Most of my television time is wrapped up in Sesame Street, so I have to admit that I'm not always up on news these days. I try watching The Today Show as we get ready, but honestly, after the first five minutes, nothing they really talk about I consider "news." But recently during a lunch break, I started reading up on the Steubenville rape story, the trial, what awful things transpired that night, even getting so far as finding a link to the texts sent between these boys who readily admit to each other that they took advantage and brutally raped an overly-intoxicated female that night. Someone's daughter, granddaughter, niece. Everything that happened that night, everything that was written through tweets, posted on YouTube by these boys is absolutely horrifying.
It's horrifying because I start to think back to my days in college. I know for certainty there were times when I was so intoxicated I could barely walk, talk, let alone make a rational decision for myself. Or defend myself. This happens all the time. It's the culture. You go to college and it's time to party, it's time to get wild. You think of yourself as invincible. Surely it couldn't happen to me. I mean, I know I was one of those kids. And it's stupid. You think it's harmless fun, but you push yourself to the limits, try to consume as much as you can. And for what? So many times I know that I put myself in a situation where this could have just as easily happened. I know so many friends of mine who did the same. I'd walk home alone, find myself at home in bed and not even realize how I got there. Have no memory of the night before. I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones. This victim was not.
It is absolutely disgusting the backlash that this case has caused. People writing that she was drunk, she put herself in this situation. It's not the first time we've heard it. Being in Indiana, I have heard it associated with the missing IU student, Lauren Spierer. It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter how much the person drank, what illegal substances they took. It does not matter. Bad decisions to drink too much or experiment with drugs does not mean someone deserves what happened to them. An intoxicated person is in no state of mind to say yes or no. It's rape. Plain and simple. And it doesn't matter what the relationship is to the victim, whether you are friends, past boyfriend/girlfriend, current boyfriend/girlfrend. Or whether you think he or she would say yes if sober. It doesn't matter how many times you've had consensual sex. That one time where the person isn't able to consent or even be aware of what is going on? That's rape. It doesn't matter. If you know this person is impaired, drunk, high, unable to make an intelligible decision, and you take advantage of that person, it is rape.
I have to say, as a mother, the thought creeps into my mind...what about Aubrey when she is in high school or college? Will she make wise decisions? Will she succumb to pressure? Will she think people are her "friends" who do not have her best interests at heart? This girl who was raped was someone's child. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain the parents are going through. Part of the backlash, too, is "didn't her parents teach her better?" Yeah, well, I had great parents, a great childhood, grew up with great morals. But I still drank to rebel. I still did stupid things. But that doesn't make my parents bad parents; it doesn't make me a bad person either.
I'm rambling here, but I'm not sure if you can tell that this subject is one about which I feel very strongly. As Aubrey gets older, T and I will do our best to teach Aubrey to be safe, smart, and cautious. I will do my best to teach her and protect her, but nothing prevents a child's independence 100 percent.
These parents aren't to blame. This poor girl is not to blame. Under no circumstances does any of the blame rest anywhere but with these boys. Because it was rape. And it was wrong.
My prayers truly do go out to this girl and her family. And to the people out there who are a part of that backlash that their eyes are opened. Just like no means no. Not saying yes? Not being able to say yes? That means no, too.