3 Percent of rape cases get a convection.

I try not to get political on NVL. I try to keep it light and fun and as apolitical as I can. I try not to bring in too much of my own bias because I know I have a lot of readers from may different stripes of the world, and with all of that said, I try to make sure I speak with conviction on whatever I'm talking about. So I'm gong to talk about rape.

There have been some very cathartic opinions written about the Steubenville, OH rape trial that finally reached a verdict on Sunday. Some people are saying their conviction of one year of juvie detention was not enough, others say it was too much. Some say this will ruin their lives, 'they are only children'. Others say that the girl should not have placed herself in harm's way, she should have been, 'old enough to know better.' Which is it? Both are the same age, both drank, but the boys treated the girl like an object, not a person, and that, in today's day and age, is why the victim of this outcome will forever have the longest prison sentence.

Across the vast internet people making fun of this girl, who apparently is expected to take the shame and death threats to the jail she is most likely to be in for the rest of her life. She has to live with what happened to her. She has to live with someone taking the sacred privacy of her own body away from her. To know that strangers have seen her in compromising positions on the internet and she could be trolled at any given time. To realize that she has a scarlet letter now in her home town because she has the inconvenience of being a victim of sexual assault. To know that the news media has released her name to the world against every form of journalistic ethics and there was no wide spread backlash. To know that the silent majority favors the football team over their egregious crime tells you something.

In our current lexicon, this western democracy has made it the victim's fault.

While citizens of other countries like India and Egypt try and grasp at some forms of justice for their vastly unequal women, we seem to think that 'equality' was reached long, long ago in this western world. It's so equal, so fair, that now we have 'reverse sexism'. And if that is not the largest pile of bullshit, I don't know what is.

Look, I'm sure there are some men in the world who have been victimized. I get that, but this isn't about being PC, it's about raw honest equality and women don't have that. Hell, we don't even have that in the constitution. You want to know one of the red flags that women don't have true equality in this country. No, it's not equal pay, or business success. The real reason is, everyone, and I mean everyone, knows at least one woman in their life that has been sexually assaulted.

It happened to me.

I was 9. He was 16. I was lucky, because an adult walked in before anything happened beneath the clothes, but I still remember it. I often wonder if I blocked anything out and if so, did that effect my relationships today. Could that be the reason I have intimacy issues?

Some of the womenfolk I know weren't as lucky. Ha. 'Lucky' to have been less assaulted. Laugh.

"Shaming the victim", "rape culture", these terms sicken me. I always attribute 'culture' to a positive association. Where there is a rich and documented history to be learned critiqued and respected. To hear  that lovely word, although accurately attributed to this phrase agitates me. We seem to have buzz worded any form of actual discourse and treated this whole thing as if we have seen a move. We have atrophied on any common citizenry and that is what makes my heart raw.

As far as the boys and their sentence, I try and see perspective. I wish they would have had more on their time, sure, but what bothers me is this perverse 'support group' of people that are seemingly going to be there to encourage them to get over what happened to them, not have them realize what they did to that girl other than their own consequence.

The girl? It's a part of her now. She is forever changed by the assault, and her consequence it to be the different person she is forced to be because of it.

People say you can't teach someone not to rape. I beg to differ. You can do it the same as you would teach someone not to drink and drive. Awareness. It takes a while to build up that mechanism in your brain that makes you listen to your conscience. "This isn't right." That's the same voice that says, "I probably shouldn't have this third drink."

It's part compassion, part empathy and part integrity. It's part divorcing mob mentality, part morality and part justice. Open the door for someone. Say excuse me. Help someone with their packages. It might seem silly, but these situations glaze over you and make you an empathetic person and that is not a weakness.

Perhaps if one of those boys had learned that, one of them might have said, "Dude, what the fuck are you doing!? Leave her alone!"

Perhaps next time, because sadly there will be a next time.


  1. Hear hear!

    The entire situation is just shameful and horrifying, but Jane Doe's life will be forever changed because she is painted as being at fault by millions of people, men and women, girls and boys. What the hell is this teaching the next generation behind us? That a girl has no right to her privacy and her body even if she's drunk as a skunk? That guys shouldn't be held accountable for their actions because a woman's insobriety (or short skirt, or low-cut top, or face full of make-up) means she wanted to be taken advantage of? It's just sickening.

  2. In my opinion, if you have readers who don't agree with you on this you are probably better off if they choose not to come back. It is NEVER the victim's fault. I am totally judging her girlfriends (some of whom are almost certainly victims too, sadly) for not having her back and getting her home safely, though. And how were there multiple under-age alcohol-fuelled parties without a single responsible adult around? It's an entirely sick culture, it seems to me as an outsider.

  3. I come from a generation that feels sexual assault is a taboo discussion and invariably gets swept under the carpet along with the victim. Sexual assault affects lives more than we realize. As a survivor of sexual abuse myself, I can't help but wonder how different things might be for me if I had not been assaulted at age 5. I taught my daughters about safety, good touches vs. bad touches and both were assaulted by male peers (one of them at a day care!). I don't know the answer. The offender (if convicted) gets punished 'after' the crime is committed. What's in place to prevent this?

  4. Thank you for sharing what happened to you. What happened to me was very similar to what happened in the Stuebenville case, but since it was before the internet, at least the whole world didn;t see pictures or tweets about it. Respect for for other people's dignity and "personhood", for lack of a better word, is something I am trying to teach my sons as they grow in this world. While sexual assault happens to 1 in 4 women, it also happens to 1 in 6 men in America. There is something wrong with the culture of Stuebenville that the adults tried to protect these kids because they were football stars. There is something wrong with CNN that they sympathized with these criminals at how THEIR lives are forever ruined. Something is wrong with our culture.

  5. Entirely agree with you. Either they are kids and should have been well supervised by real adults (or at home with their families) OR they are young adults who should accept the consequences of their poor decisions. Seems to me that whoever supplied the alcohol should also stand trial. Here is a link that was very interesting & sad - sad that the kids had such terrible attitudes yet were very willing to be taught. Why does such obvious "this is wrong" have to spelled out?


  6. Well said, thanks for posting this.

  7. Amen.

    I think to be a woman is to know sexual violence.

  8. I think one should never apologize for talking about rape or sexism if it happens in a qualified way (I´m saying qualified because we recently were shown a lot of ridiculous reports about sexism in german tv that made the whole topic look like silly-girl-whining). Unlike India, Steubenville never appeared in german news. (I read about it on tumblr.) I guess because it happened in a first world country and could have caused a bad feeling among people. After all things like that would never happen in a western society. Because we are better than that. Rapists aren´t average boys in our society, they are old creeps or outsiders. And if in doubt, well, it must´ve been the victims own fault. Shouldn´t have worn that mini skirt, eh? I think most people simply don´t think about sentences like that. That´s just the way it´s always been. Girls shouldn´t do this or that because you can´t expect a boy to behave. After all he´s just a cave man with a haircut, it´s in his nature. (And you really have to be a cave man to not realize that raping somebody is bad. And that taking pictures of it to share them with pretty much everone is just plain sick.)
    I´m afraid there´s still a long way to go before there´s real equality for men, women and everyone in between.

    I hope some of that made sense, my language always becomes a bit funky when I´m agitated.

  9. I absolutely agree. And people would be surprised if they really knew how large a percentage of women have been sexually assaulted at some point in their lives.

    Sometimes actions are so cruel that people refuse to see it for what it is... This case is one that starts me thinking: What if instead of the prosecutors having to prove the victim said 'NO!', the defense must prove actual consent. Preferably written consent. Not 'she was dressed the part.' Not 'she was drunk.' Not 'she was in the bar at closing time and winked at me.' Not 'but she went along with it'.

    No, I'm not a lawyer. But we have written business contracts for a reason. Maybe we need to put that kind of mindset into effect for personal relationships as well - even the one-night-stand type. As it is, we have the idea in the rape culture [because I can't think of a better term] that the default position on sexual relations at any given time for ANY female is a submissive 'yes'. This is something we need to fix too.

    I realize this is not intended as a political blog to promote this or that in the political realm. But this topic isn't political either. Human rights are a matter of common decency.

  10. Wow, thank you all for the amazing replies! I'm jarred to se how many of you have survived sexual abuse.

    Nothy Lane, it saddens me, but unfortunately I think you are right. But it shoud not be hat way. How as a 'civilized' western country can we just tell a girl to 'get over it' and move on because its so common? That's what makes me want to throw a chair.

    On a large scale of things, I actually feel its this 'you are on your own' attitude that has deeply permitted the culture in the last 20 years. Depending on people is weak, needing help is weak. If you cant do it yourself then you are a failure. Our youngers are being conditioned with that and its just wrong.

  11. I have a similar story, and I have two boys, now teens. With phones with cameras.

    I have hammered and hammered it into them to Be The Right Thing, say something, do something; being a man means being a stand-up guy. We have spend a lot of hours at dinner, at bedtime, in the car (which is the good time, since no one is making eye contact) discussing this. So far, they are appalled and receptive to the positive nature of the conversation I've initiated (and I have tried to make it a conversation, not just Mom hectoring them).

    I brought them in to the world to contribute to the greater good. God, I hope it works out.

  12. The cold hard fact is, is that nothing much has changed and in our supposedly "much more enlightened' society, women are STILL third-class citizens and we DON'T have anything even remotely resembling "equal rights". On TV I see women being abused constantly and graphically, and the amount of covert pedop.hil.ia is absolutely shocking (I don't actually WATCH TV, I just pick up on bits and pieces of it here and there, so if this is what I pick up "at random' the actual CONTENT level must be truly APPALLING.) Po,rn.ography is endemic and mere kids have ready access to a level of it that even ADULTS didn't as recently as 15 years ago. So, in this case, how can we even come close to expecting 'respect for women' to be any sort of reality? If anything, it's going in the OPPOSITE direction!

    Women have to become PROACTIVE for their own protection; I'm sorry, but it's just STUPID for women to get drunk in a "public" venue; there are ALWAYS "predators' lurking about, waiting for just that to happen! So, sorry young ladies, but if you indulge in public drinking you are PUTTING YOURSELF "at risk", (just like this young girl did) and so must ask yourself: is being drunk worth the humiliation and devastation of rape? Seems to me the choice would be obvious!

  13. Wow, your reply is part of the problem and I cant tell if this is a troll or a real person.

    I'll treat you like a real person.

    That's a lot of victim blaming you are doing, Sufiya. It's the girl's fault someone hurt her instead of asking why someone hurt her. That goes down the line of a girl wearing a short skirt is 'asking for it'. Or a girl flirting with a boy who is assaulted 'wanted it'.

    How ridiculous!

    You complain about pornography as if sexuality is porn (which it is not), then you add to the problem claiming that it's a girl's fault for 'putting herself in harm's way'?

    What about the many, MANY young women who are raped, beaten or harmed for doing nothing other than being women. Those are far more the majority. And I noticed how you never mentioned the boys who treated this girl like chattel. So it's her fault for making it so easy for them? If that is what you think then I feel bad for you.

  14. Shelley J - you really are a woman of quality and it is a pleasure to count you among my internet friends.

  15. Thank-you, Shelley J for writing about this problem in our society. Women can never have true equality until society quits blaming the victims and starts punishing the rapists.

  16. Shelley, I have also been raped in my life, and I was also drunk at the time. It's not " victim blaming" to remind women that we are agentive. We are not only victims. We make choices. Some of our choices are foolish. The punishment for being foolish is not rape, but keeping your wits about you is a mature, adult and responsible thing to do. It empowers you and makes you feel less like a " permanently potential victim." The fact that you didn't and don't deserve to be humiliated and degraded does not mean that others might try to do that to you.

    Plus, one of the boys DID tell them to stop, repeatedly. Read the court case notes. He told them stop and he told them that if they carried on it would be rape.

  17. Sorry, "does not mean that others might NOT try to... "(double negatives always confusing but you get my meaning).

  18. Ruth, I can't.

    This logic is so ridiculous that you can apply it to anything. You may not wish to call it victim blaming, but that's what it is. This girl was 16, she was going to a party with other 16 year olds, most she had know around town. They were drinking underage and yes, that was bad but that does not give excuse or obvious result for a rape.

    Plus I'm well aware that there was a lone defender of hers, but from the articles I've read, he was so milquetoast in his defense that he later went with the crowd after a while.

    This hypothesis of 'keeping your wits about you is a mature, adult and responsible thing to do' basically dismisses away anything bad that happens to any woman, ever. So, 'keeping your wits about you is a mature, adult and responsible thing to do' can also apply to the 16 year old boys, excuse me, MEN who did this to her, right? No double standards.

    A woman walking home from work is grabbed and taken and raped and beaten. Apparently she didn't have enough wits about her, so what did she expect would happen?

    The young woman in India who was gang raped and killed by 6 men on a bus after coming back from a movie with a male friend? Apparently she should have known to travel with more protection, because I mean, what else are men going to do but take advantage of the opportunity to gang rape you on a public bus?

    Malala Yousufzai, the young girl who was shot in the face by a Taliban soldier for going to school. I mean, hey, she was going against cultural norms, and we all know that's putting yourself in harms way. So she MUST have been asking for it right?

    See what I mean?

    Also, this should really upset men, because you are saying that they are not mentally capable of civilized control and can enact violence upon women at any given time, so we must constantly protect ourselves from them day or night. That's asinine.

  19. Thank you for sharing. I'm so glad that there are fellow bloggers like yourself who speak up about these issues. And the patience and grace you have to respond to these ignorant people is very admirable.

  20. Only "Yes" is consent. Anything else, indeed, EVERYTHING else is dissent. Boys need to understand this and girls need to know it too.

    Crimes against women are as old as the story of humans. Before television, before telephone, before cell towers and the internet women of every age were assaulted. Society turned a blind eye toward the 'boys will be boys' mentality. The time has come for everyone of us to say enough!!! Our sisters, daughters, mothers, aunts, nieces, and neighbors must be protected.

    Thank you, Miss Shelly, for providing this forum.

  21. Very well said. Thank you for posting this.

  22. Thank you so much for this very intelligent post. Speaking in generalities, I don't know if men get it. They sexually assault a woman and they perhaps feel guilty. A women gets sexually assaulted and she feels dead inside. There is a significant difference there. However, at the same time, and I say this very cautiously because I don't want to provide people who sexually assault with an excuse. Not all women act in a way that would encourage men to value them for more than their bodies and sex. When I think of some songs and videos out there made by young women it's horrifying to see how they are portraying themselves. And young men grow up watching it.


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