This whole thing just makes me sad
The Steubenville story is all over my dash, and I just can’t bring myself to reblog any of it. Not because I don’t agree with the outrage about CNN’s coverage - I do - but because it just makes me sad that there are still segments of society where people think this kind of viewpoint is acceptable.
Look, nobody’s as sympathetic to religious or political differences as I am. It’s easy to vilify your own countrymen as backwards, or parochial, or irrationally afraid, and to demonize them for their differences. It’s much harder to humanize them, and realize that, in 99% of cases, you start from common moral ground; you just end up in different places.
But the fact that this kind of victim-shaming is even entering the discussion at all is just stunning. Yeah, sure, there are always going to be outliers who put on their tinfoil hats, or scream about sending non-whites “back where they came from”, but as a society we’ve learned to sort of shrug and let them be. The fact that groups like the Westboro Baptist Church are so ruthlessly mocked from all corners (liberal and conservative alike) means that, as a society, we’re actually working this out pretty well. We may disagree over what, exactly, is unacceptable about their message, but we all agree that it’s so irrational and offensive that they shouldn’t be allowed to participate in the mainstream discourse.
And I thought, maybe naively, that we’d gotten to that point with rape apologists. I thought that we’d hit a social consensus that “rape is bad” and it should not happen, and that there are non-forcible kinds of rape, and that consent is very, very important. (I also thought we all agreed that men aren’t just feral penises governed by a lizard brainstem with no capacity for self-control… but apparently that’s only true when it’s convenient.)
I honestly think that there are intelligent and much-needed discussions that we should be having - but won’t - after the Steubenville case. We need to talk about our kids’ responsibility to protect each other in dangerous situations. We need to talk about how we, as a culture, define “consent.” And yes, there is a perfectly rational and legitimate discussion to be had about the criminal justice system’s treatment of sex offenders. (Repeat after me: criticizing the system is not “pro-rape.” Say it again. Okay? Good.)
But right now, we are not having these discussions. The media - or at least CNN - has decided to frame the issue as one of tragic, wasted youth, all thrown away over some “bad decisions.” (And for the record, rape isn’t a “bad decision.” It’s fucking rape. The two are not, and should never be, the same order of magnitude.)
So all these stories about the boys’ lives being ruined, and Jane Doe “asking for it” by dressing provocatively, or denying the very existence of rape make me seriously wonder why, and when, we backslid from the idea that Women Are People. The state of the discourse is outrageous, yes; but more than anything, it’s just sad.