This CNN reportage of Steubenville rape verdict is a snapshot of what is wrong with the “rape culture” in the United States. The report focuses on the impact of the guilty verdict on the perpetrators of the crime and doesn’t even mention the victim or the victim’s family. The two female reporters seem to regret that the boys will be punished for their wrong-doing. One might even say they are insinuating that it is the verdict that is ruining the boys’ lives, not the criminal act they performed that brought them to trial.
It is a shame that the lives of two promising athletes are now tainted by the “sex offender” label. It is even more of a shame that two teenage boys thought it was acceptable to rape and abuse a drunk 16-year-old.
Sex is not a sport. You don’t win points by defiling an unconscious girl and taking photographs of her naked body. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine put it simply: “Rape is not a recreational activity. We, as a society, have an obligation do more to educate our young people about rape. They need to know it is a horrible crime of violence. And it is simply not ok.”
Whenever my school talks about drugs and alcohol abuse, I encourage them to discuss the ancillary threats — loss of judgment, loss of inhibition, loss of consciousness — that can lead to serious crimes like rape. With pop culture icons like Ke$ha glamorizing getting shit-faced in songs like Tik Tok, alcohol and rape education is an uphill battle. And yet our schools steer clear of the rape conversation, not wanting to complicate their message about drugs and alcohol.
Does anyone think this crime would have happened if all involved had been sober? This is far from an excuse or even an explanation, but it is a cry for more discussion of the whole picture, not just the bitter loss of potential that these Steubenville boys represent. The rape victim will also be living with the crime for the rest of her life, and she had little choice in the matter.
Here is a petition asking for CNN’s apology for their phallocentric coverage.