Sunday, March 24, 2013

Steubenville Rape: Reactions and Resistance


Exactly one week ago, Trent Mays and Ma'lik Richmond were found guilty of raping a 16-year-old West Virginia girl. As if the details of the rape were not horrific enough, the reactions to the crime were nothing less of depraved, misogynist, and even sadistic. These frightening reactions, however, do not stem from one source. There is, in fact a progressive line of appalling reactions starting with the reactions of the people at the party and ending with the media coverage on the guilty verdict. Beginning with the people at the party, can I just ask, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!” I still cannot believe that people pulled out their phones to record and take photos of this incoherent girl being violated by two men. The mere fact that these men removed her clothes and engaged in nonconsensual sexual acts with her practically lifeless body is heinous enough, but to record it? How is this a normal person’s reaction? I’m assuming that not all of the men and women (yes, women too) who took photos are sociopaths, so, how is it that their immediate response to this behavior was to further degrade the girl by recording her and distributing the videos? If this is not evidence that we live in a rape culture, then perhaps the other reactions are. 
            For instance, let us focus on the reaction of one Mr. Michael Nodianos. Nodianos, identified as a former baseball player at Steubenville High School, is recorded in a 12- minute video cracking himself up about the videos and photos that circulated after the rape. The video is so atrocious that I couldn’t even watch the full thing. You know, everyone wants to believe that women are regarded as equal members of society, but, Mr. Nodianos, you have just successfully illustrated the utterly disgusting way people continue to view women. Thanks dude. I won’t recount the entire video since, as I just mentioned, I did not watch the full thing. I will, however, point out a few key phrases that Nodianos finds completely hilarious. He begins the video by laughing about how “dead” the girl was and then goes on to say, "She is so raped. Her puss is about as dry as the sun right now." Nodianos makes some other choice remarks such as, "They raped her quicker than Mike Tyson!" and "they raped her more than the Duke lacrosse team!" The fact that this man acknowledges that a girl had been raped and goes on to laugh about it is so disappointing and sad. No person, be it a man or a woman, should find rape funny. Rape in other countries is used as a weapon of war and here sits this kid on video laughing about it. What does that say about our culture and the way we raise our children? I can only hope that this reaction will open parents’ eyes as to the importance of discussing these issues.

            Unfortunately, the jarring reactions to this girl’s rape do not end here. Rape is so embedded in our culture that even the media finds a way to victimize the rapists. In a video I have attached to this post, CNN laments the guilty verdict by focusing on the effects that the rape trial will have on the rapists, not the victim. In one specific piece of the segment, reporter Poppy Harlow stated that the scene was "incredibly difficult" to watch and goes on to say, "These two young men -- who had such promising futures, star football players, very good students -- literally watched as they believed their life fell apart." It is mind boggling to me that CNN sympathizes with the rapists and says nothing of the victim’s ordeal. Hellooooooo!!!!! These men are rapists, RAPISTS! There is no need to feel sorry for them. They deserve way more than they got and, spoiler alert, they did this to themselves.

            While I am so sorry that this happened, I am kind of happy that this story has gained so much media coverage. It is unfortunate that something as vicious as this crime had to occur before people took notice, but I am glad people are in fact noticing. Too many rapes like these go unnoticed and it is about time that society at large realizes that we live in a rape culture. It is not something that we whiny feminists have made up: it’s true, it’s real, and something needs to be done about it. So, as a closing note, take this as a lesson. First, being drunk does not equal consent. Second, don’t be a bystander; if you see something, say something. Third, watch what you put up online; it might just come back to bite you in the butt.

-Ariel Rivera '13

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