Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Steubenville and rape culture

In light of recent events in Steubenville, and the countless other rape trials, cases, and attacks that don't even make it to trial; it seems appropriate to write about the prevalent rape culture that is haunting society.

Rape culture is describing the culture in which we live, one which teaches 'don't get raped' instead of 'don't rape', teaches people to be on constant guard against attack, and if they sadly do get attacked, then it is their fault, because they did something 'wrong', or they brought the attack on themselves (something I will never fully, truly understand, as the perpetrator should be human enough to realise what they are doing is wrong) or they won't be believed, because it is a common misconception that the numbers of false allegations is high, which it definitely is not. It is also the culture that finds it appropriate to trivialise rape, through jokes: jokes about victims, jokes about rapists, and jokes about rape generally. - the sort of thing that makes you really hate society, and to will for some kind of revolution to make it all change.

That is a very sketchy definition of rape culture, but it will do for now. We saw how pervasive rape culture really was in Steubenville, from the comments on social media outlets about how the survivor 'made the whole story up' and 'she was drunk, what did she expect', to CNN's shocking coverage of the events, where they sympathised with the rapists, not those young footballers - those rising stars - but rapists, because that is what they are. The news coverage did not mention how the survivor's life will be ruined as a result of what they did to her, but they focused on how the rapists lives will be ruined - particularly on the comment the rapist Richmond made 'my life is over, no one will want me now'.  Why focus on their lives? They made the decision to attack and humiliate that poor girl, she had no choice in what happened, and yet her life will be deeply affected and probably ruined. An example is the two young girls who were arrested yesterday for sending the survivor death threats on social media - possibly because of Fox news's (and other news channels) actions of not bleeping out the survivor's name when showing a VT of the trial.

The use of social media is what propelled the case into the public domain. Mays and Richmond were seen in photos and videos laughing about what they did, as shown in the video that the group Anonymous leaked. (TW: rape, jokes about rape: http://jezebel.com/5972553/anonymous-leaks-horrifying-video-of-steubenville-high-schoolers-joking-about-raping-a-teenager-deader-than-trayvon-martin ), social media is also where comments about the case were made. But luckily social media is also the place where many, (I'm tempted to say, those who are level-headed and believe in justice, but I probably shouldn't) came back to fight against the rape apology, sympathy for the rapists, and the victim-blaming that has occurred so many times. It is also the place that this petition to get CNN to apologise for their appalling reporting of the trial started - which if you haven't yet, you really should sign: https://www.change.org/petitions/cnn-apologize-on-air-for-sympathizing-with-the-steubenville-rapists?utm_campaign=action_box&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=share_petition

What made Steubenville so prominent was because of social media, so hopefully through social media we can show people, who have a rose-tinted view of society, how prevalent rape culture really is, and maybe because of this, and other landmark cases, we can maybe start to change society, and how it views rape; get the conviction rape of rapists up, because fewer than one out of 30 rape survivors can get the justice they deserve, by having their rapist convicted. (source: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/100000-assaults-1000-rapists-sentenced-shockingly-low-conviction-rates-revealed-8446058.html ).

Rape culture needs to be extinguished, and only through action and by showing the world how present rape culture is, can we even start to implement these changes.#

- Lauren Read

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