Blaming Victims vs. Praising Athletes: A Call for Change

Society idolizes athletes, but what happens when these athletes are the masterminds behind a sexually violent crime? When high school football stars raped a teenage girl, the crime wasn’t taken seriously. The powerful female sports icon, Serena Williams has formally issued an apology for her previous statement in the Rolling Stones article concerning the Steubenville rape case. No stranger to controversy, the female tennis star was quoted saying, “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.” According to the article, Serena’s response to the Steubenville rape case was quite nonchalant. This is appalling. Serena grew up in Compton and is well aware of the hardships and vulnerability many girls and women face on a daily basis, yet she seemed indifferent to the news of a teenage girl being raped. No one who is sexually victimized should be blamed for what happened to them, despite the circumstances surrounding the crime.

Our society teaches us to hate victims and to always strive for more power, however, we should commend those victims brave enough to come forward and treat them with the respect they deserve. This poor child was so young and will carry the scars of this encounter with her for the rest of her life, yet the football stars who committed this crime are getting off easy. We should support those in need and make the voices of the victims heard in order to eliminate these appalling crimes. Instead we allow those in positions of power such as celebrities and athletes get away with condemning people weaker than themselves. And after very hurtful and demeaning comments, all we ask in return is a simply apology to amend the situation. This needs to be amended.

How are our children supposed to learn how to defend those in need when their icons won’t even step up? Our children grow up seeing their idols make mistakes and subsequently receive easy pardons. This is not a good example of the real world. Serena’s simple statement of apology clearly demonstrates how our society lets those privileged few simply slide by. How does the victim’s family benefit from a few kind words? How will the 16-year-old girl feel when our society tells her the rape was her fault? We have the power to change the perception of our society by supporting victims and applauding them for their bravery. But nothing will change unless victims begin speaking out and we make it a point to protect them.