Warning: This might be triggering. I apologize in advance.
So most of you know that I was a rape victim advocate in hospital ERs in Chicago for almost 10 years. The job of an advocate is to be present for a rape victim to help empower them in what can arguably be a very confusing and re-traumatizing experience in the ER. Sometimes that was just holding their hands and explaining to them what's involved in a rape kit, sometimes it was providing information, sometimes it was helping mediate with loved ones, sometimes it was getting them a drink of water, sometimes it was reminding them that every choice that they made in the ER was "their" choice, and sometimes it was just saying, "I'm sorry this happened." Most people don't know how to be a rape victim so advocates can be really invaluable.
About ten years ago, I saw a rape victim in the ER who was from out of town. She had just moved to Chicago and didn't even have a permanent place to live yet. She didn't know anyone. I stayed with her through everything...including an incredibly painful physical examination where the OB doctor found four D batteries left inside of her.
Months later, I was speaking about this experience and one of the guys in the audience came up to me afterwards and said he was a high school teacher and he was quite certain that if I told that story to his classroom, most of the guys would just laugh and call the girl stupid. I was appalled when he told me this. How could this be true? What guy would hear about batteries being left in a girl after she was raped and laugh about it?
Now, ten years later, I am faced with the twelve-minute Steubenville video. If you don't know the story of the football players who raped the underage girl in Ohio, you should read this. It's important in understanding the culture we live in and in starting a dialogue about where we go from here. Because frankly, that guy in the audience was right. This unconscious girl was dragged from party to party with an ongoing video commentary that included sentences like, "she is so raped her pussy is as dry as the sun right now". This commentary was not from the rapists, but from another guy at the party. And there were quite a few people at the party.
So yeah...that's where we are. And now it is time for all of us to decide where we stand. Because if you don't see this as a gender-based hate crime, I'm not sure you understand our world and the culture of high schools. In the same way that the Penn State cover-up horrified us and set up a system of accountability for colleges, we are now at a place where we must hold each other accountable for shit that is happening around us. You've read my "don't be that guy" blog. I know that most of you don't want to be those guys. So don't be. Tell everyone you know not to be that guy. Pick the side of not being an asshole who has so little respect for another human being that you would treat her like a blow-up doll. Pick the side where you stand up and say something better than, "I guess Rape Me by Nirvana is the theme of the night."
I believe there is compassion in all of us. Even when we're at our most selfish and think the world revolves around us, there are moments when we are given the chance not to be d-bags. Take as many of those moments as possible. Dudes, you will get way farther with a girl as a person of compassion than you will as a d-bag. Remember this. It doesn't take that much energy not to be a dick. It doesn't take that much energy to call 911 when a girl is being dragged around unconscious. If you can't do it, set up a system where you text someone who will do it.
And for those of you who are older, have a conversation with the teenagers in your life. Tell them that you like them and you want them to be compassionate people of the world. Be the example in their life of not letting stuff slide. Make people uncomfortable if it makes them open their eyes and understand more. Listen to teens and figure out a way for them to use you as a resource. I tell my kids all the time, "If you don't want to be the bummer friend with the people you're hanging out with, feel free to throw me under the bus. I am happy to be the sucky mom who doesn't let you do stuff. I don't need to be cool."
Where do we go from Steubenville? Up...please...all of you, there is nowhere to go but up. Keep fighting, keep talking, keep setting an example, and take a hard look at the things that you do that perpetuate this sort of culture. Pick the side of not being an asshole. You could very well save a life.