a different kind of post: rape culture

I don’t usually talk about serious issues. I prefer to stay in my happy bubble most of the time (however foolish that may be), where I don’t have to face facts or debate points with others. I don’t watch the news either, because I always go away feeling upset and helpless. For instance, I’ll think “like I can actually do anything about what Congress does or doesn’t do – politicians don’t give a damn about what the people think anymore, anyway.” Stuff like that. Something really got to me today, though, and I really want to talk about it: it’s the Steubenville rape case. I know I’m not the most eloquent person or the best writer, and I might be a bit late on posting about this topic, but I just can’t let this go. I just can’t sit in my bubble anymore and act like rape culture isn’t that big of a problem, or that it will go away on its own. It’s a massive, growing problem, and it will not go away on its own.

For those who don’t know (did this news reach England or any other countries?), on 3/17/2013 two high school football players from Steubenville, Ohio were found guilty of raping a 16 year old girl last August. Apparently they had kidnapped her and, while she was unconscious, raped her, while many others stood by and watched, some taking pictures and making videos that soon were spread on the Internet. Only two boys were formally accused, but the whole case has been surrounded by attempts to cover it up, smooth it over, and create a message that the rapists are somehow the victims (the victim and her family have even been threatened with murder by some of the townspeople for speaking out). Even the national media has focused on the hardships of the “star athletes” and what their futures might be like if they have to stay in juvie until they’re 21, and how hard it must be for their families (click here for that account). For a concise list of what other outrageous things went down during the case and to clarify exactly what rape culture is, click here. If you go to those links, you will see in clear detail what I am unable to express, and you will understand why I am so upset.

When I first thought about posting on the Stebuenville case and everything that’s surrounded it, I wasn’t exactly sure what I could say. I’m a crocheter, not a political or civil rights activist. I thought putting the links to those posts at the bottom of a previous post of mine was enough, but for me it’s not. I still feel a bit like there’s nothing I can do – I feel so small and insignificant – but there is something I can do. If I can spread the word about rape culture and get others to think about it or even talk about it, I’ve helped. So that’s what I’m doing: trying to raise awareness of what is becoming more and more of a problem. I really admire the blogger who brought the Steubenville case to national attention by refusing to let it go, despite all the criticism and hate that is now aimed at her (click here for a Times article on what she’s done).

Honestly I’m very scared about how rape culture is growing and what it could mean for our futures, and our children’s futures. I’m scared not only by what happened to that poor girl in Steubenville but of how her town and the media reacted/is reacting. It’s like one of those horrible books that portray the scary things about social psychology (i.e. “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller about the Salem Witch Trials, or “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding, or even books about the Holocaust and Antisemitism).

I’m also mad. Very mad that anyone would dare say that women are asking to be raped because they dress “too provocatively,” or that it’s the victim’s fault because she got too drunk and passed out. Mad that rape crimes are excused because the rapist “is so young – their brain isn’t fully developed yet” or that “that’s just how boys and men are,” or even “she’s a slut and a liar, so this case isn’t worth investigating.” Mad that when women don’t put up with sexual harassment, they’re often called “bitches” by those harassers. Mad that viewing women as nothing more than objects is promoted all over the media in our everyday lives (by both men and women). Mad that women still don’t make as much money as men for doing the same jobs. I’m diverting from the original topic a bit but this could go on and on.

I’m hesitant to call myself a feminist because I don’t want to be grouped into that idea of voracious, man-hating people who try to find problems everywhere so they can shout about it and bash men some more (I have plenty of loving and wonderful men in my life, such as my dad, my boyfriend, and plenty of my friends), but I am both scared and angry about what is happening not only in our country but across the world. That is why I wanted to make this post. I want to do something about it. Raising awareness is a good first step, even if it’s just talking with a few people and posting on my blog about what’s happening. I also realized that, as a soon-to-be counselor, I will be in a great position to act against rape culture and sexism in my own community and state. I had never really thought too much about being super-involved in client advocacy, but I think I will be now.

Thank you so much for reading this, even though it’s completely off my usual subject matter. I know it’s heavy stuff, but it is important to everyone.  Please think about it and talk about it with others if you can.


  1. Thanks for standing up against this behaviour. The more people that do the less it’s accepted.


  2. NaturalWoman says:

    Great post. I think you are eloquent and a great writer. If everyone stood up about issues like this and said “no, this is not OK”, even if they don’t consider themselves to be a “political activist”, then events like Steubenville would be less acceptable, I think.

    By the way, the news did reach other countries (I’m in England). There are quite a few great editorial pieces in our national press. That’s not to say England’s not rife with rape culture, though.

    Interestingly, I consider myself a feminist, and have done for as long as I can remember, but have never associated it with man-hating. In fact, I’ve always thought the opposite. A more equal society, where gender norms are more flexible, would be better for everyone, boys and girls. I’ve always understood “feminist” as someone that fights for gender equality. One benefit for a man I love of greater gender equality: my dad wouldn’t be made to feel ashamed for crying in public when something moves him.

    Another example: take rape culture – its so insulting to men to say that girls should expect rape if they wear certain clothing! I mean, that’s essentially saying that men can’t help but rape when they see a girl wearing a short skirt! That’s so patronising to men as well as ridiculous and harmful to women.

    Interestingly, writing this message to you, I just decided to ask my boyfriend, “are you a feminist?”. I’m surprised (yet pleased) to say that, after thinking about it for a couple of seconds, he enthusiastically said “yes!”.


    • Thank you so much for your response! And being the “feminist” you describe is exactly what I want to be. I hadn’t thought that men would be insulted by the statement that they can’t help but rape when they see women in certain clothes, but you’re totally right! That’s like saying all men are pigs or something. And I’m glad you talked to your boyfriend and that he said he’s a feminist too — that’s fantastic!


  3. Thank you for posting about such a delicate subject.


  4. Kathryn Rubidoux says:

    Good job Hannah, I’m glad you said something. I actually watch and read a lot of news, both domestic and foreign, and while much of it is horrifying there’s good news too… of people fighting back by being active in their communities, by being informed of what is going on around them, by voting, and by letting their voices be heard… just like you are doing now. I just removed myself from the company of a guy who was completely convinced that women are nothing but objects and he couldn’t figure out who to date because he could not perceive any difference between any of them. So he chose based upon their ‘hotness’ and how much they argue with him… that’s the kind of mentality we’re dealing with. As for the women, they are just as much to blame for putting up with that kind of nonsense… this is directed towards the people who equate hotness with self worth, not the rape victim of this crime (nor any victim of assault for that matter).


    • Thank you! Ugh, that guy sounds terrible. When he ends up sad and alone maybe he’ll figure it out. And I definitely agree that many women play a huge part in feeding into rape culture and sexism, whether intentionally or unintentionally.


  5. thank you for posting, i found your words eloquent , even tho as you say you are “only” a crocheter. however, you are human and female, as was this young girl and it is appalling the culture that surrounded this crime and how it was covered up. Thank you Anonymous for bring it to light. it is just another example of the war on women. btw, love your blog. and always remember, ” speak your mind, even if your voice shakes” Maggie Kuhn


  6. I know how you feel. It is a terrible crime and its consequences spread far and wide and affect everyone. I like Maura’s quote, too, although your voice in this post certainly didn’t sound shaky.
    I live in South Africa, where the stats tell us that a woman is raped every four minutes. (Men are raped, too, of course, we shouldn’t forget that, but this particular topic isn’t about that). Rape is rife, and happens across all cultures, all communities. And often with impunity, with cover-ups, lies, justifications. Just like the Steubenville case.
    These things make us sick to our stomachs, every day. We are still reeling from the Anene Booysen/Bredasdorp case, the details of which I will not post or link to here, because they are truly horrific.
    The dream of living in a world where whatever causes/allows some men to think that rape is ok is eradicated will probably always be just that, a dream. In the meantime, carry on speaking out. And stay safe.


    • I hadn’t even heard of that case here (although that might be because I don’t watch much TV). It does seem like rape culture will never be fully eradicated, but it is something worth working towards. You stay safe too; those statistics for South Africa are scary.


  7. Like you I feel powerless when I’m bombarded with all the bad news. That case is sad for all involved, I did not follow it but I heard just enough to give my “opinion “?? All involved was drinking, not only the girl, and they made bad choices. Immaturity played a major role in this case, I could go on and on but I will stop here: girls and boys, men and women should realize that alcohol makes you act stupid and irresponsible Please Don’t Drink alcohol and expect that it won’t affect you in a negative way, it will …….10 times out of 10…..


    • That’s true they were all drinking. I think that the alcohol definitely influenced their decision to do those things to the girl, but I think that mindset and those horrible thoughts would have already been there. I agree that everyone should be careful with alcohol, for sure.


  8. Thank you Hannah Davis and NaturalWoman for bringing this up. I could not agree more with both of you: the whole case – rape as well as public participation – is ATROCIOUS and therefore needs to be publicly condemned. Worldwide! I reblogged both of you on my blog.


  9. Great post. The way our society diminishes women as they become more educated and powerful is very frightening. There is a documentary called Missrepresentation that I think every woman should see. It outlines some of the most destructive ways women are represented in the media. I will always call myself a feminist. To me, it has nothing to do with hating men, or hating anyone. I want both women and men to be able to break out of their stereotyped roles and be more flexible human beings.


  10. Just want to let you know I enjoy this blog so much that i nominated you for a Liebster Award!


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