The official site of the Torch, the student-run newspaper at Glenbrook North High School.


The official site of the Torch, the student-run newspaper at Glenbrook North High School.


The official site of the Torch, the student-run newspaper at Glenbrook North High School.


Blame the rapist, not the victim

Photo illustration by Alexi Rabin

She woke up in the freezing cold on her front lawn.

The story of Daisy Coleman, a girl from Missouri who was raped, has been circling the Internet. She and her best friend snuck out of the Coleman house to go hang out with older boys, according to the Kansas City Star. The boys gave her close to five shots of alcohol, raped her and her friend and dumped Coleman on her front lawn on a night in January 2012.

Rather than prosecuting the boys, who were also football players and whose families were  quite powerful in Missouri, the town rallied around them and shamed Coleman. The police refused to take the case.

But it wasn’t her fault.

The way many people in our society discuss rape, however, makes it seem that it absolutely is the victim’s fault.

Many people attribute rape to length of a girl’s skirt or the amount of alcohol she had consumed. Some even go as far as to claim that because the girl was teasing the rapist, she deserved it.

I don’t know about you, but I was under the impression that length of skirt does not correlate with consent. Consuming one less drink likely wouldn’t have made the “no’s” resonate within him any more. And I don’t care if she was being a “tease,” “no” means “no.”

It doesn’t mean “maybe later,” or “I’m really just kidding.” It means “no”.

Some people’s image of rape consists of a drunk girl walking down a dark alley. This is problematic. About two-thirds of attacks are completed by someone the victim knows, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). That means that most of the time, it isn’t some stranger in a dark alley. It is a friend, a peer, a significant other or a family member.

But no matter if the victim knows the rapist or not, the only person that can prevent the rape is the rapist.

Perhaps society finds it easy to blame the victims because not all of us think we know someone who is raped. But rape is more common than you might think.

According to a study conducted in 2012 by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in five women will be raped. Men rape about 42 percent of those victims before the women reach the age of 18.

To me that is one scary fact, considering all of my peers are 18 or under.  Rape happens all the time, all around us, yet we blame the victims. Many victims are afraid to speak up because they feel it’s their fault. Only 46 out of 100 cases are reported to the police. In fact only three out of 100 rapists will spend a day in jail, according to RAINN.

Rape culture, the society we live in that encourages blaming victims and not rapists, is a problem. Rather than blaming women, why don’t we teach men not to rape?

Take the Steubenville High School incident, for example. In an Ohio town in August 2012, several boys raped and assaulted a girl who was passed out from drinking, according to the New York Times. While that was occurring, her peers photographed and recorded the events. Many people thought the girl could have prevented the entire incident by not drinking.

Seriously? The only way the rape could have been prevented is if the boys had not raped her or if someone had taught the rapists that assaulting a girl while she was unconscious was wrong. The town had a “boys will be boys” mentality, that they were just football players, harmless, and should have good lives.

So how do we change anything?

We teach everyone in our society to listen when someone does not consent to sexual activity. We stop telling the woman that it was her fault if a man assaulted her because she had a drink or wore a skirt that was too short. We don’t accept the ridiculous theory that “boys will be boys.” Boys will be what we teach them to be.

No one is born with the conviction that rape is acceptable. His or her opinions are formed by his or her lack of education and the society around us. No matter who he or she is, no one has the excuse of their gender when sexually attacking another person.

And if someone is raped, blame the rapist, not the victim.