In A Courtroom In Steubenville, The Tears Of A Rapist Came A Little Too Late

Screen Shot 2013-03-17 at 11.31.58 AMAs the verdict came down, I watched an obviously distressed Trent Mays weep into a tissue. Call me a hard bitch, but it made my morning.

Where were the tears for the victim? Where were the apologies for all of the horrific things she endured? The timing of the breakdown proves that these boys are weeping for loss of freedom and for the validation that they are, in fact, sex offenders. Is there any remorse here?

I feel a hell of a lot of remorse today. I feel remorse that even when a victim is unconscious, she has to prove that she didn’t want it. That she wasn’t asking for it. This verdict is a huge victory for victims, but it doesn’t change the fact that if this identical situation happened next week, we would again be sifting through months of coverage of friends speaking on the victim’s character and of people speculating on how much she had to drink. Because, even if a woman is totally not conscious, she obviously deserves some of the blame for trusting that her schoolmates wouldn’t drag her unresponsive body around town while everyone watched, laughed, and judged her.

Moments after the verdict came down, I took to Twitter to express my relief. This is one of the first responses I got: “Why is her being drunk veto her consent yet they were drunk and are being held to their actions?” This was from a woman. I feel remorse today because we still have to explain that any number of actions leading up to a woman being raped aren’t “criminal.” Getting drunk is not a crime. Flirting is not a crime. Wearing something that someone perceives as suggestive is not a crime. Taking ownership over someone else’s body is. Rape is a crime. Why, in 2013, do I have to explain this? What is unclear about this?

Is it because we are so used to seeing women blamed for their own rapes that we have become immune to it? Is it because rape is the only crime where victims are guilty until proven innocent? Can you imagine someone who had their house burglarized being put on the stand and forced to explain why their windows were open? No, you can’t. Because it’s ridiculous. Questioning a rape victim’s character is ridiculous. But it’s something we’ve all been conditioned to expect.

So excuse me for smiling when I saw a rapist weep today. The only thing I can do in this culture of crazy is to stand firm in my beliefs that she didn’t deserve this, she wasn’t asking for it, and someone absolutely deserves to be punished. I’ll smile smugly in the face of any convicted rapist.

It’s all I got.

(photo: wtov.9)


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