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Scales of Justice
As high school football players in Steubenville, Ohio, are tried for raping a 16-year-old girl who was so drunk they had to carry her from party to party as they continued raping her over a period of hours, their defense is that she consented. So drunk that at one point she was carried by her arms and legs, nonetheless, the defense asserts that she consented, because "She didn't affirmatively say no" even though she was at some moments during the evening sober enough to be able to speak.

The girl's text messages as she learned what had happened (something she had to learn later because she was too impaired to remember what had been done to her) are a powerful rebuttal to that ridiculous claim:

“I wasn’t being a slut. They were taking advantage of me,” stated one text message sent from the girl’s phone, according to Ms. Gibb’s testimony.

To a friend of Mr. Mays, the girl wrote in another text message: “Who was there who did that to me?” She added, “You couldn’t have told them to stop or anything?”

“I hate my life,” the girl also texted, stating at another point: “Oh my God, please tell me this isn’t” true.

Texts from one of the defendants actually provide another strong rebuttal to the defense attorney's claim, as we'll see below the fold. Because there's no way we're having a real conversation about consent when it comes to someone described as these texts describe the girl.

Mr. Mays also texted that the girl “was like a dead body” and that he did not try to have oral sex with her because “she would have thrown up,” while denying that he drugged the girl and texting that he tried to take her beer away.
She "was like a dead body," but hey, she didn't affirmatively say no, so that's consent, right? That's a rhetorical question, but since we have very good evidence that there are people out there who'd say yes, it is, let me follow it up with the correct answer: NO. No, if you are like a dead body except that you're alive enough that oral sex would cause you to vomit, you are not capable of meaningful consent.

The same defendant's texts also provide a textbook example of how untouchable and entitled high school athletes are made to feel; he wrote that "I got Reno to take care of it," referring to the high school's football coach, and that "he was joking about it so I’m not that worried." If you feel like your coach is the ultimate authority in whether you are getting in trouble for carrying a drunk girl around all night raping her, something is very wrong. And if your coach is joking about it, well, there's a guy who should be fired even before he started threatening reporters for asking about the case.

Everyone is entitled to a good defense. But given the defendant's own texts and the horrific wealth of photographic and video evidence, the idea that consent—the argument that the girl agreed to this very public treatment—was a reasonable defense, is itself solid evidence that rape culture is a real thing and victim-blaming is alive and well.

(Via New York Magazine, which for some reason is covering this story from the style section.)

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 11:39 AM PDT.

Also republished by Sluts, Rape and Domestic Violence, and Daily Kos.

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