It's just about the last move anyone expected from the members of the crowd that live-tweeted about an alleged rape, then walked away instead of helping the rape victim. A man who took a photo of a couple engaging in a public sex act near the campus of Ohio State University, then uploaded the photo to Twitter, has come out to talk about why he did it. And Vance Blanc's reasoning for his callous move is almost as chilling as the rape itself.
The woman in the photo has reported her assault to campus police, but 19-year-old Blanc, one of a large crowd that is getting flack for not intervening on the girl's behalf, told the university's student-run paper that he didn't know she was being raped.
Said Blanc to the Post:
It was obvious that both the man and woman were very, very drunk. I guess the thing that put everyone there at ease was that she never said stop, she never struggled and she never asked for help. She put her hand on the back of his head. She seemed like she was enjoying it, so I guess for everyone there it was like ‘OK, it’s not assault. It’s not rape.’
Where to begin! There are some very dangerous assumptions about what does and what doesn't qualify as rape in that statement.
She didn't say no, so it couldn't have been rape? She wasn't physically resisting, so it wasn't rape? Both of these are myths, disturbing, despicable, and dangerous myths about rape.
Not to mention, he denoted her obviously drunkeness -- which would indicate diminished capacity and an inability to provide adequate consent -- and yet no one identified the incident as rape and stepped in.
This is not all on Blanc, as he was just one of the many people in the crowd, albeit one of the few brave enough to come forward. Nor is he responsible for the rape itself.
I want to make that clear because at the moment, he is a bystander. They were all bystanders (or so it seems -- cops are still investigating this whole case).
But bystanders with such an unclear understanding of what does and does not qualify as rape are bystanders who stand to be rapists and or victims in the future.
Think about it: if you don't know what IS rape, then how do you know not to commit rape? How do you know when you've been assaulted ... and know that you have the right to have your rapist brought to justice?
The Ohio State University incident is a tragedy first and foremost for the girl who was raped.
It's also a disquieting picture of society as a whole. By Blanc's own estimate, there were 20 to 30 people who witnessed the attack and could not identify the crime going on before their very eyes. Based on their proximity to the college campus, one would assume these people were at least somewhat educated.
And yet none of them were educated enough on what qualifies as a sexual assault?
This is why rape continues to be an issue in America -- because too many people, even educated people, are not aware of their own rights and those of others around them.
So long as people do not know WHAT rape is, there will be rape. Plain and simple.
If you'd been in that crowd, what would you have done?
Image via Ocean/Corbis