The Steubenville Verdict: Rape Culture? What Rape Culture?

Sunday morning, two teenagers from Steubenville, Ohio were found guilty of raping a 16-year-old classmate. Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond were sentenced to serve in the state juvenile system for at least two years and one year, respectively. Unfortunately but unsurprisingly, the public reaction to the verdict only reinforces the culture of victim-blaming and rape apology that most of us know all too well.

[Trigger warnings for discussion of rape and victim blaming]

We’ve curated some of the public’s responses to the verdict to illustrate how rape culture is alive and well and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Although these are far from the worst examples of what’s being said, be warned that most of them are horrible. All quotes and screencaps were from publicly accessible websites and none were taken using any means to thwart privacy settings.

From Twitter:

Tweet reading: Everyone is at fault in the Steubenville case. The boys are despicable, but if you're the girl, don't put yourself in that situation.

Tweet reading: all 3 parties are guilty in the #steubenville rape trial: the boys for being rapists, & the girl for drinking herself into a stupor...ridic

Tweet reading: #steubenville case pisses me off. she doesnt remember consenting so its automatically rape? nah. i bet she consented they were all drunk!

Tweet reading: The parents in #Steubenville should be charged for having alcohol available to minors. Girl is guilty if underage drinking shame on all

Tweet reading: Steubenville football players found guilt. Too bad the girl can't also be sentenced for being so stupid and putting herself in danger.



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Huffington Post:

Screencapture from Huffington Post

Screencapture from Huffington Post

Screencapture from Huffington Post

Screencapture from Huffington Post

Screencapture from Huffington Post


Meanwhile, CNN itself is awfully concerned about what the guilty verdict means for the “promising futures” of Mays and Richmond. (Raw Story)

Victim blaming is alive and well, folks, and it’s pretty gross. Fortunately, for every victim-blaming, rape culture-perpetuating comment, there seems to be at least ten comments on the other side, condemning the guilty parties, the “football culture,” the rape apologists, and the atmosphere of victim blaming. So there may be some hope after all.

I don’t think I’ve ever been more glad that “never read the comments” has never applied to P-Mag. If you’ll excuse me, I need to cuddle some puppies and forget about humanity for a little while.

Published by

[E] Rachel

I punctuate sentences with Oxford commas, and I punctuate disagreements with changesocks. Proud curmudgeon. Get off my lawn.

24 thoughts on “The Steubenville Verdict: Rape Culture? What Rape Culture?”

  1. I’ve been ranting at my mother all day and she is the source of all my liberal/feminist leanings so she agrees with me. She just knows when it’s best to let me rant and rave.

    I’ve surprisingly seen nothing on my Facebook feed defending the rapists (probably because I’ve hidden or deleted a bunch of people from the last election) but I will go mother of dragons on anyone who even hints they feel sympathy for the perpetrators and not the victim.

  2. I could not even finish that. I just blanked out and came to in the safe-P-mag comment section. It makes me feel like crying in the shower, or cuddling a kitty under the blankets (consensually, of course), or not ever moving away from my adorably liberal bastion in New England.

  3. I always thought that CNN was the place you could go to for pretty unbiased (of course it’s never completely unbiased) and well-thought-through news. This is really disappointing.

    Of course, why am I focusing on that while we’re talking about rape but ..all has been said.

  4. Even the people who think they’re being respectful fall prey to the “but…”

    “Rape is wrong but….”
    “The boys should have known better but…”
    “The situation is horrible but…”

    I just can’t read comment sections anymore. It’s like being victimized all over again.

  5. The one that really gets me is the ‘why does everyone want to teach not to rape’ because its insulting to men. But I have no problem believing that guy thinks that girl shouldn’t have been drinking and that she put herself ‘at risk’ by hanging around with rapists.

    But god forbid we make some boy feel bad by telling them the obvious — don’t rape anyone, ever.

  6. Do these people not have sisters, mothers, girlfriends, wives, daughters, sons, aunts, uncles, friends?
    Is there some sort of secret Internet points system for who can say the “edgiest” comment about things NORMAL DECENT HUMAN BEING SHOULD CARE ABOUT?

    What the everloving hopping fuck is wrong with people?

    1. I interacted with the person who posted the Jezebel comments. The more I pushed back on her — and yes, it was a her — the more she backpeddled. So I definitely think that there’s an element of ‘lol, edgy’ going on. As well as a heft does of just world fallacy.

    1. Digging through twitter and the comment sections of the other sites made me want to throw up. I was going to include more, but I had to stop before my brain exploded from rage and frustration. And there were so many that were so much more horrifying than this. So many.

  7. You know what happens when one girl doesn’t “put herself in danger”? That just leaves the rapist to go rape somebody else. There will ALWAYS be somebody vulnerable. Telling victims to change their behavior does not stop a rape from happening – it just stops the rape from happening to HER. The only way to stop a rape from happening is to STOP THE RAPIST FROM RAPING.

    1. Clearly, the message is that if you have a vagina, you’re like a steak in shark-infested waters.

      I do admire the handful of men I’ve seen comment on this who clearly know that RAPE IS WRONG. ALL THE FUCKING TIME.

      I have been ranting about this for four days. Plus side, my cats are well-versed in the existence of rape culture.

  8. Oh fucking hell, people.

    A teenage girl going to a party and drinking (don’t give me any of that “what was she thinking, drinking underage” bull, that’s been a thing for teenagers to do since alcohol was invented) is not the same as a slutty teenage slut looking to slut. Even if she agreed to (wanted to, initiated) a make-out session, she did not agree to being carried from house to house and raped by people she didn’t know. I don’t recall whether there were drugs involved (i.e., something put in her drink so she would be complaint and wouldn’t remember), but even if she drank too much, she wasn’t giving everyone present a free pass to do what they wanted to her. These boys committed rape and assault, and SHOULD be punished. More than they are being punished. And the conversation about rape prevention meaning teaching people NOT TO RAPE needs to continue and spread and, hopefully, someday, be the default. Not don’t get raped; don’t rape.

    ::kicks things::

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