I do feel sorry for these boys. And not only because they will be put in cages that will not make them any better. I also feel sorry that two 16-year-olds are capable of the things these boys have been found guilty of doing. That makes me deeply, deeply sad. That we have created a world in which, at just 16 years old, and even younger, boys can already hate girls this much. That they can already dehumanize and degrade them. That misogyny is so insidious and so effective as to make 16-year-old boys incapable of respecting this girl, of seeing her as a human being with the right to make her own choices, even when drunk, and the right to remain unviolated, even when passed out. I am sorry for these boys that, at 16, some of their humanity is already gone. The cruelty of kids is not new, and I guess it should not shock me, but this specifically gendered cruelty, at such extreme levels and at such a young age, is shocking to me. And I do feel very sorry for these boys. Just not as sorry as I feel for the girl they raped. - Mia McKenzie, Black Girl DangerousThis blog post is great. As outrageous as the media's response to the Steubenville rape convictions was, there is some room for some sympathy for the young rapists… just not at the exclusion of the rape victim, which is the despicable stance the mainstream media adopted. They are minors after all, and as such it is both tragic and alarming that teenagers - people their community considered good students with bright futures - were capable of such thoughtless evil.
These young rapists should have known better, but they clearly didn't. So first, shame on them. Next, shame on a society that led them to believe this wasn't a reprehensible act. Then, shame on a society that led them to believe they could do something like that and face no consequences. And finally, shame on everyone who tried to downplay the gravity of the rape, whatever the motivation.
If there's one positive to come out of this controversy, it's a clear illustration of rape culture. A lot of people don't understand what that term means and think it's some feminist exaggeration. But no. When the public faults a girl more for underage drinking than her male rapists (who were also underage drinking, mind you), that's rape culture. When teenage boys don't realize it's unacceptable to violate a young woman while she's unconscious and unable to consent, that's rape culture. When the media attempts to excuse the rapists behavior and pities them more than the victim, that's rape culture.
I once underestimated the extent to which rape culture exists, too. I ignorantly believed that I didn't know anyone who had been raped. Throughout my adult years, however, I've come to learn that a startling number of my female friends have been either raped or sexually assaulted - and there's probably more that I'm not aware of. Just because they haven't mentioned it doesn't mean it didn't happen - there are some women have only admitted their secret after about a decade of friendship and trust. And why would they talk about it? Particularly when women are explicitly and implicitly told that the rape was their fault and something they should have tried harder to prevent.
We all need to make a concerted effort to fight the perpetuation of rape culture. Because whether you realize it or not, I guarantee that women you know have been victim to it.