the world through rainbow eyes

Essentially Horrified


I am really fucking tired of people saying “Imagine if the Steubenville rape survivor was your sister, or your daughter.” There’s this idea that men shouldn’t rape women because we’re all someone’s sister, daughter, wife, etc. This is fucking wrong. Men shouldn’t rape women because a) we’re people and b) NO ONE SHOULD RAPE ANYONE.

I’m tired of being humanized because I’m, like, RELATED TO MEN.


Several months ago I clicked on a link that was shared on my Facebook. It took me to something called “The Steubenville Files” on the now blocked Local leaks site.
Trying to figure out if I should boost the signal, I read, and watched with growing horror.

I was pretty horrified by the content. I boosted the signal, but instead of linking directly to Local Leaks, I linked to a smaller media story about it. The Local Leaks content was a bit too much for me to link directly to it. It had the picture of the girl that is now famous, of her being carried by her hands and feet. It had video of a dead-eyed young man, surrounded by his friends, and boasting and laughing  about how he was enjoying raping this dead girl they had in the other room. About how he urinated on her. About how funny the entire situation was, and how inanimate and meaningless the girl was. He called her the dead body, if I recall correctly.

Him and a group of 5 others were known around town as The Rape Crew, and they seemed proud of the moniker.

It was raw, and horrible, and I just couldn’t advise my friends to watch what was, if not snuff porn (because, as we know, the girl lived), definitely torture porn.

That was the last I knew about the case until recently. I didn’t follow the trial. I didn’t read stories. It was pretty much too horrifying.

I know I keep using that word. Horror, horrible, horrified, horrifying. I don’t have an adequate word. Or maybe it’s that that word has been softened up by application to too many mundane things. The meatloaf I made where I absentmindedly added more than 2 tablespoons of salt over the course of mixing it was not horrible. It just tasted bad. This video, it was horrible.

If all you ever saw was the court case, or talking heads discussing it on TV, maybe you just have to take my word for it. Maybe you can’t quite get why I wasn’t fascinated along with the rest of the country with what happened. With how the prosecution and defense each presented the girl and boys. With how her friends turned on her. With how the sports obsessed town stood divided over this case of football stars with a promising college football and possible NFL careers had casually dehumanized this girl, assaulted her, raped her, passed her around for others to do the same, took pictures and shared it, boasted about it on video.

I’d seen enough. Thanks.

I told my husband about it, though, and when the news came out yesterday that two of the boys (I don’t even know if it was one of the boys in the video, to be honest) had been found guilty he said “good.”

And that was that.

Until last night.

See, since I wasn’t following the case, I hadn’t seen the coverage. So I had totally missed how completely failtastic the media response to the verdict was.

It blew up my feeds. So, I followed the links, and watched Candy Crowley (among many others) virtually weeping over how sad it is that this “happened” to these boys. Which is weird as hell. They did not fall into a hole. They didn’t have a horrible accident. They brutally raped a girl. Then she topped off this bizarro universe reaction with the phrase, “…of rape, essentially.”

Excuse me? How is this “essentially” rape? Isn’t this specifically rape?

Am I lost?

How are we still neck deep in rape being excused, dismissed, covered up, denied, and even approved of? Why do we, to paraphrase the incredibly clarifying words of Anne Thériault up there, still have work at simply creating a sympathetic and human connection to women? Why are we humanizing half of the entire human race so that they can stop being abused and assaulted?

Are women only essentially human? Or are we specifically human, much as men?

I know my answer, but I’m a bit worried about what Candy Crowley’s answer would be.

Author: pollychromatic

Polly is a 40 something woman living in the wild far flung northern suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. She struggles to be awesome on a daily, and sometimes hourly, basis. Some of her thoughts on life, the universe and everything can be found at the world through rainbow eyes Gravatar photo - © Sarah Klockars-Clauser

3 thoughts on “Essentially Horrified

  1. I haven’t followed the story, but from the bits and pieces I’ve seen it makes me sick that anyone would treat the verdict and sentence as some sort of tragedy for these rapists. And some of them are still saying “allegedly”.
    The only tradgedy I see in their sentence is that they might be in jail for just 1 year.

  2. It’s just my opinion Polly, but the reason the case confuses some people, including the perpetrators of the crime, is because there was no violence, no penises made contact, and because the age of consent is 16 in Ohio. An unconscious woman can’t give consent. That’s what the whole case turned on. If the boys hadn’t provided the evidence in the form of photos and texts, it wouldn’t have even been prosecutable. I’m not even remotely suggesting this kind of thing isn’t a crime, but the practical realities of being able to win assault cases are more complex than people realize.

    • Yes, except… they were confirmed as guilty.

      I am not even talking about the trial. The trial happened. The response to the trial is all sorts of wrong.

      Plus? I’m so not going to go into the whys and wherefores about WHY rape and sexual assault are so difficult to prosecute in the US, because if you haven’t absorbed the lesson that our culture actually feels worse for the “ruined lives” of the perpetrators than they do for the “actual fucking violence” perpetrated on the victim than you aren’t watching and you weren’t listening to what I said.

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