Reams have been written about the horrific Steubenville case. So much so, that I know my thoughts may well be lost in the fray. But as I listened to the vilification of the young woman who was raped repeatedly by the "boys with bright futures" replete with warnings on how young women should act/dress and be, my heart aches.
When I listen how its somehow not their fault because society/parents/culture has failed the poor dear rapists, my heart bleeds in revolt.
When I think hard, I realize Patriarchy is alive and well. For I am sure there are many men out there that think rape is really no big deal. I mean, they didn't remove her vagina, she still has it, they just played with it a while. They would love if someone played with their penis. Or that women actually enjoy it, because to them sex is fun. Of course in the same breath a woman who thinks sex is fun is a "ho" "slut" or "skank."
If it takes a Village? Men have run the Village for a long time, and its a pretty dysfunctional thing. If it only takes "personal responsibility" as they say about success but rarely failure, then why only a slap on the wrist for these two young men? What has the Village told us?
I have mulled it for days before taking cyber-pen in hand, and have come up with a few theories.
Rape is not a crime of sexual attraction out of control.
It is a crime of degradation, power, control and violence. This case pointed it out more than most, as we heard the crowd laughing and joking, speaking of raping her ass and how sore she would be, how they should pee on her, how they carried her party to party to publicly degrade her again and again.
In this case, their power came from Football. It said to her and anyone who viewed it, "We are Gods, we are football stars, we are untouchable and can do, own, have anything we want. You are ants. You are playthings to be used. I am not only entitled to your body, I will make you so defiled after I use you, no one will ever want you."
Most rapists don't give anyone but the victim such a clear vision of their contempt and rage at women. One of my own, the one I repelled with a gun during a home invasion repeated over and over how we would cum as the life choked out of my eyes. He was hitting me and throwing me against walls. I had bruises around my throat for weeks where he choked me. Another man of about 45 years of age, when I was a much younger 16 years old, and fighting him off in Hines Park acted surprised, and said, "Whats the big deal? This is just how I get my rocks off." We were just tools in what he considered pleasure he was entitled to. When I started cussing him and hoping that someone did this to all his family members, his Mother, Sisters, Daughters he just started going on about how all women were cunts and bitches and deserved exactly what they got. Then he pulled up his expensive pants and got back in his Beemer, probably to pull up to his nice whitebread family in some rich, gated suburb.
Why all this rage against women?
Patriarchy would have you believe its because we left the kitchen, emasculated men by being their equals, competing for "their jobs" or because we don't cover our bodies enough and drive them to it.
A psychiatrist might speak of the Madonna/Whore complex, saying everything is sold with sex on TV and the measure of a man's worth is their ability to get conquest, when in reality relationships take work and women don't just fall into men's laps as willing partners. They would also speak that women are given mixed signals, to be attractive, but that being too sexual is a moral failure.
Feminists would say its because we are still seen as property. That the entire culture once was moving away from women as property of men, and that we are backsliding towards that. They are closest to correct.
Now let me put all that into the blender of Diane's mind and postulate something more complex here.
The Rise of Patriarchy
It started when human beings moved from Earth based, local religions to Institutional Patriarchal Religions. In any "institution" per se, there is a power structure that seeks to control or extract excess wealth off of its people for the benefit of those wielding the power. There is a REASON all of the Gospels that included the Divine Feminine were eradicated from the Bible. People had learned from Empires past that to name oneself as God, as the first Capitalist cultures' Kings did, you had to have castes of human beings subject to expecting little. Men could control other men by brute force into slavery. They could not control their desire for, and hence vulnerability to women.
This was a serious problem. It became part of the Western mythology from Eve in the garden, to Helen of Troy, to Norman Bates mother.... women are wicked and the downfall of men. We must be kept from spoiling their character, ruining them, being the sirens that lead them to the rocks and ruination. While the fairy tales of religion and fantasy horrors was not codified? The mentality of it became codified in culture enough that it kept us from owning or inheriting property for years. Our parents arranged our marriages to make our Fathers and their Sons (our brothers) wealthier. To this day? The wealth of a man is one thing, but his worth is the hotness of the female company he keeps. Rock stars drip the most beautiful of our generation off their arms. Ugly old tycoons pumped full of Viagra keep 20 year old wives. Men envy this. They see their worth as the ability to "own" and "take" the hottest women. We are still property in a very subconscious way to many of them. Even feminist men tend to value women more for their looks than their value as human beings contributing to Society. Women themselves exploit this, because often if we do not, we are disregarded completely.
To keep a group of entitled rich at the top, safe from being undermined by women's wiles; they have encoded damnation of women into our historical DNA. We are hysterical, hormonal, unable to hold office our new Pope says. Our Senators think we have magical pregnancy barriers against rape and should not be trusted to tend to our own pregnancies or uterus's. We are demanding and naggers. We are children to their Daddy knows Best.
Non-western societies have religious codes that value both the Divine Feminine and Masculine. Women were included in decisions, consulted as equals. When both Empire and Religion were exported to the rest of the World, these were the 1st things they did away with. Naked natives where rape was unknown were trained that womens' bodies were dirty. Men were taught that women were supposed to serve them, not be their equals. Above all, they were taught they owed work, money and total allegiance to both Church and State.
They became second class citizens in their own lands, but at the very least, they compensated them with the new idea that at least men were superior to women. Women were delegated to last class.
"Respect yourselves," we hear, "don't be flashing no titty or having a too-short skirt. Watch where you walk. Never touch alcohol. Its up to you."
Not that any of this is bad practical advice... in THIS society. But instead of teaching women how not to be raped, why are we not teaching men NEVER to rape?
Resurgence of sexism and racism in throes of a failing Empire.
Lets say it outright: The economy is not "down" it has just been redistributed. We are all doing with less, unless you happen to belong to the Koch family or have Walton as a last name.
It really is important to keep us from being pissed about this to keep up a sham that people get rich because they are better than us. Smarter. Work harder. Deserving. More moral. Its our own fault if we are poor, because anyone can get to the top. Its a lie.
There is no group that can do this better for the elites than sports heroes and rock stars. There is a reason our airwaves are full of American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, and 18 sports channels. They entertain us. They show us how good competition is. They keep alive the faith that anyone can be rich if they work for it hard enough... or are born with "God given gifts". I mean if God blessed them, they must deserve it, right?
Sports have become our arena of bread and circuses. A place to vent our anger, scream in primal vicarious victory, howl in defeat. With this worship, we have created our own deities, our own castes, our own value system where we truly believe these people do deserve special consideration. Entitlement. Smarter. Work harder. Deserving.
See the pattern?
But as people do worse and worse, they need to make sure we stay divided. And divide we do. I heard one person say online the other day, "I don't answer the door when I peek, if the knocker doesn't bend in, if you know what I mean." Racism is on the rise again. The so called entitlements (pre-paid savings in reality) they want to take away from us, they are selling by breaking out the Cadillac welfare queens again. The lack of jobs, they blame on Hispanics. Wanting food stamps is the problem of lazy feministas who won't keep their legs crossed. Bro's before Ho's. Hit it and Quit it. All of it? ME BEFORE YOU... and the me is usually white men.
Village wisdom has gone beyond "Greed is good," to lie, cheat, steal, do whatever you can to not get voted off the Island... and when you win? You are entitled to anything you want. Including women.
What about the Parenting?
My first and probably still astute reaction was, "My kid would have dialed 911, if not jumped the assholes and beaten the shit out of them," in other words, "Didn't their parents teach them anything?"
Could he overcome mob mentality? What about in a village that was so economically fucked like Steubenville, a dead coal mining town where the only joy is football? Where he would not only be ostracized, but probably regularly beaten if he stood up to them? Or would his taking a stand make other kids who were terrified stand up too?
I like to think I gave my kid tools. He know about my rapes. He knows how violent and lasting a crime that is against women. He didn't grow up with a drunken father who beat him, nor a psycho Mom who popped Valium and hid in her room.
"Women's bodies are their own. Anything less than total enthusiasm is a no. Sex isn't dirty or a sin, its wonderful... but there has to be a level of trust and mutual understanding for it not to end up being hurtful to one or the other parties. Respect yourself. Respect every human being. Above all, despite what society says, RESPECT WOMEN because so few really do." That is what he hears from me.
I have known some (presumably) good parents tell tales of their sons ending up in Gangs, selling and using hard drugs. (I say presumably since no one actually can observe another's home - and has no idea what temper parents have, or what hurtful words they may pass in anger...) Can good kids go bad without parents having a clue? I don't know. My son is not to that age yet. I would have to think I would recognize the signs.
So is it all internal or from the Village too?
Now the big twist. I am no proponent of the only good home is a traditional home. I'm a single Mom, but at one time we both worked here. A LOT.
Who broke the Village?
Most working poor families have 2 working parents, some of whom work 2 jobs. Just to stay in a home and fed. How much harder, in that exhaustion, is it to be able to not only guide your children on their day to day challenges, but to keep a mindful eye on them? Its no longer M-F, 9-5. People work nights, weekend and double shifts.
Kids see thats all they have to look forward to, drudgery, exhaustion and never, ever being able to get ahead. Drug sales look like a way out. Sports looks like a way out. Stealing looks like a way out. And, mannnn, look at all those people on TV doing fine, because they lived gangster, and got ahead.
All this is true, but none of it an excuse.
You see, every victory we hail as personal responsibility - bootstraps, yadda, hard work, perseverance, got ahead...
And every failure we hail as the fault of society.
You cannot have it both ways.
We cannot privatize failure and publicize wins, as they would tell us to do. Especially when the Elites privatize wins and publicize failure.
I guarantee that had the victim been a "Christian Cheerleader" and the perpetrators some white trash trailer park white kid, and some ghetto-talking black kid, they would have been tried as adults and got long sentences. You see the nice cheerleader has value, the poor scum don't. Just like in this case the scum victim got less value from society than the nice football player with a future. The double standard is not only disgusting, its class war 101. See abducted white girl syndrome. Imagine if a football player was raped by a gang! The homophobes would be out in number. Unless its a Coach. See Penn State.
In describing the Class war Patriarchy and all the tools used to keep people of color down, and women of ALL colors down, I am not in any way justifying any of it.
The boys KNEW it was wrong, they were only sorry they got caught. Nix that. They wanted it public, just thought they were "untouchable" for the crime.
All this smack on the wrist did, was teach them and future generations of men, that raping girls is not that big a deal. Just never tape it. All it does is teach women we are worthless and at fault, hell it even has young girls damning the victim to "separate" themselves from "people like her" thus try and lift their own social standing in the Village hierarchy. Because women, in the Village had better put up with how those at the top of the food chain treat them and shut up about it, or be damned as whores.
They made an adult decision to do an adult act to gain power and degrade a human to so do, hurt and abuse her. They should spend a long time away from society so they do not rape again. I have heard this is not the first time they did this either, yet other victims of Steubenville are afraid to come forward. We need to set an example, no, not an example, a new standard of non-tolerance.
Women should be able to walk down the street naked and be safe. Rape should be a no-tolerance law. Is punishment a deterrent to crime? Maybe not in the non-crime of marijuana use, moreso where there is profit in stealing... but in violent crimes? We need to show that we as a Village value all our citizens.
Men are not hapless victims that have no control over the sexual attractiveness of women. In fact, we need to stop selling things with the idea of women as a prize.
Women are not property of men. In fact, we need to start valuing ourselves more for what we DO than what we look like. (the anorexic youth culture standard is a sick joke)
Both men and women need to value themselves more. We need to quit allowing ourselves to be pawns to some archaic tools of Religion, Patriarchy and Predatory Capitalist functions that make us blame the other poor souls for what is being done to is, and stop preying on one another.
We need to teach our children, not only are they responsible for their own actions (they are) but responsible to and for one another. That only by standing together against any wrong to one, can all be safe from anyone.
We need to teach women to quit blaming ourselves.
We will never have balance until the taboo for treating women like THINGS is so strong that it is unthinkable. We will never have balance until women and men are seen as equal beings with an equal say in all things. We will never have balance until our sexuality is seen as powerful and beautiful and absolutely sinless as it is. We will never have balance until all humans can have a say in the Village, not just a rich few keeping us in a caste system.
It starts here, with these rapists, with this discussion, with an objective look at why we have become what we have become, and a resolute will of NEVER AGAIN.
It starts by making everyone who had a part in it share some punishment and get some retraining. We must face they CHOSE this, to get power.
It starts by saying:
RAPE IS A VIOLENT CRIME.
POWER WILL NEVER COME TO THOSE WHO RAPE.
NO WOMAN EVER DESERVES RAPE, NOR SHOULD BE VILIFIED FOR ENDURING IT.
It takes a Village, people. It takes us. Vilify Rape.