I don’t want to spend too much time talking about the Steubenville rape case, but I do want to say this:
When it comes to discourse on rape, murder, public shaming (whether sexual or otherwise), stoicism is NOT a virtue - if anything, it is a privilege. It betrays a disconnect from the situation, a lack of personal involvement. That is not virtue, that is circumstance.
People are allowed to have a visceral and/or emotional response to rape stories without their opinions being rendered invalid, biased, or somehow less objective. Humans are wired to respond emotionally to events and stories that involve some sort of trauma, even when we have not experienced that trauma ourselves. I think our ability to become invested in another person’s pain is such a unique, inspiring, and amazing gift that humans have, and it shouldn’t be buried under the guise of rationality, but instead used to effect positive change.
The fact that we would consider a stoic, clinical opinion more valid than the opinion of someone with an emotional investment in rape dialogue is perhaps part of the reason that rape culture exists. We make excuses for it. We play devil’s advocate. The victim’s story becomes our plaything, and in removing their emotions, our emotions, we strip humanity from the dialogue of rape, even though humanity is the precise thing that’s under attack.
I am so tired of people responding to stories of rape, sexual abuse, physical abuse, etc with a cold, clinical approach, and subsequently trying to discredit more emotional responses. If you can read a story about rape, murder, physical abuse, etcetera without getting emotional, you are lucky. Not right. Lucky.