I don’t know how many of you have followed the rape case in Steubenville, Ohio. The basics of the story are that two high school boys were accused of raping a sixteen year old girl at a party. This morning they were convicted. This is graphic so I’m warning you beforehand.
The girl was drunk. Blackout drunk. Beyond falling-down drunk. Evidently the young men digitally penetrated her vagina, inserting fingers. That’s more than I wanted to write but that’s the essence of the case so it has to be stated explicitly. This constitutes rape in the state of Ohio (as it should).
There was a scandal around the case because people thought the crime was being covered up due to the fact that the young men were popular football players. There was cell phone video and there were texts that helped prove the case. Some of the information was published by a hacker group in order to bring it to light. Ultimately, the facts of the case were put before a judge and the young men were found guilty.
There is so much wrong about that I don’t even know where to start. Oh, wait, I do know where to begin. I want to know how we as a society have fallen so far that we allow this sort of thing to happen. What happened to a society that has limits, that keeps track of its children, that doesn’t allow a sixteen year old girl to be out on her own, out drinking alcohol, out drinking alcohol at a party where she can consume so much booze that she is rendered unconscious so that two randy teenage boys can take advantage of her? Two teenage boys who were also underage and drinking. Where the hell are the adults in this scenario?
In a perfect world, parents would teach their children from a very young age about the evils of drinking alcohol. They would raise them to respect their bodies and to not contaminate them with booze. I grew up in a normal American household. Dad would have the occasional beer on a hot day after mowing the lawn, mom would drink some wine at a party, and there was a bottle of mint liqueur in the cabinet. My sister or I would take an occasional sip of whatever they were drinking. One sip of beer was enough for me to develop a lifelong distaste for it. Wine? Meh. But I DID like the occasional teeny-tiny sip of that liqueur, especially when someone made a fancy drink called a Grasshopper. My parents would allow us this little tot, and that was pretty much it. We grew up with alcohol being a normal, minor part of our household. It was not treated like the devil’s urine, nor was it chugged down with reckless abandon. Now, as a Muslim, I don’t drink it at all and I teach my children that the damage wrought by alcohol is greater than the benefit, and I pray that they will have the sense to stay away from it, but even when I teach them about it being forbidden in Islam I do it in a common sense manner without histrionics. Will one of them take a sip of beer or drink a wine cooler? Kids experiment so it’s certainly not impossible, and I’ll cross that bridge if and when I come to it. But what I’m saying is, we TALK about it, discuss it openly and often. It’s my responsibility as a parent to try to steer my kids away from alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. It starts when they are little kids and continues throughout their youth.
Alcohol was a major player in this case but the real evil was in the sexual attitudes of the young men, and in the failure of the parents of the girl to protect her from getting into this type of situation. Our society is so hyper-sexualized that girls the victim’s age and much, much younger walk around with hair done, makeup on, wearing tight jeans with “Bad Girl” emblazoned across the butt, and they feel it’s normal to act out, to flirt, to get into kissing, touching, heavy petting, and sexual intercourse. Boys think it’s normal to check out Daddy’s porn stash and to refer to girls as bitches and hoes. They interact, not in a wholesome manner of one human being to another, but in an unhealthy dance of stud muffin and sex kitten. Teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and rape are a natural outcome of this anything-goes attitude.
I have four boys and one girl at home. They range in ages from thirteen to two. My daughter will be five soon. It’s my job as a parent to raise them to be honorable members of society, and I turn to my religion, Islam, to help me do that. Now, I know it’s not fashionable to talk about modesty and chastity and saving it for marriage, and many of you might think I’m unrealistic and setting the bar too high, but if I don’t clearly outline my expectations, then why don’t I just turn the kids loose in the streets and let the predators have them?
I raise my boys to respect women. I tell them, and most recently we had this discussion just last week, that being a Muslim man means respecting a woman even when she doesn’t appear to respect herself. That means you interact honorably with a woman whether she is dressed in full hijaab or a bikini. You lower your gaze and act politely and never assume that bare skin or a flirtatious look is an invitation to touch or, God forbid, do more than that. I mean, even if a woman is willing to fornicate, the sin is on YOU if you follow through, not just her. How much greater is the sin if you touch a woman who doesn’t want you to, even if she is dressed in an provocative manner?
I raise my boys to understand that their job is to protect women. That includes their sister first and foremost, and it includes other women, no matter how they are dressed, whether they are Muslim or not, whether or not they are keeping themselves safe or have put themselves in a compromising position. They are raised to understand they DO have the discipline to turn away from a scantily-clad girl flirting with them, and the DO have the duty to help a girl in need. If I don’t raise my boys to be men, society will let them become predators.
And my daughter. I tell you right now, if you see ANY of my kids, boys or girl, at age sixteen at a party where alcohol is being served, then you need to lock ME up for being a stupid irresponsible parent. How in the world am I going to leave my hormonally frenetic adolescents alone to go where they want when they want, especially in a society here in the US where so many drink and smoke and fornicate. It’s as irresponsible as rubbing my kid with prime rib and then tossing him into a lion’s den. When I was a kid I had a curfew. My sister wasn’t allowed to wear makeup until she was fifteen. Now, my parents divorced a couple of years after that and then things kind of went to hell in a handbasket, but really, that just proves my point. Parents have to take care of their kids, set limits for their kids, make curfews, say no you’re not going out in that, say hell no you’re not going out with them, talk to them all the time even when the kids are rolling their eyes, put their foot down, lay down the law, all that stuff. There have to be clear lines drawn between what is allowed and what is not allowed. You are not your kids’ buddy or friend; you’re the grownup and it’s up to YOU to make sure your little girl, your princess, the apple of your eye, is not out at night at age sixteen slamming down wine coolers and flirting with the guys on the football team. YOUR job. You.
Oh, you are so naive, you tell me. You’re just going to make them rebel, like the proverbial preacher’s kid who cuts loose and is worse than any other teen in town. You know what, I’m gonna take that risk. That’s not going to stop me from teaching and telling my kids what I expect out of them. Trust me, I’m not naive. I don’t just say no no no. I know that for every “no” you have to give a “yes” and it’s also part of my job as a parent to give my kids healthy outlets for growth, permissible social outlets to get to know members of the opposite gender in a healthy manner, all that stuff. That’s a whole ‘nother article and I am trying to raise my kids in a balanced manner, not just wagging my finger at them and locking them in their rooms.
So, who is guilty in the Steubenville case? Certainly, the girl is guilty of bad judgement in going to a party and drinking alcohol to excess. Absolutely, the young men are guilty of rape. But society as a whole is guilty, too, guilty of not raising our kids right. Guilty of allowing the media and marketers to sexualize our toddlers and sell pushup bras to twelve year olds, to show boys that if they wear Axe body spray women will jump all over them. We are guilty of not setting limits. We are guilty of looking the other way and just assuming our kids will make the right decision. Being poor role models. Letting pop culture raise our kids. Just think. If one mom or dad had made sure their teenage daughter was home that night, this would not have happened. If two other sets of parents had made sure their teenage boys were home that night, this would not have happened. If someone had stopped an underage kid from buying or otherwise acquiring booze, if adults had broken up this party, if someone had been responsible enough to tell these kids to go the hell home, this would not have happened. It’s them, but it’s us. They are OUR kids, damn it. We did this to them. We have to do better.