Karen Rivers

in all the dark corners.

Karen Rivers

Steubenville is on my mind.

By which I mean, the girl (mostly) and how it's going to be for her because now that the court case is over and she has been vilified by her friends, her peers, and the friends and peers of the rapists-who-happened-to-also-play-football-when-they-weren't-commiting-sexual-crimes, now what?  How will her life be in Steubenville -- which is taking shape in my mind to be a Seuss-like town with gnarled trees and dark corners, where the shadows stretch long across the sun-slapped road and reach around your throat when you are sleeping, choking you, muffling you, raping you until you are quiet, or at least too scared to speak very loudly -- with the crowd still cheering for the poor, weeping boys who are being asked to do some minimal (laughably small, really) jail time for the sexual offense they perpetrated on her?

The victim wasn't quiet (or she was at first, and then she wasn't, and who can blame her for that given the volume of death threats and her now-newly-terrifying reality) and certainly the internet wasn't quiet, but Twitter is not going to be walking down the hall at the school in Steubenville with this girl, a school where the football players are Charlie-Sheen-like-Gods -- clearly morally corrupt, yet still meant-to-be untouchable by the laws that govern society and make us human.  The girls at the victim's school, well, I am struggling with the girls.  Who are they?  Some of them seemed awfully quick to turn on this one girl for telling.  The ones who tell are sluts and whores and deserved it -- by being unconscious, she was practically begging for it, no? -- and (ha ha! OMG, HILARIOUS!) why don't you just pee on her while she is out of it, buoyed by the laughable self-importance of highschool football and the other people who play it and by those who think that highschool football (or movies or music or whatever glossy-performance-based art exists that perpetuates this entitlement) matters ENOUGH that the players ought to be this untouchable?  

What will it be like there now?

The reason why the internet can't stop talking about Steubenville is because Steubenville is everyone and everywhere is Steubenville. In a culture where celebrities can beat their girlfriends and movie directors can rape-at-will ("Well, it's not rape-rape.") and nothing is off limits if you have even a modicum of celebrity, if you have something that people want to watch you performing then you can't possibly go to JAIL because then you wouldn't be able to entertain us, the slathering masses who are starving for entertainment to distract us from a world where sixteen year old high school students can commit horrific crimes and genuinely, authentically, 100% believe that they are not accountable for them because they are on a football team that wins little games, little games that kids play and adults watch and celebrate.  And priorities shift and kingdoms fall because perspective is lost, humanity fails, and crimes perpetrated by the famous and/or popular don't count, and there is a percentage of the population who THINK THIS IS OK. 

And worse, scarier,truer, is this:   At any time, anywhere -- Hollywood or Steubenville or any and all of the stops in-between --  our daughters are vulnerable to a world where people will laugh and clap and want to piss on them for simply being there, for being present, or for being pretty, or for flirting, or for getting drunk, or for passing out, or for not clearly articulating "no" because if they don't then obviously "yes" is the default, "Yes, I want you to hurt me.  Yes, I want you to break me.  Yes, I want you to defile me.  Yes, I want it on Twitter and YouTube and Facebook and TELL EVERYONE!  YES!"  because obviously by not saying "NO" at every second of every day, that's what every girl and woman and victim wants, needs, deserves:  YES.  

I mean, obviously, it wasn't the boys' fault.  She was drunk.  And, as everyone knows, it's completely impossible not to rape a drunk chick. 

In Steubenville.

In Hollywood.

In the world.

In all the dark corners of Seussville, in your house, on your street, on social media, in the middle of the day, on a stage, for an audience, in the light. Anywhere, everywhere.

But the boys cried in court and got good grades and they'll now be registered sex offenders!   

It isn't fair!

The fact that they ARE sex offenders notwithstanding.  The fact that what they took from that girl, from all the girls, from humanity is so much greater than what they will have to give back.  The fact that we live in a world where the sense of entitlement bestowed to the athletically gifted or financially empowered or the beautiful is the most poisonous gift in the world, dragging all of us into the dark, and taking from us all, again and again and again and again.

Because they can.

Because CNN says they should have got away with it.

Because all over the internet thousands of people are piping up with, "Yeah, but she was a slut! They got good grades!"

Because the world we live in is one where, in the court of public opinion, the talented are all "good" and the rest of us are just present for them to consume at will.   

Because of Hollywood.

Because of Steubenville.

Because of everything that has gone so terribly, utterly, inexorably wrong.