Oh look! I’m back to our favorite lighthearted topic: rape! Joy of joys.
Today is the start of the trial for two Steubenville, OH high school athletes accused of repeatedly raping a very, very drunk young girl. I wrote a big long post with a lot of thoughts on this because, well…this is the type of thing that spurs a lot of thoughts for me. I changed my mind, though, and I’ve decided to just say a couple of things, then point you to read some words and watch some videos from people who are way smarter than me. So, here we go:
Rape is 100% the rapist’s fault. If I run around in my birthday suit, drink a fifth of Jack, flirt with a dude at a bar, pass out at his feet and then he rapes me, there’s still only one criminal here; only one person at fault. And the person at fault is the freaking rapist. There should be NO QUESTION here. Because, after all, it’s not my job to keep you from raping, it’s your job not to be a rapist. Duh.
The only way to know you’re not a rapist, is to know, know, know your partner wants to have sex with you when you are having sex with them. That’s it.
Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person’s consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent, such as one who is unconscious, incapacitated, or below the legal age of consent. (via Wikipedia)
Consent. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had sex before, if you’re dating the person, if they’re dressed provocatively…none of that matters. You have to have consent. The easiest way to do that? Ask. Tell your partner that you’d love to have sex with them, and ask them if they’d like to have sex with you. If they say anything other than yes, don’t have sex with them. Blammo. Now you’re not a rapist. Whew! Isn’t that a relief?!
Somehow young men and women aren’t being taught this very simple rule of sexual conduct. So mamas, (and papas!) don’t let your babies grow up to be rapists. Have clear talks early and often about what consent is, about why reciprocity in relationships is so valuable, and about how everyone has a right to their own bodily integrity. Mamas, stand up for yourselves and other women. (You can do it! You deserve it!) Papas, be men that we can all be proud of; men that show respect as a default, and that stand up for women because it’s the right and awesome thing to do. Young men are absorbing the lessons you teach with your life—make sure you’re teaching well.
This horrible, sad Steubenville trial has taken on an even worse tone: consent is on trial. According to an article on Cleveland.com, the defense will argue that because the young girl got in the car with the defendants—even though she was later described as “dead” because she was so drunk—she consented to whatever sexual activity happened that night. Friends, that is a giant pile of bullshit. No matter what happens in this case, I’ll never accept that definition of consent, and I won’t sit by and let other people teach it. We all deserve more than that.
Ick. I’m so bummed.
Enough of me, here are some other people.
Zerlina Maxwell, a super smart person and rape survivor, recently got shouted at on the Sean Hannity Show (and threatened afterward) when she asserted that we shouldn’t try to curtail rape by telling women to carry guns, we should just tell dudes not to rape. There was so much barking in the segment that it was hard to hear her point, but luckily she followed it up with this piece on Ebony.com. Give it a read.
Here’s another great piece by Elizabeth Plank about the Steubenville case, consent, and rape culture.
I think that’s enough for now. It’d be great if we had such a colossal culture shift that these conversations weren’t necessary. We’d just all drink margaritas and play the tambourine. And I could get back to writing about french toast waffles and sarcasm. But sadly, these conversations ARE necessary. Join in, won’t you? But be nice, okay? Thanks.
Update: the two defendants were both found delinquent (the juvenile court equivalent of guilty). Click here to read my final thoughts, along with some other great links.