Mar 18 2013

Spinster aunt curls lip at afterschoolspecialization of Steubenville

CNN's Poppy Harlow is sorely bummed over the demise of the tearful Steubenville rapists' "promising futures" at Sunday's sentencing.

CNN’s Poppy Harlow is sorely bummed over the demise of the tearful Steubenville rapists’ “promising futures” at Sunday’s sentencing.

Oy, the Steubenville coverage! One barfs.

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.


2 pings

Skip to comment form

  1. shopstewardess

    Petition signed.

    I am persisting with my complaint to the BBC, who ran a story focusing on false allegations of rape (and the harm done to those poor misunderstood men by false allegations) on the day the Crown Prosecution Service published a report stating that 98% of allegations of rape were not false, and that over-emphasis on the 2% was detrimental to the treatment of those 98%.

    My latest line is that I’ll accept that they could have properly published their story if they come up with 46 earlier stories in which they assumed a rape allegation was true, but that even if they can do this, they still shouldn’t have published their false allegations story on a day which should have been good news for the victims of rape.

  2. Twisty

    “they still shouldn’t have published their false allegations story on a day which should have been good news for the victims of rape.”

    This is so typical of the rape-culture-appeasing, tin-eared approach of mainstream media.

  3. KittyWrangler

    I noticed that it was really, really important that the media always call the rapists “alleged rapists.” And I understand why: “we don’t know for a fact they raped,” “they haven’t gone to trial yet,” “we don’t want to get sued.”

    Yet it occurred to no one to say the girl “allegedly” got drunk, even though the police declined to test her for “date rape” drugs as too much time had elapsed (indicating that she or an advocate requested she be tested) and the Anonymous hackers claim to have found evidence (albeit inadmissable) that she was lured under false pretenses to a friend’s house (not a party) and drugged. And the hackers published what they claim to be calls, texts and apparently the name of the dealer to back it up.

    There’s nothing wrong with drinking (well, in the context of rape rather than, say, your liver) and nothing wrong with partying. The reason it is upsetting, though, that the “she got black-out drunk at a party” THEORY was allowed to be printed repeatedly as fact and it now has a death-grip hold on the public’s imagination. No, we don’t “know” that she got drunk. No, until 2 days ago it hadn’t gone to trial.

    With extensive text and video evidence that they DID rape, the reporter has to pretend they might not have raped. But with text and video evidence that the rape was pre-meditated and personally vengeful, the reporter can say for certain the girl got drunk? We live in a society where date rape drugs are rampant and the media should acknowledge that and hold it as a reasonable possibility when reporting. When I brought this issue up in comments with feminist writers who covered the issue as “she got drunk and […],” I was told that the accusation of drugging was just that– an accusation. So they had to report it as “she got drunk.” How the *?@! does that work?

    And yes to everything Twisty says. This rape, this culture and this reporting is some major bullshit.

  4. quixote

    Tin ear? Or the peens who decide on the stories to run feeling “misunderstood”?

  5. Miri

    Thanks for linking to me! Petition signed. New blog discovered. :)

  6. Anonymous

    Wow, KittyWrangler. Powerful.

  7. goblinbee

    KittyWrangler, that is a great point you are making.

  8. Notorious Ph.D.

    I have been so hellaciously overworked that I have been mostly absent from blogland for several months. This actually inspired me to write a post, however rushed, over at my place. I’m not trolling for views, so I’ll give you the synopsis: I’m a medieval historian who once wrote a book on gender and law in the Middle Ages, and one of the chapters of said book deals with gendered sexual control, violence, and legal personhood. And what’s depressing is how well the Steubenville incident and aftermath (though not the verdict, thank bog) mesh with the gendered legal culture of 1328.

    Normally I bristle when some doofus makes an uninformed and invidious comparison with the Middle Ages, especially with regards to gender. But in this case, it’s pretty much right on the money: Same shit, different century.

    If the patriarchy had a face, I would punch it. HARD.

  9. stacey

    Speaking of media fuckupedness, we’re sitting down to dinner and there’s a radio interview going on about the front cover of today’s Globe and Mail, which shows 17-yr old Kaetlyn Osmond (Canadian girl who won 8th place at figure skating worlds this weekend) doing a high-kick – a full on crotch shot.

    So we scrabble around on the table and find the front section, and flip it open, and my face went all Grumpy Cat. It’s no longer on their website, and they’ve acknowledged that it was a “poor choice”, but i don’t think they’ve actually apologised; Katelyn Osmond tweeted that she didn’t mind, but what else can she say, and not appear ungrateful for making the front page? I blame the P and G&M for putting her in that situation.

  10. Keri

    Excellent blaming here as well:


    I would like to be the face of a personhood movement. 9 cells get to be a person but not us ladies, no way no how. I would like to be a person. That would be awesome!

  11. Katherine

    Ugh, shopstewardess, that had my blood boiling as well. If it had been the Daily Mail I’d have had boiling blood but not surprise. The BBC though really pissed me off because I thought they were just a smidge better than that. Sadly not.

  12. Twisty

    Thanks Keri, I done tweeted it.

  13. Notorious Ph.D.

    By the way, Twisty: I’m glad to see you back. I missed your words.

  14. Kali

    Kittywrangler, that’s a very good point. In general, I’ve noticed that whatever the rape defense team says is reported in the media as a fact, with little or no skepticism, and the victim’s side of the story is carefully modified with “alleged”, “claim”, “accuse” etc.

  15. TwissB

    Keri – I once called the office of a congressional sponsor of one of those fetal personhood amendments and, assuming a real nice lady voice, told the upper staff person that my book club friends and I wanted to know whether, at birth, a girl baby would lose her personhood since the Constitution does not acknowledghe women as persons.. He fstuttered around and finally summoned “Reed versus Reed and its progeny” as if that settled the matter. I refrained from pointing out that RvR was as rarified a case as possible which is why Ruth Bader Ginsburg chose it to kick off her grand strategy for getting the courts to declare sex discrimination unconstitutional and that her “progeny” cases along that line, ostensibly about discimination against women, all involved discrimination against men. Instead I just said “Oh. Thank yew.” and hung up,

    Re the main subject, even as I was rolling my eyes at the “what if your daughter, etc” references, the news came through that some congressman had reversed his stand against gay marriage because “a member of his family” had come out as gay. So has God reversed His anti-gay position…or what?

  16. maridon

    “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.”

    I long for the day I can walk in the dark without fear.

  17. quixote

    Notorious PhD, interesting to have the truth of the feeling that I-can’t-beleeeeve-we’re-still-dealing-with-this-shit confirmed by an expert.

  18. teekay

    Welcome back! Here’s an Australian feminist’s take on the story that contains some nicely turned phrases: http://www.dailylife.com.au/all-about-women/there-was-only-one-victim-at-steubenville-20130318-2gaxy.html

  19. BlueRain

    Coincidentally, I saw a coverage of this case in a Japanese news-infortaiment show this morning, and the main male commentator said “I don’t understand why anyone can say anything to support these rapists” which was quite refreshing. The fact that this is so rare an occurrence is depressing.

  20. ElizaN

    The #safetytipsforladies on twitter are quite enjoyable, and just as practical as any other advice I’ve ever received. https://twitter.com/search?q=%23safetytipsforladies&src=typd

  1. Steubenville | Sarai Walker

    […] are a lot of great blog posts and articles out there about what is happening. I recommend Twisty’s take on this. Here’s a […]

  2. You Know What’s Bugging Me? | Circe Smith

    […] I post this and this to my newly resurrected FB account (sigh), and it occurs to me that at least one of my FB […]

Comments have been disabled.