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The award-winning news site of Cosumnes River College

The Connection

The award-winning news site of Cosumnes River College

The Connection

How media twists predators into rape victims

Steubenville, Ohio recently hosted deplorable behavior as the highly publicized rape of a young girl caught the attention of national news sources.

A 16-year-old girl was raped by a 17-year-old boy and a 16-year-old boy. These boys were stars on the high school football team and as such had many opportunities ahead of them.

I do not need to tell anyone that rape is horrible, so when I say that Steubenville was host to deplorable behavior, I refer to the way that the media has treated the verdict of the case. Both boys were found guilty of rape, but somehow they are being portrayed as victims.

In the breaking news report on March 17 by CNN, Poppy Harlow opined how, “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.”

If the viewer did not know any better, it would almost sound like the boys were being falsely charged as guilty. Of course, it went on to explain that justice had been served because these boys did rape an unconscious girl and brag about it on social media sites, right? They did take pictures of the girl’s body with semen on it, so the reporter probably mentioned whether the victim now had some form of closure, right? No. None of these things happened.

A legal expert by the name of Paul Callan was brought on to discuss the ramifications of what they had done, though. “That will haunt them for the rest of their lives. Employers, when looking up their background, will see that they’re registered sex offenders. When they move into a new neighborhood and somebody goes on the Internet where these things are posted neighbors will know that they are registered sex offenders.”

It feels like the viewer should be saddened by the fact that the boys will be registered sex offenders. If the boys had not raped anyone, they would not have to worry about being registered sex offenders.

This speaks to a larger, prevalent problem in our society surrounding rape. It is called “rape culture,” and it refers to the harmful ideas that are perpetuated by the media and consumers about rape. In essence, these ideas contribute to victim blaming and the idea that a girl can be “asking for it.”

Oftentimes in a case of rape someone will ask, “what was she wearing?” or, “was she drinking?” The answers to these questions should not matter at all. A far more appropriate question would be, “were they engaging in consensual sexual behavior?”

The former questions imply that there is a situation in which it would be understandable to rape someone. In case there is any confusion about this, it is never okay to rape someone under any circumstances.

No matter how much skin was or was not showing, no matter how much alcohol was consumed, and no matter how good someone is at football, rape is not excusable. It is a violation of someone’s body, trust and mental health, and it is never something that happens on accident.

Sexual assault is far too common in America, with someone being sexually assaulted every two minutes. Of those sexual assaults, only 54 percent are reported to the police, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.

The rate of sexual assault is high, as is the number of cases not reported to the police. A common reason for not reporting an assault is shame and embarrassment. Victims feel terrible about the event.

The media does not need to increase that shame by being rape apologists.

So no, I do not feel sorry that the boys of Steubenville have lost their “promising” football careers.

No, I do not feel sorry that the boys of Steubenville will be registered sex offenders.

I do, however, feel sorry that these boys violated a young girl’s body and as a result of rape culture there are some who would say that what they did was excusable.

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About the Contributor
Courtney Rich, Former Staff
Swift and deadly with a Rubix Cube, Courtney came onto the paper for the first time in spring 2013 and quickly found her spot in the staff. Courtney focused on News to start but quickly grew to try out both Features and Opinion before the semester, and her stint on the paper, came to an end. Semesters on Staff: Spring 2013

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How media twists predators into rape victims