Tuesday, March 19, 2013

50 Shades of Steubenville

I tend to shy away from talking about controversial subjects on The Duds, preferring to talk about really important things like…Aladdin, Cory and Topanga’s children, or Conan O’Brien as pope (write about what you know, kids). This isn’t because I don’t believe my opinions are important or I don’t care; I just choose to keep my opinions on controversial matters private. That being said, since the ending of the Steubenville trial and now the uproar from the public over not only the verdict, but also--most especially--the handling of the trial by major news networks, I’m going to share my two cents on the matter. Sorry, Aladdin.

My feelings toward this trial are complicated. I’m a young woman, which automatically makes me sympathetic and partial to the victim (and I am, completely). However, I’m also a raging empath, which automatically makes me compulsively try and understand where all sides are coming from on the matter—regardless of whether I agree with it. If you’re expecting some huge “this is black and this is white, there’s no grey area, and damn the scumbag kids to hell” rant, then this is not the post for you. But as to not deter any female readers already, I will NOT be pulling a Poppy Harlow. More on that later.

As a woman, by far the most disturbing part regarding the reaction to this case are the sheer number of people out there who actually believe this girl brought it upon herself. The number of people on Twitter calling her a “drunk slut” is appalling to me. Why is it that the instant something like this happens, these people turn into prohibition-era prudes, judging the girl for being drunk…like they’ve never taken a sip of booze in their lives? I went to college and I can assure you that I have been just as drunk as she was. I can also assure you I’m definitely not a drunk and I’m certainly not a slut. 

To have men label every short-skirted girl stumbling down the street as a "drunk slut" is truly terrifying. How easily can any girl put ourselves into her situation? Whether we would like to admit it or not, it's pretty damn easy. Even if it was just that one birthday night-out or sophomore year house party, this could have been one of us in a heartbeat.

Even more terrifying is the notion that there are people who believe that every girl that walks into a courtroom in this kind of situation are "crying rape" just to avoid getting in trouble. Am I saying that never happens? Of course not, it definitely does and it's not right. 
However, the minute people start believing or assuming such a thing, women lose all credibility. The truly sexually assaulted girls will basically be seen as liars until proven otherwise. 

Not to mention it is utterly ridiculous and hypocritical to hear these guys out there use their "drunk slut" theory as the “lesson” for women from this case, instead of, oh, I don’t know, don’t take advantage of girls when they’re drunk. I don’t care if that girl did sleep around and got wasted every weekend, absolutely none of those things justify taking advantage of her, especially when she’s intoxicated. No girl brings it upon herself.

Futhermore, the fact that consent is even a question in this case is mind-boggling to me. Just because she doesn’t remember does not make it some open-ended question over whether or not it was consensual. KEY PHRASE: She. doesn’t. remember. Boom, there it is. Where's the proof? Oh, they took pictures of her? Case closed. I can’t even believe I even have to spend time clarifying this. Did she say yes? Did she say no? Did she say anything? In my opinion, unless that girl looked those boys soberly straight in the eye, said "Yes," and can recall doing so, then you can not stand there and debate over if she wanted it . She was completely incapacitated. That’s the whole point of a roofie. 

Now, I digress a bit. I'm a very reasonable and understanding person, to all the gentlemen out there who fear getting stuck in this kind of situation. There are some girls who genuinely do like you, you like them, she wants to hook up with you, and may just need some liquid courage so they aren't as self-conscious. I would probably feel the same way. But the context of that situation is very different than this one and if you can't tell the difference, you need to be evaluated. 

I'm stating this scenario to let you realize that I don't think all men are animals. But here's a tip: 

If you’re having to ask yourself that, if you're actually unsure, just step away. Use your moral compass. Don't take PICTURES of HER, for the love of all things holy. If you have common sense, then you will KNOW when it's not right. End of story.

Which brings us to the next part of this Steubenville media debacle: the sympathy for the two boys.

Like so many others, I am just as disappointed and angry at the media for how they’ve reported this case in regard to the two accused boys. That being said, I’m also a person with feelings. When I see those two kids breaking down in the courtroom, I can imagine how easily it could be any kid I knew in high school. If this had happened at Austin High, we would be reeling in the same way. It's easy to make the disconnect when you aren't member of that community. Did they have promising futures? Of course they did, none of us can really argue that. Are they the exemplary pillar of society and should they be treated as such? Hell to the no.  They fingered an unconcious girl and took pictures of her. Keep reading that sentence over and over, will you? Just until it sinks in.

There’s been a lot of talk about how they’re now going to be registered sex offenders for the rest of their lives. To an extent, I do feel that the sex offender registry can be very broad. We often hear the word "sex offender" and automatically think of a traumatic Law and Order: SVU episode. To be honest, sometimes a registered sex offender is a 22-year-old boy who got caught with his teenage girlfriend, her parents freaked out (not unwarranted, mind you. It's still statutory), but they have now been happily married for decades. There can be a lot of grey area. But two boys taking advantage of an intoxicated girl is not a grey area, no matter how good they were in school.  At the end of the day, that’s serious. Out of context or in context.

What I really want to say is that I feel sad for ALL the parties involved in this case, accuser and accused alike. I do. I've noticed that most of the editorials on the this issue have been remarkably black-and-white and everything else doesn't matter. I’m not condoning anything (I hope I have made that pretty clear). Those boys, no matter how great of a student or athlete they were, made a choice and that choice has consequences.

Yes, I do feel sad for them. I feel sad or them, not because their lives are ruined, but because they ruined their own lives by fault of their own hubris. 

I feel sad for that poor girl who will also have to live with this for the rest of her life. She’s a teenager and has faced public shame and deprecation, when she probably casts just as much shame and deprecation upon herself. 

I feel sad that there are people who think that well-liked and dedicated students or athletes are incapable of doing terrible things. 

I feel sad for all the other girls (which could so easily be me or one of my girlfriends) who have found themselves or will find themselves in a similar situation and never come forward out of fear of facing the same judgment.

None of these kids (and they are kids) are coming out a winner. No one is going to be the same again. That’s something to be truly sad about. 

P.S. Please feel free to discuss or argue any of my opinions or your own. 'Murica.

1 comment:

  1. This was very well thought out. I do think that what's almost as horrible as the crime itself is the media's almost tepid reaction to it. I don't want to hear about the football coach defending his players or how the town will suffer, I just want them to focus on the real tragedy--that that girl's life will never be the same again.