If you’ve been anywhere near a news site I’m sure you’ve heard about Steubenville. You may have watched the appalling video. You may have even read a news story or two. You may have become enraged.
Enraged a young woman was violated. Again.
Enraged drinking, drugs, and sex are not only prevalent in teens lives, but in some cases, supplied by adults.
Enraged there are young men and women who believe it’s okay to treat each other with so little respect.
Enraged at the veil of silence that’s fallen over Steubenville.
As for me, I’m enraged we’re pretending this is an isolated incident. A one-off.
I wrote a book where teens drink, do drugs, and have sex – and I have had reviewers question the validity of the situations. “I don’t think this is a real representation,” say some. “I don’t know teens who behaves like this,” say others.
While the alleged rape of these teens is horrifying, what’s worse is the way we ignore the culture that lets things like this happen.
All across America, there are young men who think nothing of humiliating girls (I’m not going to say rape, because I hope and pray most boys know this is wrong). They talk about girls as if they are commodities to be collected. We have girls who are willing to put up with this treatment because the boy is popular, cute, or wealthy, and maybe, by association they’ll be popular, cute, or wealthy too. We have books and TV shows that tell both genders this behavior is okay (Hush, Hush and Teen Mom, for example). We have celebrities who are given a pass for drunk driving, cheating, and generally being assholes.
I have to ask, what are we teaching our children?
Every parent believes their son is incapable of such behavior. But do you know for sure? Maybe he wouldn’t be the one carrying the girl around and raping her, but would he take pictures? Would he crack jokes like the boy in video? More importantly, would he reach for his phone and call the police to stop it? Probably not. Why? Because peer pressure is a tremendous force in kids’ lives, and no one wants to end up at the unpopular lunch table.
And what about parents? If you found out your child was at this party, would you march their ass down to the police station and make them give a statement? Or would you try to “protect” them out of fear they too may end up in jail?
These are conversations we NEED to have, and it starts with acknowledging sex, drugs, and drinking happen – and depending on the community – happens on a larger scale than we, as adults, want to believe.
So many parents stick their heads in the sand and pretend their kids aren’t exposed to this stuff. It frustrates me.
But do you know what really pisses me off? In Steubenville, the party took place at a coach’s house. A full-bar was provided. What does that say? That this type of behavior was known and encouraged by the adults in the community. I mean, c’mon, how does a responsible parent not know their kid is stumbling in the door drunk? Mouthwash only does so much.
And so, so, so many people in Steubenville are begging the media to “Please look the other way. This is a fluke. It’s not how we really are.”
But you know what? It isn’t a fluke. This is how we, as a nation, really are. It’s not just you, Steubenville. It’s America. It’s a country that thinks making jokes about a woman’s fuckability is okay. It’s about women who feel they have to hide their intelligence to get a guy. It’s about a country that is so obsessed with beauty, wealth, and celebrity that we will turn a blind eye when people from those groups cause harm to someone less desirable.
I know too many men who were once like the boys at the Steubenville party. They were boys who thought it was okay to treat girls with disrespect, and who grew up to be liars and cheaters. They believe women and girls are trophies to be won and discarded at whim.
But hey, as long as everyone looks good, wins games, and has money, it’s all good.
Except when it’s not.