A near-miracle has happened: two rapists have been convicted of sexual assault. Excuse me, found “delinquent” in a juvenile court. At their ages, had they stolen something more than an intoxicated girl’s bodily integrity, they would have likely been charged as adults – but hey, it’s just rape. Not like they stole a car or murdered somebody, amirite? And, hey, if they learn the appropriate sorry-won’t-do-it-again words, they may not even have to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives. Pretty sweet, huh? That’s actually amazing, considering how few rapists ever get convicted at all.
And you know what America’s future rapists are learning from this rare semi-functioning of the justice system? Don’t rape? Don’t make me laugh. No, what they’re learning is simple: don’t do your raping in front of dozens of witnesses, and don’t upload pictures and video of your raping to social media. That’s what the judge warned them about:
Judge Lipps described much of the evidence as “profane and ugly.” In sentencing the boys, he said rape was among the gravest of crimes and noted that they could have been tried as adults with far harsher punishments. He also said the case was a cautionary lesson in how teenagers conduct themselves when alcohol is present and in “how you record things on social media that are so prevalent today.”
Folks, this is rape culture. The message isn’t, “Don’t rape. Full stop.” No, it’s more of, “Try not to, and if you can’t help yourself, don’t make it so inescapably obvious. Because rape is just awful (wink, wink), but being forced to punish popular people is ever so much worse.”
And victims reporting their rapes and seeking a conviction? Obviously the worst thing of all, worthy of death threats and additional threats of rape, because how dare victims think they deserve justice?
One of the reasons I’m proud to blog at Freethought Blogs is because the bloggers and readers here don’t tolerate this shit. And maybe, just maybe, if we fight back against rape culture over and over and over and over again, we can begin to change it. If we refuse to be silenced, maybe, just maybe, this rape culture will no longer be studiously ignored. If we speak out forcefully, loudly, repeatedly, maybe there won’t be another person who doesn’t know what rape is:
One of the three, when asked why he did not try to stop what was happening, testified that he did not realize it was rape. “It wasn’t violent,” he said. “I didn’t know exactly what rape was.”
Following is a selection of links and comments from around FtB, with some from our allies. We’re not fighting this fight alone.
Butterflies and Wheels:
More About Justice and Less About Revenge: On Reading the Steubenville Coverage Too Early in the Goddamn Day. (If you only have time for one, make it this one. I mean it.)
The Raw Story:
Some comments from our community:
One doesn’t have to be consciously/deliberately pro-rape to be an actively harmful participant in rape culture. Most rape culture involves trivialising and minimising the experience of rape, not promoting the practice of it.
Many people feel that the rigorous calling out of toxic victim-blaming and rape apologetics is a hugely important process contributiong towards the goal of dismantling rape culture. When you tell them to stop doing it just because you think that this one particular person’s statements are less important than Some V.V. Important Thing Which Is Gained By Ignoring Him, then you trivialising and minimising the experience of rape, by framing the naming and shaming of rape apologia as less important than the satisfaction you gain by ignoring this guy.
I absolutely believe that you are not personally/deliberately pro-rape. Telling others to ignore somebody who clearly is pro-rape doesn’t help you look like an effective anti-rape ally though.
If it wasn’t for folks on the internet highlighting their vileness relentlessly for years and years, there probably wouldn’t be a cadre of volunteers to act as a buffer zone between the mourners at funerals and the WBC pickets, and the WBC would be spouting their vileness without opposing voices.
Clear strong opposing voices are much more comforting to the targeted than a dignified silence which opposes nothing.
You know, I’ve been surrounded by people who go uncomfortably silent or just try to ignore nasty rape apologia for years. That silence has been every bit as damaging and hurtful as anything nasty someone could say, because either they are silently supporting the bad stuff or they just don’t care to provide support and defense to victims.
So when you say “Don’t Feed the Trolls”, you’re not just suggesting that you should deny a troll attention (and people seem to think anybody who disagrees with them is a “troll” only seeking attention instead of a genuinely hateful asshat, of which there are millions on this planet). You’re also suggesting that you should deny all of the survivors support. You’re suggesting that you should ignore the pain people are being caused. You’re suggesting that because you are lucky enough to not be hurt by those words, it’s the fault of a rape survivor for being upset by them.
Fuck that. I will continue calling it out every chance I get. Will it change the mind of the one spouting it? Probably not. But it might change the minds of all those assholes who sit around quietly refusing to take a stance. And–most important of all–it will make other survivors feel a little less alone and marginalized.
And that last one is a fucking hell lot more important than “oh no, some troll got attention.” That last one saves lives.
No rape culture, eh?
*warning for victim-blaming within the trial, specifically re testifying, and photos – Og, brace yourself*
The alleged victim is not expected to testify when the trial begins in Jefferson County juvenile court — before outside judge Tom Lipps took over for a recused judge with ties to the famed Steubenville High football teach, a West Virginia judge blocked a subpoena of the girl and two other witnesses called by the defense. But that hasn’t stopped Richmond’s attorney from using Jane Doe’s so-called “silence” against her: “The person who is the accuser here is silent just as she was that night, and that’s because there was consent,” Madison said.
There it is. Directly claiming the silence of an unconscious victim equals consent. And using that claim to shame her for not testifying up to that point.
More coverage of her testimony:
“Honestly, I was praying that everything I heard wasn’t true,” she testified. She didn’t want to be the center of drama, especially in a small town, everybody-knows-everybody atmosphere. “I thought everybody would blame me.”
And she was right.
On Aug. 14, after taking the teen to a medical center in her hometown of Weirton, her parents decided to go to police. She testified that she sat in the car.
“You never wanted to go to court on charges did you,” asked Marianne Hemmeter, a special prosecutor with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
“No,” the girl said, who has the 28th witness to testify during the trial, which began Wednesday.
And while CNN and almost all the coverage focuses on the poor promising rapists:
In the most outwardly emotional moment of the testimony, Hemmeter showed the 16-year-old a photo of herself that she had not seen. In the photo, she is lying on the tan carpet of a basement floor, naked and on her stomach. Her arms are underneath her body.
The girl began to cry, as did some of her family members, many of whom were wearing teal ribbons and the color teal, which is identified with supporting survivors of sexual assault.
“Do you remember that photo?” Hemmeter asked.
“No,” the teen replied.
“How’s that make you feel?” Hemmeter said softly.
“Not good,” she answered.
Even more here:
She also testified that she did not want to go to police. She said it was her parents’ idea. She sent a text to one defendant, 17, saying, “We know you didn’t rape me.”
Prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter asked her that when she sent the text, did she know that digital penetration was also rape. The girl said she didn’t know that. She also said she didn’t know she had been digitally penetrated.
Like most victims, like most people, she didn’t know what counted as rape. But she did know coming forward would make her a target, and would make her friends turn on her; because they already had, that very night.
Hemmeter read from three of the texts: “Reno (football coach Reno Saccoccia) just called my house and said I raped you,” one said.
Another said, “You know what happened, there’s no video, so nothing happened.”
The third said, “This is the most pointless thing I’m going to get in trouble for. I should be thanked for taking care of you.”
The girl testified that she was interested in him and left a party with him because she trusted him.
She trusted him, and he said “there’s no video, so nothing happened.” She trusted him, and her friends (now former friends) yelled at her and blamed her the next morning, before she even knew what had been done to her and before she even knew the word “rape” applied to it. Though judging by the video, her attackers knew perfectly well that’s what it was.
And that’s the story, her story, and basically all of our stories in one form or another, that’s being erased when all the sympathy’s given to her rapists. That’s rape culture in action.
There’s far more from excellent people. If you have time, read the threads on the FtB and allies posts linked above. Speak out. Change the culture. And let’s never forget what Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said as he promised to take this case further: “Rape is not a recreational activity.”