Today a friend of mine posted on Twitter, “Drunk guy on St. Patrick’s: You’re the first person I’ve ever slapped but that’s what you get for reaching in my shirt and grabbing my boob.” She went on to say, “Oh yea. He had a smirk while he did it too…which I wiped away when my hand made contact with his face.”
In light of the recent media attention being paid to rape thanks to the conviction issued in the Steubenville rape case, her comment stood out to me. Who taught that young man that just because there was a woman around on St. Patrick’s Day that it is okay to reach into her clothing and grab part of her body? Why did he feel entitled to copping a feel?
If I see another person quoted saying, “Those poor boys, their lives are ruined!” when discussing Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, I’m going to lose my mind. CNN’s Candy Crowley recently discussed the case and the “lasting impact” of being convicted of rape on these two young men.
Candy then asked CNN legal contributor Paul Callan what the verdict meant for “a 16 year old, sobbing in court, regardless of what big football players they are, they still sound like 16 year olds. What’s the lasting effect though on two young men being found guilty juvenile court of rape essentially?” Crowley wondered.
“There’s always that moment of just — lives are destroyed,” Callan remarked. “But in terms of what happens now, the most severe thing with these young men is being labeled as registered sex offenders. That label is now placed on them by Ohio law.”
“That will haunt them for the rest of their lives.”
Really? Because it shouldn’t “haunt them”? How about the young woman who was not only assaulted and abused, but also then incredibly humiliated by having the pictures of the assault circulate throughout her high school and town and then eventually into the mainstream media? I mean, THEY URINATED ON HER WHILE SHE WAS PASSED OUT.
I don’t feel badly for them at ALL. I don’t care how much those two cry in the courtroom.
And just for the record: the lesson learned here is NOT “don’t put it on the internet.”
Blessedly, however, there is another conversation starting to happen. Parents are seeing their own kids in the baby faces of the boys in Steubenville, and parents are finally discussing what they are teaching boys. Magda of Ask Moxie wrote this letter to her sons.
You are going to know people, and maybe even be friends with people, who think it’s ok to hurt other people in a lot of ways. One of those ways is sex. I know you’re going to hear other boys say things about girls, or sometimes about other boys, that means they don’t care about those girls’ feelings or bodies. When you do, I need you to step in. All you have to do is say something like, “Dude, that’s not cool” or something that lets the person saying something nasty know that it’s not ok. Remember that everyone wants to fit in. If you can take control of the mood in the room by letting them know nasty talk isn’t ok, they’ll stop so they don’t look like an idiot.
That letter is brilliant and everyone should read the whole thing.
Parents, let’s make a pact: I’ll teach my daughter safety, self defense, and to trust and love her body as much as I am capable, and to step in if she sees sexual assault happening. If you have boys, tell them what Magda said. Tell them that it’s still rape even if it’s “only” a finger (as in the Steubenville case). Tell them that just because a girl passed out with her shirt raised doesn’t give them the right to touch her breasts. Tell them that if they see a girl in a bar on a holiday that celebrates drunkedness that doesn’t give them a right to put their hand down her shirt without her permission.
Let’s keep chipping away at the rape culture together.