Steubenville, “those poor boys”, and feeling sad for the consequences of actions

So, the rapist football players of Steubenville have been sentenced to not very harsh sentences (because they’re juvenile delinquents), and CNN went and illustrated everyday rape culture perfectly:

Incredibly difficult, even for an outsider like me, to watch what happened as these two young men that had such promising futures, star football players, very good students, literally watched as they believed their lives fell apart…when that sentence came down, [Ma'lik] collapsed in the arms of his attorney…He said to him, ‘My life is over. No one is going to want me now.’

While CNN probably didn’t mean it that way, it shows perfectly that rapists are not criminals lurking in the shadows but people who fit all currently accepted mainstream measures of success and solidity. Mallory Ortberg goes on to discuss possible non-malign reasons for CNN’s reporting yet also points out:

For readers interested in learning more about how not to be labeled as registered sex offenders, a good first step is not to rape unconscious women, no matter how good your grades are. Regardless of the strength of your GPA (weighted or unweighted), if you commit rape, there is a possibility you may someday be convicted of a sex crime. This is because of your decision to commit a sex crime instead of going for a walk, or reading a book by Cormac McCarthy. Your ability to perform calculus or play football is generally not taken into consideration in a court of law. Should you prefer to be known as “Good student and excellent football player Trent Mays” rather than “Convicted sex offender Trent Mays,” try stressing the studying and tackling and giving the sex crimes a miss altogether.

All this notwithstanding, the reliable false balance commenter shows up:

Fuck everyone who doesn’t feel at least a bit sorry for what happened to these kids. First, what they did was horrible, terrible, inhumane, and disgusting. That much is clear. But at the end of the day we should all be feeling sad about the WHOLE situation-the rape of the girl, AND the ruining of all three lives. Kids make mistakes, even extremely huge mistakes, but mistakes nonetheless and I really don’t believe they should keep getting punished when they are in their 40’s and committed the crime more than 20 years ago. I feel sorry for all of them.

Well, fuck me then! I don’t feel sorry for what happened to these male “kids”, at least not as relates to the verdict, in the same way I wouldn’t feel sorry for someone getting sentenced for manslaughter after getting into a car drunk and running someone over, or for someone someone getting sentenced for wrongful death after showing off a firearm and accidentally shooting someone in the head. I don’t feel sorry for someone getting punished for committing an indisputable crime, such as violating the bodily autonomy of someone. I do feel sorry for the girl that was abused by the rapists, by her town, and now by the wider media.

And I am pissed, pissed at parents that apparently didn’t teach their sons that it is wrong to abuse other people, at high school teachers and coaches who didn’t teach this, at a community who didn’t teach this, at a popular culture that doesn’t teach this. Brute Reason on Freethought Blogs says it more extensively and better than I do.

This entry was posted in Hypocrisy, media, popular culture, rape culture. Bookmark the permalink.

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