So back in August, in Steubenville, Ohio, a whole bunch of teenagers got together and did what teenagers will typically do when provided with tons of alcohol and little adult supervision: they got blackout drunk and acted like idiots.
One special girl, an honor roll student and athlete at a smaller, religious school joined the students from the local high school along with several close friends and had a wee bit too much to drink (that can happen). In fact, she got so drunk, she was slurring her words and stumbling about and eventually passed out cold and her friends packed her up safely in the back of someone’s car and drove her home and told her parents she must have the flu or something and she had a wicked headache the next morning and decided she was never drinking tequila again.
Oh, wait. Oops. No. That’s not what happened.
One special girl, an honor roll student and athlete at a smaller, religious school joined the students from the local high school and had a wee bit too much to drink (that can happen). In fact, she got so drunk, she was slurring her words and stumbling about and eventually passed out cold and APPARENTLY HAS NO FRIENDS OF ANY KIND.
This girl (you can find out her name if you like, but I’ll just call her Princess) somehow managed to find herself in the company of not just one, but TWO local football stars, who then proceeded to act like huge jerks, by taping themselves assaulting Princess, who was too drunk to protest and then posting the images on Twitter and sharing them using their phones.
Did I use the word “assault”? Yes, I did. What those boys did was clearly assault, but to describe it as “brutal rape” is a fucking insult to women who have been brutally raped. The boys deserve a slap and a good talking to about being decent human beings, but there is more to this story than is being reported. A whole bunch of things are being left out.
As Jezebel has noted, we wouldn’t even know about the story if it weren’t for a righteous blogger who decided that the “brutal rape” of the innocent Princess should result in some serious jail time for the boys involved. Vigilante feminism in action, where there is only one narrative, and only one possible outcome. The lady is 100% innocent and good, the young men are 100% evil and bad and the complete destruction of the boys lives is the only acceptable outcome, up to and including jail.
What is being left out? Oh, only the whole entire back story of history and psychology and deeply engrained motivations and desires. So Princess shows up at the party without a group of friends to protect her and drinks herself into catatonia.
Why doesn’t she have any friends? An honor roll student and an athlete and she has no friends? Bullshit. How about this? She went to a smaller religious school with a group of girls who know just what is going to happen at a testosterone fuelled drinking party loaded with football players and stayed home that night! Is that what happened? I don’t know, but if it did, it’s certainly a material fact. How can Princess claim she didn’t know what could possibly happen when her friends refused to accompany her? WHY would Princess go to a party without friends and then proceed to get blindly drunk?
Did she want to nail a football star?
Bingo! And being a teenage girl, raised in a slut-walking feminist culture, she probably thought that giving herself some liquid courage and then blowing one of the players might land her a boyfriend. Wrong, Princess. It landed you a night with boys who had nothing but contempt for you. Jezebel and our vigilante feminist blogger would like people to think that the contempt the boys had for Princess is indicative of the hatred they have for all women, everywhere, all the time. Is it possible that the boys thought that Princess, specifically was a slut?
And so they treated her like one (surprise!). And for that they deserve some small punishment. Fingering a passed out, friendless, boyfriend-hunting slut and posting the pictures on Twitter was a revolting thing to do. Shame on those boys.
Everyone in this case behaved shamefully, but I take issue with the fact that only the boys are held legally or morally responsible for their actions. Deciding that ONLY the boys are responsible has some very damaging consequences. First of all, it’s completely infantilizing. Only men have responsibilities? Only men are held accountable? Only men can be charged criminally with sex crimes? At the very least, Princess should be up on charges of underage drinking, public intoxication and indecency. But no, she’s apparently just a victim and can’t be blamed for any aspect of what happened to her.
Second, it tells young women that it’s OK to go hunting high status males, to travel alone, to drink to the point of unconsciousness and to wake up the next morning with no memory and then place the BLAME on someone else. Hey look, shark infested waters! Let’s get super drunk, cover ourselves in fish blood and go swimming! What can go wrong?
How foolish. The fact that the boys in question were so utterly unfeeling and contemptuous towards Princess says something about them, to be certain. But it also says something about HER. And the fact is that no one’s life is going to be ruined by this, if we just leave things well enough alone. The boys have learned that there are limits to how callously they can act (no matter how slutty the girl) and hopefully, Princess has learned that heading out to drink with the big boys without some good friends to protect her from her own worst, most base impulses is also a bad idea.
But cue the vigilante feminist blogger. She won’t let this drop. She wants those boys ruined. Destroyed. Rotting in jail. Completely annihilated. One of the boys is countersuing for defamation, and good for him. But honestly, it doesn’t look good.
And that, my friends, is a problem. When young men, barely beyond childhood themselves are held responsible for their actions, but young women are not, we have tilted the field too far. I can’t imagine what kind of LAW could be passed to hold women accountable that wouldn’t be horrifically draconian and open to wide abuse. It has to be part of the culture. Women need to know that men are not women, and that they will respond in certain situations LIKE MEN.
How do young women protect themselves from men being men? They have friends. They travel in groups. They accept that their own decisions aren’t always going to be wise or accomplish what they hope to accomplish. THAT is girl power. Stick together ladies. If you end up shit-faced drunk at a football party chasing after boys way out of your league, you need some good solid girlfriends to take you home and tell your mom you suddenly came down with the flu.
If someone wants to post a picture of you barfing on Facebook, well, let them. Make sure your two besties are in the shot, holding back your hair and getting you to drink some water. No one ever charged their best friends for being friends.
And always remember, if you want to nab the star quarterback, you need to be a cheerleader. That’s how it works.
Lots of love,