— Donna M. Alexander (@americasstudies) March 19, 2013
Steubenville is now synonymous with hell. It is no longer just a geographical location, but an event, a moment in time when humanity failed to be humane. It represents one of the most callous tendencies of human beings: the inclination to blame victims of sex crimes, to valorise rapists, to sympathise with destroyers of human souls. Because that is what sex crimes do; aside from the bodily harm that is caused, the soul is forever scarred, if not completely shattered. This is our man-made rape culture.
The woman who we all know as Jane Doe is now suffering manifold because of the senseless backlash she has received for taking the very brave step of coming forward and seeking justice against her rapists. Not only does she face the long and torturous journey of recovering from the crime, but she must now face the mob of voices that condemned and blamed her for seeking the justice that she deserves.
This is the latest in an overwhelming trend of victim blaming that has spread like wildfire across this planet. How many times have I heard the following? She shouldn’t have dressed like that; I suppose that’s what happens when you drink too much; some girls are just naïve; she’s a bit of a flirt; she sleeps around a lot; she must have sent out the wrong signals; she was asking for it. How much more will I have to hear?
I have experienced victim blaming. The pain of being belittled for what was done to me against my will felt like my spine splintered, driving bone shards into my vital organs, vertebrae up my throat; my liver punctured, leaking bile throughout my centre; my blood clotting and my veins hardening against a constant and vicious onslaught against my character. What little of my soul that was left unharmed by my attacker was eviscerated by my blamers
All around the world victims of sex crimes are trying to survive and rebuild themselves amid this culture of blaming and shaming. Every time yet another person or group condemns the victim and valorises the rapist it is a reminder and a reinforcement of the unreserved cruelty that goes hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder with sex crime. The omnipresent site of victims’ damnation goes by the name of Steubenhell; the fire that burns there is blame; the people who stoke the fire should know better; and the people warming their hands over it are the perpetrators of rape and sexual assault.
— renee(@reneejulene) March 19, 2013
*This was originally published on Américas Studies, 20 March 2013*