The "Jane Doe" who stood up in Steubenville, Ohio after being raped by two members of the football team and was bullied by half the town is just a 16-year-old girl. But her courage and bravery in the face of such hatred and opposition really should serve to inspire women twice her age. Not all of us could do what she has done.
"Jane Doe" was ostracized in her hometown, threatened over the Internet, and even bullied online by strangers. Even here, on CafeMom, so many people said, "Well, it's true that Trent Mays and Ma'lik Richmond were bad, but hey, she shouldn't have been drunk."
Well, here is your reply. As feminist writer Jessica Valenti says so eloquently: "The worst a dude expects if he passes out drunk at a party is maybe a few dicks Sharpied on his face. But women should just anticipate rape?" Is that really the culture we want to hand to our children?
The number of stories from college and high school that I have to tell could fill a book. Friends who didn't exactly say no. Friends who were drugged. Friends who had tampons pulled out of them in order to have sex with men to whom they never said yes. One friend passed out on a couch and three men had sex with her and she never knew it until she was told by a "disgusted" girl four days later:
"You are such a slut."
We accepted this. I am so ashamed to say it. But we did. We chalked it up to college and laughed it off as things that happened to drunk girls. And this was more than a decade ago, people. Why have things not gotten better?
I remember the high school party when I was just 16 where I passed out and woke up with some guy's hands up my shirt and under my bra. He called me the next day: "I was really drunk," he explained. "I know I did some crazy things, but I can't remember what. So I am calling everyone to apologize."
I remember the college party where a friend's friend took my arm and led me, stumbling, into his door room where he proceeded to push my head toward his crotch. I started but I never wanted it. I was in and out of consciousness, but I finally pulled my head up and shook it. He kicked me out of his room.
"You shouldn't have gotten so drunk," a friend told me. Even though she had been just as drunk two nights before. Even though every person -- girl and boy -- got that drunk on a weekly basis at our "little Ivy League" school. So when he came by my dorm room to apologize and high-five me -- "we're cool, right?" -- I told him we were and never even considered it wrong. Until now.
I am twice the age of that brave Steubenville Jane Doe, and I am only now looking back on experiences I had and realizing how wrong they were. I thought that was just what happened to girls who wanted to have fun and laugh and let loose. Girls who wanted to flirt and be playful, but not necessarily have sex.
Bull shit. This is what it means when feminists talk about our "rape culture." And every comment below that says a girl who is drunk is asking for it or asks where the parents were or otherwise somehow excuses this behavior on the part of men and boys excuses this.
Well, pardon me while I say a hearty screw you. I am done participating in this. I have a 6-year-old daughter, and while I am not thrilled with the idea of her drinking to excess, I also know it happens. I know that even if she does have too much to drink, no one has the right to put their hands on her body unless she expressly tells them they can. Period. End of story.
There is no other answer. It took an incredibly brave 16-year-old girl to teach a grown woman this lesson and I am so grateful to her. This isn't OK. It never was.
Do you blame women for getting drunk?
Image via Dan4th/Flickr