Monday, March 18, 2013

Pro-Rapist? Pro-Youth? Definitely conflicted.

I've been (loosely) following the Steubenville trials of two young men aged 16 and 17.  Now, I am not a fan of focusing the media's attention on the guilty.  However, having dealt with being assaulted before, I would feel terrible if I had been targeted by the media.  So what do you do to be fair - you focus on the guilty because if you hurt them, it's not as bad. 

Think about it for a second: you're a young woman.   You've been raped.  Not assaulted, not molested - you've been raped.  You didn't have sex with someone - they forced themselves on you.  Not one, but two men.  Now you are all over the news with cameras flashing around you, people screaming at you for an answer asking you how you feel???  That doesn't seem right.  This is the most intimate act ripped away from your control and you're being sensationalized...that doesn't seem quite right, does it?  So we leave the victim alone...and we report on the guilty.

Here's my problem with everything.  I feel badly for the boys too.  I don't feel badly that they are going to jail - personally, I think they deserve to be there longer.  I don't feel badly that they were caught - they did it.  I don't feel badly that everyone is going to know they raped this girl - They. Did. It.  I feel badly because when I look at pictures of them, I see two boys who were being stupid and cruel and probably egging each other on.  I see two boys whose parents let them stay out, who probably weren't worried about coming home smelling like booze, who were raised up on pedestals because they could throw a darn football.  I see two young boys who are probably going to become products of the jail system.  Statistically, they will commit another crime, go to jail again.  They will never live a normal life (nor should they) but they have destroyed their lives at such a young age that yes, I feel bad.

I'm have been extremely conflicted over feeling bad're supposed to hate rapists not feel bad for them.  I hate their actions, I hate their nonchalant attitude about it at first, I hate that they have hurt (I refuse to use the word destroy because that gives too much power to the rapists) an innocent girl.  But rape is about power - were they really trying to be powerful? Or were they being stupid teens?  My guess is they were being stupid teenagers and they went WAY to far.  They deserve to be punished and yes this will haunt them (as it should) but can I completely harden my heart and say I don't feel badly for them? No I can't.  

I don't blame the parents either - it was their childrens decision, not theirs...but I also know how many times I could have gotten in a LOT more trouble because of crap I did when I was younger had my parents not cared enough to ask questions, make sure I got home at a decent hour and punished me when I broke rules.  Young people are sometimes really stupid.  That's why we have parents!  (If the coaches knew about it though and said nothing, I blame them and hope they rot in jail.)

Before I get blasted with "you're pro-rapists", I promise I'm not.  Having been assaulted, I am even more conflicted as to why I feel badly.  The only way I can say it is I feel badly that they are so young, that they chose to make those decisions that affected their lives forever.  

There is no other outcome for these young men - they were wrong, they were caught, they are going to juvie, they deserve it (and probably more).  I hope they will learn to be responsible young men while in jail but that's a hard sell.  

Whenever a young life is destroyed - even if it is by their own hand - there is a place for empathy.  That being said, there are lines that need to be drawn between feeling bad and being sorry it happened.  I am not sorry they were arrested.  I am sorry they did it in the first place and hurt a young woman.  

And still, I am conflicted about feeling bad - sometimes writing it out doesn't sort out every feeling.

Feel free to post your opinions on this.  Did you watch the video of their sentencing and if so, how did you feel?



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