Lao Tzu

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” – Lao Tzu

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Steubenville Syndrome

The Steubenville Syndrome: A culture-bound, collective psychological phenomenon, where perpetrators of rape receive immunity from blame by virtue their higher status compared to rape victims, and where the victims are blamed by communities instead and/or receive no sympathy or proper justice for their suffering.

Sometimes the Steubenville Syndrome results in silence, the silence of whole communities and groups, of those in authority, or of news media. But now we’re seeing more and more instances of outrageous community reaction, after rapes by football players, against the rape victims!

The latest case:
...But like Steubenville before it, the town of Maryville revolted against the facts in the case.

Days after the incident became public knowledge, students at the high school began attacking Daisy and her family. On social media, fellow Maryville students began threatening Daisy, tweeting that she would “get whats comin.” Daisy’s older brother Charlie, who was himself an athlete for Maryville, was booed by his own classmates during a wrestling meet. Her mother, a veterinarian, was fired from her job two weeks after the incident without so much as an explanation, only later learning that her boss feared that her presence “was putting stress” on her other employees.

Meanwhile, members of the community rallied behind Barnett and the other perpetrators. In March, just over two months after the alleged rape took place, the most serious charges of sexual assault and sexual exploitation of a minor were dropped without an explanation.

Daisy’s family moved away to avoid the threats and harassment they faced since her story first came to light. But the trouble didn’t end. Six months ago, their old house burned down mysteriously.

From Dave Zirin, The Nation:

 The Verdict: Steubenville Shows the Bond Between Jock Culture and Rape Culture
...We learned at the Steubenville trial that not only did a small group of football players commit a crime, but fifty of their peers, men and women, saw what was happening and chose to do nothing, effectively not seeing a crime at all...

...On colleges, there is reason to believe that the same teamwork, camaraderie and “specialness” produced by sports can be violently perverted to create a pack mentality that either spurs sexual violence or makes players fear turning in their teammates. A groundbreaking 1994 study showed that college athletes make up 3.3 percent of male students but 19 percent of those accused of sexual assault. One of the studies authors, Jeff Benedict, said, “Does this study say participation in college sports causes this? Clearly, no. We’re not saying that. We just think that at some point there is an association between sports and sexual assault…. the farther you go up, the more entitlements there are. And one of those entitlements is women.” 

The signs and characteristics of the Steubenville Syndrome: hero worship; uber-masculinity valued; power and status inequities; misplaced sympathy for rapists; group think and conformity; general acceptance of male dominance and sexual entitlements; pervasive view of women and girls as things; bullying. 

Remember the story, The Lottery? I do believe it speaks to this syndrome. One can see how, in cases where football plays a huge role in community pride and enthusiasm, blaming the victims of rapes by football players could represent a kind of human sacrifice to the gods of football.  

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