Trigger warning: This article discusses sexual violence
by Elizabeth McBride
Among the horrific details of the events of a 16-year-old girl being raped by football players while intoxicated, one article lifted up a detail that I had not read anywhere else. The writer points out that one of the witnesses prevented one of the players from driving drunk and took the teen’s keys from him prior to the assault of the unconscious girl.
Clearly this is a complicated story and it’s being hashed out in the media in a variety of ways. These kids knew that drinking and driving was wrong—But apparently they didn’t know raping an unconscious girl—a girl who they carried like an animal and referred to her as “the dead person” on Twitter–was wrong. This is no surprise in our rape culture which promotes women as objects, not humans.
The idea that girls and women are not deserving of common human decency has been a message that has existed since the beginning of time. We can point our fingers at other countries like India where a woman was gang raped and left for dead, like the 23-year-old student who died as a result of her injuries last month. But when things happen in little towns in Ohio—there is media outrage, defense of the rapists by the media and shaming of the rape survivor.
In our culture we teach our boys to fight, and then buy them a video game where they have to kill a prostitute. We hire DJs at our 13-year-old birthday parties that play sexually suggestive music, and sometimes feature scantily clad dancers! (I’ve witnessed this.) We teach our youngsters about not driving when drunk but fail to teach them how to stand up for injustice against another human when they witness it. Imagine if we taught our children the tools to stand up against sexual violence as we have done about drinking and driving.
If you’re wondering how we can make a difference by changing these attitudes, here are some ways. We don’t have to buy cable channels that promote sexual violence. Instead of buying tickets to join our friends in Vegas, we can donate our money to organizations like ours who are working to support organizations who are fighting against gender violence. That may not be fun or easy—but since when was changing the world supposed to be easy?
So, in addition to teaching all of our children to be kind (great blog post on this subject) and that we are empowered by Christ to care for each other, physically and emotionally –we do have power to make a difference when it comes to all forms of oppression and gender violence.
Elizabeth McBride is the editor of Cafe, and director for intergenerational programs.
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