Voices in the dark. Standing up and calling out dangerous and criminal behaviour. Articulating what *should* be the obvious truth, but cowards and deeply misogynist rape culture so often let us down. That truth being that abusing people, raping people, is WRONG. These voices shouldn’t be so few and far between but it certainly seems that way.
I have spent so many hours reading, researching and reviewing social theory and politics in this area. As I have said before, it was my area of employment prior to deciding on teaching. And I’ve spent the five years since my experience here began, searching. The worst thing that has ever happened to me was not being frozen in fear, not him whispering in my ear that he wanted to “do things to me that would make angels weep”, not even testifying in Court. The worst thing that has been done to me in all of this has been the ugly act of complicity. There was another woman present and who could hear me fighting him off. She held a conversation with him as if I was not making a sound. I confided in her immediately and she excused it as the behaviour of a middle aged man in a ‘stale marriage’. Boys will be boys, you know? How could a woman say this to another woman? The only answer that holds any help for me is Societal Stockholm Syndrome as it relates to patriarchy. This idea will not be a new one in some feminist and socio-political forums. I’ll explain further in another post but most people are probably familiar with the general theory behind Stockholm Syndrome. I am exploring this idea because the only other alternative is that these individuals are allies of rapists…supporters…straight up assholes. I think I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt by looking for a societal ill that explains away their role in this (and so many other) crime/s.
After months of stalking and further indecent assaults – at work and in my own home – by this man, she simply said, “If you go any further with this, I will be in deep shit” and asked if I wanted to ruin his marriage and hurt his young children. At the time, under that pressure, her words were extremely upsetting. I knew I was right to tell but liars and abusers seem to have a way of twisting things so that you doubt your own reality. It’s gas lighting. The crazy-making shit that is meant to confuse and unsettle you. Oh, how it does a number on your psyche. It’s how you get to the point where you have thoughts of self harm or finding a way to stop the torture. I was SO SURE for so long that by reporting the behaviours which I knew to be criminal, I would get help. Be safe. When people instead turn on you it turns your world upside down. You’ve never felt so alone.
It for this reason – this isolation and power stripping of the victim – that Steubenville rocked my world. The actions of two determined women, Alexandria Goddard and Michelle McKee, and the following campaign by KnightSec and KYAnonymous have had an enormous impact on me. And no doubt positively impacted many thousands of others, too. Whistleblowers. Voices in the dark. Standing up and calling out dangerous and criminal behaviour. Making sure Jane Doe did not feel alone.
Anyone who’s been online in the last year knows the basics of Steubenville: Two football players, 17-year-old Trent Mays and 16-year-old Ma’lik Richmond, were charged with repeatedly raping a 16-year-old girl while she was drunk at a series of house parties on August 11th, 2012. Other students had tweeted callous jokes about the victim, and passed around photos and videos. A crusading crime blogger named Alexandria Goddard reposted the tweets, accusing the town of protecting the perpetrators and witnesses because they were popular football players. The New York Times picked up the story. This past March, Mays and Richmond were found guilty, and a new grand jury has been convened to see if any other crimes were committed. Source
Undoubtedly, the Steubenville rapists were dragged to justice because of the dogged determination of Goddard, McKee and Derec Lostutter (KYAnonymous). This was no easy task and has led to an avalanche of harassment and abuse levelled at these individuals for doing what any decent person should have done. #OpRollRedRoll, #OccupySteubenville and an online campaign for justice by KYAnonymous gained momentum. It made headlines around the world. Suddenly Anonymous and those masks became household conversation amongst a whole new sample of the population. The world was watching Steubenville, Ohio, to see how they managed the aftermath of such degrading crimes committed by the untouchables – local football players.
Goddard had been blogging about the Steubenville crisis and calling for media attention. McKee tried to get media sources interested in the social media evidence she had of the crimes and the flagrant disregard for the sixteen year old incapacitated victim. Those of us who have seen the photo that the little shits published on social media, where they dragged the unconscious victim from place to place will never forget it. But at the time, Jane Doe was encouraged not to pursue charges, the Coach offered to ‘assist’ in making this go away and Goddard and McKee kept talking until someone listened.
It was Lostutter who uploaded the images which the footballers and their friends had themselves posted and subsequently removed. He also allegedly made Anonymous-style videos warning the parties involved that they were being watched and should speak up or else. Websites were hacked and people’s data released. Just who is responsible for this part of the campaign is up for debate and part of the potential criminal charges that Derec Lostutter now faces. Yes, I said Lostutter.
Lostutter had been reading a lot online about Steubenville, Ohio, where two members of the local high school football team stood charged with raping an intoxicated 16-year-old girl. “I literally actually cried over what they did to this girl,” he told me recently. “Here is this bright, lovely young girl whose life is forever changed because these people wanted to have a good night, it’s bullshit.” Source
There has been speculation on the internet that Derec Lostutter could face ten years in prison for computer hacking crimes. That’s eight or nine years MORE than the rapists received.
Just let that possibility sink in.
At this stage Lostutter has been raided by the FBI with guns drawn and been sacked from his job for being connected with Anonymous. I have seen crap thrown at all three individuals via social media and Goddard in particular has spoken of consistent harassment of her and her family for speaking out about criminal issues. All have been accused of being media whores, fame seekers and frauds. Lostutter admits that the campaign’s evolution possibly included some individuals which it has since been found to be innocent of wrongdoing. For which he speaks of regret and is apologetic.
I am not interested in any way about how the complicit and manipulative members of the Big Red Steubenville community and justice system feel victimised. I KNOW that school communities (as others) can band together and close ranks. I KNOW how it feels to be silenced, threatened, intimidated and I still hide my identity for legal reasons. This shit can drag on for years because the perpetrators and their enablers want it thus.
I care about this. I care about Jane Doe, and how she is faring now. I care that three individuals took on a deeply disturbing rape culture. I care that thousands of others heard their call and stood up for Jane Doe. They protested, wrote and spoke up for justice. They stood for the truth when it would be so easy to toe the line with the ugly complicity. Risk nothing. Head down.
I wish I could thank Michelle McKee, Alexandria Goddard and Derec Lostutter for what they have done. I am an adult and find their voices inspiring so imagine the ripple effect of this fight amongst young women and girls in America. *please let there be a ripple effect!* As they say, if it makes even one young man stop and think, etc. Perhaps Derec has encouraged other men to call out abusive and hateful behaviour leading by his own example. Goddard is a welcome voice in the wilderness, in a world that still seeks to silence women as a matter of course. Especially when that woman shines a light on bastardry. And clever, determined Michelle. Together they changed the course of many lives and tore the roof off an example of duplicitous, misogynistic cohorts of people who care only for themselves.
I celebrate their bravery and outrage. I relish it.
Voices in the dark. Standing up and calling out dangerous and criminal behaviour.
By doing this, they inadvertently support and encourage so many others out there who need it most.
Never shut up.
- The scourge of Steubenville speaks out about his FBI raid (dailydot.com)
- Anonymous Member: I Was Fired From Amazon For Being A Hacktivist (huffingtonpost.com)
- Donations pour in for hacker who helped expose Steubenville rape culture (dailydot.com)
- Deric Lostutter & Anonymous are Heroes- Help Those Who are Against Rape ! (truthfultragedy.wordpress.com)
- John Fidler: Rape culture a startling development in the U.S. (readingeagle.com)
- Rape Culture 101: West Virginia Teaching HS Jocks How To Rape And Get Away With It (addictinginfo.org)
- Dr Phil’s ‘sexual abuse’ tweet. (johnsalmonsworld.wordpress.com)
- The History of Stockholm Syndrome (historypsychiatry.com)
- This Is Rape Culture (thoughtcatalog.com)