I’ve watched the news coverage of the Steubenville Rape verdict and I’m relieved.
The two young men were found guilty of sexually assaulting Jane Doe, a sixteen year old girl. She and other teens were drinking heavily at a party with an obvious lack of adult supervision. She woke up the next morning naked and confused. She didn’t know what happened to her the night before until other party goers pieced it together through social media and text messages.
As the verdict was read, the two defendants cried, what I felt were crocodile tears, and made apologies to all parties they affected. I don’t know the suspects personally, but I have a strong feeling that they were more upset that they were caught. Both were promising football stars of their town and probably had promising futures, unlike their victim, Jane Doe, who will have to carry this burden for the rest of her life.
I am certain that justice was served. If they weren’t caught now, who knows what kind of lives they could lead in the future? As grown men they would probably believe raping women was great sport. And if they became NFL players with money and fame on top of already inflated egos, it could be harder to catch them later down the line. They need to learn now that women are not play things to abuse without consequence.
As I watched the report from the NBC’s Nightly News with Lester Holt, I was struck by the distracting element thrown into this verdict. Legal analyst, Lisa Green, talked about the role social media played in the rape case. She called it a double edge sword, noting social media worsened the suffering of the victim. On the other hand, all of the evidence was extremely helpful to the prosecution’s case. She posed the question: Would it not be for social media, would we be sitting here talking about this case? Also, young people should be wary of how they use social media. Documenting your every move could get you into trouble.
The point of this news report was, you should be careful about how much you document your life, lest you are implicated in a crime. What the point should have been was, don’t rape women. The fact that these kids were caught in a criminal offense because of Twitter is a blessing, but beside the point. According to the prosecution, these kinds of party rapes happen every Friday or Saturday night. That in itself is disturbing. These young men were arrogant enough to document their crimes with social media and for that, I say thank you for making this a slam dunk case.
If you’re callous enough to rape women, tweet away! Help us uncover your most heinous acts of violence towards women. Make it easier for us to convict you. This is a revealing new facet in how we deal with rape in this country. There has always been victim shaming and now there is a new element of “cautionary social media usage.” It all tap dances around the fact that a young woman’s body and psyche were violated. Her sense of security is now destroyed. She, along with thousands of women across the country, must deal with memories that no one should have to suffer from. Rape is the crime. Let us never dodge the point or forget.