You probably remember Steubenville, Ohio, where in August 2012 Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, two star members of the Steubenville High School football team, brought a drunk 16-year-old girl to several parties and sexually assaulted her.
On March 17, 2013, Mays and Richmond were convicted of rape. Richmond was sentenced to at least one year in the state juvenile system. (West Virginia station WTRF reported last Monday that Richmond — who was released from a juvenile detention center in January — is now back on his old football team.) Mays was sentenced to serve at least two years in juvenile detention, and remains incarcerated. Both young men must register as sex offenders for the next 20 years.
The law spoke, and a measure of justice was served. And yet, disturbingly, some elements of the mainstream media sympathized with the rapists. Many blamed the girl, saying she should not have gone to the party and gotten drunk.
Now, this week, a former judge in the UK has claimed rape conviction statistics will not improve until women “stop getting so drunk.”
The Independent reports that retired judge Mary Jane Mowat said it is an inevitable fact of being “one person’s word against another” during rape trials. She went on to say that the conviction rate of cases that go to trial will not improve unless women stop drinking so heavily.
Why do we always go back to the Adam and Eve story? This is a tale that didn’t begin in the Bible’s Old Testament, but existed in many different versions prior to the Bible: the Adam and Eve story pervaded the thoughts of ancient writers and can be found in the writings of Greeks, Syrians, Egyptians, Abyssinians, Hebrews and other ancient peoples.
In all of them, if only Eve hadn’t tempted Adam, everything would have been fine. Poor Adam!
The arrival of evil in the world was the woman’s fault; then and now. But why? Why is evil always the fault of the woman, the evil seductress? When are we going to stop blaming women, the victims, for rape?
This is especially tragic for rape survivors, for whom such a negative environment makes it almost impossible to recover from the traumatic event.
Rape victims are often afraid or ashamed to come forward and tell someone that they have been raped for fear of getting judged as a lesser person because they are seen as promiscuous, as if they somehow could have caused the rape.
Or, as Tara Culp-Ressler at Think Progress writes, “Rather than receiving compassion and support, rape victims are typically greeted with suspicion and shame. They’re either told that the crime was their own fault because they should have been smarter, or they’re assumed to be lying.”
As Katie Russell, a spokesperson for Rape Crisis England & Wales explains: “The point that she (Mowat) and other influential people within the criminal justice system should be making clearly and publicly is that the legal responsibility is with the defendant in a rape case to evidence how they sought and received consent. And if a woman is incapacitated through drink or drugs then she is not capable of giving her consent.”
Yes, one hundred percent of the responsibility for any act of sexual violence lies with its perpetrator.
Years ago, involved in the radical feminist movement, I heard over and over the saying, “All men are rapists.” This is so blatantly untrue that I had no choice but to move away from the movement.
The point is not to blame men, but to see how we can re-think the subject of rape.
Women are told to cover up, wear protective underwear and get trained in self-defense. Why are we not educating young men about their responsibilities?
Drunk or sober, no victim of rape is ever “just as guilty” as the person who assaulted her.
No More Victim Blaming.
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