But Football! Part Eleventy-Billion

Trigger warning:
This one's about Steubenville. If you haven't heard about it by now, you're living under a rock, and need to Google it. You also need to be better informed, how else can you join in the fight against rape culture? Anyway, this will probably be triggering to rape survivors. Skip it with my love, if you have to. I understand, really I do.

Don't forget, the Hotline is there to help, as is RAINN. Get help! We support you, and I love you, even if I don't know your name.

If you can handle it, sob your way through this with me, OK?

But Football!
That's been the refrain since that poor girl, was raped in Steubenville, Ohio. I hear this town is a piece-of-shit town, now that industry moved to Mexico, or China, or the Philippines, or wherever it went (hell, it might have gone to Michigan, or Tennessee, for all I know). This left only football to rally the town, to pull them together. I guess their football team is their church, and although that's a little weird up north for a high school team, it's a fairly common enough event. The entire town gets together on Friday nights to worship at the altar of "what should/could/would have been" and they can imagine themselves making it big, being that kid who wins the game. They can feel like they're outside themselves, and for one shining moment forget that they live in a dead-end town with nothing growing there. They can forget that the brain-drain is robbing their town, county, state of youth, and relive the glory days that didn't happen...

But Football!
So, we have a teeny Midwestern town obsessed with football, I mean, it's not like they have shit-else going for them. Wonderful! I read that even one of the DA's kids plays football, imagine that! How exciting those games must have been, your kid, or your friend's kid plays! How freaking exciting! I'll bet everyone was involved, either the boosters, or cheer leading, or fan clubs, or even the goddamned school newspaper!

It game them something to live for! To prove that the glory-days of their little shit-town weren't really over, I mean, lookit them, they have this Mother-Fucking Fantastic Football Team!!!

But Football!
So, this young woman and her friend go to a party. Most of us went to parties in high school; most of us drank too much, got a little too stoned, and some of us even passed out. It's life, and it happens at parties in high school. What most of us don't have happen is for someone who's supposed to be our friend decide to try to force us to suck his dick while we're so out of it we can't keep our eyes open. We don't have people videoing it on their mobile phones as he digitally rapes us (that's using the fingers to penetrate the vagina, anus or mouth of a person who's unable and/or unwilling to give consent). We don't have people, who are supposed to be our friends, rip off our clothes, take photos of us, and carry us around like a drunken manikin. We don't have people yelling, "Dude, she is so raped!" as they take photos. We don't have people, who are supposed to be our friends, smacking us with their penises, as they continue to penetrate us with their fingers, trying to get us interested in sex with them, or at least trying to get some rise out of us so we can give them fellatio.

We don't have our friends, so-called or otherwise, Tweeting the photos of us being dragged around by our ankles and wrists, half naked and unconscious. Nor do we have our peers "liking" said photos, which is to say giving tacit acceptance of this behaviour and laughing at us about it.

Worst part? Most of us remember blacking out once, and know we were safe. She doesn't have that. She blacked out, and no one protected her. They raped her. Treated her like a breathing fuck-doll. And SHE DOES NOT REMEMBER! That's probably the worst part.

Let me tell you a little story.
The weekend I turned 19, me, about ten friends and pay-day converged. We rented a hotel room, dropped about two hundred dollars on booze, about fifty on food, and proceeded to get wasted. We celebrated my birthday and the birthday of a couple friends-- our birthdays all fell in the week before or after that weekend.

We had a funky ice cream cake, all done up in Hallowe'en colours with little ghosts. We had burgers and fries, and cup-o-noodles. We had string cheese, peanut butter crackers, and we had beer. We had vodka, we had all sorts of stuff. And we got drunk.

There were more men there, than woman.

We three women felt safe. Not one of us got assaulted. We didn't get groped, molested or raped. In fact, we felt protected, and that is important.

I blacked out Friday night and woke up Saturday under the blankets. I had a horrible headache, and my eyes were blurry. I was thirsty, and started looking around, blinking my eyes, trying to clear the fog. My room-mate was sleeping on one side of me, also under the blankets. I tried to roll over, to wiggle out and realised that laying on top of the blankets was a very naked Jack (yeah, his name is Jack), and he was laying on my arm, sucking my thumb.

I can't tell you the immediate horror that washed through me. "Oh, god! Did I? Didn't I?" I did that cartoonishly exaggerated peek under the blankets and sagged with relief when I realised I was still completely clothed. "Oh, I didn't!" I nearly shouted in my head with glee and utter, complete relief. I mean, Jack and I were buddies, but there was no way I wanted to sleep with him... and I didn't think he wanted to sleep with me, either.

Turns out, he got overheated and stripped.
And he dreamt of eating an ice cream.

Today I have a funny story about drinking too much, and an object lesson, right? Get drunk with people you trust*. I told my son that story and he laughed, but he also understood that he needed to be that guy who helps, who holds the friend's hair back from the toilet, not the one who gropes her when she's laying there. He needs to be willing to step in and tuck her in, call her parents, what have you-- not the one who shuffles her out to fuck her, because, "Well, she didn't say no". So far, so good. He's disgusted by rape culture... and he knows what to look for.

The fact that I went out several times, with men, and didn't get raped at that time is testament to their upbringing. Not to the Army, which treats rape like a right-of-passage for its female members. Not of the culture, which says I was asking for it, every time I left the barracks without a chastity belt on. My rapes came later, in a supposed safe place.

But Football!
We know that the Steubenville case would probably never have been prosecuted if it weren't for a local blogger, and Anonymous. Say what you will about bloggers, some of them kick so much ass, they deserve the Pulitzer Prize! And again, you may despise Anonymous, but they tend to be the best attack dogs we have to protect kids, working against the RCC, Jewish communities that harbour child rapists, and now, most recently Steubenville.

See, not only did the DA try to avoid prosecution, the coach told the young men, the rapists, to smooth things over. No one saw anything, and she didn't complain, so pretend it's all good; pretend it never happened; Fuck the girl, I mean, she can't remember anyway, so it's not like it's going to be a problem. Besides, she was totally asking for it, right? I mean, she went to the party... No, it totally doesn't matter that people are threatening her life, or person, or treating her like shit. Nope, she's not a real person, she's just a female, and besides Football!!!

Right? I mean, that's the usual attitude of rape apologists... it's always our fault because we have vaginas. Full Stop.

The only reason we know about this travesty, is because stupid teens, the rapists, and the witnesses, decided to fucking Tweet the Photos! Beyond the What-The-Fuckness of videoing a rape, and not, say calling the godddamed police about it, to then fucking tweet and tumblr it?!

I want to punch their parents in the face. I seriously mean that. I want to punch them int he face. Who the fuck teaches their kids that such things are alright?!

I know my kids know, because I've told them many, many times, "Hey, if you see something and you don't feel safe, like you can stop it, meander off all nonchalant-like off and call 9-1-1. Or call me, and I'll call them. I would prefer you step in there, though. That is always the first choice." We've discussed strategies, how to step in, what to say, even whether it's OK to bodily pick up or shield the victim with your own body (yes! Just protect their airway).

My oldest kid is almost 16. He's in the same age-group as the victim. He's in the same age-group as the rapists. He cried when I told him about her. "How could they?! Why...?" deep breath "Yet another thing that shows what shits we humans are."

All I could do was nod, and say, "It's up to us to do better. Because we can do better." He agreed, "Will she be alright?" All I could do was say I didn't know, but I hoped so.

The two young men, 16 and 17, are football players. Big fucking surprise, right? That's why the town is full of rape apologists, just like Penn State, and myriad other cases. They were "good boys" who wold never... she must be lying, or something-- they could totally fuck anyone they wanted, they'd never have to resort to raping someone... come on! Never mind the fact she Can't Fucking Remember Anything! She must have asked for it... never mind the face she was so wasted she couldn't walk. She must have.... there's no other explanation for it. I mean, football!

This is why rape culture is so horrible. And it shows how deeply rooted it is. The very nature of rape apology is that some how it's never the fault of the perpetrator, some how it's always the fault of the person who was assaulted. We always cause our own attacks. Even if we're doing everything right, it's still our fault... throw in some football worship and the shit is magnified a thousand times. 

The rumours spread so fast and so thick that I'm surprised the young woman didn't have a break down.

The visiting judge** listened to testimony over the weekend, and the verdict came down on Sunday. When the young men were found "delinquent"-- that's guilty as charged in the juvenile system-- one of them cried. Awww, he cried. Isn't that sad, he cried.

Did he cry because he was devastatingly sorry for what he had done?
Did he cry because he was begging this girl to forgive him?
Did he cry because he knew what he had done would haunt her for the rest of her life?
Not a fucking chance!

"No one will want me now," he said.

The other one cried, too. And read a cute little apology that boiled down to, "I'm sorry I filmed it and took photos."*** Oops, sorry I took photos of you being molested and raped. Sorry I shared those pics of your unconscious body as we played with you like a doll. Sorry about that, my bad. That's what was said...

And he cried! So we're supposed to feel sorry for them. They cried!!!
They should cry. They should be crawling on their bellies over broken glass, begging for forgiveness. There is a pretty good chance that this young woman wasn't the first girl they assaulted. They called themselves the fucking Rape Crew! That tells me a lot.

But, let's add insult to injury.

But Football!
Candy Crowley, a journalist I didn't know much about, but who did a pretty decent job moderating the Presidential Debates last year works for CNN. At least, as of right now she does.

She was interviewing fellow journalist Poppy Harlow, and Harlow said this:
"Incredibly difficult, even for an outsider like me, to watch what happened as these two young men that had such promising futures, star football players, very good students, literally watched as they believed their lives fell apart...when that sentence came down, [Ma'lik] collapsed in the arms of his attorney...He said to him, 'My life is over. No one is going to want me now.' Very serious crime here, both found guilty of raping the sixteen-year-old girl at a series of parties back in August." [emphasis added]

Now, she never called Harlow out on this. She talked to a legal expert about what these young men's futures would be like. I mean, they have to register as *gasp* sex offenders for the rest of their lives! But they're such good boys. They get good grades! But Fucking Football!

I agree with Jezebel's editorial staff, there's a decent chance Harlow and Crowley aren't a rape apologist, but that they were trying for the falling from grace angle... or something. Regardless it's the wrong track, real journalists don't cover rapes like that, they certainly don't sympathise with the rapists, because of football, or good grades, or whatever.

This case isn't over. Two young men will go to juvenile detention until they're 21 or so. They will get counselling, and hopefully come out better people. I'm not banking on it, though. A grand jury will probably be convened, and several people have been arrested, or are being investigated for threats against the victim-- yep, when all else fails threaten a rape victim with death over Twitter. That shows your support for football, and your absolute lack of morals and empathy. I hope their parents are so fucking proud!

The victim will, I hope continue to get good grades, get some therapy and get on with her life, however she chooses to do so. I hope she grows into the wonderful, beautiful woman she was destined to be, before this. I hope she goes to university and soars into the clouds of life. I hope, for her, nothing but love-- even though I know she's got a lot of shit ahead of her, I'm sure she can make it.

Ahhh on to the next step: every one's telling her to forgive and move on. But you can't just forgive people for hurting us this way. Even if you want to, it's really hard to forgive someone-- even when they're really sorry, forgiveness isn't easy. That's why it's a virtue, why we humans struggle with it, and why those who do forgive are so often treated with such high regard.

However, she shouldn't forgive anyone, and if you tell her to do so, fuck you!

In order to forgive, it seems we need some things from the person asking.
1- the person to truly, deeply be sorry for whatever it was they did-- not sorry they got caught, or sorry they're in trouble. Rather, that true sorrow that comes when we know we're wrong, and we want nothing more than to make it right. That kind of sorry.

2- the asker does everything they can, for the rest of their lives, to make it right. This might mean prison time, or a fine, or just not doing that fucking shit ever again! No questions asked, no strings, no "I did this for you, you have to forgive me". It shows that contrition that's so important to be able to forgive... it also shows that you learned something from what you did wrong, and that you don't want to do it again.

3- to be asked, in the right way. I mean this. When someone mumbles, "sorry" you don't want to forgive them! In fact, it might be impossible to do so. But when they ask you, contrition evident, and want to make things better it's a little easier to say, "yes, I forgive you" and mean it.

4- to be allowed to be angry, furious, pissed the fuck off! In this case, often the anger is what burns away the pain, the bitterness and poison, allowing us to be able to forgive later.

5- to be validated for not forgiving. To be allowed to feel whatever emotions you have roiling through you, and to work through them when you can, as you can. And to not be sorry yourself for not healing fast enough. You'll get there, when you get there.

6- to be allowed to deal with forgiving on our own time table. See, those young men should have begged her in open court for forgiveness. But she didn't have to grant it. It's up to her, when she's ready if she is ever ready, to forgive. The asker does their part when they mean it and say, "I am so sorry!" then they try to make it up. The forgiver does their part when they listen, accept the apology and then decide when they're good and damned ready to forgive if that is what they will do.

Forgiveness is never owed. It's earned.

I will grant that some people gain healing through forgiveness.**** Some do not. Some of us never forgive; some forgive the moment it's over. Thing is, it's your choice, your ability that forgives, not anyone else's. So take as long as you need, and if you never get there, that's absolutely OK.

To anyone who's been raped, assaulted or molested, please, forgive yourself. That can be harder than forgiving the perpetrator.

It's called rape, molestation, assault for a reason.
No man ever has the right to penetrate any woman without her permission. Never.
No one ever has the right to penetrate you without your permission. Never.
No one has the right to touch you, grope you, fondle you or even rub your shoulders without your permission. Not ever.
This is rape, and it's immoral, illegal and straight up fucking wrong.
You didn't do anything wrong.
They did.

*This is in no way an indictment against the victims of rape. Nor am I saying anyone ever asks for it. I'm saying that I learned to only drink with people I trusted; two weeks later a good friend was raped when she went out with some of her "friends". This was not aberrant; it was so normal that not being raped was weird. In the military you have a better chance of being raped by your colleagues than being injured. It's estimated that 19 000 service members are raped every year, by their fellow military members. That's 19 000 too many. If you can, watch "The Invisible War"; then call your congress persons, and raise hell... or how about you call and raise hell first, and then watch the documentary as soon as you can.

**I don't know why they had a visiting judge-- but it might go back to the whispers of prosecutorial misconduct, seeings how a member of the DA team is supposed to have ties to the football team. That's all speculation on  my part, though, I don't know.

***According to Jezebel, the text of the apology is as follows: "I would truly like to apologize to [redacted], her family, my family and the community. No picture [of the rape] should have been sent around, let alone even taken."

**** I have not forgiven my rapist. I will not. I am not bitter, nor "hung up" on it. I've healed in my own way, at my own pace. I have not need to forgive; I won't. He was wrong; he is not sorry. I don't owe him anything, especially not my forgiveness. I will not make this right for him.

More links:
The egregious coverage of Steubenville
Everything you want to know about the "rape crew"
Probes continue-- grand jury will most likely be convened


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