Today in Rape Culture

[Trigger warning for sexual violence.]

I read the following two stories back-to-back:

14-Year-Old Girl Raped in Bathroom After Being Used as Bait:
[T]eachers and administrators knew that one of their students had been sexually harassing and propositioning girls at Sparkman Middle School in Alabama. However, no action had been taken against him by the school. So one teacher decided on the same tactic as Upper St. Claire's principal: girl-as-bait. The teacher coerced 14-year-old B.H.J., an African-American student who had reported being repeatedly sexually harassed, into meeting her tormentor in a bathroom, assuring her that they would "catch him." But nobody followed B.H.J. into the bathroom, and nobody stopped her from being raped; the teacher simply went back to her classroom and waited. B.H.J. is reported as being severely traumatized and in an almost completely non-communicative state.
Cheerleader Required to Cheer for Man Who Assaulted Her:
High school football star Rakheem Bolton and two others were indicted for sexual assault of a child–identified only as H.S.–at a post-game party in 2008. According to H.S.–a fellow student and cheerleader at Silsbee High–Bolton, football player Christian Rountree and another juvenile male forced her into a room, locked the door, held her down and sexually assaulted her. When other party-goers tried to get into the room, two of the men fled through an open window, including Bolton, who left clothing behind. Bolton allegedly threatened to shoot the occupants of the house when the homeowner refused to return his clothes.

In September 2010, Bolton pled guilty to a lesser charge of Class A Assault and was sentenced to one year in prison, a sentence that was suspended by the judge in lieu of two years probation, a $2,500 fine, community service and an anger management course.

Silsbee school officials had two responses to the incident. First, they urged H.S. to keep a low profile, such as avoiding the school cafeteria and not taking part in homecoming activities. With the support of her family, she refused to do so, rejecting the notion that she had anything to be ashamed of. Secondly, school officials kicked her off the cheerleading squad for refusing to cheer for Bolton. No kidding.

Bolton had been allowed back on campus during a brief period when one grand jury withdrew the charges before another grand jury reinstated them. During a basketball game, H.S. cheered for the entire team but refused to cheer "Rakheem" during his free-throws, so she was off the squad.
There are, at each link, action items for allies to take in order to support the two girls.

When I was raped by a high school athlete, "school officials" were first dubious that he would do such a thing, since he was a letterman and an honor's student. (So was I.) Then they wanted to make sure I knew I was a real asshole for causing distractions to someone whose team depended on his clarity of thought. Then they locked us in a room to "work out our differences." And that was that.

That was 20 years ago. And nothing has changed.

I long for the day when the best many "school officials" have got isn't just trying to shut up victims of sexual violence by making them feel like pieces of shit.

Support BHJ. Support HS.

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