The only good thing to come out of this is the fact that we are finally having serious discourse about rape culture in the United States.
While I agree with this Slate blogger, who states:
What makes CNN's [rape apologist] coverage doubly amazing is that teenagers get taken off the path of "promising" every day for behaviors that are exponentially less anti-social than terrorizing girls with sexual abuse. The country is full of nonrapist D students, teen moms, high-school drop-outs, and dim but well-meaning people who have severely limited opportunities to become the sort of community leaders these boys were clearly slated to be. I'd have any one of them be my boss rather than a guy who raped someone and then reportedly texted a naked photo of the victim with the caption, "Bitches is bitches. Fuck ‘em," to his friends later. A system that takes rapists out of the running for certain opportunities so nonrapists have a better shot is a system that is . After the Penn State scandal, you'd think people would understand the importance of keeping sexual predators out of positions of power.
...I also DO feel a bit of sadness for these boys; it is the same sadness I feel when confronted with extreme ignorance and entitlement. I am NOT absolving them of guilt, nor giving them an excuse -- I know plenty of men, many of whom I knew as boys, who grew up in this culture and who would NEVER do this, nor allow or have allowed this to happen, and would in fact help any girl or woman they saw and probably -- as men are wont to do -- get violent with the perpetrators. Did their mommas and daddies raise them right? Perhaps. Are they smarter or more sensitive than the average bear? Maybe. Did having strong female friends contribute to their outlook? Possibly. Did they have better access to discourse about gender roles in society? Sorry, but I think that's unlikely.
It's true that a system that takes rapists out of the running for certain opportunities is a system that is working, but a system that continues to raise boys to do these things, blames the victim, and then is merely punitive and does not rehabilitate, is NOT working and needs to be held accountable.
There is a pervasive argument that points to our still toxic gender environment, and the way our 21st century society continues to define women as property and men as only men if they are violent and unfeeling, as the big red flags in perpetuating this behavior.
Two great essays about this can be found here and here.
What I do want to tell you is that you need to stop using the “wives, sisters, daughters” argument when you are talking to people defending the Steubenville rapists. Or any rapists. Or anyone who commits any kind of crime, violent or otherwise, against a woman...Saying these things is not helpful; in fact, it’s not even helping to humanize the victim. What you are actually doing is perpetuating rape culture by advancing the idea that a woman is only valuable in so much as she is loved or valued by a man.
We don't raise boys to be men. We raise them not to be women, or gay men...if we want to end the pandemic of rape, it’s going to require an entire global movement of men willing to do the hard work of interrogating the ideas they were raised with.