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.

%d bloggers like this: