Personally, I was shocked when the Steubenville rapists were found guilty. I've gotten cynical about prosecution of rape—so few cases lead to punishment that I was excited and surprised to learn that, this time, the legal system worked.
Today we finally have something to applaud in Steubenville: A guilty verdict. Many people were holding their breath in the high-profile rape case, expecting that despite clear evidence of the two defendants’ guilt, our legal system would fail the victim. We thought we’d once again be talking about how a star athlete escaped prosecution.
It’s sad, but finding these rapists guilty is exceptional. According to depressing statistics, only nine percent of rapes in America result in prosecution. Though incarceration is clearly not the sole solution to rape, the fact that these two small-town stars will spend at least a year in a juvenile detention facility sends an important message that people regardless of social status can be held accountable for committing sexual violence.
• The guilty verdict is a good, major step—but as Maya Dusenberry points out, rapists are created, not born, and the culture that allows rapists to continue being created is alive and well. [Feministing]
• Survivors of military sexual assault testified this week in a Senate hearing to advocate for outside review of cases. Among the strongest voices for a chance in policy was that of New York senator Kristen Gillibrand, who told lawyers for the Defense Department, "I appreciate the work you're doing, but it's not enough." [L.A. Times, N.Y. Daily News]
• The Steubenville rape trial continues, with key evidence in the form of damning text messages and, today, testimony from eyewitnesses who took photographs and later erased them. [Huffington Post]
• Meet the new pope, same as the old pope—especially when it comes to LGBT rights. Salon has a roundup of Pope Francis's greatest hits on the subject, and by "hits" we mean "terrible, awful, heartwrenchingly bigoted statements SHUT UP MAN UGGHHH STOP TALKING." [Salon]
Unless you've been living under a rock, you've heard something or other in the past month about a horrifying gang-rape case out of Steubenville, Ohio, involving two of the town's star football players, an inebriated out-of-town girl, and an alarming number of adults willing to defend the boys and blame the girl. (Because: football! Is there anything more important?)
Actually, if you have been living under a rock, consider yourself lucky, because this case just gets uglier with every new bit of information. With the juvenile-court date approaching in early February and online activists (both masked and not) stepping up to protest the city's handling of the case, there's going to be even more to parse in the coming weeks. So here's a primer on the events.