Written by Annie-Rose Strasser
Two football player high school students in Connecticut are charged with the second-degree sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl. The allegations come amid other complaints of hazing at the school, but Torrington High School officials insist that these are individual instances and not a part of a larger cultural problem.
But whether or not the alleged rapists Edgar Gonzalez and Joan Toribio, both 18, are maverick sexual assailants isn’t really the cultural question. Rather, the fact that students in the neighborhood and the school have taken to Twitter blame the young girl and not the alleged rapists highlights a broader rape culture that assumes men are only haphazardly involved in sexual assault, but it is usually the victim’s fault:
“If you look at crime statistics these things happen everywhere and we’re not any different than any other community,” said [Athletic Director Mike McKenna].
But on social media in recent weeks, dozens of athletes and Torrington High School students, male and female, have taunted the 13-year-old victim, calling her a “whore,” criticizing her for “snitching” and “ruining the lives” of the 18-year-old football players, and bullying students who defend her.
The Connecticut Register-Citizen highlights some of the offensive tweets about the girl:
“I wanna know why there’s no punishment for young hoes,” asked “@asmedick.” That comment was reposted three times.
Twelve days after the alleged incident, “@AyooWilliam” tweeted, “You destroyed two people’s life.” Another responded, “I hope you got what you wanted.”
“Sticking up for a girl who wanted the D and then snitched? have a seat pleaseeee,” wrote “@ShelbyyKalinski.”
As the case in Steubenville proved, social media has brought a whole new slew of evidence to sexual assault allegations, particularly among young people. Unfortunately, the lesson some news outlets take from this is that Steubenville was “a cautionary tale for teenagers living in today’s digital world.” In reality, social media helps to underline a very real problem: A victim-blaming rape culture that is inclined to take the side of the assailant instead of the victim.
This post was originally published by ThinkProgress.