Saturday Reads: World-Wide Rape Culture and Other News

Newspaper, coffee and bagel at table

Good Morning!!

For the past two days I’ve been reading about the gang rape that took place in Steubenville, Ohio last August. This horrendous story got almost no national publicity until The New York Times published a long investigative piece on it on December 16. I’m sure you’ve probably heard about it by now too.

Sadly, it’s a familiar story. High school athletes sexually assault young girl, town closes ranks to protect boys and blame the victim. We’ve seen similar events again and again over the past few years and probably the only difference in these recent attacks on women from those in previous times–going by centuries–is that they get more publicity now and some people are outraged about them. But it doesn’t stop.

There was the Richmond High gang rape in California, the Pitt Meadows gang rape in British Columbia, the gang rape of an 11-year-old girl in Texas, and most recently the death of a woman who was viciously gang raped in India.

Go here to watch a very good video of Amanda Marcotte and a Canadian blogger discussing our world-wide rape culture, focusing on the cases in India, Steubenville, and Pitt Meadows.

Another difference in these incidents from those in earlier times is that participants often take photos and videos of these horrendous events and either send them to each other or post them on-line. In the Steubenville case, participants even tweeted about what was happening as they watched! This creates more nightmarish problems for victims and for law enforcement, but may also lead to perpetrators getting caught even when there is a local cover-up. In Steubenville, an “Anonymous” group has been involved–hacking into computers to retrieve data that has been erased.

Shockingly, this week, as the Steubenville story broke nationally, we witnessed the shameful spectacle of House Republicans finally refusing–after months of stalling–refusing to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.

To be honest, I wasn’t even sure if I should write about the Steubenville story today. It’s so disgusting that I haven’t even been able to bring myself to watch the video of students joking about the gang rape that the Anonymous group released. I didn’t want to subject all of you to something that I can barely stand to read about.

What I decided to do is give you a brief summary of what I’ve learned so far and post some links so you can read more if you are interested. I’m not going to name names, but you’ll see them if you go to the links.

Steubenville is a small town of about 17,000 people in southeastern Ohio just a short distance from the West Virginia border. Steubenville is crazy about their high school football team (nicknamed “Big Red”) and the team brings in a great deal of money to the community–through increased legal and illegal (gambling) business. There has apparently been a culture of protecting the football players and allowing them to run wild, and the perpetrators in this case are football players.

What I’ve gathered, based on the most recent stories and rumors, is that the victim (age 16) lived in West Virginia but had recently broken up with her boyfriend who was from Steubenville. The boyfriend was enraged about the breakup, and tweeted about the victim, saying she should be punished. He apparently encouraged at least one member of the football team to call the girl, befriend her, and urge her to attend a massive end of the summer party that took place in multiple locations. One of the locations was the home of the local prosecuting attorney whose son is on the football team.

The Anonymous hackers claim the girl was drugged immediately after she was picked up in a car by three football players. That can’t be confirmed because the girl didn’t get to the hospital in time for a date rape drug to be detected. It makes sense though, because the girl was unconscious throughout the night and doesn’t remember anything after she got in the car with the two perpetrators who have been arrested so far.

These two boys (both 16) carried the girl around like an object from house to house (there are photos), and she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by multiple attackers. This apparently happened during parties as the girl lay on the floor or in a chair, unresponsive. One onlooker even “joked” that she was dead. The NYT reports that at one point she vomited in the street and “she remained there alone for several minutes with her top off.” At one point a former football player who was a student at Ohio State University this year called for her to be urinated on. It’s not clear if that happened, but several people reported it.

The girl reportedly slept on a couch in one of the houses and was taken home early in the morning and left on her parents’ doorstep. She had no knowledge of what had happened to her until she started seeing the comments and photos on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. The fact that she has no memory of the night at all certainly suggests that she could have been given a date rape drug. You’ll find a lot more information on Atlantic Wire if you go to that link.

When the girl’s mother realized what had happened, she took her daughter to the hospital and to the police, but it was too late to recover any evidence. The local prosecutor reportedly discouraged the victim and her family from pressing charges, warning that the community would turn against them and the media would never leave them alone.

Eventually two boys were arrested and charged as adults with rape and kidnapping, but many character witnesses testified for them, including the football coach (who is close friends with the Sheriff and who didn’t bench any of the other team members involved) and the kidnapping charge was dropped and the boys are now charged as juveniles. Their trial is scheduled for February. No one else as been charged, but after the story went national this week authorities said there could be more arrests. The case is now being investigated by special prosecutors and the local prosecutor and judge have recused themselves (BTW, the state attorney general is former Republican Senator Mike DeWine–remember him? In addition, the Atlantic reported yesterday that the football coach may be forced to resign. Today Anonymous plans to hold a public protest in Steubenville.

A few more links:, the home of a crime blogger who kept the Steubenville story alive for months when there was little media coverage.

An early (September 2) story from the Cleveland Plain Dealer: Rape charges against high school players divide football town of Steubenville, Ohio

WTOV News 9 in Jefferson County Ohio: New developments revealed in Steubenville teen rape investigation

DailyKos: The Steubenville Rape – A Timeline

American Prospect: Purity Culture Is Rape Culture

The Atlantic: As a Girl in India, I Learned to Be Afraid of Men

The Atlantic: India’s Gender-Equity Problem

In Other News

Some interesting reads on other topics

A fascinating article at The Atlantic about the phenomenon of waking up under anesthesia: Awakening

Linda Campbell was not quite 4 years old when her appendix burst, spilling its bacteria-rich contents throughout her abdomen. She was in severe pain, had a high fever, and wouldn’t stop crying. Her parents, in a state of panic, brought her to the emergency room in Atlanta, where they lived. Knowing that Campbell’s organs were beginning to fail and her heart was on the brink of shutting down, doctors rushed her into surgery.

Today, removing an appendix leaves only a few droplet-size scars. But back then, in the 1960s, the procedure was much more involved. As Campbell recalls, an anesthesiologist told her to count backward from 10 while he flooded her lungs with anesthetic ether gas, allowing a surgeon to slice into her torso, cut out her earthworm-size appendix, and drain her abdomen of infectious slop, leaving behind a lengthy, longitudinal scar.

The operation was successful, but not long after Campbell returned home, her mother sensed that something was wrong. The calm, precocious girl who went into the surgery was not the same one who emerged. Campbell began flinging food from her high chair. She suffered random episodes of uncontrollable vomiting. She threw violent temper tantrums during the day and had disturbing dreams at night. “They were about people being cut open, lots of blood, lots of violence,” Campbell remembers. She refused to be alone, but avoided anyone outside her immediate circle. Her parents took her to physicians and therapists. None could determine the cause of her distress. When she was in eighth grade, her parents pulled her from school for rehabilitation.

Over time, Campbell’s most severe symptoms subsided, and she learned how to cope with those that remained. She managed to move on, become an accountant, and start a family of her own, but she wasn’t cured. Her nightmares continued, and nearly anything could trigger a panic attack: car horns, sudden bright lights, wearing tight-fitting pants or snug collars, even lying flat in a bed. She explored the possibility of post-traumatic stress disorder with her therapists, but could not identify a triggering event. One clue that did eventually surface, though, hinted at a possibly traumatic experience. During a session with a hypnotherapist, Campbell remembered an image, accompanied by an acute feeling of fear, of a man looming over her.

An article at The Atlantic on How Obama Decides Your Fate if He Thinks You’re a Terrorist

Over the past two years, the Obama administration has begun to formalize a so-called “disposition matrix” for suspected terrorists abroad: a continuously evolving database that spells out the intelligence on targets and various strategies, including contingencies, for handling them. Although the government has not spelled out the steps involved in deciding how to treat various terrorists, a look at U.S. actions in the past makes evident a rough decision tree.

Understanding these procedures is particularly important for one of the most vexing, and potentially most dangerous, categories of terrorists: U.S. citizens. Over the years, U.S. authorities have responded with astonishing variety to American nationals suspected of terrorism, from ignoring their activities to conducting lethal drone strikes. All U.S. terrorists are not created equal. And the U.S. response depends heavily on the role of allies, the degree of threat the suspect poses, and the imminence of that threat — along with other factors.

See the flow chart and read detailed explanations {shudder} at the link.

NYT: F.D.A. Offers Broad New Rules to Fight Food Contamination

The proposed rules represent a sea change in the way the agency polices food, a process that currently involves taking action after contamination has been identified. It is a long-awaited step toward codifying the food safety law that Congress passed two years ago.

Changes include requirements for better record keeping, contingency plans for handling outbreaks and measures that would prevent the spread of contaminants in the first place. While food producers would have latitude in determining how to execute the rules, farmers would have to ensure that water used in irrigation met certain standards and food processors would need to find ways to keep fresh food that may contain bacteria from coming into contact with food that has been cooked.

New safety measures might include requiring that farm workers wash their hands, installing portable toilets in fields and ensuring that foods are cooked at temperatures high enough to kill bacteria.

Whether consumers will ultimately bear some of the expense of the new rules was unclear, but the agency estimated that the proposals would cost food producers tens of thousands of dollars a year.

Mother Jones: Powerful Tea Party Group’s Internal Docs Leak—Read Them Here

FreedomWorks, the national conservative group that helped launch the tea party movement, sells itself as a genuine grassroots operation, and for years it has battled accusations of “astroturfing”—posing as a populist organization while doing the bidding of big-money donors. Yet internal documents obtained by Mother Jones show that FreedomWorks has indeed become dependent on wealthy individual donors to finance its growing operation.

Last month, the Washington Post reported that Richard Stephenson, a reclusive millionaire banker and FreedomWorks board member, and members of his family funneled $12 million in October through two newly created Tennessee corporations to FreedomWorks’ super-PAC, which used these funds to support tea party candidates in November’s elections. The revelation that a corporate bigwig like Stephenson, who founded the Cancer Treatment Centers of America and chairs its board, was responsible for more than half of the FreedomWorks super-PAC’s haul in 2012 undercuts the group’s grassroots image and hands ammunition to critics who say FreedomWorks does the bidding of rich conservative donors.

Big donations like Stephenson’s are business as usual for FreedomWorks. According to a 52-page report prepared by FreedomWorks’ top brass for a board of directors meeting held in mid-December at the Virginia office of Sands Capital Management, an investment firm run by FreedomWorks board member Frank Sands, the entire FreedomWorks organization—its 501(c)(3) and (c)(4) nonprofit arms and its super-PAC—raised nearly $41 million through mid-December. Of that total, $33 million—or 81 percent of its 2012 fundraising—came in the form of “major gifts,” the type of big donations coveted by nonprofits and super-PACs. (FreedomWorks’ nonprofit components do not have to disclose their funders.)

Well-heeled individual contributors ponied up $31 million—or 94 percent—of those major gifts, according to the FreedomWorks board book. Eight donors gave a half-million dollars or more; 22 donated between $100,000 and $499,999; 17 cut checks between $50,000 and $99,999; and 95 gave between $10,000 and $49,999. Foundations contributed $1.6 million in major gifts, and corporations donated $330,000.

Now what are you reading and blogging about today? I look forward to clicking on your links.

33 Comments on “Saturday Reads: World-Wide Rape Culture and Other News”

    • Fannie says:

      BB, thanks again for the links on Stuebenville Gang Rape. It is much like the Richmond High School Prom Night Gang Rape case, in that many students (as many as 20 watched and did nothing). Listening to the chief of police there in Ohio, and I just didn’t get a sense of just exactly where this case was going from him. Many things comes to mind, but why didn’t the police department put up a reward, that might have brought some of these students forward to tell who participated and what they know, and tell everything. I also get the feeling that this gang raping culture isn’t going to stop. Those in congress who wouldn’t vote to refund the Violence Against Women Act, think it’s not their responsibility to do so. And that some groups of people think they are hero or something for squashing the funds. But they are the first to tell you they are disturbed domestic violence. I still think it’s full throttle ahead on the war against women.

      The police department did for the woman who is being charged with hate crime, when she pushed a man to his death recently, and beside that they used the media, etc.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Now that there is so much publicity about this, I wonder if the investigators may work a bit harder to find other perpetrators.

    • BB, this post is so important, I just now read it and have to say that even though we see cases of rape that are “documented” on social networks, it still shocks me when another attack pops up. I bet there are so many that do not get reported…so disgusting and sad.

      Thank you for writing about something so serious and on a weekend, I am glad you decided to post something about it.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Thanks for reading it, JJ. I appreciate that. I hope you’re feeling a little better.

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    The Steubenville story is beyond disgusting. It speaks to a culture that glorifies sports above decency. But it also speaks to a culture where teens are essentially unafraid of the consequences of their actions when they seek to publicize whatever they do on social networking sites as if it were the norm.

    I am not sure of all the details in this case but I do wonder where this girl’s parents were when she seemed to have stayed out overnight at the age of 16. Was this an acceptable occurrence as well? Are these kids just allowed to wander at will without curfews at this age?

    The athletic commission of this town is a disgrace. It should be stripped bare and the coach fired. But even more disturbing is the side who defends these boys rather than feel the outrage of what this young girl was subjected to. It is unimaginable that she was dragged from party to party throughout the evening with not one adult present that allowed this to go on for hours at a time. Where were they? Exactly what kind of a community is this when actions like these are supported and teens are “running the show” without any supervision?

    From watching the interaction between the kid who made the video and the offstage boy who listened it appears to me at least that this is a group of overprivileged young men who have yet to be held accountable for their actions from an early age.

    This is the culture of a society who treat women like objects and are satisfied they can get away with it.

    The blame must be shared by the adults who sanctioned these “parties”, the athletic association that chose to look the other way, the school system that did nothing in the aftermath, and the civic officials of that town who tried to shove it under the rug as well as the perpetrators and those who stood by and did nothing to assist this young woman.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Local Steubenville story on viral video

    • Delphyne says:

      Thanks for documenting this, BB – I can’t watch the video because I know I would be sick with rage. Stories like these need headlines and when there are no headlines, i am so grateful to people like you and others who will report these atrocities.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Thanks, Delphyne. It’s a very painful story. I will never watch that video. I just can’t. I think what we’re seeing is not only a rape culture, but also a culture of narcissism.

    • Eric Pleim says:

      That rape story is pretty amazing. Just one part I don’t understand “the team brings in a great deal of money to the community–through increased legal and illegal (gambling) business”. There is no legal gambling on high school football anywhere in the country as far as I know. How does illegal gambling bring a great deal of money into the community? It would seem to me that illegal gambling on the local football team would take money OUT of the pockets of members of the community. Sure the team members are entitled and essentially bullet proof whatever they do. I just don’t see what gambling could have to do with it.

      Everything else was well said and important to know about. Thank you.

  3. Delphyne says:

    Boomer, the link for the Awakening article is not good – comes back to SD page as not found. I googled it and found this link.

  4. ANonOMouse says:

    BB….I watched the video but I would not recommend it to anyone who’s been through any sort of sexual assault. It is infuriating and it does dredge up memories. For the record, there were a few boys in the room who were calling it rape and who were saying things like “what if that was your daughter?”, “what if that was your sister?”, so some of them did/do have a conscience. As for the boy who was the subject of the video, it sounded as if he was an observer of the rape who thought the entire episode was happening to a “dead” girl and he did 12 minutes worth of sick-schtick about it. They guy who was doing the filming of the phone video didn’t sound as if he’d seen the rape, but he was egging on the story-teller and totally entertained by the jokes and sick humor of the story-teller. It was totally disgusting and the parents of these boys need to get them some help, today.

  5. RalphB says:

    More proof that ‘movement conservatism’ is one huge money grubbing scam to fleece the rubes. Interesting story here.

    Media Matters: EXCLUSIVE: Dick Armey Dishes On FreedomWorks’ Deals With Beck & Limbaugh

    Former FreedomWorks chairman Dick Armey says the conservative outlet that helped launch the Tea Party paid Glenn Beck at least $1 million last year to fundraise for the organization, an arrangement he said provided “too little value” for the money.

    “The arrangement was simply FreedomWorks paid Glenn Beck money and Glenn Beck said nice things about FreedomWorks on the air,” Armey, the former House majority leader, told Media Matters Friday. “I saw that a million dollars went to Beck this past year, that was the annual expenditure.”

    Armey, who left the organization this past fall after a dispute over its internal operations, said a similar arrangement was also in place with Rush Limbaugh, but did not know the exact financial details.

    • dakinikat says:

      Welcome to the new Civil War
      Lincoln’s unfinished war rages on, as the neo-Confederacy tries to turn back the clock on women, gays, God and guns

      The new Civil War is not entirely or even principally about race, although there’s no mistaking its pernicious racial component. Even making allowances for Bobby Jindal and Allen West, the neo-Confederate forces are perhaps 99 percent white, in a nation whose fastest-growing demographic groups are neither white nor black. While the issues of the new Civil War are contemporary, its rhetoric is ancient and all too familiar, from states’ rights and resistance to Washington to claims of a special relationship with the Almighty and vague appeals to distinctive “cultural traditions,” employed as a justification for bigotry and oppression.

  6. RalphB says:

    I’d like to propose another potential location for the Sky Dancer commune in Uruguay, Latin America’s safest and most socially liberal country.

    NYT: After Years in Solitary, an Austere Life as Uruguay’s President

    MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay — Some world leaders live in palaces. Some enjoy perks like having a discreet butler, a fleet of yachts or a wine cellar with vintage Champagnes. Then there is José Mujica, the former guerrilla who is Uruguay’s president. He lives in a run-down house on Montevideo’s outskirts with no servants at all. His security detail: two plainclothes officers parked on a dirt road.

    In a deliberate statement to this cattle-exporting nation of 3.3 million people, Mr. Mujica, 77, shunned the opulent Suárez y Reyes presidential mansion, with its staff of 42, remaining instead in the home where he and his wife have lived for years, on a plot of land where they grow chrysanthemums for sale in local markets.

    Visitors reach Mr. Mujica’s austere dwelling after driving down O’Higgins Road, past groves of lemon trees. His net worth upon taking office in 2010 amounted to about $1,800 — the value of the 1987 Volkswagen Beetle parked in his garage. He never wears a tie and donates about 90 percent of his salary, largely to a program for expanding housing for the poor.

  7. RalphB says:

    A CEO and two of his henchmen go to federal prison. It’s a start.

    Bloomberg: Ex-National Lampoon CEO Tim Durham Gets 50 Years Prison

    Timothy S. Durham, the onetime chief executive officer of National Lampoon (NLMP) Inc., was sentenced to 50 years in prison for defrauding investors in an unrelated company he partly controlled.

    “I found no sincere remorse,” U.S. District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson in Indianapolis said today before imposing punishment on Durham, 50. She said the former Fair Finance Co. CEO exhibited deceit, greed and arrogance.

    Prosecutors sought a sentence of 225 years under nonbinding federal guidelines, which the judge rejected as unrealistic.

    Durham, who was also the CEO of Indianapolis-based buyout firm Obsidian Enterprises Inc., and an accomplice, James Cochran, 57, were convicted in June of taking money raised from Fair Finance investors, spending it on themselves and lending it to other entities they controlled. A third man, Rick Snow, 49, was convicted of helping to deceive investors about the company’s financial condition.

    • Delphyne says:

      So sweet – I just posted it to FB for my kitty loving friends and relatives. Thanks, Ralph!

    • ecocatwoman says:

      Such a sweet story. Cats are loyal too. It’s just a shame that the photo isn’t of Toldo – that cat, in the photo which is calico, is a female (about 99.9% of calicos, like tortoiseshells & blue/gray + cream are females). Just call me cat obsessed & a nitpicker.

    • NW Luna says:

      Ralph, thanks for posting this. We need to see more of the good that happens, since reality contains so much of the other direction.

  8. RalphB says:

    Bill Maher’s New Rules for the New Year from the New York Times.

  9. RalphB says:

    Here’s another pathetic example of rape culture. I’m speechless.

    Raw Story: Los Angeles cops allegedly threatened women with jail to force sex acts

    Two Los Angeles Police Department officers are under investigation after four women accused them of rape, according to area media.

    The two officers, Luis Valenzuela and James Nichols, told reporters that they’ve only just learned about the investigation, but KTLA-TV noted on Friday that the probe has been ongoing for more than a year. Both men have been on the force for over a decade.

    The officers are accused of threatening women with jail time if they did not perform various actions, including sex acts. The women were allegedly either working for the officers as confidential informants or were arrested by the officers on criminal charges.

  10. bostonboomer says:

    Report on Today’s demonstration in Steubenville

    People who came to this rally heard from at least 25 woman, who related their experiences as rape victims. Among those listening were reporters from many news organizations as the Steubenville case is drawing increased interest, even internationally….

    During the rally which went more than four hours, Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla declared to the crowd there is no cover-up by officials. He said city police interviewed 59 people, and determined there were only three witnesses to the incident, and it is clear only two people carried out the attack.

    Those two 16-year-old Big Red football players have been charged with rape and are to be tried next month in juvenile court.

    Abdalla, sheriff since 1985, said it is heartbreaking when he listens to rape victims reporting the crime against them. He said he has two daughters of his own.

    The sheriff was jeered by some in the crowd early in his remarks. But others yelled out that he should be heard.

    Media on hand included CNN, NBC, Al Jazeera, TV stations from Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

    One speaker said attendees came from California, Texas, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky and Florida.