BY TAHLIA PRITCHARD
Serena Williams, the obvious authority on everything important, has weighed in on the Stuebenville Ohio rape case. In August last year, a 16-year-old-girl was raped by two football players at a party. The girl was intoxicated at the time, and left the party with a number of popular football players. The players then took her to two more parties, by which point she was unconscious. There is photo evidence showing the girl being carried out of a party by her hands and ankles, clearly passed out.
Williams was interviewed by Rolling Stone magazine and expressed her opinion on the Ohio case after it flashed across the TV screen in a news segment.
“Do you think it was fair what they got? They did something stupid, but I don’t know. I’m not blaming the girl, but if you’re a 16-year-old and you’re drunk like that, your parents should teach you: Don’t take drinks from other people. She’s 16, why was she that drunk where she doesn’t remember? It could have been much worse. She’s lucky. Obviously, I don’t know, maybe she wasn’t a virgin, but she shouldn’t have put herself in that position, unless they slipped her something, then that’s different.”
Now I understand this was an off hand remark to something she had seen on TV and she was specifically asked her opinion on the case, but Serena, do the world a favour AND STOP TALKING. NOW.
Unfortunately the mute button doesn’t exist and my eyes can’t unread her quote, so let’s break down Serena’s logic.
1) “Do you think it’s fair what they got”
Yes it was fair what they got. At 16 I knew the difference between yes and no. At 16, I knew that rape was not only wrong, but disgusting and immoral. Teenagers may make stupid mistakes but rape is not a mistake. Rape is illegal. No ifs, buts or maybes.
2) “I’m not blaming the girl but..”…”She’s 16, why was she that drunk…?”
In a way, yes Serena, you are blaming her. Introduce me to a young adult who hasn’t accidentally drunk too much one night. Regardless of the amount one has to drink, this never ever means someone should be taken advantage of. As a female myself, have I had a night where I’ve probably consumed too much alcohol? Yes. Have I seen my friends have nights like this? Yes. Thankfully we’ve always been in the situation where we have someone looking after us, and not taking advantage of us. It’s a scary world we live in, if an individual has there safety compromised just because they’ve accidentally overstepped the boundaries of how much alcohol they can consume, or because they’ve had their drink spiked. Maybe teenagers and young adults are drinking too much. Maybe they should be more careful. But in no way, does this constitute rape being okay. There are many drunk men, boys, women and girls out there who are drinking and not raping/getting raped. Being drunk is not an excuse. These young men being drunk is not an excuse for their actions, just like the young lady isn’t at fault because of how much she had to drink.
3) It could have been worse. She’s lucky.
This is probably the worst part. Oh, so she’s lucky she was only raped and nothing else happened? I’m sure she goes to bed at night, thanking her lucky stars.
Her life has been destroyed. Not only was she raped, which is traumatic enough in itself, she had a community divided against her. Some of the coverage on the rape effectively blamed this girl, the victim, for what happened. I repeat: she is the victim. The young men involved, boasted about raping her on social media, and included photos. The community of Steubenville then gave support to the two footballers during the trial. This girl in no way is lucky. She has been vilified for being drunk and because she was in no state to say ‘no’ this means it’s okay? How on earth are we living in 2012, and still making excuses for boys/men who rape women? They made a ‘mistake,’ ‘she never said no,’ they had such ‘promising futures.’ Fuck. Off. When did women’s desires not to be raped, always override the desires of rapists?
4) “Obviously, I don’t know, maybe she wasn’t a virgin, but she shouldn’t have put herself in that position, unless they slipped her something, then that’s different.”
A young woman drinking too much is not putting herself in a position to be sexually assaulted. Whether she was a virgin or not has nothing to do with anything. It still should never have happened. What kind of message are we sending to females, our friends, sisters and daughters if we say ‘well you drank too much, so look you kind of put yourself in the position to get raped…’ Uh no, that’s not how it works. The young men made the decision to rape her that night. The girl wasn’t asking for it, or shouldn’t be ‘expecting’ it because she was drunk.
As much as Serena tries to justify that she’s ‘not blaming the girl’ it sounds a hell of a lot like victim blaming to me. To close, I’d like to throw in a quote I saw on tumblr.
“If you rape someone, it doesn’t matter that you’re only 16.
If you rape someone, it doesn’t matter that you cry like a child in court.
If you rape someone, it doesn’t matter that you had a promising future.
if you rape someone, it doesn’t matter that your life is destroyed.
If you rape someone, it should haunt you for the rest of your life.
You raped someone.
You deserve every ounce of justice we can place upon you in court of law. “