Why We Are All Talking About Steubenville

Just because we don't like the reflection doesn't mean we shouldn't look in the mirror.

Just because we don’t like the reflection doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look in the mirror.

Everyone is talking about Steubenville.

Not the actual place, of course, but the trial about the date-rape incident that took place there. I’m not a reporter and I don’t have all the facts; Google it if you need the  details, but if you are alive and on the internet on this day in 2013 then you have probably just been buried in opinions on the subject ranging from “that poor girl” to “our culture condones rape” to “those poor boys”.

I am not here to tell you what your opinion should be, but I do think it is interesting that there are so many options.

We are primed to dismiss news. At its most basic level news is about Bad Stuff happening to a Victim, usually perpetrated by a Bad Guy. We feel sorry for the Victim. We feel mad at the Bad Guy. We get on with our day. We don’t need a lot of details and in fact we don’t want them. Victims are sympathetic and Bad Guys are  monsters and as long as we cast our stories accordingly then we needn’t give a second thought to the unthinkable.

Then something like Steubenville happens and we discover that rapists are people too. Suddenly we have to deal with complex human-beings and our complex feelings about them. Suddenly we are faced with Bad Guys who are just like The Boy Next Door: good students, good athletes, not unprivileged: just boys who were stupid and cruel and who did a terrible thing. It makes us think of all the stupid and cruel and terrible things that we did when we were young- maybe not as bad as rape, but still senseless and wrong- and got away with it.

It makes us think that maybe we are not better than the Bad Guys. If it were us in their place we would feel like Victims. Maybe we feel a little bit guilty about that.

So we talk about Steubenville and we come down hard on the boys and on rape culture because we want to believe that we are better than they are and we never want to have to question that again. Or we talk about Steubenville and feel sorry for the boys because we can put ourselves in their place and feel relief that we are not them. Or we talk about Steubenville and feel glad that the girl got justice for the crimes committed against her.

The reason why we are all talking about Steubenville is because we can’t dismiss the story.

And maybe that’s not such a bad thing after all.


Incidentally I think this post by Henry Rollins is the most astute observation of this whole fiasco that I have read: http://www.underthegunreview.net/2013/03/18/henry-rollins-comments-on-steubenville-rape-verdict/

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on March 19, 2013.

One Response to “Why We Are All Talking About Steubenville”

  1. Awesome article.

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