The Revolution will be Livestreamed? Occupy Steubenville casts a harsh light on our own Rape Culture


When I woke up today, within minutes I was confronted by the livestream of Occupy Steubenville. The groundswell protest and public display of rage against rape culture, shed a powerful light on the plight of the 16 year-old girl who was raped repeatedly (and carried to different locations for more rape) by members of a high school football team in Steubenville, Ohio. Organized by the hacker consortium Anonymous, protestors wore Guy Fawkes masks and stormed the town to demand justice.

Perhaps nothing was more powerful than when the teenage sexual assault survivor spoke for herself, saying:

I would just like to thank Anonymous, because they gave me a voice.

Powerful. And yet, not enough.

Why does it take an anonymous hacker collective to incite the riot for justice? I give all due credit to Anonymous on this. In fact, thank you Anonymous for your outrage and your vigilante justice — releasing the names and contact information for the football team.

But why does it take anonymous hackers to draw the outrage? A girl was raped over and over again by a high school football team! It should take only seconds for the neurons to fire, process, and switch on our emotional reaction to outrage. Cranked all the way to 11, for fuck’s sake!

Maybe this really is a sign of the times, that we need to call in our real-world cyber version of Batman to finally get justice for victims of sexual assault.

Last week I wrote about the fact that this story and the New Delhi gang rape are really linked by the same problem: Rape Culture. (And I’m not the only one who sees it.) Indeed, the problem is we’re looking at rape all wrong. Rape is a hate crime because it is about acting on a cultural hatred of women and using sexual assault to strip them of their power.

Get it straight: Rape is not about sex. It is a violent assault to rob someone of their power.

Last week I was tweeting with the hashtag #RapeIsAHateCrime and I encourage you to do the same. Here are some of the tweets I sent:

  • When internalizing a constant fear of being raped is a birthright, that’s oppression. #RapeIsAHateCrime #rapeculture #fem2
  • Rape is about sex like lynching is about justice. Tools of violent oppression are about hate! #RapeIsAHateCrime #rapeculture #fem2
  • Lynching was one violent tool of racist oppression. Rape is a violent tool of misogynist oppression. #RapeIsAHateCrime #rapeculture

We owe it to all the survivors — from Steubenville to New Delhi to the women in the military — to call out rape culture. But more importantly, we must demand justice!

I don’t want to raise my daughter in a world that hates women. I don’t want my daughter’s birthright to be an indoctrination into a culture that oppresses her by instilling the constant hum in the back of her head of a fear of sexual assault. A culture that says that if you are not a “good girl,” you deserve it. A culture where politicians will block the reauthorization Violence Against Women Act because they do not want to protect Native American women, gay women, or immigrants.

This cultural hatred of women runs so deep that there are even categories of women. And, if our actions say anything, it is that all women are not created equal.

I am so sick of hearing this kind of news and writing these kinds of posts! I am over it! This cycle has to end!

If you think I am being over-the-top, consider this: There is a video of one of the accused Steubenville rapists laughing about all this. Laughing. And keep in mind, only two alleged perpetrators have been taken into custody after a rape that happened in August. If you think India should be shamed for waiting several days… then you should be raging that right here in America the same kind of vicious attack has been left to fade into obscurity through inaction.

If you want to chastise Indian authorities for their lack of response to a brutal, and deadly, rape, then — to paraphrase the Bible (perhaps an SCS first) — take the plank of wood out of your own fucking eye first! (I think Jesus’ use of the f-bomb was edited out of the Bible.) The attack in New Delhi was horrible. But to act like we don’t have the exact same shit happening here is beyond hypocritical.

If you want something to do, try this:

  • Sign the petition calling on the Steubenville AG to pursue justice on this case.
  • Join Eve Ensler’s V-Day movement #IBillionRising, which is building toward events all over the world to end sexual violence.
  • Make a donation to RAINN, which offers a 24-hour hotline that serves women all over the country.
  • Make a donation to the Abortion Funds Network, because despite what the politicians and judges say, pregnancy can result from rape and thanks to the onslaught of misogynistic, anti-abortion laws all over the country, it’s getting harder and harder to access desperately needed services.

We are not the minority. We are the majority! And our voices are strong!

(Trigger Warning for this video.)

7 thoughts on “The Revolution will be Livestreamed? Occupy Steubenville casts a harsh light on our own Rape Culture

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