Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Dave Zirin on Steubenville Rape Convictions: Connections Between Jock Culture and Rape Culture?

After the Steubenville rape verdicts and the massive failure of several mainstream media news outlets--notably CNN--as they commented on these verdicts, sportswriter Dave Zirin asks about the "connective tissue" between jock culture and rape culture: 

We need to ask whether there’s something inherent in the men’s sports of the twenty-first century, which so many lionize as a force for good, that can also create a rape culture of violent entitlement.

I think Zirin is absolutely correct to ask about these connections. When I scanned the news coverage of the Steubenville verdicts yesterday morning, I noticed again and again a disturbing pattern in most mainstream media reports of the verdicts: they lamented that the verdicts would impede the career of the young men convicted of rape because they are football stars.  Several major media outlets noted the possibility of adverse effects for the young men's football careers before they commented on the effects on their academic life.

Why should being a sports star position one to use and abuse other human beings, I wonder? Why do we imply that concessions need to be made for men who are athletes or athletes-in-the-making, that we don't grant to men in other walks of life? 

Until we deal with what we think about sports stars and sports in general in this culture, we won't begin to figure out why major media outlets like CNN can bemoan the effects of a rape conviction on young athletes--"Those poor young men and their ruined lives," CNN commentators said over and over in one way and another after the conviction--while never mentioning the 16-year-old girl who was raped by these poor young men.

Change.org has a petition right now asking for CNN to apologize for its atrocious coverage of the Steubenville rape convictions.

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