Do you remember the moment you found out that Martin Luther King Jr. cheated on Coretta? I do, and it felt like the history rug was being pulled right out from under me. It’s hard to find out your heroes are just regular old humans who sometimes suck a lot.
Today’s heroine-undermining is brought to you by Serena Williams, my former favorite. For some reason, in a Rolling Stone interview, she commented on the Steubenville rape case and her comments were uber upsetting:
“Do you think it was fair, what they got? They did something stupid, but I don’t know. I’m not blaming the girl, but if you’re a 16-year-old and you’re drunk like that, your parents should teach you: don’t take drinks from other people. She’s 16, why was she that drunk where she doesn’t remember? It could have been much worse. She’s lucky. Obviously I don’t know, maybe she wasn’t a virgin, but she shouldn’t have put herself in that position, unless they slipped her something, then that’s different.”
BLURGH. Tomorrow I’ll be posting something more coherent on this, but for the moment, I thought it’s worth running this through my favorite plugin, Jailbreak the Patriarchy. Jailbreak flips the pronouns and gendered words in internet content to help us realize our own gendered biases.
Jailbroken, Serena’s comment read like this:
“Do you think it was fair, what they got? They did something stupid, but I don’t know. I’m not blaming the boy, but if you’re a 16-year-old and you’re drunk like that, your parents should teach you: don’t take drinks from other people. He‘s 16, why was he that drunk where he doesn’t remember? It could have been much worse. He‘s lucky. Obviously I don’t know, maybe he wasn’t a virgin, but he shouldn’t have put himself in that position, unless they slipped him something, then that’s different.”
It makes no fucking sense, right? We don’t tell boys not to take drinks from strangers. We don’t ask why 16-year-old boys like to drink a lot (because they’re teenagers and they’re stupid and they’re testing limits, same reason 16-year-old girls like to drink). The question of male teenaged virginity is one we’re never concerned with (as we shouldn’t be…) But mostly, the whole thing reads like gibberish.
Let’s push this to the extreme, just to test our hypotheses. Imagine it was a 16-year-old boy and he was raped by two other 16-year-old boys. Would we blame alcohol or poor decision-making? No, we would be appalled. It would be a crime. But the belief that women are supposed to be used for sex, and that they are responsible for protecting their bodies from being abused leaves us too addled to think clearly.
More tomorrow. Sigh.
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