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.