‘SHE DIDN’T AFFIRMATIVELY SAY NO’
UPDATE 18.3.13: The two teenagers accused of raping an unidentified girl in Ohio last year have been found guilty.
Trent Mays, 17, and Ma’lik Richmond, 16, two members of Steubenville’s “Big Red” football team, were found delinquent in the sexual assault of the girl in the early morning of August 12 when she was allegedly too drunk to move or speak.
Judge Tom Lipps ordered Richmond held in a juvenile detention facility for at least one year and Mays at least two years. The juvenile system could hold them until age 21. Both were required to register as juvenile sex offenders.
Read what Tracey Spicer wrote about this case last week:
No means yes. She wanted it. Her skirt was too short. This is just a small sample of excuses used by men – sometimes judges – to justify rape.
Now, we have another: “She didn’t affirmatively say no.”
These are the words of a US defense lawyer on behalf of one of two high school football players, accused of sexually assaulting a drunken 16-year-old.
Apparently, silence equals consent.
This picture (right) was taken before the crime allegedly took place.
The poor young girl is in no position to “give assent, accept or acquiesce” to anything, except the involuntary evacuation of her stomach.
In the words of Ohio Associate Attorney General Marianne Hemmeter, “Everybody agrees she’s puking. She’s puking on herself. People have to help her walk. She can’t talk. She’s stumbling”.
Witnesses say that the girl was carried by her wrists and ankles from one party to another in Steubenville, Ohio on the night she was allegedly raped.
The New York Times’ account of the pre-trial testimony is graphic.
Witnesses claim, “The girl was on the ground, naked, unmoving and silent. Trent Mays had exposed himself while he was right next to her. Ma’Lik Richmond was behind her, with his hands between her legs, penetrating her with his fingers.”
But wait – it gets worse.
At least three teenage boys stood watching. Two of them took videos and photos on their mobile phones and put them on the internet. They recorded themselves joking and laughing about rape.
Cody Saltsman, who posted one of the photos, tweeted “I have no sympathy for whores”, calling the girl “sloppy”.
He later apologised to “the victim and her family” claiming “not a moment goes by” when he doesn’t regret what he did.
Then 17-year-old Mays allegedly sent nude photos of the girl to one of his friends.
Oh my. Their mothers must be so proud.
Inexplicably, the three witnesses will not face charges because the Attorney General believes “their behaviour did not rise to the level of criminal conduct”.
So let me get this straight.
It’s OK to do nothing while someone gets (allegedly) raped. It’s OK to film and photograph a vulnerable young girl. It’s OK to share someone’s humiliation with the world.
Where was the consent?
While date rape laws exist in the US, the provisions surrounding consent differ from state to state. The Northwestern University School of Law is calling for a sex-by-deception crime to outlaw coercion.
“Making it clear to the citizenry that society will not tolerate any form of unwanted sex sends a message to the fraternity pledges and Joe Sixpacks: no means no, and deception, non-physical coercion, or taking advantage of one’s superior position cannot be the means of sexual conquest.”
This needs to be coupled with an education program. In Vancouver, the Don’t Be That Guy campaign has helped cut the rate of sexual assault by 10 per cent.
The posters show a young woman in red tights and a short black dress passed out on a couch, next to empty wine bottles: “Just because she isn’t saying no doesn’t mean she is saying yes,” it says.
“Sex without consent = sexual assault. Don’t Be That Guy.”
This is an important step in shifting the blame from the victim to the perpetrator.
A similar argument was used recently by political analyst and feminist Zerlina Maxwell on Fox News. She suggested that, instead of arming women so they can protect themselves, we teach men not to rape.
The host, Sean Hannity, kept cutting her off.
Sadly, it looks like this week’s trial in Jefferson County Juvenile Court will be all about victim-blaming.
Richmond’s attorney Walter Madison is berating the girl for not testifying: “The person who is the accuser here is silent just as she was that night, and that’s because there was consent.”
He also calls the case “patently unfair and un-American”.
I’ll tell you what’s unfair: taking advantage of a girl who’s unconscious, sharing explicit pictures, and then saying it’s OK.
It’s not OK: Silence is not consent.
MORE ARTICLES BY TRACEY SPICER
*Tracey Spicer is a respected journalist who has worked for many years in radio, print and television.
Channel Nine and 10 news presenter and reporter; 2UE and Vega broadcaster; News Ltd. columnist; Sky News anchor …it’s been a dream career for the Brisbane schoolgirl with a passion for news and current affairs.
Tracey is a passionate advocate for issues as diverse as voluntary euthanasia, childhood vaccinations, breastfeeding, better regulation of foreign investment in Australia’s farmland, and curtailed opening hours for pubs and clubs. She is an Ambassador for World Vision, ActionAid, WWF, the Royal Hospital for Women’s Newborn Care Centre and the Penguin Foundation, Patron of Cancer Council NSW and The National Premmie Foundation, and the face of the Garvan Institute’s research into pancreatic cancer, which killed her beloved mother Marcia 11 years ago. But Tracey’s favourite job, with her husband, is bringing up two beautiful children – six-year-old Taj and five-year-old Grace. Visit Tracey’s website at www.spicercommunications.biz or follow her on Twitter @spicertracey.