Apparently, it’s still okay to rape women. It seems to be.
The community of Steubenville, Ohio is in the spotlight after it appears two high school football players raped a 16 year-old girl.
Although rape and sexual assault are a sad fact of life, it doesn’t excuse authorities from not adequately responding to such incidents and doing all they can to prevent future incidents.
In Steubenville, it would appear a mass cover-up of the rape has been blown wide open, implicating school administrators, the head football coach, the sheriff, and possibly a mother of the boy who hosted the party at which the rape occurred as she’s the prosecuting attorney for Jefferson County, in which Steubenville is located.
This is a fairly disgusting case, and as more details emerge, it’s as if the details, themselves, seem to be working to outdo one another in horrific impact.
A few days ago, Anonymous, the online group that seeks justice through hacking, released a disturbing video of football players and friends making jokes about the girl who was raped on the very night of the assault.
The video has gone viral on several prominent blogs, including Jezebel, but hasn’t gained much coverage on major media, at least the extensive coverage it would deserve.
When the head football coach was approached by a reporter covering the story, the coach got in his face and threatened him and his family.
And this is really par for the course on rape and sexual assault in this country. Rapes involving high-profile men (or young men, boys) tend to get swept under the rug.
Recently, a young woman was raped on a public bus in India by six assailants and died from complications. The response of authorities, at least until thousands of protestors took to the streets, was quite lukewarm. Another incident in the country involved a young woman who committed suicide after she was raped and police were persuading her to marry her attacker.
Many Americans look at this and recoil in disgust, saying, “Wow, I’m glad things are much better here.”
According to a study conducted in 2010, 1 in 5 women will either be raped or be the victim of attempted rape in her lifetime. 1 in 6 will be stalked during her lifetime.
It’s estimated that 1.3 million women are raped, annually, according to the same survey, which was conducted with help by the Department of Justice.
And yet, just 6.4% of that total were reported to law enforcement in 2011, the latest year for which we have statistics.
So, what compels more than 1.2 million women who have been the victim of sexual assault not to step forward after they’ve been attacked?
Could it possibly be that, based on the way rape is treated in this country, they’re afraid no one will believe them? That they’ll be blamed? That they’ll be ostracized?
This is not a problem of natural yearning, which is about the most bullshit explanation I’ve heard for male-on-female sexual assault.
It’s a problem of our national culture. We have prominent politicians, judges, and political pundits (almost all of them male) saying that if women didn’t walk alone at night, if they didn’t wear such provocative clothing, maybe if they just prayed more… they wouldn’t be assaulted.
Here’s a suggestion: Instead of blaming women for being raped, why don’t we go to the source and blame their attackers, and by extension, a culture that excuses their actions on the basis of “men will be men”?
Why don’t we blame a culture that allows a 16 year-old young woman to be raped and have it covered-up by a community because the local high school football team was involved?
Regardless of gender, regardless of age, we are ALL this young woman. We are all victims of this culture, and it must be torn down.