Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The S Files: asking for it?

So. Stubenville, eh? A town that cares more about high school football than justice or women's rights. A town that conspired in the drugging, kidnapping, gang rape, sodomisation and urination upon a female minor because she had the gall to dump the team's quarterback. A town that fosters the kind of misogyny that not only allows this sort of thing to happen, but also affectionately calls its perpetrators the Rape Crew – high school students who are given so much privilege that they can take an unconscious rape victim to not one but two coach's homes and still not be charged. (For a full report, see the ongoing report at LocalLeaks, driven by Anonymous cell KnightSec. A trigger warning probably goes without saying, but it might also make you lose faith in humanity.)

But as one of the coaches told the New York Times, the rape was just an "excuse", because "what else are you going to tell your parents when you come home drunk like that and after a night like that? She had to make up something. Now people are trying to blow up our football program because of it." Exactly. This high school football team and its 19 coaches conspired to drug, kidnap, and gang rape a girl because she dumped one of the players and now, gawd! People are expecting this institutionalised criminality not only to stop but also to pay for what it's done? There is just no justice! Don't we know who these high school athletes are?! Well, we do now.

The key issue here has to do with the entitlement the perpetrators felt they had. Putting aside whether she was inebriated, it does not change the fact that these guys still raped her, and thought it was a perfectly acceptable thing to do. Knight Sec managed to obtain a 12-minute video of one of the Rape Crew discussing the incident. As reported by LocalLeaks:
The video was shot so soon after the attack, that one person present becomes disgusted and actually leaves to go check on the condition of the victim. It is important to also note that despite this strong evidence, [he] has yet to be arrested or charged in this brutal attack.
(Incidentally, if you feel that someone who admits to at least being an accessory to these crimes – and finds them hysterical, no less – shouldn't receive an athletic scholarship to the university whose t-shirt he is wearing while being so bloody offensive, why not sign this petition? You know what's gonna be "dead", dude? Your professional football career.)

It is sobering that despite all the people aware of what was happening – including a 'friend' of the victim, who was the catalyst for the evening's atrocities, and two authority figures – no one really stood up to say "this is not okay. What you are doing is not funny, it is not just, it is a crime and a violation". Maybe the town of Stubenville, its bumbling sheriff and its prosecuting attorney (the mother of one of the rapists and whose home the crime took place in, no less) can rally together to delete images from cell phones, scare the victim into not pressing charges, and even sue a local blogger for defamation, but shouldn't they instead be teaching their sons that hey, when a girl breaks up with you, you don't exact revenge by orchestrating a 12-hour gang rape, videoing it and posting it to the internet?  And no, this isn't about just not sharing it on social media because you might get caught, it's about NOT DOING IT AT ALL. You get dumped, go get a thing of Chunky Monkey and watch some John Hughes films like everyone else. You want a taste of vigilante justice? Well, Anonymous heard you. 

The coaches can say whatever they want about how the victim had it coming or what did she expect, but what they are not doing is denying that she was raped. They are instead implicitly saying that it is right that she was raped. That it's okay the high school football team gang-raped and sodomised a fellow student, because she was drunk. This is the logic. If a girl gets drunk, she should be raped. That's what happens when girls drink. She had it coming. And so it goes with rape culture: the responsibility lies only with women. To teach women to Not Get Raped is to not only presume all men are rapists, but to give them permission to be rapists.

A woman's body is not public property. No one is entitled to it. It doesn't matter how she chooses to dress, how she behaves, what she says: if she is raped, she did not have it coming. No one has a rape coming. Not even the rape crew.