Henry Rollins has some musings about the Steubenville verdict.
It’s a lot of musing and thinking-out-loud, and Rollins hits on a lot of interesting points while he works through his reactions to the case. There’s no one real answer to a lot of the questions he finds himself asking because, as he puts it, there’s failure on so many levels here it’s hard to know where to start. From my own perspective as an educator, though, I think there’s one really, really important lesson we can impart to kids at just about all levels, and it’s this:
YES MEANS YES.
I know, I know; no points for originality. Fuck originality. I was talking to some dude about the verdict yesterday and the kid started going on about how you can just never be sure when someone’s consenting when they’re intoxicated. I thought he was going to take it somewhere profound, but instead he wound up shrugging it all off by suggesting that, well, you just never know, so sometimes people are gonna get raped. He phrased it a little differently–“You just never know.” “It’s hard.” Dude, it ain’t that fuckin’ hard. Did she say yes? Awesome! Go for it! Did she say no? Hands the fuck off. Did she say maybe? Well, that’s not yes, no hands the fuck off. Did she hint yes? Be sure, and make sure it’s an unequivocal yes, or you’re an unequivocal shitbag.
If kids can internalize that, you’d reduce the chances of dudes making the terrible decision to rape another human being, and you’d reduce the shitshow of people making excusing for rapists.