Monday, September 16, 2013

Steubenville Rape: One Year Later

Posted By on Mon, Sep 16, 2013 at 2:50 PM

SteubenvilleRapeSign.jpg

Jezebel's Katie J.M. Baker has written a compassionate retrospective on the Steubenville rape case, one year removed, which paints the residents of the small town in eastern Ohio not as the grand conspirators and rape apologists they were often cast as, but folks grimly affected by national stigmas.

It didn’t feel right to shrug when business owners told me their livelihoods were threatened by strangers who falsely believed they were complicit in covering up the rape, especially given that more than a quarter of Steubenville’s residents live below the poverty line. It’s difficult to tell a mother to suck it up when she recounts how her little kids were called rapists by an opposing Little League team, or how masked vigilantes terrified her children by camping out in her snow-covered driveway. If you Google the name of a 16-year-old girl who was out of town the night of the rape, you’ll find her photo alongside untrue claims she drugged and lured the victim to the party — should I have told her to stay quiet out of respect for the victim?

From my office in New York, I could rally against rape culture without sympathizing with any of these people. In Steubenville, I couldn’t look them in the eye and tell them I thought they were necessary collateral damage.

Baker spent a week in Steubenville for the piece, interviewing high school students, teachers, residents and officials connected to the case. It's a compelling story which not only encourages readers to look beyond the erroneous knee-jerk assumptions of the mainstream media and online commenters over the past year; it also considers the ramifications of accurate assumptions if and when they're taken too far.

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