Straight Outta Steubenville: "This Happens Every Friday Night"

I will admit up front that I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to the Rape in Stuebenville drama. I live under a rock, a rock that bears a strong resemblance to my four kids, my jobs, life and all of the crushing responsibility each of those things carries.  But now, having caught up on all of it, I'm a little angry at myself for tuning it out because I was "so busy".

I read a great blog post a few nights ago, thanks to a friend sharing the link on facebook (and yes, Kit, AMEN).  In this post, a mom laments the fact that we still have to teach our girls how to avoid being raped. And she promises to raise boys who won't rape girls. I loved every word of this post, and found myself nodding in agreement.

When I was done reading, and had given her words some time to sink in, the reality of this world hit me: we, as enlightened moms and dads, can promise to raise good boys into men for the rest of our days. We can pinky swear and take oaths and write moving blog posts about it.

But we will always, ALWAYS and forever have to keep teaching our girls how to avoid being raped.

Because that's the world we live in. It's the world our children, our daughters and our sons, live in.

For every one of us enlightened parents sitting at the dinner table espousing good choices and compassion and love, there is another parent, at another dinner table, talking about sluts and drunken whores and girls who ask for it.

These are the people who say "Boys will be boys" and "She shouldn't have worn that outfit".  They are the same people who are so sad about the blemished records these fellas are going to have from now on.  The people who are lamenting the fact that these swell kids made "one stupid mistake" and now it's going to haunt them for the rest of their lives.  These same people are the ones who put the blame on the victim, stating that SHE put herself in harm's way when SHE decided to get shitfaced that night.

Yes. All involved that night made bad choices. The difference is, some of those choices were felonies.

When I read the details about this case I cannot help but see my kids and their friends. My daughter is 17, I have a son who is almost 16.  I have lulled myself into a nice safe cocoon of complacency thanks to the fact that both of these kids are "good". Neither one has ever given me a reason to doubt them or to question their behavior. They both disdain drinking and drugs, they both hang out with peers who keep their noses clean and study hard and have plans for the future.

But I need to wake up. I need to shake off this false sense of security.  Because this could have been my kids.

I didn't realize this until yesterday. In fact, I had already decided to abort this post, thinking that I had nothing relevant to add to the conversation. Others have very eloquently said the things I wanted to say, made the points I wanted to make.

Besides, my kids don't live in a sleepy rural football town. They go to school in an affluent Minneapolis suburb with children who have been raised to respect all people, kids from good homes, homes with money and morals and high standards, right?


Through the parental grapevine, which is light-years behind the grapvine of our children, I have heard things that scare me. Things that shock me and sadden me and make me want to pull my kids out of school and move them to a tiny cabin in the woods where Pa will play fiddle for them while I make cornhusk dolls and sew their clothes.

It's not just the school district that my kids attend. It's the parochial schools, the pricey elite private ones, the public schools a couple cities away that are less-affluent than ours.
It's ALL of them. It's any building that houses large groups of teenagers who are armed with hormones, and cellphones with data plans.

I've heard stories of popular boys being cruel to less-popular girls. Stories of vandalism and stories of Twitter accounts that exist only to trash other kids.  Stories of parties where kids bring mom's Xanax and dad's Jameson. Stories of kids who have too much. Too much technology and not nearly enough common sense.

That's how I know that despite my good intentions as a parent, what happened to those kids in Ohio could easily happen to my kids. And I'm speaking about ALL of the kids in Ohio, the victim, the rapists, the ones who stood by or retweeted the pictures or shared the YouTube links.

Because of this, I know that besides raising my boys to be good men, I have to raise my daughter to be a cautious woman. I have to teach her how to avoid being raped. I wish it wasn't so, but it is.

Through everything I've read about the Steubenville case, one single statement stays stuck in my mind.  I keep thinking it, over and over, like a skipping record.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said this about it:

"I'm afraid people are going to walk away and say this was all about Steubenville," DeWine said. "It's not. It's a cultural problem."

"I'll guarantee that there are crimes very similar to this that occur every Friday night and every Saturday night in communities across this country where you have people, particularly young people, who are drinking too much and a girl is taken advantage of, and a girl is raped," he said.

Such incidents stem from a larger social problem -- a rampant lack of respect and human decency, he said.

"One of the lessons of life is we have to take care of each other, and we have to try to help people and we have to do what's right." DeWine said. "And there were precious few people that night that were doing what was right."

This happens every Friday night. 

And that, my friends, is why we have to keep teaching our daughters not to get raped.

TGIF, right?


  1. The "Boys will be boys" mentality just doesn't cut it. Since when do normal, decent boys piddle all over someone who is passed out?

    1. They PEED on her??? I didn't read that one. Gahhh. I worry about the future of our society. Seriously.

  2. The whole thing is horrible, not just as regards the victim, but also for what it says about our teens as a whole - what's allowed, what's believed, the whole "tribe apart" mentality. And why was no one prosecuted for all the underage drinking? Wasn't one of the parties held at a coach's house?

    1. Okay..the original concept of this post was going to be about the ADULTS in Steubenville..where were they? I am not stupid (very often) and I know too well that teens will find a way to do the things they do. But I wanted to know this stuff too. I'd like to think that some of the adults knew what was going on. And the fact that adults/parents didn't play a bigger role in this.

  3. I read this same article too. I read Kit's post as well.
    Some of the mentality I see at work is really disturbing. I mean where the hell are the parents and what are they doing to these kids at home?! Then again it always makes my day when a kid does something remarkable and that tends to happen almost every day here. I'm glad you posted this.

    1. Gail I see promise every day too. That gives me a lot of hope.

  4. Couldn't agree more with ALL of you (and SO proud to see my hubby saying that "boys will be boys" is such a nauseatingly lame excuse!!). What I really like about this, Jenny, is your willingness to be totally honest with yourself and say "those could have been my kids." (Ironically, I think it's extremely unlikely any of yours will ever behave badly on this level, for so many reasons -- one of them being that their mother has more maturity and responsibility in her pinkie toe than many have in their whole bodies.) If only ALL parents would think that way! How many of us have heard of the kid from the nice suburban middle-class -- or affluent -- family who gets in serious shit with alcohol, drugs, and/or sexual assault, or all of the above...only to have Mom and Dad go into total denial: "No way, not MY kids! They'd NEVER do something like that." Then there's the husband of one of my besties -- a SLP graduate, just like us, Jenny -- who said these exact words once: "Date rape doesn't happen in the suburbs!"
    And don't even get me started on the morons -- including those in the news media -- who are all "Oh, those poor boys in Steubenville...one little mistake and their promising young lives are ruined." Talk about being part of the problem....!!!
    Anyway, I'm glad you posted this too. Why can't more people think like you do?

    1. Thanks Jenzi. I just about vomited when I watched the clips of the CNN newsies lamenting the fate of these "boys". Because the girl is not going to suffer ANY long term ill-effects, ya know. /sarcasm

  5. It's always been my greatest regret that I wasn't even more outspoken about this issue in college when I'd see these workshops for girls on how to prevent rape, when there wasn't a SINGLE workshop directed towards boys about how to NOT RAPE. It has always stuck with me as being the root of the problem that women face, that it has been put on our shoulders to prevent men from doing what "comes naturally" to them (apparently all men are really rapists at heart, and only be a great feat of strength, and women being very, very, very careful not to provoke them, can that raping be kept at bay), by adopting certain behaviors. Don't get me wrong--my daughter is learning martial arts (just like her momma did), and cautious behavior, as well as being taught that the vast majority of rape cases occur with someone the woman knew, and often knew well, NOT the "man jumping out of the bushes."

    But, it's hard for me when I see cases like this, and know that it's representative of that problem I saw on my campus. Men aren't being addressed enough in the rape discussion. They're just not being involved, and I think it's the greatest insult to men ever. The assumption that men can't unlearn the desire to rape, and even taking it to the extreme where they shouldn't HAVE to not try to rape women, because it's just "their nature," is horrific. I want so much to not live in a world where this is the norm, but I know that it's not something that can be changed in a generation. It's a sickness that is so deeply entrenched in our culture that it's going to take a long, long time before we can finally live in a world where parents raise children into adults that know that they don't have the right to rape anyone, under any circumstances, for any reason, no matter what that person did or said or wore. Period. I just hope that I live to see it.

    1. I hope we all live to see it. Sadly, I think it's something that is SO ingrained into some of the population that it's going to take longer than one generation to eradicate it.

      Good on you, for teaching your daughter self-defense. I hope she never needs to use it :)

  6. Amen. One line, among many others, stood out to me. I know someone who, in his distant past, was guilty of being a popular boy who was guilty of being mean to less popular (ie: fat, ugly, not stylish) girls. I will never let him forget it and I tried hard to raise my son with different attitudes. He has risen above my expectations and has become a champion of the less fortunate (no matter how they got that way.) I am immensely proud of him. Too bad all boys don't think that way too.

    1. It's not easy raising good boys, is it? I'm glad yours has turned out so nice! We need more moms like you in this world.

  7. Unfortunately, this younger generation saddens me. Even more unfortunate is the fact that OUR generation has to take responsibility for what they have been taught.

  8. Except that teaching a girl or woman how not to be raped is impossible. Nuns are raped. Presumably while sober. Ditto for hijabis in face veils--while nuns probably aren't forbidden to drink, *they* definitely are.

    I think it might be more useful to teach our girls what to do and how to think if they are ever raped. Don't keep it to yourself. Tell someone you trust. (Make sure Mom is someone to trust.) Go to the ER. Get a rape kit. File a police report.

    You have no control over men. I got drunk a whole bunch of times in my early twenties and nothing like this Steubenville incident ever happened to me. (Something unwelcome did happen, just not of that caliber.) It is a total crap shoot, even when you think they're nice men. There is no point guilt-tripping our daughters about it. If men find it that difficult to control themselves then maybe we should lock them all up past the age of ten. Meanwhile the rest of us have to live our own lives. We can live no one else's. So the best thing to do for our girls is *teach* them how to do that. Here's what happens if a disaster should occur. We'd do it for an auto accident or a tornado. We should do it for rape too.


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