When I heard about the whole Steubenville trial, I was blown away. It’s already a touchy subject, teenagers and drinking and rape. But when you throw in that people tweeted threats at the victim, texted details and pictures, and the rapists actually took photo and video of the victim and posted them online? I don’t know what I was most upset about: these teenagers for giving young people a bad name, the fact that all of this happened while nobody helped, or the rapists themselves.
Just watch the first minute or so if you’re not familiar with the story.
I would have thought it was difficult to make a situation like this worse, but apparently not. It’s one thing to rape, but to genuinely throw away someone’s pain like this, to brag on the internet and show off your malevolence and complete disregard for the simple humanity of another soul… I just can’t understand. I can’t understand why these people had no regard for moral etiquette or tact (partygoers engaged in the online discussion and social media spread, rather than reporting or stopping the situation). I can’t understand why the photos were on Instagram. I can’t understand why the coach (who was fully aware of the situation) did nothing to punish the boys, and actually blamed the girl, saying “The rape was just an excuse, I think. What else are you going to tell your parents drunk like that and after a night like that?”
While the world has people like that, it also has people like me. And people like you. And people like your friends, and your family, and their families, and the random people you walk by on the street. These people should be believed, trusted, respected, and treated with humanity. You don’t even have to be a good person to treat people like people.
Immanuel Kant’s greatest philosophical legacy comes from his idea that people cannot treat others as solely a means to their own end. In other words, if you’re using people like they’re tools, and tossing them aside… no good. If your sex life is basically masturbation with another person… no good. If you recently assaulted a sixteen year old with your friend and posted it online because you’re seriously that ignorant of a person… no good. It’s mind-blowingly inhumane, and just not okay.
Why can’t a woman walk into a bar with the sole goal of going home with a man? Well, we can, but it’s much less socially acceptable. Men do it every day. They can freely bar crawl to their heart’s content, getting shot down and trying again until they reel in a winner, but we can’t?
Have sex, ladies. If you want to. Sexual freedom isn’t limited to the Barney Stinsons of the world; take the world by the bedsheets and live. Hiding from sex and muting discussion don’t help anything. Rape becomes a problem when we don’t talk about it, and when we keep it taboo. Talking things out makes life easier, puts everyone on the same page. Why wouldn’t you want life to be easier?
a) how many people your friends have slept with
b) how many people you’ve slept with
c) how many people you think you should sleep with because you saw that Anna Faris movie and it made you judge yourself and everyone else and Chris Evans is just so delicious, if you met fifty different versions of him, you’d probably want to have sex with most of them, and there shouldn’t be shame in admitting that, right? Mmmm, Chris Evans.
(What’s Your Number, 2011. Good for a bad movie, FYI. Half-decent chick flick.)
Have sex when you want to, and don’t have sex when you don’t. You’ve got hormones, use ’em! Being a slut may not be for everyone, just like kiwi aren’t for everyone, and tequila isn’t for everyone. But keeping track of numbers isn’t important, and nobody should be judged on “their number.” Calling other girls sluts won’t change your number or theirs, and doesn’t accomplish much.
And why does being a slut have to be a bad thing? Cringing at the word won’t make it go away. Sluts take charge. Knowing what you want and how to get it may qualify you as a “bitch” or a “slut,” but as the oracle of Fey once said:
If a man doesn’t have to worry about being assaulted if he passed out, why should women? It’s not even a feminist issue, it’s an issue of humanity. There are things you just don’t do, and there are too many people with morality complexes that don’t understand that.
So ladies, life may not change in a day, but take charge. Hold onto your sexuality and wear it with pride. Take a page from the book of JLaw:
And maybe a page or two from my own story:
What Steubenville brings to light is this: they weren’t techincally breaking the law, so they thought their actions were okay. These boys legitimately cannot recognize right from wrong (minds that consider morality would have recognized their actions as inhumane and horrible, but these boys did not see it that way). They were raised this way, and it’s not just the small town of Steubenville that supplies this culture.
Rape culture has become a hub of blame-throwing and name-calling, and it’s time to stop. We can learn from Steubenville. Teach morality. Practice right and wrong. Bringing up the future on a solid ground will make the difference. #realmendontrape (Photo above from Toronto Slutwalk 2012, read my post about the walk here.)
As a little summary, here’s a video that puts everything into PERFECT perspective. Watch from 4:00. I just can’t put it any better.
So I leave you now, with a list: 20 things that are NOT an invitation to rape.
Brush up, humanity.
1. Drinking. (A cup in hand is NOT the same as yes.)
2. Drinking too much. (A bottle in hand is NOT the same as yes.)
3. Being so wasted you can’t walk. (Laying down is NOT the same as yes.)
4. Being so wasted you can’t talk. (No answer is NOT the same as yes.)
5. Being so wasted you lose your shoes. (Drunk is NOT the same as yes.)
6. Being so wasted you can’t get home. (Lost is NOT the same as yes.)
7. Being so wasted you pass out. (Unconscious is NOT the same as yes.)
8. Being passed out. (Seriously, why the fuck do people think it’s okay to fuck unconscious things?)
9. Being asleep. (Zzzzzzzz is NOT the same as yes.)
10. Being single. (Available does not mean yes.)
11. Being out with the girls. (A night out does not mean yes.)
12. Dancing. (Sometimes, girls really do just want to dance. Which is not a yes.)
13. Being a girl.
14. Being a child.
15. Being a virgin.
16. Being a slut. (STILL not a yes.)
17. Having tattoos.
18. Being young.
19. Being old.
20. Being there.
Need I go on?
Follow me on Twitter here.