• Wed, Jun 19 2013

‘She’s Lucky’: Serena Williams Believes Steubenville Sexual Assault Victim Is At Fault

Serena Williams blames the Steubenville rape victim

All aboard the slut-shaming, victim-blaming train! First passenger: Serena Williams. Remember that whole “Steubenville” thing that happened? You know, the “little incident” wherein a young teenager was sexually assaulted by Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond while incapacitated after drinking alcohol? Well, people are still inexplicably feeling sorry for the rapists — not the victim — and Williams is apparently a vocal guest at that party.

During an interview with Rolling Stone, the Steubenville case happened to come on television. Williams felt the need to comment in a most vile manner:

“Do you think it was fair, what they 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.”

Hey, folks, good news: we can all go home on this whole “rape” thing because rapists are just people who made silly wittle mistakes! No, wait, that’s the exact opposite of the truth: they chose to violate another human being without that person’s consent. Did the girl do something stupid? I mean, drinking alcohol in huge quantities is generally dumb for all of us, but that has literally nothing to do with whether or not we are sexually assaulted — it has to do with the physical pain that accompanies the consumption of a ton of booze.

The worst thing that should’ve happened to that girl is that she got a fucked up hangover and threw up in the morning. She chose to drink, and therefore would deserve that consequence. Drinking = sick stomach! However, drinking =/= being raped. She didn’t choose to be sexually assaulted, victimized and then emotionally tortured for months; I think we can all agree (or, apparently not, actually) that drinking isn’t the cause of rape. Rapists are the cause of rape, because they rape people.

There’s no inherent need for Serena Williams to be a role model, nor inspire women, nor root for them, nor stand up for them. But there is absolutely zero reason for her to shame rape victims into feeling like their assaults are their own faults; as a public figure, that is irresponsible. To encourage the belief that those who survive rapes are somehow at fault because another human being – one who was fully in control of his actions – chose to sexually violate them without their consent is irresponsible.

[UPDATE: For Williams' response to the backlash against her comments, see here.]

Photo: Getty Images

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  • JLH1986

    I’m curious as to how exactly “it could have been worse” other than the boys actually killing her? And “maybe she wasn’t a virgin” is she implying that only virgins can be raped? She should keep her mouth shut and stick to whining about who has done her wrong on the tennis court.

    • KefkaPelazzo

      Maybe it could have happened when she was six and she could have been male thereby increasing the social stigma attached to being raped. You obviously aren’t very creative.

    • JLH1986

      I work in the mental health field, specifically with homeless men with dual diagnosis of mh and substance abuse. Well over 60% of those men suffered sexual abuse as children. Rape/sexual abuse isn’t a competition, rape is rape regardless of gender. And I don’t need to be more creative but if you like to sit around dreaming up ways rape could be worse, you have far bigger issues than “competitive rape”.

    • KefkaPelazzo

      Actually I wasn’t speaking out of personal experience, but kind of you to assume.

      I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the one who stated a curiosity as to “how exactly” it could have been worse, as a matter of record.

      It really doesn’t need to be a form of sexual abuse.

      There is torture, itself a whole catalog of harm that could be done that has nothing to do with sex, going after members of one’s family, going after the legal and judicial system that tries to protect citizens from such abuses as has happened any number of times in American history. There are common elements found in the literature, cinema, and the news around the world. Ever viewed any plays by Shakespeare or Hemingway? Taken a look at the news, lately?

      I write dark fiction as a hobby, so anybody who says anything like ‘I can’t imagine how XYZ could have been worse’ is going to pretty much provoke a response regardless of the subject at hand. =]

    • Debra Rollins

      Worse? She could have been killed!

  • Heather

    How on earth can anyone feel sorry for the rapists? I believe that rape is the absolute worst thing one person can do to another.

    I feel sorry for Serena Williams for being so stupid.

    • Debra Rollins

      16 drunk, rape, wrong. Making adult decisions and not expecting adult consequences, wrong. These “boys” should get adult time for the adult decisions they chose to make. 16 y/o should grow up before making adult decisions she is obviously not capable of making. I agree with Serena only in the fact she should never have allowed herself to be put in that situation. That still does not give anyone the right to abuse her. Why do teens drink? What are they trying to prove? Where is parental control on both sides? I can hear the parents now. “I didn’t know there was drinking at the party” You should have checked. The parents probably didn’t know the 16 y/o was even going to a party. She sure wasn’t going to tell them that there would be drinking. Peer pressure, probably. You have a mind of your own. If you want to act like an adult, think like one, stay out of dangerous situations. Serena should keep her mouth shut and her racket swinging.

  • Jen

    What a fucking idiot.

  • Edi

    What the Fuuuuuuuuuck?!?!?!?!

  • mema

    She is a douche for lots of reasons including this comment.

  • Newt

    Why was she that drunk? Umm maybe cuz they slipped her something?

    Jesus, celebrities are getting dumber each year.

    • KefkaPelazzo

      No more so than the rest of us.

    • Debra Rollins

      Slipping something in her “drink”? Maybe she should not be drinking at 16. Just sayin.

  • anna

    Can you imagine if all the people who imply drunk=deserving rape were put in that situation? How many times have they been drunk?
    Oh no, but they weren’t THAT drunk, so they don’t deserve rape. Also, they are all virgins, so they don’t deserve rape.
    Seriously though, I wish someone would call them out on it next time they’re drunk. Not rape them of course, just be like hey, by your logic…

  • H8ignorance

    What an ignorant, uneducated comment to make. Of course it wasn’t a smart choice, but that in no way excuses the act of rape! You really shouldn’t be throwing stones when living in a glass house. Next to the words, “perfect” and, “has never made a mistake in her life”, I don’t see Serena’s picture. So the fact that she is a tennis player, I guess we’re lucky that she is not a sociopath. Considering her lack of empathy and sympathy.

  • KefkaPelazzo

    Actions have consequences. Some worse than others. It is a dark world out there. Those who aren’t willing to acknowledge that rape can, does, and will continue to happen in such situations are only going to perpetuate the problem. There is a deal of wisdom, even if insensitively phrased, to Serena’s words.

  • lost child….

    its people like her that at the age of 14 I was rape…Im 55 and it still haunts me..I never report it…after the rape I went to drugs to easy the pain..I lost my childhood….Sorry Serena some people don’t get raised with parents who teach them that guys can be so fuck up …and it could of been worse,,,well sometimes I wish I died that night..I pray to God no one ever goes through that,,,even you,,Serena

  • Erik

    I can somewhat sympathize. While I don’t think Serena did a very good job of communicating her point, I don’t think she is wrong (except maybe the severity of the punishment part. Those boys desrve to have the book thrown at them). I have been lambasted (and am probably about to be again) for saying something similar. While I don’t excuse the culpability of the rapists even one tiny bit, you are ultimately responsible for your own well being. You can’t trust in the good nature of others. I wish we could. We can teach young men to respect others and that sexual assault and rape are heinous crimes perpetrated by the worst kinds of people but there will still be sicko rapist in the world. Since my daughters cannot rely on anyone else to look out for them it is my job to teach them how to look out for themselves. Its just the way the world is and until we can cure sociopathic callousness that is how the world will continue to be.