Sadly, a seasoned and cynical patriarchy blamer more or less expects, at a time like this, to be continuously squinting a jaundiced eye at the discourse. I doubt there’s a woman among us who couldn’t have written the whole thing in her sleep with one lobe tied behind her back. Since yesterday’s sentencing of the Steubenville rapists, we’ve seen some truly breathtaking examples of virulent misogyny and male supremacist wagon-circling, in the shape of
• An endless loop of footage of the rapists collapsing in court. Their self-absorbed weeping is repeatedly mistranslated by a nation in denial as “I now grasp the enormity of my crimes and I’m just as sorry as can be.” In fact, as anyone who has ever been 16 knows, the rapists are simply bummed by the unexpectedly harsh consequences of having been caught.
• The notion that sports figures are entitled to a free pass. Satirized (somewhat triggeringly) here by the Onion.
• The torrent of violent online victim-blaming, rape-denying, and generalized misogynist hate speech. Typing strings of obscenities about rape victims never gets old!
• The requisite airing of the List of Shit Women Do To Confuse Dudes Into Raping Them. They’re drunk. They leave the house. They’re girls. These conditions still pass for consent in a rape culture.
• Most nauseating of all is the heartwarming Hollywood rewrite of the ending: the poor, chastened rapist boys bask in the hopeful golden rays of hope that hopefully they have “learned an important lesson” and will go on to “lead productive lives.” Thus is their cruel and vicious rape recast as an After School Special.
But the news isn’t all bad. The Internet Feminist Backlash to the infuriating afterschoolspecialization by CNN and others has been swift and sure. The buttload of excellent feminist analysis has been a pleasure to read. Check out this great piece — destined to become an Internet classic — by Freethought blogger and “professional fun-ruiner” Miri, who writes:
I don’t want to hear anything more about the “ruined futures” of Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond. The verdict did not ruin their futures. They ruined their futures, when they made the decision to rape someone.
[... a bunch of trenchant remarks well worth reading ...]
I want to hear more about what makes you a rapist and less about what makes you a victim, more about structures and less about individuals, more about justice and less about revenge.
A tiny window of opportunity has opened. The spotlight on rape culture is starting to get in through the chinks in the mainstream. For example, a petition to persuade CNN to issue a public apology for their infuriating “Tears for Rapists” coverage has over 27,000 signatures at Change.org.
Color me desperately idealistic, but at this moment it might actually be possible to enbiggen the discourse just a smidge. We must try like mad to adjust the common perception of rape, as well as outdated ideas of “consent,” to something a little more in line with women’s reality. Specifically: that stopping rape requires men to stop raping, not women to stop drinking, walking, dancing, smiling, wearing an outfit, or attempting to simply exist, like men do, as sovereign entities.
So tweet your asses off, blamers! And if nothing else, sign that fucking petition!
Hat tip to Chris Clarke.
CNN still from YouTube.