Today, a judge found Trent Mays and Ma’Lik Richmond guilty of raping their classmate. And while a great many people, like those of us here at Mommyish, were relieved to hear justice be done in Steubenville, the victim-blaming didn’t end with guilty verdict.
For every sexual assault survivor who felt a small sense of hope at the idea of a rapist getting the punishment they deserve, there was someone continuing to call the victim a whore. For all the people who wanted to move on towards thoughts of healing for the victim and her family, there were others who wanted to continue to doubt her claims and call her a liar.
This case has taught the country quite a bit about rape culture and how it persists. And the reaction to the verdict can continue to teach us that victim-blaming is alive and well. It is still a problem. And we all need to keep speaking out when we hear it.
We need to remind everyone, from adults to teenagers, that a drunk person cannot give consent. We need to remind people that rape will continue to be a rarely reported crime as long as people automatically shame, doubt, and ridicule the women brave enough to stand up. We need to shout down those who suggest that women need to protect themselves from rape, instead of working to teach men not to rape.