[Columns, letters or cartoons published are the work of the attributed author and do not necessarily represent the official views or opinions of “The Highland Echo.”]
There are few things that make me angrier than the way that we tolerate rape and sexual assault in our culture.
Rape is a common occurrence in our culture. A quarter of all white women will be raped or sexually assaulted in her lifetime. That number increases to one third of all non-white women. An estimated 50 percent of women serving in the military will be assaulted during her time of service.
A study by the University of Illinois showed that a whopping 76 percent of high school-aged males thought that forced sex was acceptable. In the same study, 35 percent of college-aged males admitted they would rape someone if they knew they would get away with it and 43 percent of them reported having used aggressive behavior to get sex on at least one occasion.
I’ll stop now and say that women can also commit rape. Men can be raped and experience sexual trauma in the same way, if not more intensely, than women do. The studies that have been done on male sexual assault and rape are less in number, but the current statistics show that one out of every 10 reported rapes are men.
However, an overwhelming 93.7 percent of rapists are men, usually heterosexual white men at that.
With all of this compelling data that exists to support the simple fact that women experience rape and sexual trauma at an alarming rate, we still have serious problems looking rape and rapists in the face.
A few weeks ago in Stuebenville, Ohio two high school students (whose names I won’t give the time of day to write) were rightfully found guilty of drugging an raping their 16-year-old classmate.
There are pictures of these boys dragging the young girl around by the wrists and ankles when she is clearly unconscious or barely conscious. There are videos of them laughing about committing sexual acts with her while she is unconscious.
They joked about having sex with the “dead girl.” They urinated on her unconscious body. They bragged about rape. They glorified their assault and slapped images on Instagram and patted themselves on the back via Twitter. And they almost got away with it.
Fortunately, they boys stood trial and were found guilty. They were sentenced to (gasp) one whole year in juvenile detention and are now registered sex offenders.
Sounds a whole lot like a victory to me, though I wish their punishments had been more severe. But apparently there aren’t a whole lot of people who agree with me.
The media turned the sentencing and the trial into a lament for “those poor boys” that used to be such promising students and good football players and now had to live their lives in the shadow of a rape conviction.
Let me speak very clearly: nice, good students do not go to jail for rape. Rapists do. Young men who are great and catching a ball and taking a test or two do not get a free pass for violating the sexual freedom and consent of a fellow human being.
These two young men are not “poor” and they do not and will never deserve one second of sympathy for what they have done. They weren’t in a fender bender, they didn’t shoplift some candy or sneak into an R-rated movie. They drugged a 16-year-old girl and had sex with her repeatedly without her consent. They deserve every minute of misery that will follow them for the rest of their lives because of it.
Some decisions are irreversible. Some crimes are so heinous that they cannot be forgiven. By the time that you are in high school, you have undoubtedly learned that your actions have consequences. These boys knew what they were doing was wrong and they did it anyway, banking on the fact that they live in a society that will excuse such indiscretion because they made the football team and the girl was drunk.
At what point do we stop asking ourselves questions about what the girl was wearing and what she was doing there in the first place and admit that we are giving license to sexual predators to take advantage of women, in this case a child, without any real moral or legal downfall? When does this process of victim blaming and “nice guy” syndrome end? After all the backlash from a rightful rape conviction heavily supported by photo, video and text documentation from the event itself, I’m not sure that it ever will.
Stop the world, I want to get off.