You'd hope that it's only because the Steubenville, Ohio rape case has gotten so much attention lately that we are hearing of another, almost identical case in Connecticut. But unfortunately I don't think so. Wake up, everybody. What 18-year-olds Edgar Gonzalez and Joan Toribio of Torrington are accused of doing to a 13-year-old girl is not uncommon. So, what the athletic director of that town says is infuriatingly true: “If you think there’s some wild band of athletes that are wandering around, then I think you’re mistaken.” That may make those concerned about the reputation of Torrington, Connecticut, feel better, but it should shock the pants off the rest of us, especially when you read jaw-dropping posts like this one from blogger Tracey Morrison about her almost identical rape years ago in high school. So, no, don't be shocked by all these rape cases. But do be shocked at how everyone continues to let kids and adults get away with it.
I was so mad and sad when I read Morrison's story. Sad that it took this mother of three little kids years and years before she was able to realize that none of what happened that night long ago was her fault. And sad to think that the victims in the Steubenville and Torrington, Connecticut, cases may still believe the same thing about themselves this very minute.
Sure, sometimes juries find these barbarians guilty and send them to prison, but what happens then? Asshole teenagers go on social media in defense of these accused rapists and tweet unbelievable statements like:
"I wanna know why there’s no punishment for young hoes."
"You destroyed two people’s life."
"Sticking up for a girl who wanted the D and then snitched? have a seat pleaseeee."
Yes, that's rape victim = hoe, in case the connection was lost on you. Who can blame other girls for being afraid to report these crimes or for blaming themselves when this is the shit many people believe and actually put out there?
And these social media bullies are not naive "young people" who just haven't learned the ways of the world yet, these are assholes. And their coaches are assholes for downplaying it or writing it off as "boys being boys." And their parents are assholes for not paying attention enough to realize they let their kids grow up without any type of moral compass or shred of human decency.
You know what's really sad? That there are so many assholes involved here that you don't even know who to direct most of your anger at! And that's part of the problem.
Except that what may seem so complicated is really very simple. Jaycee Dugard always helps us to remember that in her famous quote: “The shame is his, not mine.” Problem is, no young female victim is actually allowed to believe this in the culture we perpetuate. How could she when her rapists are celebrated, pitied, and allowed to be a “star” on the football field even after charges are filed against them?
We as a society need to lead with this message. Respectable, decent boys and men do not “rape” defenseless girls. The end.
Sheri Reed contributed to this post.
How do you react when you read people calling a 13-year-old rape victim a whore?
Image via Ian Alexander Watkins/Flickr