More responses to the verdict of guilt for Ma'Lik Richmond and Trent Mays
Mia McKenzie: On Rape, Cages, and the Steubenville Verdict (Black Girl Dangerous)
Megan Carpentier -- Steubenville and the misplaced sympathy for Jane Doe's rapists: Rape is unique in US society as a crime where the blighted future of the perpetrators counts for more than the victim's
Excerpt from Megan Carpentier:
Generally speaking, the news media don't lament the theretofore bright futures of young men (or women) convicted of other violent crimes, such as the killing of girlfriends or executing down-on-their-luck job-hunters. They don't grieve at the loss of college football careers for kids convicted of drug-related offenses, or empathize with would-be murderers who break down in tears when faced with consequences for the crimes they committed. They don't assign deeper motivations to the tears of men and women who must now contend with the most openly broken part of the American criminal justice system – incarceration – to which around 2.2 million Americans are currently consigned (at 730 prisoners per 100,000 citizens, the highest rate of imprisonment in the world) and which is widely recognized as minimally rehabilitative and maximally punitive.
But rape isn't any other crime in America, or elsewhere. Statistics show that every 100 rapes in America results in only five felony convictions. It's the only crime in which the level of intoxication of the victim is considered by some, like the convicted rapists' lawyers and some in the media, to be mitigating evidence. It's the only crime in which the perceived attractiveness of the perpetrators to other people or the victim is considered relevant information. It's the only one in which we're encouraged to sympathize with why perpetrators picked their victims – their supposed drunkenness, their clothes, their reputations – and then blame the victims for making themselves attractive targets.
And it's probably the only crime these two boys could have committed and gotten international coverage for their football prowess and the supposed harm that the victim – not the two rapists – did to their team. But when everyone is done being sympathetic to two convicted rapists whose own bad decisions – not those of the victim, or those made within the criminal justice system – put three promising young lives on very different paths than the ones on which they started that terrible night, maybe then they can give some thought to the young girl. It is she, whose body was violated by two boys and hundreds of thousands of strangers, who has to walk into a school and among residents of a town where some people want her not just shamed for her own sexual assault but dead for reporting it. For her, the few memories of that night but the many of its extended aftermath cannot be erased.
And maybe, then, everyone could spare some sympathy for the next girl, and the one after that – and all the victims of sexual assault who are created at an average of one every two minutes in America. Because it's only by reversing who automatically qualifies for society's sympathy that we can even start to make an impression on the needs of those who really deserve our empathy and some sort of justice.
WTOV: 2 arrested in connection with threats to Jane Doe
Citizen Radio: On the Steubenville guilty verdict and rape culture
Skepchick: Steubenville & the Cult of Consequence-Free Forgiveness
Steubenville Rape Trial: Blogger Who Exposed Case Speaks Out After Ohio Teens Found Guilty (Democracy Now)
Gender Focus: Steubenville - Not a Bug in the System