Who Benefits From Rape Culture?

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By Maria Padhila

I’ll just leave this here.

“The rape was just an excuse, I think,” said the 27-year-old [Nate] Hubbard, who is No. 2 on the Big Red’s career rushing list.

Poly Paradise at Burning Man. Photo by Eric.

“What else are you going to tell your parents when you come home drunk like that and after a night like that?” said Hubbard, who is one of the team’s 19 coaches. “She had to make up something. Now people are trying to blow up our football program because of it.”

Approached in November to be interviewed about the case, [Coach Reno] Saccoccia said he did not “do the Internet,” so he had not seen the comments and photographs posted online from that night. When asked again about the players involved and why he chose not to discipline them, he became agitated.

“You made me mad now,” he said, throwing in several expletives as he walked from the high school to his car.

Nearly nose to nose with a reporter, he growled: “You’re going to get yours. And if you don’t get yours, somebody close to you will.”

Shawn Crosier, the principal of Steubenville High, and Michael McVey, the superintendent of Steubenville schools, said they entrusted Saccoccia with determining whether any players should be disciplined for what they might have done or saw the night of Aug. 11.

This is a chunk from a New York Times article about a rape case in a sorry shit town in the rust belt, Steubenville, Ohio. It’s one of many sorry shit towns in the rust belt, in the southland, in the southwest, in the northeast, in Pennsyltucky, in Arkansee. A couple of football players are being tried in an episode in which a semiconscious and at times unconscious 16-year-old girl was allegedly dragged from party to underage drunken party and raped repeatedly. Other kids snapped cell phone photos of the proceedings and posted them to Instagram and Twitter. (I only use “allegedly” to protect this site. I believe the victim.)

Anonymous’ KnightSec group has resuscitated some of the social media from the night and outed some alleged participants and commentators. The LocalLeaks group has prepared a dossier on the town and event. OccupySteubenville has shown up to rally in support of the victim. But the first to blow open the case was a blogger, Alexandria Goddard, who writes the site Prinniefied.com, and was hit by a lawsuit (since dismissed) for her trouble.

I agree with what she recently stated on her blog: “What bothered me greatly was the number of bystanders (as evidenced by social media) who stood by and did nothing. The complete and utter lack of empathy of anyone that night bothered me greatly.”

They not only did nothing, but they appeared to treat it as entertainment, taking pictures and making snarky Twitter comments. My goodness, what on Earth makes people like this? How do they get that way? Must be them video games.
No, it’s the parents and divorces. Can’t be Satan; that’s sooo ‘80s. No, it’s the antidepressants and the ADHD drugs.

No, it’s something beyond that. They’re “like this” because it is useful and profitable to someone that they be “like this.” They haven’t managed to kill kids off fast enough in the wars lately, not in America. So somebody’s making them insane, as surely but far more subtly than kids are recruited to wield machetes in the Congo.

The kids didn’t shoot the photos because they’re a bunch of bored Clockwork Orange types looking for thrills. They did it to disable the girls, because girls in general are doing pretty well nowadays in America; they’re making better grades and getting out of shit towns and getting more education and making more money than the boys. They’re competitors in a limited market, and they need to be disabled. You don’t have to shoot them for going to school. Rape culture is designed to scare the girls into submission. You don’t have to rape them all; you only need to create a culture of shame and fear; that’s more efficient.

In Steubenville, according to the Times article, “more than one-quarter of the residents are living below the poverty level.” There is nothing there for a young person, except an illusion and a football game on Friday night. The volunteer coach — himself a young man — quoted making that chillingly deluded statement at the beginning of this essay is one of 19 coaches for the team, the article says.

Nineteen coaches. People in that city are in such a state of cognitive distortion and mental disease that they believe that winning high school football games is more important than not only the law or one girl’s safety, but more important than the health and safety and education and simple, decent caring for all the young people who live there.

These young people have been horribly misused. This is abuse, of not only the girls but of the boys. I can even have compassion for the boys: the arrogant little poof who apparently declared on Twitter that the girl got what she deserved because she had dumped him, or the smirking star of the video monologue whose rape jokes have gone viral. They appear to have no idea what they’ve been turned into. What they do horrifies me, but slightly less than wondering who did this to them, and why. No one gets this sick all by their lonesome. There’s the whiff of the bred-and-trained fighting dog about them. But who were the trainers? And why?

Many people have already drawn parallels to India, which blew up over brutal rapes about the same time the Steubenville case was coming out. I’d say let’s also draw a parallel to Egypt, where the youth — in the majority — are called “the waiting generation” because there is Nothing. There. For. Them. No jobs, no hope. And we’ve seen what happened.

A young man quoted in a Frontline article says: “I have a bachelor’s of commerce. Why are you surprised? That’s what upsets me. I swear by God. I was educated. I wasted my whole life in education. Pointless. I hang my certificate on the wall, then I spit on it.”

You could also draw a parallel to almost any of a dozen countries in Africa whose unemployment rates for young people run from 60 percent to 80 percent.

What makes us think we’re any different? The young people who have no hope will glom onto anything that gives them the smallest chance that their lives can mean something, whether that’s football or meth or driving a fertilizer truck into a building and killing people in the name of somebody’s god. Rape culture is just one of the tools in the box.

Of course, not every small town in small town America is a shit town. Some of these towns (hello, Kingston!) are experiencing “revivals” with the influx of Portlandian artisanal cheese eaters and “creative class” software money. It’s just enough money to make the ones who have been there for years, slowly slipping down, seethe. And the ingrained corruption at the top doesn’t seem to change.

Other shit towns are enthusiastically turning themselves into third-world economies through sucking the last of the resources out of the ground. People in these towns get told they’re going to hit bigger than Lotto if they sell their land rights to the frackers. Never mind that economies based on draining resources end up with a few very rich and the rest impoverished and uneducated and usually very sick.

The sports culture of Steubenville sucks the energy out of the young people like some strip-mall goth sucking a Monster energy drink. As in many tribes, the old men get the first and biggest hits off the pipe.

I don’t know how to fix economies or what to tell young people who have been so betrayed and used. All I know is that the only thing that makes sense is that older people are somehow profiting from sick kids. Who is the “they?” What’s the money trail? I don’t know. I know how people profited off me back when I was a shit-town girl in a recession. But I feel like I was just the beta test model — they, whoever they are, are getting really good at it now. Professional. It’s a growing industry, eating our young.

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4 Responses to Who Benefits From Rape Culture?

  1. mariapadhila says:

    Thanks, y’all. Just felt like rape needs to be put in context of politics, economics and violence first, and lots of comments on this crime were missing that. There are so many myths around this flashpoint crime it’s hard to know where to start. Both powerful and powerless people use young people in sports as their surrogates in so many energetic and “real” ways, and that’s just one of those factors that are making us all sick. Another place unexamined: people say those kids have “too much freedom.” How much freedom to you have if you’re tied into a system that demands you perform for their uses? Another: the players are “treated like gods.” I’d say few people are even treating these young people as humans.

  2. carecare7 says:

    This was so good I shared it publicly on my Face Book. Way to go, Maria.

  3. stormilarue stormilarue says:

    make AND break (i meant)

  4. stormilarue stormilarue says:

    it’s been the evil plan for awhile now, to rape & pillage youth culture only to sell it back to them. remember the Frontline “Merchants of Cool”? the Media Giants (benefitting) graphic was horrifying then (2001), gawd only knows now.


    i’d say tell them the truth, that they have the power to make or break these institutional powers of oppression and socialization. the need for critical consciousness about media/literacy is more significant than ever, for all ages.

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