In case the title didn’t give it away, this one contains material which may be considered offensive. Video link is very graphic.
What Makes Me Applaud Violence:
One of my very best friends came over and we were catching up. I have known her for 11 years. Our families have spent weekends together, camping and playing games. Her kids are my kids. They are fabulous people. Mean card players.
One of their stunning, smart, funny, articulate, fearless daughters is babysitting for me this summer. I’ve known her since she was five. She now stands about six foot tall. Long blond hair. Completely beautiful girl, inside and out. One of their sons is my Cup O Noodle-eating soul brother. I want my daughter to marry him, but she’s only 11, and he has a girlfriend. He’s a good six-four with smiley blue eyes and a heart of generosity and valor. I’ve known him since he was seven.
Meg mentioned that my soul brother, her son, had had a scuffle at school. “What happened?” I asked.
“One of the boys said he wanted to _____ (sister’s name), so he took him out.”
He punched out a punk kid for being disrespectful about his sister? “Perfect!” I exclaimed.
Sincere. All-in. Fist bump. Teary-from-pride eyes. “If you need any support on that one, I’m first in line behind you,” I told her. Some words don’t need to be spoken, but these were.
The Backstory to Put My Colosseum Fervor into Context:
I’ve been doing some investigative digging at the intersection of rape culture, social media, vigilantism, feminism, power dynamics, gender relations, and free speech. I have daughters and sons and so these topics are important to me on a variety of levels.
It’s been three parts stomach turning and two parts social study. Not surprisingly the concept of “douchebaggery” frequently appears.
I love the word “douchebag.” I would only feel hinkier about admitting that if I had decorum or plausible deniability. Though it does degrade, by association, the feminine care product from which its name derives, “douchebag” describes individuals who practice the baser version of humanity recognized by misogyny, bullying, and exploitation. Sometimes there’s no better word to do the job.
Free speech is a two-headed beast. Free speech does not just protect noble expression. We can say the most reprehensible thoughts imaginable and as long as we don’t threaten imminent harm, we are within the bounds of law. But what does that look like when a drunk high school student’s friend makes a 12-minute video of him laughing about and mocking an unresponsive 16-year-old female student who has possibly been drugged and is being gang-raped and possibly urinated on and posts it on YouTube? Is there anything criminal in that? How can there not be? And yet…
Two of the boys were charged as delinquents for rape (“guilty” for minors), but the coach, whom tweets indicated may have known about the incident the night it happened and who neither reported it nor benched his players when allegations surfaced, got a two-year contract extension. The prosecutor said the girl’s family didn’t originally want to press charges because she didn’t want to be drug through the media mudpit.
Social Media and Bullying:
And tweets and Facebook and pictures…
Amanda Todd, another teen victim of peer douchebaggery, has a tragic tale that serves as both cautionary tale and wake-up call. As a 7th grader, Amanda visited webcams with friends. A guy online sweet-talked her into flashing her chest. One year later, he stalked her online and threatened to distribute her pix far and wide if she didn’t “give him a show.” He did. She didn’t know how he got her info.
Police showed up at her house on Christmas to let her know what had happened. Amanda didn’t press charges because she wanted to move on. Friends turned against her. She became “that girl” among her peers. She suffered major depression. She moved.
Watch the video below for the full story. Slut shaming killed her.
Not just boys are douchebags.
And here’s another one. Kid in high school in Colorado makes the team and gets hazed a la sodomy by his team-mates in the back of the bus on an away tournament. The team did well. Principal’s son is the victim. Dad of victim finds out when his other son hears the coach’s sons bragging about it. Coach’s sons are perpetrators. No lawsuit, no real consequence. Coach is part of influential family in town. Families played together since kids were young. Family of victim is ostracized. They move. Don’t rock the boat, Baby.
Girls aren’t the only victims in the “boys will be boys” douchebaggery.
If you don’t know about the guys in the Guy Fawkes masks, welcome to Anonymous, a loosely organized hacking collective that takes its inspiration from the dystopian cult movie “V for Vendetta.” The group is known for inflicting DDoS attacks on sites they find offensive (banking, corporate, etc.) and hacking into and distributing extracted personal information (DOX) of people whom they target as perpetrators. Their signature announcement is to hack into websites where the perps live with their voice distorted videos, warning the guilty to be on the lookout.
Response to the Steubenville rape divided the community. On one hand there was the “Steubenville law enforcement is covering up for the football team and, by the way, satan lives there.” And on the other hand camped the, “That girl asked for it. How dare she try and break apart the football team?!!” people. The social media attention either hampered the investigation, was responsible for the justice that did prevail, or was a witchhunt, depending on whom you ask.
I want to be able to simultaneously applaud Anonymous AND root for a fair and effective criminal justice system, but I gotta be honest: it’s hard not to side with Batman on this one.
I talked with a spokesman for the Ohio Attorney General’s office who has jurisdiction over the grand jury that is going to reconvene allegedly sometime to see if there are other’s guilty in the Steubenville incident. Though the grand jury has failed to meet on two separate scheduled dates, and no new date had been scheduled as of a week ago. It’s possible that vetting evidence and doing so according to the legal process to make a slam dunk arrest takes time.
I’m writing that and thinking, “Oh, c’mon. How long does it really take if you want to figure something out? I bet they’re just hoping the press will die down and the whole thing will go away.” And I get that. But I also get that getting that just keeps the whole stupid rape culture thing framed in the “boys will be boys and she shouldn’t have been there” BULLSHIT that is the booster banner on our collective mental gymnasium wall right now.
Even if our daughters make shitty decisions to go to parties without a cadre of friends who have each others backs… even if, like Amanda Todd, they are complete morons and flash their boobs to guys they don’t know online, couldn’t we agree that we are always going to take the side of the person who gets unwelcomed things shoved into their orifices?
Deric Lostutter, the leader of the band who headed up the Steubenville campaign is facing a five to ten times longer incarceration for being involved in the hacking of the team’s website. I did mention above that the coach got a contract extension, right?
A journalist named Alexander Abad-Santos has created tremendous coverage on the case.
The Problem with Vigilantes:
…which works really nicely until they accidentally identify the wrong person. In the case of Amanda Todd, Anonymous ID’d Kody Maxson who, clearly a douchebag as winner of an online underage naked girl screenshot video award, was exonerated on all charged attached to Todd’s case.
…or until they get pissed at Israel and blame them for heinousness in general. I like Israel.
The Room Where Bunny Trails Collide:
What’s the “So What?” here? We have kids, some of us. We are familiar with the idea of kids, the rest of us. Kids aren’t supposed to have to negotiate the messed up world of vindictive little bitches with access to Facebook pages or school-wide bullying based on unchangeable attributes. One of my daughters is approaching middle school. I want her to be safe. I want her to have fun. I want to tell her how to stay away from douchebags without her having to know the extent of the potential douchebaggery. I want her to find the making of dorky unicorn videos hysterical for at least another decade and emerge from that phase at some point in her mid-20’s ready to be respected for the tremendously valuable soul that her body houses.
I have sons. Eventually they will have puppy crushes and wind up on some flat surface with a girl. How do they stay out of lawsuits? “They shall remain virgins!” you proclaim? Um, okay.
I want there to be a clear difference between good and bad and I want there to be justice however it happens.
To give you the best I have come up with so far, I am going to provide a bunch of links. I hope they help you. Feel free to attach more and share your thoughts in general.
- Jackson Katz on TEDxTalks: Violence Against Women – It’s a Men’s Issue
- On men being advocates for women.
- On knowing it is consensual by learning how to give, inquire about, and recognize enthusiastic consent.
- Tumblr on enthusiastic consent.
- On being a decent human and a good friend and a sister’s keeper and watching out for people in risky situations. WATCH THIS ONE IF NOTHING ELSE!
- Happy. A documentary that talks about connection and compassion. Very powerful section where an anti-bullying speaker gets an entire student body into tears about how they’ve treated a couple of students who bravely share their victim experiences with the group.