The Steubenville rape case and CNN’s disturbing response to the conviction of the two football players illustrate the pervasiveness of rape culture in American society. As Blogger Lauren Nelson highlighted in her piece, “So you’re tired of hearing about rape culture,” politicians, news pundits, athletes, teenagers, men, and women have displayed some or all the characteristics of rape culture recently—victim-blaming, shaming, and (online) bullying, objectifying women, demonizing sexually active women, perpetuating the notion that (young) men, especially athletes, are entitled to act upon women’s bodies without their legal consent, and sympathizing with those judged guilty.
Gender-based violence plagues our community. Approximately 30% of Americans say they know someone who has been abused by her significant other in the past year. Rather than being a highly visible topic, a shroud of silence seemingly surrounds the issue. Over forty years after the Women’s Liberation Movement, we are still trying to break the silence and raise awareness. We should somehow be closer to ending the violence, but we are not. As a domestic violence survivor, I utilize opportunities to break the silence and speak about my experience. My hope is that I help to spread awareness and generate discussions that will dismantle the stereotypes and assumptions about intimate partner violence (IPV). I have little influence compared to some activists in the fight to end gender-based violence, and I have far less reach than large organizations. Most recently, an enormous group⎯ the National Football League (NFL)⎯ had the responsibility to take a stance against IPV and send a needed message to its huge fan base. And, they did.