Sort of a Disclaimer:
Gosharoony, I’m on a roll lately; yesterday I’m supporting opioid use (well, sometimes, for some people), today I’m –or at least will be accused of– supporting rape and rapists, blaming the victim, being a proponent of “rape culture*”, and just generally being all-round vile. I’ll be right down there with the “legitimate rape” guy and his compatriot the “real and genuine rape” dude, with the genius who implied that God sanctions rape to give the gift of pregnancy and his compatriot the “God chose to bless [the rape victim] with a gift” fella, and their team member who called rape another of God’s method of conception, and their female teammate –turns out it’s a big team– who said God plans rapes (that naughty scamp God, He’s much wilder and crazier than I ever imagined). Heck, I’m practically in bed (so to speak) with good ole Wisconsin state Senator Roger Rivard quoting his Daddy warning him about those girls who are “easy to rape.”
And of course all those mentioned above are Republicans and it’s downright horrifying to think that I’ll be accused of siding with not just Republicans but with Far-Right Tea Party Republican Nut Jobs. But I suspect that the FRTPRNJs will not be hopping on my bandwagon of wishing that the three young African-American men were actually proven guilty before they get punished, because, you know, the FRTPRNJs probably think….they’re black, so they’re no doubt guilty of something anyway.
So I moved these explanatory paragraphs up to the front, hoping that it’d help stay (or at least slow down) the mob with the torches and pitchforks. Call me chicken.
Finally, the meat:
So you’ve heard of baby-rapers; a foul creature and no argument. Here in Eugene we have Maybe-Rapers; three University of Oregon basketball players have been banned from the UO for four years—three uncharged, never-tried, never-found-guilty players. Three players whom the local DA declined to charge because of lack of evidence that a crime had been committed. A reading of letters to the editor of the Eugene paper indicates that few folks around here seem concerned about them, other than wanting to make sure they’re punished for something no one has proven they actually did.
God knows I do not mean to minimize the gravity or horror of rape; being raped has to be about as bad as it gets in this life. But having your future ruined by unproven accusation is no minor matter, either. Carol Stabile, the director for the UO’s Center for Study of Women in Society*, was quoted as saying the suspension is “keeping the students safe, so bravo for that.” Who’s kept safe? From what? Mz Stabile makes it sound as if the three had been charging about, attacking every female they saw. No one has hinted such a thing, though supporters of the “Punish them!” crowd have gotten considerable mileage from the fact that apparently one of the players had been the target of a sexual assault investigation (again, no charges in that one either). Those ‘presumed innocent’ young men aren’t being kept safe from anything. The police report called it consensual sex. Nobody knows exactly what happened except the participants, though detailed accounts (including the woman’s own telling) are awfully murky. Those players may be having their futures destroyed because a young woman experienced regret.
It would not be outside the realm of possibility for a young woman to go a little wild at a college party and engage in –or experiment with—risqué behavior. Or for her to wake the next morning to imagine her parents screaming, “You did what with WHO!?!” At this point, her options are limited. One is to determine to grit her teeth and stand her ground if her parents do find out and go ballistic. This is, to say the least, difficult if not terrifying. It would combine regret, shame, embarrassment, and owning up to an act of misbehavior that shocks and appalls her parents. It involves…what an icky word…responsibility.
Another option is to insist her participation wasn’t voluntary. Just shovel the nuances and ambiguities over the cliff, take the responsibility, the blame, and everything else and dump it on the guys. Scream “Rape!” You can’t change the past, but you can spin the narrative.
The recounting of her story as it appeared in the paper made it sound as if she sorta protested, a little bit, in a way. It started at a party, with several people about including some who were the woman’s friends. If the three guys forced her into a bathroom, then through the crowd, out of the apartment, into a car, to a different apartment, then either everyone at the party was complicit in the kidnapping or she didn’t display resistance, in fact pretty much helped things along. Again, here I go blaming the victim, right? But if guys are saying “Let’s do this, then go somewhere else and do that,” and the girl is not intoxicated (the case in this instance, according to everyone except this victim herself), laughing, giggling and sorta-but-not-really saying no once or twice but going along (apparently) willingly, telling friends who ask that everything’s okay, what the heck are the guys supposed to think? It seems the protesters with their “No Rape Culture!” signs are demanding that young men be mind readers and prognosticators, to realize that the woman who is participating in and helping along the process while maybe giving mixed signals really isn’t participating or helping, she’s actually fighting in a new way.
Mature Einsteins couldn’t manage that level of mentation, forget twenty-somethings at a party, even if they’re not wasted. Anyone who’s ever been at a rowdy college party knows damned well that just being surrounded by a crowd of people at the apex of their “I’m gorgeous & invincible” phase, with hormones carbonating out into the very air like the Horny Fairy has been waving around her bubble wand, that even if you’re straight-up sober your IQ can plummet like a rock. It’s like the mental version of a contact high –everyone around you is acting stupid, so you do too. Of course, chances are high [heh heh] that you’re getting a real contact high as well, especially if we’re talking about a party here in Eugene, Orygun, the greatest Last Bastion of Hippieland (and Hempieland), since housing prices in Boulder got so insane. Jeez, the hippies here must be going bonkers at the fact that Boulderites get to enjoy legal pot before they did. But i digress…one of my specialties.
Where were we? Ah, The Three Little Maybe-Rapists. And of course, the real crux of the botheration for me is, I can’t help but wonder at the woman’s race. The players are black, the woman’s race isn’t indicated in any news reports that I’ve been able to find. I’m guessing she’s Caucasian. This is based only in part on the fact that the incident occurred in Eugene, where damn near everyone is Caucasian except for the sports team members. (whee! Now I can be reviled for ‘playing the race card!’). Yes, even in oh-so-liberal Eugene, a white girl having sex with three young black men could be cause for her to worry about her parents’ reaction† If the hues were reversed, would the three white players be suspended? I’d bet not.
It really bothers me that those who violently protest against “the rape culture” are themselves so eager to conduct a witch hunt, to celebrate the destruction of three guys’ lives who haven’t been and certainly never will be charged, much less convicted, of a crime. Maybe the three wouldn’t have gone on to become NBA stars anyway; I don’t actually follow basketball so I have no idea how good they are. But even if you completely ignore their putative basketball careers, having “kicked out of UO for four years (or more) because of sexual assault accusations” is hardly going to be a résumé builder. Presumably they also came to college at least in part to get an education (perhaps I’m showing my naiveté again) so they could have a career of some sort. I’d guess that most careers are now closed to them forever.
I have enormous amounts of sympathy and empathy for rape victims…I’ve not been attacked by strangers, nor tied down or beaten up in the bushes, but I have experienced rape. It occurred in such a way that prosecution or even having charges brought or anything else was impossible, so only one person other than myself knows about it. But I really am enraged by sexual violence, and strongly believe that rapists should suffer serious torture. But I also believe that someone should be proven to be an actual rapist –to the fullest extent that proof is possible these days– before the punishment begins
*Another one of those phrases that sound impressive (and fit nicely on protest signs), but…I’m not convinced that it really means a whole lot. On the other but, we live in The Sound Bite Era, and it’s perfect for that.
**The university has a ”Center for Study of Women in Society”?? Despite spending most of my life in academia (albeit mostly in science), there are times when I can understand the sneers of the feed cap-wearin’, chaw chewin’, down-with eddication types. The higher education part of me understands the point –and need—of such a study, but another part of me can’t help but roll its inner eyes and wonder if Center publications spell the female gender “womon” and instead of pronouns “he” & “she,” use “ur” or “zir” or “his’er” and “sh’he” and in other ways spends massive amounts of time and energy battling ancient semantics when other, tangible, serious issues need more attention.
†No, I don’t know where she’s from. Even today, it’d be cause for her to worry no matter where she’s from. I realize I’m doing a lot of speculating based upon little data here, but these guys got banned from a university –i.e. got their futures completely ruined– based pretty much upon speculation, so I‘m okay with it.