Yesterday, the two accused boys in Steubenville, OH were convicted of rape. Prevalent throughout the comments to the CNN article about it, is the sentiment that the young girl ought to be held accountable for what happened to her, because she was the one who got drunk in the first place. A few people want to see her charged for under-age drinking, just, you know, in the interest of fairness. One comment actually suggested she should be charged as an accomplice in her own rape, because she was drunk.
Now. I understand that comments sections on news articles tend to host the worst of the bottom-dwellers across every form of ignorance and depravity, but still, the frequency with which variations on this argument are repeated is sickening. People insist that the girl is partially responsible for what happened to her. One commenter compared her actions–getting too drunk at a party–to leaving valuables in an alleyway overnight and then being surprised when they were stolen. Another compared it to leaving a laptop in an unlocked car.
Everybody say it with me now, nice and loud: FUCK THAT. And also, NO. No, no, no, never, and again, NO.
This is straight-up victim-blaming. It’s a time-hallowed, despicable and abhorrent tradition that’s been going on for as long as people have been being raped. I would say it is largely reserved for women, although that is most likely due to the (very sad and troubling) infrequency with which men report suffering rape and sexual assault. But you guys are familiar with how it goes: she was asking for it. She was dressed like a slut, what do you expect? She was flirting. She was drunk.
Again? No. Let’s take this opportunity for a brief refresher course in principles of basic human decency, and examine the differences.
1. Getting sloppy drunk at a party and losing control of yourself is an irresponsible thing to do. It does not cause rape.
2. Taking advantage of someone who is sloppy drunk, to sexually assault that person, is a vicious and indefensible thing to do. It’s also a crime. Nothing causes the perpetrator to do it except his own sense of power and entitlement.
Because, see, here is the other possible outcome: girl gets sloppy drunk, but in this outcome, everyone around her is actually a decent human being, so no one bothers her. No one takes her intoxicated and unconscious state as license to penetrate her body without her knowledge or permission, as if she is nothing more than a plastic blow-up doll. In this outcome, somebody lets her sleep it off on their couch, and in the morning she goes home with nothing worse than a hangover.
The variable there is the actions of the rapists. She didn’t “ask” for anything. She didn’t “want” anything. THEY alone bear full responsibility for what they did to her. Yes, she put herself into a situation where she was vulnerable. But that is not an invitation to assault. Letting yourself get caught in a vulnerable position does NOT mean you are to blame for somebody else’s decision to attack you. Neither does dressing sexy, or flirting, or fooling around, or grinding with a guy on the dance floor. It never has, never will.
[EdUpdate] Fox News Airs Name of Steubenville Rape Victim.
Bethany Chase is a Brooklyn-based interior designer and writer. She blogs about love, writing, and life as an A-cup at https://itsbetterwithbangs.blogspot.com. Goose her on Twitter @mbethanychase… she might goose you back.
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