Part of me feels like since I’ve never been raped, I somehow don’t have the right to address this.
But I don’t have to have experienced rape to know that there’s a world of difference between pleasurable, consensual sex and being tortured while you are passed out.
Here’s the thing, with all the discussion about Steubenville and the insanity of both the media responses and the internet commenting, we seem to have forgotten one key point.
Maybe that bears repeating:
This is not about sex.
This is not about anyone’s sexual choices, not even the boys in question. This is not a situation where a couple had too much to drink and had regrets about their sexual choices afterward. This is not something that happened because the boys were crushing on this girl and wanted to be with her.
This is about violence. This is about power over someone weaker or unable to fight back.
These actions come from the same well of depravity that fuels childhood bullies and adult sociopaths.
What horrifies me more than the choices these boys made is the reactions far and wide in the media as well as all over social media. In a particularly stomach-turning roundup, Buzzfeed shared the following reactions from Facebook and Twitter:
And if the pack mentality reactions of strangers isn’t bad enough, let’s not forget all of the witnesses who were present and did nothing. If we wanted to truly make a difference here, for this community and for our society, we would hold these people accountable.
When we, as a society, look at this and see just another news story, we are accountable.
When parents and schools teach children to prize success over empathy, they are accountable.
When we breed a generation of sociopaths by not teaching our children to value and protect vulnerability instead of attacking it, we are accountable.
When we refuse to teach our children about sexuality in a loving, healthy way, but allow them to be immersed in violent media, we are accountable.
This is not about a girl being a slut, unless while I wasn’t looking unconsciousness somehow became a hallmark of sluttiness. This isn’t even solely about a few boys who did the unthinkable. This is about us. This is about the fact that “We live in a world where we have to hide to make love, while violence is practiced in broad daylight.” This is about the fact that we teach our boys (and girls) that weakness is the biggest flaw they can have, so when they see it—they attack it.
We look at the gang rape on the bus in India and are horrified, but when it happens in our country, the girl was “clearly a slut.”
Part of me didn’t want to write about this. I’m tired of thinking about it. It angers and saddens me. The public reactions anger and sadden me even more. But until we are angry enough and sad enough about this to change the cultural perception of rape, we need to keep talking about it.
This isn’t someone else’s problem; this is our problem.
This is where we are:
It’s time to change the conversation.
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
~ Edmund Burke
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