Dear Trent, and Ma’lik, rapists of Steubenville,
I’m sorry. I’m sorry for having been a part of the society that has taught your victim how NOT to get raped instead of teaching men like you how NOT to rape. I’m sorry that you thought it was ok to touch, assault, penetrate, and rape a barely conscious minor, then take pictures and videos of her, only to brag about them later on publicly viewed social media. I’m sorry that you weren’t intelligent enough, and thought you wouldn’t get caught. I’m sorry you’re only getting 3 years of ‘punishment’ (if we can even call it that), when it should be a LOT more. I’m sorry you won’t truly learn from your mistakes while serving your time. I’m sorry our system of justice is so warped that it chooses to blame and shame the victim instead of prosecuting the offender, and then making an effort to rehabilitate said offender, and understand why you’ve become an offender, in an effort to break the cycle. I’m sorry that people feel bad for you, your football careers, your future (college, scholarships, family), your ‘manlihood’. I am really sorry that your lawyer chose to put the victims ‘credibility’ and her level of intoxication on trial, as IF that meant that she deserved to be raped, or that she could consent.
I’m sorry that big media has chosen to out the name of your victim, and shame her, instead of valuing her, and protecting her privacy. I’m sorry HER life will never be the same. I’m sorry she has been called a liar, a slut, a whore, and that people think she ‘asked for it’ or ‘deserved it.’ I’m sorry people still think this way. I am sorry we live in a patriarchal society where men rule and can do whateverthehelltheywant with their penises but as soon as a woman steps out with one inch of cleavage showing, she is labeled a harlot, a whore, and is a target for assault. I’m sorry it’s 2013 and we’re still trying to change this garbage. I am sorry that my daughter may have to walk in fear of being assaulted, solely because of her looks, or the level of alcohol in her blood, or that she is a female, or that some asshole thinks she is ASKING for it.
There are some things that I can promise you. I promise I will sign petitions to prevent people like you from getting away with offenses as heinous as rape, petitions to make the media accountable for victim blaming. I promise to use social media to my advantage to bring to light the changes that need to be made. I will click, I will share, I will post, I will follow, I will even instagram. I promise to fight against the rampant sexist, and victim blaming society that we live in. I promise to teach my daughter to live freely, and not give a shit what people think about her, and that her body is her own, and no ALWAYS means no. I promise to teach her that when people like you think they can touch her whenever they choose, despite you lacking her consent, that THEY are wrong, NOT her. I promise that you will not hear the end of this. I promise that we will not go silently. I promise this will change.