20 March, 2013

Response to Steubenville

There has been a lot of attention recently on the two high schoolers in Ohio charged with the rape. The boys, sentenced in juvenile court, could serve up to  (only) five years for their crime.

The rape was horrific and unimaginable, as the boys posted videos and bragged about their assault to others. The victim only learned she was raped because of their pompous behavior.

the AP:

"The accuser said she believed she was assaulted when she later read text messages among friends, saw a photo of herself from that night and watched a YouTube video in which a student cracks jokes about the alleged rape just hours afterward. She said she suspected she had been drugged because she couldn't explain being as intoxicated as defense witnesses have said she was."        

What has really caught our attention, however, is the media’s response to this. In most of the TV interviews/stories/etc. it is the boys who are treated as the victims! More people are concerned that the boys’ “promising football careers” has ended then they are by the boys’ actions of drugging, raping and broadcasting their assault!

This incident highlights for us the need to address the deep and perverted rape culture in our society.

The boys chose to do what they did and it seems like most believe they should be immune to the actions because of their athletic potential. The media is not disgusted by their actions, by their lack of humanity, by their cruelty or lack of respect for their victim. What is a promising football career to all of that? Their actions should be seen as repugnant and disgraceful. They are in no way a victim here. 
The only victim is the 16-year-old girl they raped. Period.
Rape is never the survivor’s fault. It does not matter how much she drank, what she was wearing, where she was walking, who she trusted, etc. The simple reality is that rape is the assault of one person by another. We need to put the action on the perpetrators (the boys in this case), see them as responsible – the only reason this assault occurred! And look at the victim with nothing but compassion, understanding and support.

The media’s response to this event sickens us. We are encouraging people who hear remarks on this case that only focus on the boys and make no mention of the girl’s life that was forever changed as well – to stand up, to call or email those stations and ask why they are defending those who commit rape and leaving out those affected.

One such action is happening at Change.org where people are demanding CNN apologize for their extremely vile coverage that focused on the boys and their lack of a football career due to this sentence (as if it was being done to them and notbecause of their actions), while ignoring the reality that their actions have changed a girl’s life forever and she is the victim in this situation.

These are the conversations LTHF hopes to help facilitate around the community. Take time and help us get the word out about who the true victim in this situation is. Speak out against co-workers who don’t understand why the boys are being held accountable, who only see their football careers ending. Mention the girl! Ask how they feel about what the boys did. It starts with a small voice, but if we all speak together we can help launch a discussion on rape culture and hopefully create a space where victims are properly identified and perpetrators are held accountable for their decisions.