Monday, March 18, 2013

The Best We Can Be

Trigger warning - I'll be talking about the Steubenville case and rape culture quite a bit today.

The Steubenville gang rape case was finalised today, with two perpetrators being found guilty on all charges. In case you somehow missed the whole thing, the basic back story is this; a girl gets drunk at a party, and passes out. Some members of the local football team them proceeded to digitally rape her, while taking video and pictures of their boyish larks.

I'll just pause for a moment while we all throw up in our mouths.

The upside of this whole disgusting situation is that the two defendant were found guilty, and almost certainly face time in juvenile detention. Hurrah! Justice for their victim! Punishment for the guilty! All good things, right? Apparently some commentators don't think this is such a great outcome. If you've spent any time on the internet, you'll probably be unsurprised there have been some viciously awful things said about the victim on various social media. This round up of the worst Twitter responses is particularly stomach turning. But the part of the public reaction that really makes my blood boil is that the major news networks are joining in the pity party for the convicted rapists - CNN is particularly guilty of this. Poor boys, lives ruined, mean bloggers (who aren't even REAL journalists) keep talking about how bad they are, BOO fucking HOO, cry me a godammned river! I watched the video that's floating around of one of the convicted rapists crying, and all I could think was, "Good. CRY MOAR, you little shit." Sometimes it can be difficult for victims to prove beyond a doubt that a rape occurred, because there isn't always a lot of evidence that can be pulled out and waved around in court - but this was not a case like that. These boys did it. They admitted they did it. There is video of them doing it. There are text messages talking about how they did it. THEY ARE GUILTY. And yet, there are still people attempting to defend them. "She was drunk," "They were drunk," "They didn't know it wasn't okay," "Girls are liars" etc etc on and on until I want to punch faces. This case really illustrates to me that some people will say ANYTHING to defend these boys. ANYTHING, no matter how little sense it makes, or how appallingly inconsiderate it is to the victim. I mean, really, how could this case have been more clear cut? Are people so unwilling to believe that sometimes people do bad fucking things that they refuse to accept the poor girl was raped unless they actually do it in the courtroom, in front of them? Even then the defenders would probably find an excuse.

What's even more depressing is thinking about how different this case would have been if the victim had been anything other than young, cisgendered, and from a relatively well off background. The only thing she did "wrong" was teenage drinking, and she still gets torn apart. If this is the kind of defensiveness that occurs when someone with almost every privilege a woman can have is attacked, can you imagine if she had been fat, or poor, or an addict, or trans, or a sex worker? Or, heaven forbid, a trans sex worker?! You don't have to have seen Boys Don't Cry to know this whole thing would have gone down very, very differently. The way this girl is being treated? This is an example of how women are treated when they have all the privilege. This is how women are treated when we do everything "right", when we are everything we are told women are supposed to be. This is as good as we can hope for it to be for us. And that just makes me so sad, and so angry, that I have no more words.


  1. The thing that jumped out at me was the fact that she wasn't from the same town as her attackers.

    This article seems to be the fairest coverage that I've read so far:

    1. I'm afraid I have to disagree with you there. That article if full of the same excuses I've seen everywhere. "I'm a rapist because my Daddy wasn't there for me!" BULLSHIT. There are plenty of young men growing up without a male parental figure who know it's wrong to stick your fingers in a girl who is passed out.
      This paragraph in particular makes me rage: " It also exposed a teenage culture of weak ethics, rampant alcohol abuse and poor family structures that wound up dooming Mays and Richmond, both of whom had promising futures and no criminal past." Doomed? Really? There was no other possible way their lives could have turned out? What complete poppycock.

  2. Huh. I read it as:

    Here are these privileged kids.
    Here is the circumstances of their privilege.
    Here are the goddamn aweful things that they did to a young woman, beginning with passive neglect, and ending with the online bullying.
    Here is how she may have even covered it up, if it wasn't for her parents support. (I think there should have been more on this, btw. Supportive parents are the best.)
    Here is how the privileged kids reacted in court - like someone changed the rules on them (and, in a sense, they did - someone from out of town held them to account EVEN THOUGH they were footballers, what?).
    Here's how the judge went WAY easier on them than he could have.
    Here's how the community (including someone's estranged father) reacted (I agree - I disliked the way that was included, as it could be interpreted as a reason to excuse the inexcusable).

    I also read the 'no criminal past' as 'have not been charged with criminal activity' - because the article goes on to list all the other criminal behaviour that they have been permitted to get away with because FOOTBALL.

    But yes, those boys were not doomed.
    Booze and the local culture may have lulled into a sense that rules didn't apply to them, perhaps; but every step of the way, they chose poorly.

    I suppose, the thing is, whether or not the reporter agrees with what is said, her job is to report what was said. If things are selectively reported, you venture into the realm of editorial. And, unfortunately, a lot of ignorant, arrogant, childish, mean, unforgivable things were said.

    I'm glad her name isn't being reported. I'm glad that no identifying features about her are being spread around the media.

    I've seen the boy quoted as saying, "My life is over, no one is going to want me now." I ... can't even begin to process that.

    1. I can see how it could be read that way. I just felt like way too much of that article was spent on how sorry the boys were (for taking the pictures, that is), and how it was this "culture" that made them do it. No major news outlets seem to be willing to put the blame squarely on the perpetrators, and that pisses me right off. If felt like the phrase "no criminal past" was an attempt to make the rest of their undoubtedly criminal behavior more acceptable - it was BAD, it just wasn't CRIMINAL. As for selective reporting being bad, I totally agree. But I feel the reporting in this case has been ENORMOUSLY selective. Everyone speaking out against the perpetrators has been sidelined by the mainstream media, dismissed as internet radicals.

      To be fair though, there is plenty of blame left over for the "adults" around them who encouraged/allowed them to behave like this.

  3. How disgusting, that poor girl. It's so disappointing and infuriating that these boys are being victimised. I do believe people should have second chances and everyone makes mistakes, but for goodness sake, there are consequences for stupid and evil acts!

  4. I listened to Anderson Coopers podcast today regarding this and his show was not at all skewed towards feeling sorry for the rapists. I havent heard from any other CNN news programs so cant speak on them but I found Anderson cooper's coverage to be very good.

    1. Anderson Cooper is great - I was referring to the general news coverage on CNN. This article has a good summary:

  5. Ugh, I read about this yesterday and watched the news report with the idiotic CNN reporters. I was completely gobsmacked. Those 'poor boys' are getting off SO lightly. They are freakin' LUCKY and they should not have gotten away with it so easily. So very wrong.. and now everyone knows who the girl is because of some other stupid journos (I'm allowed to say that because I am one :P).

  6. The words 'poor boys' mentioned in regards to this makes me want to punch faces too. And key cars. Possibly even kick over some letterboxes..

    Whilst trekking through the wilderness that is Brisbane on a wet and dismal Saturday, Alicia and I were conversing about certain events in the news she had heard of which frankly, make me ashamed I'm a guy.

    You're a great writer Cassie!


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