Thursday, March 28, 2013

Whose Bright Future Was It Anyway?

Sometimes, you have to be serious.

When I started Lovin' the Alien (two years and one week ago, exactly), I wanted it to be funny. I was going through this wild ride as my daughter evolved from a child into a tween, and I had this real sense that if I could laugh about it, things would be easier. 

Now, 244 posts later, I've addressed some pretty serious topics, like the sexification of underage girls, eating disorders, gender and race and sexuality discrimination, domestic violence. MENOPAUSE!

For the past couple of weeks, I've avoided writing about the Steubenville rape trial. (Although, if any of my readers are friends with me on Facebook, they've already heard some of my — fairly vocal — views.) After all, what could I say that wasn't already being said? The outrageous crime perpetrated by the two "promising" young men was compounded again and again by the media and organizations like the NAACP, whose former chapter president said today that the "alleged victim" was "drunk and willing."

Enough already!

Before sitting down to write this, I wanted to learn a bit more about rape shield laws, those that are supposed to keep the focus on the decisions and behavior of the accused rapists rather than the raped. Here's a telling piece of cyber trivia for you. When I Googled "law prohibiting victim trial rape," the first (paid) listing was for a Boston Sex Crimes Law Firm, that offers to represent individuals charged with a variety of crimes, ranging from "date rape" to "child pornography," "molestation" to "solicitation of a minor." The firm promises that "Our legal team includes former police officers with a thorough knowledge of what police are allowed to do, and what they are not as far as evidence is concerned."

Yes, of course, under our system of government, one is innocent until proven guilty. Yes, of course, everyone deserves legal representation and their day in court. 

But pardon me if the website made me feel a little queasy.

No more discussion, please, about whether the girl was drinking. Whether she had a crush on one of the athletes. What she was wearing. Who she was dating. For the record, I'll just repeat what every feminist, progressive, humanist voice has said already. Rape victims are victims. End. Of. Story.

I was thrilled when two important men in my life (one of my business partners and my husband) forwarded this video. It was created by college sophomore Samantha Stendahl (supposedly while she should have been studying for finals, but we'll give her a pass this once). 

Right now, Samantha's video has about 1.7 million hits on YouTube. That's 300,000 more than the "Leaked Steubenville Big Red Rape Video" with teenage boys debating the pros and cons of raping a dead girl as they laugh about the actual rape going on in the next room. Apparently the "She's deader than ..." jokes prevented any of the snickering boys from calling 911.

(The star of that excruciating 12-minute video, by the way, is a scholarship student at Ohio State. His own attorney defended him by calling him "young and stupid." In my book, that doesn't begin to cover it!) 

For the sake of my teenage daughter (and all of us), I hope that the future of YouTube will include a lot more videos like Samantha's. 

And, maybe someday, no more of the other kind.

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