UPDATE: ‘I’m Not Blaming The Girl.. BUT..’ Serena Williams Victim Blames The Steubenville Victim

Serena Williams Blames Steubenville Rape VictimSerena Williams perpetuated a whole lot of rape culture in an interview with Rolling Stone that was posted online yesterday where she was quoted as saying:

“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.”

My obvious response to this is “Um, no Serena, if you are a 16-year-old your parents should teach you: Don’t be a rapist.”

It’s really that simple. Don’t rape people. No matter what they are wearing, no matter how drunk they are, no matter if they have taken drugs, are unconscious, or if they say “Yes, we can have sex” and five minutes later say “No, we cannot have sex.” Don’t rape people.

I talk to my kids about underage drinking. I talk to my kids about taking drugs. But just as importantly, I tell my kids if someone is drunk or on drugs or stone cold sober, DO NOT RAPE THEM.

If someone is drunk and they are raped it is not their fault for being drunk. It is the rapist’s fault for raping them.

If someone is walking around naked and they are raped it is not their fault for walking around naked, it is the rapists’s fault for raping them.

Rape is NEVER a rape victim’s fault. Ever.

I’m not suggesting people should not use common sense when they are wandering this great big world. Be careful when consuming alcohol. Be careful when walking at night alone. Be careful when accepting drinks from people. But more importantly, and I cannot stress this enough, do not rape people.

And this is really all I have to say about that, because I totally used up my profanity quota for the year after reading her statements yesterday.

P.S: Teach your children not to rape people.

P.P.S: For all the people, especially the young people, who are fans of Serena and consider her a role model and an aspirational human being, considering many of you are victims of rape and sexual violence, I would like to tell you that no matter what she says, it is never, ever your fault. Ever. Serena is very very wrong.


On her blog, Serena has issued this statement:

Screen Shot 2013-06-19 at 11.28.29 AM

Well, at least she made a retraction but I’m still totally disappointed in what she said. P.S: It is never the victim’s fault. Thanks to our lovely readers who pointed this out!

(Photo: WENN)

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  • Edify

    Is it wrong to think she should have greater insight into victims of crime after her own sister suffered a violent death? I’m sure she would appreciate someone taking those statements or similar and applying them to her sister.

  • http://www.sarahcooksthebooks.com/ Sarah

    “I’m not suggesting people should not use common sense when they are wandering this great big world. Be careful when consuming alcohol. Be careful when walking at night alone. Be careful when accepting drinks from people. But more importantly, and I cannot stress this enough, do not rape people.”

    This was my favorite part of this article. If I try to explain why, I never get it out right, but thank you for including this paragraph.

  • Prudencesmith

    I am totally admired the speech for the Serena William about Rape.


    • Alex Lee

      This is the second time I have fallen for your shopping spam, Prudencesmith…

      Damn you to heck.

  • Alex Lee

    It really is amazing.

    You can take a midwestern family, relocate them into the heart of Compton, subject them to gang-violence, KILL one of them in a drive-by shooting, forge their bodies into champions, rocket them to the top of the world, make her the absolute BEST woman in the sport on the entire planet multiple-times-over…

    ..and she’s still this monster inside. I get it. Tennis is a solo sport*. There’s no team camaraderie. On the court, it’s just her skills versus the other player. She’s got so much control over that game. For her to not have control would be a losing situation. She’s not in Compton anymore. The bodyguards have guns of their own.

    Compassion, Serena. That thing where you shake the hand of your opponent after you crush them. Channel some of that for all the Jane Does.

    * – yeah, there are doubles matches, I know.

    • sourpop

      Wow that was a powerful comment…

  • whiteroses

    Wow. Well, I can now cross Serena Williams off the list of women I point to when I tell my nieces that they can do or be anything they want. So much for being a positive role model.

    I am now officially filled with rage and may have to go do some stress baking.

    • http://www.facebook.com/RetiredSceneQueen Emmali Lucia

      Gluten free peanut butter cookies. Send them to Portland. Just anywhere in Portland, I’ll find them

    • http://www.facebook.com/RetiredSceneQueen Emmali Lucia

      Gluten free shortbread cookies too, please

    • whiteroses

      I saw this and thought of you :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/RetiredSceneQueen Emmali Lucia


      I’m far too lazy to actually go out and bake anything. Lol

    • sourpop

      Cranberry & white Chocolate ? Peanut Butter toffee ? Chocolate and…anything because choco is awesome. *^_^*

    • whiteroses

      Have you ever tried sugar cookies with Reese’s cups in them? Amazeballs.

  • Roberta

    “It could have been much worse. She’s lucky”
    That makes me so unbelievably mad. How is she lucky? Sure she is alive, but that is basically where her luck stops. Every possible institution re-victimized her, and she will really have to move and change her name to get away from the stigma and hate following her. It doesn’t get a much worse than that.

    • Niala Wesley

      I think she just meant the fact that the rapists inserted their fingers in her instead of a different part of their anatomy.

  • Sofeisty

    The victim was lucky? Could have been worse? Wow. Nice compassion there, Serena. Know any victims of crime who you could personally give that advice to?

  • JLH1986

    What she “supposedly” said…I bet this will be all Rolling Stone’s fault.

    • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

      Thank you darling! am gonna update

    • JLH1986

      I was going to be cranky on Twitter with her and then saw that. She makes my head hurt…

    • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

      Me three

    • helloshannon

      Still not taking responsibility for her words. sorry but not enough Serena!

  • RobinMcV
    • whiteroses

      Which is awesome. So, I dunno, good for her? But we still have a problem happening here. And she didn’t make it any better.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/RetiredSceneQueen Emmali Lucia

    The only part I agree with in her statement is that it could have been a lot worse. I am working on being a detective or a Forensic investigator and I know for a fact that it could have been a lot worse, Jane Doe could have literally become a Jane Doe.


    • sourpop

      You “know for a fact” it could’ve been worse because she could’ve died ? Just because you’ve been “working on being a detective” doesn’t make you anymore privy to information like the fact she could’ve died. Anyone can imagine that, especially when it’s the typical bs told to every survivor: “atleast you have your life”or “it could’ve been worse, you could’ve died”.

      if you’ve ever spoken with victims you’ll understand that sometimes living is considered worse. The idea that the only thing worse than what happened is death does not console the victims. Its really something that shouldn’t be said about a victim.

    • http://www.facebook.com/RetiredSceneQueen Emmali Lucia

      I find it rude that you just assume that I don’t know what it’s like.
      You don’t know me, I was sexually assaulted, and I was almost killed. I literally had to jump out of my rapist’s moving car. Being both a rape survivor and having the same person pull a knife on me and try to drive me out into the forest, I think I have a pretty unique view.

      I get it, getting raped changes your life beyond words, but if you’re alive, you can get help, you can move beyond it. If you’re dead, you’re fucking dead, you can’t move past that. I know that some rape victims do commit suicide and I think it’s very tragic, and I think if we get rid of rape culture then it will remove the barriers in the way for these people to get the help they need and for their rapists to rot in jail. But I don’t believe that death is the answer, and I don’t believe that getting murdered is on the same level as getting raped (Unless it’s when it comes to how long they put rapists in jail for, the recidivism rate on rapes is just horrid)

  • Justme

    Why the hell was this brought up in the interview in the first place?

    • JLH1986

      Her sister was killed when she was young, so perhaps the interviewer was interested in her perspective on violence among teenagers. Though, I suspect it was in the hopes that she would say something epically stupid (or perhaps wonderfully thoughtful) and would gain a few bumps. Which is of course what happened.

    • Justme

      It just seems like such a very specific topic to bring up, you know what I mean?

    • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

      It came across the news screen when she was being interviewed so she gave her POV

    • Justme

      Huh. And the Rolling Stone journalist thought JACKPOT! And then said: “Now Serena, can you repeat everything you just said very slowly because I want to make sure I get this quote down WORD FOR WORD.”

    • whiteroses

      And, in fairness, nobody would know about this article except for tennis buffs if he hadn’t. If the point is to sell articles/increase awareness, he’s winning like Charlie Sheen.

  • TngldBlue

    I wonder when Serena thinks she was lucky. When she was raped by
    two males? When the males who knew what was happening didn’t stop it
    and instead laughed and made jokes? When the pictures and videos were
    posted on social media? When the community leaders, parents & coaches covered it up? When she got dragged through the mud by people like Serena who think they can justify the rape? When the news outlets ran stories about the poor boys and how their futures are destroyed but didn’t run any stories about how the victims life was destroyed? When the males were only sentenced to a few years in juvenile detention and that only happened after Anonymous got involved and forced the issue? Serena must have a wildly different definition of luck than I do.

  • Blueathena623

    Here’s the issue I have with this (ok, one of many issues). I get that NO 16 year old should be drinking, but putting that aside, Jane doe thought these people/guys were here friends, or at least liked her. When people say she should have been more careful, you’re basically saying that she should trust no guy ever. So in terms of screwing a person up, which does the most damage — teaching women that no matter how close they are to a guy, they should not trust 50% of the population, OR teaching guys not to rape?

    • dipwad

      My parents taught me to not trust a boy who procures a substance illegally, and offers it to me. Especially in High School. My parents did that because most boys who do that are scoundrels in some sense.

      It goes both ways. You teach the boys not to rape, and you teach the girls to be smart. There are sexual mental disorders out there, and a girl needs to know how to protect her despite the overwhelming number of sexual predators out there.

      This line of thinking minimizes the real sexual predators that exist. And the thinking that they are preventable by just yelling at the boys to not rape. It doesn’t work like that – and I doubt yelling the “sexual predator” disease out of the boy has worked.

    • whiteroses

      See my response to your free-standing comment below.

      You aren’t going to find a heck of a lot of people on this site who agree with you- just saying.

    • dipwad

      Yeah, I really don’t care if you agree with me or not. You all are being simplisticly-sanctimonious over a very complex issue.

      Rape has been a problem for eons, this thinking that you can talk a person to not rape is laughable. Yes, that works for a good portion of people. But, psychologically speaking, there are a lot of psychological disorders that manifest in sexual disorders. That’s why sex offenders are required to get psychological treatment, medical treatment, and do other things to keep the public safe.

      The sanctimonious view-point complete ignores the very real fact that there are dangers that can’t be prevented.

    • whiteroses

      So because someone may be mentally ill, we should give up on the idea of raising our teenage boys to know that raping someone else is bad? Where are these multiple sexual offenders who are mentally ill? What are your statistics?

      Yes, I can damn well “talk” my son into not raping someone. I can teach him about bodily autonomy, about “no means no”, about standing up for those weaker than you. I can’t change everyone else on the earth. I can change my son and my godson. I can change my cousin’s kids. And I can raise my hypothetical daughters to speak out against rape, and to know that if they were ever raped, that I would believe and support them come hell or high water. I can’t change the entire world but hopefully I can protect someone’s daughter by raising a son who knows not to rape and who knows to step in if he’s ever in a situation like the one in Steubenville. I can do that much, and maybe by changing my corner of the world I can change the world for someone else.

    • dipwad

      I didn’t say give up, I said be realistic. There will be people with mental disorders who will be incapable of understanding what you are trying to tell them. That’s how mental disorders work.


    • whiteroses

      A person with mental disorders can still be told right from wrong and can still be held responsible for their actions.

      Talk about simplistic.

    • dipwad

      I said that they should be held accountable for their actions. What is wrong with you? It’s like you think that women shouldn’t be told how to protect themselves. Because doing so would be blaming the victim, when not doing so is teaching them how to be weak, whimpy prey. Because under what you are saying, women are so vulnerable that they can’t defend themselves. Nor should women be encouraged to protect themselves.

      Are you so stuck in victim mode that you can’t stand hearing that there are ways to empower women in our day and age? That is bad thinking. And it so anti-women. The whole anti-rape movement in the 90′s was about empowering women.

    • whiteroses

      Never said they shouldn’t be told how to protect themselves. I said they shouldn’t HAVE to be told how to protect themselves. There’s a distinct difference.

      I could ask you the same question- what is wrong with you? Why do you keep shoving the blame back on others instead of on the ones it actually should be focused on? Education is how we stop this.

    • dipwad

      Yes, we women have to be told how to protect ourselves. Since, some people are wired to be sexual predators despite teaching them to not be sexual predators.

      In a perfect world, you could talk a person into not having whatever sexual compulsion. I think that’s the whole thinking behind “reforming” homosexuals.

    • whiteroses

      Sure. We can take martial arts courses. We can carry pepper spray. We can not put ourselves in “dangerous situations”. That doesn’t change the fact that we need to raise our sons to know and understand what bodily autonomy means. And it doesn’t change the fact that a rape will never be a victim’s fault. And it doesn’t change the fact that a rapist is ALWAYS responsible for a rape.

      And it doesn’t change the fact that, no matter the circumstances, nobody has the right to blame a victim. By saying that “Oh, some rapists are mentally ill, so we can’t teach them not to rape”, you’re being an apologist. You’re also being an apologist by telling a rape survivor (the term I prefer) that she’s “stuck in her victimhood”.

      Compassion. Get some.

    • dipwad

      I’M NOT BLAMING THE VICTIM!!!! I’m saying that some situations we have to learn from to know how to prevent the same outcome. You take it as blaming the victim because of your own issues.

      Yeah, it sucks that you were raped. But we are talking about teenagers who are getting a hold of copious amounts of alcohol, staying up all night, and trying to have sex with things that move, then taping it.

      Your rape was a matter of being of age.

      And congratulations, you have rape-jacked the teenager rape, with your own story.

    • whiteroses

      You’re the one who brought it up again. Not me. I’m allowed to talk about what happened to me, no matter who it pisses off or who it makes uncomfortable. And I’m allowed to view things through the lens of my own experience.

      I’m not the only one who took it as victim-blaming- and I’m not the only one who thinks this is wrong.

      So because I was of age, the fact that I was raped was totally fine and somehow more acceptable? Also, you have no idea how old I am. You’re assuming a whole hell of a lot.

      You’re a real winner.

    • dipwad

      I said the facts are different. I said the teenagers should be punished. But, these are teenagers, and that requires a different response from society. When it comes to teenagers, we need to know what can be done differently in every aspect. If we aren’t thinking like that, we are doomed as a society.

      You were an adult, raped by an adult. That was wrong. And that is just one way how your story is so very different than Steubenville. It was you who brought this up. You’ve done it on other stories and posts. The fact that it has disturbed your relationship with your husband is terrifyingly sad. Again, I think you should get a therapist who can help you with this trauma.

      Steubenville is not about you. It’s about teenagers who raped a teenager, which involves way more laws, which were designed to protect teenagers. These teenagers acquired illicit substances, violated pedophilia laws, and did not see how their actions were disturbing. Those are signs of a person suffering a mental illness.

      Rape problem is more complex than telling a man to not rape a woman. Rape has existed since the dawn of creation. There is even an Old Testament story about King David’s sons killing a man who raped King David’s daughter. Clearly, we’ve been telling boys not to rape women for a very long time.

    • dipwad

      **The rape problem is more complex…

    • dipwad

      Frances wrote. Fine. You were still a teacher. Dad was in the armed forces.

      The fact is, Steubenville isn’t about you.

    • thesouthway

      Steubenville is about all of us. Steubenville is about how we, as a modern society, still internalize poisonous attitudes towards women, women’s bodies, and female sexuality. We are still operating on this belief that women’s bodies, once in public, are fair game to be commented on, touched, or assaulted. We are still operating on the belief that once a woman becomes sexually active or shows some level of sexual interest that she is automatically sexually available to all comers. We are still operating under the belief that the only way to stop rape is to police women’s clothing and bodies and sexuality even though we’ve been doing that for thousands of years and it doesn’t work.

      The Steubenville rapists might be products of our rape culture but they were not mentally underdeveloped or mentally ill. In a toxic one-two punch, they believed they had a right to sexually assault that young woman and that they would be protected from the law because of their status as athletes. They knew that they were legally in the wrong; they also believed the law didn’t apply to them. Even worse, had the rape stayed within the community they would have never been brought to justice because of the attitudes described above. That even when the rapists were convicted, they received ridiculously light sentences compared to the irreparable damage inflicted on the victim’s life.

      This is the danger in rape culture. This is the danger in believing that education stops at “rape is bad.” This is the danger in acting as though rape occurs in a vacuum. Rape education means getting to the point where we believe that women have the same right to their bodies as men. Where, if a sexual assault takes place, no one attempts to excuse it by pointing to the victim’s sexual history or behavior or dress. It means no longer rallying around rapists because they are athletes or celebrities or just “nice guys.” It means understanding that while some people are just mentally ill and will rape no matter what, most rapists rape because we currently live in a society that excuses their actions so long as they are clean cut and don’t own a white van.

      Rape is not a complex issue, rape culture is. And until we combat the attitudes that contribute to it (including victim blaming and apologist thinking), we will continue to live in a world where justice hinges on the who/what/where in regards to victims and not the crime itself.

    • whiteroses

      I’ve been in therapy since this happened, and I will be in therapy for the rest of my life. It still angers me to an extreme. And it always will. My therapist tells me that the anger I feel is far healthier than feeling that my rape was my fault. And it’s not uncommon for survivors to have issues in succeeding relationships. My husband is an extraordinarily understanding person who loves me. Everyone, no matter their sexual history, deserves that.

      It was about me, actually. It was about every single woman who was raped, because we live in a rape culture. It was and is about me because in a group of six women, I am the one- the one who, statistically, was raped or suffered some form of sexual assault. I, like Jane Doe, am a member of a group that nobody wants to join.

      A woman can reduce her risk. She can’t prevent rape. And even with all that- still not her fault.

      And education- towards teenagers- can go a long way. Rape is not more complex than telling someone not to do it. It’s not more complex than explaining the myriad reasons why a person’s body is their own.

      That Bible story you’re talking about? Absalom and Tamar? The difference is that in ancient times, a rapist was encouraged to marry the woman who he had violated. Absalom was Tamar’s half-brother. He essentially made her unmarriageable, which is why her brothers killed him. Nobody told him not to do it. Tamar begged him not to “ruin her”. We don’t live in the Old Testament anymore.

    • dipwad

      We still have rules about rape. We spend years indoctrinating children about sex in the schools.

      No, this isn’t about you. This is Jane Doe’s story – not yours. For example, I was adopted at an older age after suffering unspeakable abuses as a child. No other child abuse story is about me. Those are the stories of other children. It does not revictimize me to hear about other children who suffer the same abuses.

      My adopted mom – the cop – was raped as a teenager. Steubenville isn’t her story either.

      Go join a boxing gym, it will make you feel better. Nothing releases anger like cathartic release on a 100 lb heavy bag.

    • whiteroses

      That’s where you and I are different. For me, every rape victim’s story is personal on some level, because we somehow still live in a world where rape is okay. I take it personally because it’s a violation that never goes away. It changed the entire trajectory of my life. I take it personally because most people who know me in real life have no idea I was raped, and I use the anonymity that the Internet provides to combat old-fashioned attitudes. I tell my story on public message boards like this to let other women and girls know that they aren’t alone. That what happened to them matters to someone they’ll never meet.

      I’m glad you aren’t victimized by hearing about other children who were abused as you were. But I’m not you.

    • Blueathena623

      Well, that makes things nice and tidy, doesn’t it.
      To have committed these heinous acts, the boys seem to be suffering from mental illness.
      The mentally ill can’t be taught right from wrong.
      So essentially any rape is a sign of mental illness.

    • dipwad

      You wrote that you were a teacher, that you were raped at age 27.

      If you have retired that puts you at 60+. If you quit to stay home with your children, I’d peg you at 35 – 40.

      For a teacher, you have poor reading comprehension.

    • whiteroses

      Nope. As I said, you’re assuming a lot. I never said when I was raped.

      I said I’ve had nightmares about it for nearly fourteen years. Obviously, I don’t put that much personal information on the Internet. It is, perhaps, possible that I have altered the years in an attempt to obscure my identity.

    • dipwad

      You wrote:

      “Everyone else is responsible but my rapist, because he might be mentally ill!”

      There is something really messed up in your head if you think you have a rapist and you’ve never been raped.

      Go get help!

    • whiteroses

      Hyperbole and sarcasm.

      Jesus Christ. Nobody can get through to you.

    • whiteroses

      I would strongly suggest you get a class in reading comprehension.

      I use hyperbole and sarcasm as a defense mechanism.

    • dipwad

      You also wrote:

      ” I was raped by someone I trusted when I was completely sober, and I can tell you from experience that one of the reasons I didn’t report was because of this. “She should have protected herself better.”

      Now you say you weren’t raped and that you merely had nightmares of being raped. What is wrong with you?!

    • whiteroses

      I never said I wasn’t raped. I was. I never said WHEN I was raped.

      I don’t have to justify my anonymity- or the steps I’ve taken to protect it- to you or anyone else. I would also suggest you take a class in reading comprehension.

    • dipwad

      I didn’t say give up, I said be realistic.


    • dipwad

      I said be realistic about it.

      Go check out the CDC. The site won’t let me post links.

    • Blueathena623

      Rape has been a problem for eons, yet it has been decreasing in the United States in the past few decades.

      So, why is this? Its not like women have retreated more into the home since the 1970′s or so. We drink more. We have more relationships. We go out into the world more. Yet rapes have decreased. Has it really all been because women are being more proactive? Because men are more scared of pepper spray?

      Or is it because slowly but surely society is saying “yeah, know what? Rape ain’t cool.” Obviously we are not there yet, but we are getting better. Which means talking is doing something, but there needs to be more of it. Lots more. And the fact so many discussions on rape turn into what we need to teach girls, vs. what we need to teach boys doesn’t help. And I think its pretty telling that when we discuss what we should teach, for girls there are tons of concrete advice, but for boys its always “tell them not to rape.” What about role-playing scenarios? What about classes? What about advertisements?

      I get what you are saying — there WILL always be sexual offenders out there, but the fact that rapes are decreasing shows that either these predators can be taught OR there are men who rape who aren’t uncureable predators. We need to keep going with that. We need those numbers to keep decreasing, and that involves educating the hell out of guys.

      I am not against educating people to be safe and watch their backs. There will always be crazies out there. But it is soooo unproductive to have every rape conversation end in ways we can better educate girls/women. When kids die in a house fire, there aren’t a million comments about how the kids should have known what to do, despite the fact that we hopefully teach kids fire safety. I was taught to look for terrorism (grew up on an army base) yet if I still become a victim of terrorism. I hope to god people don’t say I should have been educated better.

    • Blueathena623

      Of course real sexual predators exist. And real serial killers exist. And we teach kids to take precautions, but we don’t go so far as to say “trust no one, even your friends, because they could be serial killers.”

      You say we shouldn’t think its preventable by yelling at boys not to rape. Ok, maybe not yelling, but how about educating? We don’t know if it does or does not work because its not done on a wide scale. There are discussions all the damn time about how a woman try to prevent rape, classes on it even, yet where are the classes teaching boys what is and is not rape? Hell, even in online discussions such as these, people always list way more ways women can try to prevent than discussing ways we can educate males.

      “Yelling” something very rarely has an results. Try telling “don’t drive drunk!” to someone once and see how much their behaviour changes. Yeah, it doesn’t work, which is why we are encouraged to start at a young age and have multiple conversations. Students cover it in school and in driving classes. There are PSAs and commercials. Does it eliminate behaviour? No, but it helps.

  • LindsayCross

    I’m sure it goes without surprise that I think “The Statement Formerly Attributed To Serena Williams” was disgusting and awful.

    But I think it’s also worth noting that in her apology statement, she still refers to the boys who were convicted as “the accused.” I’m not saying that she did this intentionally, but if she actually wrote the apology herself, I think it speaks to her point of view. She still doesn’t call these boys criminals or perpetrators or rapists. She calls them the accused, as if their guilt is still up for debate.

    • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

      Ummm, totally, but more importantly WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN WE MISS YOU

    • LindsayCross

      Aw Eve! I miss you too! I’ve just been taking a little internet break! But I always love you.

    • dipwad

      That happens everywhere in the news. When the police arrest someone for burglary, the person “allegedly” did everything they were convicted of well after the verdict is read by the jury.

      It’s really too sad that you just started noticing this.

  • thesouthway

    I am so tired of hearing the Stuebenville rapists described as poor young men and promising young athletes who have had their lives and careers ruined. They RAPED someone. They raped a classmate, a friend, who trusted them (and the other people at the party) to not rape her. They raped her, while their classmates stood by and did nothing, and then bragged about it. They believed they were not only entitled to sexually assault her but had full faith that they would be protected from legal repercussions because of their status as “promising young athletes.” And they WOULD HAVE BEEN had outsiders not stepped in and publicized the rape and cover up. They are not victims. They are rapists. They raped someone and completely changed the trajectory of her life. They deserve to have their lives ruined and their careers cut short. They deserve to go to jail. If anything, they are lucky they are serving such short sentences considering they RAPED someone.

    This is rape culture. Making martyrs out of rapists, totally forgetting and/or blaming the victim in the process. Rape culture is acting like a sixteen year old girl deserved to be raped because she was drinking at a high school party were other teenagers were drinking (and who were not raped even though they too were drinking underage). Rape culture is apologizing for victim blaming while continuing to bemoan the fate of rapists and acting as if this is a confused situation. Rape is rape and the only victim here is the girl who was raped. Serena Williams should know better. Every damn person should know better.

  • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

    I was 27 when I was raped after having a few drinks. I wonder, according to Serena Willams’ logic, should I blame myself or my dad for not explaining how NOT to be raped. If it better or worse that I was over a decade older than the girl in Stuebenville?
    Maybe she should realize that this happens. All. The. Time. To women from every corner of the world. And every age, IDK, I’m done. Screw her.

    • whiteroses

      People are morons. Clearly, Serena Williams is among the idiots.

      I’m sorry this happened to you.

    • sourpop

      I’m so sorry that happened to you. It was absolutely not your fault. People like Serena are complete idiots who have no fucking idea what their talking about.

    • Laura Castillo

      I had a similar situation happen to me. I never reported it because society made me believe I was at fault for having to much to drink – and surely men cant be to blame for their actions when a woman is toasted- I look back on it and know that the guy also put some kind of pill (dont know exactly what) in my beer. But I am to blame in society’s eyes. So to SW I say *F*CK YOU*

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      I’m so sorry. Society is fucked up. I didn’t report what happened to me for the same reason. I hope you know that just talking about it in a public way can help other women who have gone through that. I commend you for being open about it.

    • Laura Castillo

      I had a similar situation happen to me. I never reported it because society made me believe I was at fault for having to much to drink – and surely men cant be to blame for their actions when a woman is toasted- I look back on it and know that the guy also put some kind of pill (dont know exactly what) in my beer. But I am to blame in society’s eyes. So to SW I say *F*CK YOU*

  • http://coffeeontheedge.wordpress.com/ Jennie

    Is anyone else bothered by the use of the term “the accused” in her statement? I know it’s small beans compared to the rest of what she said, but after someone is convicted of rape they are no longer the “accused.” They are convicted rapists. There’s a difference.

  • dipwad

    The teenage boys did a horrible thing, and should be punished severely.

    However, this is also a good reminder to not drink underage, don’t accept drinks at a party, pay attention to the reputations of others, and to always have enough money to call a cab when people start making you feel uncomfortable. That’s not f–king blaming the victim, it’s knowing how to not be a victim.

    It seems like Serena got the same lessons I did from my parents.

    • whiteroses

      The point, though, is that it shouldn’t have to be that way.

      It is victim blaming. It’s very much victim blaming. A girl shouldn’t HAVE to be taught to be smart because OMG those boys and their penises and they can’t help themselves!!! You can be raped while completely sober. You can be raped while walking down the street.

      This girl thought these guys were her friends. You’re allowed to relax your Constant Vigilance around your friends, in theory at least. She believed these guys wouldn’t hurt her. And she had every right to feel that way. She was betrayed so many times. By her friends, by the media, by the adults who were supposed to protect her, and everyone who says: “This was horrible, BUT” betrays her all over again.

    • dipwad

      It’s not victim blaming, it’s teaching your children how not to be victims.

      The real truth is that a lot of people aren’t raised to do the right thing, and we have to be aware of that. You can be empowered to learn to spot red flags, and the time to do that is when you are a teenager.

      Sure, it would be nice if we could all leave brand new iPads out in the backseat of an unlocked car in the middle of a ghetto without the iPads being stolen. But, guess what? That is something that you are taught not to do. When you do something like that, your insurance laughs at you and tells you too bad so sad.

      My parents were both cops and they weren’t dumb. They had stricter rules than most other parents, because they were dealing with the other parents dumbass parenting style of “Well, I told JR not to, so that must mean he won’t.” My parents saw first hand how well that thinking failed.

      Telling a teenager to not to X is not a guarantee of good behaviour.

      This whole incident was a bunch of dumb parents on both sides who were dumb enough to think that teenagers have the brain wiring to make good choices in the face of raging horomones. The boys’s parents should have enforced a curfew well before this, and all of the girls’s parents should have gone looking for the children when they didn’t show up at home after a designated time period.

    • whiteroses

      If that’s all you picked up from my comment- an analogy about iPads- then you can kindly go F yourself.
      My dad is retired military. I was in self-defense classes from the time I could walk. When it came down to it, it didn’t matter. I was also raised strictly.
      It is victim blaming. And bleating over and over again that it isn’t doesn’t change that.
      Most teenage boys aren’t gigantic balls of hormones and bad decisions. That’s why we need to train them from the beginning not to do this stuff.

    • dipwad

      I knew you’d be pissed about the iPads. But, self defense comes in all forms. We do it on a daily basis about watching our backs, making sure we don’t lose our bank cards, not giving out personal information, not standing too close to strangers. Teaching girls about this is normal.

      Using what you are saying, then most boys don’t jump to raping people. So, these boys have a mental disorder of some kind because they are acting opposite of what teenage boys do. You can’t have it both ways. There are mental disorders that result in sexual predators.

      People should know enough about how sexual predators pick their prey. They look for vulnerable people, sulking over, with a lack of confidence. Sexual predators look for easy situations to take advantage of weakness.

      I’m saying that we can’t ignore preparing for sexual-psychopaths under the hypnotic gaze that people should just be told to be better people. It doesn’t work that way.

    • whiteroses

      And the idea that most rapists are mentally ill in some way is also simplistic.

    • dipwad

      Actually, it’s not. simplistic at all. It’s simplistic to say that people can be blanket treated to prevent future crime. That has been proven untrue by 30 plus years of psychological studies of criminals. Sexual predators have compulsions that are physically uncontrollable. For example, we lock up pedophiles who can’t be fixed because they keep raping kids. They’ve been proven unfixable. Until, we find a way to fix them, or remove the ability to have sex.

      Rape is more complex than just saying ‘no.’ Rape involves psychological issues.


    • Blueathena623

      Studies and surveys put about 6% of men admitting to acts that would count as rape. 6%. If 6% of men are so mentally ill they can’t be taught not to rate, how is it that we haven’t developed more screening programs or medications or therapy?

    • whiteroses

      Thank you Blueathena. Just… thank you.

    • whiteroses

      So basically, I should have done better. My parents should have done better. Everyone else is responsible but my rapist, because he might be mentally ill!

      Thanks for that. I’m absolutely, completely done arguing with you. Clearly, you lack basic compassion.

    • dipwad

      No, I’m not saying that. Quit it. I’m saying the facts are very much different in this situation. I’m also saying that your rapist was probably told not to rape women, but had a sexual compulsion to do so because of his mental wiring.

      We have underage drinking laws for this reason. Our society has studied what prey strikes a predator. We have the knowledge, it is time to be empowered by it. Knowledge without action is useless.

      Personally, I think you should get a new therapist. Your PTSD seems to have been left untreated for far too long. I personally recommend Relaxation by Inner Health Studios for coping techniques, and healing scripts. Many of the psychological resources on that website are free.

    • whiteroses

      He had absolutely no mental issues. He was just a horrible human being. I knew him for years. He was scarred by a terrible childhood but that was no excuse whatsoever.

      Your personal opinion- while perfectly valid- is, as it pertains to my mental health, utterly and completely irrelevant.

    • Blueathena623

      “Telling a teenager to do x is not a guarantee of good behaviour.”
      So why do you advocate telling girls not to drink or to watch their drinks or all the other suggestions you give? If telling doesn’t do anything, why bother?

  • Niala Wesley

    Even putting aside her views on the victim, how on earth can she think it was just a dumb mistake for those boys to sexually assault that girl while she was unconscious? It didn’t matter how she got that way. She was still out cold and had no way of giving consent.

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  • AbigailTea

    Honestly I don’t see the big deal in what she said. Her intention was good but she didn’t articulate it properly.How is telling someone to BE CAREFUL and not NEGLECT COMMON SENSE bad? How many of you would let and teach your daughters that it is okay to do random crazy foolish wild and loose things just because rape is illegal? Would you tell your daughter it is okay to accept a drink at a party without knowing where it came from? What happened to the values of individual responsibility? Rape will not go away. And how is shifting this issue to painting all men and boys as potential rape monsters going to do anything? There are GOOD Men and Boys out there who are already taught and know that rape is wrong. This paranoid and negative perception of the male gender is not helping anything. Sexism works both ways. Serena wasn’t blaming the girl she was just trying to say BE CAREFUL! Will you teach your daughters to do whatever crazy thing they want and not take precaution? If you think that criminals give a rats butt about following the law you need a reality check. That’s why people are taught to protect themselves from RISKY situations and behaviour.

    And why aren’t you hypocrites outraged as equally when men and boys are raped? Are they “too small of a number” to be cared about? How about women and girls who falsely report a rape crime? You all don’t think they should be punished? Or is false rape reports on men or boys “too small of a number “.to be payed attention to? Please keep in mind teaching Women and girls or even Men and boys to. PROTECT themselves and be INTELLIGENT does not equate blaming the victim.

    • whiteroses

      As the mother of a son, it outrages me more than I can tell you when men and boys are raped. They are, statistically, a much smaller number than women and girls who are raped. But every single child needs to be taught about bodily autonomy, that no means no, and that how they feel about their bodies can and should be respected. And no, I wouldn’t teach my daughters to do “whatever crazy thing they want”. It’s important to be smart. But it’s equally as important for my children to know that if they are raped, they did nothing to ask for it and it isn’t their fault.

      It does equate blaming the victim, because saying “I’m sorry this happened to you but you were drinking” is basically the same thing as saying, “I’m sorry this happened but you could have prevented it if you’d been smart.” From that, it’s a lead in to, “You deserved it.” The fact is, a rape can happen anywhere, at any time, no matter what you do. And the fact that Serena Williams is using one of the most common lines for rape apologists should tell you something.

      95 percent of rapes go unreported. 95 percent.

    • Alex Lee

      “Honestly I don’t see the big deal in what she said. Her intention was good but she didn’t articulate it properly.How is telling someone to BE CAREFUL and not NEGLECT COMMON SENSE bad?”

      The problem from this line of thinking arises after the rape has already occurred. You must accept that even the most-careful, most-educated, most-precautious individual can fall victim to a sexual assault:

      “The Department of Defense estimates there are about 19,000 sexual assaults in the military per year”1

      (If you care to argue that our armed forces are not the most-careful, most-educated, etc…we can have that discussion at a later date.)

      “Nearly three-quarters of all sexual assaults are committed by a friend, relative, or acquaintance of the victim. This fact debunks the notion that most sexual assaults are perpetrated by strangers in dark alleys.”2

      Rape-apologists will use this argument to justify the crime after-the-fact. They can argue that “AbigailTea believes Jane Doe put herself in this situation. Either she was to dumb to listen to those prevention-lessons, or her parents were inadequate in teaching her. Hung Jury. Next case, please.”

      This line of thinking is also not-constructive in rehabilitating Steubenville Jane Doe and all the other sexual assault victims. I invite you to visit your local Rape Crisis Center and talk with a counsellor and discuss their methods. The overwhelming majority of them will not use this line of thinking. It just doesn’t do the victim any good.

      *** BEFORE A RAPE OCCURS *** (capslock asterisks), then yes – you can advocate awareness and prevention all you like. In fact, I’ll help you here.

      http://myduty.mil/index.php/prevention/safety This link is sponsored by the U.S. Military and highlights situational awareness in avoiding potential sexual-assault situations.

      “How many of you would let and teach your daughters that it is okay to do random crazy foolish wild and loose things just because rape is illegal?”

      I don’t exactly understand this question. Rape is illegal. I would advocate my daughter do “wild and loose things” because she has a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. My definition of wild and loose may vary greatly from your definition but she’s my daughter and you cannot have her.

      “Would you tell your daughter it is okay to accept a drink at a party without knowing where it came from? What happened to the values of individual responsibility?”

      Again, this is preventative advice – which is fine for a non-raped individual. When you start attributing this as a factor to a sexual assault then it becomes fallacious. You make the victim appear devoid of “the values of individual responsibility”.

      The drink does not cause the assault. The drug does not cause the assault. The outfit does not cause the assault.

      What causes the assault? The assaulter.

      “Rape will not go away. And how is shifting this issue to painting all men and boys as potential rape monsters going to do anything? There are GOOD Men and Boys out there who are already taught and know that rape is wrong.”

      We hope rape will go away. Just because it is not 100% eradicated does not mean we should stop teaching, that it is a hopeless endeavor, or that our teaching methods are ineffective. Taken another way, if we totally stopped teaching children to not-rape, my guess is that sexual assaults would increase and I do not want to take that chance on humanity. Every “Good Man and Boy” out there is one less individual we need to worry about. If they already know, then the repeated teachings are not intended for them – so long as they do not forget.

      “This paranoid and negative perception of the male gender is not helping anything. Sexism works both ways.”

      While females are statistically less-likely than males to commit a sexual assault, I do recognize that it does happen and hopefully tailored my comments to include both sexes as assaulters and victims in all combinations.

      “Serena wasn’t blaming the girl she was just trying to say BE CAREFUL! Will you teach your daughters to do whatever crazy thing they want and not take precaution? If you think that criminals give a rats butt about following the law you need a reality check. That’s why people are taught to protect themselves from RISKY situations and behaviour.”

      Serena brought her comments up in response to a question about the Steubenville rape. Her comments directed at the rape victim. It’s one thing to tell girls to use common-sense. But it is another thing entirely to tell a rape-victim that she did not use common sense. I see this as the fundamental difference between us – and my entire argument hinges on this.

      When you say “you SHOULD HAVE/SHOULD NOT HAVE done x, y, and z” to someone, you are (whether intentionally or not) attributing a causation. It may turn out that the advice you propose would be ineffectual anyway. We choose to attack the root of the sexual assault and that starts with the assaulter. We feel that, in the spirit of equality, women should be able to behave as they want and those who wish to do them harm should resist those urges. It should not be placed on a woman to judge how sexy an outfit is and try to predict how it may or may not affect her date or the 587 other random people she sees.

      “And why aren’t you hypocrites outraged as equally when men and boys are raped? Are they “too small of a number” to be cared about?”

      I am equally outraged at female rapists. The running joke is that when a female teacher is caught victimizing an underage male student, it’s a victimless crime. Chalk it up to the male sex drive, puberty, libido, whatever – I still believe there is predation there and that disciplinary action or treatment is warranted to the fullest extent of the law.

      “How about women and girls who falsely report a rape crime? You all don’t think they should be punished? Or is false rape reports on men or boys “too small of a number “.to be payed attention to?”

      I believe it was just two days ago that Mommyish reported on the case of Brian Banks.3

      “Please keep in mind teaching Women and girls or even Men and boys to. PROTECT themselves and be INTELLIGENT does not equate blaming the victim.”

      There are times to advocate this advice and there are times where it is inappropriate. I hope after this discourse, you can discern the situations.

      Thank you.


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  • Mommabear

    Nope, I think Serena is very very right! She is not giving the boy an out, only saying that young girls need to know the dangers of risky behavior. This is also a reason that drinking at a young age has been made illegal- it leads to precarious situations where adult decision making is needed, but absent. Having gone to the party where drinking was involved was bad decision making on her part. It was also a bad decision on the boys’ part. I do agree that we need to teach our sons to be respectful of women. I agree that the boys should not have been drinking as well. I also agree with Serena Williams that young ladies and women need to respect themselves enough to protect themselves from bad situations.

    • whiteroses

      Read Alex Lee’s comment above. I couldn’t say it better.