Steubenville’s Promising Young Rapists
Earlier this week, Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond were found guilty of raping a 16-year-old girl. The media coverage of this case has been…honestly, it’s been pretty much what you’d expect, given the way we treat rape in this country. That coverage is being justifiably condemned for the pathetic, victim-blaming, rape-apologetic bullshit it is.
Trigger warning for rape and lots of Jim swearing after the cut…
Let’s start with a few excerpts from this transcript of CNN‘s story on the verdict.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I’ve never experienced anything like it, Candy. It was incredibly emotional — incredibly difficult even for an outsider like me to watch what happened as these two young men that had such promising futures, star football players, very good students, literally watched as they believe their life fell apart.
You know what? Harlow’s right. These were good students and talented athletes, with very promising futures. They were kids with a hell of a lot going for them. And they’re fucking rapists. These weren’t filthy, nasty-looking strangers hiding in the bushes. They’re “good” kids who’ve learned that girls are nothing but meat whose only purpose is to be screwed by guys. You don’t rape, photograph, and film a girl if you see her as a human being.
Why was this so hard to watch, Harlow? Was it that you felt sorry for these poor young rapists? Or was it that they forced you to recognize that the so-called “normal” kids can be rapists too?
TRENT MAYS, FOUND GUILTY OF RAPING IN JUVENILE COURT: I would really like to apologize to (INAUDIBLE), her family, my family and community. No pictures should have been sent out or should be taken. That’s all. Thank you.
You’re apologizing for taking the pictures??? I can’t even articulate a response beyond “Fuck you.”
MA’LIK RICHMOND, FOUND GUILTY OF RAPE IN JUVENILE COURT: I would like to apologize. I had no intention to do anything like that and I’m sorry to put you guys through this. (INAUDIBLE) I’m sorry.
You had no intention…I’m sure that’s tremendous comfort to the victim, to know that you “accidentally” raped her. Wait, who are the “guys” you’re apologizing to here? Are you sorry for committing rape, or are you sorry because you got caught and now you and your town look bad?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: …there’s always that moment of just lives are destroyed. And lives have already been destroyed by the crime. And we got a chance to see that. But in terms of what happens now, yes, the most severe thing with these young men is being labeled as registered sex offenders… That will haunt them for the rest of their lives.
“Being labeled”? Their actions label them rapists. Their choices are what should haunt them for the rest of their fucking lives. Don’t give us this passive-voice, everyone’s-a-victim bullshit.
KURTZ: And, you know, some of those pictures might not have been carried by the traditional media. That’s why social media is such an important pipeline here. Thanks for that.
Translation: Thanks, Twitter, for doing our fucking job for us!!!
CNN isn’t alone in their priorities, of course. Fox News included the following note in one of their stories about the case:
The Associated Press named the minors charged due to the fact they have been identified in other news coverage and their names were used in open court. FoxNews.com will not name the defendants.
This didn’t stop them from joining CNN and MSNBC in releasing the name of the victim.
Then you’ve got ABC News doing a story which spends an awful lot of time describing this flirtatious, drunk girl who wouldn’t listen to people who warned her not to get into a car with boys…
This is how we talk about rape in this culture. These are our priorities and assumptions. Those poor boys’ lives are ruined! It’s such a shame that this horrible crime just kind of happened, through no fault of anyone except maybe the victim who showed such poor judgment. They were such good boys with such promising futures…
The only unusual thing here is that the media is actually getting pushback for following their normal, victim-blaming, rape-apologizing playbook.
You want to reduce the number of rapes in this country? Teach boys and men to take some fucking responsibility for their action. Teach them what rape is, so maybe one of the bystanders will have the guts to speak up instead of standing around videotaping and taking pictures. Teach them that the natural consequence of a girl drinking too much is a hangover. Rape, on the other hand, is a consequence of a rapist choosing to commit rape!
And a special shoutout to the media–if you’re one of the reporters teaching people that the rapists were victims, then congratulations. Your bullshit reporting is laying the groundwork for the next Steubenville.
March 19, 2013 @ 7:37 pm
I couldn’t agree more with you Jim.
Thank god here in Australia the media has been very against the way the perpetrators have been portrayed as victims in the press in the USA
March 19, 2013 @ 7:38 pm
All I hear — which is, because of when I was born, my gender, and the area I grew up — is that I, as a female, am responsible for what men do, in particular what men do to me. When I was younger and dated a guy who, when he was angry, would hit me, that was my fault. I had to make up a lie to explain the black and red mark on my face. My own father would shake his head at me, and I know he didn’t like it, wanted to tell me to break it off, but held his peace because, well, even though he never hit a woman, it was still my choice to be in that relationship and those things happened. I accepted those lessons, I accepted those truths. The way I dressed, the way I acted, the way I talked or looked or spoke, all had control over men who had control over me. My mother, bless her, went through two abusive marriages and knew better, but still passed those lessons along to me.
It did not make sense. It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t respect anyone, make or female. It doesn’t make us responsible for our own actions, and it makes women MORE responsible for EVERYONE’s actions. It places us in control of men’s very THOUGHTS, in that we can wear a short skirt or a thin blouse and suddenly we can make a man rape us. We can get drunk, be unconscious, be helpless, yet we can make a man rape us.
Sure, that’s what rape is. No one rapes men, or elderly ladies, or little kids. No one rapes handicapped people, or the mentally ill, or prisoners in interrogations. Rape is about sex, right, and pretty girls forcing manly men to think sexy violent thoughts, teasing them into uncontrolled rapity rape.
It makes me angry over and over and over again. Here I am, closing in on being 50, and I know that, fat and unattractive as I am, despite my age, despite my sweat pants and unwashed hair, I still have that magical power and I can be raped. And it will be my fault, right?
I call bullshit,
Jim, I’ll say thank you for your words after I stop shaking, ok?
March 19, 2013 @ 7:50 pm
As always, Mr. Hines. You hit the issue square on the head. Thank you for speaking up.
March 19, 2013 @ 7:55 pm
They are both sorry.
In fact, they are about the sorriest pieces of meat wasting space on this planet I have seen in a while.
I am just glad one of them was stupid/ignorant/feeling entitled enough to brag and social media and prevent possible future rapes by these two.
March 19, 2013 @ 8:08 pm
Shaking done. Still angry, though. I think I, and you, and many, many others should be damned angry.
Thank you for eloquence, for empathy, and for well placed cursing. I appreciate your energy and thought in this.
March 19, 2013 @ 8:11 pm
Jim, thank you.I liked your page because I loved your books,
but now have even more reason to respect you.
March 19, 2013 @ 8:38 pm
Thank you for being a White Male and being THIS pissed off.
I gives me hope 🙂
March 19, 2013 @ 9:41 pm
As another white male, that is just as pissed about all this as you, I would like to say thank you Jim. I agree with all that you said, shame on all those horrible terrible cowardly people.
March 19, 2013 @ 9:57 pm
Reposted from my LJ:
A question in the wake of Steubenville:
What would it take to make you commit rape?
Would you do it if you were drunk?
If she were drunk?
If she’d broken up with you or rejected you?
If she were unconscious or asleep?
If you thought you could get away with it?
If she had a bad reputation?
If she was in the wrong part of town?
If there were no witnesses?
If you’re saying to yourself, “Hell no, I wouldn’t rape a woman no matter what!”–then don’t be one of the people who goes on and on about what the victim should have done differently.
The victim’s not the problem.
Rapists are the problem.
(If you’re saying to yourself, “Hell yes, sure I would–who wouldn’t?”–then you are a rapist. And you are the problem.)
March 19, 2013 @ 10:00 pm
The “guys” Richmond was addressing were (according to one news source) the girl’s family. Of the two, I think he seems to comprehend at least a little what he did, and I can imagine him growing up to be a better man than he is right now. Doesn’t excuse what he did, but I have hope that he, at least, may be safe to let back into society when his sentence is done.
Mays seems an utter asshole. I had precisely the same reaction you did to the “no pictures” comment. He completely doesn’t get it that the problem wasn’t the pictures, it was that there was something to take pictures of.
And I hope the parents of the onlookers are ashamed of what a shitty job they did as parents, raising terrible children.
March 20, 2013 @ 12:03 am
Yes – this exactly.
March 20, 2013 @ 1:03 am
What still scares me: The rape didn’t occur in a dark corner or somewhere remote. It happened on a party in front of a several people. None had the moral backbone of an amoeba and step in. This tells even more about the rape culture than the coverage from CNN. The only possible explanation for such behavior is, that they attributed different values to human beings. Star football players seem to be more valuable than women to them.
March 20, 2013 @ 2:29 am
“Mays seems an utter asshole. I had precisely the same reaction you did to the “no pictures” comment. He completely doesn’t get it that the problem wasn’t the pictures, it was that there was something to take pictures of.”
The statement in court struck me the same way, but if that were all he’d ever said, I could assume, well, he’s a kid, he’s stupid, he’s scared, he’s in shock, he’s in articulate, he hadn’t prepared anything to say–so what he said was bizarrely clueless.
But, really, that statement is a complete non-issue compared to the things Mays was texting during and after the hours he spent sexually assaulting the victim. I’ve seen screen captures of many of his text exchanges from that night and the days afterward, and they are SO CHILLING. Utterly remorseless, utterly absent of conscience or empathy, utterly cold, vicious, nasty… And afterwards, he evinced a crystal clear awareness that he needed the evidence of the rape (widely disseminated that drunken night) to be concealed.
You read this kid’s text from those events, and words like “evil” and “sociopath” keep coming to mind.
March 20, 2013 @ 3:01 am
“It happened on a party in front of a several people.”
Not just several. In the articles and blogs I’ve read about the case since the arrests hit the media a few months ago, the consistent estimate I’ve seen is that dozens of people were present over the hours-long course of attack. The most-specific estimate I’ve seen so far is that about 50 people witnessed it. (Also, Mays and Richmond were arrested and convicted because there was a clear evidence trail of photos, texts, and Tweets. But were there others attackers that night whose assaults on the victim were not conveniently documented in social media? There doesn’t seem to be an answer to this so far.)
Other estimates I’ve read suggest that about =200= people knew, in real-time, that the unconscious victim was being hauled around town and sexually violated that night, because so many of the on-site witnesses were Tweeting and texting about it. Since Tweets are public, it could be that thousands of people knew that a girl was being raped in their town that night.
When I heard a teenage girl had been sexually violated over the course of several hours in Steubenville, my instant assumption was indeed that she was taken to someplace dark and remote for the attack. I was DUMBFOUNDED (and have been so ever since) to read in the next sentence that the attack occurred in front of dozens of people and was further known, in real-time, via Twitter and text… And NO ONE dialed 911.
March 20, 2013 @ 5:52 am
I agree Laura.
At first i wrote “a lot of people” but corrected it to “several”. The reason is that i guessed that the number would be high but my documentation only supported less than 20. When in doubt, i tend to write what i know instead of what i assume ;-).
Another thing that gives me a bad feeling in the stomach: if so many people perceive this as OK, than it is very, very unlikely that they didn’t witness it before.
I hope they get some of those “witnesses” fired, indicted and jailed. There must be a clear message.
March 20, 2013 @ 6:12 am
Question to the community: Would the assailants haven gotten away with it if Anonymous hasn’t made such a ruckus?
Back then i thought: Heck, no way. But now with the CNN coverage i’m no longer sure.
March 20, 2013 @ 6:27 am
Thank you for saying this. Not because it’s unusual, because what you’re saying isn’t unusual (or if it is, it certainly shouldn’t be). Not because it’s the decent thing to say, even though it is. But because yours is a male voice saying the right thing and the decent thing, and sadly it is going to take male voices repeating this sort of thing regularly and consistently in order for the message to start trickling through to the deaf ears of the media.
So thank you for using your privilege in order to stand up for the rights of those less privileged. Gods, but I wish I saw more of it more often.
Jim C. Hines
March 20, 2013 @ 7:52 am
While I obviously don’t know everything that happened behind the scenes, my gut feeling is yes, this would have been swept under the rug.
Jim C. Hines
March 20, 2013 @ 7:53 am
My hope–and I’m not holding my breath–is that this was the first round, but that there will be further investigation and consequences to come.
Jim C. Hines
March 20, 2013 @ 7:54 am
“If you’re saying to yourself, “Hell no, I wouldn’t rape a woman no matter what!”–then don’t be one of the people who goes on and on about what the victim should have done differently.”
I really like the way you’ve laid this out!
Jim C. Hines
March 20, 2013 @ 7:55 am
“Still angry, though. I think I, and you, and many, many others should be damned angry.”
No argument here!!!
March 20, 2013 @ 8:22 am
All I have to say is Thank you.
March 20, 2013 @ 8:24 am
I’m only just beginning to find out more about this, and the whole process…the before (the cultural setup that allowed and encouraged this) the during (people knew, people saw, no one alerted the police, tried to pull those little sh*ts off the poor girl, did anything) and the after (victim-blaming, attempted cover-up, little or no real apology or remorse, just pity for the boys’ ruined (hah) lives). It made me think, that place is a very, very sick place. And yet, it is not an ‘evil city unlike our nice homes’, any more than those rapists are ‘evil monsters unlike other human beings’. This stuff is everywhere. When are we going to actually teach people that this stuff is not OK, that we have a responsibility to teach perpetrators that it is not OK for them to do it and victims that it is their absolute right not to have this stuff done to them without their absolute consent under any circumstances ever and everyone that if you see this happening you should f*cking DO something.
Excuse the sweary, but I just want to boot the entire world’s arse right now. With the exception of certain people like you, Jim, and John Scalzi, who make me marginally more hopeful for the future of humanity. Marginally.
March 20, 2013 @ 8:24 am
Thank you for writing this. I have experience trying to prosecute rape in this country. I’m actually surprised that she won even with the pictures. The police wouldn’t help me even though there were witnesses. Thank you Anonymous.
It is scary raising daughters here.
March 20, 2013 @ 8:25 am
Argh, sorry, messed up the HTML tags. Shouldn’t post in a state of advanced fury.
Jim C. Hines
March 20, 2013 @ 8:34 am
No problem. I went in and tried to clean those up.
March 20, 2013 @ 8:46 am
March 20, 2013 @ 8:56 am
Thanks. It occurred to me that this is a perspective I haven’t often seen, and thought it might be useful to others.
March 20, 2013 @ 9:03 am
As someone whose cynicism has made her attempt to block out about 99% of all mainstream news-reporting, learning about what happened in Steubenville, and what has happened during the reporting of the events and subsequent trial has made me BEYOND angry and appalled.
We all have our stories, and I have things in my past that this story has dragged up and made freshly painful. And it is so very easy to despair of our society if this is the overwhelming response, in mainstream media no less, to such an event.
But then there are people like you, John Scalzi, et. al, who push back and show us that there is some small hope that we may be able to change. That this hideous rape culture may be shown for what it is, i.e. hideously wrong, and rejected.
So thank you, from the bottom of my withered and cynical heart. You, all of you, give me hope. It’s not a lot of hope, but it’s something.
Stephen A. Watkins
March 20, 2013 @ 9:18 am
I was disgusted to hear and read about how the media has reacted to this event. My initial reaction upon hearing the verdict was one of relief (thank goodness they got the justice they deserved…) as well as a bit of disbelief as well (1 – 2 years? Are you F-ing kidding me? They committed rape and they only get one to two years? That’s bull$#17!). But after the verdict, I didn’t pay any attention to further media coverage.
Then I picked up Scalzi’s and your posts on the subject… and I’m both disgusted and livid.
And I have to wonder… a big part of me is convinced that this lamentation on behalf of the perpetrators is because, almost entirely, of this part: “these two young men that had such promising futures, star football players” (emphasis mine) and very little at all to do with this part: “good students”. In our sports-obsessed culture… to see these “promising” athletes lose their futures is considered a tragedy. But what if the perpetrators had been “good students” who happened to be nerds, or goths, or skaters, or one of any number of less-favored high school social groups? I honestly don’t think the media would be treating their convictions as a tragedy.
I think it’s a sick and disturbing reflection on our culture, both in terms of how we approach and discuss rape as well as how we hero-worship sports stars.
March 20, 2013 @ 9:26 am
I had to drop by with some rather disheartening news:
March 20, 2013 @ 9:58 am
Katherine, try not to get too disheartened – in our current legal system, after basically every guilty verdict the first words out of the defense lawyer’s mouth is “we will appeal.” (As a side note, it’s also why I cringe when people get worked up over bizarre “I can’t believe someone sued over – insert some frivolous nonsense.” There are an astounding number of stupid appeals and frivolous lawsuits – but they are generally thrown out as pointless just as fast.)
So an appeal here isn’t surprising and shouldn’t be disheartening. It’s just how an imperfect system tries to improve itself. If an appeals court thinks that it’s worth at least listening to, they will listen to it. If they think it’s utter nonsense, they are well within their power to say so and not even bother with it.
What is more heartening is that the attorney general isn’t done and is convening a grand jury April 15 to attempt to charge more people. Also, apparently yesterday 2 teens (including a relative of one of the rapists) were arrested for sending threatening messages to the victim after the verdict.
So be heartened that the justice system is (finally!) not only taking the rape itself seriously, but also the inaction of the witnesses and cover-ups and so on. It will come down to the strength of the evidence, but I’m encouraged by the fact that they are at least trying.
March 20, 2013 @ 10:28 am
You got my vote on that (whatever that’s worth).
March 20, 2013 @ 11:05 am
I think the disheartening I’m feeling has to do with the rhetoric:
this boy is only 16! He didn’t know what he was doing!! His brain isn’t done yet!
this girl is 16!! she should know better! She shouldn’t have done that!! Her actions led to this tragedy!!
that’s what’s disheartening.
March 20, 2013 @ 11:14 am
Thank you, Jim. I love reading all your entries, but it’s especially heartening to know that there are men out there who both ‘get it’ and are willing to speak out about it. Specifically, I love seeing that there are men who a) aren’t complete asses, b) who realize that ‘feminism’ really just means that women are people too and c) realize how very wrong rape is (and the excuses that come with it).
I agree whole heartedly with every sentiment you’ve stated. It’s amazing the excuses people will come up with to explain how they though it was OK for them to stick one of their body parts in another person’s body. I’m also a bit worried about how our culture advances away from personal responsibility.
Anyway, thank you, once again, for speaking out for women everywhere.
March 20, 2013 @ 11:21 am
One of my friends posted this on FB, so I thought I would share. It’s a well written article discussing the case and rape education in general.
I hope it works.
March 20, 2013 @ 1:52 pm
March 20, 2013 @ 1:53 pm
What bothers me most about this series of events is that I’m just not surprised at how anyone but Anonymous acted, even the huge number of onlookers who must have known that something bad was happening to the girl (and most of them probably knew she was being raped).
March 20, 2013 @ 2:02 pm
Something people need to understand. Going in swinging to save the victim is not required nor is hatred of her attackers.You don’t need to be a big tough guy. All that is required in such a situation is compassion for the victim, walking over to check and see if she’s okay and then spiriting her away from them or a quick, discreet 911 call.
I’m trying to think of what I could have done had I been present. Upon seeing the videos and hearing what happened it Never occurred to to me that I would just stand there and watch it and I don’t even begin to understand those who did.
March 20, 2013 @ 2:50 pm
I am saving all of this as a life lesson for when my kids are just a little older. I have a boy and girl. There are so many, many parts of this that I want to call out to them. I especially hope to have children who are strong enough to push back against peer pressure and help others, if, heaven forfend, they ever, ever see anyone in this situation. One phone call could have stopped this.
March 20, 2013 @ 3:15 pm
We’ve crafted an entire culture that is willing to throw our daughters (or rather the daughters of others) underneath the bus, especially if that bus is full of sports players.
March 20, 2013 @ 3:38 pm
According to BBC News (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-21830914), they’re convening a grand jury for that purpose next month. And they’re quoting the state AG, so it sounds pretty certain that there’ll at least be more investigation.
March 20, 2013 @ 4:15 pm
I completely agree.
March 20, 2013 @ 4:16 pm
Very well-said, Lila.
March 20, 2013 @ 4:23 pm
Good job, Murphy — both in expressing yourself and your experience, and in throwing the bullshit card on the media and on society in general. It is appalling how it is still seen as the responsibility of girls and women to civilize men, or to manage ourselves perfectly so they will manage themselves, and if they don’t behave properly, somehow it is our fault or failure. “Look what you made me do!” OUTRAGEOUS. You are right to be outraged; any sensible, thinking, fair-minded person would be.
March 20, 2013 @ 5:53 pm
The OH atty gen’l announced after the trial that he will convene a grand jury to investigate further–who else was involved, who witnessed and didn’t report the crime, what adults knew and did nothing? Etc.
I’ve signed a petition urging the OH atty gen’l to charge Mike Nodianos with failure to report a crime. He’s the young man who appears in a 12-minute video that night laughing manically and joking non-stop about how “raped” and how “dead” the victim is.
Whoever was filming this young goon’s video was also laughing maniacally about the “so dead” and “so raped” victim, as were numerous other people present (their laughter can be heard off-camera). I hope they will be charged, too.
And they’re just the tip of the iceberg in this horrifying mess.
March 20, 2013 @ 6:01 pm
A truly brave, heroic young mand or woman would have said, “Out of my way, I’m getting her out of here,” and done whatever was needed to get her out of there.
Since that would have been risky (it could easily have turned very violent, given that a lot of young, drunk, athletic males with rape on their minds were present), it would be an unusual and extremely admirable person who could have done that, especially at a young age in a group of peers. A rare person, indeed.
But, yeah, it doesn’t take heroically self-sacrificing bravery to–oh, for example–dial 911 and make an anonymous report. Anyone present during the hours the victim was being assaulted could have gone into a bathroom, or faked illness and gone home, or gone outside for some air, or moved on to a different party, and immediately called 911. Anyone NOT present, but following the attack via the hundreds of texts and Tweets exchanged that night, could have called 911 with perfect impunity–they weren’t even ON SITE, after all.
One of the two convictged rapists reputedly had his keys taken away from him that night by a friend who saw he was drunk and shouldn’t drive. BIZARELLY, that young man (who became a witness at the trial, presumably in exchange for immunity) didn’t make the same connection when seeing his chums raping a girl. THAT, he just hung around for without intervening.
Drunk driving = bad. He got that. But raping a girl?… apparently perfectly okay, no intervention needed.
March 20, 2013 @ 6:52 pm
Another great post on an important topic. Thank you.
March 20, 2013 @ 6:56 pm
where is the firing squad when you need one, just kidding a noose is cheaper.
March 20, 2013 @ 7:48 pm
Penn State was football players too.
March 21, 2013 @ 12:12 am
A couple of thoughts:
Richmond and Mays have no remorse for their actions at all. They’re only sorry they got caught.
What’s up with the parents in Steubenville? Is this kind of partying now normal for kids that age? What kind of values are they teaching their kids? Are their parents/mothers proud that this is how they treat girls? What if this were their daughter? I’m not understanding any of this.
Agree that without Anonymous this would have been silenced. TPTB in Steubenville would have ensured that their boys/football program were protected. The whole setup seems rotten to the core.
I first heard about this story from reading British newspapers, and continued to get better coverage there than from any US source. And I wasn’t getting any of the “poor boys with their ruined lives and reputations” slant, either.
And this whole thing has just happened again in CT with a 13-yo girl who is, of course, being labeled a slut and the one at fault.
March 21, 2013 @ 2:35 am
Laura, i hope this time they sink the iceberg and not the Titanic 😉
Jim C. Hines
March 21, 2013 @ 8:10 am
There are some very good points in that article, thank you.
Stephen A. Watkins
March 21, 2013 @ 8:53 am
Yeah… and you still have people convinced that poor old JoePa was thrown under the bus when he did nothing wrong. In reality, given what he knew and when he knew it, he was aiding and abetting a horrific crime. But too many of the folks at Penn State don’t see it.
March 21, 2013 @ 9:44 am
this exactly this. i was ranting at my mother about this last night, and she was just (and i’m paraphrasing terribly), “they were sports players. that’s how they’re treated – little golden gods who can do no wrong”. she was a teacher in a couple of different sports-oriented high schools in her career and saw the same things over and over again. the entitlement is just overwhelming.
and it’s especially worrisome paired with the other news story that’s come out about the 13 year old in Torrington, CT who was (allegedly? i don’t know all the details) raped by two 18 year old high school football players and has been bullied on Twitter since coming out about the incident. I honestly had no words (aside from vicious swearing) upon reading this article:
Jim C. Hines
March 21, 2013 @ 9:46 am
I think vicious swearing is a perfectly appropriate first response in this case.
Stephen A. Watkins
March 21, 2013 @ 9:55 am
Indeed. I shared similar thoughts upthread. The sense of entitlement created by our mindless (and frankly obscenely stupid) hero-worship of sports stars and athletes is, I think, a huge contributor to this problem.
And most of us? We just shrug and say to ourselves “that’s the way it is” and move on as if there’s nothing we can do to try to change this culture.
I think what Jim is doing here is a super-important part of creating a dialog to address some of these problems: certainly teaching our youth about respecting one another and the meaning of consent (heck, earlier this week I was teaching my two-going-on-three-year-old the difference between giving a high-five and hitting someone, and how the primary differentiator was consent). While this aspect of the conversation is probably more important, on balance, I happen to think that a critical examination of the entitlement we endow on young athletes also needs to be a part of the conversation.
March 21, 2013 @ 10:54 am
“What’s up with the parents in Steubenville? Is this kind of partying now normal for kids that age?”
Depends on the area and the kids, of course, but it wasn’t uncommon for sixteen and seventeen year olds to party that way twenty years ago so I’m guessing it probably isn’t uncommon now. “Popular kid” parties are especially notorious for it. (The “burnouts” or whatever they’re calling themselves these days, usually favor much smaller get-togethers.)
I think the only real change we’ve seen in quite awhile is the introduction of camera phones, social media, and kids who are so unaware that what they are doing is wrong (or at least likely to get them into serious trouble) that they will post photographs of their behavior where anyone can see it. Since the technology didn’t exist twenty years ago, I have no idea whether that last one is a real change or just a matter of opportunity.
March 21, 2013 @ 3:21 pm
Nicely stated and simple enough for anyone to understand. Maybe this should be printed on beer cans and box wines (as a start).
March 21, 2013 @ 3:29 pm
It’s not just male athletes who get the special treatment, either. I went to a college that had an NCAA women’s championship basketball team. When the star player was accused of academic cheating (and was patently guilty), the usual procedure for handling these cases was cast aside and the whole thing swept under the carpet. It really tainted the students’ perception of the entire basketball program. I think the women students were especially disappointed, maybe naively so, because there had been a sense that we (women/women athletes) were better than that.
March 21, 2013 @ 6:00 pm
Indeed, serialbabbler (great name BTW), when I was in high school — gulp — 35 years ago, that was pretty common. As it was when my older brother was in high school 45 years ago. And there were Polaroid photos back then.
But the rapists were more discreet than these, even the football players.
March 22, 2013 @ 12:39 am
Yeah, I was well out of the loop and the worst thing I ever heard a football player openly bragging about was torturing cats. Of course, he was talking to the math teacher/football coach in the middle of class. (I often credit those two with my lack of skill in geometry. Heh.) Who knows what sorts of things they were talking about in the locker room when random ninth grade girls weren’t listening to the conversation.
March 25, 2013 @ 10:50 am
Thank you so much for writing this. Exactly true, and it mskes me feel better about the horror of this whole story. We’ vebeen following this from the New York Times article. It’s far far worse thought than what has been reported. There’s another rape allegation, earlier in the year, supposedly now with same prosecution lawyer Bob Fitzsimmons as this Trent Mays and Malik Richmond rape. The media has been awful, emotional but under researched.Its been getting slightly better after the CNN backlash but the way they treat these promising rapists is bizarre and the victim blaming of the victim who is still an honor roll student and athlete too is sad. There are websites about Mays previous tweet history on women (ho’s and btc..) and it is dark girl hating stuff. But how can Malik, probably just a misguided follower, still in the days before his trial call the victim “a drunk b” and now is appealing his conviction. Thats so not feeling true remorse. Mays is worse character prob., true sociopath? The other rape allegation by other members of the team also discussed online. Whatever, there’s probably more but it’s just too sad.
March 25, 2013 @ 9:43 pm
Excellent post, thanks. Exactly right, reporting like this effectively supports a rape culture.
March 25, 2013 @ 11:41 pm
Found a video on Upworthy that I thought I’d share and hope everyone spreads around. Would be a great teaching tool.