The horrific gang rape of a minor in Steubenville, Ohio and the subsequent show-trial and “slap on the wrist” punishment of a fraction of those responsible has done more to cement the reality of rape culture, victim-blaming and slut-shaming than years of feminist thought and activism could ever accomplish.
Agitate by confronting sexism and discrimination around you, refuse to be pigeonholed by gender stereotypes, and ask the important questions about rape and violence against women even if they are not considered proper or polite conversation. Let others know that rape is not a joke and that silence is part of the problem. Without activists like Anonymous, occupy Steubenville, and the contributors to local leaks, many of the details of this crime may have been left uncovered.
Organize by connecting with women’s groups in your area to help victims of abuse, and work locally to change draconian rape and domestic violence laws. The three charged and convicted in the Steubenville rape case stated that they do not believe any of their conduct was illegal, and throughout the trial many commentators speculated on how the victim could have acted differently to avoid being raped. Misconceptions like this are still rampant in our society, and until this changes, there will be many more Jane Does. Support programs that educate young people about sexual assault, its true causes, and how to prevent it. We can turn anger into action, and together we can stand up and say NEVER AGAIN.
Written by SPUSA Co-Chair, Stephanie Cholensky, and passed by the National Action Committee on March 26, 2013.