Founded in 1974, the Women’s Center was established to:
Dismantle, from a feminist perspective, all forms of oppression, including but not limited to those based on ability, age, class, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Advocate for an equitable environment free from violence and harassment based on gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Create an anti-racist, non-sexist, queer-affirmative space where all people can feel valued and safe.
Facilitate and strengthen connections among people across lines of difference through programming and educational campaigns.
Integrate an appreciation of Women's Gender and Multicultural Studies across the disciplines.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
"At What Point Does Social Status Trump Social Justice?"
All too often in our society, we see injustices occur when the perpetrator is of a particular social status. Politicians, actors, athletes and other socialites are given the benefit of the doubt in situations which would have any 'ordinary' person in a great deal of trouble.
One particular instance of this that has been bugging me lately is the Ben Roethlisberger sexual assault case. I myself am not a huge football fan. Sure, football is a great excuse to make Sundays a day of relaxing on the couch and procrastinating from doing homework. And admittedly, I have been known to cheer at the occasional close game, but football is not something I live to watch. My boyfriend on the other hand is a huge football fan, particularly loyal to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The other day we were watching TV and there was a news brief about the Roethlisberger sexual assault case. For those of you who are not familiar with what happened, on March 5th of this year, he was accused of sexually assaulting a 20-year-old female college student in a Georgia nightclub. According to the victim's friends, she was dragged by a bodyguard to the back room of Capital City, the nightclub, where Roethlisberger then followed.
In her official statement, the victim wrote, "I still said no, this is not OK, and he then had sex with me. He said it was OK. He then left without saying anything." Several weeks later at his hearing, there was not enough evidence to convict Roethlisberger of any wrong-doing. The sexual assault laws in Georgia require evidence that there was no consent and that force was used; it is also often harder to prove that a sexual assault occurred when alcohol was involved. Roethlisberger was however suspended for the first six games of the season. That is of course until late last week when his suspension was reduced to four games because, according to the NFL's commissioner, he has " done a good job this summer of growing as the person that he needs to be, both on and off the field."
So let me understand this fully...he is tried for an alleged sexual assault and not only is there "not enough evidence" to convict him (disregard the medical exam which found surface lacerations and vaginal bleeding, as well as trace DNA evidence, the victim's official statement, and eyewitness accounts) but he is essentially rewarded for his "improved" behavior by having his suspension knocked down. Did we forget about the prior allegations against him in 2008, in which he allegedly assaulted a woman in a 2008 Lake Tahoe resort? Tell me why it is that professional athletes are not only favored in a court of law but are allowed to return to their careers with relatively no punishment. What kind of message is this sending to our society? If you are accused of rape, you'll be fine as long as you have some sort of higher social status or are a star athlete? I think that it's about time that people, regardless of their status, be held responsible for their actions and be made an example of.
Looking at Big Ben's track record and his numerous stunts over the years (a 2006 motorcycle accident, and ANOTHER alleged sexual assault in 2008) it is clear to me that this may not be his last run-in with the law. But sure, knock down his sentence and let him play without any punishment. After all, football is way more important than a victim getting justice.