Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Steubenville Must Be Talked To

“We must talk to girls about their responsibility in situations like this.” - CNN
I'm supposed to be writing songs.

If you've been sober enough (and really, why bother anymore?) to open Facebook in the last 48 hours, you've no doubt been bombarded with (mostly) female friends posting highly opinionated links  handwringing about a young woman who was raped in some small town we'll all forget about next week anyway, much to the relief of people who moved to small towns to avoid being seen/noticed/exposed in the first place.

The particulars of the case are non-specific enough to be a perfect canvas for people to project themselves: girl, drunk at party, passes out, pictures taken, penises, internet, football, small town, "swept it under the carpet." "Oh, and now here's what I think:"

Invariably, what they "think" is a repeat of some meme that's already in play, most often a variation of needing to "talk" about "rape culture", as if A) talking had some history of solving anything, and B) as if "rape culture" was some definable aspect of their own cultural ecosystem that can be coaxed out far enough for a precision surgical circumcision.


There's some controversy over CNN's framing of the story, specifically that they empathized with the rapists instead of the victim. Hello, you do understand the concept of a "power dynamic", yes? Which side is CNN on? (Hint: The power.)

Which would be remarkable if this were an episode of Law&Order....

But that's not the story CNN is telling, and that's why their reporter is confused that people are pissed at her.

Remember, CNN didn't "break" this story - they picked it up from somewhere else.

There is only one reason you and I have even heard of this: Anonymous. Men.

Anonymous’ motives are already in the open: 4 teh lulz. In other words, they didn’t go after these guys because they wanted ‘justice’ for the victim - they just thought it would be funny.

Why is outing some random small town football players 'lulz?'

He would've gotten away with it
if not for those meddling kids!

If the story CNN was telling was a good ole-fashioned Law and Order story, of course we'd be hearing nothing but tears and violins for the victim. CNN is telling a story not about the consequences of a rape conviction, but the consequences of being outed by hackers.

The "damange to these young men's lives" is not due to the justice system, it's the outing by Anonymous. The real message: "Anonymous is a bunch of troublemakers, and look, they wear masks."

Like clowns.

This is so critical to understand, but once you do, you can grasp why CNN chose this rape (vs thousands of others) to "talk" about (read: generate revenue), because it provides a context to establish Anonymous as both powerless AND complicit.

Game over.

The "members" of Anonymous are even playing their part, appearing on TV interviews in Guy Fawkes masks. And nobody even breathes about actual anonymous sourcing or asks why someone with a mediocre opinion feels it necessary to hide their identity, much less, why a news outlet would allow it in the first place (hint: central casting is involved.)

In this analysis, the "real" agenda of CNN has never been the expose of a small-town injustice, instead it's the establishing of a power narrative, namely "We have it" and hackers don't.

You girls don't stand a chance.


I am working on a followup discussing themes of power, real vs imagined power, and why these deeper narratives deserve consideration.

IMHO, every person's responsibility in "situations like this" is to put your life in danger for your fellow human. Period. The culture's predominant female programming is the avoidance of conflict at all costs (conflict is not just "masculine"; it's un-feminine) and until this changes, women are already at a significant power disadvantage due to cultural incentives. Women's burden is higher, as is their personal risk. 

Ladies, grow a pair, will ya?


Nathan said...

I never did like the term "rape culture'. It seems too undefinable. A quick search on it will give you a plethora of definitions that, while have a core idea (the practice of blaming a rape victim for the execrable act that happened to them), end up involving sub-concepts whose descriptions involves sentences the lengths of which would per Herman Melville to shame. While that, in and of itself, isn't a problem (I'll read long sentences if they warrant their length), I just can't help but shake the feeling that this is a term/concept that if not held in check can become a bit overzealous in it's application (much like MADD has become in comparison to its initial intentions).

Personally I could care less why CNN focused on this over something else; anonymous did something for the lulz... big deal. Anonymous is nothing more than the poster child for Penny-Arcades 'Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory':


I think the answer to the question as to why CNN focused on this case over others is a combination of the fact that anonymous was involved in the outing and the fact that it happened in a small town in the middle of fuck-all-nowhere Ohio where the only thing they have to look forward to is the next football season. Quiet, small town atrocities are rating candy.

Should this have happened to this girl? Hell no. Should those boys be sympathized? Hell no. They knew what they were doing and they've (presumably) been brought up in a culture that teaches through instruction, media (with maybe the exception of gangsta rap), and literature that rape is not okay and is a shameful, execrable act that should not go unpunished. But I do have to question what led to this.

I don't mean victim blaming questions: why didn't she say no? Why did she put herself in the situation? Why did she drink? Those questions are nothing more than victim blaming red herrings. My question is what led these supposed upstanding males to think that this behavior was okay and excusable? And saying that it is due to rape culture is only a tenth of an answer and barely passes the a tolerable answer mark; lower than that mark I'd say 'bullshit, try again.'

I'm betting that it was a combination of questionable (read: shitty) parenting, and being raised in a culture that creates an exceptionable/entitled mindset (common to the 'jock mentality') where because you are good at something that the crowd enjoys you should be excepted for your behavior because you need to blow off some extra steam, or some other bullshit excuse. I also question how much 'mob mentality' entered the picture as well as there were, apparently, many people at this party and not one person thought to stand up for her and say 'this is wrong; stop it.' None of those things have anything to do with what I would consider 'rape culture'. She wasn't a victim before this happened, so that is merely going the route of post-hoc ergo propter hoc. If you want to change rape culture, you need to change what is causing these people to commit these acts. So far, outside of those two things, the only other thing that I can think of is that these kids did what they did, much like anonymous does what they do: merely [i]for the lulz[/i].