Four Corners: Steubenville
By Belester Bentiez, Ryan M. Cady, Sarah S. Menendez and Logan Payne
Logan Payne: The most interesting part is the rape culture within that city and how the rape was treated and how much outrage was sparked. Just thinking about the dissenters and the supporters and how people were saying like, this girl ruining their lives, and it’s sad to think that the only way people are able to get out of this town is through sports and now their career is over.
Ryan Cady: Yeah, it’s a weird sort of priority situation.
LP: It’s just interesting to think what would have happened if this crime were to occur in Irvine, where people are more educated and have more access to outside things.
RC: It’s a weird sort of entitlement in this community, it goes so far beyond rape culture. It’s like they are entitled to do whatever they want, it’s this weird trope of the jock that can do anything, which you think isn’t a real thing anymore, but it could have been any crime and we would still find a way to blame the victim. It’s so baffling.
Sarah Menendez: If you look at the case and you look at some of the things the witnesses were talking about, one of the guys wasn’t letting another one of the teens involved drive home because he was drunk, and I think it just goes to show that we can change the attitude about drunk driving in this country to the point that teenagers understand how wrong it is, because it can affect a lot of people’s lives, now WHY can’t we do the same about rape?
LP: But, that’s not to say that teenagers don’t drink and drive.
SM: Of course! But, you still hear about it more, you hear people in social situations saying, “No, don’t do it, let me drive you home!” But you don’t hear this kind of open dialogue about rape.
RC: Yeah, I think that’s definitely a factor and just going back to teach people not to rape, instead of teaching people not to be raped is a prime example. Because it’s this whole sort of sub-consequence of people that are teaching, “Oh, men are the enemy, don’t get raped, carry pepper spray,” this is all so big and scary. Why can’t we all just say “Hey guys, you know what’s bad? RAPE, shooting people, robbing people.” It’s just weird that we don’t talk about it, we should treat rape the way we treat these other crimes. But we don’t, we treat it as this weird complex thing, when it’s really not, it’s as simple as someone doing a horrible, horrible thing to someone else.
LP: But I think it’s weird for parents to talk about because then we have to talk about—
LP: I mean, I’ve never talked to my parents about sex, but it’s like hand in hand. You don’t want to talk to your kids about sex, but then how do you talk to them about rape? But then how do you address this issue of something so horrendous happening to another human being?
Belester Benitez: It’s a topic I feel like people don’t really like to address. I feel like we just put it off on a lot of other things; you know there are these drug commercials that depict women getting assaulted and raped, and instead of saying don’t rape, they say don’t do drugs, because you won’t be able to protect yourself. They blame it on the drugs, the alcohol, the weed, instead of saying, don’t rape. We don’t have a history of placing the responsibility on the human being.
SM: You know, it’s interesting that you talk about accountability because in this case specifically, this girl was clearly drunk, clearly getting harassed, and NO ONE was standing up for her. It’s about having that accountability to one another as human beings, to make sure that we stand up for these things and that’s something that’s clearly lacking in this case. I mean, there were people fucking videotaping it and none of them cared to stop it from happening. That’s pretty much saying rape is okay.
BB: That goes back to the whole entitlement thing. The reason no one said anything to these guys is because they are the football players, you can’t challenge them in a social situation because you’ll be the black sheep.
RC: It’s beyond that rape is okay, it’s that they can do what they want. It’s that we teach in our society that there are people who can do whatever they want to other people because of this or that. It’s bullshit.
BB: That’s why you’re right, it could be any crime, not to downplay this event, but the problem is that no one was going to stop them from doing anything, period.
SM: Okay, let’s talk about the media for a second.
RC: I think what happened with the media — specifically CNN — was just a symbol of this idea of entitlement stretching even further. I mean, granted, 100 percent objectively, their lives are ruined, because THEY did a horrible thing, they ruined their own lives. Perhaps an element of pity should be felt for someone that would ruin their own lives and do something that horrible. The media’s approach is sickening.
LP: What do you mean by the media? Essentially, the four of us are all a part of the media. I work my ass off to be accurate, objective and do my job right. So I feel like generalizing the media into this big bubble is not fair.
SM: Well, yeah, of course, but I think we can all agree specifically CNN. I don’t think we can say every single news agency is on board with this perspective.
RC: I think when we say the media like that, we mean the media that is saying these things.
SM: It was so surprising, almost sickening to me, to see these anchors, even women, on these shows talk about these rapists in a way that completely dismisses the victim. Granted, we don’t want to cause the victim more mental strain, but all they kept focusing on and was showing pictures of these guys crying in court, and it’s like, is anyone thinking about how many tears that girl is crying right now? It was just really irritating time and time again to read the first few sentences in an article or headline reading, “Football Stars’ Lives Ruined.”
LP: Well, it’s also the media’s access to other material. I think showing the images of the guys crying, like that’s the only thing they had available.
SM: But it’s also the take you have on that. Because they could take that and have the conversation we’re having right now. They didn’t, instead they took it the other way. The facts are there, obviously, but as a journalist you look at them and you say, “Okay, what’s my take on that? What’s my angle? What do I choose to say about it?” And it’s what they chose to say about it that’s wrong. It’s what you choose to do with what you have to work with.
Belester Benitez is a fourth-year English major. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ryan M. Cady is a third-year psychology and social behavior and English double major. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Sarah S. Menendez is a second-year literary journalism and political science double major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Logan Payne is a fourth-year literary journalism and film and media studies double major. She can be reached at email@example.com.