Serena Williams on Steubenville [Rape Culture]



Oh Serena. I know it’s been awhile since you’ve been around reporters and in the public eye, but girl!

You should know better!

While being interviewed for a profile in Rolling Stone, something about the Steubenville rape case appears on the television. And Serena makes some very uncouth remarks about the case in front of the interviewer. From the profile:

We watch the news for a while, and the infamous Steubenville rape case flashes on the TV—two high school football players raped a 16-year-old, while other students watched and texted details of the crime. Serena just shakes her head. “Do you think it was fair, what they got? They did something stupid, but I don’t know. I’m not blaming the girl, but if you’re a 16-year-old and you’re drunk like that, your parents should teach you: don’t take drinks from other people. She’s 16, why was she that drunk where she doesn’t remember? It could have been much worse. She’s lucky. Obviously I don’t know, maybe she wasn’t a virgin, but she shouldn’t have put herself in that position, unless they slipped her something, then that’s different.”

What is this I don’t even.

Serena Williams is supposed to be a strong, independent woman. A role model, if you will. But these words – words that blame the victim of rape – remove any role model status she may have had. 

She released a statement earlier today:

What happened in Steubenville was a real shock for me. I was deeply saddened. For someone to be raped, and at only sixteen, is such a horrible tragedy! For both families involved – that of the rape victim and of the accused. I am currently reaching out to the girl’s family to let her know that I am deeply sorry for what was written in the Rolling Stone article. What was written – what I supposedly said – is insensitive and hurtful, and I by no means would say or insinuate that she was at all to blame.

I have fought all of my career for women’s equality, women’s equal rights, respect in their fields – anything I could do to support women I have done. My prayers and support always goes out to the rape victim. In this case, most especially, to an innocent sixteen year old child.

What do I see written there? Oh shit, I shouldn’t have run my mouth off in front of the man writing a piece about me that would be printed in a national media outlet.

Ultimately, this off-the-cuff remark serves to show what the underlying assumptions are in our culture when it comes to rape. There’s a reason that we teach women “don’t get raped” rather than teaching men “don’t rape.” These are the standards of our culture. They permeate our thoughts – even when we think that we are strong advocates for women’s rights and equality, like Serena. If we aren’t pro-actively rebelling against these standards of society, then we become complacent and liable to fall prey to this kind of misogynistic thinking.

One thought on “Serena Williams on Steubenville [Rape Culture]

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