According to an article in Rolling Stone, Serena Williams comments on the Steubenville rape case. “I’m not blaming the girl,” she says. Yet, every word after that statement points directly to blame and judgment. This is exactly why we need more sexual assault education and programs.
“If you’re a 16-year-old and you’re drunk like that, your parents should teach you: Don’t take drinks from other people. She’s 16, why was she that drunk where she doesn’t remember?”
These comments spell judgment. We cannot How dare you assume that this young lady was not appropriately guided by her parents. Teens take risks. Being under the influence of a substance makes one vulnerable. It also impairs the ability to give consent. However, it absolutely does not justify abuse. Rape is never warranted.
“It could have been much worse. She’s lucky. Obviously, I don’t know, maybe she wasn’t a virgin, but she shouldn’t have put herself in that position, unless they slipped her something, then that’s different.”
Her virginity is irrelevant. Lucky? Luck is winning the lottery. Where is the luck in being raped? Where is the luck in public humiliation? Where is the luck in knowing that your peers found pleasure in witnessing your abuse? How lucky was she to be shamed and accused of causing her own rape by a woman who is universally respected?
“Do you think it was fair, what they got? They did something stupid”
What they did was commit a crime. They stole a girl’s dignity. The behavior was disrespectful, inappropriate and unacceptable. The possibility lies in education. If these guys were educated on the repercussions of these behaviors, they may have chosen differently. We must educate everyone about the definition of consent. Yes, everyone. Why? Serena is not alone in her perspective. We must teach boys and men how to respect women. Instead we talk to girls about how to avoid being raped. We continue to blame sexual assault survivors for their own assault without holding the accused accountable. That intensifies the emotional trauma they’re already experiencing.
Apology accepted Serena. But an apology is not enough. Had Serena known more, she may have responded differently. It’s time to honor and empower sexual assault survivors while preventing more cases. We do that by educating and create more awareness about the impact sexual assault has on the survivors, their families and our communities. Erin’s Law is a great start to prevention. Learn more