The blame game is in full force regarding the sad story of a 16-year-old girl who was sexually assaulted in Steubenville, Ohio, last summer by two high school football players. The young men were found guilty by a juvenile court in Steubenville March 10, but the court of public opinion is still weighing in.
Many blame the girl for excessive drinking. Others are calling out other football players who saw it happening and did nothing. This week, a CNN opinion piece asks why the girl’s friends did nothing — and even in some cases testified against her.
The main focus of Rachel Simmons’ piece is the “mean girl” culture, but there is one point that I wish she had expanded on:
“From the earliest age, girls are flooded with conflicting messages about their sexuality. They are socialized to be ‘good girls’ above all: kind, polite and selfless. Yet they are also told — via media images, the clothing that’s marketed to them and the messages conveyed by some adults — that they will be valued, given attention and loved for being sexy. The result is a near-constant anxiety about not being feminine or sexy enough.”This thinking pervades our entire culture. Sexual promiscuity is found in movies, TV shows, music and books. And yet, we are shocked when something like this happens.
Simmons concludes that we need to “teach children from an early age about gender-based violence.” Maybe we do. But why not teach them about human dignity? What about respect, for ourselves and for other people? What about the beauty of women, men and of their physical union as it was meant by God? What if we listened to the Church instead of the world?
Jennifer Rey is the web editor of Our Sunday Visitor Publishing.