Posted by: oliviahildebrand10 | March 29, 2013

Steubenville Rape Case – 3/28 Initiating Post

If you were watching the news last week, chances are you’ve probably heard of the Steubenville Rape Case. Two high school football players from Steubenville, Ohio were found guilty of raping a drunk sixteen-year-old girl at a party this past August. One of the boys was also charged for taking a picture of the victim nude and posting it online after the sexual assault. Computer forensic experts were able to uncover a series of text messages between several party-goers that night containing provocative accounts of sexual behavior and obscenities. Both boys could be held in juvenile jail until they turn twenty-one.

What has made this case so controversial and has granted it more news coverage than it may have originally received are the allegations that more students should have been charged who knew about the assault (under state law requiring that crimes be reported). People have speculated that the influence of the school football team, as it is a source of pride in a community tragically affected by the collapse of the steel industry, has played a huge role in the case. Despite the eventual sentencing of the accused, protesters and prosecutors have come together in support of the boys, not the victim – claiming that the young woman was, though drunk, intentional in her behavior – essentially “asking for it”. Defense attorneys attacked the victim simply on her character and credibility in the court room. 

I found this case and what played out both in the court room and the media surrounding it very interesting. CNN accounts of the case focused on the accused boys as “promising students”, ABC News made continued excuses for the rapists, NBC News continuously lamented the boys’ “promising football careers”, and USA Today stressed over and over in their accounts of the case that the victim was drunk. 

I was personally appalled by these stances on the story. What does this say about women and girls and how they are portrayed in the media and thought about in society? What are the implications of this? Do you think gender issues are irrelevant in this particular case?Image


  1. I heard about this case from a friend recently. I thought it was very strange the spin the media put on it, and the way that the videos on the Internet made it appear with the court officials being sad for the boys. I believe that those tears were flying over the loss of a football career, and the idea of being in jail until they turn twenty-one, not for being sorry for what they did. The viewpoint, which the news took on this case, makes the girl look at fault and puts the crime in a less severe standpoint due to their roll in the community. The girl should not have been so drunk being underage, but this doesn’t lessen the crime that was done against her. This case will provoke young women to hopefully be more careful and less trusting to their male counterparts. The media does not always pick the side one would assume and this is shown in this case.

  2. I had not heard about this case but recently there was a case very similar to this at UVA where a girl was raped and when she tried have her rapist punished, the board kept acting as if they were in support of him rather than her. Then, documents that showed the girl had been raped went missing and the entire situation was brushed under the rug. I think there needs to be way more action in regards to violence against women. Until recently, the violence against women act was not passed. I remember the first time it was shut down and me and my mom were astonished and really confused about why something like that wouldn’t be passed. But I am so thankful for those out there who do take a stand and speak out against actions like this. It really challenges me to step forward and be willing to speak out.

  3. Situations like this are always delicate and complicated. Legally, if both parties are intoxicated, neither party can press charges as the are considered to have “raped each other”. I do not know the technicalities of the situation, but regardless the media plays a disgusting role in these type of situations. Although they seem to be defending the males involved, I am not surprised. They would receive less backlash for defending the “promising” young boys, they would receive even more backlash for playing up the girl as a victim, as many viewers would view that she did “deserve it” for being drunk. When sexual assault cases arise, the women is often blamed even though it is NOT her fault. The medias portrayal of women in defense cases easily jumps to blame the woman as society tends to do just that. The problem with this situation can be solved if news casts report PURELY the facts, and not their opinions.

  4. Women and girls are never allowed in media to have it all when it comes to sexual relationships. This is especially true in many of the most popular TV shows that young men and women watch, which tend to influence our behavior. I can’t count the number of Law and Order SVU episodes where young girls are raped, but because they were either at a party or dressed provocatively they were discredited by prosecutors and police alike. Similarly, we see shows like Sex and the City where independent women either cannot have fulfilling relationships or lasting relationships even though they are sexually active. It seems as though there is a long-held stereotype that women cannot be sexually independent, while men are allowed to be. I have family from that area of Ohio, and I can attest to how important football is to the community, especially since the steel mills shut down. There is literally nothing more important than high school and college football. So the fact that these two boys had promising football careers and were also accused of rape is particularly tragic for that community. While I don’t know much about this case and am certainly not arguing in favor of those boys, I can understand why the community is acting in that manner.

  5. I thought it was very interesting and relevant because of the sexual assault reports that have surfaced on our campus. These types of issues are pertinent in every location and culture, including our little “bubble”. As far as women being treated differently by the media, I think that it is entirely true. Just as women are treated differently within politics, I feel this injustice is seen in other mediums because it is so written into social culture. It is important for people to notice these incongruences so they can be handled appropriately.

  6. This is the first I am hearing about this case, seeing I am a little behind when it comes to the news recently. I dont find it fair that the girl whom was raped was the one who took at the heat for the situation and the two football players were scrutinized as badly. Legally, both the boys and the girl involved in the situation are at fault, but one party will point fingers at the other party so they dont have to take the blame and can be seen as the victim. In my eyes, the boys were guilty as charged, no questions asked. Violence against women should be a more occurring topic brought to the publics attention so that women can become educated so they dont end up in those types of situations.

  7. I remember reading comments on CNN from people pointing out this very thing. At first, because I read the whole article, I reacted with surprise because I hadn’t even thought about how they were reporting the case. It was really interesting thinking about it after that because it showed how much power media has on our minds. They know what we are subconciously looking for, what will catch our eye, and hold our interest. Once I figured out that they really didn’t show any regard to the girl I was considerably more disgusted with CNN for the rest of the day. Give it a week however and I still read their stories with the same simple gullibility. We really need to start being more critical of what we read instead of just being caught up in their emotional, work crack.

  8. *word

  9. I had not heard about this case but it is saddening to hear that a young women is essentially being accused of her own rape. I recently saw a presentation on sexual assult and the presenters addressed the question of, “Is it asking for rape by what I wear? And how I act?” The presenters firmly said no, not at all. I agree with this statement, just because a woman wears a short skirt does not mean she wants to have sexual relations with someone. The worst part is most likely the only reason why these peope are accusing her of asking for it is because the men have promising careers as football players. This is extremely disrespectful for women, it is sending the message out to young men that they can have sexual relations with young women and get away with it.

  10. First off I would like to say how horrible these rape cases are, and having personally been through such matters I can say it certainly is not a topic where one would find any positive light. It is hard to know whether a girl asks for it or not, however, I do believe the media does support bad images of women. Being brought up in a family with high morals, I was always taught to act like a lady and dress appropriately. However, there are a lot of girls out there that do wear provocative clothing, knowingly trying to get males attention, and then once they have no voice due to the fact that they are under the influence, they easily fall victim to such tragedies. It is also easy to see in movies how women under the influence do tend to act slutty and their desires increase (or so it seems). So my belief it that young males, especially also under the influence, believe this is the truth and as the girl does not reject them they continue in their actions. One of my previous close friends went through this issue, but in knowing the guy within the situation I knew there was no way he would do such a thing without her consent, so based on the facts during the trail I took his side. Many people forget to take the males side at times though, which in this case obviously isn’t the issue, because the media is backing these two football players. But I believe in situations like this it is important to know both parties were in the act and that all parts of the situation should be exposed. If the girl was indeed acting like it was okay and then later just regretted it, this is where I see women taking advantage of a situation and causing a huge fuss over something they agreed with at the time; which saddens me being a victim myself. Women need to start having more dignity and self-respect for themselves and remembering what it is to be classy again, and then if media would stop the portrayal of sluts and drunk flings then that would help youth know these situations area not okay.

  11. The fact that the media focused on the rapists is appalling and not surprising. Women are devalued in our society, period. Until women hold an equal share in the SOCIAL aspect of our culture, we will be devalued in all areas of our culture (career, academic, athletic, etc.). This holds so true in relation to the “home”, wherein we draw upon the behaviors and norms of our culture to create a household dynamic. While the survivor of this attack was not dating either of the two boys, the way we perceive relationship dynamics directly impacts this situation. Women are not given an equal say within the house, this idea carries through all aspects of life. Where you personally can say “well my mom and dad are equal”, you cannot generalize your personal experiences to the entirety of our nation. We live in a patriarchy, enough said.
    It is interesting to me how much of our home life or the ways in which we interact with those we live with impact the perceptions of the entire country, or rather impact our culture as a whole. The idea of rape in general is rather new in that is it wrong. Until 1993 it was still legal for men in the US to rape their wives, marital rape was not a crime. Rape didn’t even begin to be a legal matter until the 1970s with the feminist movement. The fact that direct violence against women (though men can be raped it is less common than it is for women) wasn’t even seen as something wrong until the every end of the 20th century, says something about how this country values women. The US has the equivalent war and rape culture as some third world countries, this says something about how our culture views women.
    It was interesting because the other day I was speaking with a women who works at the Center for Sexual Assault Survivors located right down Warwick, and I was asking her about the most crazy cases she’s seen. While keeping everything confidential she told me a story about a women who had been raped by her older brother from around age 5 way into her 50s. Finally one day she exploded at a family gathering, called him out etc. You know what he did? He admitted to it. You know what the family did? Comforted him, told him they would get him help. You know what they did to her? Chastised her for calling him out like that, blamed her, and excommunicated her. While you cannot say their actions where a direct reflection of her being a women and him being a man, you can say their is a correlation.
    In sum, women are devalued and will remain that way until they share an equal hold within our homes. Until we are socially valued as equals we will be devalued.

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