Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have probably heard about the Steubenville rape trial. Trent Mays and Ma’Lik Richmond were found guilty Sunday morning of repeatedly sexually assaulting a young woman, then circulating naked pictures of her. National coverage ignited when troubling pictures, videos, and text messages surfaced during and after the incident (the victim is completely incapacitated in one photo, being carried out by her wrists and ankles). From the beginning the coverage of the case has been nothing short of troubling. Reports are focusing on the future of the boys, the town’s reputation, and the success of a high school football team, not the fact that these two young men brutalized a human being.
Even with the guilty verdict the problematic coverage hasn’t ceased (we almost feel silly for imagining that it might).
CNN reporter Candy Crowley’s coverage of the verdict shamelessly focuses on the lives of the two boys, lamenting that “these two young men — who had such promising futures, star football players, very good students — literally watched as they believed their life fell apart.” Um, hello?! Their lives fell apart?! They raped a girl, circulated pictures to their friends, and you wonder how their lives will be affected?
Mainstream coverage of the verdict is completely misguided, focusing on everything but the actual issue at hand. In case you are wondering, rape culture is the issue, not drinking or social media. Where is the coverage about consent and prevention? (It’s mostly in the feminist blogosphere.)
The media could have used this case as a teachable moment. Surprise! They didn’t.
All of the crappy coverage aside, this is our hope for Jane Doe.
Our Hope for Jane Doe
- We hope that she has access to anything and everything she needs to move on from this devastating incident.
- We hope that she has access to adequate counseling and a strong social support group.
- We hope that she has people telling her from every corner that this is not her fault.
- We hope she knows that she is not to blame for anything that happened.
- We hope for the day when she self-identifies as a survivor.
But our greatest hope is that society takes a critical look at rape culture and starts making some serious changes, because all of the self-care in the world can’t turn back time and make her rape go away.