Some Disjointed Thoughts, Courtesy of Steubenville

by Ginger on March 25, 2013

in Random

The summer after I graduated high school, one of the things I did was go to my soon-to-be university’s freshman orientation. I spent the weekend there, stayed in a dorm, registered for classes, took tours, all sorts of things. And one of the things I remember was the “campus safety” seminar, the one where someone from the university talked about the emergency blue lights around campus, campus police, and how to stay safe walking around both during the day and at night, that sort of thing.

Let’s be honest, it was the “How Not To Get Raped or Assaulted On Campus, And How To Deal With It If You Are” seminar.

But I have to wonder why the male incoming freshmen weren’t at a simultaneous seminar that was the “Seriously Guys, Just Don’t Rape or Assault Women” seminar.

*****

In my lifetime, I’ve been told/read/learned: to mind my surroundings, to keep my head up, to not have headphones on when walking by myself, to never leave a drink alone, to never accept a drink from a stranger, to go out with friends whenever possible, to not drink so much that I’m not aware of my surroundings, to aim for the eyes, to aim for the groin, to stomp on a foot, that no means no, the numbers of rape hotlines, and more.

And I’m not saying that that’s not all really important, useful, helpful information. Because it is, it definitely is.

But I’m sick to death of the idea that it’s on ME. That as a woman, it’s my job to not dress a certain way or act a certain way or be a certain way. That I need to do the work of being AWARE enough to not get raped, or CHASTE enough to not get raped, or UNATTRACTIVE enough to not get raped, or SOBER enough to not get raped. As if “being raped” is the natural state of being for all women, unless and until they prove otherwise.

As if RAPING is the natural act for all men, unless *I* can provide the reason for them not to.

*****

When I was living in New York, I dealt with the flashers, the masturbators, the leer-ers, the gropers. The sad part is, when I went to write that sentence, I originally wrote it this way:

When I was living in New York, I dealt with the inevitable flashers….

See, I’m falling into it myself.

*****

This blog post over at Ask Moxie has really resonated a lot with me. As a mom to a boy, yes, but also as a mom, and a human being and someone who wishes that someone, anyone, had stepped in when they saw what was happening in Steubenville.

A Letter To My Sons About Stopping Rape

*****

I’m lucky that I had friends, both male and female, who would (and did) watch out for me (and I for them) when we went out/went to parties/were drinking/were walking around.

I’m sad that I have to say I was lucky.

*****

The media deserves a giant throat punch for the way they’ve covered this thing.

It makes me sputter whenever I try to wrap my head around the problems with how they’ve reported on it, where they’ve put their sympathies, how they’ve added to the blame for the victim, and why they don’t seem to see a problem with it.

My thoughts on the state of journalism in this country are many (of course), but honestly this? This is some terrible terrible reporting.

*****

I’m watching the boys and girls from the neighborhood play outside. They play together, they laugh, they run, they act like kids. They help each other up when they fall, they pick on one another, they take turns and they don’t. They spend hours together, as friends.

And someday, their dynamic will change. Not necessarily bad, not necessarily good, just different. They won’t play together the way they do now, and they won’t be as carefree as they are now, but I hope, I hope, I hope, they will always watch out for each other the way they do now.

They’re boys and girls, but they’re not on opposite teams, you know?

 

San March 25, 2013 at 8:13 pm

Loved this, Ginger. So true. It makes me sick how much *blame* is placed on girls/women when something like this happens.

Cloud March 25, 2013 at 8:42 pm

I agree with you, 100%. Awhile back, before the verdict, I read a really good post about how when the bus gang rape happened in India, our media wrote stories about why Indian culture allows rape. But when rapes happen here, our media write about them as individual crimes (if we’re lucky! Sometimes, like with the Steubenville case, they are portrayed as youthful indiscretions) and never examines why OUR culture allows rape. I was ashamed I’d never thought about it that way before.

april March 26, 2013 at 4:44 am

This was lovely. I have many thoughts to reply and comment on but I can’t seem to get my mind around them. We must teach our boys the respect that ALL PEOPLE deserve, male and female.

Michelle March 26, 2013 at 7:20 am

All of this is so true. (Although as someone who is in journalism, I will say I see great journalism happen every day. Amazing things. But there was some crappy coverage in Steubenville.)

nonsequiturchica March 26, 2013 at 12:19 pm

AMEN.

I couldn’t believe the coverage on Steubenville- and as far as I know NO ONE apologized or addressed the backlash (I haven’t been paying attn though).

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks March 26, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Eloquent, Ginger. I have lots of discombobulated thoughts about your thoughts, but that last bit about watching after one another and being on the same team? Those thoughts REALLY resonated with me.

Tragic Sandwich March 26, 2013 at 12:57 pm

This is such a hard topic, because I, too, have always heard these messages. And I am definitely going to pass them along to Baguette.

I don’t want her to think it’s her job to not get raped (or to be the victim of any other crime.)

I do want her to realize that there are steps she can take that may help minimize risk.

I do want her to know in her bones that she is not responsible for someone else’s crimes.

I do want to tell her stories of when I was lucky, and others I knew who weren’t. We made similar choices. We didn’t always have similar outcomes.

I want to teach her that while she has control over herself, she is not responsible for when others choose not to exercise control over themselves.

I want her to know that she doesn’t have to do everything “right” to be right, and that doing everything “right” is not a guarantee of anything.

I know that it’s possible for someone to take issue with each of these points, and to argue that I’m part of the problem.

And every single sentence I’ve typed here breaks my heart a little, because none of them should be necessary.

Natalie the Singingfool March 27, 2013 at 12:08 pm

I love this post. It’s funny, I grew up believing it was on me to not get raped. It was only when I got older that I realized, “hey, shouldn’t we be telling men not to be rapists???”

oilandgarlic March 28, 2013 at 4:17 pm

I was taught all those safety rules too. However, I thought of it as keeping myself self from all crimes from theft to murder, which are crimes that could affect men as well as women. I also thought of being aware of my surroundings as sort of walking proud and tall and strong, strange as that may sound! I tend to be less aware in groups or daytime and don’t have the greatest posture. However, if I’m alone or in strange, dark areas, I throw my shoulders back and walk with a dancer’s posture, which oddly makes me feel strong and invincible even if I’m doing it out of fear I suppose.

nicoleandmaggie April 19, 2013 at 5:34 pm

Our incoming freshman class actually had a pretty extensive “how not to rape” section during orientation. A lot of guys had difficulty with the idea that on our campus they required verbal consent. Not saying no wasn’t good enough, the person had to say yes.

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