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March 18, 2013 3:59 PM   Subscribe

Steubenville and the misplaced sympathy for Jane Doe's rapists
posted by Artw (374 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite

 
Avenging Uterus in Steubenville
posted by Drinky Die at 4:02 PM on March 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


I thought Gawker had a good take on this:
For readers interested in learning more about how not to be labeled as registered sex offenders, a good first step is not to rape unconscious women, no matter how good your grades are. Regardless of the strength of your GPA (weighted or unweighted), if you commit rape, there is a possibility you may someday be convicted of a sex crime. This is because of your decision to commit a sex crime instead of going for a walk, or reading a book by Cormac McCarthy.
posted by lalex at 4:05 PM on March 18, 2013 [159 favorites]


While what these kids did was terrible, and they should serve a good and long time, I still have qualms about the whole "branded for life" thing going on with the sex offender registry. I don't think these kids are likely to recommit, and anyway, if they were, then they should be in jail.

That said, I'm glad the prosecution happened. I'm saddened that the sentences were so short and that more people weren't implicated and that some were given immunity.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 4:06 PM on March 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


I don't think these kids are likely to recommit

Why not?
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:08 PM on March 18, 2013 [67 favorites]


Yes, the sex offender registry is problematic.

That said, this is exactly what rape culture looks like.
posted by sockermom at 4:10 PM on March 18, 2013 [25 favorites]


Why not?

Can't you image what two rape convictions would do to their football careers?
posted by kithrater at 4:10 PM on March 18, 2013 [62 favorites]


College Basketball Star Heroically Overcomes Tragic Rape He Committed
posted by Artw at 4:10 PM on March 18, 2013 [95 favorites]


Yeah, one can oppose misuse of things like the sex offender registry without having sympathy for rapists.
posted by Justinian at 4:11 PM on March 18, 2013 [30 favorites]


If you get arrested for peeing in public and have to register as a sex offender, that's bullshit. If you're 18 and you have sex with your consenting 17 and a half year old significant other and you have to register that's bullshit. If you digitally rape a drunk girl, brag about it on video, and then play the poor me card and you have to register as a sex offender...because YOU ARE A SEX OFFENDER...that is justice.
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:11 PM on March 18, 2013 [190 favorites]


How The Media Took Sides In The Steubenville Rape Case.
posted by ericb at 4:11 PM on March 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


We ought to feel sympathy for any teenager who ruins his or her life by committing a crime--whether that crime be rape or murder or drug dealing or what have you. Sympathy for a young person who has made an awful moral error is not the same thing, at all, as blaming the victim of their crime.
posted by yoink at 4:13 PM on March 18, 2013 [23 favorites]


Previous Steubenville FPP: And they're worried about the *football team?
posted by ericb at 4:13 PM on March 18, 2013


While I agree the sex offender registry is problematic I don't think this is the best place to discuss it. These men made a conscious choice to do something horrible and I don't think the discussion needs to revolve around the sex offenders registry when there are way better examples of its misuse. Talking about it in this context makes it seem, even if it isn't meant to, takes away from the disgusting nature of their actions.

I think an examination of why some otherwise bright and accomplished young men, their men not kids, would do such a grotesque thing.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 4:14 PM on March 18, 2013 [8 favorites]


If you digitally rape a drunk girl, brag about it on video, and then play the poor me card and you have to register as a sex offender...because YOU ARE A SEX OFFENDER...that is justice.

It should be tattooed on their faces.
posted by Artw at 4:15 PM on March 18, 2013 [12 favorites]


I seriously don't get what anyone at CNN was thinking. At no point does one of them realize that blaming the victim isn't right? I just don't get it. They seem to at least smart enough to pay lip service to the notion of journalistic impartiality for the straight news reporting.

Seriously CNN. Check yourself.
posted by GuyZero at 4:17 PM on March 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


[Folks: if you want to have this conversation here, be decent to each other and make your comments mindful of the fact that this is a charged topic for many people and you may need to be a bit more obvious about your good faith participation than you might be otherwise. ]
posted by jessamyn at 4:17 PM on March 18, 2013 [12 favorites]


Yeah, I'm pretty comfortable with them being registered sex offenders forever, especially seeing how they came from a privileged class in the town (douchey, entitled football players is still a good class, out that way, somehow), trading on whatever they had out there, I'm even more comfortable with it. Their victim will forever have to live with what they did to her unconscious self as they literally dragged and carried her body around town, so, yeah...you get to be a registered sex offender for life. Deal.
posted by nevercalm at 4:17 PM on March 18, 2013 [18 favorites]


Nobody mentions how the victim here has had her future ruined. Besides the memories and the humiliation, it will likely be tough for her to have relationships with men after this.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:17 PM on March 18, 2013 [10 favorites]


it will likely be tough for her to have relationships with men after this.

There are many different ways people deal with having a sexual assault in their past, but this is far from a foregone conclusion.
posted by jessamyn at 4:20 PM on March 18, 2013 [68 favorites]


Sex offender registry or not, these guys should thank their lucky stars they weren't tried in adult court.

They got off light.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:20 PM on March 18, 2013 [39 favorites]


I spent an hour or so this morning looking at the Twitter feeds of people who claim to be close to and choose to associate themselves with the two rapists in this case. Thanks to an early childhood attraction to trainwrecks, I couldn't stop myself from reading their bullshit defenses of those despicable pigfuckers, some of which amounted to nothing more than "they're star athletes and they're my BOYS and thus whatever they choose to do to a drunk girl can't possibly be rape". Ugh.

And then there's this that Roger Ebert posted a link to today, a compendium of defenses for the two - and aggressive victim blaming - on social media sites. Warning: it'll make you weep for the human race.
posted by item at 4:22 PM on March 18, 2013 [10 favorites]


what's even worse is that there are people who went along with it, who participated in a less physical way, who helped cover it up, who rallied to the defense* of the accused and tried to intimidate the victim - how many of them are going to be branded for life?

*i am not referring to the defense lawyers, who have a job that someone has to do, of course
posted by pyramid termite at 4:23 PM on March 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Nobody mentions how the victim here has had her future ruined.

Maybe if we stopped telling victims that they had been destroyed and their lives were over they could heal faster.
posted by Justinian at 4:23 PM on March 18, 2013 [74 favorites]


> "How The Media Took Sides In The Steubenville Rape Case."

Holy fuck what is wrong with people
posted by kyrademon at 4:23 PM on March 18, 2013


what's even worse is that there are people who went along with it, who participated in a less physical way, who helped cover it up, who rallied to the defense* of the accused and tried to intimidate the victim - how many of them are going to be branded for life?

If the sports team is the excuse for this bullshit then that should be disbanded, for a start.
posted by Artw at 4:24 PM on March 18, 2013 [23 favorites]


I'm sorry to hear that your friend got stabbed on Friday.

What was he wearing? Had he been drinking?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:26 PM on March 18, 2013 [169 favorites]


Well, while considering the damage done during and in the aftermath of a rape, it does make sense to consider the potential damage done to the survivor at least as much as potential damage done to the perpetrators.
posted by ChuraChura at 4:26 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Maybe if we stopped telling victims that they had been destroyed and their lives were over they could heal faster.
posted by Justinian at 4:23 PM on March 18 [2 favorites +] [!]



Well, maybe if you can get the rest of the world to quit blaming those of us who this sort of thing has happened to, that might be realistic. This girl is presumably known by a lot of these people-her life is just as ruined as her perpetrators'. I would argue more, because they had a choice not to do what they did.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:28 PM on March 18, 2013 [17 favorites]


I'm sorry to hear that your friend got stabbed on Friday.

What was he wearing? Had he been drinking?


Gee, I hope the stabber is able to move past the trauma of stabbing a totally innocent person.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:28 PM on March 18, 2013 [60 favorites]


That's not what I meant either, as you know. I'm just saying that we should let victims decide how they feel about what happened to them. Some will no doubt be devastated. Others will likely be okay.
posted by Justinian at 4:29 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I started to write an attempting-to-be-serious-but-clever comment that began "Sometimes I wonder how, as a man, I've gotten this far without raping someone", but frankly the whole thing just makes me feel ill, and makes me glad I'm already talking about this sort of thing -- in terms of being a responsible person -- with my kids, so I'm going to focus a little harder on that instead.
posted by davejay at 4:29 PM on March 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


[MAKE AN EFFORT]
posted by jessamyn at 4:29 PM on March 18, 2013 [34 favorites]


Fox News Airs Name of 16-Year-Old Steubenville Rape Victim
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:29 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Anyway, I've learned to not remember the victim in the future. Let's just focus on these football players!

Is that really so bad? If one must choose, I would prefer to know who the rapists are in this world than who their victims are.
posted by indubitable at 4:30 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Nobody mentions how the victim here has had her future ruined.

Maybe if we stopped telling victims that they had been destroyed and their lives were over they could heal faster.


It's not about whether or not her future is ruined or not. That's for her and her therapist to work out. It's simply about her having a crime committed against her. Oh, but because it was only drunken finger rape or whatever, we're supposed to feel bad for these promising football stars. Who's to say how this will affect her? That isn't the point - something terrible happened to her - not to her convicted rapists.

On the radio this morning (NPR no less!) they were going about how these boys were never "taught in school" that digital rape is still rape - as if somehow touching her without consent would have been okay if it weren't considered rape under the law, and as if the public school system is to blame for not instilling in these boys a basic sense of human decency.

The coverage of this entire case has been mind boggling. I will actually admit that there have been a lot of cases where people have said, "see! rape culture!" and I've been pretty skeptical, maybe naive, and thought, "yeah, that's shitty, but I don't know if this is indicative of our entire culture being permeated with an attitude of rape is acceptable." But after this, after the CNN bullshit that happened - wow. The weltschmerz, it's enough to make you want to stab your eyes.
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:30 PM on March 18, 2013 [10 favorites]


Justinian, while I truly understand what you are saying, in this particular case, it would be tough to argue that she doesn't have a really tough row to hoe. On preview, Fox News, what the hades is WRONG with you????????
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:31 PM on March 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


Jane Doe in Steubenville rape case receiving death threats

I've seen articles saying that this is a good object lesson to teach young women about the *dangers of drinking.*

I've seen articles saying that this is a good object lesson to teach teenagers the *dangers of sharing video on the internet*.

And, of course, endless sympathy for these two young men whose "lives were ruined" (note passive voice, there--useful).

Not so much about teaching young men that you don't do this shit if you are a human being.

Justinian: Maybe if we stopped telling victims that they had been destroyed and their lives were over they could heal faster.

She was dragged around town, virtually unconscious, and sexually violated by several high-school students, and all of it was recorded and shared via the internet. Once it became public knowledge, the entire town rallied to the rapists' defense and made her out to be the villain. I think "Well, if we'd just stop telling her how bad it is, it wouldn't be so bad" is pretty close to blaming the victim.
posted by tzikeh at 4:31 PM on March 18, 2013 [81 favorites]


We ought to feel sympathy for any teenager who ruins his or her life by committing a crime--whether that crime be rape or murder or drug dealing or what have you. Sympathy for a young person who has made an awful moral error is not the same thing, at all, as blaming the victim of their crime.

I'm inclined to agree with this. Lord knows I've dealt with plenty of people whose lives were permanently hindered by their own crimes and failures, and it is always a lamentable tragedy. I've held hands with criminals who will never see the light of day and assured them of my friendship and support. The problem is when sympathy for a young man whose life is cratered by his own actions overwhelms what should be far greater sympathy and desire for justice on behalf of his victim. The balance here is way out of proportion, and the kind of reporting we have seen with these rapists isn't sending the message that we lament the lost possibilities that were rightfully taken from these men because of their heinous misdeeds. It's heavily implying that we lament the fact that the callous justice system has ruined the lives of two good boys who did something perfectly understandable. That kind of lamentation re victimizes the young woman yet again, and dishonors the men by failing to take them seriously as moral agents who have chosen evil.

And appropriate sympathy for perpetrators, I would venture, is the job of their friends and family, not the media. there's no way to deliver a message of lament for the lives of rapists in a soft enough whisper when there's a mic in your face and an audience of millions.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 4:32 PM on March 18, 2013 [118 favorites]


If the sports team is the excuse for this bullshit then that should be disbanded, for a start.

Yes. I feel like at some point we have to figure out a way to engage in ... jeez ... not 'collective punishment,' exactly, but some kind of widespread corrective action.

Like Germany post WW2: "Sorry, but you lost your army privileges. Feel free to reapply in another 10 or 20 years."

This is like that. Sorry, Steubenville, you lost your football privileges.
posted by Myca at 4:32 PM on March 18, 2013 [11 favorites]


This is EXACTLY the reason I did not report the rape I experienced at 16, drunk off my ass and at a party for a friend who returned from USMC boot camp with his buddies. It was 26 years ago, but I knew that the fallout would be more than I could manage at the time.

Jane Doe, unless she is so vastly different from me I cannot conceive of it, is going to have years of pain, humiliation, self-hate and guilt. Not that she deserves any of it, but it is my experience of what comes from being used as an object without consent. I give Jane Doe, and any of her family and friends who did support her, all my wishes for a future of healing. Hopefully outside of Steubenville.
posted by Sophie1 at 4:32 PM on March 18, 2013 [86 favorites]


I seriously don't get what anyone at CNN was thinking.

According to a number of articles, including some linked here, they were thinking something like the following:

CNN Producer: OK, so, we're going to be eating up a lot of hours with the Steubenville thing, and of course every story needs a sympathetic angle, so we're going with "sympathy for the rapists".

Almost Everyone At Meeting: Great idea, CP!

Sane Person: Ha ha! You slipped, there, CP! I think you meant "victim".

CP: What?

SP: Ha ha. You said "rapist" and you meant . . . you meant "victim," right? Surely you meant "victim".

CP: We don't know anything about the victim.

SP: But...

CP: We need a hook. Someone people can latch on to. And we're certainly not going to talk about the victim. She has rights you know! That would be cruel! We'll just go with sympathy for the rapists.

SP: But....

AEAM: Great idea, CP!

Fox Exec (peeking in): Plus, she was asking for it. Let's air her name!
posted by The Bellman at 4:34 PM on March 18, 2013 [12 favorites]


Anyone who is saying this isn't that big a deal or that it's the victim's fault because she got drunk should ask themselves if they'd feel the same way if she was their loved one.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:34 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think "Well, if we'd just stop telling her how bad it is, it wouldn't be so bad" is pretty close to blaming the victim.

This is an incredibly uncharitable reading of Justinian's comment.
posted by lalex at 4:34 PM on March 18, 2013 [38 favorites]


I think if this was one of my daughters, we'd have to move far away. Because I really don't know what I'd do if I ran into one of these guys at grocery store or something.
posted by jquinby at 4:34 PM on March 18, 2013 [11 favorites]


When did sympathy become a zero-sum game? Why can't one's heart break for the victim of this horrible crime AND still feel sorry for two teenaged boys who did a stupid, awful thing that will permanently distort and mar their lives? Do we really have to piss on their graves to show "solidarity" with their victim?

There is, by the way, an obvious reason why we get fairly detailed profiles of the two accused and only vague, generic reference to the victim: because responsible news organizations are trying not to identify her, while the two perpetrators' identities are fully in the public domain. If she had chosen to go public we'd no doubt have long, detailed personality sketches of her life and the effect of these events on it too; I imagine she's very wise not to go that route.
posted by yoink at 4:36 PM on March 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yes. I feel like at some point we have to figure out a way to engage in ... jeez ... not 'collective punishment,' exactly, but some kind of widespread corrective action.

The school -- any school -- could simply have and enforce rules to achieve this: "Accused of rape? you're suspended from extracurricular activities until the issue is resolved. Convicted of rape? you don't get to come back to school any more." Then notify all families up front about it when they enroll, so that there's no question of the policies.

Frankly, I'm surprised that isn't a standard rule at every school ever.
posted by davejay at 4:37 PM on March 18, 2013 [9 favorites]


On Rape, Cages, and the Steubenville Verdict
posted by eviemath at 4:37 PM on March 18, 2013 [13 favorites]


Anyone who is saying this isn't that big a deal or that it's the victim's fault because she got drunk

Is anyone here or in the media actually saying that?
posted by yoink at 4:37 PM on March 18, 2013


Why can't one's heart break for the victim of this horrible crime AND still feel sorry for two teenaged boys who did a stupid, awful thing that will permanently distort and mar their lives?

They raped her, and then bragged about it on camera and social media. It wasn't an accident. They didn't trip over a curb. They knew they were raping her. And they said it was fun.

Why on earth would you feel sorry for the rapists?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:39 PM on March 18, 2013 [79 favorites]


I just mean anyone, anywhere.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:39 PM on March 18, 2013


I would kind of like to see an anti-Westboro Baptist Church show up in Steubenville with big signs saying things like "GOD HATES RAPISTS".

That's a terrible idea and it comes from a dark place, but it appeals to my angriest self. We do need sympathy for the oppressors at some point. Probably not yet, but at some point.
posted by Going To Maine at 4:40 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


And, after the guilty verdict, they've clearly learned nothing (from the Fox News link about them airing the victim's name):
[O]ne of the rapists, 17-year-old Trent Mays, apologizing to the victim in court on Sunday:

"I would truly like to apologize to [redacted], her family, my family and the community," Mays said. "No picture [of the rape] should have been sent around, let alone even taken."
Yes, they are so sorry they took pictures of what they did. Truly, truly sorry. And then shared them with other people! Hoo-boy, are they sorry about that.
posted by tzikeh at 4:40 PM on March 18, 2013 [53 favorites]


Actually, no probably. Not yet. But eventually.
posted by Going To Maine at 4:41 PM on March 18, 2013


If this is an opportunity to teach kids anything, it should be an opportunity to teach them to protect each other.

I don't know how I would love with myself if I'd witnessed something like that and said nothing.

But it's so easy to say nothing.

I mean, obviously, yes, don't rape people, but that seems so weird, do I have to reach my kids not to stab people too?
posted by bq at 4:42 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Do we really have to piss on their graves to show "solidarity" with their victim?

You can make some pretty subtle changes in how this is framed to keep the focus where it should be without pissing on them.

Appropriate: "Their promising football career is over because they committed sexual assault."

Not So Good: "Their promising football career is over because of what the legal system did to them."
posted by Drinky Die at 4:42 PM on March 18, 2013 [19 favorites]


What I really feel sorry about, when it comes to these boys, is that they could be so desensitized, their consciences so seared, that they would be showing these photos and laughing about it and not realizing just how bad what they did was. If I am to feel sorry for them, THAT is what I feel sorry for. Maybe in some convoluted way, this jail term and other consequences might actually wake them up out of their stupor. One can hope.

But then I think of all the other young men like them who have not been caught, and I almost despair.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:43 PM on March 18, 2013 [33 favorites]


The Egregious, Awful and Downright Wrong Reactions to the Steubenville Rape Trial Verdict
posted by homunculus at 4:44 PM on March 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


yeah the coverage is really, really sickening. i think reasonable people can disagree about how best to care for this girl and hopefully lessen her trauma, and i also think reasonable people can disagree about the appropriateness of sexual offender status for first-time juvenile offenders, but who the fuck with any sort of moral compass thinks this is about the trouble this is going to cause the perpetrators, or about the town's inconvenience? it's mind-boggling.
posted by facetious at 4:44 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've read several different threads of commentary and criticism and vitriol about the media coverage of the verdict.

One set of people have argued that this is very typical coverage when a juvenile is convicted of a crime. I've not seen any evidence to support this contention, but the argument goes something like "its a news organizations job to provide both sides of the story and providing some sympathetic coverage to the juvenile offenders is not the same as tacitly approving of their behavior."

I've been watching the news for thirty years and I can't, off the top of my head, think of many times where the coverage of a young person convicted of a crime spent a significant amount of time focused on how the life of the convicted criminal had been destroyed by the sentence. I could be wrong here and am curious if anyone remembers similar coverage of a convicted juvenile.

Another set of arguments I'd put under the general category of "Well what if they were your sons?" Surprisingly, the "well what if she was your daughter" counter argument doesn't seem to get a whole lot of traction with the folks who argue this point.

One of the better commentaries I've read has been from Black Girl Dangerous. Part of her argument is that we should never feel good when two young men are sent to jail for anything because the corrections system itself is so broken that they're not going to emerge as better people. Her argument is smarter and better written than that and is worth reading.

Overall, my impression is that I'm seeing more intelligent and sober coverage from Yahoo! Sports and Deadpsin than from straight MSM news sources.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:44 PM on March 18, 2013 [14 favorites]


Yoink - I have no sympathy for the person who wrecked my husband's motorcycle. She was texting and driving. She almost killed my husband. She was 19 and crying and worried that her life would be over and her parents would be mad at her and her insurance rates were going to go up, but her brakes didn't fail and there was no mechanical malfunction. She made a choice and I have no sympathy for her.

How am I supposed to feel sorry for two 17 year old boys who committed a crime and not a victimless crime, but a crime that sentences an unwilling participant to the rest of her life.
posted by Sophie1 at 4:45 PM on March 18, 2013 [24 favorites]


A symptom of the intelligence trap? Getting all settled down with simple tools and a generally higher-than-expected life span leading to a lack of movement on the evolving-intelligences-and-morals front.
posted by Slackermagee at 4:46 PM on March 18, 2013


And by that I mean the people commenting on the case and defending the rapists (and/or the act of rape) especially.
posted by Slackermagee at 4:46 PM on March 18, 2013


Why on earth would you feel sorry for the rapists?

Honestly? Because every single one of us are fuckups in one way or another. And if we ever fuck up badly we hope that we get the opportunity to show contrition, do our penance and eventually move on with our lives. Even if civilized society at large doesn't think we should have a second chance.
posted by Talez at 4:48 PM on March 18, 2013 [9 favorites]


If this is an opportunity to teach kids anything, it should be an opportunity to teach them to protect each other....I mean, obviously, yes, don't rape people, but that seems so weird, do I have to reach my kids not to stab people too?

Actually, yes, you kind of do. Or at least, when you're running through all the things you teach them in a given year, teaching them lessons of morality -- and helping them understand the grey areas as much as the black and white ones -- is perhaps more important than we generally acknowledge.
posted by davejay at 4:48 PM on March 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


still feel sorry for two teenaged boys who did a stupid, awful thing

Speeding and accidentally killing someone strikes me as a "stupid, awful thing". How is what these teenaged boys did "stupid"? This isn't a rhetorical question; I can understand how their behavior can be characterized as, say, "criminal", or "sociopathic", but what about it do you think qualifies as "stupid"?
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 4:49 PM on March 18, 2013 [8 favorites]


The school -- any school -- could simply have and enforce rules to achieve this: "Accused of rape? you're suspended from extracurricular activities until the issue is resolved. Convicted of rape? you don't get to come back any more." Then notify all families up front about it when they enroll, so that there's no question of the policies.

No, no, davejay, I was referring to shutting down the football program entirely. Not to punish the rapists ... that's why we have the criminal justice system ... but because the way the town has rallied behind (obvious-without-a-doubt-they-taped-themselves-LAUGHTING-ABOUT-IT) rapists has shown conclusively that the existence of a high school sports program warps their moral sense utterly, and that they cannot be trusted with one.

Unfair to the innocent students who are denied the opportunity to compete? Yeah, it is. But probably Germany in 1950 had a few guys who would have been super-talented at driving tanks, and that sucks for them.
posted by Myca at 4:49 PM on March 18, 2013 [19 favorites]


The ONLY justification that even makes sense for CNN's coverage yesterday was that they wanted to cover it with a human interest angle, and the identity shield around the victim made it impossible because they couldn't get into specifics of her life.

Also, in the clip of Mays' courtroom "apology" that CNN aired, he says the victim's name and CNN didn't censor it. I sure hope that violates some kind of judicial ban on identifying her and someone in Atlanta gets nailed to the wall. Just an all-around shameful performance on their part.
posted by The Notorious SRD at 4:49 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's not what I meant either, as you know. I'm just saying that we should let victims decide how they feel about what happened to them. Some will no doubt be devastated. Others will likely be okay.

I know what you're saying, Justinian, and I agree that we should give everyone space to work out their own accommodation with the sorrow in their life, but at the same time I think that there is a real challenge to conveying that message in practice.

I don't know how you tell a general class of people who was assaulted that they have a right to their own process (which is true) without inadvertently conveying the message to other people that sexual assault is not a horrific violation of another person, particularly when we live in a world that already trivializes sexual assault against women and denies their humanity in countless ways.

It's a difficult message to balance and I don't know that there is a good way, so I tend to err on the 'this is a crime that will alter that person's life forever' side out of the pointless hope that the gravity of it might eventually be generally accepted.
posted by winna at 4:50 PM on March 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


Oh, hey, CNN is OK.

Because Fox News someone unspecified released the victim's name and now she's receiving death threats.
posted by GuyZero at 4:50 PM on March 18, 2013


Honestly? Because every single one of us are fuckups in one way or another.

And yet the vast majority of us manage to confine our fuckups to NOT RAPING ANYONE.
posted by scody at 4:50 PM on March 18, 2013 [114 favorites]


“I think that the entire conversation is wrong. I don’t want anybody to be telling women anything. I don’t want men to be telling me what to wear and how to act, not to drink. And I don’t, honestly, want you to tell me that I needed a gun in order to prevent my rape. In my case, don’t tell me if I’d only had a gun, I wouldn’t have been raped. Don’t put it on me to prevent the rape." -- 5 Ways We Can Teach Men Not To Rape
posted by raztaj at 4:50 PM on March 18, 2013 [13 favorites]


Is anyone here or in the media actually saying that?

Yup.
posted by Myca at 4:50 PM on March 18, 2013


Yoink - I have no sympathy for the person who wrecked my husband's motorcycle. She was texting and driving. She almost killed my husband. She was 19 and crying and worried that her life would be over and her parents would be mad at her and her insurance rates were going to go up, but her brakes didn't fail and there was no mechanical malfunction. She made a choice and I have no sympathy for her.

Perhaps instead of sympathy, the proper emotion to try and achieve is relief. Relief that he wasn't killed, relief that she felt remorse and so is much less likely to do it again for having almost killed him, and relief that she was caught so that, if she does it again, there will be a better case for realizing she won't stop doing it without intervention.

Relief is at least a more positive emotion to feel, so healthier for you, at least.
posted by davejay at 4:50 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


They raped her, and then bragged about it on camera and social media. It wasn't an accident. They didn't trip over a curb. They knew they were raping her. And they said it was fun.

Why on earth would you feel sorry for the rapists?


What circumstances lead up to the choices they made? Someone above mentioned "rape culture" which seems entirely on point. But if we think rape culture is a problem it's because we think it's a powerful, distorting and influential process. Do you imagine that these two kids were floating around as innocent angels before they were born and were asked "O.K., do you want to be born into a social context where you will be subject to the distorting effects of rape culture or don't you"? Look at the social context these kids grew up in--specifically the social context surrounding the football team. Look at the tacit, and not-so-tacit, encouragements they encountered--day in and day out--to see themselves as entitled to take advantage of women, to see girls as simply trophies of sexual conquest. And then remember, they're fucking teenagers whose moral compasses have not yet been fully set, who are extremely subject to peer influence etc. etc.

No one, that I've seen (outside of deranged loonies in comment threads or whackjob fans of the football team and so forth), is saying that they shouldn't have been tried or shouldn't have been found guilty. But you can--and I would argue that you should--both be able to feel that someone has done something morally wrong that demands a societal response AND feel that it is deeply sad that their lives have come to this point.

Sit and watch the cases come and go in a courtroom some day. You'll see lots of people who've done lots of bad things. But if your overwhelming feeling by the end of the day isn't just sorrow at the various predictable and largely very legible social forces that have lead people to those actions I would say that you're committing a failure of moral understanding.
posted by yoink at 4:51 PM on March 18, 2013 [75 favorites]


How am I supposed to feel sorry for two 17 year old boys who committed a crime and not a victimless crime, but a crime that sentences an unwilling participant to the rest of her life.

Because you're not involved? I don't think you should feel sorry for them. I don't think you should really care one way or another, really, given that the trial seems to have taken place without irregularities and they weren't tried as adults.
posted by hoyland at 4:52 PM on March 18, 2013


No, no, davejay, I was referring to shutting down the football program entirely. Not to punish the rapists ... that's why we have the criminal justice system ... but because the way the town has rallied behind (obvious-without-a-doubt-they-taped-themselves-LAUGHTING-ABOUT-IT) rapists has shown conclusively that the existence of a high school sports program warps their moral sense utterly, and that they cannot be trusted with one.

I hear you... and I think I am having trouble wrapping my mind around it. There's that joke, where you kill one person and that's bad, two people and that's worse, but commit genocide and the mind freezes up and all you can do is say "well done, you're really good at accomplishing things in a day." Joking aside, I think I'm still looking at this as a problem with the people doing the raping, but I'm not quite ready to process the whole town rallying behind them yet.
posted by davejay at 4:52 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Honestly? Because every single one of us are fuckups in one way or another.

And hell, by that token, we're all really the moral equivalents of Jimmy Savile and Jerry Sandusky, aren't we? They're fuckups; we're all fuckups; preying on children over the course of decades could happen to practically anybody.
posted by scody at 4:53 PM on March 18, 2013 [17 favorites]


Artw: "It should be tattooed on their faces."

Nobody should have it tattooed on their face. Not even this statement on yours.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:53 PM on March 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


Meet Reno Saccoccia: Steubenville’s head football coach. Evidence shows Saccoccia knew about the rape early on, but didn't report it. So why does he still have his job?
posted by homunculus at 4:53 PM on March 18, 2013 [23 favorites]


Is anyone here or in the media actually saying that?

Yup.


Are you suggesting that Michael Crook is a member of "the media" or that he is a Mefite?
posted by yoink at 4:53 PM on March 18, 2013


Honestly? Because every single one of us are fuckups in one way or another. And if we ever fuck up badly we hope that we get the opportunity to show contrition, do our penance and eventually move on with our lives. Even if civilized society at large doesn't think we should have a second chance.

Unfortunately, there's a lot of young guys out there who don't think that raping a drunk girl is that big of a fuckup, in the grand scheme of fuckups.
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:53 PM on March 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


[Folks: difficult thread, difficult topic, if we could not start tossing around details of the assault to prove a point that would help just a little bit as would chilling out on the sarcasm. Thanks.]
posted by jessamyn at 4:54 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


so I tend to err on the 'this is a crime that will alter that person's life forever' side out of the pointless hope that the gravity of it might eventually be generally accepted.

I agree it's a difficult balance. I think you're striking the right note with "alter", though, rather than "destroy".
posted by Justinian at 4:54 PM on March 18, 2013


You know how you should never read newspaper comment threads? Ever? It's especially true with this story. Be warned.
posted by brundlefly at 4:54 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


AND still feel sorry for two teenaged boys who did a stupid, awful thing that will permanently distort and mar their lives?

This isn't going to permanently distort or mar their lives. They got tried as juveniles (which wouldn't have happened in my neighborhood, imo). They'll get out in a year or less, and their social group will tell them how MEAN the system was to them, and they'll buy it and get a nice job in the finance industry or something, since they'll have a clean adult record, via the Good Ol' Boy network.
posted by small_ruminant at 4:56 PM on March 18, 2013 [13 favorites]


And yet the vast majority of us manage to confine our fuckups to NOT RAPING ANYONE.

It doesn't have to be RAPING ANYONE. For instance you go down a 25 street at 35 because you're in a hurry for some event and a kid runs out into the street from between two cars. Now what?

And hell, by that token, we're all really the moral equivalents of Jimmy Savile and Jerry Sandusky, aren't we? They're fuckups; we're all fuckups; preying on children over the course of decades could happen to practically anybody.

There's no implication of moral equivalency of fuckups, only that we should all eventually get a second chance despite how benign or terrible our fuckups are. But if someone's actions makes you feel like they're irredeemable go right ahead and toss that proverbial first stone.
posted by Talez at 4:56 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


You know how you should never read newspaper comment threads? Ever? It's especially true with this story. Be warned.

Doubly true at any Gawker Media sites. You'll want to do violence to yourself after reading the comments.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:56 PM on March 18, 2013


Are you suggesting that Michael Crook is a member of "the media" or that he is a Mefite?

Well, he self-identifies as a journalist in his 'about' section, but you may be right that it's unfair to tar the media with the brush dirtied from him.

And no, AFAIK, he's not a Mefite. Thank god.
posted by Myca at 4:57 PM on March 18, 2013


Speeding and accidentally killing someone strikes me as a "stupid, awful thing". How is what these teenaged boys did "stupid"? This isn't a rhetorical question; I can understand how their behavior can be characterized as, say, "criminal", or "sociopathic", but what about it do you think qualifies as "stupid"?

A failure to appreciate the moral gravity, the degree of harm, and the severity of the consequences associated with what they were doing, potentially.

Not saying such a failure existed in this case. But it's not uncommon among drunk teens.

That said, with the possible exception of the registry, the punishment is so light that I too am having trouble generating any sort of sympathy.
posted by eugenen at 4:58 PM on March 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Maybe if we stopped telling victims that they had been destroyed and their lives were over they could heal faster.

I think this is one small portion of the problem pie, but I generally agree with it. I even had one therapist ask me if I felt like "damaged goods".

Well gee, I hadn't thought about it until just that moment!
posted by Malice at 4:59 PM on March 18, 2013 [8 favorites]


When I was about 16 a guy who'd been on my hockey team committed murder. He was tried as a young offender and received a very short sentence of only a couple of years in jail. I think I can accept that.

I'm not saying this out of any sympathy for the guy. He was an arrogant bully even before he became a murderer. Kids in their late teens don't have fully developed brains. If any felon is capable of rehabilitation it's them. Teenagers should not be getting life sentences.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 5:00 PM on March 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


So basically, here's how I look at stuff like this:

If I'd been at some high school party, and some hot football player had blacked out (which is definitely a thing that happens) and I'd raped him in the sort of extended, bragging, publicized way that these two raped this girl - if I'd done that, would anyone be leaping to my defense on twitter and in comment sections? Would one single person be on CNN lamenting my ruined life and dwelling on the tears, heavy with remorse, that rolled down my cheeks in court?

Hell no.

Not one single god damn person would be all "well son, that's what you get for passing out, some other boy will rape you," and not a solitary person would be comparing it with hypothetical imagined "ran down a toddler in the street" scenarios.

So as far as I can tell it's all bullshit.
posted by kavasa at 5:01 PM on March 18, 2013 [163 favorites]


Why can't one's heart break for the victim of this horrible crime AND still feel sorry for two teenaged boys who did a stupid, awful thing that will permanently distort and mar their lives?

They were seventeen, not seven. I'd feel sorry for them if they borrowed a friend's car and it got called in as grand theft auto. I'd feel sorry for them if they got drunk at a friend's house and the cops caught them and they got arrested for underage drinking. I'd even feel sorry for them if they did a stupid homecoming prank and got convicted for felony vandalism (if that's a thing).

But feel sorry for young adults who were convicted for rape complete with video documentation over several hours?

Nope. If I were not opposed to the death penalty for other reasons I'd cheerfully support the death penalty for crimes like this. As it is, if they wound up in jail forever I'd be delighted, even though jail is a terrible place. People who can commit crimes like this are broken, and I don't feel a shred of sorrow for what happens when they finally get caught. Because seriously, who thinks this is the first time? Even serial killers start small then work up.
posted by winna at 5:02 PM on March 18, 2013 [12 favorites]


There's no implication of moral equivalency of fuckups, only that we should all eventually get a second chance despite how benign or terrible our fuckups are.

Someone who drives drunk and gets killed gets no second chance. These two will be getting a second chance.
posted by BibiRose at 5:03 PM on March 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


The Onion nailed it...two years ago.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:03 PM on March 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


The apologies that work for me are ones that cover three bases:

1. They clearly articulate what damage was caused by the actions in question
2. Full responsibility is taken for the actions in question
3. Discussion of how person arrived at taking those actions is not even alluded to

If you've fucked up you don't get to start talking about the circumstances/culture/family that led you to possibly being more susceptible to fucking up as part of your apology. That should come after you've put in the work to show the damaged parties that you have achieved the "I understand what I did, I am not trying to explain it away, this is no longer about me" foundation.

I don't think it's that sympathy is not available for the kids who have been found guilty. I think it is more that they (the found guilty kids) have not put in the work yet to show that they get it.
posted by skrozidile at 5:04 PM on March 18, 2013 [12 favorites]


I am sorry that our jails and, in many places, our juvenile detention systems are awful places which turn out people far worse than they entered. But I wouldn't ever say I felt sorry for the perpetrators. It is two separate issues.
posted by Justinian at 5:04 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hey yoink, thank you for your comment.

I've had a phrase floating around in my head (usually w/ respect to prison reform) for a while: "nobody asks to be born", and I'd just written and deleted several comments when I saw yours.
posted by tychotesla at 5:05 PM on March 18, 2013


It doesn't have to be RAPING ANYONE. For instance you go down a 25 street at 35 because you're in a hurry for some event and a kid runs out into the street from between two cars. Now what?

Rape, though, is a bit more like breaking into a car, rather than failing to operate a car without an effective safety margin.
posted by davejay at 5:07 PM on March 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


It doesn't have to be RAPING ANYONE. For instance you go down a 25 street at 35 because you're in a hurry for some event and a kid runs out into the street from between two cars. Now what?

I have great sympathy for a driver in that situation, because it's a mistake that happens in an instant. Unlike the decision to rape someone, the decision to take pictures and video of someone being raped, the decision to film yourself doing a comedy routine about the girl being raped, the decision to disseminate images and video of the girl being raped, and the decision to threaten her and her family with death. None of those are the result of a careless mistake.

There's no implication of moral equivalency of fuckups, only that we should all eventually get a second chance despite how benign or terrible our fuckups are. But if someone's actions makes you feel like they're irredeemable go right ahead and toss that proverbial first stone.

I am deeply sympathetic to the idea of redemption; one of my close friends is a double murderer who I met while he was on death row in Illinois. I publicly argued for clemency for him, and we have remained in touch even after his sentence was eventually commuted to life without parole (which I personally think is too harsh; I believe he deserves a chance at parole, given the circumstances of his case). So that brush you presume to paint me with from your moral high ground? You can put it the fuck away.

Teenagers should not be getting life sentences.

Of course they shouldn't. Luckily, that's exactly what DIDN'T happen in this case.
posted by scody at 5:07 PM on March 18, 2013 [56 favorites]


CNN now saying Jane Doe has received death threats by two Steubenville girls, after the guilty verdict was issued. The two girls have been arrested and are currently in custody. The culture of rape and athlete hero worship in Steubenville runs incredibly deep.
posted by raztaj at 5:08 PM on March 18, 2013 [15 favorites]


Fox News, what the hades is WRONG with you????????

Over half of the federal elected officials in the party that Fox News is more or less an official propaganda arm of, including at least one of if not the current frontrunners for the 2016 Presidential nomination, were more than happy to stop providing resources to prevent and address domestic violence just because of The Gay.

This and the tweets and Facebook posts, they're coming from the same place.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:09 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Breaking | Prosecutor calls Mays an unrepentant sociopath + Two girls in custody for threats against the victim
posted by maggieb at 5:09 PM on March 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Myca: "Well, [Michael Crook] self-identifies as a journalist in his 'about' section"

Crook is a professional troll.
posted by brundlefly at 5:09 PM on March 18, 2013


I don't feel any sympathy for these young men, or the town that excuses and defends them because they are popular, or the media outlets who feed off of such stories for a dime. I can't even bring myself to feel sorry for the next generation of rapists who are being trained that so long as they are popular and don't get caught, that their neighbors will forgive them anything. They will still have free will to ignore what their parents teach them. I do feel sorry for this victim, though, and the coming generations of victims. And I feel sorry for the whole of the human race, in a way that makes me vaguely sick to my stomach.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:10 PM on March 18, 2013 [14 favorites]


Yeah, remember that Sandusky's Victim 1 got outed to his HS and was literally hounded out of town - his family moved so he could go to school without fear of constant attack.

The Steubenville victim's life in the town of her birth is pretty much over, I'd be very surprised if she doesn't end up moving.
posted by kavasa at 5:10 PM on March 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


Being a teenager is hard enough without rape and death threats. Poor girl.
posted by DoubleLune at 5:10 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


We ought to feel sympathy for any teenager who ruins his or her life by committing a crime--whether that crime be rape or murder or drug dealing or what have you.

I believe I"m going to reserve all of my sympathy for their victim, thank you all the same.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:11 PM on March 18, 2013 [12 favorites]


is anyone in the media saying this?

Yes
Yes
Yes
posted by stagewhisper at 5:11 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sympathy is not finite, nor need we be black and white. At the same time as we weep with the victims we can hope for the redemption of their assailants.
posted by jalitt at 5:14 PM on March 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


There is nothing I find more morally disturbing in the US today than the rigid moralism that surrounds all thinking--on both the left and the right, really--about crime and punishment. It's all "lock 'em up and throw away the key!" Well, it's that if you're lucky--it's more "fry 'em! fry 'em!!" Even in this thread we've had calls for permanent physical disfiguration and judicial murder of the perpetrators.

I just can't help but see all this as a gross moral failure. If you can't look at a criminal and think "there but for the grace of God go I" you're telling yourself a little lie about how independent your moral certainties are from the accidents and privileges of your life--and it's a lie with deeply pernicious consequences. At base, it's the belief that everyone gets what they deserve; that everyone has the "choice" at all times whether to lead a "good life" or a "bad life" and that consequently only the "bad" people ultimately become society's losers.

Me, I'm sticking with Phil Ochs:
Show me a prison, show me a jail
Show me a pris'ner whose face has grown pale

And I'll show you a young man
With many reasons why
There but for fortune, go you or I
posted by yoink at 5:15 PM on March 18, 2013 [39 favorites]


At the same time as we weep with the victims we can hope for the redemption of their assailants.

Hoping that the defendants will be rehabilitated does not require sympathy for them.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 5:16 PM on March 18, 2013 [12 favorites]


is anyone in the media saying this?

Yes
Yes
Yes


I read all your links. Not one of them was an example of "someone in the media saying this." If they are, you'd think it would be easier to find, wouldn't you?
posted by yoink at 5:16 PM on March 18, 2013


I think if this was one of my daughters, we'd have to move far away. Because I really don't know what I'd do if I ran into one of these guys at grocery store or something.

This happened to one of my daughters (17 at the time), and the perp was the next door neighbour's son (then 20). We live in a very small town. We did not move away. For our sake, for our daughter's sake, for the neighbour's sake, for the rapist's sake we decided not to talk about it. We like our lives here.

We had a rape-kit done. We pressed charges. We endured a pre-trial. We endured nights of screaming, suicidal activity, and we loved loved loved our kid. We set her up with counsellors. And we hoped that the rapist's parents were working hard too.

In the end the "legal system" let us down. The charges were stayed because there were no witnesses (When it's the rapist's vs. the raped's word, it's a stalemate, which means the rapist wins - especially when there's alcohol - both of them - involved.). So in reality, the rapist won.

The thing is, once someone rapes someone else, the worst thing in the world to do is to get the media involved. And the legal system is your only real option, but it's going to make you pay one hell of a price for "playing along". I imagine having anything any more public than the courtroom would only raise the level of hell.

Last Spring the rapist phoned and asked to talk to us. We said he could. He showed up at our door and he wept and he apologized. We accepted his apology. We said that we couldn't speak for our daughter, but that we'd tell her that he wanted to talk. We told our daughter about it. It was hard for her to take. A few weeks later she agreed to meet with him, at our place (she then lived in the nearby city), on her terms. They talked for about an hour. She did not accept his apology, but she listened. She said that when she was ready to accept him, to forgive him, she'd call him back.

I don't have any real solid takeaway from our experience except to tell a few people what happened, when the time seems right. It's a kind of therapy. Even though we accepted the apology of the young man who was and is a rapist and is now a father, we cannot look at him or the home of his parents without thinking about that night, and what kind of havoc it's caused for our daughter and for us.

There's no doubt in my mind that we live in a rape-enabling culture, and the way to address it is to stop enabling (young) men's hateful and "male-privileged" attitudes toward women. This case is the worst kind of that sort of thing. I wish I didn't know about it. But I'm going to use it in my classroom tomorrow. I gotta do what I gotta do.
posted by kneecapped at 5:16 PM on March 18, 2013 [148 favorites]


At the same time as we weep with the victims we can hope for the redemption of their assailants.

Sure, I hope for their redemption. But I suspect that the only way they'll eventually ever find the possibility for redemption in the future is by facing consequences for their behavior and actions now. And considering what consequences they would have been facing had they been tried as adults, they actually have a far better chance at redemption with these consequences than if they'd gone to prison for decades.
posted by scody at 5:18 PM on March 18, 2013 [10 favorites]


It's fine to feel sympathy for the perpetrators of crimes. But if CNN doesn't usually try to paint murderers and thieves in a sympathetic light, and if they don't feel the need to state their sympathy for the actual victim as well, that says rather a lot to me about CNN and their views on rape and who is harmed by it.
posted by grouse at 5:19 PM on March 18, 2013 [19 favorites]


And I'll show you a young man
With many reasons why
There but for fortune, go you or I


Right, except for the well-regarded research which reveals that most men when faced with an unconscious teenage girl do not in fact sexually assault her, but that the ones who DO rape conscious and unconscious women and girls alike do it over and over and over. It's not just the luck of the draw and it's not immaturity and it's not teenage brains or being drunk.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 5:20 PM on March 18, 2013 [115 favorites]


At the same time as we weep with the victims we can hope for the redemption of their assailants.

You need to remind the media of that, then. Because they're reserving all their sympathies for the assailants.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:21 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


That said, I'm glad the prosecution happened. I'm saddened that the sentences were so short and that more people weren't implicated and that some were given immunity.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to look into more Steubenville charges
"So far, those two are the only ones to even face charges, but that soon may change," Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said Sunday after Mays and Richmond were found guilty of raping the 16-year-old.

After Mays and Richmond were taken into custody, Attorney General DeWine said he planned to convene a grand jury next month to investigate whether anyone else should be charged in the case.

"We've gathered a lot of evidence, but we cannot put this to bed. We cannot bring finality to this without the convening of the grand jury," DeWine said, according to CBS affiliate WBNS in Columbus.

Noting that 16 people refused to talk to investigators, many of them underage, DeWine said possible crimes to be investigated include failure to report a felony and failure to report child abuse.

"This community desperately needs to have this behind them, but this community also desperately needs to know justice was done and that no stone was left unturned," he said.
posted by ericb at 5:21 PM on March 18, 2013 [12 favorites]


If you can't look at a criminal and think "there but for the grace of God go I" you're telling yourself a little lie about how independent your moral certainties are from the accidents and privileges of your life--and it's a lie with deeply pernicious consequences. At base, it's the belief that everyone gets what they deserve; that everyone has the "choice" at all times whether to lead a "good life" or a "bad life" and that consequently only the "bad" people ultimately become society's losers.

I can look at myself, my life and my privilege and thank Maude that I never had to steal. That I never felt it necessary to take a life whether for my safety nor for my pride. I will never understand what it takes to take away the bodily integrity of another person, who is unable to consent for power, status, laughs or sexual gratification. I will never understand it.
posted by Sophie1 at 5:21 PM on March 18, 2013 [32 favorites]


I feel sorry for these two guys at about the same level I'd feel sorry for them if instead of dragging her around town to rape her, they'd dragged her into the street, gotten a car and filmed themselves driving back and forth over her body while she was unconscious.

I do wonder how differently CNN would feel if that had been the crime, though.
posted by jacalata at 5:24 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, my sympathy supplies are pretty finite for now - feel free to check back tomorrow - and since the rapists aren't lacking in sympathy from voices much louder than mine, I think I'll just go and give what sympathy I've got to the girl and her family.

I reserve the vast amount of my ire for any adult who knew the rapists and brushed off their bullshit with "Well, boys will be boys!" Because you know this wasn't the first time they mistreated another person.
posted by rtha at 5:25 PM on March 18, 2013 [21 favorites]


I read all your links. Not one of them was an example of "someone in the media saying this." If they are, you'd think it would be easier to find, wouldn't you?

Aravosis argues on Twitter that alcohol "helped make this happen". That means that the victim is at least in part responsible for what happened. That seems to fulfill your criteria.

It's not exactly an uncommon view. There were state funded ads in my state that argued the same thing.

After receiving thousands of emails and hundreds of phone calls, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has pulled a series of controversial, risqué posters from its ad campaign that links drinking with date rape.

posted by Drinky Die at 5:26 PM on March 18, 2013


If you can't look at a criminal and think "there but for the grace of God go I" you're telling yourself a little lie about how independent your moral certainties are from the accidents and privileges of your life--and it's a lie with deeply pernicious consequences. At base, it's the belief that everyone gets what they deserve; that everyone has the "choice" at all times whether to lead a "good life" or a "bad life" and that consequently only the "bad" people ultimately become society's losers.

This isn't a case of Jean Valjean stealing a loaf of bread. They didn't need to rape anyone to make it through the day. They chose to do it. They weren't forced by circumstance.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:27 PM on March 18, 2013 [58 favorites]


Err, and let me add, now is the time to punish those assailants and draw attention to all the pain they caused. They can only redeem themselves after serving time.

I was not nor will I ever defend the mainstream media, which aside from a few warriors of truth(<3 Rachel Maddow), is nothing but the absolute worst thing about modern society and the cause of many problems worldwide.
posted by jalitt at 5:28 PM on March 18, 2013


The city has to rally around the convicted in cases like this, because to do otherwise would be an admission of "our city / school/community failed. We created monsters. Our values are flawed, etc." which of course they can't allow to happen.

A community can't admit that it breeds rapists, so they offer up "confused kids" and "irresponsible victims" instead.

This community failed all three of these people to one degree or another, but admitting so would mean changing their way of live, which most communities are loathe to do.
posted by ShutterBun at 5:29 PM on March 18, 2013 [19 favorites]


There were dozens of people at the party who cheered and laughed, or just looked on as these guys did this to an unconscious girl. Nobody, apparently, said a word or tried to stop them and this to me is a big part of the crime and how it ended up going as far as it did: the football players thought it was all a big joke.
posted by Flashman at 5:33 PM on March 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Right, except for the well-regarded research which reveals that most men when faced with an unconscious teenage girl do not in fact sexually assault her, but that the ones who DO rape conscious and unconscious women and girls alike do it over and over and over. It's not just the luck of the draw and it's not immaturity and it's not teenage brains or being drunk.

Actually, that's not what that study shows. What that study shows--assuming we take it (against the cautions of the authors themselves who point out that it is based on a non-random sample drawn from on US university) is that 44 out of the 120 men in their sample who admit to having raped someone never did so ever again, despite never having been punished, or caught, in the first instance. So you claim that "once a rapist, always a rapist" doesn't hold up even according to the study you to which you link.
posted by yoink at 5:34 PM on March 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Athlete Overcomes Rape (Onion)
posted by Wordwoman at 5:36 PM on March 18, 2013


Also, the sex offenders list would be a joke except it ruins peoples lives and causes so many problems.

Does anyone have any hard data to show how many crimes the sex offenders list has actually prevented?

We as a society need to stop treating criminal rehabilitation as some kind of pseudo science. We have to apply the scientific method to criminal rehabilitation and find real ways to rehabilitate offenders.

Those who can be rehabilitated should be and then they should be released stigma free.

If they cannot be rehabilitated(are likely to offend) then they must be so mentally ill we should treat them for life in a state run psychiatric facility where they can at least live out their lives without hurting anyone and not behind some kid of cage(padded rooms hold better anyways).
posted by jalitt at 5:39 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


And if we ever fuck up badly we hope that we get the opportunity to show contrition, do our penance and eventually move on with our lives. Even if civilized society at large doesn't think we should have a second chance.

Let me point out that neither penance nor contrition have happened yet. I mean, yes, the boys seemed really sad when they were sentenced, but at this moment I can't tell whether they were sad because they have committed a criminal violation on another person or because they were punished and didn't like that; I doubt anybody can tell me what is in their hearts at this moment.

They demonstrate what is in their hearts through action. If, down the road, the have been advocates for people who have been sexually abused, or speak on their own part in abuse in order to deter others, or doing anything that represents contrition, I will consider the possibility of sympathy for their circumstance.

But it is odd to demand it of anybody now, when they are at the start of a process that most of us would consider criminal justice, to ask that we bemoan their circumstance. Even down the road, if I can find sympathy, I will not demand that others do. It is not my place. It is nobody's place to tell somebody else when they have spent enough time being angry that somebody raped somebody else.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 5:39 PM on March 18, 2013 [25 favorites]


Aravosis argues on Twitter that alcohol "helped make this happen". That means that the victim is at least in part responsible for what happened. That seems to fulfill your criteria.

A) that wasn't one of the tweets you linked to.
B) one of the tweets you linked to has Aravosis explicitly blaming the perpetrators for the rape and saying "I'm not defending the guys"
C) if you read through his twitter feed it's an endless stream of explanation and apology for sending the wrong signals etc. And constantly clarifying that he does not believe that there is any blame attached to the victim etc. etc.

So no, he's not really an example of someone "in the media" arguing that the whole thing was "the victim's fault."
posted by yoink at 5:44 PM on March 18, 2013


Actually, that's not what that study shows. What that study shows--assuming we take it (against the cautions of the authors themselves who point out that it is based on a non-random sample drawn from on US university) is that 44 out of the 120 men in their sample who admit to having raped someone never did so ever again, despite never having been punished, or caught, in the first instance. So you claim that "once a rapist, always a rapist" doesn't hold up even according to the study you to which you link.

"A majority of the undetected rapists in this sample were repeat offenders. Almost two-thirds of them raped more than once, and a majority also committed other acts of inter-personal violence, such as battery, child physical abuse, and child sexual abuse. These repeat rapists each committed an average of six rapes and/or attempted rapes and an average of 14 interpersonally violent acts. Within the universe of 3,698 violent acts that the 1,882 men in this sample were responsible for, the 76 repeat rapists by themselves accounted for 1,045 of that total. That is, representing only 4% of the sample, the repeat rapists accounted for 28% of the violence. Their level of violence was nearly ten times that of non-rapists, and nearly three and a half times that of single-act rapists...Nevertheless, the percentage of men in this sample who reported rape and/or attempted rape is quite consistent with percentages from other samples (e.g., Koss, Gidycz, & Wisniewski, 1987; Lisak & Roth, 1988; Mosher & Anderson, 1986; Ouimette & Riggs, 1998)."

It says exactly what I said it says.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 5:46 PM on March 18, 2013 [16 favorites]


Here is an overview of studies about recidivism rates for convicted sex offenders.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:46 PM on March 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


i'm a multi-time survivor of sexual assault. i'm opposed to the general idea of the sex offender registry. i don't think anything can be gained from discussing the overall policy of the sex offender registry in this thread. i think a thread about the registry and its problems could potentially be interesting, but this isn't that thread. it quite nearly comes off as concern trolling when added to the reactions of the town, the media, the victim blamers, and the actual concern trolls.
posted by nadawi at 5:49 PM on March 18, 2013 [23 favorites]


Nobody's well-off here. The 'victim' has endured something she shouldn't have had to. The 'perpetrators' have a bad road in front of them. It's a mess for everyone.

At what point will America look at the world it is creating for its youth and give a shit? This is the failure of a society to take care of its young. And as sad a this one rape is, there are homicides, suicides, rapes, and all kinds of generally violent behaviour.

From a population that often upholds gun ownership and pre-emptive war as virtues.

Whilst justice is individual, the problem is societal. That's probably why it's so sad and confusing. Because it's all of our faults, for we help create this society.
posted by nickrussell at 5:50 PM on March 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


So no, he's not really an example of someone "in the media" arguing that the whole thing was "the victim's fault."

I didn't link Aravosis, just followed the posted links and read. He argued that girls should be taught about the dangers of binge drinking and that alcohol helped make it happen. He then backed down and apologized because it was a stupid thing to say, but it's not at all an uncommon belief that women contribute to their own victimization in that way.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:50 PM on March 18, 2013


So no, he's not really an example of someone "in the media" arguing that the whole thing was "the victim's fault."

You are being super fucking generous and naive towards Aravosis and his backpedaling.
posted by kmz at 5:52 PM on March 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Because it's all of our faults, for we help create this society.

The certainly should be some of this discussion, but making it the only discussion risks minimizing the fact that there is additional responsibility here. Those young men actually raped a young woman. They are not equally caught up in the tragedy; they perpetrated it. And that must also be part of this discussion, or there is a risk of sounding like this was just a tragedy for everybody involved.

It wasn't. Whatever a tragedy it may or may not be for everybody involved, it is also a crime, with one person subjected to the crime and two people committing it.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 5:54 PM on March 18, 2013 [18 favorites]


I think it's super fascinating which crimes make people (especially journalists, but also observers) sympathetic toward the perpetrators and which do not. Young men committing rape on camera seems to make them terribly sympathetic. The guilty cry and the reporters cry with them.

I don't recall any journalists crying over Osama Bin Laden or Saddam Hussein. Not much sympathy there about poor life choices and "there but for the grace of God go I." Unless I'm misremembering. I wonder where all that journalistic compassion was back then.

Some crimes are beyond the pale, but apparently this isn't one of them.

I'm sure if pressed they would all disagree vehemently, but is all this sympathy coming from a niggling feeling that the crime wasn't really all that wrong to begin with? It wasn't really so bad after all? Underneath all that lovely compassion and sympathy, is there a wedge of "boys will be boys" at work here?

Is there anyone left who will attempt to deny that rape culture is alive and well?
posted by Hildegarde at 5:55 PM on March 18, 2013 [29 favorites]


So no, he's not really an example of someone "in the media" arguing that the whole thing was "the victim's fault."

Ok then, how about this AP tweet?:
2 high school football players found guilty of raping a drunken 16-year-old girl in Steubenville, Ohio.
There's no reason - none - to mention that the victim was drunk, unless your intent is to imply that the rape was her fault for being drunk.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:56 PM on March 18, 2013 [27 favorites]


Yeah, rather than "drunken" he could have gone with "unconscious."
posted by Hildegarde at 6:03 PM on March 18, 2013 [14 favorites]


There's no reason - none - to mention that the victim was drunk, unless your intent is to imply that the rape was her fault for being drunk.

How about to imply that the crime was especially heinous because the perpetrators took advantage of an incapacitated young woman?
posted by notyou at 6:04 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Steubenville Victim's Name Aired on All Three Cable News Networks
posted by Drinky Die at 6:06 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


How about to imply that the crime was especially heinous because the perpetrators took advantage of an incapacitated young woman?

I'd be more prone to believing that were the case if the "don't drink to excess, girls, or else you'll get raped" warnings to the girls didn't outweigh the "don't rape a drunk girl, guys," warnings by, like, ka-squillions.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:06 PM on March 18, 2013 [16 favorites]


There's no reason - none - to mention that the victim was drunk, unless your intent is to imply that the rape was her fault for being drunk.

I understand your point, but Jane Doe was even robbed of her voice to say no. Her body was used without her permission, and she wasn't even given a voice to scream.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:06 PM on March 18, 2013


notyou: How about to imply that the crime was especially heinous because the perpetrators took advantage of an incapacitated young woman?

That would be a better world to live in than the one we currently do, certainly--but this is Rape Culture World, and the takeaway is "Well, she was drinking, so...."
posted by tzikeh at 6:06 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


How about to imply that the crime was especially heinous because the perpetrators took advantage of an incapacitated young woman?
This is why terms like "dogwhistle" and "cipher" get used.

Personally, if it were me and I wanted to indicate that, I would say "unconscious," which also has the benefit of being more precise about the situation in question.
posted by kavasa at 6:07 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


How about to imply that the crime was especially heinous because the perpetrators took advantage of an incapacitated young woman?

That may have been the intention, but if it was, it was so blind to the fact that drunkenness is often used as an indictment of raped women as to be tone deaf beyond what we should reasonably expect of a professional news service.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 6:07 PM on March 18, 2013 [11 favorites]


There's no reason - none - to mention that the victim was drunk, unless your intent is to imply that the rape was her fault for being drunk.

I understand your point, but Jane Doe was even robbed of her voice to say no. Her body was used without her permission, and she wasn't even given a voice to scream.


As mentioned above, this could have been conveyed by the use of 'unconscious', which is accurate without being loaded with blame implications.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:10 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Using the word "incapacitated" or "unconscious" would have far better conveyed the situation than "drunken" if they were trying to "imply that the crime was especially heinous because the perpetrators took advantage of an incapacitated young woman." When I see "drunken," I see "conscious and acting drunk," because otherwise it should say "passed-out drunk" or similar.
posted by coupdefoudre at 6:10 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


> "This isn't a case of Jean Valjean stealing a loaf of bread."

Huh. Interesting metaphor, considering that the title characters of Les Misérables are not Valjean, Cosette, Marius, or Fantine, but actually the Thenardiers, the villains -- who are not comic at all in the book, but utterly vile abusers, blackmailers, and thieves.

Nonetheless, those are the characters that Hugo singles out as the Wretched of the title, whom the author implies strongly deserve the pity of the reader even as he paints them as utterly unrepentant scum. I always thought one of the great failings of the musical was that it utterly missed that point.

Your comment is therefore actually the first one that gave me pause in how I think about the two rapists. What they did is vile, and they deserve their sentence. The general reaction of their hometown and much of the media is also vile.

But.

This is what Rape Culture means. They clearly thought it was OK. They took videos and made jokes. Their town and the media are STILL TELLING THEM IT WAS OK, that *they* are somehow being wronged. They live in Rape Culture and have been utterly warped by it.

Irredeemably? I don't know. Without any blame attached to them? Of course not. Rape Culture or not, they made decisions and treated another human being as a literal object.

But you have reminded me that a thinker I respect greatly, a novel I value highly, a tale that means a great deal to me, says that they, too, are to be pitied. That they are warped, but they have also *been warped*.

And I will therefore try to remember both sides of that.
posted by kyrademon at 6:10 PM on March 18, 2013 [33 favorites]


The Steubenville Victim's Name Aired on All Three Cable News Networks

I hope we're not on the road to just deciding to publicize the names of the victims of sexual assault, but I wouldn't be surprised if we were.
posted by immlass at 6:11 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Yeah Trent Mays, manipulative sociopath. He put unbelievable amounts of pressure on our victim. 'You know what happened, you know what happened, you know this didn't happen. Tell your parents, if this goes forward it's only going to get worse; I love you.' That kind of manipulation is tough for a grown woman much less a 16-year-old girl who was still trying to piece together what had happened to her," said [Special Prosecutor Marianne] Hemmeter.
This is what it sounds like when a legal professional is telling you that a case has left there-but-for-the-grace-of-God (and the rest of civilized society) in the rearview mirror several hundred miles back. I have piles of sympathy for anyone who had to grow up in a culture as pathologically sick as Steubenville's football culture evidently is, but my stores of it diminish as you near the top of the social pyramid that profits from its corrupt and immoral standards.

This sick system's superstars, whose only real regret is that they got caught, will have to wait a good long while in line. There are people being hurt very, very badly by the mess that sustained them.
posted by gompa at 6:15 PM on March 18, 2013 [11 favorites]


Apparently when one of the young men apologized after sentencing he used her name and they aired it.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:16 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I hope we're not on the road to just deciding to publicize the names of the victims of sexual assault, but I wouldn't be surprised if we were.

Contextually, this appears to be a case of lazy journalism rather than a deliberate effort to out the victim. They aired the name allegedly accidentally while showing one of perpetrators speak. They've since "bleaped" it out on rebroadcast.

Anyhow, I agree with you that I hope we're not on the road to that, but I hope you'll be relieved to know that this is probably bad reporting and not a sign of a larger trend.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:17 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I do not think the issue is that individuals can find within themselves the ability to pity the victimizers here. I have done some work with prisoners in the past, and plan to do so again, and one must be able to see these people as human and flawed and have pity and sympathy for them to do this work, even recognizing that some have done terrible things that have harmed people in terrible ways. It is a noble compassion, and without it we would have nothing but victims upon victims, as those who commit crimes in turn become abused by those who merely want revenge, rather than justice.

I think the issue here is the demand that others must sympathize with the circumstances of the rapists. That we must see them too as victims, as they are caught up unawares in a world they never made for themselves, and they had bright futures which this has robbed them of. If this is a worldview one is able to have, I envy their powers of compassion.

But if this is a compassion we are to force onto other people, to insist that they share, it is not compassion at all. It is a way of telling others how them must respond to a terrible crime. Not all people must be compassionate at all times. I wrote a play once about a young woman who created the circumstances that led to her current boyfriend murdering her previous boyfriend. And I had great sympathy for this young woman, who instigated violence without knowing how terrible it would become.

But I would never have insisted that compassion be shared by the friends and family of the dead, or by strangers, or by any but for the court system itself, which must have compassion built into it, at least to the extend that prisoners be treated humanely. I will not tell somebody who is angry or agonized by a crime that they should instead have compassion and sympathy for the perpetrator of the crime. How dare I?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 6:18 PM on March 18, 2013 [15 favorites]


Meet Reno Saccoccia: Steubenville’s head football coach. Evidence shows Saccoccia knew about the rape early on, but didn't report it. So why does he still have his job?

Well, shit. How many football coaches have to be involved in the systematic coverup of sex crimes before we ban football, again?
posted by Apropos of Something at 6:19 PM on March 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't recall any journalists crying over Osama Bin Laden or Saddam Hussein. Not much sympathy there about poor life choices and "there but for the grace of God go I." Unless I'm misremembering. I wonder where all that journalistic compassion was back then.

This is a bad comparison. Being individually responsible for the deliberate killings of somewhere in the hundreds to somewhere in the ten-thousands of civilians is an extreme outlier and is hard to top in terms of horrific acts. If you're actually arguing that the mainstream media suffers a glut of people with blunted cognitive skills who vacillate between Dr. Phil-style hug-it-out relativism and Nancy Grace-style Manichean condemnation (rarely selecting the right reaction and to the detriment of everyone else), then I'm with you on that.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:21 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I hope we're not on the road to just deciding to publicize the names of the victims of sexual assault, but I wouldn't be surprised if we were.

Not to excuse cable news for their incredible negligence in playing the clip with her name, but isn't it kind of dumb to allow cameras in a courtroom in a case of sexual assault, especially of a minor? Maybe the death threats and the like would have happened anyway, and that is tragic, but this aspect seems to be at least somewhat avoidable.
posted by dsfan at 6:22 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'd certainly be more inclined to be sympathetic of a person for their having been molded by society into a stunted creature unable to recognize rape is bad than I would be that said person having to face the entirely deserved consequences of their actions. The later is going to be a long time coming, and throw in sentimental weepiness about football and you have my contempt until the end of time.
posted by Artw at 6:25 PM on March 18, 2013


i'm opposed to the general idea of the sex offender registry. i don't think anything can be gained from discussing the overall policy of the sex offender registry in this thread. i think a thread about the registry and its problems could potentially be interesting, but this isn't that thread.

I can't agree. It's easy to look at cases of 18-year-olds peeing in public and say "The sex offender registry is bullshit!" But when you look at the people who really have done something unforgivable and ask if they should be on a public registry for the rest of their lives, that's when you can start asking if the registry should exist.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:26 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I feel a lot of sorrow and compassion for the guy I was with that did a lot of abusive things. He was abused and he was very sorry. He had abused others. I do think he was a victim of a troubled childhood. He has found god now, he doesn't do drugs. I posted to facebook about how to not rape people. You know I think about all the circumstances leading up to abusers behavior- why do these things happen? What are they thinking, what are their values? Why do they want to do these things? Is this just what sexual urges do to people? Is it experiences? Culture, family vibes?

I want to know because I want us to make people who don't do these things. He posted portisheads video "how can it feel so wrong" to my facebook and deleted his account. I wanted to save him, again. His wife sent me an email about remembering to forgive and have compassion. I do. But you know I have been put through the wringer surviging this. Everyon hates me, stupid woman who stayed, I have had to sit through lectures from therapists about what a fuck up I am for having wanted to save him, how I'm so fucked up for all this.

The "support" I recieved when I reached out was all about how bad I am and how I made these things happen and how I can fix my badness. Meanwhile, more compassion for this guy who did all this shit? I have to live with literally being seen as a a worse person by people when people also want to have compassion for people who do these things? It's so confusing. The cultural narratives all mixed up and I don't even think people know what to think. I know I don't. I just want to find a way to make this not a thing that happens in the world, to anyone. Some way.
posted by xarnop at 6:28 PM on March 18, 2013 [13 favorites]


Only responding to the suggestion floating about that the severity of the crime shouldn't matter to our compassion for the perpetrator when there are cultural reasons for committing the crime, Inspector-Gadget. I think there are crimes where the severity does matter. It seems that this crime apparently isn't one of them.
posted by Hildegarde at 6:29 PM on March 18, 2013


This is a bad comparison.

A lot of people, including myself, felt compassion for Osama Bin Laden or Saddam Hussein. Compassion which, as in this case, is entirely separate from their crimes.

In my (atypical) high school during the war(s) we talked about how we would feel and what we'd consider acceptable if another country invaded the US, even while keeping in mind the US's often horrific history, etc. The one Republican kid kind of had his mind blown when it was pointed out to him that his feelings basically mirrored that of a suicide bomber.

It's not that hard to feel compassion for everyone in pain. To me it feels like common sense. And you can, and should, feel like people should be held accountable for their actions.
posted by tychotesla at 6:30 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nobody mentions how the victim here has had her future ruined. Besides the memories and the humiliation, it will likely be tough for her to have relationships with men after this.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:17 PM on March 18 [2 favorites +] [!]


it will likely be tough for her to have relationships with men after this.

There are many different ways people deal with having a sexual assault in their past, but this is far from a foregone conclusion.
posted by jessamyn at 7:20 PM on March 18 [12 favorites −] You already made this a favorite. [!]

I have to respond to these things together. People who know you've been raped are...can be...weird. They wonder what is wrong with you that you let it happen. They constantly ask "is this ok? Are you sure you want this?" They tell you "I can stop anytime, just tell me if you want me to stop, tell me if this isn't fun." They are afraid that they'll fall victim to "another misunderstanding." Or they are afraid that you are so afraid of them that you're not having a good time but because you have this history of not being listened to that you just...have accepted that you won't be listened to, so why bother saying no? So they want to make sure. Or they've never had sex with anyone before and they don't have any background in discussing enthusiastic consent. It's exhausting either way.

Or someone who knows you were raped thinks they can just push the limits. That you didn't mean "no" before and surely you don't mean no now. Or that if you can still enjoy sex after such a (so many) horrible experience(s) it must not have been that bad.

So I'm not arguing that this victim herself can't have healthy relationships, but that many in the town where she lives seems hell bent on making it a pain in the ass for her to have lunch, never mind any relationship.

(We have so fucking far to go to uncover and clean up the awful realities of pervasive rape culture. Pervasive. I have seen it from every goddamn angle and have been trying to frame these remarks for hours and I just....I'm coming back and adding and subtracting and trying to decide how much of myself I want/need to share to be "legitimate" partly out of fear to hit Post Comment)

Because you're not involved? I don't think you should feel sorry for them. I don't think you should really care one way or another, really, given that the trial seems to have taken place without irregularities and they weren't tried as adults.
posted by hoyland at 7:52 PM on March 18 [+] [!]


Oh. Well. I'm of the mind that we're all involved. We all come into contact with young men and women. We all hear a rape joke here and there. We either decide to let it slide, laugh along, or call the jokester out. We all decide whether or not to let young women overhear/endure us saying things like "don't walk alone at night!" or "watch your drink to make sure nobody slips a roofie into it!" or "hey, don't dress like a total slut!" We decide whether or not to directly tell people "keep your hands/penises/mouths/objects of choice to yourselves unless explicitly and directly invited." But I'm even more of the mind that you don't get to tell me how I should feel or what I should care about.

Here is an overview of studies about recidivism rates for convicted sex offenders.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:46 PM on March 18 [+] [!]


Those are convicted sex offenders. You know what's interesting? If you don't use the word rape, some men will admit to raping women (call it "using force or threat of force" or call it "having sex with someone who is drunk and you know they wouldn't have sex with you if they were sober" and a small portion of those guys will admit to multiple offenses. They pick victims who are unlikely to report. Can you convict a person who never gets reported? Nope.)

And I'm done, just wrung out by this thread in the way that I always am. Reading the opinions of people who may or may not have experienced this from one side or the other, and it's hard to do that because everyone processes all of this differently, so you can't know. Before I go, let me be the first express gratitude about how far Metafilter has come in the years since I've been sharing bits and pieces of my experience here. Nobody gets a medal for not saying "I'd hit that," but I appreciate that it's not happening in this space. I appreciate it more than I can say.
posted by bilabial at 6:33 PM on March 18, 2013 [42 favorites]


I Am The Blogger Who Allegedly “Complicated” The Steubenville Gang Rape Case -- And I Wouldn't Change a Thing. I stayed up all night screen-grabbing tweets that joked about raping and urinating on a woman they thought might be dead. Welcome to Steubenville.
posted by homunculus at 6:43 PM on March 18, 2013 [58 favorites]


No sympathy for the rapists. The town's reaction is a stunning indictment that rape culture is a real thing (it is a phrase I was unfamiliar with a couple of years ago and was initially skeptical of - no more).

The media is the most problematic portion of this story (yes, the rapists did awful things, and are, well fucking rapists). They are literally profiting from the rape culture. They are selling ad space and getting money for their defense of rapists (the only person who should be defending the rapist is.... their attorney).

I'm very comfortable with a defense attorney getting paid to defend rapists (that's their job, our justice system demands this), very uncomfortable with the town leaping to their defense (but at least they actually knew the perps, although I welcome the criminal prosecution of those that helped cover up the crime), but the media - WTF?? What is their excuse?

Normally I avoid reading stories in the media (and the blue) about individual crimes (murder, celebrity news, etc). I wish I had followed my rule in this case.
posted by el io at 6:46 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


And then there's this that Roger Ebert posted a link to today, a compendium of defenses for the two - and aggressive victim blaming - on social media sites. Warning: it'll make you weep for the human race.

Those of you who have not clicked the links have no idea how right item is. It is gut-churning. Still, there is one moment of accidental awful transcendence, when @zJosiah holds forth on twitter expressing sympathy for the rapists because:
...they did with most people in their situation would have done

Ring Lardner used to specialize in short stories where the first-person narrator unknowingly revealed far more about himself than he imagined and inadvertently demonstrated to the reader how horrible and stunted wretch he was. I cannot recall that Lardner ever compressed as bleak a view of an inner wasteland into one sentence as we see in those eleven words.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:54 PM on March 18, 2013 [31 favorites]


"I seriously don't get what anyone at CNN was thinking. At no point does one of them realize that blaming the victim isn't right? I just don't get it."

I have kind-of a personal story that leapt to mind when I saw the CNN coverage. I'm going to be a little vague but I think the point will come across okay anyway. I was recently in attendance at a hearing for an adult who sexually assaulted a minor. I was there entirely for the victim and I was so angry when I first found out that I was in a heart-pounding rage about it for a solid week.

But when the adult perpetrator confessed -- calmly (sadly, but not sobbingly), admitting it was wrong, cooperating with authorities -- I started crying. It was so terribly SAD to see the moment when someone's life was ruined. And I mean, I know that a) the minor has been seriously harmed and b) the adult's life was ruined by the adult's own CRIMINAL DECISION TO HARM A MINOR. But it was just so, so sad to witness this adult accepting the consequences of their crime, and I can easily imagine that seeing two teenaged boys break down as the consequences were given to them would be emotionally affecting, even if you are wholly in sympathy with the victim and think the boys deserve every bit of their punishment.

On reflection, I think my upset at the hearing was some combination of emotional strain from the situation generally, sympathy for the hurting person (the perp) I was seeing in front of me (the victim was not present), and sorrow that the world can be such a fucked-up place that an adult would ever consider those actions a possible choice -- and the terrible knowledge that it happens every day. I have mixed feelings about my feelings, but I think it's probably okay that I felt sympathy for even such a terrible person, as long as I recognized that the adult perpetrator was guilt of a terrible, terrible crime and was not the victim. Well, I hope it's okay.

Anyway, I suspect the CNN anchors were reacting in a similar way, to the emotionally devastated outbursts of boys who are, after all, still kids. They're obviously at fault, of a really egregious set of crimes, and the victim does not deserve any blame. But it's still pretty shitty to see a teenager make choices that awful. In my school board service, I vote to expel kids guilty of various crimes all the time, and I know it's a valid and often necessary consequence for their actions (that helps protect other children), but I always still feel shitty about it. It's not nice to see anyone make such awful choices in life, and it's worse when they're still kids.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:55 PM on March 18, 2013 [22 favorites]


I Am The Blogger Who Allegedly “Complicated” The Steubenville Gang Rape Case

Jesus.

Y'all should click that link, if you haven't already.
posted by rtha at 6:58 PM on March 18, 2013 [14 favorites]


Something I'm grappling with, from a cultural perspective, is why people seem to care so damn much about the perpetrators. A couple of kids on a school sports team - why does that make them heroes, beloved by a town? Why does everyone seem to know who they are? I've had it explained to me that in some US towns, highschool football is a big deal. And I guess it's actually kinda good that a community as a whole is interested in childrens' sports. But when you're propping up kids as heroes, making them feel they can do no wrong, that they have special privileges, it seems this can create a weird environment, strange things can happen and it adds a curious dynamic that perpetrates an abusive culture.
posted by Jimbob at 6:58 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


(But, you know, PS to news anchors: try not to say stupid shit on air. They certainly deserve the criticism they're getting.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:58 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Eyebrows-- this is what I think people don't understand about people who stay with abusers. There are many abusers who are so sorry. I would cry and he would cry for me crying. And I would comfort him. Everyone was sad and broken. I wanted to make everything better. So I just tried to make everything that was happening disappear. It worked really well until I got a serious dissociative disorder. Apparently "making things disappear" is not so good for the mind or psyche. It is all really sad. In turth I never once have really felt there's a person there to be mad at. Just this broken damaged being who was in pain- and yes was deliberately manipulating and probably choosing to do harmful things, but was just sad and broken by it all at the same time.
posted by xarnop at 7:00 PM on March 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


I am hesitantly optimistic, though, y'all. For the long run. People did stand up to this and did make a difference, this time. The blogger homunculus linked, the many many folks, male and female, on my Twitter feed, even people on Facebook who refuse to say this is ok. Rape culture still exists, but it's encouraging to see so many people aware of it now, and saying so. That sure wasn't happening when I was a teen.
posted by emjaybee at 7:05 PM on March 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm haven't read everything in this thread yet - it's moving pretty fast. I will.

But I've been spending most of the evening researching the U.S. v. Shipp case that I said here over a year ago I'd be working on writing a screenplay of. In that case, over a century ago, an almost-certainly-innocent young black man was accused of raping a white woman in Chattanooga, TN. From the history of the case, it very much appears that the victim was pressured by all around her to name the defendant as her assailant (though she did not in fact ever get a glimpse of her assailant.) Ed Johnson, the defendant, was railroaded and then lynched by the town when the Supreme Court granted him a stay of execution.

This might seem like the opposite of what has happened here today, but in fact in reading these things so close to one another I'm discovering something far more disgusting about rape culture:

Women are property. In a case of sexual assault, facts don't matter. What matters is the woman involved, and more so whether we the people determine that the men involved had a right to her. If so, there was no rape. If not, then string 'em up.

The facts don't matter. And the woman doesn't either. Not really. She's just property.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:06 PM on March 18, 2013 [9 favorites]


The Steubenville rape victim, when offered money for her legal expenses or counselling, asked that people donated to a shelter for abused women and children in her county, Madden House, instead.
The best way to show you support Jane Doe is to make a donation, however small and leave a Paypal note when you do saying “In the name of Jane Doe, Steubenville.” They are telling her how many people donate in her name so it’s a direct way of letting her know.

In a case where she has been so effectively silenced and sidelined, I think acknowledging she’s been heard is particularly important.

She deserves so much more respect than the mainstream media have given her.
More information, and more links, at the post.
posted by tzikeh at 7:08 PM on March 18, 2013 [63 favorites]


A couple of kids on a school sports team - why does that make them heroes, beloved by a town?

People have trouble dealing with misconduct by institutions that can't be explained away by bad apples, especially if they feel they are a part of them. With abuse you see it in the Catholic Church, Penn State, and high school football programs like this. You see it with different types of crime with corporations and political parties who do wrong. People see the institutions as good and positive things and they don't like having that belief undercut. When you admit the institution did wrong, you have to admit you may have contributed to it in a way. It's not about caring about the boys, but about the self-image of the town.

Football is a dangerous sport. We celebrate it because despite that it is supposed to promote positive qualities in the participants. It promotes intelligence with complex strategy, hard work through rigorous training and practice, honor through a dependence on teamwork and sportsmanship, and toughness and dedication through difficult physical challenges. The participants are respected because they are supposed to master those things, but really...it's not particularly good at delivering on all that.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:10 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Victim’s Mother's Statement:
“It did not matter what school you went to, what city you lived in, or what sport you’ve played. Human compassion is not taught by a teacher, a coach or a parent. It is a God-given gift instilled in all of us. You displayed not only a lack of this compassion, but a lack of any moral code. Your decisions that night affected countless lives, including those most dear to you. You were your own accuser through the social media that you chose to publish your criminal conduct on. This does not define who my daughter is. She will persevere, grow and move on. I have pity for you both. I hope you fear the Lord, repent for your actions, and pray hard for forgiveness.”
posted by ericb at 7:14 PM on March 18, 2013 [9 favorites]


tzikeh,thanks for that link. Here's the tumblr for messages of support to Jane Doe as well.
posted by scody at 7:18 PM on March 18, 2013 [28 favorites]


Thank you, scody.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:31 PM on March 18, 2013


Those are nice messages. I'm glad there are nice people in the world.
posted by xarnop at 7:33 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wow, thanks scody. I don't know how I missed that.
posted by tzikeh at 7:43 PM on March 18, 2013


The Steubenville rape victim, when offered money for her legal expenses or counselling, asked that people donated to a shelter for abused women and children in her county, Madden House, instead.

The best way to show you support Jane Doe is to make a donation, however small and leave a Paypal note when you do saying “In the name of Jane Doe, Steubenville.” They are telling her how many people donate in her name so it’s a direct way of letting her know.

In a case where she has been so effectively silenced and sidelined, I think acknowledging she’s been heard is particularly important.

She deserves so much more respect than the mainstream media have given her.

More information, and more links, at the post.




tzikeh,thanks for that link. Here's the tumblr for messages of support to Jane Doe as well.


You can also sign the guest book with messages of support at the Madden House website, where she has asked for any donations to go. You do not have to donate to sign the guest book. Messages are moderated.
posted by young sister beacon at 7:44 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just read the very depressing responses linked by item and it got me thinking about something that I'm sure wiser people have realized for decades.

We in the U.S. get (quite correctly) worked up when we read about other cultures legally punishing women for "crimes" like dressing inappropriately or doing something that only men are supposed to do. We are not all right with governments doing that. Well, we're allegedly not all right with it, because we are all right with women being punished via sexual assault for dressing improperly or drinking to excess (you never hear "oh, that man drank so much and passed out that he deserved being sexually assaulted") or what have you. There are people who believe that sexual assault is an appropriate punishment for crimes, both real and imagined.

Anyhow, as I said, I recognize that this is not new thinking, but (as a society) we need to get it out of our heads as a culture that rape is appropriate as a punishment (or, of course, appropriate at all ever).

Its heartbreaking that there are so many people - including young people of both genders based on all those tweets - that seem to think rape is ok if the person is passed out - as if passing out is an understood invitation to sexual assault.
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:46 PM on March 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


In a weird way, I wonder if all this attention and national public outcry on both sides isn't the best thing that could have come out of this terrible crime. Maybe some young guys will see this and think twice about their actions — certainly not because the loudest message is DON'T RAPE, but rather because the loudest message is GUYS, THIS COULD HAPPEN TO YOU!

Yeah, it's gross business trying to pick at the crumbs off the floor to assemble a meal, but something good coming from this mess would be nice. I wish that young woman a speedy "recovery." And I use that term very, very loosely.
posted by heyho at 7:51 PM on March 18, 2013


And if we ever fuck up badly we hope that we get the opportunity to show contrition, do our penance and eventually move on with our lives.

The perps already have that opportunity. And if they show that contrition and do that penance, then 5 or 10 or 20 years from now I might have sympathy for them and their ruined lives. But I haven't seen a lot of contrition or penance so far and I have about the same amount of sympathy.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:03 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


homunculus - that article you linked to about the blogger is absolutely insane. I can't imagine what the victim is going through if a goddamn fucking stranger is going through that kind of shit just for reporting on it and showing screenshots of the public tweets about the rape and video.

I hope that girl and her family can move out of that town and move somewhere and start over, as much as they can. Jesus christ. My words just are failing me right now. I feel like that blogger's account is just a tiny window into what may be going on for the girl. I saw someone posted a statement from her mother and I'm gonna go read that now.
posted by sio42 at 8:05 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Something I'm grappling with, from a cultural perspective, is why people seem to care so damn much about the perpetrators. A couple of kids on a school sports team - why does that make them heroes, beloved by a town? Why does everyone seem to know who they are?

Jimbob, I think that a big part of it is that for many small towns, especially ones that used to be something more than they are now, football is a big economic driver. Everyone knows who these boys are because they are, in that tiny town, hot shit.

High school football is big money in many places. Fans buy tickets, sure, but people buy shirts and hats with the local team's logo. Local cable channels broadcast the games. People go out to eat to celebrate, or out to drink to drown their sorrows. Actually, go read this article, which explains things better than I could. (Link to Google News archive of the paper; story is below the picture of football players that comes up when you first load the page.)

Steubenville has a 10% unemployment rate. Football makes money in a way that little else does.

Additionally, football represents a way out. The "bright futures" that people are mourning here aren't "oh, that kid could've played football until he was done with high school and then gotten an engineering degree and worked for the NASA". What they're mourning is the possibility of escape--the idea that these kids could've made it big, could've played college ball, could've gone pro and played in the NFL. They could have Made It. They could've been the names you see on the signs when you drive into some cities: "Welcome to [CITY NAME], home of [NOTABLE PERSON]".

All of which is to say that to people in Steubenville, this isn't just something that those boys have lost. I sincerely believe that the whole city feels that they, collectively, have Lost Something Big here, and that's why we're seeing the closing of ranks that we're seeing. When you lose something, you want to blame someone, and you can't blame the thing that you're sad about losing, so you blame the victim instead. Jane Doe is going to be the most hated person in Steubenville for decades to come.

Football players occupy a weird, privileged place in American small towns. I really don't think it can be understated just how big of a deal football is--how for four hours on Friday night, you know where literally 90% of the city is, because they're all at the football game. Where football players get extra time and assistance on tests, because they need to keep a certain GPA to stay on the team. Where certain classes are run by the football coach, and all the players sign up for those classes because they basically get to run it. Where football players are so idolized and revered that it honest to god doesn't make sense to people that they could rape someone--because who wouldn't want to have sex with a football player?

When I was about sixteen, I was at a post-game party at a friend's house. There were woods in the back of her house, and we'd all wander around, and sort of revolve around a couple of bonfires. A couple of football players, including one I'd previously been friendly with, raped me with beer bottles. I only told two people, at the time, and then I stopped talking about it, because both of those people--people with whom I was friends!--said basically the same thing: "But they're football players. They don't need to rape people." Which I think sums up the power imbalance pretty well. They couldn't do anything wrong--they're football players.
posted by MeghanC at 8:06 PM on March 18, 2013 [70 favorites]


certainly not because the loudest message is DON'T RAPE, but rather because the loudest message is GUYS, THIS COULD HAPPEN TO YOU!

Yeah, I have a couple of guy friends on my social media feed defending CNN by saying that this was their point in empathizing with the rapists. I don't buy it. Not only because hey, that's really wrong and unprofessional, but I'm pretty sure that teenage boys don't watch a lot of CNN. And if they do, the message seems to be "don't get caught by putting pictures on the text message."
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:07 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is the failure of a society to take care of its young.

It is a failure of teaching and upbringing for the boys, that's for sure.

But I surely can't be the only person who feels that this conviction -- not the crime but the conviction - is not a low moment, not a failure, but a freaking triumph. Rape is notoriously hard to prosecute. The vast majority of all rapes, today and in our pasts, have gone unreported and thus unpunished. They have existed as unresolved personal cliffhangers, never addressed by justice and usually not even spoken of openly. This was a case where a prosecution was made possible by the abundant documentation - in large part, thanks to the random presence of curious and diligent blogger at the right moment - and corroboration of witnesses - a rarity. There was a supportive team around the victim who encouraged her. And it was a case where the blame was utterly clear to third party observers - also a relative rarity. It was a media circus, and yet, the right verdict was still reached.

This is one little case where two guys will go to prison, while literally millions of American rapists enjoy the freedom of their undiscovered, unreported, unprosecuted deeds. This is one little case where one woman saw justice get done, while millions of courageous and long-enduring rape victims could not see it done for them.

What if every rape had the likelihood of ending n a conviction like this? What if no one could get away with it? What if no victim had to shake her head when asked if she wanted to file charges, knowing the obstacles between them and conviction were just too great to overcome? Wouldn't that be something? How would our lives be different in that world? Something to think seriously about.

I'm sad this had to happen to Jane Doe. But it's happened to a lot of people like her. And even as I'm sad, I'm overjoyed that the nation got to witness, clearly, what accountability looks like.

Ring Lardner used to specialize in short stories where the first-person narrator unknowingly revealed far more about himself than he imagined and inadvertently demonstrated to the reader how horrible and stunted wretch he was.

It's reasonable to wonder what may lie behind some portion of the pleas for leniency. Some legitimate and particularly generous human compassion, to be sure. And some other things too.
posted by Miko at 8:07 PM on March 18, 2013 [20 favorites]


Edge of Sports: The Verdict: Steubenville Shows the Bond Between Jock Culture and Rape Culture
We need to ask the question whether the jock culture at Steubenville was a catalyst for this crime. We need to ask whether there’s something inherent in the men’s sports of the twenty-first century, which so many lionize as a force for good, that can also create a rape culture of violent entitlement. I am not asking if playing sports propels young men to rape. I am asking if the central features of men’s sports—hero worship, entitlement and machismo—make incidents like Steubenville more likely to be replicated. There are many germs in the Petri dish of sports. Growing up I had the great fortune of having big-hearted, politically conscious coaches, some of whom patrolled sexism in the locker room with a particular vigilance. As the great Joe Ehrmann has written so brilliantly, a “transformational coach” can work wonders. But different germs also exist. Ken Dryden, Hall of Fame NHL goalie, once said, ”It’s really a sense of power that comes from specialness…. anyone who finds himself at the center of the world they’re in has a sense of impunity.”
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:16 PM on March 18, 2013 [10 favorites]


CNN doesn’t want to chat about the tone of its breaking-news coverage yesterday of the verdict in the Steubenville rape case. “[W]e’ll decline” comment, e-mailed Barbara Levin, the network’s vice president for communications.
posted by scody at 8:21 PM on March 18, 2013


What? Not even a "We plan to review our coverage of this sobering story and apply any lessons learned to our future coverage? Really? NOt even a cop-out, "We saw we upset you" response?

l...I guess CNN is staying on the internet equivalent of my speed dial. Keep those cards and letters comin' ....
posted by Miko at 8:27 PM on March 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm not sure that the particulars of "jock culture" were to blame for what occurred in Steubenville, or that the culture can be extrapolated to apply to the nation (or world) as a whole.

What I think is that these boys happened to traffic in a civic enterprise that carried particular value inside Steubenville, that being football. In other communities, the value could be applied to virtually any form of public engagement. In particular, I was thinking about the petition that went around in 2009 on the behalf of Roman Polanski, which effectively stated that his status as a "renowned and international artist" should've been enough to prevent his arrest and extradition to the U.S. In short, the signatories felt his movies were good enough to excuse his drugging and raping of a 13 year old.

In Steubenville, football matters; in Holllywood, cinema matters; and in town X, X matters.
posted by The Notorious SRD at 8:30 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Daily Intel:
"Shortly after the trial of the two teenage Steubenville, Ohio, rapists ended in their conviction Wednesday, another pair of teens in the same Ohio county of Jefferson allegedly took to Twitter and Facebook to decry the verdict and threaten the victim. And on Monday, police arrested the two girls, ages 15 and 16, for the menacing the victim. The older one has been charged with aggravated menacing "for a tweet that threatened homicide and said 'you ripped my family apart,'" the Associated Press reports. Police charged the younger girl with menacing for a Facebook post that "threatened the accuser with bodily harm." The two were in a juvenile lockup on Monday, waiting to go before a judge on Tuesday, CNN reported."
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:36 PM on March 18, 2013 [3 favorites]



In Steubenville, football matters; in Holllywood, cinema matters; and in town X, X matters.

And in all of them, raping women doesn't matter.
posted by caryatid at 8:40 PM on March 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


While obviously my focus is always on the victims, I'm usually the type to have some iota of sympathy for oppressors. I mean, feeling sympathy for both is never really mutually exclusive, and I've always felt that in some respects, it's as much as about our screwed up systems oppressing both parties (abet unevenly) as it is about the individual people at play.

And then this happens and I realize how stupidly naive my beliefs were.

I've been sheltered, and reading some of the media and comments glorifying the rapists in this event is just making me sick to the stomach. Thinking of it in terms of societal expectations and systems on top of the victims being hurt operated under the assumption that people were fundamentally good people who would be able to see eye-to-eye on the sheer wrongness of things that were obviously wrong so we could move past that to more productive conversations. But apparently, that isn't the case. Morality, which I assumed to be basic, isn't quite so basic after all.

So seeing that, I think I'm going to be a lot more harsh in my judgments from now on, if only because there needs to be more people talking about what's right and wrong since people just don't seem to get it. Privately, I'll probably still continue to feel pangs of sympathy for how the other side got trapped in a society that raised them to be complete assholes, but now isn't the right time to talk about those more complex and fuzzy issues when people still seem to have problems with understanding what is undeniably wrong.
posted by Conspire at 8:41 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


And on Monday, police arrested the two girls, ages 15 and 16, for the menacing the victim. The older one has been charged with aggravated menacing "for a tweet that threatened homicide and said 'you ripped my family apart,'" the Associated Press reports. Police charged the younger girl with menacing for a Facebook post that "threatened the accuser with bodily harm." The two were in a juvenile lockup on Monday, waiting to go before a judge on Tuesday, CNN reported.

Did CNN mention their bright futures?
posted by scody at 8:48 PM on March 18, 2013 [22 favorites]


Anyone stupid enough to use their identified personal Twitter or Facebook account to make death threats has no future.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:51 PM on March 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


Anyone stupid enough to use their identified personal Twitter or Facebook account to make death threats has no future.

So basically, it's okay to make death threats so long as they're anonymous? What? Is this what we want to be teaching kids here?
posted by Conspire at 8:53 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Steubenville and sports culture: a fan’s lament
posted by Artw at 8:54 PM on March 18, 2013


I'd normally be inclined to feel a bit of sympathy for the two young criminals because from my vantage point, they're still children. Nasty children, who need a hell of a lesson, but not automatically beyond sympathy or redemption. I'd maybe even feel concerned for them, except that (a) they got off pretty damned lightly -- maybe too damned lightly -- for provable rape, and (b) their community, and the media, has rallied around the little lambs. So they don't really need my sympathy or concern. Instead I'll give it to the innocent victim, who's getting death threats, OK?
posted by tyllwin at 9:00 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


So basically, it's okay to make death threats so long as they're anonymous? What? Is this what we want to be teaching kids here?

Oh, come on - that's quite a reach based on my throwaway quip. Of course making death threats is bad, and people shouldn't do it.

But you have to be a stone cold idiot to commit a crime, in print on a publicly viewable forum, in your own name. And if you're that dumb, then I don't hold much hope for your future in any case.

posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:01 PM on March 18, 2013 [13 favorites]


In an exclusive audio clip provided to CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, the mother of the 16-year-old Steubenville rape victim said she hoped the crime against her daughter would raise awareness about sexual assault.

“My family and I are hopeful that we can put this whole ordeal behind us,” she said. “We need and deserve to focus on our daughters future. We hope that from this something good can arise. I feel I have an opportunity to bring an awareness to others, possibly change the mentality of a youth or help a parent to have more of an awareness to where their children are and what they are doing.”

“The adults need to take responsibility guide these children,” she continued. “I ask every person listening what if this was your daughter, your sister or your friend? We need to stress the importance of helping those in need and to stand up for what is right. We all have that option to choose. This is the start of a new beginning for my daughter. I ask that you all continue to pray for her and all victims and please respect our privacy as we help our family to heal. Thank you.”
Anderson Cooper manages to get his sympathies straight from the outset; Poppy Harlow, who just 24 hours ago was lamenting the tragedy that had befallen the poor rapists who found themselves convicted of rape, professes shock -- shock! -- that anyone could possibly be threatening the victim or her family.
posted by scody at 9:10 PM on March 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


Ex-Porn Star Traci Lords Says She Was Raped As A 10-Year-Old In Steubenville
posted by Artw at 9:14 PM on March 18, 2013


So reading this all night has worked me into a bit of a lather, and that's not good, but my thoughts as they stand right now are:

For everyone in Steubenville who cannot see a world bigger than these two rapists throwing and catching a ball, I wish for you nothing more or less than to live and die in Steubenville.

For Jane Doe, I wish an anonymous scholarship to anywhere else, so that she can see what the rest of the world has to offer, most of which is 100% better than what is for offer in Steubenville, OH.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:22 PM on March 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


I have to say, I find Ms. Lord's song written in response to this, "Stupidville," to be rather stunning.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:23 PM on March 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't, thankfully, know a lot of folks on facebook posting anything other than support for the victim and outrage at the way the news is handled. That's good, because I do know a lot of women who have been raped. Some of them had been drinking. Sometimes there were strangers. Some of them were still minors. Some of them weren't.

As far as I know, I don't know anyone who's gone through with a rape trial. Too many police issues, too little trust, too little understanding of the system. Too much fear about being drunk. Too much shame. It would have been just as bad if she were 18, or 20. But I'm pretty impressed that at 16, she went through with it. I'm not gloating or glad. I think there are many bad and shameful aspects of the United States's juvenile system, and I don't think it will help those boys. I don't know if it will help her (or the other girls who can't remember the Steubenville football parties of years past) heal.

But I will be goddamn furious if it changes nothing about the dialogue of how Americans consider rape in our society. How many trials will it take before we stop finding excuses for rapists? How many ruined childhoods? How many years will it be until the fact that a high profile rape case actually went to trial stops being a shock?
posted by jetlagaddict at 9:24 PM on March 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Anyone stupid enough to use their identified personal Twitter or Facebook account to make death threats has no future.

But you have to be a stone cold idiot to commit a crime, in print on a publicly viewable forum, in your own name. And if you're that dumb, then I don't hold much hope for your future in any case.


Just to make sure, this references a pair of 15 and 16 year olds? I don't particularly care to get into the rape case and how they are associated with it, but it's pretty cold to say that these people have no future. Young people can, and will, do stupid things, because they don't have a good idea of what their actions really mean (not referencing the convicted rapists here - just looking at these 2 young women still). They have been provided access to extremely powerful tools to communicate with the world at large, and the tools do not come with any type of training. Expecting young people to make only good choices with powerful tools, and dismissing those that don't as irredeemable, seems like a merciless and terrible idealism.
posted by timfinnie at 9:39 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


"As far as I know, I don't know anyone who's gone through with a rape trial. Too many police issues, too little trust, too little understanding of the system. Too much fear about being drunk. Too much shame."

Yes, I was also thinking just now, Jane Doe's parents are very brave as well, to have supported their daughter going to the police and to trial. It is SO easy for parents to say, "I know what the system is like, I know how they'll drag your name through the mud, I've seen this before, my priority is protecting my child, let's get therapy and move away and put this behind us; I can't bear to see you victimized a second time by lawyers and the community and the media."

As much as there's a community that deserves a lot of blame here, there's a community that deserves a lot of praise as well, starting with Jane Doe's parents and including the many (not all, but many) officials in the justice system who handled this with sensitivity towards Jane and an appropriate desire to see justice done, and who did the tedious work of ensuring a case could go forward.

A lot of adults had to look the other way for Jane to be victimized the way she was. But to ensure she got justice, a lot of adults had to insist that Jane mattered and that justice mattered, and had to refuse to look the other way and refuse to let things slide because it was "easier" that way. That gives me hope.

And oh my God, her parents are so brave.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:46 PM on March 18, 2013 [28 favorites]


I have to say, I find Ms. Lord's song written in response to this, "Stupidville," to be rather stunning.

I'm beginning to think the place needs burning to the ground and an exorcism performed on the ashes.
posted by Artw at 9:47 PM on March 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


... Jane Doe has received death threats by two Steubenville girls, after the guilty verdict was issued. The two girls have been arrested and are currently in custody. The culture of rape and athlete hero worship in Steubenville runs incredibly deep.

I expected this might happen to her. When the girls in my circle learned of my rape and my decision not to report it, quite a shocking lot of them were exceedingly harsh in their judgment of me. When they found themselves unable to pin the blame for my assault on my own willful, negligent actions, they turned to blaming me for "allowing" a rapist to run free. Without fail, every guy friend I told was filled with disgust and judgment directed only at the rapist. Interesting.

But about half of my girl friends (whom I'd known for a few years and thought were pretty upright people) thought I was shit for not "standing up for them and all women!" I kid you not. Stand up for them? I still had fresh cuts on my body from the knife the guy used, and suddenly I'm losing friends because I'm not strong enough to hitch up my boots and do battle with this guy again for the sake of women everywhere? Never mind that I wasn't even strong enough to keep my shit together whenever I heard a sound behind me. That wasn't what concerned the judgment posse, though. Their thoughts were with the rapist. Their only actual concern was the effect he might have on them because I had made the wrong choice in their eyes. I was judged, not him. (One girl dismissively said I should "just relax" because it's not like he's going to hunt me down and find my apartment so he can "rape [me] again or something," it was just a "time and place thing.") I have no idea... I've spent 20 some years thinking about that one, though. The "time and place" woman is a criminal defense attorney now, and I shudder when I think of her working in that capacity. I hope she got over herself at some point.

I'm not completely sure why this happens, but it's endlessly disturbing. Rape culture, indeed. (The consequences of rape culture are far-reaching: I trust women less now because of that experience.) It astounds me (and freaks me out) that so many people openly defend and find ways to at least partially, if not fully, forgive men for raping women. WTF, culture?
posted by heyho at 10:02 PM on March 18, 2013 [23 favorites]


Just to make sure, this references a pair of 15 and 16 year olds? I don't particularly care to get into the rape case and how they are associated with it, but it's pretty cold to say that these people have no future.

Eh,. If you're familiar with that particular kind of tribal family loyalty from sisters I think you can easily predict the future of those girls. And it doesn't involve mutually supportive relationships and a white picket fence. They're old enough to know better. And they don't. Unless they are hit by a bolt of inspiration lightning they'll spend the rest of their lives standing by a series of stupid men and blaming other women for their problems.
posted by fshgrl at 10:08 PM on March 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


Young people can, and will, do stupid things, because they don't have a good idea of what their actions really mean (not referencing the convicted rapists here - just looking at these 2 young women still). They have been provided access to extremely powerful tools to communicate with the world at large, and the tools do not come with any type of training. Expecting young people to make only good choices with powerful tools, and dismissing those that don't as irredeemable, seems like a merciless and terrible idealism.

Yes, all this is true. Teens do stupid things. And it would be pretty easy to forget that online comments can have consequences. Kids need to be taught how to interact online, and the risks of doing so. Lots of schools and governments do, in fact, try to do that.

Still, I think these two young women have been very stupid in publicly issuing death threats to a rape victim. And, leaving aside the idiocy, their actions are heinous. And I really don't feel bad about roundly condemning them for it, or have any sympathy for them for having to face legal consequences for it. And if that makes me cold (and it probably does), then so be it.

But, to crowbar this stupid derail (which, admittedly, I started - sorry) back to the point of the thread, what this facet of this sordid affair demonstrates is that rape culture is not just about men - everyone, even the young girls that bear the brunt of it - gets wrapped up in it.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:24 PM on March 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


A lot of people, including myself, felt compassion for Osama Bin Laden or Saddam Hussein. Compassion which, as in this case, is entirely separate from their crimes. [...] It's not that hard to feel compassion for everyone in pain. To me it feels like common sense.

The difference here, though, is that Osama Bin Laden's victims were all supported as victims. The dead were named and valued as blameless victims their next of kin were honored and supported as suffering and grieving next of kin, and the wounded were supported through their suffering.

The victim in Steubenville is not being thus supported. She shouldn't be named, of course, but the public sympathy is paying her no attention whatsoever.

...There's a particular perspective I'm speaking from - it's a much smaller and much lesser thing, being the victim of bullies. But a lot of the public script, both when you are the victim of a bully and in the years afterward, encourages people to have compassion towards the bullies, for being young or broken in some way. But there isn't much in the way of public compassion towards the victims of bullies (the "It Gets Better Project" is actually a rare exception). That sends the message to the victims - or at least it sent the message to me - that oh, they didn't mean it, so I should just suck it up and deal with having been punched and kicked and pushed down stairs and etc. etc. etc., and hey, what was wrong with me that I was still upset about that, think of those poor bullies, they were having a hard time? And I never heard anyone say "well, think of the poor girl who kept getting punched and kicked and pushed down stairs for months, that was a hard time too".

And this is what Jane Doe is facing - all the sympathy everyone else is showing for her attackers is sending her the message that what she went through is something she should just get over because think of those poor boys.

And fuck that.

Sympathy for the people who lash out and do violent things is a good thing, but it should not come at the expense of sympathy towards their victims.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:18 PM on March 18, 2013 [26 favorites]


Sympathy for the people who lash out and do violent things is a good thing, but it should not come at the expense of sympathy towards their victims

Well put.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:39 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


We in the U.S. get (quite correctly) worked up when we read about other cultures legally punishing women for "crimes" like dressing inappropriately or doing something that only men are supposed to do. We are not all right with governments doing that. Well, we're allegedly not all right with it, because we are all right with women being punished via sexual assault for dressing improperly or drinking to excess (you never hear "oh, that man drank so much and passed out that he deserved being sexually assaulted") or what have you. There are people who believe that sexual assault is an appropriate punishment for crimes, both real and imagined.

I've said for a long time that here in the western world, we make women wear their Burqas on the inside. Rape culture, and the pervasive threat and fear of rape is a form of social control. Much in the same way the threat of and enabling of lynching was a form of social control not so long ago. Follow the rules and you're "good", break the rules and you're "bad" and must be punished.

Looked at through this lens it's not difficult to see where reflexive unquestioning victim blaming comes from, especially from people who are under the social control in question. It's affirming that "I know the rules!" because to not know the rules, well one just has to look at a forwarded picture of a victimized young girl or a body hanging from a tree to see what happens when you don't. And I'm not excusing any victim-blamers here. It just helps calm my constant utrage to place these thing in the larger context of our fucked-up society.

There is always a part of me that reacts with anger at the victim every time I see another story of a young black man beaten or killed at the hands of police in this country. "Why didn't you just shut your mouth?"

But then I remember that making us shut our mouths is why they do it. And I remember the time I got knocked upside the head when I refused to get angry, talk back, act suspicious. The behavior of the victims is not the reason for what is done to them, just the excuse. And no matter what you do, where preserving the status quo is involved, there will always be an excuse or justification. There will always be those so ingrained in the bullshit that they know no other way to respond but acceptance of the way they've been told things are supposed to work.
posted by billyfleetwood at 12:08 AM on March 19, 2013 [31 favorites]


Hey, y'all, thanks for an awesome nuanced discussion of a very fraught subject. I was jonesin' for a Metafilter topic about this case for a day and a half because where else can you have such an intelligent talk about it?

From a different angle, Ohio Atty General Mike Dewine is pretty much a Republican piece of shit if I remember correctly, but the fact that he feels compelled to convene a grand jury (and, let's be fair, he also appointed a special prosecutor who got the job done here) is at a minimum a sign of encouraging public pressure.

With any luck, 4 obvious adult targets will be prosecuted: the 3 (sets of) parents who owned the houses where these drunken rape parties occurred, and Coach Reno Saccoccia, who one of the defendants tweeted confidently, was "going to take care of it." The same Saccoccia, who -- "nearly nose to nose" -- told a New York Times reporter investigating this case early on that “You’re going to get yours. And if you don’t get yours, somebody close to you will.”
posted by msalt at 12:15 AM on March 19, 2013 [11 favorites]


I've said for a long time that here in the western world, we make women wear their Burqas on the inside.

You say that as if there is not also rape in Arab/Moslem countries. Which might be a compelling argument except that we know that rape victims in burqa-requiring nations are killed for bringing shame upon their male relatives.
posted by msalt at 12:17 AM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


No, I'm saying oppression through social control is oppression through social control. Even if it comes in varying degrees.
posted by billyfleetwood at 12:21 AM on March 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


I reckon everyone has covered the key points above, but
"I knew one person had a fake I.D.," Ma'lik said. "People had Bud Light Platinum, and different variety of beers and vodka. Everybody was drinking."

(From the rosy abcnews interview with one of the players).

That seems awfully specific.
posted by Mezentian at 12:23 AM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


"I knew one person had a fake I.D.," Ma'lik said. "People had Bud Light Platinum, and different variety of beers and vodka. Everybody was drinking."

(From the rosy abcnews interview with one of the players).

That seems awfully specific
posted by Mezentian at 19:23 on March 19 [1 favorite +] [!]
I haven't been following this case closely, so I don't get your point here. Could you elaborate?
posted by moody cow at 1:00 AM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


The difference here, though, is that Osama Bin Laden's victims were all supported as victims.

I don't see how that difference is relevant. Everyone deserves compassion. Due to the simple fact that nobody asked to be born.

Sympathy for the people who lash out and do violent things is a good thing, but it should not come at the expense of sympathy towards their victims.

Fortunately compassion is only limited by our ability to empathize with the inherent human tragedy of existence. So having compassion for one person need never come at the expense of compassion for another.

(There's a small chance I've totally confused the issue by bringing up the word "Compassion" (wiki) (dict) rather than the much more ambiguous word "sympathy" (wiki) (dict) which is much too inexact for me to believe it's knowingly being used seriously here)
posted by tychotesla at 1:49 AM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I haven't been following this case closely, so I don't get your point here. Could you elaborate?

It just seems unnatural, stilted speech to me. Would people really spell out the full name of the beer, or wouldn't they say Bud Light, or light beer, or just beer?

It's about as tangential as you can get (but like I said the meat of the issue has been well covered) but it stuck out at me. I'm not suggesting Big Booze paid him to casually drop the name in conversation, but it seems to stick out.
posted by Mezentian at 2:13 AM on March 19, 2013


If you're looking for signs of hope, there was a front-page item referring to the case on Reddit yesterday and the top comments are (at the time of linking) universally disgusted with CNN's coverage and the excuses being made for the rapists. Any victim-blaming remarks (I assume there were some) were downvoted out of sight.

It is currently in the weekly top ten of video posts, so we're not talking about some moderated safe space subreddit, but the unfiltered, most popular area. When rape culture is so blatant that the kids at Reddit call it out, CNN really needs to take a long hard look at itself. But I actually think it's great it's this obvious and mainstream - it makes it a lot easier to demonstrate the problem.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 3:28 AM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


>The difference here, though, is that Osama Bin Laden's victims were all supported as victims.

I don't see how that difference is relevant.


The difference is that everyone was also feeling sympathy for Osama Bin Laden's victims as well as you feeling sympathy for Osama Bin Laden. So Osama Bin Laden's victims weren't left thinking that they deserved to get bombed somehow, and there was no one telling them that gee, if they'd not gone into such a tall building they maybe they could have avoided getting attacked or...but the victim of the rape in Steubenville is hearing that, she's hearing that there were things she should have done better and she should have known better while her attackers are getting people saying "aw, we need to be nice to them, think about what they've been through..."

Look, I agree that everyone deserves sympathy and compassion. But the discussion in here has been about how the compassion from the public has been overwhelmingly extended towards the rapists, and none is being extended towards the victim of their rape, and that is a gross imbalance.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:14 AM on March 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


This isn't going to permanently distort or mar their lives. They got tried as juveniles (which wouldn't have happened in my neighborhood, imo). They'll get out in a year or less, and their social group will tell them how MEAN the system was to them, and they'll buy it and get a nice job in the finance industry or something, since they'll have a clean adult record, via the Good Ol' Boy network.

It really bugs me that everyone just continued on with there "they have a tough road ahead" thing about these guys as the thread went on. This is 100% true.

No, they don't. By the time they get out the media uproar, and even the Internet grar will have died down. They probably won't play sports, but they'll probably still get in to a decent school and get lined in to some decent job. Their parents are all rich. It's very likely that 5 years out, this will never really come up in their lives in any meaningful way that seriously effects them again. Yes they're registered sex offenders, but that's really only a "death sentence" if you're poor or homeless. Their nice houses will just be the required distance from a school.

Listen to the prosecutor saying they're completely unrepentent. Why is it so hard to believe they're actually the assholes everything seems to imply? They're more than likely high fiving in private that they essentially walked on this. People do more time and have more serious consequences for stealing cars and shit at that age, or even drugs.

I can't escape the feeling that any publicly expressed sympathy for them is grossly misplaced. Sympathy for the system and social environment that created them, maybe, but really right now? And sympathy for their exact situation? Well sit down and look at it. They aren't even fucked.

They're going to get out of jail and return home essentially war heroes who were held behind enemy lines. That girl is probably going to have to move to escape the miasma of this shit and general fallout. That entire town will treat her like a leper forever. This is the tip of the iceberg.

Feel some sympathy for her, I mean, fuck.
posted by emptythought at 4:24 AM on March 19, 2013 [24 favorites]


what's even worse is that there are people who went along with it, who participated in a less physical way, who helped cover it up, who rallied to the defense* of the accused and tried to intimidate the victim - how many of them are going to be branded for life?

Talk about the banality of evil. As horrible as the crime itself was, this is what bothers me most about all this. There will always be horrible people and horrible things can and will happen to good people. But to find out, that after this terrible thing has been perpetrated on you, that everyone in your hometown, perhaps everyone you've ever known your entire life is on the side of the people who sexually assaulted you and are actively out to punish you for being their victim - there's something so fundamentally wrong with that. Yet it's so common.

There's been so much talk about bullying in the past several years and a lot of confusion as to what the term actually means. Well, this is it, this town is the perfect example - high school kids, adults, fucking TV reporters, all of them bullies in the worst, most revolting way.
posted by Jess the Mess at 5:46 AM on March 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


It just seems unnatural, stilted speech to me. Would people really spell out the full name of the beer, or wouldn't they say Bud Light, or light beer, or just beer?

Hi. It's Southern Ohio. (I went to school there, and I still live in the state). He probably thinks Bud Light "Platinum" sounds fancy, because a. he is a dipshit and b. he knows nothing about beer and c. see above, re: dipshit.

So basically, he's acting like someone who considers himself to have high status based on the brands he consumes, except his idea of Fancy is way the hell off the mark. Just like his judgment and morals.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:25 AM on March 19, 2013 [12 favorites]


Bud Light Platinum is a mass market luxury brand, packaged in distinctive cobalt glass bottles and marketed in an aspirational way that seems likely to appeal to teenagers (and its ABV is, by light-beer standards, off the charts). Ma'lik probably sees it as a little bit of a status identifier.

I dislike AB/InBev as much as the next beer nerd, but I would be surprised if there was any more to it than that.
posted by box at 6:29 AM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thanks bitter-girl.comTM. I've known enough people from Ohio (and elsewhere) that I can wrap my mind around the idea that that might be the case.
posted by Mezentian at 6:30 AM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Steubenville has a 10% unemployment rate. Football makes money in a way that little else does.

So does the whole of Rhode Island, but we don't go rape unconscious girls for fun.

Yes, I see that it's hard to find joy in life for some people with little else, but football needs a little of its air let out. Brain damage, this bloated sense of entitlement among the players & coaches, and Penn State...I think I am over it.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:47 AM on March 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


For instance you go down a 25 street at 35 because you're in a hurry for some event and a kid runs out into the street from between two cars. Now what?

A little less than 20 years ago I only narrowly avoided something very similar as I arrived home, exhausted after a long day of work. I was bringing my pickup truck to rest automatically, as I did five or six days a week, with the same unconscious manipulations of the steering, throttle and brake, punctuating my commute as usual by skidding to the same stop in the same place in the gravel driveway of the house where I was living. Only this time, as I was beginning to apply the brake, I noticed something that hardly seemed real and to which I had no time to react. There was a toddler, a tiny child I'd never seen before, barely big enough to walk at all, precariously standing just a couple of feet to the side of my path. I didn't hit him or even, so far as I know, kick dust up into his face, but it was pure luck. Had he been 36" to the left, he'd have been dead. I put the truck in park, got out, walked around and found this little stranger smiling up at me, and I, shaking, picked him up, forced a smile in return, bobbed him up and down on my hip a couple of times, and started knocking on doors. Two houses down I handed him to his suddenly sobbing mother, who hadn't even known he was gone.

So anyway because of this experience (though not only because of this experience), I'm inclined when hearing about cases like Steubenville to try to understand by looking for the shortest possible route between my experience and that of of the perpetrators. I was never much for team sports or school-sanctioned sporting events, so I can't go directly there and say I know what that's like; I absolutely don't know what that's like. I'm shy, not prone to exhibitionism of any kind; I don't even share pictures of my dog on Facebook. I've never drunk to get drunk, and didn't even have my first beer until a going-away-to-college party. And I'm not female, and while I've been scared of various things, rape has never been among them. There's so much about this situation that I simply don't understand well at all. But if I dig back in time a ways, I can remember some things about my teenage self. I can remember that my judgement was often poor. I can remember a feeling that what adults told me about right and wrong seemed highly unreliable. I can remember a residue, lingering from earlier childhood, of the feeling that nothing bad could really happen to me; the world seemed engineered for my safety. And I can remember a thrill associated with anything that seemed like it might actually be dangerous; a thrill of risk and defiance, of being a passenger in a friend's rusty old 1970's sedan with a huge engine, going too fast around tight corners in bad neighborhoods, the jolt as we bottomed out the shocks on potholes. And these memories feel like they close the gap somewhat between me and what these football players did. I know now what it feels like to have alcohol lower my inhibitions, and if I grant them the social media exhibitionism as simply a personality difference, I can piece together a sense of the thrill that goes with crossing lines, taking risks, defying adult mores, and I can imagine, in a way that's convincing at least to me, the momentum that could build as something like this gets rolling, the attendant joy as it slipped from a small transgression to a larger one, if nobody applied the brakes.

But then it occurs to me that in order to fit this all into my imagination, I have had to do a particular, particularly strange thing. I have had to compare the girl to a car, to ignore her humanity and make her into an object, a machine to be driven and used and ultimately discarded as having no inherent value beyond its thrilling utility, no feelings, no vulnerability. That's kind of where my imagination fails. How does a girl you know become an object? Is her unconsciousness really all that's required?

Sorry this got so long.
posted by jon1270 at 6:57 AM on March 19, 2013 [29 favorites]


Count me as one who thinks these guys should have been tried as adults and gotten ten years.

"Kids" and "teenagers" my ass. They are young (wannabe) men. Treat them as they act. They need to be marked for life as rapists and they deserve no sympathy, only a modicum of pity.

If the victim was my daughter I would follow them to my dying day making sure everyone everywhere they ever went remembered who they were and what they did. And that's only because what I'd rather do is illegal.

If the perpetrators were my sons I would disown them, make restitution payments to the victim for life with my son's former inheritance, and hang my head in abject shame.

Come to think of it, why aren't the "adults" who supplied the liquor and party places and then tried to protect these cretins on trial for accessory to rape?

Finally, the Big Red Machine needs to be up on blocks for at least five years. And the coaches need to be fired.

Anonymous, your turn to strike again.

CNN could use your attention too.
posted by spitbull at 7:05 AM on March 19, 2013 [8 favorites]


[Let's be really clear, revenge talk not okay here.]
posted by jessamyn at 7:11 AM on March 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


They probably won't play sports, but they'll probably still get in to a decent school and get lined in to some decent job.

This should be a goal of a justice system, especially for juveniles. That it (might) happen for these two but often doesn't is a tragedy indeed, but not because someone might escape the prison system with a future.
posted by dsfan at 7:22 AM on March 19, 2013


Is it revenge talk to hope more people are held accountable? Adult involvement in this episode has barely been addressed. The same pressure (in which Anonymous played a key role) that engendered this trial now needs to be applied to expose the roots of rape culture in sports crazy Steubenville.

I did say I would keep it all legal. But this is not and cannot be over until the community pays the piper.
posted by spitbull at 7:26 AM on March 19, 2013


From the New Yorker, Life After Steubenville:
Those who are agonizing about wasted lives might spend their time on the inadequacy and, in many states, effective abandonment of the juvenile-justice system, and how kids who have done even less than these two are, too often, thrown in with adult offenders and written off. ... But first, they should think about a sixteen-year-old girl walking through a town in West Virginia, wondering if she has any friends in the world.
posted by jokeefe at 7:52 AM on March 19, 2013 [8 favorites]


Henry Rollins had some comments.
posted by jessamyn at 7:57 AM on March 19, 2013 [10 favorites]


Also from the New Yorker article: Something I hadn't previously considered so concretely.

Does it destroy a teen-ager’s life to take him off the path of being an adult rapist? Perhaps it is too abstractly (even annoyingly) philosophical to ask what the “better” life is—one in which you have a remote shot at being in the NFL, or one in which you might be a person who treats others decently? Still, the question is worth asking.
posted by Sophie1 at 8:03 AM on March 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Bud Light Platinum is a new beer seemingly made for getting girls drunk: A slightly sweeter, higher alcohol version of Bud Light launched in early 2012, with 6% ABV. This product is noted for being packaged in a new translucent blue glass bottle.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:06 AM on March 19, 2013


Bud Light Platinum is a new beer seemingly made for getting girls drunk

Here we've had wine coolers, and malt-teasers (flavoured beers, I am sure you have something similar) and alchopops. I'm sure they're designed to attract the delicate female palate (or so I heard), and I am sure it is more about market share than rape.

But in what universe is a light beer ABV 6%?
posted by Mezentian at 8:11 AM on March 19, 2013


Laurie Penny for the New Statesman: Steubenville: this is rape culture's Abu Ghraib moment".
The pictures from Steubenville don’t just show a girl being raped. They show that rape being condoned, encouraged, celebrated. What type of culture could possibly produce such pictures? Only one in which women's autonomy and right to safety counts for so little that these rapists, and those who held the cameras, felt themselves 'perfectly justified'. Only one in which rape and sexual humiliation of women and girls is so normalised that it does not register as a crime in the minds of the assailants. Only one in which victims are powerless, silenced, dismissed. It is impossible to imagine that in such a culture, assault and humiliation of this kind would not be routine - and indeed, the most conservative estimates suggest that ninety thousand women and ten thousand men are raped in the United States alone every year. That’s what makes the Steubenville case so very uncomfortable - and so important.
posted by fight or flight at 8:14 AM on March 19, 2013 [23 favorites]


I like a lot of what Henry Rollins has to say. When I think about myself thinking about actual sexual abusers in my life, I don't have the heart to wish any harm on them. But when I think about others being assaulted and living lives with the amount of pain I have been in, I really do think the social outrage serves a purpose that I'm not entirely sure should be diffused into nothing but compassion for offenders.

"I’m just shooting rubber bands at the night sky but here are a few ideas: Put women’s studies in high school the curriculum from war heroes to politicians, writers, speakers, activists, revolutionaries and let young people understand that women have been kicking ass in high threat conditions for ages and they are worthy of respect."

This is something that actively bothers me about women's rights.

Women don't deserve to be treated like human beings because they can DO the things men feel proud for doing. They deserve to be treated like human beings BECAUSE THEY ARE HUMAN BEINGS.

If women don' deserve to be raped because SOME women can kick ass or get a STEM job, are you saying that women who stay at home and take care of babies, or aren't good students and never do anything of note deserve to be raped?

I think men face more teasing and shaming and rejection for not being tough and successful than women do. I think people who view humanity as a ladder at which succesful people deserve respect and lesser people deserve to be treated as inferiors the inferiors as seen as being worthy of being ignored completely and used for personal pleasure if desired. Since heterosexual men don't have any use for other men, they just get ignored or physically bullied, but females could have some use so they get to be made useful.

There is a problem with thinking women have to prove they can build skyscrappers and put out forest fires to deserve not being raped. But I do think there is a perception that women are given perks just for being cute and it's true. This does happen. And I think in order to "even that out" many men feel like there is a due that should be paid for people who consume goods, receive friendships and social attention and aid and gifts, all without having done as much work to be impressive or worthy of such attention and acceptance. I don't think we need to make women work harder to prove they deserve to not be raped, I think we need to work harder to see all people as worthy of respect and dignity regardless of if they are a sports star or a valedictorian or a musician or a bad boy. Teaching compassion and respect for human beings takes work and I don't think it comes as naturally to humans as we want to believe. We are selfish creatures and we are very responsive to social pressure, for better or worse. I think we should use that malleability for better and TEACH lessons that guide people into having strong character.

Yes, I think we do need to teach people not to rape. And that involves a lot lessons about equality and compassion that are in opposition to a lot of popular values in our society.
posted by xarnop at 8:14 AM on March 19, 2013 [14 favorites]


Maybe this is a derail, but I'm a little surprised to see no mention of recent events in India in this thread. I realize we're talking about Steubenville, but it's perhaps illuminating to compare the two. In India, the gang-rape and murder (of an Indian national) last December so outraged the country that people came out into the streets. One of the alleged perpetrators was found dead by hanging in his jail cell.

Just as that was starting to ebb, a Swiss woman was raped, right around the same time the Steubenville verdict came down. Some people noticed that the reaction of Indian officialdom was one of concern for the country's image rather than concern for the victim, which should sound familiar.

Anyway, it was beginning to feel like the news (or at any rate, Al-Jazeera) was becoming all about rape (much as it sometimes feels to be all about gun violence), and that some kind of tipping point in tolerance was being reached. But this (meaning, apparently, CNN's and Steubenville's) reaction to Steubenville puts the lie to that.
posted by seemoreglass at 8:15 AM on March 19, 2013


Henry Rollins seems pretty balanced. Which is nice.

Pull quote:
As a testament to the horrific power of sexual assault, I encourage you to see, yet cannot recommend the documentary The Invisible War about sexual assault in the military. http://invisiblewarmovie.com/. The reason I say that I cannot recommend it is that it is so well done, so clear and devastating that it will put you through quite a wringer. I do hope you see it but damn, it’s hard. In the interviews with women who have been assaulted by fellow members, the damage that has been done to these good people is monumental.

Henry for Prez, or something.
posted by Mezentian at 8:16 AM on March 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


But in what universe is a light beer ABV 6%?

Bud Light Platinum has 137 calories per 12 ounce serving, 8 fewer than a regular Budweiser.

posted by elsietheeel at 8:17 AM on March 19, 2013


Anyway, it was beginning to feel like the news (or at any rate, Al-Jazeera) was becoming all about rape (much as it sometimes feels to be all about gun violence), and that some kind of tipping point in tolerance was being reached. But this (meaning, apparently, CNN's and Steubenville's) reaction to Steubenville puts the lie to that.

Shoot, the issue with the rape victim at UNC who is being threatened with expulsion for "intimidating her rapist" by accusing him of rape isn't even making national press at all.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:21 AM on March 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


OH! GIRLY LIGHT! Not Actual Light.

I'm torn between making fun of the rapists for drinking girly beers, sharpening my axe, and wondering if it is worth exploring American consumer protection and labelling laws.
posted by Mezentian at 8:22 AM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Shoot, the issue with the rape victim at UNC who is being threatened with expulsion for "intimidating her rapist" by accusing him of rape isn't even making national press at all.

Axe it is then. Anyone have a spare whetstone?
posted by Mezentian at 8:23 AM on March 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm torn between making fun of the rapists for drinking girly beers

This isn't really appropriate. Part of the problem is the demonization and ghettoization of stuff that women and girls like or is aimed at them. Making fun of football player rapists for being like women is reinforcing the cultural ideal of manly men who can do whatever they want.

(I'm not suggesting you support football players being allowed to rape.)
posted by jeather at 8:25 AM on March 19, 2013 [16 favorites]


Anyway, it was beginning to feel like the news (or at any rate, Al-Jazeera) was becoming all about rape (much as it sometimes feels to be all about gun violence), and that some kind of tipping point in tolerance was being reached. But this (meaning, apparently, CNN's and Steubenville's) reaction to Steubenville puts the lie to that.

I take your point, but I like to think that it is as well that the appalling attitudes get flushed out into the open so they can be shot at. You can't refute an unspoken argument.

I'm curious what the churches at Steubenville have to say on this matter.

(On preview, EmpressCallipygos turns my glass to half empty.)
posted by IndigoJones at 8:25 AM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


The calls to "put yourself in these boys shoes" made me think: I have actually been in these boys shoes quite a few times. I have been a horny teenage boy out for a night on the small, rural town consuming strong drink and bad drugs. Then, I was horny college age boy going to parties, drinking and consuming slighly better drugs. During both phases, I was looking to hook up with girls and impress my guy friends. And several times—maybe even MANY times—a girl who I was hanging out with passed out cold while the rest of us kept going. And you know what? I didn't rape her, and neither did anybody else I was with. It never crossed my mind to do anything besides put a blanket on the passed out girl, make sure she wasn't going to choke on her own vomit, and either find a way to get her home when the rest of us were done having fun or give her a safe place to sleep it off and some kind of plausible deniability to her parents. This wasn't some kind of heroic act on my part or the parts of my other degenerate teenage friends, it was just basic human kindness.
posted by vibrotronica at 8:30 AM on March 19, 2013 [44 favorites]


"Women don't deserve to be treated like human beings because they can DO the things men feel proud for doing. They deserve to be treated like human beings BECAUSE THEY ARE HUMAN BEINGS."

Who says otherwise?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:35 AM on March 19, 2013


(I'm not suggesting you support football players being allowed to rape.)

For the record, I am not.

Here, and I assume in the US there is a gendering of drinks. Cruisers and the like are feminine drinks. It was not quite so clearcut in the 1990s. I drank my share of vaults and white Russians and sub-zeroes and Strongbow whites in my day, and I did not care.

It seems to be starker now, beyond the men drink beer, women drink wine gender split of my youth.
posted by Mezentian at 8:39 AM on March 19, 2013


Who says otherwise?

Not too many people say it outright, but a huge number of people behave otherwise. I mean, hell, how many AskMes have we seen asking how "women" react to certain things, or if "women" like this or that or the other, as if "women" is this universal-constant class if creatures that is other-than-human and thus require "interpretation" like that?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:40 AM on March 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


I do think there is something that really grates on me about the recent trends I've seen in sympathy for perpetrator pieces, including reconciliation with victims and re-instating ex -cons into their previous lives.

To say nothing of whether this is certainty of lifelong damage, I can say with certainty that is the case for many survivors of sexual crimes. Not that life is permanently RUINED for most people, but that worsening of mental health conditions, triggering moments, and worsened functioning and physical health (including lifelong physical pain conditions like fibromyalgia) are worsened in survivors. In fact many the spiral of consequences that happens during the aftermath of such things can itself faciliate higher rates of physical disease and mortality in survivors of sexual crimes.

So you have this section of the population that lives with this stuff--- or dies with this stuff--- and then these efforts to make the offenders more comfortable and accepted and loved as they -re-enter society. (Or more often than not, never actually face time to begin with).

And then meanwhile, our society abandons and shuns those with mental illness, those with lifelong effects of sexual abuse, those who ARE damaged and need help and resources and can't earn the money to pay for them.

There's something so sick about abandoning the needs of survivors with long term impairment in how they function, which can damage their school performance, their career potential and their ability to care for themselves, and then making this effort to integrate and accept the people who did this. I believe in compassion, and that includes offenders-- but really I feel like efforts to integrate offenders back into relationships and acceptance should come AFTER we start doing better at doing the same for survivors.
posted by xarnop at 8:42 AM on March 19, 2013 [9 favorites]


Here, and I assume in the US there is a gendering of drinks.

And I agree. But I think it's a bad thing that reinforces entrenched sexism. Equally, I think mocking boys for drinking girly drinks (or girls for drinking boy drinks) is a bad thing that reinforces sexism.

I say this as someone who drinks almost only girly drinks which I describe as girly drinks. I know this is hypocritical.
posted by jeather at 8:43 AM on March 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


I think there's a sort of psychological putting yourself in the criminals' shoes that is somewhat inadvertent, that happens by way of public trials. It's one of the reasons I'm against the death penalty. By the time an execution happens, usually so long after the crime, the person being executed almost always looks like a victim. There's something about the public display of the trial that's so dramatic. It makes one think, "What if I had to go to court one day and hear my fate pronounced in a matter of seconds like that?" Of course people hear worse fates pronounced on themselves every day-- like say in doctors' offices-- but not usually in public with the dramatic clicking of handcuffs and being immediately sent away to prison.

In this case, what happened to the defendants was not that bad at all, considering what they did. But the moment of the verdict was the sort of thing that captures people's imagination. They show those moments on TV whenever possible because of that. When they can't, they show photographs of defendants' faces which are carefully labeled as being from the moment the verdict was read. And the guy saying his life was over-- dramatic gold.

I think CNN's coverage was horrible and (not "but") the reason for it is that visceral dramatic appeal.
posted by BibiRose at 8:48 AM on March 19, 2013


Well, all I can say is that I feel NO pity for those young men. I mean, I went to parties in high school, and, although I wasn't a jock, for some odd reason, I got along with them and hung out with them.

I can say with high confidence that despite the number of heavily drunken, near comatose women at those parties, neither I nor any of them ever forced ourselves on a girl, and, even if we did (which we didn't), would not have done it in such an abusive and humiliating fashion.

I can (possibly) see a consent issue being overlooked, all things being equal, I suppose, but I can in no way or form condone the way these, well, rapists did what they did.
posted by Samizdata at 9:19 AM on March 19, 2013


Teenagers should not be getting life sentences..

Really?

Ohio school shooter, wearing 'KILLER' T-shirt, sentenced to life in prison
An Ohio judge has sentenced T.J. Lane, the Ohio teen charged with shooting three students to death and wounding three others last February, to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Lane showed up to his sentencing wearing a white T-shirt with the word "KILLER" in capital letters scrawled on it -- the same word police say he had emblazoned on his shirt the day of the shootings at Chardon High School.

... Lane has not given a motive for the shootings, which rocked the tiny town 30 miles outside Cleveland. He gave only a short, defiant statement in the courtroom on Tuesday: "This hand that pulled the trigger that killed your sons now masturbates to their memory. F--- all of you."

Gasps were heard in the courtroom as Lane then proceeded to stick up his middle finger at both his own relatives and those of his victims ...

Geauga County Judge David Fuhry sentenced Lane to three life sentences without eligibility for parole for three counts of murder, plus 8 years for a fourth count of attempted aggravated murder, 6 years for a fifth count of attempted aggravated murder, and 6 years for a sixth count of felonious assault.

In handing him the sentences, Fuhry said Lane lacked remorse for the killings, which he planned on his own. Fuhry called the shootings a "merciless rampage," according to WKYC.com.
Let the kid spend the rest of his life contemplating the horror of his actions. No need for him to have a second chance in civilized society.
posted by ericb at 9:46 AM on March 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


Okay, I know this is from way upthread, but it's still bothering me not to say anything about it:

I mean, obviously, yes, don't rape people, but that seems so weird, do I have to reach my kids not to stab people too?

Do you teach your kids not to hit each other, that violence isn't a solution to problems? That's teaching your kids not to stab each other. Teaching your kids to respect other people's body autonomy, not to do things to other people without their permission-- not bully them, not to act cruelly, that's teaching your kids not to stab other kids, that's teaching your kids to respect people, to see other people as fully-fledged human beings.

Teaching your kids not to rape, that's another facet of the same stone. When they're little, you teach them to tell you or a trusted adult if anyone touches them in a place that makes them uncomfortable. You supervise them and make sure they aren't doing anything untoward with other kids. And, as they get older, you give them the safe sex talk, because they probably aren't getting it from their schools. You tell them that they shouldn't feel pressured to do things that they don't want to do and that it's always okay to say no. And at the same time, you tell them it is absolutely, in no uncertain terms, okay to pressure other people into anything sexual if they don't want to. It's not okay to force people into anything sexual if they don't want to. This includes if they are too impaired by alcohol, drugs or just plain sleep to object.

Because while we do live in a violent culture, we don't live in a "stabbing culture" where individuals and the media constantly feel the need to ask if victims of violence were "asking for it". They aren't consistently associated with a gender that is seen as lesser than the default man, whether they themselves are male or female. Because our sex education is in such a state that healthy sexual expression is not taught or defined and our teenagers rarely, if ever, get sexual role models that express themselves in healthy and accessible ways.

I get angry every time I see a comment like this, because rape culture is one of those things that we have to fight on the ground. Because maybe these kids would've gone and committed some absolutely atrocious acts of sexual violence anyway if they'd gotten that education, but maybe, just maybe, what they'd be apologizing for was the violence, the disrespect for autonomy. Not just the part that they obviously were taught was wrong before-- the nonconsensual taking and releasing of video.
posted by NoraReed at 10:00 AM on March 19, 2013 [18 favorites]


I want to bracket this point, because I care about it but it's not really the point of this story:

People really aren't their adult selves when they're 16. Their brains are physically unfinished. Their risk/reward functions are in overdrive while their self-control functions are still undeveloped. They are difficult to diagnose and treat for mental illness. They are uniquely susceptible to peer pressure. They are also uniquely susceptible to reform. A 16-year-old should be held responsible for their actions, but a 25-year-old should be held responsible for the 25-year-old they have become, not the 16-year-old they were. If we do a better job reforming 16-year-olds we will be a more just society.

But that's more or less a hypothetical footnote to this story, which is about a failure by many people to take these boys' actions seriously enough. It's in the background, but I don't at all want to suggest it's the main concern here.
posted by jhc at 10:04 AM on March 19, 2013


The Steubenville sex offenders deserve pity, but not for the reasons you think
posted by leftcoastbob at 10:05 AM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


9 FREE TIPS for Improving Your Rape Coverage Today, Mass Media!
posted by hindmost at 10:26 AM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Belle Jar: "I Am Not Your Wife, Sister or Daughter. I Am A Person."
posted by frogstar42 at 10:50 AM on March 19, 2013 [14 favorites]


Teaching your kids to respect other people's body autonomy

yes! i have a friend who teaches her son specifically that he needs to ask his sister if she wants a hug and if she says no, he needs to not hug her (i'm sure the sister is taught the same thing, but they seem to have other challenges with her, so it doesn't seem to be so much of an issue). this is one of the ways you teach kids to not rape - you teach them that people get to decide who touches them, no matter how inconsequential the touching is at the time.
posted by nadawi at 10:56 AM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


"When they're little, you teach them to tell you or a trusted adult if anyone touches them in a place that makes them uncomfortable"

Since we're talking about teaching kids in a way that will cultivate healthy sexuality, I think this is a confusing message for kids. Meaning that kids frequently like genital touching and play and the idea that they need to be uncomfortable if someone does something they like is itself a confusing message and I think part of why childhood sexual abuse is so hard to recover from. Many kids don't do anything to stop it because they do feel aroused. And possibly scared and bad at the same time, but then it's very confusing to report to parents because something they are supposed to feel bad about made them feel good. And most kids have some degree of empathy and know they would be getting someone likely trusted in big time trouble bringing pain and suffering to someone for something they feel like they were "part of" by being aroused.

It's good to teachkids that if they don't like how close a grown up (or anyone) is to their body they can both speak up and immediately tell their parents and get backed up on it. For me, I feel like boundary violation was part of the school system, tutoring, family life. People sit TOO CLOSE and you feel why. But you're not allowed to say anything because you can't call a spade a spade and be like DUDE I know your penis is throbbing and your jamming your knee into my leg because it makes your happy place feel good but like I'm not so into this? There's nothing wrong with being into it if you are-- but I feel like we start having conversations about sexuality with kids WAY after they already have been coping with sexuality in silence for many years. I hope that changes.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, there needs to be teaching that liking your body and how it feels is totally ok and in fact wanting to share that with other people is totally ok too. This is a hard message to teach because really I DON'T think parents need to be facilitating time for kids to explore OTHER kids bodies. Which is why teaching kids that wanting to share their sexuality with others is in general something better for later in life (what elementary and highschool kids do at sleepovers is none of parents beeswax mmkay?)

What I mean is, preschoolers and young elementary kids should probably be supervised and discouraged from playing sexy time with other kids. Also when you notice someone in a position of power behaving in a seemingly space invading or boundary invading sort of way, talk openly about with the person it's happening to. "Man, it seems like our teacher is really touchy feely, have you noticed that"? Then again-- this is very hard to regulate in family life where siblings share rooms or families where there is high ratio of kids vs adult. My grandfather started off abusing his younger sister, the guy who abused me started off abusing his younger brother. These patterns do develop early in life for some people and I think helping kids cultivate a respect for other people's sexual boundaries early in life is important.

But kids are also kids. They shouldn't be expected to understand this like adults do oroverloaded with too much information. I think the concept of teaching healthy sexuality to ANYONE let alone kids. is so new to the human species that it's really a knew concept and in development. I hope now that many of us see it as a goal, we can get better at this and cultivate healthier people with better values and instincts in how to treat others as a result. People like sex. In fact kids like their sexuality and are often more aware of it than we like to think because it makes us grown ups uncomfortable. I'm not sure there is a way to make it NOT awkward because we should have pretty strong aversions to sharing sexuality with our family. It's like, this pretty great concept that people are starting to talk about sexual dynamics, boundary violations, power imbalances, and great stuff, but this is all really new in terms of being openly talked about. I think the capacity for understanding and promoting healthy sexuality and sexual development is exponentially greater than it ever has been. We just need to keep making the right decisions, growing in better knowledge of how to teach this, and working toward positive change. But I also think as we start being more open about kinks and urges and sexual feelings, there's a lot of difficult content, and really messed up urges in regular peoples psyches to wade through, so talking openly about these things brings up new issues as well. I don't think good intentions will make this easy, but we're making progress.
posted by xarnop at 10:58 AM on March 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


I get angry every time I see a comment like this, because rape culture is one of those things that we have to fight on the ground.

Yes. One of the serious challenges of our time is that as parents, or as adults in loco parentis we have to take on, with humility and foresight, the responsibility to teach our kids basic good-human-relations stuff. Back in the day my parents took this very seriously. (Too seriously for me, because in my case it was wrapped up in church and a lot of evangelical shit, which is dangerous in its own right (tends to make people intolerant and give them a "godly privilege" to stand behind).) My sense that my parents took this work too seriously was something I've had to battle as a parent and teacher today.

Since we tend to want to differentiate ourselves from our parents, perhaps we've come to think that we don't need to be so serious about this moral education stuff, because kids will pick it up on their own right? Kids, like Rousseau says, are basically good. If we just let them be ...

But if you recall your own time on the playground, in the hallways, and in classrooms, let me say that things have not changed nearly enough out there, on the ground, for us to take a chance and hope our kids pick up the right and obvious (to us) moral points. It's too big a chance to take! Raising kids is too perilous a business to do in a laissez-faire sort of way.
posted by kneecapped at 10:59 AM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


xarnop - a good way i've heard to approach it is, "if someone tells you something needs to be kept a secret, you can always tell us, even if they say you can't." along with explanations about presents and surprise parties, about little secrets and big secrets - but basically that everything can be talked about. then it's not about bodies or sex at all (which, of course, need their own talks and continuing education) - but it's about taking an abuser's biggest tool away from them - secrecy.
posted by nadawi at 11:03 AM on March 19, 2013 [8 favorites]


I hope (and suspect) that NPR's 'On The Media' show will cover the media's coverage of Steubenville this weekend.
posted by ericb at 11:23 AM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also -- Howard Kurtz should discuss the media's behavior on his weekend CNN show, 'Reliable Sources'.
Now more than ever, the press is a part of every story it covers. And CNN's "Reliable Sources" is one of television's only regular programs to examine how journalists do their jobs and how the media affect the stories they cover. Host Howard Kurtz, Washington Bureau Chief of The Daily Beast, is the nation's premier media critic, and each week he questions print reporters, television correspondents and Internet bloggers about how the press is covering the major stories of the week.
Wonder if his bosses will allow it.
posted by ericb at 11:29 AM on March 19, 2013


Wow, re reading this thread in the morning after a good nights sleep, I'm still a bit disturbed by some of the comments. They're almost in to concern troll territory along the lines of ones I've seen elsewhere mixed in with even more awful stuff.

I'm talking about the whole "driving 35mph in a 25 and hitting someone" thing. That dog just won't hunt as they say.

They were not driving their penises along at 35mph, lost control, and crashed in to some girl. This isn't that MTV ad from the 80s where the guy skating crashes in to the lady getting stuff out of her car, and happens to penetrate her.

I mean I get this urge to lash back and be the "voice of reason" and seem all level headed by being more laid back against the angry rabble, but this isn't some momentary misjudgement. This is a conscious expression of power by these boys, along the lines of if they had robbed a bank, or trashed and robbed a convienence store beating the shit out of the clerk knowing "daddy will get me off".

I think there's a disconnect between the average metafilter poster, and isolated from reality rich kids like this. It's a completely different world. I think the fact they were drunk is immaterial, and that they were doing this as a display of the fact that no one could really stop them. The fact no one spoke up kind of supports this.

I've seen something similar happen in my life with the same type of kids(wealthy, football team, etc), but not even in a small town. They showed up as a group and destroyed my friends house so badly that the police declared it temporarily uninhabitable since it has no front door or windows. We're talking mid 5 figures of damage. Why? Because we told them they couldn't party there. In another similar scenario, the girls had to hide in the attic because they were leering at them and yelling threatening shit. No one who knew would even say who did it, and they completely walked away. They were running off down the street and the cops didnt even really chase them. Later I met some of these kids, and they had this invincible attitude of "who are you to tell me what I can and can't do? I'll never get caught, and no one will speak up against me"

It isn't some childhood attitude of "the world is designed for my safety", its an attitude that the rules don't apply to them, and the community and their parents will turn a blind eye to anything "wrong" they do.

Everything in this story supports exactly that, and yet people are acting like this is some lapse in judgement. This is a perfect case of "not sad about what you did, just sad you got caught". And it's not even that they don't understand that it's wrong, they just think normal person rules don't apply to them and love to flaunt it.

So no, I'm not buying the argument that this was some lapse in judgement or failure to teach them what right and wrong were. They did this because it was wrong, for the thrill of breaking the rules. Why invent some long winded explanation about teenage minds when the toxicity of being continuously shown the rules don't apply to you is way simpler? Why does everyone want to believe this was some "mis step" and not just a toxic display of power?

Is it just too hard to wrap your mind around the idea that they were consciously doing the worst things possible in search of new thrills knowing that the the entire town would cover their asses, and that they couldn't really get in trouble?
posted by emptythought at 12:10 PM on March 19, 2013 [30 favorites]


From leftcoastbob's link, something else that's been on my mind too:
...we are a very long way from grasping the notion that sexual assailants aren’t always faceless monsters with lengthy rap sheets. The idea that a rapist could be a good-looking, popular guy with a “promising future” doesn’t jibe with the comfortable, easily compartmentalized image of him as a glowering sketch of a guy in a ski mask on a Wanted poster. We don’t like to imagine that a rapist could be a classmate or a friend or a son. Certainly not a young man who belongs to our idolized class of individuals – our athletes. We love our boys. We love them to the extent that we couch their sex crimes in terms of how terrible the course of justice is for them.
I think this is a big part of it - the surprise at discovering the rapist next door. Most of society is still really unaware that sexual assault is something that supposedly "nice," otherwise respected people do. It's one of the things that creates a very difficult psychological barrier to telling anyone, much less the authorities, about an assault - who would believe the story of a relatively unempowered victim over the story of a confident, public, well-liked, well-thought-of, connected and in fact loved other figure?

In my mind, I think it's fair to imagine that some part of the "poor boys" meme is residual guilt and shame over actions done, witnessed, or even just not objected to in the past. Some part of it is genuine confusion and some part is genuine compassion. But another big part of it is a society grasping with the fact that it's sometimes not the stereotypical skeevy creeps, but people we fetishize and adore the most, who do the absolute worst things to others.
posted by Miko at 12:24 PM on March 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


One of MeFi's Own weighs in.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:43 PM on March 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


Thomas MacAulay Millar of the Yes Means Yes blog wrote an open letter to Candy Crowley of CNN that could probably be repurposed to address other journalists:

Steubenville, Candy Crowley And The Social License To Operate: An Open Letter

And his post on the crime, comparing it to the Glen Ridge and Corona Del Mar cases, is one of the most astute I've seen:

Steubenville: Humiliation Was The Point Of The Exercise

Also relevant is the Chicago Taskforce on Violence Against Girls & Young Women's media toolkit for journalists reporting on sexual violence. Which is looks like CNN hasn't read.
posted by ziggly at 12:48 PM on March 19, 2013 [16 favorites]


I mean, hell, how many AskMes have we seen asking how "women" react to certain things, or if "women" like this or that or the other, as if "women" is this universal-constant class if creatures that is other-than-human and thus require "interpretation" like that?

Yes, and it happens with "men" too.
It doesn't have to be RAPING ANYONE. For instance you go down a 25 street at 35 because you're in a hurry for some event and a kid runs out into the street from between two cars. Now what?
I have great sympathy for a driver in that situation, because it's a mistake that happens in an instant.


Without wishing to derail, breaking the speed limit as described above is is rarely a momentary unintentional lapse. It's an ongoing flaunting of the law, a choice to put one's own convenience over the safety of others and is indulged in some parts of society as 'not that serious', 'everyone does it', 'ok if you get away with it'... Partly as a result, there is an ongoing slaughter on the roads, with global deaths outnumbering those from tuberculosis and malaria. I do wish speeding wasn't so acceptable as shorthand for 'non-serious crime'.

Regarding the whole 'sympathy for the criminals' issue, I think Pater Aletheias said it best. It's OK to feel bad for perpetrators, so long as the balance is right and it's confined to appropriate venues, which does not include TV news broadcasts. In my heart, I can feel sad for two kids who may not have been born bad, but who were groomed by rape culture to regard girls as objects, their desires as primary and their actions as consequence-free. In the same way, I have sympathy for the violent teenage mugger with abusive parents, a drug habit, a failing school, no job prospects and no role models. But I feel much worse for their victims and so the public message must always be that there is no excuse for such crimes and they need to be locked up - as a punishment, to allow for rehabilitation, as a deterrent and to send a clear message that this type of crime is always unacceptable and, when proved, will always be punished.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 12:50 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


One of MeFi's Own weighs in.

Very well put post.
posted by ericb at 12:52 PM on March 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Without wishing to derail, breaking the speed limit as described above is is rarely a momentary unintentional lapse. It's an ongoing flaunting of the law...

I wish we could drop this. It's a really lousy analogy. Even if a speeder is intentionally breaking the law, the law they are breaking is related to speed limits. The law they are breaking is not related to child killing in any way other than that breaking the one creates a rise in one risk factor for the other. Their intent is not to kill; it's patently the last thing on their minds, regardless of the fact that their behaviors put them at risk of manslaughter (which is killing someone without malice aforethought).

When someone rapes, it's not a knock-on effect of doing something else that also happens to increase the risk factors that rape might happen and therefore, oops, accidentally raping someone along the way who, I don't know, rushed out into oncoming genitals moving at too rapid a rate. Rape is not a sudden, unpredictable accident caused by risky behavior colliding with chance factors and dependent upon a chain of causation. It's the result of the choice to commit act of violence, directly, immediately, personally, and knowingly.

I understand and sympathize with your feelings about the risks of driving but accidental vehicular manslaughter is not, I repeat is not, a viable analogy for rape. I hope I don't read another word in this thread about speeding.
posted by Miko at 1:11 PM on March 19, 2013 [41 favorites]


Ziggly - that link about the point being humiliation was horrifying and fascinatingly insightful. It was a thing i had thought about but never could really put in words. That is the "power" part of rape being about power not sex that i think a lot of people just don't seem to get.

The rapists in Steubenville weren't trying to have sex...they were exercising their power. And I can't even come up with the right words for how that makes me feel. You can put them in therapy to make them understand WHAT they did was wrong, but will they ever understand WHY? Like others said upthread, one of the rapists expressed remorse only at getting caught due to the pics, not what he and his fellow rapist actually did.
posted by sio42 at 2:22 PM on March 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


ericb brought up the T.J. Lane case a little further up. As I mentioned earlier, I've read some arguments about how this sort of sympathetic media coverage is the norm when a juvenile is convicted. I've not found any particularly sympathetic coverage of Lane's conviction and he's received a much longer sentence.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:40 PM on March 19, 2013


"Who says otherwise?"

Oh I thought what I said was clear. Saying that "men need to see that women can build skyscrappers and be writers and be activists and be engineers" etc in order to believe that they are worthy of being equals to men is disregarding the fact that human beings deserve respect for their humanity whatever their job skills are or aren't. No one deserves to be raped and it doesn't matter if they are brilliant or stupid, skilled or unskilled.

In our culture, the fact that we see women as sex objects and poor/unskilled people as unworthy of food and housing and basic respect for their humanity means that disabled, or low performing women are especially prone to being subject to pressure to give of their sexuality for money or social acceptance. Many of us feed into this by supporting a sex industry with a huge portion of foster alumni females and women who have experienced abuse and homeless or who have learning disabilities/mental illness. The idea that women with female traits, who wear girly clothes, act cute, aren't very smart, value socializing more than success, somehow deserve to be raped is not that far of an extension of the belief that girls who ACT like girls are indeed inferior.

Meaning the traits often associated with femaleness which in a positive are things like caregiving, nurturing, forgiving, loving, kind, gentle, beautiful--- in a negative, ditzy, superficial, weak, needy---

These traits have kind of become THEMSELVES signs a person deserves to be raped when we base womens rights on the concept that "women can do previously male dominated professions and THUS deserve to be treated as beings with human worth".

I just think you shouldn't have to interject "women can be smart, or physically strong, climb career ladders based on ablistic notions, and THEREFORE should be treated as equal human beings worthy of basic respect, assistance with basic needs, and protection from abuse and rape"

Disabled women are so disproportional represented in sexual abuse and rape statistics and this is both because they may have a harder time protecting themselves from predators and also because people see their humanity as worthless. People are fine with women who have low school performance or endurance in the work force supplying the world with sexual service to make a living, and people are fine with commanding/forcing women supply that if they are jerky enough and see the woman as inferior enough.
posted by xarnop at 3:18 PM on March 19, 2013 [15 favorites]


I understand and sympathize with your feelings about the risks of driving but accidental vehicular manslaughter is not, I repeat is not, a viable analogy for rape. I hope I don't read another word in this thread about speeding.

YES, thank you.

I already wrote at length about those analogies, but i feel like i didn't really express directly enough either that, or my just... Solemn disappointment in the commenters of this thread in general to roll out stuff like that.

I generally expect the level of discourse on here to be better than most of the sites on the internet. And that was dipping in to the puddle of piss next to the toilet of the absolute worst.

I never understood peoples drive to create crappy analogies for rape. Can't rape stand on its own as a fucked up thing to do? it shouldn't be compared to some other crime because it isn't some other crime. And i find it especially bad when people want to compare it to property crime, or something completely unfortunate and accidental. I don't even think it's irrational BS to potentially say it's a hate crime in a lot of circumstances, and even if that's a hard sell for some of the people here, it's definitely as bad as the absolute worst aggravated assault.

And yet i always sign on again to see it being compared to drunk driving and hitting someone, or some shit like that. People need to stop. It does a disservice to the discussion, and makes them look unfortunate and ignorant.
posted by emptythought at 4:04 PM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Steubenville: Humiliation Was The Point Of The Exercise

Thanks for that, ziggly. Anyone who is sheltered/oblivious enough to feel any sympathy for the rapists in this case should read that.
posted by Jess the Mess at 5:06 PM on March 19, 2013 [8 favorites]


Yes, that's a good link. It's likely the person who orchestrated the whole ritual humiliation was her ex-boyfriend, who was given immunity in return for testifying against the two others. He filmed and took photos of the event, and had the axe to grind. It's kind of shocking that he's free to carry on with his life as though nothing happened.

"Cody Saltsman sent many messages to people stating that “nobody breaks up with Cody Saltsman, Ill ruin that bitch”. This was a month before the rape. A few weeks later, Saltsman’s best friend – Trent Mays started texting the victim asking her for a date and pretending to like her and telling her over and over that everyone likes her and not to worry about Cody."
posted by stagewhisper at 5:21 PM on March 19, 2013 [16 favorites]


You know, I keep thinking about all of this. And I'm not feeling very articulate, but there's one thing that bothers me the most.

I have seen several quips suggesting that people lionizing and/or pitying the rapists should 'imagine if this happened to your sister or your daughter.'

And I think that's the wrong direction.

Instead, how about 'imagine this had been done to you.'

I know that some young men get blackout drunk, vomit on themselves, wake up not knowing where they are or what they did last night. do they think they would deserve or should expect to get raped in these or any circumstances?

Generally, men don't even consider, much less grapple with the possibility (never mind the fallout) of being victimized in a sexual way. It's not on their radar.

Maybe, in some small way, we should put it there. Not as a threat, but as a thought experiment. (though I suspect it would backfire. Men and boys are so trained to be agents that the response might be 'I'd kill that....expletive'. Women and girls, however are taught to behave (and view themselves) as objects.
posted by bilabial at 5:27 PM on March 19, 2013 [8 favorites]


Generally, men don't even consider, much less grapple with the possibility (never mind the fallout) of being victimized in a sexual way. It's not on their radar.

Uh...
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 5:37 PM on March 19, 2013


Just read the link from ziggly and Jess the Mess. It is incisive, and deserves to be widely read.

I’ve been struck by the similarities between this case and both the Glen Ridge, New Jersey rape in 1989

I had forgotten about that. I was 20 when this happened. The story was very similar in many respects. The boys were football stars and were protected by their community. How sad is it that more than 20 years have passed, and we're still trying to prove to rape culture skeptics that this happens. More than we ever hear about.

One user commented: "It is scary how often we–society–find excuses for the one incident that gets them caught and miss the pattern of behaviour." Yeah. These aren't isolated, extreme incidents. I wish they were. Many people probably believe that they are.

This piece really is very insightful.
posted by Miko at 7:21 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Belle Jar: "I Am Not Your Wife, Sister or Daughter. I Am A Person."

I posted this on Facebook and am getting approximately eleventy million likes and shares from other women but some really vocal pushback from a few men who are all like, "but this is how you get men to empathize! Shouldn't that be the goal?" and I am getting totally flail-y and grar and feeling stupid and oh my god I hate Facebook.
posted by naoko at 7:27 PM on March 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Generally.

I didn't say never. I didn't say universally. I used the word generally on purpose.

But thanks for giving us something to point to when we have this conversation with the men in our lives. That their maleness does not protect them from this kind of humiliation (though teabagging is not solely done to males. You can probably guess how I know this without my stating that I am a woman.) men are not taught to not get drunk, to never go out with men who are strangers. To guard their drinks, to dress unprovacatively, to check in with a friend to assure someone they made it home safe, to park in well lighted areas, to take a thousand often contradictory precautions (carry mace! Don't carry mace, it just makes an attacker angry!) People offering advice or victim blaming aren't usually conscious of the sheer volume of 'suggestions,' not are they necessarily aware that we have heard their advice before AND it doesn't work. Being sober doesn't protect us. None of this protects us. But still every ladie's outing carries the specter of 'what are you about to do that might get you raped?' Parking too far away? Parking close but not under a light? Wearing shoes that prevent you from running?

A thing that might have protected this young woman was agency education. (I actually came back to add this: men usually respond to the question 'how would you feel if...?' by saying:
if a woman were to holler at me/wake me up with sex/grab my ass I'd be flattered
And that needs to be stopped too. It is not equivalent. We need to ask men to stop and think about how they would feel about unwanted sexual attention from men. Because generally women aren't committing these types of crimes. A man who becomes a victim of sex crime is probably victimized by a man or group of men. That they know. I know! You can find examples of female sexual predators, but I'm saying generally!)

To keep this related to Steubenville, if a group of boys did this to another boy, instead of a girl, would the falllout be different for everyone?

For a male to be penetrated against his will...he'd likely face simultaneous homophobia and sympathy. But what about the rapists? Would they be more vilified? What if the victim were a football player and the perpetrators were in the band or the chess team?
posted by bilabial at 7:30 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


oh my god I hate Facebook.

I can't discuss this on Facebook anymore. A discussion on the media coverage was derailed by three guys insisting this was "totally normal" trial coverage and that we were overreacting.

I feel like some men can't see rape culture in the same way the characters in "Horton Hears A Who" couldn't hear the Who. Not only don't they believe it exists, but they are compelled to convince everyone else that it doesn't exist and get irritable if you provide evidence.

Anyhow, good luck, but don't be afraid to just walk away from FB for a while if it helps.
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:36 PM on March 19, 2013


I feel like some men can't see rape culture in the same way the characters in "Horton Hears A Who" couldn't hear the Who. Not only don't they believe it exists, but they are compelled to convince everyone else that it doesn't exist and get irritable if you provide evidence.

And for what subset is it a matter less of not seeing it, and more of actively denying it -- out of their own self-interest? After all, if what those "nice guys" did was indeed actually rape and not just normal youthful boyish hijinks... then what does it say about what they may have done at some point in their own lives?

This is absolutely not to say that everyone who denies the existence of rape culture must therefore be a rapist. But it is to raise the point that millions of women and girls being raped in their lifetimes means there are millions of men and boys who have raped them.
posted by scody at 7:41 PM on March 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


I agree with much in your comments, bilabial, but not necessarily this --

Having the confidence herself to call her parents or some other trusted adult for a way out of the situation before she got this drunk.

I don't know much about the leadup to the incident because I can't really bear to look at much of the content, but...why?

I've been in situations where I was having fun and feeling safe and around trusted people and fully adult and had too many. I can't imagine predicting something like this and getting out of "This situation" when the situation is "I'm having so much fun with my friends!" No amount of "agency training" would have caused me to call my parents or a trusted adult when I was, say, 23, and living in a remote camp setting with a small group of co-workers and having a big time. I am sure there's value to "agency education," but the idea that it basically means "you're never safe getting drunk, ever ever" is problematic to me. That ends up feeling like another form of social control. I think the second element of agency training - understanding that when you see something wrong going down, you should object, stop it, and get help - is much, much more important than instructing all women to never get drunk.

The Wikipedia entry for this case is lame, BTW. I'm somewhat surprised about that. It's terribly organized, convoluted, and begins with a focus on the media coverage. Pretty awful considering it's been going on a long time. Or maybe this is the current standard, I don't know.
posted by Miko at 7:44 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I tried looking up "agency education" - is this your own idea? The only sites I could find with that word combination were linkbait, the proceeds of a Mormon symposium and one Christian book.
posted by Miko at 7:49 PM on March 19, 2013


if a group of boys did this to another boy, instead of a girl

I sort of wonder if that is exactly what's driving some of the "it wasn't a big deal" response. That it resembles some of the incredibly shitty (and criminal) stuff that is done by boys to boys as part of hazing. (Get drunk and you should expect that other boys will do terrible shit to you, and film it, and you'll just have to live it down because it's all boys-will-be-boys and there's no recourse?) And in hazing, the purpose is humiliation/domination not sex, so the kids who do it -- and the parents who maybe did stuff like that when they were teenagers too? -- don't see it as "real" rape or a "sex crime" because it's not about sex to them?
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:51 PM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm sitting here wondering....if she was indeed drunk and had not been slipped a roofie, isn't it possible she could have died of alcohol poisoning? Putting aside the fact of what they did to her, if she was simply drunk, everyone around her would have in my opinion been culpable for not trying to get her help. I'm no doctor and I am no expert on the line between passed out and dead, but the total and complete disregard for this young woman's life on every level is chilling, period.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:55 PM on March 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


Well, sure! When someone is totally unresponsive and their body is slack, yeah, it's advisable to get them to the ER. Mayo Clinic on how to recognize alcohol poisoning.
posted by Miko at 7:56 PM on March 19, 2013


Oh Miko. I'm sorry I'm not having the presence of mind to really be clear about what I meant in that paragraph. Getting that drunk is unsafe for reasons like aspirating your own vomit. (which, Christ what assholes, those guys joked about her being 'dead.') It should absolutely be SOCIALLY safe to get that drunk. And we should have every right to expect our peers to keep us from choking on our puke. Getting raped should not be a consideration. And I want to be absolutely clear that her not calling her parents is not why she was raped.

As I said three times, she was violated because rapists decided to rape her. Not for any other reason. And I think training our youth that they can call someone and not get in trouble for reaching out....I think there would be value in that. Because there are so many places where things failed. The one that really mattered was that people decided to rape. But sweeping the bystanders under the rug, refusing or failing to think about why they were complicit suggests that I don't think we can or should do better. Whatever circumstances there were in the girls life that may have made getting that drunk appealing...might be addressable. Peer pressure? Agency allows a response to that. Depression? That's irrelevant speculation and none of our business, but kids with strong agency ask for help more. Problems at home? That is a barrier to developing agency.

I'm using Agency in the sociology/psychology sense of the word and pairing it with education because instilling a sense of agency is something that appears to be an active endeavor. People don't accidentally develop a strong sense of it. It seems to come from specific kinds of conversations and behavior modeling, though some people manage to figure it out 'on their own.' Women and girls tend (tend!) to historically exhibit less agency. And when we do, it is often very upsetting to bystanders. Upsetting the status quo and all.

There aren't any programs that I know of to provide it. Which makes me sad.

Does seem to be linked to shame vs guilt (shame makes people feel they have less agency, guilt gives more room to change behavior/patterns).
posted by bilabial at 8:06 PM on March 19, 2013


I have seen several quips suggesting that people lionizing and/or pitying the rapists should 'imagine if this happened to your sister or your daughter.'

And I think that's the wrong direction.

Instead, how about 'imagine this had been done to you.'


Yes, that's my all-purpose response to the rhetorical tactic that encourages men to imagine [whatever gendered injustice] happening to their daughter, mother, wife. or sister. Don't imagine [unequal pay/refusal of reproductive rights/domestic violence/stalking/rape] happening to some woman related to you or of whom you feel protective; imagine it happening to you, a person you clearly recognize as deserving bodily autonomy and privileges.

I understand that the "Think of your wives and daughters!" tactic is supposed to help the listener personalize an unfamiliar victim, but I think that by triggering protective outrage rather than deeply personal shock, it actually buffers the listener's reaction and objectifies rather than personalizing. In short, I think it can be actively dehumanizing.

Women are not human-by-association with protective or outraged menfolk; we're human in our right, with all the associated abstract and practical rights.
posted by Elsa at 8:15 PM on March 19, 2013 [16 favorites]


And I think training our youth that they can call someone and not get in trouble for reaching out....I think there would be value in that.

There's certainly value in it. I support the idea that kids should feel they have a lifeline at any time. But I'm not sure that a simple "wow, I got drunk" should or would ever mean, on its own, that it's time to call for help, especially if you're over the drinking age, and if you're safe and not driving, and among friends. I just don't view it as a moral failing. So even if you make this a rule for high school students, it just falls apart once you have legal agency and don't live with your parents.

Whatever circumstances there were in the girls life that may have made getting that drunk appealing...might be addressable

I guess I just don't agree with you that there's something wrong, a priori, about getting drunk. It is actually appealing at certain times in life and is done safely by most people. That others take advantage of this is no different than others taking advantage of any other circumstantial situation that makes it easier to be aggressive, whether that's choice of shoes or ending up alone with the wrong person or being permanently, rather than temporarily, disabled.

In short, I'm pro-agency in general, but I'm not at all willing to follow you down this path suggesting that anyone who gets drunk is necessarily in the red zone and needs to call their parents. Or that there's something pathological about people, especially young people, using an intoxicant and getting pretty drunk. There's no real difference between that and victim blaming, though I know that's not what you intend.
posted by Miko at 8:19 PM on March 19, 2013


I got into this on another board with a guy who said that no one would become unconscious or be incapacitated from drinking half a fifth of vodka (I don't know where he gor that figure). I don't know if he was insinuating that she must therefore have had consensual sex, but I can't imagine what else he was getting at.

This has really been an eye-opening incident for me, and not in a pleasant way.
posted by thelonius at 8:20 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Drinking has risks for men and women. But as long as we're obsessed with lecturing women in particular about drinking as a risk factor, and as long as it's a risk factor for women in particular, we haven't solved this issue.

Certainly alcohol was used as a disinhibitor for all the other people in the scenario including the perpetrators, both those charged and not charged. Let's be sure we're talking about everybody's agency with drinking, if we have to go there at all. Why didn't those guys call their parents? "Mom, Dad, I've gotten too drunk. I.m out of control and I might rape somebody. Can you come pick me up before things get worse?"
posted by Miko at 8:22 PM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Someone on Reddit made a point I really liked, that the standard excuses for rapes like this assumes that consent is the default, and the burden of proof is on the woman to prove that she resisted/fought/denied the normally expected sexi times permission.

Maybe someone here can turn that into a bumper sticker -- "Consent is not the default" feels close but not punchy enough.
posted by msalt at 8:28 PM on March 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Steubenville Coach Has Joe Paterno Problems
posted by madamjujujive at 8:34 PM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I feel a sort of generic pity for anyone sent to prison, but I can't summon any specific sympathy for the perpetrators of an extended assault specifically designed to outrage and humiliate their victim.

That being said, I think that too few people know that digital penetration without consent is rape; that consent once given can be withdrawn; and that unconscious or severely intoxicated people are not consenting, even if they gave their explicit consent earlier. This really needs to be drummed into people: not for the sake of these rapists but to empower bystanders and, perhaps, to make some potential rapists step back before they have gone too far.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:37 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


In short, I'm pro-agency in general, but I'm not at all willing to follow you down this path suggesting that anyone who gets drunk is necessarily in the red zone and needs to call their parents

We absolutely agree on this. What I didn't say was 'whatever her reason for wanting to get drunk, it really sucks that the outcome was that she got raped. Because A did not cause B. And if for some reason she found herself in a situation where she was consuming more alcohol than she was comfortable with, I'm really sad about that.'

I wasn't clear that 'if she was uncomfortable at any point before becoming incapacitated and wanted to go home but was afraid to call' was internal speculation on my part, and not even fair to think. But especially not fair to think but then not type.

It's hard for me to participate on this conversation because it's so personal and just so close to experiences I've had.

I'm looking back in time and wondering what might have helped me. And it's a dark thing to approach, what I wish I had in my personal toolbox.

What it comes down to is: only rapists can Prevent Rape.
posted by bilabial at 8:42 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


And if for some reason she found herself in a situation where she was consuming more alcohol than she was comfortable with, I'm really sad about that.'

It's a totally separate issue. And, I think, best treated as separate because, as I said, otherwise we really can't distinguish it from victim blaming. And, of course, a lot of people consume more than they're comfortable with, and nothing other than bed spins and headaches and brand-new-day resolutions or parental lectures happen to them. A small minority have a medical crisis which needs medical attention (and often it turns out the drinking was complicated by drugs, dehydration, undernutrition, sunstroke, etc., so it's not easy to point to drink as sole casual factor even then). These are reasonably normal results of overuse of alcohol, but these and rape are just separate things that can and should be distinguished from one another.

I hear what you're saying, in trying to understand the impact of alcohol, but people (especially young people) are going to drink too much, get groggy, and sometimes pass out, and the great majority of the time that happens (and always should happen) without permanent incident aside from feeling very ill the following day. Youth alcohol culture can certainly benefit from some improvement in the US. But I just can't condemn anyone to suffer rape because they participated in that. They sure didn't intend to be raped. If at some point someone wants help getting out of a situation, like you I do hope they are always confident they can ask for and get that help. BUt even so, some people are just not going to perceive themselves as help-needing, because they are at the age of majority, or otherwise comfortable with their choices in a situation they think they understand and have no reason to doubt they understand. If some salient facts or risk factors are being hidden from them, that is no fault of their own, and shouldn't be perceived as such.

A world that says "Well, it's just not safe for women to be drunk because they might be assaulted" is still a world comfortably tolerating rape. Even though I understand alcohol's role as a risk factor, this is still true.
posted by Miko at 9:18 PM on March 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


What it comes down to is: only rapists can Prevent Rape.

This is ultimately true, but we as a culture can encourage potential rapists to prevent rape by creating a climate where rape and other erosion of consent is not tolerated: not joked about, not brushed off, not called "high spirits" or "boys will be boys."

We can teach our young people that they are entitled to a strong measure of bodily autonomy --- by not forcing them to kiss parents or grandparents or siblings, by not brushing off classmates' unwelcome touches as "s/he must like you" or "they just want to be friends!" We can make it clear to our children that their refusals and boundaries are legitimate and that they are entitled to be respected when they issue those refusals, and we can also encourage our young people to be sensitive not only to an outright "No!" but to more subtle refusals and boundary-setting when they're on the receiving end.

We can foster an environment in which sex is seen as a collaborative, affirmative act in which both (or all) partners take pleasure, rather than tolerating --- or, worse, perpetuating --- a culture whose jokes and narratives often tacitly depict heterosexual sex, especially among young people, as a zero-sum game that young men win by conquering women.

We can --- persistently, pervasively, without fail --- frame sex as something that equal partners consent to, not something that is bestowed by reluctant women upon grateful or forceful men --- or, far worse, something that men can "steal" from incapacitated women. And we can loudly, visibly protest when popular entertainment plays out the old trope of men "taking advantage of" women as something harmless and saucy, something to be winked at or forgiven.

We can support that view of sex as an act of mutual consent by not deploring openly sexual women as sluts or whores or cheap, and by vigorously rejecting that kind of slur when we hear it. We can also curtail talk that equates being scantily clad with being sexually available, as if clothing or its lack --- or any other aspect of a person's appearance --- somehow waives consent.

We can help create a culture that discourages rather than tacitly harbors and fosters rapists by not lamenting rape as something that just happens to drunk or unconscious or otherwise vulnerable young women, by not acting as if we assume men (even young, inexperienced, or sexually frustrated men) are somehow incapable of controlling themselves or of understanding the subtleties of consent, especially since studies show that young men are perfectly capable of understanding tacit refusals, and that "these young men share the understanding that explicit verbal refusals of sex per se are unnecessary to effectively communicate the withholding of consent to sex." [link provides summary; PDFs available w/in linked article]

We can acknowledge that "no means no" is not enough. We can accept that our general social conventions provide many, many widely-accepted ways of refusing or demurring invitations and overtures without requiring the invitee to explicitly say "No," and we can make an effort to extend that logic to include sexual invitations and overtures. (And that would certainly include the baseline: that an unconscious or incapacitated person CANNOT accept an invitation, much less issue consent.)

And we can certainly begin by loudly and vigorously rejecting news stories that frame the "ruined potential" of these two rapists' futures as if it were a tragedy imposed on them externally, rather than a tragedy that they willfully committed by choice, encouraged by a culture which venerates the particular brand of performance they have achieved and which diminishes and dismisses the horror of rape.
posted by Elsa at 9:43 PM on March 19, 2013 [10 favorites]


A world that says "Well, it's just not safe for women to be drunk because they might be assaulted" is still a world comfortably tolerating rape. Even though I understand alcohol's role as a risk factor, this is still true.

I've been agonizing over this very issue for the past day or so. It's not news to me that these sorts of crimes happen all the time. This one has captured my attention especially because the past couple of weeks my goddaughter has been receiving her college acceptance letters. I don't have any children of my own, but I raised this one like my own for the first few years of her life, and have watched her grow up and I don't know how parents do it, because In addition to bursting with pride at the brilliant, awesome person she's grown up to be, I am filled with total dread at the idea of her taking those first steps into being an independent adult in this world. Me and her mom were joking the other day that maybe we could just apply and go to college with her. Except we weren't really joking.

And I get what you're saying here 100%. I made earlier comments in this thread stating my beliefs that rape culture and the fear of rape are just as much about social control and oppression as they are about sex, if not more so. I detest victim blaming of any kind, and I think our society is complicit in every crime that happens when it fails to educate our young men about consent.

And all that goes right out the window when the kid walks into the room. And I seriously don't know hot to reconcile all of the above with the simple desire that her and her friends male and female, get through the next phase of their lives unharmed. Am I really tolerating rape culture or blaming the victim if I tell her that she has to create safe spaces for herself, and be really careful about who she associates with? There are people who are waiting for you to be vulnerable so they can take advantage. And that's not just about getting drunk and being assaulted or raped. When you're or depressed, or broke, or alone or sick, there are people out there who will use your weakness to assert their power over you. By the time we're trying to talk about fault or blame, its too late. The bad thing already happened. And now I have to burn the entire world down for hurting you.

At that moment in my mind, "It's just not safe for you to be drunk" starts to seem like the most reasonable thing in the world.

Again, I'm not arguing your point, just trying to make sense of it. And I still have no idea how parents do it. Y'all are crazy.
posted by billyfleetwood at 10:33 PM on March 19, 2013 [10 favorites]


Transcriptions of some of the text messages between numerous football players that were read in court. Warning, may be triggering.
posted by stagewhisper at 11:33 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Steubenville Rapist to Appeal Because His 'Brain Isn't Fully Developed'
posted by Artw at 11:41 PM on March 19, 2013


Billyfleetwood, I've actually gotten into that discussion elsewhere. I don't think anyone who's advocating that "only rapists can prevent rape" is also at the same time advocating not telling the young women we know to be careful.

We're just advocating that we not only tell the young women how to stay safe. It's not an "either/or" thing, is all; it's a "this AND that" thing, and we've been letting the "that" slide.

Steubenville Rapist to Appeal Because His 'Brain Isn't Fully Developed'

Okay, dude, I know you got that from Law and Order SVU, but didja notice how it never works on the show?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:23 AM on March 20, 2013


Steubenville Rapist to Appeal Because His 'Brain Isn't Fully Developed'

Isn't that why juvenile court exists in the first place?

In other news, something similar happened in Connecticut:

Victim Bullied After Rape Allegations Against Torrington Football Players
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 7:14 AM on March 20, 2013


Steubenville Rapist to Appeal Because His 'Brain Isn't Fully Developed'

I watched that video clip and one thing that jumped out at me was when the attorney said that registering as a sex offender for the rest of his life was part of the punishment. I thought that registration was a safeguard to keep other potential victims out of his way rather than a part of his "punishment."

Another thing that struck me was when the other attorney asked if we would like to be judged at age 70 for what we had done at age 16. Hell, no! But then I'd just as soon not be judged by what I did at age 24, 37, or yesterday, for that matter.
posted by leftcoastbob at 7:56 AM on March 20, 2013


Another thing that struck me was when the other attorney asked if we would like to be judged at age 70 for what we had done at age 16.

Just had a thought - I think a lot of the people who ask this are counting on the fact that the worst things the average person did at age 16 weren't felonies. So the average person who hears this will think, "shit, no, I don't want to be judged for the fact that I tp'd the gym/broke a window/whatever".

So, no, I wouldn't mind being judged at age 70 for the things I did when I was 16 - because while I did stupid things at 16, none of them were felonies, so who cares.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:05 AM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


while I did stupid things at 16, none of them were felonies, so who cares.

You're welcome to not care about other people for whatever reason you want, but in an age where in some states impersonating other people on facebook and/or online harassment can be considered felonies, it's not really the bright dividing line that people feel that it is. I did things at 16 that would have been considered felonies, potentially. I think a lot of people did.
posted by jessamyn at 8:19 AM on March 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


My apologies, I think I may have actually chosen my words poorly.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:26 AM on March 20, 2013


Poppy Harlow, CNN Reporter, 'Outraged' Over Steubenville Rape Coverage Criticism.
posted by ericb at 8:36 AM on March 20, 2013


Change.org petition -- CNN: Apologize on air for sympathizing with the Steubenville rapists. Currently, 237,551 signatures.
posted by ericb at 8:43 AM on March 20, 2013


from ericb's link: "'Poppy is taking this extremely personally as a woman,' said one executive. 'She’s outraged that someone would think she’d do such a thing' as slant her coverage toward rapists."

Yes, how on earth could someone possibly think she could do such a thing? Surely not anyone who could see the actual slant of her actual coverage. Of course, the technology does not presently exist for us to be able to see what she actually reported at the time, so sources say it seems unlikely that we'll ever really know what happened in this case of "Reporter Says/Viewing Public Says."
posted by scody at 9:09 AM on March 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Best statement I've seen so far:
"'The troubling reaction of many media outlets to the sentence of two teenage football players who were convicted of raping a 16-year-old girl is a crystal clear example of how society continues to teach boys that girls and women are "less than." As we saw in Steubenville, and its aftermath, this approach to masculinity leads some men and boys to perpetuate violence against women and other men and boys to remain silent.

This kind of toxic masculinity creates a culture that leads to a national of conversation that express sympathy for the young boys that committed a crime, focusing on their destroyed football careers and uncertain futures in prison, while completely ignoring the victim. Where was the sympathy for her?

We must challenge how we raise boys regarding masculinity, as it is often at the expense of women. I've realized that society doesn't raise boys to be men; we raise them to not be women. The lives of men are inextricably interwoven with the lives of women. Women's issues of safety and equality directly affect our lives as men. Beyond that, women are humans, with the same rights to safety and freedom as men.

Instead of allowing the humiliation of a young girl to pass unchallenged through social media and text messaging, we must teach men it is our moral responsibility to not remain silent or passively on the sidelines, but to be actively engaged in confronting this problem in every corner of homes, communities, and societies.'
—Former NFL quarterback and feminist Don McPherson, in a press release on the Steubenville rape case and the ugly media aftermath'
quoted at Shakesville. (More from McPherson)

This man gets it. This man is awesome. This man played in the NFL, so the rampant misogyny is not the fault of football but of the way we too often choose to teach masculinity. This cannot be remedied by mothers alone but must find champions like McPherson as fathers, coaches, everyday decent human beings.

It will take a lot of men like this to to reverse the mindset expressed by one rape apologist with this shocking tweet: "Their lives are ruined; her vag will be fine." Truly, men and boys often seem to believe that women are actually not people--they are bodies--sex objects (or providers of comfort, nourishment, gratification, deference, but always in the service of men, never legitimate persons with agency). Women say it and feel it and are taught in so many ways to present ourselves as if it were true, however uncomfortable we find that to be, but it is very hard to comprehend that this is the literal truth for men and boys who are taught (and caught) in the prevailing masculinity. From that perspective, they really don't feel they rape or do anything at all to a PERSON when they do whatever to a woman's body.
posted by Anitanola at 9:13 AM on March 20, 2013 [13 favorites]


On judgement, this is a really big deal to me. My mother is really determined that she is "equally" a bad person if her father is judged as a bad person because "she's done bad things too".

Yes, granted, she has slapped her husband once when she attempted to start drinking again (she immediately realized he was right she was NOT ok to ever drink and went back to AA and quit drinking). She did cheat on her husband during that time. She did have unprotected sex before marriage many times as a teen while using drugs. During that time she participated in some illegal activities such as breaking and entering and theft.

But she never molested children, she didn't beat the shit out of a whole family leaving everyone in fear and terror, she didn't notice everyone around her was in pain and CONTINUE DOING THE SAME THINGS OVER AND OVER and she never raped any one.

These are DIFFERENT errors and I think it makes a huge difference in trying to help people who have been abused recovered that accepting and loving abusers/assailants is NOT required for THEM to be accepted and loved. I side with forgiveness and understanding for most everything but sadism and choosing to harm others for pleasure and convenience is another matter requires a VERY DIFFERENT LEVEL of forgiveness because the harm can literally carry over for generations of people. The kind of pain and damage that can be created by sexual assault and abuse can affect not only the survivors well being but anyone around them who cares about them, their children and even their grandchildren. This is a huge amount of damage and forgiving the damages done means acknowledging the extent of the damage done without blaming the survivor for not recovering better (which is a very common social trend. Yes we all should do the best we can to live healthy lives and be healthy functional strong people who contribute and treat ourselves and others well, but we don't know how hard others are trying when we're on the outside).
posted by xarnop at 9:29 AM on March 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


thinking about the newscaster, and the girls who were arrested, and the girls who testified against the victim - i remember a comment recently made in in metatalk that women will always come to the defense of women who have been sexually assaulted. it's just so false. women have been trained in the patriarchy just like men have. without enablers, it's hard to push forward the cycle of abuse.
posted by nadawi at 9:33 AM on March 20, 2013 [18 favorites]


As was mentioned in the original Steubenville thread, the town has their own website: Steubenville Facts.
posted by ericb at 9:36 AM on March 20, 2013


I'll note that neither Candy Crowley nor Poppy Harlow have tweeted since their reportage outside the courtroom. It will be interesting to see how they deal with this, as I'm sure they're getting plenty of tweets directed at them.

You can't help but find it difficult to watch as these reporters are attacked through social media. Who knows what promising futures they had ahead of them before they got swept up in all of this.
posted by cell divide at 9:52 AM on March 20, 2013 [14 favorites]


A man who becomes a victim of sex crime is probably victimized by a man or group of men. That they know. I know! You can find examples of female sexual predators, but I'm saying generally!

I wish we could just drop this. It's literally below 1% according to the statistics I've seen linked before. And "ok I guess women do it too" is just placating MRA types. Men are over 99% of reported rapists(this would be a link if I wasn't on my smartphone, but it's readily available government data), including against other men.

Lets just finally admit that and talk about men. I've been starting to present this as "there are female sexual predators, but encountering one is about as likely as being hit by a car inside your house. Yea it's been on the news once or twice, but it's not exactly common"

I feel like even acknowledging it the way you did just leads to derails from the exact people who need to hear it most.
posted by emptythought at 11:36 AM on March 20, 2013


the problem is that there are members of our community who are victims of sexual assault by women. refusing to acknowledge it marginalizes those survivors even more. there are reasons to include it under the umbrella that have nothing to do with placating misogynists.
posted by nadawi at 11:41 AM on March 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


robocop is bleeding: "I'm sorry to hear that your friend got stabbed on Friday.

What was he wearing? Had he been drinking?
"

Don't worry. Judging by this comment thread, we're well on our way toward that level of discourse. Victim-blaming is the hot new trend for all crimes and genders.

Equality, yay. *facepalm, cries softly*
posted by schmod at 11:44 AM on March 20, 2013


Hacking vs. rape: Which is a crime more deserving of jail time?
posted by leftcoastbob at 1:06 PM on March 20, 2013


Funny, I'm taking it extremely personally as a woman too.

But Crowley and Harlow are reporters who chose a public-facing trade with a set of ethics, they work in a big organization, and that organization has the resources (and should have the PR smarts) to deal with blowback and to deal with individual job-related stress.

So I expect them to do that.

I am finding it more and more and more interesting that it seems so hard for CNN to say "we were wrong." Most outlets, when pressured this much, will analyze a bit and do just that. Somewhat strange that they're choosing to dig in, and even playing the "we're the victims now" card instead.
posted by Miko at 1:26 PM on March 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


"I'm sorry to hear that your friend got stabbed on Friday.

What was he wearing? Had he been drinking?"


Let me add, this is a major talking point in many shootings of young black men (the Trayvon Martin case being the most publicized in the last few years). If only he hadn't been wearing a hoodie, people lament, he'd have been fine.

The underlying assumption in both situations has as much to do with where we believe societal power should lie. Woman dressed in a way that's perceived as slutty? Certain elements of society say men are justified in raping her. Young black man dressed in a way that is perceived as "thuggish?" Certain elements of society say whites are justified in shooting them.

Rape and murder are two very different things and shouldn't be conflated (for example, nobody can claim that they raped somebody in self-defense), however the idea that the powerful need to humiliate and oppress the less powerful through violent acts is pretty deeply ingrained in parts of the USA's belief system.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:38 PM on March 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


The underlying assumption in both situations has as much to do with where we believe societal power should lie. Woman dressed in a way that's perceived as slutty? Certain elements of society say men are justified in raping her. Young black man dressed in a way that is perceived as "thuggish?" Certain elements of society say whites are justified in shooting them.

That's definitely true, but you get the same message from powerless people as well. In those cases I think it's an attempt at propitiation, inspired by fear: I'm not in danger, I keep my head down, I follow the rules. She got hurt, yes, but she wasn't following the rules. I'm still safe.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:46 PM on March 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Agreed. They are social constructs that even some of the people most hurt by them buy into. Hence the girls who blame Jane Doe, for instance, for being blacked out.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:55 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, and I think that's part of the problem that won't be any consolation to billyfleetwood (sorry). You can tell women that alcohol's presence is one risk factor for rape (it happens to be a risk factor for men to commit a rape as well as for women to be raped, so make sure you tell the boys too!). That's a reasonable warning, of course. But you can't with any certainty say "so if you don't drink at all, you'll never be raped. You will be safe!"

The idea that we can fully protect ourselves through our own behavior - our choice of dress, our pedestrian habits, our consumption of food, drink, or drugs, our selection of a friend group, our selection of a place to live, our choice to park under a streetlight or not - is a false idea. We can't fully protect ourselves all the time. Teetotalers get raped too. Nuns get raped. No matter what we choose to do with risk factors (and life as a woman means a fairly constant background state of risk evaluation), the causal factor of rape remains rape.

There are certainly risk reductions you can do. But risk reduction is not threat elimination. I don't say this to encourage people to be fearful. I say this to remind myself and all of us that we need to address the systemic, societal issues to do with this bias, not only the individual choice issues. Because those individual choices will never sufficiently protect you in a society that is more interested in enabling the abuse of relative power than in asserting your individual dignity, freedom, and right to go about your business unmolested.
posted by Miko at 2:01 PM on March 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


This is not about the Stuebenville case, but Thadine Newton has some worthwhile things to say about everyone's responsibility regarding abuse (possibly triggering).

My favorite quote:

"Also as an 18 year old girl, perhaps the old woman in the room should have put her job on the line and said 'I don't condone this behavior.' Its not just about... the person whose been abused - its not just their role to say 'enough.' Its about the people around. How much are the people that witness - how much are they perpetrators of the crime?"
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:15 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


An old problem, the complicity of bystanders.
posted by Miko at 2:30 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd actually call a lot of the "bystanders" in this case "accessories" - and no, I wouldn't cry for their ruined bright futures if they were convicted either.
posted by Artw at 2:32 PM on March 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


The Steubenville rape victim, when offered money for her legal expenses or counselling, asked that people donated to a shelter for abused women and children in her county, Madden House, instead.

Steubenville-Area Women’s Shelter Receiving Donations From Around The World
posted by homunculus at 3:40 PM on March 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Kathleen Parker | The Washington Post: Steubenville And The Online Bystander Effect.
posted by ericb at 3:43 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


A related article on the 'bystander effect' which I read this morning ...

Flight or Fight: Why Do People Film Fights on the MBTA Instead of Stopping Them? -- "A Boston University psychologist says people don't break up fights because they fear being hurt themselves."
posted by ericb at 3:45 PM on March 20, 2013


A Boston University psychologist says people don't break up fights because they fear being hurt themselves.

In my experience, police almost always say that when faced with a dangerous situation, members of the public should call the police rather than get involved directly. In some situations, individual policemen are supposed to call for backup themselves.

No excuse for not calling the police though.
posted by grouse at 5:18 PM on March 20, 2013


I'm wondering if I might ever live to regret a Big-Brother-esque system whereby a nearby public-address system told me: "The police have been alerted to this situation and are en route, thank you."
posted by ShutterBun at 1:59 AM on March 21, 2013


Great related post here.
posted by Artw at 11:20 PM on March 21, 2013


Apparently UNC Thinks 'Rape Is Like Football'
posted by homunculus at 10:46 AM on March 26, 2013


Steubenville's Former NAACP President Says Rape Victim Was Drunk And Willing

...she might have been a willing participant, apparently unfazed by the inflammatory nature of such statements. “They’re alleging she got raped; she’s acknowledging that she wanted to leave with Trent. Her friends say she pushed them away as she went and got into the car, twice telling them, ‘I know what I’m doing; I’m going with Trent,’” Mayo said.
posted by leftcoastbob at 5:47 PM on March 28, 2013


Heartbreaking ...

Rape Culture Claims Another Victim: Teen Ends Life After Photo Of Her Alleged Gang Rape Goes Viral.
posted by ericb at 12:24 PM on April 9, 2013


The story is disturbingly familiar.

A teenage girl goes to some kind of get-together, maybe a party.

She is raped by multiple assailants.

The rape is photographed and distributed via social media.

The girl is subjected to horrifying acts of bullying and shaming. She is branded a slut. Her life becomes a living hell.

This girl is not Steubenville’s Jane Doe, although their stories bear a remarkable resemblance. This girl is Rehtaeh Parsons, a 17-year-old from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, who hanged herself on April 4th, a year and a half after being raped. Her family took her off life support this past Sunday.

Reading the account of what happened to Rehtaeh is like watching a deadly accident slowly, methodically unfolding in front of you. And there are bystanders, plenty of bystanders, who had any number of opportunities to step in and do something, but none of them do.

And, in many ways, you are one of these bystanders, too. I am, too. We all are.

Petition to demand an inquiry into the police investigation of Retaeh Parson's rape
posted by eviemath at 6:09 PM on April 9, 2013


That's vile.
.

It may have been updated since you posted:
Justice Minister Ross Landry said today, April 9, he has asked senior government officials to present options, as soon as possible, to review the Rehtaeh Parsons case.
posted by Mezentian at 4:54 AM on April 10, 2013


This statement from Rehtaeh Parsons' father will make you cry. She was an organ donor. She saved four lives.

I've been so upset about the case and the predictably rape apologist reactions of the media that I can barely talk about it. What's left to say?

.
posted by Phire at 3:50 PM on April 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Why does someone have to die for people to want to start an inquiry?
posted by bq at 4:00 PM on April 10, 2013


Anonymous: Rehtaeh Parsons’ rapists will be held accountable. The hacker group claims to know the identities of the alleged rapists, and demands authorities reopen the case
posted by homunculus at 9:32 AM on April 11, 2013


I was initially quite sympathetic to the Parsons story. Then I checked out /b/ based upon the recent statements by Canadian Anonymous groups demanding Mountie action. Comments from students who went to school with her indicated that she was troubled enough to be a suicide risk before the alleged incident occurred.

Her Twitter photo feed was disturbing. Is that her rolling a joint on some guy's ass?
posted by Tanizaki at 9:34 AM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm trying to come up with some charitable way to read your comment but I'm coming up empty... Because she was already miserable, you're no longer sympathetic that a teenager was gang raped, pictures of the attack were spread all over the internet, and her assailants got away with it scot-free?
posted by small_ruminant at 9:52 AM on April 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


No one deserves to be gang-raped. You did not try hard enough to read charitably.
posted by Tanizaki at 9:55 AM on April 11, 2013


So what part of it lost your sympathy?
posted by small_ruminant at 9:55 AM on April 11, 2013


[Folks maybe knock it off? This derail is tired already. Take it to MeMail.]
posted by jessamyn at 9:56 AM on April 11, 2013


The Rehtaeh Parsons case doesn't seem like a derail to me, given how strikingly parallel the circumstances are.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:04 AM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


[Talking about the case is fine, getting into stuff that sounds a lot like trolling and/or making stuff personal and/or making it all about one user's values is something you need to not do here. Please use the contact form or Meta to discuss this further.]
posted by jessamyn at 10:09 AM on April 11, 2013


For some reason this thread is showing up in my recent activity, and I wish it did not. I made a comment earlier that was made with the best intentions (compassion) and was immediately shot down by a mod, and then dog-piled by other users. It seems to me that everyone uses these cases to stand on their soap box to make whatever arguments they want to make. Makes me sick of MetaFilter, and I wish I had never left a comment here.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:16 AM on April 11, 2013


removing from activity is probably more useful than drudging it up again at the bottom of the thread...i think your comment was a good one, but i also think the points brought up in relation to your comment were good ones.
posted by nadawi at 10:25 AM on April 11, 2013


That's what I get for commenting in a thread where people are using sexual assault as a pretext for arguing for the sake of arguing, although I would have expected a little more finesse from a mod.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:28 AM on April 11, 2013


to my reading, that's not what happened. you made a pretty broad point, some people (including a mod) said it's not a foregone conclusion. someone made that argument a little strongly and then people disagreed with him. i don't see evidence that any part of that was done for funsies or just for the sake of arguing.
posted by nadawi at 10:43 AM on April 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


removing from activity is probably more useful than drudging it up again at the bottom of the thread...i think your comment was a good one, but i also think the points brought up in relation to your comment were good ones.

Seconding this.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:41 PM on April 11, 2013


The Rehtaeh Parsons Story in Context from local paper The Coast.
posted by eviemath at 2:44 PM on April 11, 2013


New Rehtaeh Parsons FPP on the blue.
posted by ericb at 5:19 PM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not any more, sadly.
posted by Artw at 5:29 PM on April 11, 2013


I don't even know how to express this. I hope that the Steubenville victim gets support from her friends and family and doesn't suffer the same bullying that led to the death of Rehtaeh Parsons.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 5:44 PM on April 11, 2013


I find it ironic that the "context" Tim Bousquet (Coast editor, American ex-pat, avowed non-toker) presents is that the Halifax police devoted massive resources to busting local grow-ops and dealers "instead" of investigating Parsons' sexual assault; it's one of his frequent hobbyhorses, that the police are wasting money busting people for growing and smoking a harmless plant. According to her Twitter feed, Rehtaeh herself smoked a lot of weed, which I'm sure (speaking as someone who used to 'self-medicate', chronically and unsuccessfully) wouldn't have helped her situation at all. For people who are depressed and vulnerable, it's not a harmless plant.
posted by Flashman at 5:47 PM on April 11, 2013


The FPP closed, so here it is instead: Rehtaeh Parsons was my Daughter.
posted by Miko at 6:47 PM on April 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


And another one...
The boys are accused of taking photos of the attack and sharing them at school, as well as texting them and posting them online.

After learning that photos had been posted on the Internet, the 15-year-old Potts wrote in an online post that her life was ruined. She took her own life a few days later.
posted by desjardins at 7:15 AM on April 12, 2013


Is Raehteh a common name these days? I can't help but notice that it's Heather spelled backwards.
posted by msalt at 11:26 AM on April 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rehteah is not in the top 1000 female names for any year of birth in the last 13 years.

My guess is that her family created the name.
posted by Miko at 11:50 AM on April 13, 2013


Group Supporting Rehtaeh Parsons’ Alleged Rapists Accidentally Exposed Their Identities On Facebook
posted by homunculus at 10:48 AM on April 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


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