From the Cry Me A River Department, I’ve just heard that a Georgia Tech football player, Jerrard Tarrant (could we get a few more r’s in there, buddy?), has been accused of rape and that people who give a shit about college football think it isn’t fair. Somebody call the wahmbulance.
You might ask how I, a sports-hating media-avoider, heard about a case such as this. I mean, among what I assume are the thousands of cases of athletes who have been accused of rape, how did I hear about this one? I was driving down Ponce de Leon here in Atlanta, minding my own business, when I ran headfirst into the most egregious example of misogyny I’ve seen since, like, at least two days ago. I turned on some FM radio station in an attempt to avoid listening to Sean Hannity or whatever super-obscure band’s CD that Davetavius had left in the CD player, and I came across a talk radio show in which two people, a man and a woman, were discussing the case.
They weren’t discussing the details of what had happened, the problem of college and professional athletes’ extreme egotism and disregard for the law, or the difficulty a rape victim faces when her attacker happens to be (somewhat/a little/locally) famous. They were talking about how shitty the whole thing must be for poor Mr. Tarrant. That’s right.
They spent probably a half an hour discussing the different aspects of how unfair the whole thing was to Tarrant and not one second discussing the fate of the accuser. First they talked about how unfortunate it was that Tarrant, some kind of big deal or other as far as football goes, would be suspended for an entire season. It would suck for him because it’s coming right in the middle of his rise to college football stardom, and it would suck for Georgia Tech because it’d put their team at a disadvantage this season. They also pointed out that it would make Georgia Tech look bad in comparison to Georgia, because I guess Georgia’s had their fair share of scandals involving Natural Ice-saturated ‘roid monkey players tearing up bars, kicking people’s asses, raping people, and stealing shit, and there’s some sort of rivalry going on between the two schools over that and whatever other bullshit makes people who didn’t go to college give a fuck about one school or another. I know people in the South are a little fruity about their college football, but is the most important thing here really whether or not a team has to make do without one of its players for a season? Guess so.
These two radio dildoes then began to wonder aloud what it must feel like to be Mr. Tarrant. The poor guy has to go to class with a bunch of people who know he’s been accused of rape. Aw, that really sucks, man. (Wait, why the fuck hasn’t he been suspended from classes at the school?) The radio hosts didn’t wonder what it might be like for the victim, who has, you know, been raped and all, and who has to go to school on a campus where people are more concerned with football stats than women’s human rights. If these two local radio “personalities” are any indication, I’d be a little more likely to worry about the victim suffering harassment and dirty looks than Tarrant. They were also worried about his future, because once these charges are dismissed (and they will be dismissed, you know), people will always remember him as the guy who got falsely accused of rape. John Bender was right, the world is an imperfect place.
They stopped just short of suggesting that men accused of rape deserve the same anonymity the courts pretend to guarantee for victims, although it was implied in a fairly heavy-handed fashion. I’m serious.
I personally don’t give a fuck, flying or not, about whether this woman’s story is true. What I do care about is the fact that these assholes on this radio program, one of whom was female (I just learned what “kapo” means – think I can call her one?), are operating under the assumption that the accusation is false. As in, a conviction would surprise these two like Milli Vanilli putting out another album or Eric Nies making a comeback would surprise me (I really want all three to happen).
As much as I try to avoid hearing or talking about anything having to do with the sensational crime case du jour, I have had to suffer through ignorant discussions of the Duke rape case. I’ve also been forced to hear a bunch of MRA bullshit about the Kobe Bryant case. Two cases in which rape charges failed to stick, one a bit of an embarrassment, the other a fucking travesty (I bet you have to think for a second about which of them I’m referring to with which noun). TWO. And sports talk radio knobs everywhere go on to assume that any woman accusing any athlete of rape is full of shit.
Well, guess what, assholes? Kobe Bryant did it. He’s gotten away with rape on several occasions in other countries by paying off or intimidating victims and their families, and he managed to do so here as well by hiring legal assassins to make the victim out to be a slut.
That’s how it works. People who have money and status get away with rape, and our culture’s tendency toward idolatry makes certain that athletes have plenty of both. The coaches, fans, and sporting media, all of whom are personally and/or financially invested in the success of “their” teams, all do their part to make sure that the general population (and the jury pool) know where their sympathies ought to lie, and the net result is that athletes get away with rape even more often than rapists who don’t wear protective undergarments do. Don’t believe me? Read this.
There’s no other way to say it: we as a culture care more about sports than a woman’s right to not be raped. Remember that shit. Write it down. Whether Georgia Tech wins a game or two this year matters more than whether or not you get raped.
I don’t want to get down on the South. I mean, I just saw a guy ride by on a motorcycle with a lot of chrome flames on it and its own sound system blaring a song I’d only expect to hear at around 3 AM at a gay dance club. It’s funny here. I kinda like it. But I don’t know whether the reaction to this case would be quite as counter-intuitive, counter-ethical, counter-logical, or counter-sane in another part of the country. I know that sports obsession has allowed rapists to go unpunished nationwide, but I think the emphasis on college sports in this region might just work in Tarrant’s favor with the judges, prosecutors, and juries he may face to an even greater extent than it might elsewhere.
And people wonder why I don’t have a lot of good things to say about sports (that’s sports with a lower-case “s,” because I have plenty of good things to say about “Sports” by Huey Lewis and the News). Not only are team sports a training tool for creating jingoistic assholes who are incapable of independent thought, not only are they a huge waste of time, money, energy, skill, talent, and nachos, but they’re also yet another cultural institution that protects men who abuse women and who abuse the (totally flawed) legal system.