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There's a lot of rape going around--in India, in a fatwa ordered by a Saudi cleric on the women and girls of Syria--which I haven't posted about here because things have been looney over the holidaze.

And there has been the Steubenville rape case, in which a girl from Weirton, WV, attended a party in Steubenville, OH, got drunk, passed out, and was raped and molested by several high school athletes. lostinhersong asked me if I would address it. I didn't answer or do so right away partly because it was the holidays; partly because I had a cold; and partly because we were away. Also, lostinhersong, I hope you forgive me, but I was hoping greater people than me would take it on and I could just link to them, because this whole case, on top of the news from India that was just breaking at the time, was making me sick. I don't know these boys, but four decades ago I knew their grandfathers: I went to high schools not far from Weirton and Steubenville. I lived in small towns where high school athletics was valued more than something that is done with muscles and reflexes and a talent for remembering plays should be. I was bullied by male athletes and I have never forgotten. I have also been treated well by male and female athletes, and wondered why they put up with the others.
So this comes too close. Today, though, the hacker group Anonymous posted a video that supposedly features athletes from Steubenville making truly ugly remarks about the rape. I'm not re-posting it here because in the amount I could stand to watch, no one admitted to taking part (Anonymous claimed they were going to expose the athletes who took part and weren't charged, but they don't say that the boys in this video took part in the rape). You can find it on Jezebel, but it is sickening.

Okay. Here's the story, starting from Jezebel's report on how it got rolling. Next is this September report from the Cleveland Plain Dealer, discussing the police work being done to investigate the case, the internet component that exposed some of the rapists' involvement, and the attempts by a number of people to say how "good" their boys are and how such outstanding athletes are incapable of this kind of behavior: toting a drunken girl from party to party; urinating on her; raping her.

Here is the New York Times article referenced by Jezebel which gives a depth of coverage over what's splitting the town.

In case anyone has forgotten what people are threatening their neighbors over; if you wonder why they are saying their opponents should leave town or that someone bad will visit them: it's high school football. They idolize these young thugs and toss a girl's life onto a garbage heap; they destroy friendships of years and teach their children that a game means more than a female's selfhood over high school football. How big a deal is high school football in Steubenville? Per the Atlantic Wire (link below), the house at which the original party was held, at which beer and hard liquor were being served (so no one had to flash fake ID at a liquor store), belonged to the prosecuting attorney for the county in which Steubenville is located. The sheriff often has breakfast with the team's head coach. Just how much justice will the team's victim get?

This girl wanted to have fun before the start of school. She made a misjudgment, the kind of misjudgment any of us might have made trying alcohol or drugs or making out for the first time, trying to pretend we were more grown-up than we were, more cool than we were. When she came to, she would have discovered she was sore and dirty, but apparently she didn't remember why until she read it in the newspaper. Can any of us say we wouldn't have done the same when we were first test driving the trappings of adulthood? I sure can't, and I got myself into some risky places as a result. I'm not going to throw stones at her; I wish I could help to defend her. Those guys didn't mess with her and pass out beside her, they carried her from house to house. They were more competent than she was!

And here is the most recent update courtesy of the Atlantic Wire, covering police news and the activities of Anonymous and LocalLeaks. The two players who have actually been arrested have had their cases moved to juvenile court, where team officials have connections. So much for the special prosecutors who were appointed in September--juvenile court doesn't work in the same way.

Supposedly 12 more boys took part, but they haven't been arrested or charged. And the community is tearing itself in two over bullying athletes. This isn't a problem only for Steubenville, though. This is a sports problem, and a high school problem, and a rape problem. Winning teams count in our f-u culture: look at how long Sandusky was allowed to get away with child abuse at Penn State. Small communities over-invest in high schools and high school sports; it's something everyone can go to on Friday night. And we all know what a mess rape prosecution and victim blaming are. What can we do? I don't know, except that if we know someone who is being or has been abused, we have to treat them like human beings, and help them to speak out if that's what they want to do. If we see abuse going on, we have to report it.

And give anyone who makes fun of rape victims hell.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 2nd, 2013 10:20 pm (UTC)
There is something wrong with the world when I feel Anonymous has more power to give that girl justice than the court systems.
Jan. 3rd, 2013 01:00 am (UTC)
There is a picture on Facebook that explains things perfectly. 'What's wrong with our culture when college orintation teachs girls how not to get raped, vs teaching everyone not to rape.'
Jan. 3rd, 2013 02:21 am (UTC)
between the Westboro church of Hate and this, I'm really loving Anonymous right now. As Rosered said though, it's sad that we have more faith in the hacker group than our own officials.

Jan. 3rd, 2013 07:00 am (UTC)
I hadn't actually heard about this until now... probably because I tend to steer clear of most mass media sources for mental health reasons. I am largely willfully ignorant about the state of the world purely because of stories like this. They cut me to the bone. They make me angry, and worried, and so very, very sad.

I can't imagine what this girl must be going through, but rest assured it's going to be awful. I just hope she has a good support network around her.
Jan. 3rd, 2013 11:03 am (UTC)
Okay, when you got to the part about carrying her from house to house, my jaw fucking hit the floor.

Makes me want to create an American chapter of that women's group in India...
Jan. 3rd, 2013 12:31 pm (UTC)
*closes eyes and breathes deeply* I can't even understand the mindset that would make anyone do this or condone it or hide it away...to argue over how it was a terrible act. I'd ask the people that were fighting for these boys "would you want your child raped? Would it be okay if they were hurt in such a way?" Because I just can't even process this. I wish that girl the best of luck and hope that people in that town come to their senses.
Jan. 3rd, 2013 06:20 pm (UTC)
They carried her from house to house?!

I don't know why I haven't heard about this; I read Jezebel and the NYTimes. I think it's awful how stories of rape only make it into few headlines, and even then they're buried. Or worse, the NYTimes writes an article about "how those boys must be feeling" in regards to that Texas gang rape case.

This is awful, and it doesn't seem like justice is forthcoming. Makes me sick.
Jan. 18th, 2013 12:28 am (UTC)
I can recall vividly, sitting on a school bus, being mocked for still being a virgin at thirteen. Like you, I don't think I will ever forget the titters which echoed off the metal ceiling of the bus.

I marvel at social media these days... for all the trash which pops up, there is clearly value within these communications. The world is shrinking, and girls who's lives and stories have been swept under the rug so the world doesn't have to see the ugliness people are capable of. Victims whom "no one cares about" are able to speak up with their own voices, even a court order can't silence them; and now the accused can be seen for what they are. It pains me down to my bones to think "no one cares" about these girls, because I know it's not true, because I care about them, and am going to fight damned hard for a world which won't be afraid to say they do, too.

Thank you for the relevant links, thank you for posting this, thank you for your words on the topic... And I feel as though I can never never thank you enough for your YA writing. Thank you for granting me your wisdom through your novels, to be able to recognize how full of shit this whole scenario is, and I can be intelligent enough, even at thirteen, to know there was and is, nothing wrong with me.

/sorry, my emotions are just going hay-wire over all this, I can't even
Sep. 24th, 2013 08:39 pm (UTC)
Wow. The amount of misinformation that is recycled here and presented as fact is staggering.

The crime itself was horrible. But it was taken to another level be zealous bloggers who all felt the need to weigh in and inadvertently leaked the victims name and pictures and made sure these events will follow her for life--and for no good reason, since the perpetrators were already under arrest before the story ever made news.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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