I’m excited. Brad Pitt, who was such a cutie when he exploded onto the screen in Thelma & Louise in 1991 has become a hero and not only a hero but a White Knight. Last year he produced the movie, Twelve Years a Slave, and this month he bought the rights to a 2013 article by Rolling Stone Magazine entitled “Anonymous vs. Steubenville” which recounts the story of a skinny but tough computer nerd named Deric Lostutter. You can find the original article at http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/anonymous-vs-steubenville-20131127
Pitt plans to make a movie framed by Lostutter’s story. Lostutter, disguised as KY Anonymous, took up the cause of the sixteen-year-old rape victim in Steubenville. He hacked police records and threatened the school, the football coach, the principal and the sheriff with exposure if they continued to hush up the crime and brought the crime, a crime happening every Friday and Saturday night in some of the best rec rooms in the country, into the national limelight. They didn’t bury this one. Even with the national attention, the two young football players convicted of rape were given minimum sentences, one year for Ma’lik Richmond and two for Trent Mays. Here’s a photo of their “sorry look” in the courtroom. That little smile playing on the lips of Ma’lik kind of says it all. He looks like he just swallowed the canary. Trent Mays looks bored.
It horrified us all, at least those of us who watched and listened to their buddy, Michael Nodianos, laugh about how dead the girl was, how raped the girl was, and how peed on the girl was in front of a room full of adoring fans. The people in the room reacted to him as if he was the greatest comic alive. Everyone knew about the crime but no one did anything to help her. Michael Nodianos played for the Steubenville Big Red football team the year previous and had a football scholarship to Ohio State. He lost it. Thank you Ohio State. If you haven’t seen the video, steel yourself. You can watch it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUHWyzU71p8 but you’ll need a strong stomach. Actually I think it should be required viewing for every young girl before going to a party with the big boys. Women and girls need to know how these guys think and no one is preparing them. Girls live in a fantasy world and it plays a big role in their vulnerability. No one told that little 16-year-old that boys could be so mean-spirited. She thought she was among friends. I’d like to save a world of girls from the ugly reality she faced that night. Why do they have to learn the hard way?
I’m so proud of Brad Pitt I could squeak. We need more men like him and more like Deric Lostutter, more men who will stand up and be counted. In our culture a woman can come close to being president of the United States, can be a General in the armed services, can be a CEO of a large corporation, and have vistas open to her that our ancestors never dreamed of, but there is one thing she has to take into consideration and that is rape. Where rape is concerned every woman is an island unto herself. President Obama is aware of this and has taken action.
On April 4, 2011 a letter signed by Russlynn Ali, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, US Department of Education and later known as the Title IX letter was sent to every college and university in the United States. You can read the letter at http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/dear_colleague_sexual_violence.pdf It has been difficult for Colleges and Universities. Above all they don’t want a scandal, they’ve got big donors to protect and the he said, she said nature of the cases are easy to brush under the table. But now there are better guidelines. I’m hopeful.
And that’s not the only good news. In January, 2014 The White House Council on Women and Girls published Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call to Action, a compendium of statistics on the subject. http://iaclea.org/visitors/about/documents/WhiteHouseCouncil_sexual_assault_report_1-21-14.pdf
Things are looking up. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), a month when activists attempt to raise awareness about sexual violence and educate communities. Al Jazeera, a news source I can count on to cover all the news, popular or unpopular, comments in an article:
“Nearly 1 in 5 American women reports being raped in her lifetime. One in 71 men report being raped. The overwhelming majority of perpetrators — 98 percent — are male. Rape is a sex crime, yes, but it is also one of power, with the most vulnerable individuals facing the highest risk. Eighty percent of female rape survivors are raped before their 25th birthday. A quarter of male survivors are raped before they turn 10. Women of color are particularly vulnerable: A third of multiracial women and 27 percent of Native American women have been raped.
All this comes at a cost. Although exact numbers are hard to quantify, studies suggest rape costs $87,000 to $240,776 per attack. That accounts for medical expenses, legal interventions, time off from work, lost productivity and use of law enforcement resources.”
Even if we only consider the monetary cost of rape, that’s a lot of money, money that could be better spent elsewhere. And the emotional toll it takes on women is horrendous. Men who rape usually rape more than once. Most rapists are serial rapist and I wonder whether that is good or bad. I mean do I feel better if only one in ten men rape? That leaves 9 good guys, right? I can’t remember where I got that one but I think it was some college study.
Here’s another statistic drawn from another article in March 14, 2014 Al Jazeera article, “Why don’t we talk about all the serial rapists?” http://america.aljazeera.com/watch/shows/america-tonight/america-tonight-blog/2014/3/14/why-don-t-we-talkaboutalltheserialrapists.html It mentions a 2002 study by clinical psychologists David Lisak and Paul Miller. Their scholarly article can be found at http://www.davidlisak.com/wp-content/uploads/pdf/RepeatRapeinUndetectedRapists.pdf These two questions were asked of 1,832 male students at a mid-size university. The questions were carefully worded so as not to use the derogatory term “rape.” The questions:
- Have you ever been in a situation where you tried, but for various reasons did not succeed, in having sexual intercourse with an adult by using or threatening to use physical force (twisting their arm, holding them down, etc.) if they did not cooperate?
- Have you ever had sexual intercourse with someone, even though they did not want to, because they were too intoxicated (on alcohol or drugs) to resist your sexual advances (e.g., removing their clothes)?
“Six percent of the men admitted to rape, or attempted rape. Of the rapists, 63 percent were serial offenders. In all, the serial rapists accounted for 439 of the 483 rapes.”
“The vast majority of sexual assaults on campuses, in fact over 90 percent, are perpetrated by serial offenders,” Lisak told America Tonight in October, when we reported on his pioneering research. “Those serial offenders were prolific. The average number of rapes for each one of those serial offenders was six.”
In other words, of ten rapists, four raped only once. Six raped multiple times. It’s those six that we need to get into jail.
From here let’s talk about rape kits, you know, the ones that are languishing on shelves gathering dust. There is a stockpile of 400,000 rape kits waiting to be processed around this country. Why so many? According to authorities, it costs too much money, between $500 and $1,500 per kit and they claim they can’t afford it.
Mariska Hargitay, who plays Olivia Benson on Law & Order: SVU, is producing a documentary about it and her foundation, The Joyful Heart Foundation, has raised $14 million to help process the kits and bring rapists to justice. Lets hope we can get the ball rolling.
So thank you, White Knights. Thank you Brad Pitt. Thank you Deric Lostutter. Thank you President Obama. Thank you also Mariska Hargitay. We appear to be making progress.