Today, tennis superstar Serena Williams issued this formal apology:

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.”

Here are the insensitive and hurtful things she supposedly said:

“Do you think it was fair, what (the convicted rapists) 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.”

It’s my personal policy to regard all celebrity athletes as shallow-end swimmers of the intelligence pool, so Ms. Williams’ comments didn’t exactly blow me away. But you don’t have to be an out-of-touch tennis player to believe that a drunk 16 year old girl has a rape coming to her.

I’m a father of two boys. I have a trillion hopes and a trillion fears for them. Among those fears, will they ever, ever believe that any woman  has a rape coming to her?

Serena drifts into sensible territory when she says “parents should teach you.” Parents should teach you not to booze like a wino and not to put yourself in a bad situation. But more critically, we need to teach our children what is right and what is wrong. What is honorable and what is a disgrace.

The rape of the girl in Stuebenville was horrible. And yet, I’m more disgusted by the boys who stood aside and did nothing. I’m mortified by the boys who stopped to take pictures and post them online. I’m nauseated by the boys who laughed at the posts as if they were watching a bootleg copy of American Pie.

“Some people deserve to be peed on.”

Were that my son’s reaction to watching a classmate violated, I’d know that I was a terrible and dangerous failure as a human being. My years of fatherhood would have counted for nothing. I’d consider putting my remaining children up for foster care, because I have demonstrated absolutely no ability to raise children.

I’m a Dad, and it is without a doubt the most responsibility I have ever been given. It’s daunting. It’s intimidating. It’s terrifying to know that the tiniest things I say or do could have major ramifications in the future. I can’t expect to be perfect, but goddamnit I think I can do it well enough so that my sons would never join a “Rape Crew.”

Boys are impressionable people who enjoy an easy joke. When Daniel Tosh makes a rape joke, you know who laughs? Teen age boys. Do you know why? Because too many Dads are laughing along with them. And when Dad laughs at something as disgusting as rape, then you begin to think that maybe some people really do deserve to be peed on.  

 

 

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