I remember the cop, visibly annoyed with being burdened with the task of taking my statement, leading me into the tiny room and I remember the panic bubbling up when he shut the door behind him. I think he typed 5.5 words a minute. I told him the whole story. It seemed like we were in there for hours. Maybe because he took that long to type or maybe because the designers of that tiny room, with the door closed, made no allowance for personal space. It didn’t help that he was so obviously agitated with being assigned the duty of taking dictation from me. At 20 years old, the last thing I wanted to be doing was sitting in that shrinking room giving some strange man a detailed, minute by minute, account of the night that started out at a bar with friends and ended with two of those “friends” raping me.
The only time he spoke to me was to tell me to “hold on”, “go ahead” or to repeat something, except for when I got to the part about the blood running down my legs as I ran from the apartment. Without looking up, he asked, “were you a virgin or something”. I said “no” and he kind of shrugged, which made me feel like I had to defend myself and I started explaining how I’d only been with one person but he just said to get back to the story. I wasn’t prepared for the interview after he finished taking my statement, not that being informed of it would have prepared me for the line of questioning.
Were you drunk?
What were you wearing?
If the rest of you are wondering, I was wearing a mini pencil skirt and a black v-neck tee. The police took it at the hospital as “evidence”.
You didn’t have on underwear when you were seen at the hospital. Why?
I guess that “M” and “C” pulled them off of me in the process of raping me. When they decided they were done and let me go, searching for my underwear completely slipped my mind.
Have you ever slept with either of them before that night?
No. Evidently, though, if you sleep with a man once, he maintains the right to plant his flag when and if he feels like it and it isn’t really rape.
Have you ever flirted with them? Were you flirting with either of them that night? Were you dancing provocatively at any point?
The reality of this “investigation” really began to set in at this point.
If you were drunk, why would you go home with two men?
I told him that they were my friends. They saw that I wasn’t in any condition to drive and told me just to come back to their place for a while, get something to eat and they would bring me back to my car after I sobered up for a few hours. I missed the fine print. I took the invitation at face value. Fuck me, right? You still want me to disregard the notion of rape culture?
The thought of calling the police didn’t even cross my mind when I ran out of that apartment, bleeding and crying, without my panties or my purse. Even when “M” chased after me in the parking lot, asking me if I was okay and apologizing, I just told him to leave me alone. I just wanted to go home and sleep and never think about it again. I was even wracking my brain about who I could get to cover my shift in the morning because I couldn’t deal with work and I didn’t know if “M” or “C” was scheduled and I didn’t want to see them. At this point, you see, the logic of the rape culture was well ingrained into my head, unbeknownst to me. I realized that what had happened in that apartment was rape but I didn’t know who, if anyone, would believe me. Would they blame me? Hell, even I wasn’t sure if it was my fault. Why did I do those shots? Why didn’t I just drive home? What did I do to make them think it was okay? I said no. I said it over and over. I pleaded for them to stop. I was crying. They were holding me down. I’d never known anyone that had been raped (or so I thought) and so had no first hand knowledge of what it was like to report a rape. My biggest fear was that no one would believe me. The only reason I did report it was because they wouldn’t even talk to me. much less do STD testing on me, at the ER unless I filed a police report. I conceded and then my fears were proven to be right. “M” and “C” were given the benefit of the doubt from minute one. They had all the rights throughout the process. I was the one on trial. I was the one that was guilty until proven otherwise. The onus was on me to prove that I didn’t want to have sex or deserve to be raped. The focus of the “investigation” was my history, my character, my personality, my personal style, my social behavior and alcohol intake.
The minute the story of Steubenville went viral, I was–actually, there isn’t a word strong enough to describe my disgust. It is the standard treatment of rape victims by the media and society, insofar as the scrutiny and indignation being targeted to the victims. The biggest difference with this case and other rape allegations that get the attention of the media was the indisputable evidence against the accused, though. There were pictures of them carrying her seemingly lifeless body through parties. The rapists and their “audience” tweeted the photos and even details of the assault. There were videos from the party that showed this sixteen year old girl, naked and passed out as her peers assaulted her and, literally, pissed on her. Others parts showed witnesses sitting around, talking and laughing about the assault. The town didn’t rally their support for the sixteen year old victim. They didn’t plea for the public to grant respect and privacy to the person who was violated, debased and humiliated in front of her peers, who did nothing but, best case scenario, turn a blind eye, and, worst case, cheered it on and laughed. No one asked what upbringing or influence could result in these boys being capable of such a public, notorious show of misogynistic, callous, disregard for the 16-year-old victim. No one asks what influence would provide these two boys with such an emboldened sense of entitlement that would be required to publicly rape a girl, videotape it, make jokes, and share it all via social media? Or, how could all of the other teenagers at this party stand by and watch this happen and not speak up? Why didn’t anyone help her? Why didn’t anyone intervene or, at least, sneak away and call the police?
The media and the public consistently deny that there is any such thing as rape culture within our society. The assertion is dismissed on the grounds of our “civilized” society and the modern normalcy of women’s rights. The dissenters point out that we have laws and if they think really hard or have google access handy, they might cite cases in which those laws were even enforced. Many will condescend with the “you ingrate” tone and tell you to go live in the Middle East, “then talk to me”. The dam broke when the guilty verdict was handed down this past week. Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond reacted to their sentencing, breaking down into tears. The media responded with unmitigated pity and sympathy for the now convicted rapists. They might as well have fallen to their knees, sobbing and wailing, as they mourned and bemoaned the implications the conviction and sentence may hold for the future of the rapists.
An NBC correspondent opined, “In many ways, tonight stands as a cautionary tale to a generation that has come of age in the era of social networking.”
What the what? Evidently, Lester Holt thinks that the biggest mistake these boys made that night was logging into twitter.
CNN’s Poppy Harlow, I shit you not, said: “incredibly difficult even for an outsider like me to watch what happened as these two young men that had such promising futures, star football players, very good students, literally watched as they believe their life fell apart.”
Am I supposed to squirt a fucking tear, here? If anyone wants to watch where their lives fell apart, a good starting point would be the video and pictures of them raping a girl and then work backwards from there.
Candy Crowley contributed her sympathy, saying, “A 16-year-old just sobbing in court; regardless of what big football players they are, they still sound like 16-year-olds. . . . When you listen to it and you realize they could stay until they’re 21, what’s the lasting effect, though, on two young men being found guilty, in juvenile court, of rape, essentially?”
Rape, essentially? I want to punch a baby seal. Why don’t you ask yourself about the lasting effects this girl might suffer after, not just being raped, but being raped in front of all of her peers, having it broadcast across the world-wide fucking web and being relegated to drunken whore status by the media and court of public opinion.
The dialogue, in the aftermath of the sentence, was woeful, angry and ripe with indignation. What kind of world do we live in when studious, promising athletes can’t just go out and rape a girl without consequences? It seems every major network is talking about how much this will hurt Richmond and Mays. I’ve heard over and again that they were good kids, they made good grades, praise for their athletic prowess, and the potential ramifications these sentences hold for their futures. Conversations on the victim, who was also 16, might I add, revolves around the fact that she was intoxicated and descriptions of her provocative attire. I haven’t heard about her grades or her character. Any mention of her is basically a thinly veiled summation of a drunk slut. The boys were football players and good students. They are relevant. They had a future. It’s not that the victim doesn’t matter at all; it’s just that Mays and Richmond matter a lot more. The victim, on the other hand, has been dehumanized and objectified, by her attackers that night and, since then, by the media. She’s a nowhere bound party girl who woke up with a hangover and buyers remorse. One major flaw in this treatment of rape victims by the media and the public is that it perpetuates the notion that a situation in which, for instance, two boys carry a semi-conscious, inebriated, girl around, strip her naked, sexually violate her, and piss on her, all in front of a crowd and a camera, is motivated by sexual attraction and desire, rather than to completely demoralize and debase another human being for no other reason than they could. They performed for the crowd, they documented the assault, they blasted jokes, pics and details across social media. They acted with hubris. Now, the tears that are shed are shed, not for the child that was violated and assaulted, but for those who considered her and her body to be their entitlement. The moral of the story that these kids and others, including your children, will take from this, is that girls are responsible for sexual aggression employed against them. Despite the videos, the pics, the jokes, the bragging, the distribution of the photos and video of the rape between their peers, the victim is cast in the role of the villain and her attackers are the victims; led into temptation by her feminine wiles. It was out of their control, they were powerless to resist raping her when they saw her passed out in tight clothes. Yeah, I don’t know why anyone would be concerned with any so-called rape culture.
We indoctrinate our children into the rape culture, just as we were indoctrinated. Our daughters are told that they are responsible for controlling male behavior. In a rape culture, we don’t actually empower girls; we teach them that their sexuality makes them powerful and then we call them sluts and whores if they dare entertain the thought of wielding it. She will learn to, not only, accept being objectified but to be flattered by it, to seek it out, in search of empowerment. We teach her that female sexual agency is almost non-existent, except to satisfy the sexual agency of men. Girls will learn that they can give consent just by what they choose to wear. They will, one day, join the chorus of society, shaming female sexuality and sexual agency as immoral, abnormal and an invitation to rape. Rape culture romanticizes rape by treating it like an act of uncontrolled passion and sexual desire. In a rape culture, women are advised on measures they can take to prevent being raped. It covers things like hairstyles, fashion choices, and even goes so far as to suggest urinating or vomiting on herself, or telling an attacker that she has an STD. I’ve never gotten an email on “robbery prevention, with advice like, don’t wear expensive clothing or nice jewelry, don’t drive an expensive car, don’t purchase pricey electronics or have too big of a house. The message is simply, “don’t fucking steal” but, in a rape culture, a message of “don’t fucking rape” just never got off the ground. Rape culture teaches us to inquire about and critique what a rape victim was wearing. We learn to scrutinize a rape victim’s sexual history. We will judge her if she consumed alcohol or did drugs. We rationalize and justify rape on behalf of the offenders. We absolve them of responsibility and project it on to the victims by analyzing her history, behavior and choices. In a culture of rape, we don’t blame the rapist for raping, we blame the victim for the series of decisions and actions that ended with being raped. We perpetuate this culture when we say things like, “yeah, it is sad that she was raped but she shouldn’t have put herself in that situation”. Anytime you accept that there are choices women can make in which rape should be expected or accepted, you are part of rape culture.
What goes almost unnoticed is, if we accept all of that as fact, then we are also implying a belief that rape is a normal function of the male psyche. The urge to rape is part of a boy’s inherent nature, and they must make a consistent, conscious effort to stifle their propensity to commit sexual assault.
Say it with me:
Women have unmitigated, irrevocable governance over her body. If she is drunk and topless, she isn’t asking to be raped. There isn’t a situation or scenario that exists in which rape should be considered and dismissed as an acceptable or expected consequence. I have the right to walk down a fucking alley. I have the right to go to a party and drink. No one has the right to rape me.
Men are not slaves to their sexual urges, void of conscience, humanity or empathy. They do not have to fight against a natural inclination to rape, abuse or dominate women.
Some new rape prevention slogans:
Real men get consent
Consent is sexy
That’s a good start.
This was a previous blog but I’m linking for relevance: