make laws to protect women from violence.
So ladies and gents, let’s get our battle armor on, fly those flags for feminism and equality high and fight until stories like this one never have to be written about again–because they won’t exist.
Featured image via Shutterstock