This is what US rape culture looks like
In my last post, I forgot to include, as an example of rape culture, a gang rape that took place in Steubenville, an Ohio football town where at an August end-of-summer party, members of the Steubenville football team raped a passed out 16-year-old girl, who was from a nearby West Virginia town, and then dragged her from party to party where she was sexually assaulted some more.
Cell phone footage and pictures were posted online by witnesses and participants alike, documenting the crime as it unfolded, meaning this girl was repeatedly violated in the presence of many teens, none of who thought to call the police or report the crime the next day. In fact, it was through social media that others learned of the gang rape, which was most traumatizing for the victim who hadn’t even known she was abused until she saw the images and videos of herself.
Last month, the New York Times published a detailed investigation into the assault, which has torn apart the football-crazed town. Steubenville sounds similar the town depicted in the TV series Friday Night Lights, where the players are treated like heroes and can do no wrong. At least two players have been charged with rape and kidnapping, but since the entire town is immersed in high school football, “the county prosecutor and the judge in charge of handling crimes by juveniles recused themselves from the case because they had ties to the football team.” The ties between authority figures and the team have led many to the conclusion that a fair trial of all those who were involved is impossible (only two of the players have been charged despite the alleged participation of many others).
As a result, the hacktivist group Anonymous leaked a video of Steubenville high school athletes joking about the gang rape. The video was posted today, which is why this particular incident is worth highlighting. I should warn you that the video, which is 12 minutes long, is stomach-turning. I was too disgusted to make it through the entire thing, so here are details from Jezebel, which we should all thank for watching it for us:
The speaker — identified by misternunya, an independent journalist who posted the video, as former Steubenville High School baseball player Michael Nodianos, who also tweeted lovely comments such as “some people deserve to be peed on” the night of the rape — cracks himself up as he calls the girl “deader than” JFK, OJ’s wife, Caylee Anthony, and Trayvon Martin, amongst others.
“She is so raped,” he says. “Her puss is about as dry as the sun right now.”
At around 4:15, one of his friends says, “That’s not cool bro” and “That’s like rape. It is rape. They raped her.”
He starts cracking up and riffs on that too: “They raped her quicker than Mike Tyson!” and “they raped her more than the Duke lacrosse team!”
“What if that was your daughter?” one guy says. “But it isn’t,” Nodianos says.
Other choice quotes include: “It isn’t really rape because you don’t know if she wanted to or not” and “what if she was pregnant and gave birth to a dead baby?”
Here’s the video in case you’d like to watch it yourself:
I only wish this type of violent behavior against women and girls would spark in the US the type of mass protests we’re seeing in India following the brutal gang rape and subsequent death of a college student in New Delhi. Though the two incidents are much different level of brutality, the people responsible operate in an environment that too often excuses their violent behavior and puts the onus of prevention on the actions of the victim (i.e. don’t drink too much, don’t leave the house alone at night, don’t dress provocatively, etc), when instead we should be telling boys and men not to rape!