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Steubenville’s Promising Young Rapists

Earlier this week, Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond were found guilty of raping a 16-year-old girl. The media coverage of this case has been…honestly, it’s been pretty much what you’d expect, given the way we treat rape in this country. That coverage is being justifiably condemned for the pathetic, victim-blaming, rape-apologetic bullshit it is.

Trigger warning for rape and lots of Jim swearing after the cut…

Let’s start with a few excerpts from this transcript of CNN’s story on the verdict.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I’ve never experienced anything like it, Candy. It was incredibly emotional — incredibly difficult even for an outsider like me to watch what happened as these two young men that had such promising futures, star football players, very good students, literally watched as they believe their life fell apart.

You know what? Harlow’s right. These were good students and talented athletes, with very promising futures. They were kids with a hell of a lot going for them. And they’re fucking rapists. These weren’t filthy, nasty-looking strangers hiding in the bushes. They’re “good” kids who’ve learned that girls are nothing but meat whose only purpose is to be screwed by guys. You don’t rape, photograph, and film a girl if you see her as a human being.

Why was this so hard to watch, Harlow? Was it that you felt sorry for these poor young rapists? Or was it that they forced you to recognize that the so-called “normal” kids can be rapists too?

TRENT MAYS, FOUND GUILTY OF RAPING IN JUVENILE COURT: I would really like to apologize to (INAUDIBLE), her family, my family and community. No pictures should have been sent out or should be taken. That’s all. Thank you.

You’re apologizing for taking the pictures??? I can’t even articulate a response beyond “Fuck you.”

MA’LIK RICHMOND, FOUND GUILTY OF RAPE IN JUVENILE COURT: I would like to apologize. I had no intention to do anything like that and I’m sorry to put you guys through this. (INAUDIBLE) I’m sorry.

You had no intention…I’m sure that’s tremendous comfort to the victim, to know that you “accidentally” raped her. Wait, who are the “guys” you’re apologizing to here? Are you sorry for committing rape, or are you sorry because you got caught and now you and your town look bad?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: …there’s always that moment of just lives are destroyed. And lives have already been destroyed by the crime. And we got a chance to see that. But in terms of what happens now, yes, the most severe thing with these young men is being labeled as registered sex offenders… That will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

“Being labeled”? Their actions label them rapists. Their choices are what should haunt them for the rest of their fucking lives. Don’t give us this passive-voice, everyone’s-a-victim bullshit.

KURTZ: And, you know, some of those pictures might not have been carried by the traditional media. That’s why social media is such an important pipeline here. Thanks for that.

Translation: Thanks, Twitter, for doing our fucking job for us!!!

CNN isn’t alone in their priorities, of course. Fox News included the following note in one of their stories about the case:

The Associated Press named the minors charged due to the fact they have been identified in other news coverage and their names were used in open court. FoxNews.com will not name the defendants.

This didn’t stop them from joining CNN and MSNBC in releasing the name of the victim.

Then you’ve got ABC News doing a story which spends an awful lot of time describing this flirtatious, drunk girl who wouldn’t listen to people who warned her not to get into a car with boys…

This is how we talk about rape in this culture. These are our priorities and assumptions. Those poor boys’ lives are ruined! It’s such a shame that this horrible crime just kind of happened, through no fault of anyone except maybe the victim who showed such poor judgment. They were such good boys with such promising futures…

The only unusual thing here is that the media is actually getting pushback for following their normal, victim-blaming, rape-apologizing playbook.

You want to reduce the number of rapes in this country? Teach boys and men to take some fucking responsibility for their action. Teach them what rape is, so maybe one of the bystanders will have the guts to speak up instead of standing around videotaping and taking pictures. Teach them that the natural consequence of a girl drinking too much is a hangover. Rape, on the other hand, is a consequence of a rapist choosing to commit rape!

And a special shoutout to the media–if you’re one of the reporters teaching people that the rapists were victims, then congratulations. Your bullshit reporting is laying the groundwork for the next Steubenville.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.



( 48 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 19th, 2013 11:38 pm (UTC)
Yes to all of this. Thank you.
Mar. 19th, 2013 11:47 pm (UTC)
You might find the articles on here thoughtful and less rage inducing.

Mar. 20th, 2013 12:20 am (UTC)
amen, Jim. To all of that.
Mar. 20th, 2013 12:31 am (UTC)

They ruined their lives themselves. That girl didn't pass out on their dicks, then say she was raped. They CHOSE to take advantage of her situation. Part of being a decent human being, young or no, is to not do this shit. They brought it on their stupid selves. MSNBC has been condemning them rightly, at least, from what I've seen.
Mar. 22nd, 2013 02:22 pm (UTC)
Mar. 20th, 2013 12:32 am (UTC)
This. Yes.

Thank you.
Mar. 20th, 2013 12:35 am (UTC)
"...had no intention."

So I guess his pants just fell down in her vicinity and WHOOPSIE. These kids do not strike me as being sorry for what they did, from what they said. Very, very sorry they got caught, yes. But it still doesn't seem to have occurred to them that having sex with an unconscious girl is every shade of wrong.

Their lives haven't been ruined. They ruined their lives ,with their choices and their actions.
Mar. 20th, 2013 10:25 am (UTC)
Sadly, the chances are that they haven't ruined their lives. Unless the culture changes, they'll be back on the streets and given huge amounts of help to 'get their lives back on track' and to 'fulfil their potential' and to 'overcome this blip' or some such.

In the meantime, what of the girl they violated? How's she going to be regarded? How's she going to feel? How much shame will she be forced to carry as a result of being a victim of crime? How are her relationships going to be coloured from now on?

I just hope so very, very much that she is receiving the support, the counselling and the care she needs. I hope there will be decent people who won't point and whisper as she walks down the street, who won't spread lies about her at school, who won't blame her for ruining those boys' lives ...

The culture needs to change, and it needs to change completely.
Mar. 20th, 2013 12:41 am (UTC)
Steubenville's Promising Young Rapists
I've been struggling for 20 minutes to formulate a response, but finally all I can say is that this may be the most important posting from you that I've ever read on your Live Journal site.

On a lighter note, have your wife and children gotten used to you yelling at the TV? My husband is still startled after 35 years.
Mar. 20th, 2013 11:39 am (UTC)
Re: Steubenville's Promising Young Rapists
I don't actually watch a lot of TV. Mostly they've had to get used to me yelling at the computer :-)
Mar. 20th, 2013 12:44 am (UTC)
Applause. To all of this. Thank you, Jim.
Mar. 20th, 2013 01:04 am (UTC)
Thank you. Thank you for being angry with me. Thank you for vocalizing many of my thoughts.
Mar. 20th, 2013 01:22 am (UTC)
I cannot think of anything to say to any of this....my mind cannot get past this thought that the rapist's life is ruined. Sorry, being a victim myself and not drunk, in the middle of winter wearing a wool long coat 2 sizes to big seems to be a huge sign that says "HERE I AM, FUCK ME!! I WANT IT NOW!!"

sorry. sore spot
Mar. 20th, 2013 11:38 am (UTC)
Absolutely nothing you need to apologize for. It doesn't matter what you were or weren't wearing. Absolutely nobody has the right to do that to you.
Mar. 20th, 2013 01:46 am (UTC)
Rock the fuck on.
Mar. 20th, 2013 01:59 am (UTC)
Thank you for this. I can't read much about the case beyond what I already know, 'cause, frankly, it makes me so angry and so sad that it makes me cry every time. I'm tired of crying, so I'm avoiding as much of it as possible.

So thank you, for saying what I think and probably should be saying but just can't right now.
Mar. 20th, 2013 02:07 am (UTC)
Thank you for stating this. Hopefully many, many of those of us outraged by this have effectively entombed the offending media with letters of complaint.
Mar. 20th, 2013 11:37 am (UTC)
One way or another, I hope the media starts to get the message...
Mar. 20th, 2013 02:13 am (UTC)
OH, those poor poor boys. Their lives are ruined.

Luckily, this will have no effect whatsoever on the rest of that girl's life.


And thank you, for voicing my anger so eloquently.
Mar. 20th, 2013 03:01 am (UTC)
So far I haven't seen this...what do these people think *should* have happened to these rapists? Let go? Given a lesser sentence?
Mar. 20th, 2013 11:35 am (UTC)
I honestly don't think I want to know...
Mar. 20th, 2013 03:07 pm (UTC)
A tickertape parade for them, with the victim being flogged at the end, from what I've seen.
Mar. 20th, 2013 03:10 am (UTC)
This. All of this. thank you. Well said, Mr. Hines.
Mar. 20th, 2013 04:03 am (UTC)
Thanks for this, well said.
Mar. 20th, 2013 05:55 am (UTC)
You might give the good men project a look for a less rage inducing coverage. I would put in a link, but I would only get marked as spam.
Mar. 20th, 2013 11:35 am (UTC)
I despammed your earlier comment last night, thank you!
Mar. 20th, 2013 12:15 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I really can't reccommend that site enough.
Mar. 20th, 2013 12:39 pm (UTC)
I'd personally steer clear of the Good Men Project as they've had some rather troubling articles in the past regarding rape.


Edit: Also, when Hugo Schwyzer resigns from a site for not being good for feminism, it's bad. (And Hugo Schwyzer is notorious among a good many feminists for being a predator and all-around someone who needs to shut up get out of feminist spaces.)

Edited at 2013-03-20 12:41 pm (UTC)
Mar. 20th, 2013 07:12 pm (UTC)
I agree with jadedissola. Pretty much everyone I respect who was associated with that project (and some I didn't respect, like Hugo) has left.
Mar. 20th, 2013 08:40 am (UTC)
I think I'm going to go over to Amazon now and buy the rest of your books.

Just, y'know, 'cause.
Mar. 20th, 2013 11:33 am (UTC)
That was just as bad as the Steubenville football coach who threatened the NYT reporter who was interviewing him about the rape.

And this is why I don't like jock culture very much. It's at the intersection of "I'm important because I can throw a football/baseball/basketball" and "I can do whatever the hell I want because nobody will deny me."
Mar. 20th, 2013 11:52 am (UTC)
I have been avoiding the coverage of this story because I was afraid it was going to be like this. The intersection of "(male) athletes are ipso facto heroes" with "(female) rape victims were asking for it" always seems to produce this kind of hideous victim-blaming shit, and it makes me SO FUCKING ANGRY that ... yeah.

Way to fucking not-pologize, boys. How does that song go? "Don't tell me you're sorry, 'cause you're not/ You know you're only sorry you got caught..."

Mar. 20th, 2013 12:47 pm (UTC)
Mar. 20th, 2013 01:08 pm (UTC)
What you said.
Mar. 20th, 2013 01:14 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this post.

And just to show how decent a human being the victim in this awful crime is (especially as compared to her rapists), in response to people wanting to give her money for legal expenses or counseling, she and her family are asking that people donate to a local shelter, Madden House, so that future victims receive the help they need.
Mar. 21st, 2013 12:12 pm (UTC)
That's awesome, and I've signal-boosted it on Tumblr, thank you.
Mar. 20th, 2013 02:45 pm (UTC)
Well said, Jim!
Tumblr went absolutely nuts with this the day of the conviction, to my great joy. Page after page of anti-rape culture posts, many of which were awesome.
Mar. 20th, 2013 03:08 pm (UTC)
My slapping hand itched during the coverage.
Mar. 20th, 2013 03:26 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this. Someone has to say it, loud enough and often enough that people start to listen.
Mar. 20th, 2013 05:14 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Jim,
The only person who deserves sympathy here is the young woman. The two young men... No. They made that choice: they have to deal with the consequences. She didn't get a choice: she has to live with what they did to her. She's the one who the media should be wanting to support.
Mar. 20th, 2013 05:41 pm (UTC)
Gorrammit, I'm gonna have to rejoin Facebook just to forward this to as many people as I possibly can.
Mar. 21st, 2013 12:11 pm (UTC)
Aw, damn. Now I feel guilty for driving you back to Facebook! ;-)
Mar. 21st, 2013 05:59 pm (UTC)
Yes, HOW DARE YOU put together timely, necessary, righteous and well crafted messages that people want to spread to the masses? I ask you. *headshake*

(I seem to be managing FB fine. :D )
Mar. 21st, 2013 03:02 am (UTC)
It is imperative that our sons know, at minimum, that Girls Are People, No Means No, Drunk/High/Impaired Means No, and Young Means No!
And also that the proper organ for decision-making resides above their belts.
I am so sorry this girl was hurt like this - I hope she's getting whatever help she needs to heal.
Mar. 21st, 2013 12:36 pm (UTC)
The only unusual thing here is that the media is actually getting pushback for following their normal, victim-blaming, rape-apologizing playbook.

That, and the boys actually were tried and convicted. Instead of the victim being swept under the rug. It's slow, but it's still progress.
Mar. 21st, 2013 03:51 pm (UTC)
True, and a very important change.
Mar. 21st, 2013 03:35 pm (UTC)
Meanwhile, horrifying and depressing as this is, second verse same as the first : http://registercitizen.com/articles/2013/03/20/news/doc51493e14b1a0a944806262.txt (This is not likely to get the same kind of nationwide coverage, but it serves to make us wonder just *how* often it's happening.)

“If you look at crime statistics, these things happen everywhere and we’re not any different than any other community,” Athletic Director Mike McKenna says BY WAY OF EXCUSE.

signal boosting a similar rant, while I'm at it : http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/ctnj.php/archives/entry/op-ed_victim_bullying_in_torrington_a_shameful_example_of_rape_culture/ And this is the reason that you deserve credit as one of the decent men willing to speak up, because I can practically guarantee that both female journalists are going to reap a great pile of vicious "and this is why women don't feel safe on the internet" sorts of comments.
Mar. 21st, 2013 06:02 pm (UTC)
This. It's for this exact reason I'm trying to signal boost as many men as possible on this particular case.
( 48 comments — Leave a comment )


Jim C. Hines

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