What is slowly becoming apparent since escalating media attention with respect to the plight of one sixteen year old girl’s purported rape at the hands of individuals from the Steubenville High school football team last summer is our collective desire to bring a stop to prevailing attitudes towards women that has objectified them and turned them into accessories that can be tacitly raped.
The incident which is said to have happened on the night of one balmy August evening was initially not taken seriously by the school or local authorities. Many at the time and still to this very day actually believe that the girl in question had simply made the story up of her purported rape in order to quash rumors that she was a ‘slut.‘ Something that is hard to imagine with photos of her being dragged around from venue to venue by all fours as well as urinated on. Hardly the notion that something one would willingly desire for themselves, even in a semi conscious state.
Nevertheless perhaps the one comment that caught my attention and made me think about what is really at stake and whether we as a society can challenge prevailing negative attitudes towards women came from one reader who questioned this author’s concern about the individual, Michael Nodianos being so extensively vilified for expressing demeaning thoughts about the girl who was purportedly raped.
Reflected the commentator: If you publicly express a view on social media like twitter in a way that may well drive the target of your remarks into suicide, you should be ready to face an equally harsh backlash. Why is it so unfathomable for this author that Nodianos, who was, by the way, already an adult at the time of the incident, should own his shit? Because our cultural tradition dicates that women just have to take it?
And, is it really too much to ask of people to report a crime they learn about or witness, at least afterwards, if they are too timid to intervene? If laws do not cover punishing a failure to report, it is no wonder that rape culture is perpetuated. Besides, I would be particularly interested, if there is proof – like on- camera-proof – that Nodianos was at Mc Donalds as he states and not at the site of the rape. Or did police just take his word? His word an the word of his sports pals, who very well know, that Nodianos – as an adult – will be in bigger trouble than anyone else, if his involvement can be proven.
As for his career at university, what signal will it send to his male peers and the female students, if he – an outspoken advocate of ‘it is not really rape if she is unconscious’ – can continue his university career, and that on scholarship? It is simple. If he is not permanently expelled, the university and society condones rape culture as an alternative, valid life style choice. The key question is: do we really want to end rape culture, or do we want to find excuses?
Then there’s this via jezebel this afternoon that got me thinking as well:
Is it too optimistic to hope the increasingly high-profile case will help dispel some of our country’s most deep-rooted myths about rape?
According to RAINN, 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime; a recent government survey found the number was closer to one in five. So why can’t the country stop talking about the Steubenville rape case?
Which raises the question why do we as a society have such a hard time respecting and honoring women, and how is that they are so often vilified and forced to mold into certain affections, looks or behavior or risk being alienated? Is it because at the end of the day it really is a man’s world and we must not upset the way men feel about themselves? Or is it the idea that for so long men, or in the above instance, football stars had become so idealized by the community that to even ponder their ability to rape risked perjuring the fantastic image that we as society have of certain role models who it is now being shown are also capable of doing horrendous things?
Then again perhaps the question isn’t really about men vs women but perhaps how women have also on some level also played into certain stereotypes that in some way affords them the license to play the damsel in distress looking for her shining white armor. That plus her constant self criticism for not looking a certain way (women are more harsher towards each other about each other’s appearances than men are) or behaving a certain way or adopting certain social or career paths. Which is to say perhaps if women were more assertive about their own identity and did not measure their self worth in relation to men (‘he’s my husband, ‘he’s my boss, etc) she might be able to command a more assertive repose that would make it less tolerable for her to be manipulated, violated and of course raped.
Then again as much as women are responsible for the image and attitudes they present of themselves in public we should not pretend that men and our society in general have also helped feed certain notions that can foster antagonistic attitudes towards women. Against that as a society we are still presented with pervasive negative stereotypes of women ( don’t believe me just go through any fashion spread and ask yourself if the model in question is being sexualized and for what purpose and how that in turn sets her up in the eyes of others and how should she perceive herself) and as one video of an inebriated young man long standing attitudes that still regard women as fuck objects to be violated (“She is so raped,” he says. “Her puss is about as dry as the sun right now”)
Isn’t it finally refreshing that individuals like Nodianos and others like him that help perpetuate the culture of rape and demonization of women whilst free to be and express themselves to heart’s content can also finally fear being held accountable for actions, thoughts and comments that in some way go a long way in perpetuating negative attitudes and actions towards women…?