At least two members of a Steubenville high school football team raped a sixteen year old after she had passed out drunk at a party, as well as videoing themselves exposing her breasts and penetrating her unconscious body with their fingers. They then distributed the videos and pictures around their school to shame her. Y’know, a joke. Funny. None of the self-titled “Rape Crew” (yes, really) were disciplined, until an anonymous group released this absolutely disgraceful video, which has now gone viral. If you don’t feel like watching it and getting your daily dose of despair for humanity, the video shows The Rape Crew Massive calling the victim ‘so dead’, ‘deader than JFK’ and ‘so raped’, whilst laughing about the night’s events.
I’m in a University sports team. I get it. It’s hard to stand up for what you think is right if it goes against the bullshit hierarchies that teams build up within themselves to feel a bit more important. But she was being RAPED at a party in front of people. Come ON. GET IT TOGETHER AND TELL YOUR FRIENDS TO STOP RAPING THE UNCONSCIOUS GIRL. The teams’ coach, Nate Huppard said
despite the video evidence. With these kinds of authority figures as their guides, is it any wonder the team found it so funny?
The boys in question aren’t some kind of force of evil in an otherwise happy, woman-friendly culture. They aren’t monsters. They probably didn’t even consider themselves rapists, despite the name of their crew. They are products of their environment, and a society that still tells us that a woman’s body doesn’t belong to her. That it is the fault of a woman if she puts herself into a vulnerable position. That men cannot be blamed for taking advantage of a girl or woman who is not in a position to give consent.
It is easy to point fingers and exclaim outrage at these boys, and rightly so, but it is far more important to take a removed look from the situation, examine our society and realise that rape apologism and misogyny runs deep into our culture. Websites like UniLad notifiying their readers that “85% of rape cases go unreported. That seems to be fairly good odds.” Politicians blurring the definitions of rape. Media images implying that women are playthings, and yours for the taking. Stand-up comedians making rape jokes. Rappers telling us ‘bitches ain’t shit but hoes and tricks.’ Nightclub gropings being a casual and endemic part of a woman’s life.
Once I got very drunk at the beach with a bunch of people I didn’t know very well, and my friends put me to sleep in the back of our minivan. I woke up some time later with one of the men on top of me, taking my top and bikini top off, kissing and groping me. There is no possible chance I could have consented to this happening. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t speak, and I passed out again while it was going on. And when I woke up the next morning, I wasn’t wearing any underwear. I still don’t know if he had sex with me but regardless of whether he did or didn’t, he treated my body as if it belonged to him. He didn’t give me the right to control what happened to it.
A few months later, he sent me a friend request on Facebook with the message ‘I miss you’ attached to it, which was hugely upsetting because not only did it mean he still thought about me, but that he had normalised what had happened into something acceptable. I told someone close to me about it at that point, who asked me if at the time, I’d been ‘y’know…getting into it. Because you were so drunk and everything.’ Essentially if on some level, I’d wanted it.
This is the kind of rape apologism and victim-blaming that is so prevalent, and that we have to change on a societal level. It’s not enough to condemn rapists and sex offenders individually. We have to attack the culture that normalises and even rewards sexual assaults as ‘banter’. ‘Lads’ of the world, I’m looking at you. Stop it. Stop it now.