This week many of us have followed coverage of the Steubenville verdict, which found two teenage boys guilty of the rape of a 16-year-old girl. The responses from the media and public alike have invoked rape myths and rape culture once again, and we are glad to see the anti-sexual-violence movement responding. We wanted to link to some of the best responses that we’ve read recently and offer links to resources for learning more and creating change in your own community. We would also love to hear from you—what are the most powerful or motivating responses you’ve seen or read this week?
1. Jaclyn Friedman’s column on Steubenville discusses Toxic Masculinity and how our culture is reinforcing to young men that masculinity is superior, and how that leads to violence. “If we want to end the pandemic of rape, it’s going to require an entire global movement of men who are willing to do the hard work required to unpack and interrogate the ideas of masculinity they were raised with, and to create and model new masculinities that don’t enable misogyny. Masculinities built not on power over women, but on power with women.” Read the full article here.
2. CNN’s reaction to the Steubenville verdict was wildly off target--sympathizing with the defendants. “CNN decided to paint the tears of the convicted Steubenville rapists in a sympathetic light and say how their lives were ruined.” There was no mention of the young woman who survived the attack during these remarks. Sign this petition on Change.org to ask CNN to apologize for its coverage.
3. In the larger context of sexual exploitation, the media often misrepresents topics like prostitution, trafficking, and violence against women. CAASE’s Responding to the Media toolkit offers ways to respond to inaccurate editorials, reports, and TV segments that you might encounter.
4. Responses to rape are often not victim-centered, and all of us could stand to learn more about responding when someone discloses a sexual assault. If you would like to learn more about constructive ways to help a survivor of sexual assault or rape, these tips from Rape Victim Advocates offer some best practices.
5. Learn about CAASE’s legal services for survivors of sexual assault. Our attorneys offer free legal counsel to survivors of both sexual assault and the sex trade, helping them to navigate the criminal justice system and representing them in civil court to seek justice against their perpetrators. Learn more here.
Written by CAASE's Prevention Intern, Roxy Kozyckyj, and Kristin Claes Mathews