On Steubenville and “ruining promising lives”

It was incredibly emotional — incredibly difficult even for an outsider like me to watch what happened as these two young men that had such promising futures, star football players, very good students, literally watched as they believe their life fell apart.

CNN reporter Poppy Harlow on witnessing the Steubenville verdict

Like most women, I live in fear of ruining promising lives. The trouble is, it’s so easy to do. We can even do it in our sleep. It doesn’t matter what we wear, where we go, whom we’re with, whether we’re drunk or sober – any one of us could end up ruining a promising life. It could even be the life of a friend or partner (obviously some lives are less promising than others, but as women we don’t get to choose).

In the olden, pre-Steubenville days, ruining promising lives used to be known as being a rape survivor who secured a conviction. Nowadays we’ve moved beyond such euphemistic language. We know that going to prison is bad. Indeed, people convicted of rape might have to experience their lives falling apart! That’s not very nice, is it? Especially if they’re young and good at stuff (stuff other than being woman-hating rapists).

The thing is though – and I don’t want to sound all perpetrator-blaming – I do think some men ask to have their promising lives ruined. They should take precautions, like not raping, for instance. It’s like how you don’t go out of the house and leave your door unlocked while waving an iPhone about … Actually, it’s nothing like that (I keep forgetting that’s the world’s shittest analogy). It’s like, say, how you don’t go out murdering people for any random reason you can think of (they’re annoying, they’re unconscious, they’ve definitely been sending you “please murder me” eye signals). Like that, only with rape. Oh, and the other thing is, “people” includes women – it’s important to remember that bit. Don’t rape people – and people includes women (who might also have promising lives themselves).

Do I, as a woman, feel bad about all the promising lives ruined? To be honest, not particularly. I think it takes courage to ruin a promising life, particularly when you’re operating within a culture that’s weighted in favour of all those rapists who have such promising lives ahead of them. I have huge admiration for the Steubenville survivor and hope she is aware that the world is neither her small town nor CNN. I hope she has a great life, a life far more promising than any that can be lived by so-called heroes who lack basic empathy and humanity. I hope she never feels her life is ruined; should we really care if those who attacked her currently feel that way about their own?

33 thoughts on “On Steubenville and “ruining promising lives”

  1. As a man I’ve never found it very difficult not to rape women. Now, I’m not talented or good at stuff like these two young heroes so it’s different for me. I don’t have a promising future to be denied me by raping a 16 year old girl.
    Shit, I can’t even continue with the sarcasm. This is just perverted by CNN. It really isn’t difficult not to behave like a monster. The worst thing about this verdict is the lack of prison time .
    I hope this brave young girl recovers quickly and goes on to have a happy life

    1. Thank you Lochgarman. I wish more men would say this. The little shits. I recall a case where a bunch of football players raped a downs syndrome girl.
      Same old shit: nice young men, they made a mistake, they come from good families…

  2. Awesomely written article…Unfortunately, the message will probably be lost on the morons who made the misogynistic comment to begin with!!

    1. Right? Why would we care about the victim? She can’t play professional sports well or become a media darling….on to the next sexual conquest who’s future has no concerns

    1. I think you sort of missed the point of his post. I don’t think he was looking for “cookies” as you so eloquently put it for not raping. I think he was pointing out how truly disgusting it was for someone who should be a respected journalist posting such a biased and horrible comment. Just because he is a man you automatically jump on him, and he was supporting the victim! In doing so, you make yourself no better than the two men who thought they were better than or deserved more than the victim. As a man, As a woman… it doesnt matter, we are all human beings and when we finally get passed the gender bias that started this whole thing, only then can we work together to eliminate the problem our society faces.

      1. you make yourself no better than the two men who thought they were better than or deserved more than the victim

        Maybe I’m missing something, but I think that might be a touch on the extreme side.

      2. It’s funny; I NEVER see women preface their comments with “as a woman”. Ever. It is ALWAYS men who must make sure all the ladiez know that a man is speaking. I have seen this pattern over and over again, for as long as I’ve been online (over 20 years).

        1. I started the comment with ‘as a man’ to try to be ironic which I though I made clear later in the post. I’ve learned my lesson though and won’t bother to criticise rapists again. Some people just try to find fault with everthing which is said. Especially if it comes from a man.

        2. Right. “Being ironic”. Clearly (proof surrogate).

          I am sure that your white male opinions are dismissed regularly. You are so oppressed. /s

          Oh your feelings are hurt and now you’ll never criticize rapists ever ever ever again. Whatever shall we do without your oh-so-important male opinions? /s

        3. Never been oppressed and feelings not hurt. However my comments have as much validity as yours. You just confirm that ignorance and stupidity are equally common in both sexes. Grow up.

      3. It seems to me that men are the ones with the problem. They are the ones committing the vast majority of rapes, after all. I have been fighting rape culture all of my life, and have watched men benefit from it while blithely ignoring their role in perpetuating it (e.g. rape “jokes”, watching pornography, buying prostitutes, etc.). So, yeah. The onus is on men to not rape. Not I. I am not a violent felon, I have never assaulted anyone, and I sure as Hell have never raped anyone. And, pardon me for not believing men when they jump into conversations about something that primarily affects women. It has proven time and time again to be disingenuous, and I just don’t buy that from men anymore. Not after 30 years of the same male opinions and the same male reactions to these kinds of stories, over and over and over, ad nauseum.

  3. Pappy is full of shit!!!! Did you listen to anything Malik’s father said too you!? What do you understand about how the law works in Ohio?! Women are at an OVERADVANTAGE!!! You should really look at how these boys have been Raped themselves!!! If you think the 4 hours in between this girl Really had no clue what was going on, your truly blind. Again, I strongly urge you to research this case and understand the law as well.

  4. ‘Male perpetrators’ lives ruined??’ What?? One can just easily claim males who make the choice to commit burglary; physically assault another male have their lives ruined. But as always this misogynistic claim is patriarchal reversal in action because it is essential males must never be held accountable and punished for their decision to commit male sexual violence against women and girls.

    I note malestream media does not routinely claim a convicted male burglar has had his life ruined by stealing another man’s property. So why not – is it because as I said above males must never be held accountable for their crimes against women and girls?

    Not one word about the suffering female victim was subjected to when a group of teen boys decided to enact their male pseudo sex right to yet another female human being.

    When males decided to commit male sexual violence against women and girls they should be punished because if we allow males to commit male sexual violence against women and girls with impunity we are in effect saying ‘women and girls exist for males to rape because women and girls aren’t human. Oh but wait this is precisely what our Male Supremacist System is claiming via its mouthpiece, malestream media.

    Male violence against women and girls is pandemic globally and yes women and girls are the ones who continue to live restricted lives because we never know when a male will decide to enact his pseudo male sex right to female bodies. This is not demonising men it is stating facts but of course holding males accountable is supposedly ‘demonising men!’

    ‘People’ is a universal patriarchal term which operates to hide which sex is committing violence against which sex. Men have always declared themselves ‘people’ because sex of males is supposedly irrelevant since man (sic) is default human there is no need to state his biological sex. Men have to maintain their difference and superiority from women which is why sex of females is always mentioned because we aren’t the subject but are just males’ disposable dehumanised objects.

  5. Rape is a hate crime. These men carried their victim round parties, inviting others to piss on her as well as sexually assault her. And their lives are ruined … well, er yes … their actions did that to them. If they’d carried her home … or left her in a corner to sleep it off but they didn’t … and their lives have been ruined by an inconvenient little notion of justice and right and wrong behaviour towards others … well done Poppy Harlow at CNN – think we should enter you for a Sexist of the Year award …

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