I get enraged any time I read anything about rape or sexual assault. Obviously, what normal human being wouldn’t? I think what bothers me so much about the attack against the 16-year-old girl in Steubenville, Ohio, that really hits me hard, is I grew up in a town just like this. My town of about 14,000, an hour or two from Chicago, thrives on football. While I lived there, the football coach had more power than the mayor and police, and very often, so did the football players. While in art class, the leading senior football player would sit in the center of the room and sing very loudly. He’d sing his own songs that included his own made-up lyrics involving words and phrases like, “Noose-call, N******!!” or “Kill all the grubbers!” Basically full out threatening anyone who wasn’t white or part of the “popular” group. Our art teacher would sit in stunned silence and fear and let him go on singing about who he wanted to kill. When I and another classmate went to the principal, he said he’d look into it. Nothing was done.
Later on, this same football player attacked a family in a van with a baseball bat during a road rage incident. While he only attacked the van itself, the crime was still swept under the rug, so he could continue playing football. (He now works for as a high-paid, high ranking manager for an insurance company).
In my senior year of high school, the football coach retired. To this day, the new football coach (who I hear is a very nice man who just moved to my small town) is constantly threatened with death-threats and bodily harm—just because he’s not the “power-house coach” who had retired on his own 7 years ago.
Stories would go around the high school about another ‘star’ football player and his sexual harassment against other boys while in the locker room. I would hear about how this football player would grope other players and sometimes even violently attack them while getting changed. Nothing was done. Another point—a group of my friends were in a heavy metal band. After finishing up one night from a gig, a police officer pulled up. Apparently he seemed friendly and asked my classmates what they were doing. As they put away their instruments and cleaned up their wires, they told the cop that they had just finished a gig for the town festival. The cop smiled and said alright, then asked if any of them were football players. Upon saying No, the cop nodded and issued them a ticket for being out past curfew.
Upon reading all the information in the Steubenville, Ohio case, I see comments like, “Well, that’s Ohio for you!” or “These boys are all sociopaths!” And yet… it’s not. This doesn’t just happen in Ohio. It’s not something that happens in the Midwest in small towns only. It’s a world-wide epidemic. These boys are not dark monsters waiting in the alley to spring out and abduct innocent young girls. These are boys who probably took swim lessons as children, cried when they saw a scary movie, and probably did a car-wash for a school fundraiser. What the fuck went wrong?!
People need to stop thinking, “Oh, these specific boys are sick and crazy. Let’s just lock them away and then we’ll have peace again.” These are what boys are being taught. These high-schoolers were trained to think this way and encouraged to feel this awful sense of entitlement. The world needs to stop viewing rapists as individual problems and really see what is happening—that something is allowing boys to think and feel this way. The girl who was raped in Ohio was abducted because she broke up with the football player, Cody Saltsman. That’s it. She broke up with a football player and was therefore drugged, raped, and tortured for hours by a group who actually have the well-know name around town as the Rape Crew. Go to youtube and watch Michael Nodianos laughing his ass off while the girl is being raped a few rooms down. Not only that, look at the fucking hunting rifle at his feet as he laughs! He looks like half the football players from my town and kids I went to high school with. Read the comments of people supporting him and blaming the victim.
This is not just an individual little issue—this happens everywhere. Why is this case so huge? Because Anonymous got involved and the media was actually interested. Most other cases are simply dismissed or ignored, as this case had been in August. The entire town was trying to hush this up. The football coaches encouraged the boys to hide their horrendous tweets and facebook stats that STATED CLEARLY, THEY WERE RAPING SOMEONE, just so they would be safe. The sheriff couldn’t care less! Why? Why are we letting this happen? Why are boys still just getting slaps on the wrist and being told that their behavior is ok because, you know, boys will be boys? Why is it that a girl or women must be punished because of insecure men? And why the fuck are cops, lawyers, and judges dismissing it??
Again, this story simply pushes the idea further that girls and women do not need to learn how to ‘not be raped.’ Boys and men need to be taught how to not rape. Because this shit is happening everywhere and it’s not just lurkers in the alley. It’s the wholesome-looking kid sitting next to you in class or the kid you grew up with from kindergarten to senior year of high school. This isn’t and should never be a passing issue. It’s constant and needs to stop.
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