Drawing Out the Fury of Women in Steubenville, Ohio

January 28, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


This correspondence is from a team of Revolution paper sellers who have been going out to Steubenville, where the gang rape of a 16-year-old woman has sparked outrage and protests.

Steubenville, Ohio: We made up signs that read: "From Delhi to Ohio and Around the World—If You Are Not Fighting Rape, You Are Condoning It! "Stop Watching Porn—Start Fighting Patriarchy!" "Unleash the Fury of Women as a Mighty Force for Revolution!"

We had been reading about the rape of a 16-year-old female at several parties, reportedly by at least two football players on August 11 in Steubenville. Then on January 5, there was a rally of 1,000 people from California, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio and more to say NO TO RAPE! and to declare that the rape would not go unanswered and once more pushed under the rug. We knew we had to get down there with our revolutionary communist message. As we drove along the Ohio River in southeast Ohio, we approached Steubenville. There we saw a rusted-out steel mill, stores left empty in the downtown, very few people in sight. Then appeared the high school where the accused rapists played football, and as we passed the high school, a nervous feeling went over us.

After a quick coffee, we began talking to people and asked them about what had happened there—the cover-up by the police and powers-that-be, the fact that after the rape happened on August 11, the football games were never cancelled and the alleged rapists kept playing several games until they were indicted, and just how widespread the culture of rape is there. From the minute we began conversing there, the widespread abuse, rape, and degradation that women experienced poured out. Thinking about the observation in Revolution, "the 'ordinary functioning' of this system has had devastating, horrifically life-draining impact on India and the rest of the world...," it is much more extreme in the conditions of India, yet we felt this "life-draining impact" among people here in Steubenville. So we drew out the fury that seemed to stir just under the surface among the women there, and brought out the underlying cause of capitalism. We called on people to take inspiration from the women rising up in India, and to unleash the fury of women as a mighty force, to bring forth an understanding of the genuine communist revolution as Bob Avakian has re-envisioned it to get rid of the scourge of rape throughout the world.

So we began at a McDonalds where we talked to a few Black youth about the rape, but they were quiet and seemed almost afraid to speak about it. Then outside, a few women had lots to say. Toni said, "I don't care if a female is naked, NO IS NO!" She told how her daughter was raped at age 12 after a football game and went through the "legal" process but got nowhere. She said, "They want football here and that is that. You [females] can't be safe. I teach my six daughters that at these parties girls are waiting to be raped. I was totally drunk and raped at 14 and 15 years old. I was at a party, needed air, went to this guy's car and got raped. This case is a wakeup call. It is not supposed to be this way."

Then a Black woman joined the conversation and said, "The police do nothing. My brother was murdered and we gave them information but they don't care. And they aren't doing anything about this rape." We read BAsics 1:24 on the role of the police. We threw around the point that BA makes that the "law and order the police are about, ... enforces all this oppression and madness." And how the way they treat rape and the attacks on women is to ignore it or laugh at it or just say the "women were asking for it." Then Toni said, "It is always the girl that 'deserved it.' I was six years old when I was raped by my uncle. I am glad for the rally and the victim got a voice, which needed to happen and I applaud her parents and hope more people speak out. A student at my daughter's school said, 'they didn't rape that whore' and my daughter took it on. My daughter got into trouble for it. Coaches and some parents are blaming the girl, it is truly sick here."

Then we went to a small strip mall and got out our poster "From Delhi to Ohio and Around the World—If You Are Not Fighting Rape, You Are Condoning It!" and people checked that out. A woman came along and listened quietly to what we said about opposition to the rape. She said, "Some justice is never served and never will be," and when we told her how significant is the protest going on in India and the demonstration of 1,000 in Steubenville, she perked up. She told of how badly she was beaten, abused, and bruised by a man, and it was never reported. On the verge of tears, she spoke of her abuse and took the BAsics 3:22 card.

Then we met a young woman and her mother—the young woman was acquainted with the woman who was raped and knew the guys accused. She is home-schooled and wasn't at the parties but saw some of the photos on the Internet and told her mom, who raised an alarm about it. The young woman was very quiet but her hatred of this kind of behavior was evident. "It is wrong, it is wrong, it has to stop," they said. One of them said how it is as if the only way a woman is safe is if she locks herself away. They got a newspaper and wanted to know more about what can be done. In talking about India and the conditions of women there, the mother said, "I know they sometimes kill the infant if it is a girl, because girls are not wanted."

We went to a small neighborhood which was mixed with Black and white people. A few people were standing outside so we went up to them and started to talk about why we came and our message of revolution and communism. A white woman, Rene, had lots to say about Steubenville and the plight of women. Once the place was called "Sin City." She said prostitution is very big in this town, and then explained she had been in that life, but thankfully got out of it. Only a few months away from being deep into prostitution and drugs, she told of her experience of violence and abuse—having a gun held to her head and being raped; another time jumping out of a moving car to escape from danger in which a woman who was left in the car ended up dumped out and left—beaten, dead or unconscious. And she feels responsible for the fate of that woman, because she left her. Then we opened up a clip from Bob Avakian's Revolution talk. Rene listened to the beginning of "the postcards of the hanging" section, until she couldn't take the violence any more. But then she wanted to keep talking. She said how in this town, anybody that is part of Big Red football is protected, the coach has gotten players out of scrapes with the law by talking to judges, etc. We told her about getting connected to the movement against patriarchy and pornography, and gave her the article "From Delhi to Ohio" by Sunsara Taylor. She brightened up when she realized there is an outpouring of rage being organized to fight against the oppression of women.

An older white woman sitting on the stoop didn't say anything while we were talking to Rene, then said how she had been continually abused and raped by her stepfather since she was young, and it was all hushed up, so she has had this inside of her all these years. This is the way men are, she says, and this is how they will always be. At this point we brought out how, after China had made a revolution, in Shanghai, which had one of the largest red light districts in the world and opium was affecting millions, women went from having bound feet to seeing that outlawed, and prostitution ended in two years after the revolution. It happened because capitalism and the enslavement of China by imperialist powers were ended. Women who had been prostitutes now had jobs and women in general had dignity. We spoke about how BA has put out the solution and a re-envisioned socialism and communism. Rene took about 60 BAsics 3:22 palm cards to get out, and we got out several papers to people there.

A Black woman who bought a paper told how she keeps to herself in her apartment because of the violence among the people there. She listened intently to the Cornel West interview with Bob Avakian, liked it and thought she needed to think more about revolution as the solution.

Throughout the afternoon, women told their stories of abuse, rape, and how the powers-that-be and the police cover it all up, how women are told to "get over it" or are blamed and devalued for being raped. The women we talked to had not gone to the demonstrations there but knew about them and were excited they happened. They all said how rape and abuse goes on in Steubenville and nothing even comes out about it and that it is good it is coming out in this case, with people fighting back against the horror of that night for the 16-year-old youth who went to a party to be with friends and have some fun before school started but was gang-raped while many watched, cheered, laughed and some urinated on her. There was outrage at what happened that night and a need to fight back against the pervasive culture of rape, to fight back against the rape there. There was a beginning sense that perhaps there can be a way out of all the misery women go through here and around the world. There was a beginning feeling among the women there that all the hurt they felt inside themselves for years got expressed, and they felt inspired by the upsurge in India, that they could be part of this movement to Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution.

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