Thinking About the Steubenville Rape and Raising a Son

babyboyMy son was born in November and, like most parents, questions about his future ran through my mind: Who would he love? What would he do? How long would his head be the shape of a traffic cone? There was one question that never traveled through my mind in those first few weeks: How do I prevent my son from becoming a rapist? But that was the question that I asked myself again and again when I read The New York Times‘s story about the Steubenville High School football team rape case.

Maybe this strikes some as a ridiculous question to ask while holding a newborn; maybe it strikes others as incredibly short-sighted for a self-identified feminist to never have thought about before. But regardless, I was floored by the sudden realization that I not only had to teach my son that consent is never nebulous—it is a very clear and multi-part process—but I also had to prepare him to navigate a rape culture which is so ingrained that it seems to consistently reward its preservationists. How do I teach my son to resist the pervasive attitudes about rape and victim-blaming when they’re echoed by men in positions of authority? The Steubenville rape case struck a chord because it crystallized the very problems with the ways in which we approach the discourse on rape. That is to say that we’ve so normalized violence against women that a 16-year old girl could be dragged unconscious from party to party and repeatedly assaulted by two football players while her peers laughingly chronicled her assault on social media, only to find herself blamed by coaches, city leaders and school administrators.

Certainly the subculture created around the Steubenville High School football team–one of blamelessness and deep entitlement–is partially to blame. But as feminists charged with raising future generations of young men, we are obligated to deconstruct the larger structures which allow subcultures like this to exist. While the video circulated by the hacktivist group Anonymous is repulsive, we shouldn’t be surprised by its content: Male athletes on a variety of Steubenville’s varsity teams joke about the rape they witnessed and the unconscious state of the victim. Not a single one attempted to stop what was happening. These young men are a near-literal manifestation of the rhetoric of rape culture; a rape victim is little more than a punch line to be tweeted about and her victimization is as intangible as an internet curiosity or a hashtag.

Perhaps even more disturbing than the tasteless jokes which punctuate the video is the simultaneous defense of violence with its justification. At one point, former Steubenville baseball player Michael Nodianos says, “It isn’t really rape because you don’t know if she wanted to or not.” At another point an unidentified boy asks “What if that was your daughter?” Nodianos responds, “But she isn’t.”

Nodianos’s words are telling, because for too long we’ve been teaching our sons to think of the consequences of rape within a familial context (i.e. “Imagine if it were your wife/daughter/mother”) and it’s clear that this method of education is a complete and total failure. Boys shouldn’t be taught that only women to whom they are genetically bound are worthy of being treated as human beings because, in part, that implies those who are not family are subhuman and therefore deserving of their own victimization. Nodianos’s justifications (akin to “she never said no”) and answers might be chilling, but they’re also relatively rational responses to the phrases we repeat to boys and consider enough education. No, of course, means no, but such language implies that the absence of a firm and loud “no” is the presence of “yes.” One has to look no farther than the recent onslaught of “forcible rape” legislation to see the pernicious failure of the oft-repeated phrase.

In the absence of real education about consent, we repeat these phrases to our sons perhaps because they’re easier both for us and for them; emptily repeating a mantra doesn’t require that boys actually think about consent, and it allows them to elide responsibility for their own actions.  Indeed, victim-blaming is part and parcel of these rationales: Your daughter/sister would never wear that skirt, or walk on the street alone, or have a drink. Take, for example, Steubenville volunteer football coach Nate Hubbard who, when interviewed by The New York Times, said:

The rape was just an excuse, I think. What else are you going to tell your parents when home drunk like that and after a night like that? She had to make up something.

Hubbard’s words, though repulsive, are all too common. Reading those words—uttered by a man in a position of authority over high schoolers—made me realize that educating my son about consent is not enough. I will also have to equip him with the skills to recognize rape culture and the rhetoric which continues to disseminate it. Hopefully, I can also teach him that “excuses” like Hubbard’s devalue everyone–not only does it blame the victim, but it also assumes that all boys are inherently rapists, unable to treat women like human beings.

As I hold my son, now almost two months old, I realize I’m not sure how to have these conversations with him. Though I’ve spent most of my adult life as an advocate for victims, I feel woefully underprepared to educate my son without simply saying “no means no.” A few days ago Jezebel’s Katie J.M. Baker asked:

Wouldn’t it be amazing if this case went down in history as a turning point in rape culture history? Perhaps we’ll tell future generations that, after Steubenville, more parents started educating their kids about consent, college students stopped thinking their peers were “asking for it” by going out to bars, police and cities started prioritizing sexual assault cases and fewer people thought that a teenage girl is ready and willing when she is actually just unconscious.

And yes, it would be amazing, but we need to do more than just “flip the script,” as some have suggested.  We need to throw out the script and rewrite it. This is a conversation that shouldn’t just happen between mothers but rather should take place in the larger feminist community because we all (parents and those without children) have a stake in creating a new cultural curriculum.

Photo by Flickr user Jon Ovington under license from Creative Commons 2.0

Comments

  1. I believe you can’t talk about rape culture without talking about pornography.
    My spidey-sense says these boys were raised on lots of it.

    • What makes you say that? ‘Raised on pornography”? That’s an odd and short-sighted phrase, it devalues the whole issue by blindly pulling out the feminism’s favorite scapegoat. People are influenced by more than just what they see, the real people and ‘role-models’ they encounter in life are crucial. These coaches and players are highly valued and respected — not just by peers but by the whole community. Recall the Penn State cases; do you really think that happened because Jerry Sandusky was fed porn growing up? Do you think the continuing defense of Joe Paterno and his wins is because the school is so influenced by porn? Or is it because he and his defenders were highly admired and respected and could never commit such wrongs? Rape is a crime of power, and these people are exercising their power both during the act of rape and in dismissing and blaming the victim. Instruction or approval from authority figures can drive people to do things they would normally never do (the Sylvia Likens case for example).

      Porn may influence sexual practice and attitude but it is also a barometer. It is being made to suit tastes. It shows us what people are already thinking about. Instead of pointing the finger at porn we should focus on teaching men and women how to read and respond to that kind of sexual treatment. Make sure that sex education both at home and in school addresses the difference between the fictional world of porn and the real world. Raise boys who would not only not participate in the Steubenville assaults but would stop them. Make men who would hold the coach accountable for his attitudes and statements. That coach and men like him are the real danger to young peoples’ minds. Much the same can be said about the men who take boys to dog fights or openly participate — socializing the child to violence.

      Pornography is easy to blame because so much of it is exploitive and often violent. It certainly rarely focuses on the enjoyment of the women involved.

      • Porn is the taste-maker. It certainly fed the culture responsible for this rape. Porn changes neural pathways in the brain. It fires on opiate pathways, like crack. In porn, every sexual act is welcome and men can do no wrong. Sound familiar?

        • “In [some] porn, every sexual act is welcome and men can do no wrong.”

          There. Fixed it for you.

          • Kasey, not in some porn – in most port. Most porn nowadays is vile and humiliating. Watching it like teenage boys and men do makes them view the acts in it as the norm.
            In addition, when humiliation and taking advantage of young “actresses” is legally and lawfully recorded on video tape and sold as entertainment – it normalizes horrendous, immoral, cruel views towards women even further.

      • BK Chaney says:

        I agree, men who get their sex education from watching porn should stick to rubber dolls. But I suspect conservative religion is another factor. Kids of both sexes are taught to honor a virgin mother, obsess about virginity and sexuality in general, denigrate young women who engage in premarital sex, and even stigmatize rape victims. Every year, communities celebrate the Christmas myth and in some places a Santa Lucia Festival, honoring a saint who blinded herself in response to rape! Is it any wonder some alter boys grow up to consider nonvirgins fair game and to “slut-shame” rape victims?

      • Respect for women and treating women, girls, boys and other men with respect. You do not harm those whom you respect. We need a very deep cleansing of the systems that support the culture of rape, domestic violence, etc. I read a book called “The Gate to Womens’ Country” (can’t remember the author at the moment) and I think there are many good ideas that would assist humankind to become less violent towards women and others whom are regarded as weaker and/or vulnerable.

      • As a young man who both watches porn and has absolutely zero desire to rape anyone, I believe I have some valuable perspective to share. Yes, porn has greatly influenced my upbringing. It desensitized me to some incredibly perverse acts. What those who don’t watch porn don’t understand, though, is that it has a wide range. Some of it is tastefully done and is about pleasure (so-called “female-friendly porn”). Some of it is simulated rape and incest. Everything falls somewhere within that spectrum. So yes, I absolutely think some porn can introduce people to this sort of behavior. The access of porn among children (who’s brains have not yet fully developed and are malleable) NEEDS to be fixed. That being said, it is not the sole factor, and not everyone who watches porn is going to become a rapist. In fact, considering just about every guy in America watches it, I think it would be safe to say that most of them don’t become rapists.
        N.B. currently trying to kick the addiction and in a committed relationship with a beautiful girl who’s helping me through this tough process!

        • Can you pull up statistics to back this claim? The last sets I have seen estimate that still some 85-90% of pornography depicts violence towards women and does not involve consent at all. Additionally, most of the research I have seen points to the hardening effect of pornography – that the distance of the user/consumer (which is what you are, simply a consumer being marketed to) creates an apathetic effect in real instances of rape, assault or even the user’s own sexual life. Having accepted this consent-free stimulus for sexual interaction, most users do not expect enthusiastic consent from their partners; having experienced a blameless/accountability-free position as voyeur, the user does not feel [s]he needs to stop an incident that is happening before them. Frequent consumers of pornography also tend to build a “tolerance” towards what is deemed “softer” core and as their use increases, are drawn to a bigger, harder rush through more hard-core work. As a responder noted above, there are biological studies that point towards changes in brain chemistry to back these observations.

          There is also a consumer attitude of “if I don’t see it, it isn’t happening” attitude that is pushed by those who reap the financial benefits of porn in regards to the “casting” process and working conditions of these films and clubs. Activists and social workers who deal with human trafficking attest to the luring of young women who are promised better lives or careers as models/actors into “casting” processes, often taped themselves, where they are expected to perform sexual acts and pressured into agreeing to work – often these women face deportation threats. There is no OSHA or other regulatory body that oversees the working conditions, and in fact many of the “production companies” use other businesses as fronts to avoid dealing with authorities in regards to fair payment, consent processes and healthcare options for their “actors”. HIV is constant threat as are a number of other STDs, there is no healthcare plan available to someone working for a company that doesn’t exist, there are no laws for consent on set (if an actor says that something hurts or is not working, a producer/director/actor can continue the action without consequence), there is no minimum wage, there are no opportunities for upward mobility, and the women of the industry are pressured (even threatened) to go under unnecessary surgery to change their bodies or terminate pregnancies – again, without healthcare coverage – to keep their jobs. Self-injury, depression and suicide are common. Pornography consumers never have to deal with these facts because they are purposely hidden – and worse, masked by the idea that these scenarios are sexy and acceptable.

          It is not at all surprising that young men raised within a culture that claims the above as the ultimate expression of freedom would be desensitized to the taking away of the freedom of a young woman.

          • I work in porn, my wife works in porn, and you, Sir or Madam, have no idea what you are talking about.

            Porn is like any other media in the US: it’s made mostly by and for men and has all the problem that that entails. But it’s the same problem that TV and Hollywood movies have; there’s nothing special about watching explicit sex acts that is inherently bad for your brain. What we need is more women making porn (like us), more women buying porn, and more women demanding good porn and then distasteful porn, while unlikely to ever disappear, will fade into the background.

            I don’t know how you’ve been living under a rock, but OSHA does, in fact, affect us. There have been lawsuits and ballot measures and all kinds of news about it lately. But completely aside from that, performers are tested for a full gamut of STD’s at least every 30 days or they DO NOT work, and there have only been a tiny handful of HIV cases in the history of the industry (and even those were not likely caught on set). For a crowd that bangs as much as performers, that’s incredible. Any time there has been an HIV scare (only 2 or 3 times ever, and the last one was a false alarm), the whole industry grinds to a halt until it gets sorted out.

            Porn stars are not suicidal, drug-addled sex trafficking victims. That’s absurd. First of all, that is so fucking insulting to a great deal of my friends, who are incredibly savvy businesswomen who all LOVE what they do. Second, do you have any idea what our paperwork requirements are? Two forms of ID, copied and held in perpetuity to prove age, and various consent forms, depending on the company. If we mess up even once we face jail time. And there are no real companies in porn? That’s funny, because we pay taxes on ours every year, and get almost all our paychecks from other companies. Upward mobility? My wife started out as a performer and now she’d a respected director (with several AVN Award nominations and Feminist Porn Awards under her belt). We’re looking to finance our own productions in the near future. Minimum wage? Ha, when you make $1000 a scene, for maybe 4 hours of work, that sounds a little silly. If something goes wrong in a scene it is perfectly acceptable for a performer to call cut. It happens all the time. And no one is “threatened” into getting plastic surgery – these women are just doing a cost-benefit analysis figuring they’ll make more money.

            Is porn perfect? God no. Like I said, most (but hardly all) of it has all the sexism problems that any other dude-focused medium has. And yes, there are shady characters in the San Fernando Valley trying to pass themselves off as real porn producers or agents and trying to scam people – most people have a newbie story about getting ripped off. Those casting couch auditions you mentioned? Yeah, I’ve seen those ads all over craigslist. But that’s just some guy on craigslist trying to get free sex (shocker). Not a lot of people fall for that, and if they do, the guy doesn’t “force them to work,” he never calls them again because he doesn’t want to pay them! People with stories like that regard it as a learning experience, not some traumatic event, and it’s not part of the actual porn industry. And a great deal of performer hardships are a direct result of the stigmatization we all face in this industry (in no small part thanks to people like you), not because of how the industry operates. If someone doesn’t pay us, it’s not like we can go to the Better Business Bureau. That’s why porn is a pretty tight-knit community, and if you screw someone over, everyone finds out.

    • True, they probably did engage in looking at a lot of Internet porn, but correlation does not equal causation. My father I’m sure read Playboy, probably others, same with my brother, and my husband, and none of them are rapists or think that way. It’s a factor and combination of things, and porn may or may not contribute to it. Someone taught these boys that their behavior and thinking is acceptable and it wasn’t just porn, if at all.

    • BlackHippieChick says:

      Really, you blame pornography? I hate to be the one to exterminate your spidey senses, but I was raped & it didn’t have a damn thing to do with pornography. Instead, it had everything to do with power, or actually the fact that he felt powerless. You see, I choose to date someone who wasn’t him, he was pissed. It didn’t have a damn thing to do with his watching or lack of watching porn.

      • How do you know that? Did your rapist never watch porn? Was he a 17 year old high school boy who raped you at a party with a lot of his friends and other people in a room nearby who knew? angry girl only said THIS rape was due to desensitization, not all and any rape.

    • Panther Berg says:

      Pornography? Red herring and B.S. argument. I love porn. I’ve been in porn. I support sexwork in all forms. Rape has nothing to do with sex, much less porn. Rape is about power and control, and about internalized loathing of self and/or others. When people stop thinking of rape as an offshoot of sexual desire, then and only then will we be able to address the issue successfully.

      • I’m eyerolling at you SOOO hard right now. And your comment about sexworkers is akin to you saying that all people who want the end of war hate soldiers (the opposite is the case). The idea that rape has nothing to do with sex is nonsensical- it does, in many cases! Even more in cases where the victim cannot consent due to unconsciousness. It has a lot to do with the rapist wanting to get an orgasm and using a woman as a sextoy. A rape with a conscientious victim is much more about control rather than purely “she won’t notice and I will get away with it”.

    • My first inclination is to disagree that pornography should be blamed. I see this a similar to playing violent video games. My brother and I grew up on gory violent video games. My brother nearly faints when he sees real blood and I can’t even kill a spider without feeling bad. If the theory with pornography holds, then shouldn’t the theory with violent video games perhaps even more so because video games are more interactive? So my brother and I should have no qualms killing anything as we are desensitized to the act? I feel the problem is reflected in Whitney and Panther Berg’s post. There is much more at play then these boys simply up to the rafters in pornographic content.

    • Seconded. I agree with you completely, angry girl.

  2. I agree with much you have written, yes we need to rewrite the script. But, we also need to bring the fathers ( or adult males- teachers, relatives, brothers etc) into this conversation and consciousness raising.

  3. I loved this post. This is so important. I have a 17-year old son and my advice is to speak to your son the way you would a daughter. Disseminate everything. Teach him to ask questions. Take him to the toy aisle and show him the way culture teaches boys to be violent and girls to be mothers. Encourage him to ask questions. Speak to him about gender and sex and consent the same way you would speak to a girl. Let him know that you need permission to touch and be touched. That’s an early, simple lesson. It’s terrifying to look at your newborn and think he could be capable of committing monstrous acts. I understand that fear.

    • “Speak to him about gender and sex and consent the same way you would speak to a girl.”
      Problem: Most people don’t do that even with girls. So the “same way” would be NOT AT ALL.

    • This, I think, is the crux of the matter. Boys are taught to think “What if that was your daughter?” as a way to “learn” empathy for the victim. This doesn’t seem to be doing much good. Maybe the question should be “What if that was YOU?”

  4. I had the same thoughts and fears when my own sons were in pre-school and there was a similar case in my local news. I decided to become a sexual health educator to do exactly what you describe in the article. To create a sex ed curriculum not based in rape-culture, to “throw out the script and rewrite it.”
    Here is how I define high quality sex education:
    1. Enthusiastic consent is the primary focus of all sexual activity
    2. All partners are seen as equally deserving of pleasure
    3. Negotiations are based in non-violent communication
    4. Dismantles unrealistic expectations of sexual performance
    5. Acknowledges a spectrum of sexual preferences and sexual appetites
    6. Provides examples of safer-sex based pleasuring practices
    We can do this. We must.

    • I like the list for high quality sex education. I believe that young men (and even old men) are wrestling with very mixed messages. The mixed ones that society gives them and the very clear testosterone fueled urges that their bodies give them. We need to connect heart, mind and hormones and teach our boys (I have two) how to safely and pleasurefully explore their sexuality. Very separate from victim blaming – I believe that we need to continue to exemplify what it means to be powerful women and demonstrate what it means to be feminine and deserving of respect.

      • Really? Your sons are just animals who can’t deal with “testosterone fueled urges?” Give them a little credit. Biology isn’t destiny. You just contributed to rape culture right there while dismissing women’s sexuality.

        • Re-read Shannon’s comment – your characterization of her meaning is inaccurate.

        • Wow…. I don’t think the original (Shannon’s) comment stated: “… it is all those damn hormones fault…”.
          Just a contributing factor … You should look into how many of the behaviours that you believe are intrinsic to your personality, are just hormones… or test this theory:
          - get pregnant as a woman and/or use the wrong birth control…
          - fill yourself or ask someone you has (female body builder community?) with the same levels of testosterone as a 20 something male.
          Of course, hormones are not at all an excuse for extreme behaviour against others, especially. But, until males are taught to recognize what motivators are biologically, sociologically or pathologically driven … I don’t think we will get too far… not all men can figure this out on there own…right?

    • What a great comment this is – thank you for sharing this information.

    • i agree with all but am confused by #2…are you saying sex ed courses should be actually focused on reciprocation? Like, if you finish, make sure your partner finishes too? Isn’t this a little (and by a little i mean a lot) extreme?

      • Why would that be extreme??!! The majority of early sexual experiences (so in my own case, highschool from 12 onwards to first year in university) were “give him a blow job”-based (no reciprocation whatsoever; “he’s a man; he has needs”). But other than my anecdote, that’s also what research has found (incidence of orgasm in hook up culture)…

    • are you saying in number 2 that we should teach kids about reciprocating during sex? like if you finish, go ahead and finish your partner off cuz it’s good manners? thats not something for a school sex ed class is it?

      • Hi! Sorry, I didn’t get a notification of a reply. No, I’m saying that we need to teach youth not to sexually objectify others. It’s a way to counter the dominant narrative that some people exist solely to sexually satisfy the other. It’s not as graphic or specific as what you’ve described. More like blatant, generalizable statements that each person is their own sexual subject and is having sex because they choose to, not because they HAVE to. There’s a ted talk that discusses sexual objectification: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=kMS4VJKekW8#!
        (Not sure how to make the link work here.)

    • This is a great list. Please start this sex education programme, the world needs it!

  5. I have a 10-year-old son. The most important lesson early on is to teach respect for boundaries, always. Congrats on the birth of your child!

  6. Venus Yerkovich says:

    Most of us need not worry at all about our sons. Rapists are deviants. They are perverted. And I will bet its a little of both nurture and nature as to how they became this way. I believe apples dont fall too far from the trees and any sexually deviant behaviour has its beginings with their families. It would pay to look in that direction, once any monster is convicted. I know what you will find.

    • I believe many of those young men in Steubenville believed that rapists are deviants, too, Venus. And it was probably very comforting for them to think that they weren’t like that, and needn’t worry themselves. Fast forward to the sober light of day (and media scrutiny) and they have begun to realize that they are, in fact implicated as rape apologists, rape bystanders, victim-blamers, or even actual rapists.
      As more and more men begin to get brutally honest with themselves about their own personal contributions to others’ suffering is when that shift happens. I only wish that the tipping would come a lot quicker.
      I like to talk about consent as an actual thing that we use and reuse – a REAL, TACTILE thing – and not an abstract, utopian concept. “Hey. Are you into this?” “How are you feeling?” “Wanna keep going?” “What do you want me to do?” And then comes the magical part: listening and RESPECTing the answer…

    • Venus, I think you missed the point of the entire article.

    • Stephanie says:

      Actually, Venus, the research on sexual abuse begs to differ with your statement. I think this is very important to know because the more facts we understand about rape the better we can end it. There are many, many, many rapists that seem like regular people. They may look normal, act normal, they are popular, charming, well dressed, and A LOT of the time they are the boyfriends, husbands, brothers, uncles, fathers, and friends we thought cared about us. I think that we ALL definitely have to worry about our sons (and brothers, fathers, friends, acquaintances) because with all the awful messages about women that are floating out there, sons will not grow up respecting women unless they are taught to.

    • Venus, I have never disagreed more. We all need to educate rather than worry about our sons. Boys need to be taught from the cradle to respect women and to limit their own use of power. Start from day one and keep the lines of communication open for a lifetime.

  7. As an American father, it deeply saddens me that these young men, and so many of those charged with teaching them what it means to be a responsible male in our society, hold these attitudes. It’s almost as if we’ve institutionalized sociopathology. That young woman needed a hero that night. She got the exact opposite. Any adult who does not tell the rapists, and all those who witnessed it and did not intervene on her behalf that they should be ashamed of themselves, should be removed from any position of authority over our children. And their public proclamations should be met with the scorn they deserve.

    • I am an American father, with two girls in college. This has shocked me! I can easily see my daughters as the victim. Or one of their friends. Or any of the women I know in my life. I have only brief parts of the story (because watching or reading the news is a good way to get depressed – and the news rarely informs but titalates), but I believe everyone that was present when these rapes occurred is guilty of a felony. And they should be charged as such. If the law does not protect such 16 year old girls, and all those who love her, then it has failed! I do not see how those who repeatedly raped her, and thereby destroyed her life, do not deserve to be tried for first degree rape and face the possiblity of the rest of their life behind bars. In other words, they deserve to have their lives destroyed as well! Doesn’t that make the statement: THIS WAS WRONG!
      Additionally, prosecuting the cowards who stood around and did nothing to stop the rape as felony bystanders would send the right message. Firing and blacklisting any coach that had such a hateful and souless attitude as to blame the victim would send the right message.
      The message: what occurred was first degree rape – a heinous criminal act; not trying to stop a rape but instead cheering it on makes you an accessory to the first degree rape – a slightly less heinous criminal act; trying to defend or excuse rapist as ‘just being boys’ or blaming the victim ‘because she was asking for it’ (or not, because she was drugged!) if you are in a position of authority, especially over young people, is tatamount to ending your career.
      Only when such arrogant and entitled attitudes and actions are subjected to the fullest extent of public comdenation and criminal prosecution will such hateful behavior cease. I do not like usually condone ‘you’re either with us, or agai’n us’ attitudes. But it applies here! Take a side!
      And if you ever unfortunate to be present when such a heinous crime is taking place .. don’t be a snivelling coward. Say this is WRONG! If that does not stop it, the number is 911.

      • BK Chaney says:

        I strongly agree, even sadistic young narcissists could benefit from learning the legal and health ramifications of rape. For example:
        * Even if the victim intentionally got drunk, lied about her age, or was a prostitute, they could do prison time and be placed on a sex offenders registry that will affect their employability for life. If the victim sues for damages in tort, they could kiss their discretionary income goodbye for years.
        * If the victim becomes pregnant and does not abort, DNA evidence can prove paternity and and the child will be entitled to tens of thousands in child support over the next 18 years.
        * If any one of the prior participants has an STD, they could contract it. They need to know HIV, HEP-C, or even HPV could eventually kill them. Other bacterial infections could go undetected, later causing their future wives to have ectopic pregnancies or require very costly assisted reproduction procedures. which may not work or may result in premature multiples with handicaps.

        While their cases are being adjudicated, all local women and girls who object to rape culture should boycott their high school football team. The cheerleaders and pep club should limit their support to girls sports or disband, and other women should refuse to attend, until the rapists are removed from the team and the coaching staff that protected them are fired.

    • Thank you to an educated male from a grateful female.

    • makingitright2 says:

      you’re exactly right when you say she needed a hero – and she has needed one every day since. And everyone involved has been a sniveling coward instead of coming forward and doing the right thing. They are going to grow old, have and raise their families – knowing what they’ve done. Maybe for the next 10 yrs or so, they’ll have enough friends around to keep it buried deep enough that they won’t have to think about it, but that won’t always be the case.

  8. Jay - an ally says:

    I’ve worked with preschool and K – 12 students for decades and am always telling those I work with and those being taught that gentleness is strength. And how to teach peace and break cycles of violence. I read these words and know there is still work to be done.

  9. It truly saddens me and disgusts me that incidents such as this are happening so frequently, especially now that I am in my 60′s. I feel that in the US today — possibly worldwide, if we judge by the recent atrocities that were perpetrated on that poor young woman in India — that the interrelations between young males and females has regressed pitifully; it makes me feel as though 40 years of the woman’s movement and the gay rights movement happened in vain — or not at all.
    When will “no” be accepted as “no”? When will the ignorance and idiocy of men such as Tod Akin be ridiculed and castigated as they should be?
    In 1974 a close friend was raped by 4 young men in the parking garage of the hospital where she was an RN. My friends and I attended the trial of MR’s accused rapists whenever we can. Eventually the defense attorney brought up the fact that — over 10 years earlier!! – MR had had a severe problem with heroin addiction, and, in fact, had “turned tricks” to support her habit. The fact that she had been successfully rehabilitated and acquired her degrees in one of the country’s most rigorous 5 year nursing program was ignored by the defense attorney. However, in 1974 there was some enlightenment and these 4 young men were convicted and imprisoned. We have indeed retrogressed if the Steubenville rape can be alluded to as it has been by the men you cite, and that once again, a victim is in effect on trial.

  10. It seems to me that when men grasp hands with women as partners in life, we create such a wholeness of being for all people. And when men realize that they can have what they seek by willing consent and without violence and force, degradation or hierarchy – that must be so freeing for them, as well as the women. Men and women are different and they complement each other beautifully when aligned WITH each other, rather than one being DOMINATED by another. It just don’t FLOW unless they are side by side!

    This was a thoughtful and honest post, and I appreciate deeply all the parents who vision a new world for us all and really work at building that into their daily lives.

  11. Ashley of 5 says:

    I do not know the words to educate my sons just yet, but I’ve started with the ole leading by example. My husband and I are on the same page when it comes to raising our boys, one thing for sure is my husband had to stop being “playful” around me (slapping my rear, gazing, telling me I’m hot, etc) bc that will reflect on how my boys think that is how to behave toward girls as well as my daughters inheriting the commitment to entertain the “male gaze”. There were alot of mindless things that myself and their dad were doing in their presence and to cut all that out and show our children what a respectable relationship looks like…this also includes fighting or disagreements. If ever they walk in on a disagreement of sort than we make sure they see us sincerely apologize to one another afterwards.
    When our little two year old girl is being silly and pulls down her pull-up and wiggles her bottom to a silly song, we’ve taught her brothers to tell her to “stop that! I don’t want to see your butt!” (As well as teaching her that we don’t want others to see her butt or gina) Why? I’ve went through a few reasons and what really stuck with my boys was, “IT’S NOT YOURS TO LOOK AT” and with my girls, “IT’S MINE! YOU CAN’T SEE IT”. Vice versa. We’ve taught the boys the same…it’s their secret so don’t tell it and so far my oldest has corrected and told on class mates who’ve attempted to expose themselves. Everything is NOT tit for tat…you can really use just every day life experiences whether at home, the park, school etc. to find opportunities to educate what is and is not appropriate and healthy behaviours with themselves and playmates. But above all, we teach respect….to the very fullest. Respect for individuality, respect for things, feelings, differences, etc. I’ve been able to find an array of opportunites to point out and demonstrate how to show respect to others and to never take advantage of situations and people and that includes SPEAKING UP AND OUT FOR THOSE WHO ARE BEING TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF AND MISTREATED BY OTHERS. I praise them the most when they have shown another respect and compassion (they would never walk by one who’s fallen without lending a hand and never laugh with a bully). Just everyday little life lessons that go so far. I’m satisfied with my boys so far and when I find it appropriate to begin specific talks on misogyny, they will already have an idea of what I mean bc we would have already had practice pointing out the “bad guys” and it will not be hard bc it is too important to just gloss over, ever. My daughter is 13 and I began the sex talk (starting with the corruptions of pornography) with this very story, the steubanville case. I share stories, vaguely, but it’s amazing how close we’ve come and how aware and alert she’s become with herself and friends. When you keep your children open to REALITY, you form a bond that you’ve never thought possible. I def don’t know it all but I do know that actions speak louder than words! And if you f#ck up…let them know you f#ckd up, you’re sorry, and this is what you SHOULD have done.. Idk just keep it tight and honest :)

    • Kathleen Clohessy says:

      I think you mean well, but you’ve got this all wrong. Teaching your little girl to hide her body so that boys won’t “want” to rape her is the same as teaching her to stay hidden in the house so she won’t be assaulted and robbed. Your little girl should be proud of her body! Your sons need to learn that
      they can admire a woman’s body, even lust after it, but that unless they are explicitly invioted to engage in sex with its owner that is ALL they can do. Women are not the instigators of rape, and rape is not a crime committed by over- stimulated boys and men. Rape is assault..as vicious and violent as taking a knife to someone’s face. Teach your boys THAT and maybe they will turn out OK.

  12. It’s not that you have to teach your child about rape, You need to teach your child about respecting people especially women, and make him accountable for his actions. You also need to teach him to report a crime and not to worry about what his peers think.
    It is not just the parent’s tesponsibilty but also the whole community that need to teach kids what is right or wrong. This included teachers, religious figures, law enforcement and relatives. Everyone needs to work together. Parents also need to talk about sex and dating with their child. Most people who rape another have serious mental problems and/or raised in abusive households. Some patents need to kmow and ask questions about who their child’s friends are. I made sure I met the parents of my daughtets friends. Parents need to monitor what their kids do on internet. My kids had to use computer in the libing room where we could see what they are doing.
    I know in today’s world it is hard to be a parent. Some patents work 2 jobs or more to provide food, shelter, and clothing. A parent must take time to chrck on their child or there will be more problems in the future.

  13. Kathleen Clohessy says:

    It is almost incomprehensible to me that after 40 years of feminism in this country high school boys still think rape is “OK”. These kids aren’t mentally ill !! These are kids who should know better..kids from “good” Middle Class homes who presumably enjoyed all of the socioeconomic benefits that such privilege entails, yet they still believe that because a girl was unconscious using her body as the evening’s entertainment was entirely their right. The author is right to believe that this kind of sex educations has to begin in the cradle. Only by indoctrinating our children into the belief that a woman’s body is always her own to do with as she sees fit–even if she’s drunk, even if she’s unconscious, even if she makes her living as a prostitute, and even if she is your wife- will this change. Unfortunately, as long as we have elected officials chipping away at women’s rights with impunity this is going to be difficult to pull off.

  14. I have six brothers. Not one of them would rape someone. They’re not perfect men. They have their faults. And they’re not even young – they all grew-up when men were much more prone to express misogynist comments on a regular basis. But they were also raised to respect women, and to know right from wrong. And the process of teaching these ideas was simple, it’s called communication! We talked – my mother, in particular, encouraged conversation, debate, discussion about everything, especially morals. And she encouraged realistic, respectful conversations, too, about sex, relationships, money, life. So, as children, we learned to talk about issues that many adults still find hard to discuss. Is it okay to have casual sex? Well, she might not approve, she would point out that sex is always better when it expresses love and affection, when it was in the context of a caring, committed relationship. But still, she’d admit, it’s not “wrong.” But there are rules. Casual sex has to be consenting. It requires a conversation between you and the person you’re going to have sex with. You need to be adults – or at the very least peers. You need to use protection. You need to take responsibility for the possible consequences. Discussions like this allowed us to really think about these subjects, to be prepared for them. Too many skirt around the subject of sex, use nice phrases like no means no, but their discomfort with the subject gets in the way of their message. My mom, bless her heart, thought that sex was a wonderful blessing (and so it is). But she was raised Catholic and her mother was totally uncomfortable and did nothing to prepare her. Even after she was married, her Catholic doctor would not provide her with information about birth control. It was only after she got older and lived away from Quebec that she managed to educate herself. She made it a point to educate her children, too!

  15. DeJsy, it disturbs me that you say: “Most people who rape another have serious mental problems and/or raised in abusive households.”. What do you base that off of? Do you have any sort of science to back that up? I am a professional advocate for victims and those statements are just not true. It is unlikely that most of the athletes and bystanders referenced in the article are mentally ill or victims of abuse. Your comment disturbs me not only because you use random statements as facts, but also because it ignores the real issues behind rape and gives criminals an excuse. According to advocacy organization One In Four USA: “8% of men admit committing acts that meet the legal definition of rape or attempted rape. Of these men who committed rape, 84% said that what they did was definitely not rape”, “More than one in five men report ‘becoming so sexually aroused that they could not stop themselves from having sex, even though the woman did not consent.’”, and “35% of men report at least some degree of likelihood of raping if they could be assured they wouldn’t be caught or punished.” Those numbers show a serious problem with masculinity, not mental illness.

  16. Agree with One Angry Girl pornography does have a connection concerning how our Rape Culture is maintained and justified. Does one have to prove that uttering racist insults directly causes white men to commit violence against non-white women and men? Of course not but pornography is dominantly viewed as occurring in a vacuum and does not influence the innumerable male buyers/viewers and/or reinforce males’ misogynistic beliefs that women and girls are not human but exist only to be males’ disposable dehumanised sexual service stations.

    The sexual violence those male rapists committed against this young woman is identical to what innumerable males view whenever they access pornography, which is filmed male sexual violence against women and girls not ‘fantasy’ as pornographers and their male apologists claim. Pornography reinforces men’s belief that women aren’t human so therefore a male cannot inflict sexual/physical violence upon a dehumanised object. Instead women/girls exist merely to be males’ masturbatory objects and to gratify male sexual pleasure. Common rape apologist/excuses are constantly uttered wherein males are ruled by their sexual feelings as if males are incapable of rational thought. Pseudo male sex right to female bodies ensures males are rarely held accountable for committing male sexual/physical violence against women and girls. It is this pandemic male belief that feminist mothers constantly challenge, when they attempt to teach their boy children that women and girls are human too and that no male has the pseudo right of sexual access to any female of any age. The never-ending drip drip male-centric propaganda is constant and challenging this is an uphill task but it has to be done.

    Ashley of 5 is right in teaching her little girl that her body belongs to her. Note this little girl is already being indoctrinated by malestream media that her body is males’ public property. Ashley of 5 is doing her utmost to counter the endless malestream propaganda that females have no rights and their bodies are males sexual property.

    What all boys need to be taught from minute they are born is that they are not superior to females; males do not have the pseudo right of sexual access to any females, any time anywhere and that what supposedly passes for ‘sex’ is not ‘sex’ but male sex right to female bodies. Ashley 5 is also teaching her boys that they must respect their female and male peers; that males do not have the right to treat females with contempt. Ashley 5 and her husband in their interactions together are showing their children this is how males should treat females – not as males’ disposable sexual service stations’ but as autonomous human beings who must be accorded respect and dignity.

    But malestream media; popular culture and male supremacist legal systems are wholly opposed to the belief that females are human and instead an endless propaganda war is happening wherein misogyny rules and males have the pseudo right to subject any female, any time to sadistic male sexual violence. This is what Ashley 5 and other real feminists are struggling to challenge – the endless male hatred/male contempt for women and girls.

    Oh but ‘my Nigel is not a rapist or my brother/father/boyfriend/husband is not a rapist’ is the common excuse women make because recognising yes most males who commit male sexual violence against women and girls are just like your ‘Nigel’ is something which most women will not accept. It is far easier for males to claim ‘I’m not a rapist because rapists are deviant monsters – not like me because I am merely enacting my pseudo sex right to female bodies’ One of those male rapists, Michael Nodianos said, “It isn’t really rape because you don’t know if she wanted to or not.’ This neatly excuses/justifies male sexual violence against women and girls because as always females are responsible for preventing males from raping. So if I steal a drunken man’s wallet or steal his car I can claim I did not commit a crime because ‘it isn’t really a crime because I didn’t know if he wanted to give me his wallet or car!’ So unless he clearly told me ‘no’ and I decided to defer to his ‘no’ then I have not committed a crime. The onus is clearly on the male victim to prevent me from stealing his wallet/car because I am not responsible and I am not accountable. This is how males justify their pseudo sex right to female bodies – by claiming they aren’t responsible/accountable. Males rape unconscious women and then claim ‘but she might have wanted me to rape her whilst she was unconscious because I can’t be expected to know what she wants!’ However, males know exactly what they want and this 24/7 pseudo male right of sexual access to female bodies and this is why we live in a Rape Culture – because male pseudo sex right to female bodies is sacrosanct.

    Not all men are misogynists but all men are responsible for challenging male pseudo sex right to female bodies and until that happens nothing will change. Telling males they must obtain a ‘yes’ is meaningless just as telling women to ‘say no’ is meaningless because this does not go to root of problem which is males’ continuing belief in their sacrosanct right of sexual access to any female. This is why male supremacist legal system was created by men to afford men protection from male criminals, because women aren’t supposedly human and therefore have no right of legal redress.

  17. feministmomma says:

    I do think the porn that exists in todays market is different from the 70′s and 80′s. Not that there wasn’t horrible stuff in the 70′s too. There was just less of it. Now every porn seems to depict men forcibly face “fking” these poor women senseless, and there is an inherent physical brutality toward women in the porn of today that was just not as prevalent in the 70′s. As the decades progress the violence towards women inherent in porn has increased and with the advent of the internet age, even small boys can get access to some horrible stuff. If not at their parents house, then at a friends. If seeing modern porn on the internet is a young boys first sexual experience and eventually becomes their primary source of learning about sexual information about women, how can it not define and shape their behavior.

    So I don’t think One Angry Girls spidey sense is “off” at all. I think she is dead on. We’ve come along way since Playboy and “pictures of naked women”.

    My experience with young high school and college age men and their views on women was definied by my first college experience in the late 1980′s and then going back to get a second undergraduate degree in 2006 at a different college. I was 35 years old when I completed my second degree surrounded by men of high school age in the institution I studied at. Man was the experience different in 2006 than in 1988. All I ever heard was “bitch” “whore” and “faggot” on Facebook from these guys. Not necessarily towards me but towards all the women they interacted with. And this was at a prestigious and renowned college! As a social experiment I tried turning the tables back onto one young fellow who was an acquaintance of mine. He wasn’t a bad kid but he had an inherent disrespect towards women. His mom looked up to everything he did and said and I got to know her personally. How he portrayed himself to her was very squeaky clean and different then how he interacted with the young women around him. He seemed to get off calling every girl he knew (including me older woman that I was) “bitch” or “whore” almost as a social “term of endearment”. I told him I didn’t appreciate it and he told me to relax. So in my experiment I proceeded to call him ‘whore’ every time I emailed him or posted on his wall on facebook as a “term of endearment” from me. Boy did he get upset at me! At least he finally stopped calling me those names. I do think the porn culture contributed to this young man’s ideas. I knew him well enough to know that he constantly looked at porn clips that he was able to obtain from Livewire and that he and his friends in the apt he lived in often would call each other into their rooms to see something horrible or shocking or revolting or bestial that they had downloaded all the time. They were living in “MILF joke city” for a while. And worse! How can that not shape their view of women to see that all the time and grow up with it as normal?

    This my friends is what we mom’s are up against. My second time around college experience gave me a glimpse into modern day guy culture and what happens when mom and dad are not around. As a mother to a 18 month old son, I actually have wondered the same questions this blog raises and was pleased to see this writing appear. How am i going to raise my son to respect women and people in general when he may find a way to gain access to the horrible “woman degrading” porn that is out there despite all my best efforts? I can’t watch him every second of the day when he is 10. I can’t monitor what he sees at another kids house. I can help him choose his friends carefully, fill his head with mommy and daddy’s feminist, humanist, and compassionate beliefs from infancy, and get the other mom’s of the kids he plays with on board our “neighborhood violence against women porn watch”, but the reality is that my son will eventually see stuff and hopefully it will not be his first sexual experience regarding women. I hope he can actually be with a real woman for his first sexual experience but I know that I am probably just wishing. And if some of hiss friends are seeing the negative stuff, and expressing their views on women around him, I hope I can keep negative ideas about women and women’s sexuality out of his head. Or at least teach him to choose better friends!

  18. Instead of “No means no”, how about “Sex isn’t something you do *to* someone, but something you do *with* someone”

  19. In the late sixties and seventies we had a womens movement that took on not just rape but all the issues related to womens second class citizenship. We were even able to almost pass a Constitutional Amendment that would recognize womens equal rights (Equal rights amendment). Today we have quite frankly a womens movement that has been it retreat ever since. Its leaders decided there was a shortcut to securing our rights by attaching our wagon to the Democratic Party. That the proper Supreme court nominations would protect Roe v. Wade. The truth is that we would not have Roe v. Wade if the Republican members of the Supreme court had not voted for it. The reason we got Roe v. Wade is because we had a fighting street protest movement. Not because their weren’t enough Democrats in Congress or elsewhere. The middle class notion that we can individually educate young men out of rape is as effective as every women hiring a lawyer to overcome unequal pay and promotion in the work place. The fighting womens movement of the sixties and seventies is gone. Planned Parenthood and Roe v. Wade is under constant attack and the only thing MS Magazine is worried about is how feminists should teach sex education to boys in the home? The real question is how long will the retreat continue? They are within striking distance of getting Roe now and birth control methods are next.

  20. Bakkus Blubb says:

    Forgive me for disagreeing with this love fest, but while this might seem counter intuitive “How do I teach my son to resist the pervasive attitudes about rape and victim-blaming” will only increase the number of rapes.

    The problem with this idea is that, while a mother sitting down with her son and having a frank talk about rape might work with a lot of young boys, it’s success depends on a lot of other factors. The way it is approached by the mother, the mother’s attitude towards sex, the age / sexual maturity of the boy in question, & the fankness and open nature of discussions of sex in the family unit, all would be factors in how things turn out. i.e. imagine a woman who is ashamed of her own sexuality (very common) talking to her son about sex (which makes her feel dirty but excites her at the same time) talking about rape to a son who is awakening sexually. All those subconscious cues in the mother/son dynamic building and building and suddenly you have a boy with a fetish for rape.

    The problem as I see it isn’t necessarily the feminist perspective that men should stop raping. The problem is firstly of politics. Politics in this country is one of blame and disavowing personal responsibility. Republicans blame Democrats for their problems without asking themselves how they themselves were responsible, and missing their own cloak of victim-hood. Democrats blame Republicans for the same reasons and fail in exactly the same way. As do racists blaming minorities. As do Feminists, like the author of this article, putting the ultimate blame on men.

    I am not saying that men shouldn’t rape. Or that Rape is not thoroughly evil. Or that the person who rapes isn’t making a choice that is wholly their own responsibility.

    What I am saying is that women must begin to embrace their own sexuality rather than hide from it. Ten years ago BDSM culture was considered fringe, now 50 Shades is a bestseller. While there are plenty of men with a voyeurism fetish, there are plenty of women who are exhibitionists. Personally while every once in a while I meet a girl who makes the first move, most of the time I have to initiate. Where are the women with weird things like foot fetishes & food fetishes & fatty fettishes.

    And yes there are women who have rape fantasies and presumably who do want to be raped. There are women who keep entering abusive relationships because deep down they want to be abused. These women might seem weird to our middle class Euro-centric culture but that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist and that they don’t have a right to explore (in a safe environment) their deep inner psychoses.

    Long ago, men used to get really excited about legs and ankles. They did so because men hardly ever saw legs and ankles. Now we see these bodily parts every day, and honestly… who cares. The same thing goes with rape. The more common & everyday something is, the less we yearn for it. Make sex as banal as shaking hands. Make it is utterly pointless for men to objectify women, by making it so that women have no need make themselves objects, and rape will disappear.

    Tell men not to rape. That sex is dirty. That women need to choose the right time and the right person, thus making a commodity of themselves. That women snarking/shaming women who make different lifestyle choices from their own. And yes men shaming women who are sexually adventurous. This is a recipe for rape.

    • So in conclusion: You are looking for more foot fetishist women?! To be honest: I don’t think they’re hiding. And yes, fetishes are gendered. Not just by society.

  21. Mom of 4 boys says:

    When I read about the failure and collapse of civility, I don’t see it in terms of what we need to teach our children about rape and about how to treat women in specific situations, good guy or bad guy, I see it as what we need to teach them about basic humanity. A lesson about standing up and being a hero is a good thing. But having a discussion every night at the dinner table about what we had watched on TV and how the character could have been a better person and who pushed whom too far with a joke to make them uncomfortable and laughed about it when they could have been kinder. We have become TOO equal in our treatment of each other. All of my sons rush to open and hold the door for women and men, handicapped and able bodied alike. Our lessons to our children about being good people shouldn’t be separated into categories

  22. Mom of 4 boys says:

    I hit the submit button by accident. To continue, we need our sons to feel empowered to stand up always when there is an injustice, large and small. It should have been second nature to any young man present to stop what was happening, just because it was wrong. It doesn’t need to be an internal debate about how he would feel if it was his sister or mom. We don’t need that inner discussion about assault with a weapon or even animal abuse. We must keep the dialogue going about our responsibility as good humans so that, when a situation like this arises, it’s second nature to do the right thing and step in. It sounds like oversimplification, but encouraging your boys to cross a parking lot to help someone load groceries into their car gives them practice in real human interaction. Our sons aren’t pre programmed to be rapist. Nor are they destined to be part of the blame pack. However, if we don’t actively work to give them the insight and experiences that come with being good men on a daily basis, it won’t come to them under pressure.

  23. To ‘Mom of 4 boys’ ‘We have become TOO equal in our treatment of each other.’ I guess that’s a vote for continuing the retreat. Maybe we should invite the ‘good person’ ‘Terry Randal’ over for tea and crumpets while we discuss how politically correct breast feeding is? After all we wouldn’t want to catorgise or hurt anyones feelings?

  24. That case is disturbing on so many levels. I am also a mother of a boy (2 years old) and I also thought about how horrific it would be if my son was one of these people. One of the things I find so upsetting about this case is all of the bystanders who did nothing and the adults who allowed this to happen and also covered it up. Such a terrible story.

  25. I once heard from my partners dad as we were walking along a beach, now he sees why womyn get raped, as he was looking at young girls in bathing suits. Being a survivor of MST and rape as a young girl I was angry and still think about what he said. This is how men really think, that is sad.
    Rape is the spoil of war, that they have a right to rape the womyn as part of winning.
    I was totally angry that they showed the picture of the two rapists holding her that way. It is not how you are brought up, it is how you think and feel as a human, how you treat others. Because to rapist don’t care who they rape.
    The problem is so many in sports the players get away with rape. A player for SF 49′ers is accused of raped, but he gets to go and play in the game. If this was some poor man he would be in jail. For some reason they believe these men who run up and down a field are above this type of behavior and the womyn want money. The rapist from Lakers, Pittsburgh, paid off the womyn they raped.
    And it seems the media was more worried about that football player that had the fake dead girlfriend, than the womyn who was raped by a football player who killed herself when they did nothing about and said they didn’t want to ruin a good guy. How many womyn are raped on campuses everyday and nothing is being done.
    The punishment for rape is a joke and for those who rape children is a bigger joke. And being registered has a sex offender doesn’t matter unless you know how to find out who they are and where they live. And not all get caught or even brought into a courtroom, because the victims are so scared to follow through because many of them are treated like they asked for it or are lying.
    It is very sad that this still happens, but society doesn’t want to talk about it and most don’t feel for the victims; because of the way they are treated.
    No easy answer to any of this, maybe it is time to stop the excuses for this behavior, stop thinking that someone who plays sports is a hero, they are not. It seems funny that people are more upset and speak out about Lance’s doping than these men who rape. Woods for cheating on his wife, but not about rape. How silent all those sports announcers, reporters get when ever a rape happens. The cover up of the rapists at Penn State, they are the ones who gave this rapist more access over the years to more victims. So, every time a rape is ignored there will be another a victim, because they were not stopped…..
    This is the way I see it and the way I feel…. and for first hand knowledge. Let’s not talk about rape…

  26. How about morality, compassion and taking responsibility, many more things no longer taught to children. Sports figure should never make more than a surgeon or nurse or teacher its ridiculous. Where were the parents ?

    • “Where were the parents?” Funny that you ask. The mother of one of the rapists is the county prosecutor and made sure that her son wasn’t charged. There you go.
      The idea that all mothers are automatically not misogynists who victim-blame … is bullshit.

    • I forgot to mention: The father (Nathaniel Richmond) of one of the two rapists that were charged wrote on facebook that they were only accusing his son of rape (that was instagrammed for crying out loud) cause he is Black and they are racist. Where he is right: It is no incidence that all of the rapists that got off scotch free (weren’t even charged) were White. But it wasn’t his son’s skin color that made him rape.

  27. Ronda Thompson says:

    I am a feminist. I am 60 years old and I have raised two loving caring young men. My oldest is a firefighter and my other teaches English in Japan. That said. I raised them in a feminist house. Where they heard how women had to protect themselves. They never got to have the posters with half clad women, no swim suit edition, I explained how they were objectify women and holding them back when they only saw women in the lenses of a camera. My oldest has a daughter and lovingly raises her with his “Free to Be” story book and has said he was glad he was raised to raise a daughter.

    It can be done. You just have to make a commitment.

  28. I think we should redefine consent. I think the courts should say that if there was drugs, there was no consent. If money changed hands, there was no consent. Include them with anything that currently designates that there could have been no consent (age, for example). Then folks would really have to examine the way they have sex, casual sex in particular. Folks could still continue as they do, but the implications would be that I could teach my son that if he has casual sex, as in, if he has sex with a person with whom he has no relationship, no extended conversation about sex, he faces the posibility that he can be taken to court for rape, if he engages in that sex without consent. It’s just an idea, and when I tell it to folks, they say ‘ya, but no one would ever have sex’. And I laugh. Ya, that’s kinda the point, that you’d have to think to much about it, before engaging in it without prior consultation. How shocking! :)

  29. Socialist Worker says:

    Women’s oppression is bound up in history dating back to the first agricultural societies, the division of labor and a class that controlled the new food surplus. Rape is not an individual problem it is a social one like the status of women in capitalist society as a whole. The only way to begin to address this problem is by concerted action. In February 1917 the women textile workers went on a strike that change their status for every. That strike lead to the downfall of the Czar and his cruel and merciless regime. Up form the underground sprang soviets of workers, peasants, soldiers and sailors trade unions, factory committees. Women gained so many rights in Russia that here in the United States an amendment to secure the vote that had sat in Congress for forty years passed Congress in two years and was ratified in one. Russian women had the vote, birth control rights and abortion secured by the October 1917 revolution that brought all power to the Soviets and crushed the Provisional Government of former minister of war Kerensky. Red Army commander Trotsky defeated fourteen invading Armies including the United States, Admiral Alexander Kolchak and General Lavr Kornilov. The thing to understand about the Russian Revolution is not its degeneration that began with the Stalinists’ bureaucratic regimes seizure of power but how the Russian workers and peasants had genesis for creating fighting organization. We will never tell you to wait for the unions or wait for a Democratic Party win. We can say right now that just 90 miles away in Cuba there is an example of a revolutionary government and people who play a role in politics way beyond their size. One of the first acts of that revolutionary government was for the leaders of the womens battalion to organize the Cuban Federation of women. Women who were maids and prostitutes got training, jobs, health care, homes, and education would become a right not a privileged. Never again would a Cuban child go hungry or die of a curable disease. They were able to do this because they made a revolution that ended the power a a few wealth owners and US companies. We want to do the same thing they did fifty years ago in Cuba here because no reform ever won with a capitalist class in power will ever be safe.

  30. Change anything? Don’t count on it! These boys have been charged as JUVENILES, and the actual charge is “juvenile delinquency” with rape as an underlying factor according to the State Attorney General.
    Yep! You read that correctly. The STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL!

    If even the SAG has such a lackluster attitude toward such a heinous crime and its surrounding behavior, you can sadly bet that this will go away quietly and without much fanfare. It will soon be just a fleeting memory of a scandal-hungry public who will jump onto the next thing.
    I HOPE NOT!!!! But, the writing is on the wall. I hope people DO change things. But be forewarned. The punishment here will be minimal and ALL the other students, party goers and pampered athletes will REMAIN untouched.
    That town is as corrupt as sin….and has been for a very long time. And the people there who have the power of their vote to make a difference….keep the SAME corrupt people on office and positions of authority.

    Just remember this! AFTER the tape was known. AFTER the kids were charged as juvies. AFTER it was known about the rape and cover-up. AFTER ALL OF THAT….there was an election. In November. 2012. And the SAME people were voted back in office.

    Nothing changed. AFTER ALL THIS WAS KNOWN….and ultra fresh on everyone’s minds.
    If THAT doesn’t tell you nothing will change. Nothing will. Very sad, indeed.

  31. Don't Believe Everything.. says:

    The reason that the charge is such is because the only actual proof in the case is the witnesses saying the boy grabbed her breasts and fondled her. The rest is heresay from people that weren’t even there, such as the boy that is in the heinous video. If they had been charged with rape they probably would have walked because there is no evidence supporting that a rape actually occurred. There is so much false information being passed around as fact. There was no cover up of any type, the news reported the rape as soon as it was brought to the attention of police. The police made the arrests as soon as they knew who was involved. If anyone would bother to read the actual court documents, you would see why the charges are the way they stand. It is to get the best possible justice with the evidence that they have. There is no physical evidence, had the boys not put pictures and tweets on social media the victim herself would not have even known what she went through. Unfortunately, you have to have evidence to try a case, and this was not an easy one for authorities. It is easy to armchair prosecute and judge when you don’t know all the facts or the laws that may come into play, it is another to actually be the ones with justice hanging on your every decision.

    The real story was bad enough, but that wasn’t enough for the public, they have to make something more of an already horrendous crime. That is what the public wants and so that is what the public creates…true or not.

  32. Thank you so much for this post. My best friend just sent me this link because she knew I spent last night crying my head off trying to decide whether or not I should publish my blog post today called “My Own Private Steubenville,” in which I recounted a similar thing happening to me when I was 14. My story was not as horrific as the Steubenville case but yet very similar. That was 20+ years ago and I am now a mom of 2 little girls. I am already trying to figure out how best to raise them in this culture of rampant teenage drug/alcohol abuse, this mis-treatment of women, and the social media firestorms that can come as a result. I need to introduce my daughters to your son. :)

  33. China Plate says:

    Such a generative article Stassa and a great discussion. Chins up – with brains like these on the job *we can* bring rape culture to an end. I want to tell you about a humble but effective way to introduce little ones to the concepts of bodily integrity and consent, which my son and I discovered together when he was 2 (he’s now 4). He loves being tickled, but only to a point. I wanted to know when that point was reached. So we use the language of ‘green light’ (meaning Go – tickles!), ‘orange light’ (slow down!) and ‘red light’ (enough already!). I’ve noticed that this has really bedded in for him the idea that you need to know ‘if the light is green’, and that it’s OK to say the light is red. He uses this language in play with his friends. Among them, hugs, games, etc happen depending on ‘what colour the light is’. I’ve noticed that when one of them says their light is red it’s respected. The language helps ward off aggro.
    I’m not deluded enough to think that this will win him immunity from the idioms of rape culture and phobic violence (though I plan to be there deconstructing them for him every step of the way), but nor am I ready to discount the idea that minor practices like this can bring change. Might have road safety outcomes too.

  34. If you really want to make a difference, on an individual or national scale, you need to teach a child empathy. There are many empathy-based curricula for schoolchildren out there, but none of them are recognized on a state or national level as being important enough to offer everywhere. If a child can inherently see that someone is in trouble, to feel their feelings, then they won’t need to worry about what specific words we must use to prevent one from raping, or bullying, or shooting, or any number of other things. It will be inherent in them. I’m not saying the conversations shouldn’t happen, I’m saying you might be trying to build a house on sand if you were to use the perfect words to explain to those kids why what they were doing was wrong. Building a foundation to work off of is of paramount importance. Here’s a great organization that I heard about on a radio program that is trying to get empathy to be a part of schools’ regular curricula: http://www.rootsofempathy.org/

  35. Donna Sampson says:

    I’m raising my son right by instilling him with my Pagan values. Respect of the earth, all beings, and both the male and FEMALE gods/goddesses. Christianity has instilled a fear/hatred of women/earth/nature and the result is increasing misogyny and devaluation of all feminine aspects of life. very sad.

  36. Crime of any kind, across society is correlated with cruel upbringing, and lack of crime with kind upbringing, with touch and emotional kindness.

    Teach your son or daughter empathy, surround them with empathic people, and actively display empathy for _all_ people, and cultivate understanding for how people become like they are and their experiences (not weakness for exploitation, or accepting wrong behaviours, but understanding that all people come to be the way they are through experiences and understanding the nature of human experiences thereof) and you’ll have no problem – so says social science IMO, and so I also say.

    There are no fuzzy moral lines in full expansive compassion.

    But, sadly, empathy is a quality more and more lacking from society, male or female.

    This is the real concern, in my view, a society that is constantly losing human connection.

    And its no surprise to see teenagers and the young showing the most obvious manifestations of that.

    Look at the phenomena of modern internet trolling/bullying, internet humour, websites like 4chan, and you’ll see signs of a profound detachment from humanity and morality. School gun shootings, jokes not only about rape, but about suicide, murder – and not just from guys, but from all kinds of young people. “Cutting for beiber” was 4chan perpetrated joke – a joke about self harm. “An hero” was a running internet joke about a suicide victim.

    For insight into the dark elements of world of our young, and a depressing wake up call about the direction of our world, I suggest you read this:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/03/magazine/03trolls-t.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

    Warning: this may overall leave you feeling quite cold.

    Inevitible outcomes for a society that no longer lives in villages but disconnected centralised cities, uses money as trade, endorses competition over cooperation, enforces social mores not by reflexive social mechanisms and human connection but by punishment, laws and multiple systems of authority, is distanced from nature completely and lacks a sense of place in the greater world it lives in. Let alone that children are left in school to learn values from their peers, instead of from their parents and community.

    I think the greater question – is how does any parent stop their child, of either gender, being mentally infected by a world that doesn’t care – a purely reactive creature with an ever dwindling and darkening soul!?

    It starts at the home, this is the greatest protection but if we want there to even be a positive future for our children, or there grandchildren, or to give them real hope, eventually bigger problems in greater society will need to be addressed.

    The bigger question is – how do we prevent the decay of empathy generally in our society?

  37. “This is a conversation that shouldn’t just happen between mothers but rather should take place in the larger feminist community because we all (parents and those without children) have a stake in creating a new cultural curriculum.”

    Right. And fathers and men who are feminists have a crucial role to play in this culture shift.
    http://www.mencanstoprape.org/

  38. Kim Dechristoforo says:

    THIS IS A VERY SICK WORLD AND I’M VERY AFRAID FOR MY NIECE AND NEPHEW GROWING UP IN IT!!!!

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