Twenty years, and where are we? We’re mired in the Steubenville rape case, and I’m wondering how the hell this is still possible. How does our culture still exist when there are kids who don’t know rape when they see it? How have we not devoured our own tail when we still have women bemoaning that young men convicted of multiple horrific violent crimes against a peer have had their bright futures shunted with the well-earned label of sex offender ?
The only thing that’s changed in 20 years is we now have better technology to catch people in the acts of their horribleness. So watch what you Tweet when your penis goes to the party without an invitation, Boys!
maybe i like you
maybe i do
oooooh oooooh oooooh
maybe i found something real
i just don’t know if was i wrong to trust anyone
tell me tell me
Hell, at least the rapists were convicted. Maybe that wouldn’t have happened twenty years ago. One will serve a year in juvie. The other, two years. And they’ll bear the label of juvenile sex offender, which caused one of the convicts to sob in the courtroom that no one would ever want him.
Don’t want that label? Don’t rape. It’s really that fucking simple.
did you tell them everything i said?
did you tell them everything?
why don’t you tell them?
did you get a good laugh?
tell me was it good was it good?
was it good?
was it good for you?
did you win that race?
did you score that point?
oh yeah yr so fucking cool, fucking cool
now did ya, did ya, did ya, did ya, did ya, did ya, did ya, did ya, did ya, did ya, did ya, did ya?
That’s me with my dad in May, 1991, the night I graduated from high school. At that point in my life I knew two girls in my school who had been raped. It wasn’t common knowledge, but something whispered in gossip and late-night girlfriend confessionals.
Neither girl was attacked by a stranger in a dark alley in our hometown, population 19,000. Both were raped by boys they knew. One at a party by a “friend.” The other by her boyfriend who was tired of her withholding her virginity. No one was arrested. There were no trials. The girls continued going to school with their rapists every single day for years.
One of the rapist was a football player. Popular. Very cute and charming. I’m ashamed that her confession didn’t instantly make me think he was absolutely hideous. He was still really cute.
I have a few photos of him in my old photo albums.
Over two decades later, I don’t see what I once considered beautiful steely blue eyes. I see the hollow soullessness of a rapist.
I haven’t kept very close contact with many people from my teen years, but close enough to learn of at least one other high school friend who was also raped in high school.
I’m not going to pretend those three girls were the only ones raped during my four years of high school. Rough estimate of 500 girls in my school. Rape rates at that time were one in three women. So, around 166 of them were likely raped, statistically speaking in the most elementary of statistical methods. If I’m feeling generous, I’ll round way down to 100.
go tell yr fucking friends
what i thought and how i felt
my pussy smells
now did you tell them
i don’t care i don’t care i don’t care i don’t care
In 1992, I was a freshman at the University of Missouri – Columbia. Just in time for the dust-up caused when Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, had the audacity to hold community meetings to create a school-wide sexual offense prevention policy. It boiled down to this:
- If you want to fuck someone, you have to ask, and s/he must say yes before you can fuck him/her.
- If you want to touch a boobie, you have to ask, and the boobie’s owner has to say yes before you can touch it.
- Same goes for touching wangs, cooters, hineys, nut sacks, happy trails, or any other body part we’re not comfortable talking about without a juvenile nickname.
- If you want to do any of these activities on another occasion, you must repeat the asking process.
- If the person you want to boink, touch, squeeze, kiss, felch, et. al. says nothing in response to your request, this does not mean yes. Assume s/he does not wish to be boinked, touched, squeezed, kissed, felched, et. al. by you.
- If you make requests to boink, touch, squeeze, kiss, felch, et. al. to someone who is asleep, it does not mean yes. Assume s/he does not wish to be boinked, touched, squeezed, kissed, felched, et. al. by you.
Well, if that doesn’t sound like a bunch of goddamn femininazis trying to ruin life for all of us, I don’t know what does. What next? Excepting me to ask before I steal the stereo out of his car? Christ.
i really really don’t know
maybe i like you
maybe i do
oooooh oooooh oooooh*
This was great fodder for jokes, even landing a sketch or two on “Saturday Night Live.” Oh, it was hilarious.
I wasn’t comfortable with the jokes directed at the policy. As a 19-year-old sexual newb, I liked the idea of having some clear-cut rules. If for no other reason I wouldn’t have to rely on my lack of experience to pick up on whether someone was interested in me. Because I honestly wouldn’t know otherwise. Even as a virgin, I didn’t really understand the argument that all that asking would ruin the mood.
If you do the asking and answering right, well, there’s a reason why 1-900 phone lines made a lot of money. Because talking about what you want to do and telling someone you indeed want to partake can be really, really fun.
Consent is sexy. At least that idea as progressed in the past two decades.
I wasn’t at Antioch; I was at a big state university with a rep as a party school. I quickly learned that one of my new college friends, just like one of my friends back home, had also been raped by an impatient boyfriend with a sense of entitlement while in high school.
That’s me in 1993. I wasn’t a Riot Grrl, only because I was too chicken to be so blatant in my anger, and so open with my body, which I hated. Now? Give me a Sharpie and I’ll gladly write this post on my belly and show it to the whole fucking world. That’s changed, and I’m so glad. The girl in that photo never would have showed her belly, never mind showing it with unpopular political messages scrawled across it.
We didn’t have much of a Riot Grrl movement in mid-Missouri, anyway. But I was reading – Susan Faludi, Gloria Steinem, Nancy Friday, Naomi Wolf. I was taking women’s studies classes and talking to my friends about yes, things are fucked up for women. It’s fucked up that rape exists. It’s fucked up that guys can be as sexual as they want, but the second we did anything we were labeled slutty.
My generation questioned those attitudes. We had music that questioned it – Bikini Kill, Hole, Babes in Toyland, L7, Liz Phair. Even if you weren’t listening to the underground, most of us at least grew up with Joan Jett and the Go-Gos. And Madonna, for god’s sake.
We were the first generation who were specifically taught that we didn’t have to share our sexuality with anyone we didn’t want to. Being taken to a nice dinner wasn’t the price of sex. Our clothes weren’t automatic invitations to participate in sex, and neither was our chemical state of mind.
And yet here we are, twenty years later, and this shit’s still happening.
I wonder about the parents of the Steubenville rapists. They’re probably in the same age range as me. What were they doing twenty years ago? Were they getting the messages that were creeping into the mainstream during 1992′s “Year of the Woman”? Because I think about those messages a lot in raising my daughter. She’s already demonstrated that she will fight back when physically threatened. She talks openly about her body without shame. She knows that her body belongs to her and no one is allowed to lay a hand on it without her permission. Right down to the hair on her head.
None of this is a guarantee that she’ll be safe. There are no guarantees. If there were, the attitudes and ideas being discussed twenty years ago would have been a guarantee that events like the Steubenville rapes wouldn’t happen in 2012.
CNN’s Poppy Harlow – thanks for sullying my name, Jackass – said on Sunday,
“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 believed their lives fell apart.”
Know what’s difficult for me to watch, Poppy? Video of a teenage boy crowing about how an unconscious girl being raped by his buddies is “soooooooo dead!”
This isn’t some random tragic occurrence that just happened to the Steubenville rapists. They made a choice to rape. To record. To comment. To share. To laugh and joke. They made these choices.
With such poor decision-making skills, their futures really weren’t that bright. But I know better.
Maybe the boys did have bright futures ahead of them, since that take-no-prisoners attitude is still prized in our culture. Competition above cooperation. Young rapists could very well go on to be successful captains of industry. The last election proved that a lot of people in political office have some rather misguided beliefs about rape.
It wasn’t the attitudes and beliefs of the rapists about themselves, other people, and the world regarding sexual assault that ruined their bright futures.
It was the fact that they got busted and convicted that ruined their chances. Otherwise, how is their thinking any different from what we’ve seen in regards to the economy? The people at the top of the financial hierarchy grabbed all they could, got busted for screwing over people who didn’t have an equal amount of power, got their slap on the wrist, and life goes on, same as it ever was.
He worked hard for his success.
He worked hard for that pussy.
Some people look at these boys who perpetrated these crimes and say poor them. Their bright futures, snuffed. But here’s what I don’t get. When we look at people who do horrible things – the ones who take human lives, often in large quantities with really big guns – one of the first things that comes up is whether the perpetrator ever tortured animals as a child. Because there’s a psychological link between children who torture animals growing up doing the same awful acts to humans.
The kitty-torturerers and bunny-burners in their teens go on to be the Dahmers and Bundys. So why do we think that boys who sexually brutalize another human being aren’t going to grow up to be mass murders, but instead bemoan their lost futures when they get caught?
Kitties and bunnies are more valued than a girl who goes to a party, drinks too much, vomits, passes out.
Yes, it is sad and tragic not just for the victim. It’s sad and tragic that these boys have been taught that such actions are acceptable, excusable, and worthy of protection by their coaches, friends, and fans. That another generation has learned that another human being can be raped and sexually brutalized, and that someone else’s gender or level of intoxication is a reasonable excuse for their behavior.
It’s tragic that every person who babbles a version of “boys will be boys…” in regards to rape isn’t just discounting what happens to a girl or woman who’s been raped, but also denigrates every single boy and man who would never dream of perpetrating that level of violence. Boys, indeed, will be boys. The boys (and men) I know are kind. They’re loving fathers, sons, spouses, boyfriends, uncles, cousins and friends. They work to bring positive things to their worlds. They listen. They know that if their partner says, “No, I don’t feel like having sex tonight,” it’s just as valid and important as when their partner says, “Pull my hair and fuck me harder.”
And really … she was drunk. Does this mean that the next time I see some guy at a concert, incapacitated off his ass, that I can use that as my defense if I decide to stomp on his testicles for kicks/asserting my power?
Yeah, I didn’t think so. That’s the double standard. And that’s why I’m a feminist who’s been listening to Bikini Kill today and wondering why we’re moving in reverse.