So according many actual news sources who should know better, there’s a “sex scandal” going down at Penn State. Here’s the Daily Beast:
Broadcasting and Cable, which I include because Mediabistro used it as the lead headline about the story in this morning’s newfeed:
Here’s the thing though: raping children is not a sex scandal! Have you read the Grand Jury testimony? Sandusky raped multiple children as young as ten. At-risk children he set up a foundation to help, that he instead used as a hunting ground for kids whose parents wouldn’t get in the way of his abuse. He did this over years and years, and Joe Paterno knew he was doing it and covered it up. He sat by and allowed a guy who was good at football rape children so that his team could do win at making touchdowns. That is not a “sex scandal.”
Here are examples of sex scandals:
1. An intern gives a consensual blowjob to her married boss.
2. A man fathers a child with a woman who is not his wife, who consented to have sex with him.
3. A married man pays a sex worker for sex.
See what they all have in common? Consensual sex! Though rape is, technically, a sex act, it is disgusting to compare having sex in a way that is outside the bounds of what is culturally correct and getting caught forcing a ten-year-old to perform oral sex on you.
Now, okay, sure, calling sex abuse a sex scandal is nowhere near as disgusting as an alleged anti-sex-trafficking activist defending a man who is an accessory to rape, or a bunch of people turning over cars in protest of this rape enabler’s firing. But it still matters. Why? Because it contributes to a culture where rape is allowed to happen, if the person doing the raping is important enough.
The same thing happened in the headlines earlier this year, when stories about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s love child, Anthony Weiner’s extra-marital tweeting, and Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s rape of Nafi Diallo were all in the news at the same time. There were stories about the “sex scandals,” as though the three acts were comparable. And hey hey, look what happened. Ms. Diallo got called a liar, a prostitute, and a gold digger, and DSK got off scott-free.
Calling rape a sex scandal reinforces the idea that it’s equally bad to get caught messing around on your wife as it is to rape someone. I know there are people out there who are like oh, it’s just language, quit quibbling, politically correct blah blah blah. But language matters. It’s how we understand the world around us, and every time somebody minimizes rape or apologizes for a rapist, they make it that much easier for some other person out there to think he or she can get away with rape. These things don’t happen in a vacuum. Your actions—all of our actions—contribute to creating an environment where college football is more important than children not being sexually abused.
It’s called rape culture and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, look it the fuck up.