Warning: This article is about rape.
Two high-school football students were found guilty on March 17 of raping a 16-year-old girl at a party last August in Steubenville, Ohio, a town that prides itself on its football mania.
I’m sure you know a town or two just like it. A good portion of its residents rushed to the defense of Ma’lik Richmond, 16, and Trent Mays, 17.
The case has garnered worldwide attention, prompting action from social media groups, including the infamous Anonymous “hacktivist” collective.
News of the allegations prompted mixed opinions from bloggers on Tumblr, YouTube celebrities and Twitter feeds.
The general consensus is that the sentence — two years in a juvenile facility for Mays and one year for Richmond, as well as lifelong status as sex offenders — is far too light.
Amnesty and forgiveness
The two football players were allegedly part of a “rape crew” that bragged about taking advantage of the victim in a variety of ways, according to leaked videos posted by the Anonymous faction KnightSec.
In videos of the trial, the now-guilty young men seem genuinely repentant.
This one “mistake” in their teen years will haunt them for the rest of their lives, affecting everything from their future jobs to how society perceives them.
Maybe we should cut them a break?
Rape culture is what happens when people from a small town on the Rust Belt of Ohio try to justify the criminalistic actions of valued males in their community over some high school girl who maybe shouldn’t have gotten drunk.
Rape culture is when schools instruct young women to defend themselves against unwanted sexual advances rather than educating men not to rape.
Rape culture is when it is assumed that men are the only rapists in the world and women just can’t be as violent or sexually vilified as men can.
Newsflash. Everything in the previous paragraph is bad. The principle of consent is simple to grasp.
Rape would be better prevented if you target the perpetrators, not the victims. Rape is gender neutral, but not necessarily gender equal.
We should be outraged
Social media is outraged, as it should be. But is simple outrage against two drops in an all encompassing cult of potential rapists in the world truly effective? If we extend the punishments of these two boys, will that be a bigger lesson to potential rapists?
A better first step is to raise boys so they don’t grow up to be rapists.
Just as the boys in Steubenville have been encouraged, perhaps you are helping to encourage this culture more than you think.
Do you have an idea of what someone who sleeps around looks like? You shouldn’t.
Do you think some girls look more susceptible to rape than others on any given night in the city? You shouldn’t.
Do you believe that girls should wear less revealing clothing to prevent rape? You shouldn’t.
What all women wear, look like or do at night isn’t what gets them raped.
So, next time you are out in the town and see someone in a skimpy outfit and begin to inwardly judge them, remember: you are thinking like a rapist.
Don’t let your entire perception of rape culture be defined by this editorial. Research. Learn more. Work on becoming a better person. Don’t rape and don’t witchhunt the victim.
If you’re still not convinced, rape is officially a war crime now.