So the verdict from the Steubenville trial has come in. The two kids are found guilty. Was justice served? No. Am I happy these boys are going to jail? No. Why should I be happy that these young men are going to jail? They are victims too. Yeah I said it. This is why is say it:
We live in a rape culture. We live in the age of social media. Those boys, no matter how depraved their actions were, thought they didn't do anything wrong. They didn't "penetrate" her, they put a finger in. They took off her clothes. She was drunk. In their minds this is ok, because in society's mind, the first thing they think is "Why was she out late at night, getting so drunk?". How else could they act if that is the prevailing mindset?
Until we teach our children, both boys and girls, that rape is not the fault of the victim, this type of thing will continue ALL over the world, every single day. I know people are still thinking that it's absurd that Zerlina Maxwell feels that instead of telling women how to dress or act in public, we should focus on teaching boys not to rape. If they don't understand that rape isn't always some man in the dark alley jumping out and forcing himself on an unsuspecting woman, how do they know? We put everything else in "shades of grey", why not rape?
I also found it insane the amount of people granted "immunity". They witnessed this violation of this girl and did nothing. Nothing at all. Why are they not going to jail? Who served all these underage kids alcohol? Why are they not being charged with a crime? There were several factors here that play into the mentality of why these boys thought what they did was ok, and we aren't all looking at those, we are instead celebrating that two lives are now ruined, as there names have been released and they will forever be known as "rapists". That brings me to my next point, social media.
These kids didn't actually film the assault. There is no actual tape, only someone saying they recorded it with their phone and deleted it. They bragged about it and posted their "brags" online. They also took pictures of her naked and posted those up. Lots of kids (not just the accused) made some awful tweets. People talked about it while it was happening and did nothing. Reading the story in and of itself is horrible, but now we have documentation of it, and now we have facebook and the internet to play judge, jury, and executioner. Could these boys have a "fair" trial if everyone and their mother is seeing the evidence and not hearing all the facts? I've been on facebook all morning and I have seen not one, but several people indicate that these boys recorded the actual assault and this rape was an open and shut case. They didn't, they did however discuss it, sent texts about it, and put up a video about their exploits online. This was stupid. However, the influence of social media has replaced the mantra of "innocent until proven guilty", what if the defense was able to prove their idea, that the victim posed for the pictures, but yet there is now major outside influence that believes differently. Does they judge even have a choice in how he rules for fear of retribution? Will anonymous hack the judge's files and expose them to the public? Will we ever go back to the mantra of "innocent before proven guilty" or does media get to dictate all of our fates in a courtroom?
Another thing I want to discuss is our prison culture. I've seen more than one person say they hoped these boys get raped in jail. How does that alleviate the current rape culture we have now? How does it fix it? How does keeping them in prison until they die make for great justice, when in fact that are a victim of our rape culture as well? If putting them behind bars and ruining their lives by not only releasing their names to the public, but not granting them forgiveness, is why we have the recidivism rate we have now. They are now labeled sex offenders. This will influence where they live and their ability to work for the rest of their lives. A simple google search of their names during a routine background check will ruin them. Something they did at 16 or 17 will affect their lives at 44. How can I be happy about that?
For some reason, it's been assumed that if you have any type of empathy for the wasted futures of these two boys, you have no empathy for the victim. I have more empathy for the victim than I ever could for these two boys, but I understand that their families are suffering too, it makes sense their family is crying and is sad that their child is going to jail and to think they wouldn't cry to me is amazing. That these kids just got hit with reality, and it's ugly, and it's that their futures are gone.