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Entering Steubenville

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The one thing Steubenville taught would-be rapists is that they shouldn't use the Internet or social networks to publicize their exploits. Actually, what the two convicted football players were guilty of was not only rape but hubris. Theirs was really an act of post-modern rape to the extent that they sought to turn it into a media event, where their predecessors did anything to hide their acts. Some serial killers demonstrate the same need to not only commit crimes, but to call attention themselves and even taunt their pursuers.

The one thing that the post-modern rapist and his predecessor have in common is the need to gain the complicity, silence and sometimes brainwashing of the victim into the belief that forced sex was consensual. Here the Stockholm Syndrome comes into play. How many women or men who have been raped have ended up excusing an act by telling themselves they'd brought it on? It's one way to get out of having to go through the unpleasant and frightening process of accusing someone of a crime -- a process that, incidentally, requires some degree of belief in oneself, amidst the torrents of self doubt that can be brought to bear in any situation in which someone is fucking not only with you but your head.

When Freud repudiated the seduction theory (the argument that hysteria and other symptoms were brought about by suppressed recollections of events that actually occurred), he opened up the whole world of incestuous and transgressive fantasy that's at the heart of the Oedipus complex. But sometimes a predator really does take advantage of a situation, as was apparently the case with the inebriated girl in the Steubenville tragedy. The seduction isn't a fantasy. It's real.

This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.