Thanks to Anonymous and their tireless campaigning on behalf of an unnamed rape victim, the whole world has been watching Steubenville, Ohio. Much has been said about the town, it’s culture, and it’s handling of a disturbing act allegedly carried out by boys on the high school football team who refer to themselves as the “rape crew.” Now, infamous porn star Traci Lords is adding her own story of rape in Steubenville, painting a sad picture of the culture in what looks to be a typical Midwestern town.
Lords is most famous for joining the porn industry at the age of 15 with the help of a fake I.D. Looking back, she believes that her rape as a 10-year-old living in Steubenville was a huge factor in her decision to join the adult film industry. She told The Daily Beast:
“There’s no doubt in my mind that that experience really set the stage for me to go into porn and do all those things. These are not things you start doing because everything is OK.”
While I don’t think it’s fair to say that every woman in the porn industry is only there because of some type of emotional trauma or mental health issue, this woman obviously felt like her assault pushed her to do things that she wouldn’t have normally done. She says that it “shattered (her) self-esteem” and had a huge impact on her porn career.
Now, in light of the recent events and the pressure that the town has come under, Lords personal tale becomes even more troubling. In her autobiography, Traci talks about her hometown and the troublesome culture that makes sexual assault seem all the more likely and acceptable.
“I grew up in a dirty little steel town called Steubenville, Ohio. Women had not yet been liberated, husbands ruled the house. Women cleaned it, and any strong opinion was rewarded with a fat lip.”
Traci Lords admits that she is a second-generation rape victim. Her mother was raped in Steubenville as well. Now, they’re watching a teenage girl go through the horror they experienced. And they’re seeing the town finally confront its demons.
The terrible rape case in Steubenville has captured the country’s attention, mostly because of the tireless efforts of Anonymous, who believe that the local police are not doing a good enough job seeking justice for the victim. It has torn this small town apart, with some calling for soul-searching and others are trying to defend the youth of the town.
Lords’ story and the history of abuse that she and her mother represent suggest that it’s not just the football team that has a problem. Rape and sexual violence have a way of leeching their way into a culture. Steubenville needs to look long and hard. They need a lot of introspection. They need to figure out what type of town they want to be, and whether or not their female peers are worth protecting.