There Is Nothing I Love More Than A Good Redemption Story

TW for rape and physical abuse. 

You know what I love more than anything in the world? REDEMPTION. I wake up in the morning and say to myself, “Self, it is about time that we go see some people get redeemed! They have suffered long enough for this silly ‘covering up the rape of children’ and ‘perpetrating a culture in which football is more important than making sure that rapists get prosecuted’ thing. Why should we worry about deconstructing the sports culture of violence, toxic masculinity, and rape culture that leads to these acts? No, they’ve been punished already and it’s been practically months. It’s about time we pay attention to the real victims of the Penn State scandals: the football team and fans of Penn State!”

Which is why, of course, I was overjoyed to discover that Penn State’s Bill O’Brien is up for Coach of the Year.

Now, I’m not saying that Penn State delenda est and we must salt the football field to make sure that nothing ever grows there again. (Although… can we?) I would just like to point out that despite all the people getting extremely upset, sometimes in this very comment section, about what it would mean for the TEAMS and the FANS of Penn State and how could we PUNISH these INNOCENTS with our CRUEL INSISTENCE that if your football team is more important than fucking preventing child rape that you should probably stop this whole ‘football’ thing until you figure out why you think that… despite all those people, the Penn State football team as a whole seems to be experiencing very few negative consequences. We seem to have collectively decided it was the fault of a few bad apples a whole fucking barrel of bad apples.

To quote the piece I linked, “This need to move on so quickly, to already be celebrating PSU football again is a symptom of that damaging obsessive, hero-making football culture.”

And dear God I’m familiar with damaging, obsessive, hero-making cultures. I’m a fan, okay? I am a fan of X-Men First Class, the star of which broke his girlfriend’s nose, ankle, kneecap, and fucking ovarian cyst. I am familiar with the impulse to stop fucking talking about abuse and to just be allowed to love the thing you love again. But the thing is that that impulse to stop talking about abuse is exactly what gives powerful people the permission to abuse. You can beat up your girlfriend and, unless you’re black, your career won’t take a hit. You can cover up rape and within a season they’ll be talking about atonement and about giving the football team a break. Or, in a microcosm (because this doesn’t just apply to famous people, it would be bad enough if it did but it doesn’t), you can abuse your partner and your friends will say to your victim, “don’t you think you should forgive her? Are you sure it wasn’t just a bad day? She’s cool, it was probably just a fluke. God, why can’t you just go to the party, don’t ruin everyone else’s fun because of your bad breakup. She’s willing to forgive you, why aren’t you willing to forgive her?”

Again and again and again we grant abusers permission because abuse and rape are depressing and horrible to talk about, abuse and rape on the part of people we like and who make us happy are even more depressing and horrible to talk about, and we just want to shut up about it and watch the football game already. Isn’t it time they redeemed themselves?

And as long as we keep granting that permission there will be more than enough abusers and rapists and supporters of abusers and rapists to take advantage of it.

Photo credit– juliejordanscott/Flickr. A protest of violence and rape culture. 

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About ozyfrantz

Ozy Frantz is a student at a well-respected Hippie College in the United States. Zie bases most of zir life decisions on Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, and identifies more closely with Pinkie Pie than is probably necessary. Ozy can be contacted at [email protected] or on Twitter as @ozyfrantz. Writing is presently Ozy's primary means of support, so to tip the blogger, click here.

Comments

  1. Redemption is awesome, but it has to be *real* and it’s much better not to have to be redeemed in the first place. :(

  2. FHIIOFJDSK:LGJ:KLGDJ Whole post deleted and I was typing for half an hour, this is… GAH!

    FJKL:FDJSL:KGJ

    Okay, I’ll summarize

    1) The punishment was less than ideal. It kept the team out of bowl contention and conference championship contention for a year, and allowed recruiting from other schools. This hurts the Penn State fans, players, and the NFL scouts, none of whom are to blame.
    A) The fans are hurt because we can’t see our guys competing for the championship.
    B) The players are hurt because they can’t compete in the big games, and will likely not have as good of a chance in the NFL if they choose to go.
    C) The teams that wanted a PSU player will be unable to see them when the pressure’s really on.

    2) The NCAA Death Penalty, which would have been preferable, keeps a team out of contention for 4 years, doesn’t allow teams to play at all for one year, and only allows away games for one year, while allowing players to leave, or continue under their current scholarships, as they so choose.
    A) In this case, the fans will still be hurt. Unlike in the current example, however, we don’t still get to watch Penn State play every week, thus dimishing our enthusiasm and excitement about the program, which will harm the administration.
    B) Players are not hurt. Like in the current example, they are allowed to choose to stay, or go. However, those who are at Penn State solely for football will choose to go, rather than just some of them, while those who are at Penn State for an education can stay on and get an education without football.
    C) Players whose career goals include the NFL are likely to leave. Thus, NFL scouts will see them in high-value situations.

    3) The Death Penalty will primarily punish the administration, who are the ones who deserve to be punished.
    A) The new administration has many people uninvolved with the scandal.
    B) The new administration will not be likely to have to deal with a pedophile in their midst, and if they do, I expect them to learn their lesson.
    C) The lesson that needs to be learned is not “Do not hide pedophiles,” which is an extremely specific lesson and will likely not come up again. The lesson that needs to be learned is “Do not place sports above people,” which was not learned.
    D) This would have been learned, and thus, it would have helped the administration develop a new mindset, not simply a new rule.

    That’s the summary, anyway.

    • Good point, the punishments were not applied thoughtfully and ended up punishing the wrong people.

      Now we have a backlash against those punishments because the wrong people (ie. student athletes) suffer disproportionately. Which is why people push the “redemption” story.

      And the lesson isn’t learned.

  3. Please, Penn State got off easy. Ohio State ended up getting a year bowl-ban because a few students sold their championship memorabilia and accepted some benefits from people they shouldn’t be getting benefits from, and the coach didn’t report enough of the violations. Because the NCAA couldn’t be bothered to establish the bowl-ban for the season after said incidents happened (2010) and didn’t think the University’s self-imposed sanctions were harsh enough, Ohio State is out of the championships/bowls for the 2012 season, despite being undefeated this year.
    No, I’m not bitter or anything.

  4. Amnesia – Penn State got something that was too harsh for the wrong people (players, fans) and too easy for the right ones (administration

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