Okay, maybe the title is dramatic. BUT I AM ANGRY AT THE WORLD RIGHT NOW.
I am angry at the injustices of this world. I feel helpless in the face of so much hatred and ignorance. And I hate to say it so crudely, but people are just fucking disappointing douchecanoes sometimes.
It kills me that every time I open my Facebook newsfeed, it seems there is some horrible article about another young woman who has been raped, accompanied without fail by victim blaming. Rape culture is too pervasive a part of the world we live in today and I am, quite frankly sick and tired of it.
This week alone, stories of rape and victim blaming have shown up all over my newsfeed. For example, this article about a 23-year-old woman who was raped and left in an alleyway while at South by Southwest last week. Here in Austin. Practically in my backyard.
In addition to that, upsetting news abounds about the Steubenville, OH rape case and all the disgusting victim blaming surrounding that incident (see this Buzzfeed article & this NPR blog post). The victim blaming doesn't end with crazies on the internet, but extends all the way to CNN's sadness that the rapists' life will be ruined, with no mention of the rape survivor's own tragedy. (See it on YouTube here.)
Victim blaming is never NEVER never okay. That statement feels to me like the most painfully obvious statement of all time. I mean, it's 2013, so I don't know why we even still have to make this argument. But the fact is, we live in a patriarchal world that practically condones rape. If a woman is raped, our cultural programming has point to how much she drank or how she was dressed and we conclude that "she was asking for it." But the simple fact is, it doesn't matter if a woman is drunk or scantily clad. Unless she had explicitly asked for it or explicitly said "yes," there's no consent. Without consent, it's rape, no matter how many bows you try to put on it.
Rather than only ever telling women to never travel alone, to never dress or act like they're "asking for it" and to always have to be extrahypervigilant, why don't we teach men not to rape women, to respect women and their bodies as human beings not sexual objects? As a strong independent woman who wants to experience life and travel the world, I don't want to feel unsafe at every turn without a male companion, I don't want to feel like I can't go out and have a few drinks with friends without fearing for my safety. The fact of the matter is, as women in this world, we cannot walk down the street without some possibility that we might be raped. We need to be vigilant and aware. But more importantly, men need to understand that they cannot just have their way with a woman without her explicit consent, made with sound unimpaired judgment.
The CNN correspondent in the clip above expressed sadness that these high school football players -- rapists of a 16-year-old girl who were sentenced to 1 year in juvenile detention -- have had their futures destroyed. She never mentioned the tragedy of the young woman who was raped. That girl was drunk. She was asking for it. And she ruined these boys' lives and, importantly, their football futures. Or so goes the implication.
And I'm calling bullshit on that. These young men are responsible for what they did. This survivor deserves justice. Because they grew up in a rape culture, maybe these young men cannot be crucified as monsters. Theirs is likely in a school system that teaches abstinence-only sex education. It's possible they did not understand that their actions constituted rape if they were never taught what constitutes consent. These facts don't absolve them of their crimes. But as a society, if we don't stop perpetuating the cult of hypermasculinity that condones or even encourages rape, society is as much to blame for these young men's actions as they are. But they are responsible. They bragged about their crimes on social media. Their peers stood by and cheered them on.
In the video coverage of their trial, it seems that they are sincerely distraught and remorseful for their actions. The remorse probably comes more from realizing the severe personal consequences they'll face for the rest of their lives.... but maybe that will be enough. I want to believe that these young men will learn from their mistakes and not just be better men but do something to change the discourse away from victim-blaming. Doubtful. Incredibly doubtful.
I know that's extremely wishful thinking, but a girl can dream.
And to end with a perfectly on point parody of this very serious situation...
College Basketball Star Heroically Overcomes Tragic Rape He Committed