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QUESTION OF THE WEEK… Sympathy?: How did the two Steubenville Rapists Elicit Sympathy…Is It Because We Are Guilty Too?


How did these two ‘promising young men’ end up committing an offence like rape?

‘My life is over, no one is going to want me now’ he says sobbing and collapsing. The parents are crying and the reporter describes the scene as one of the most difficult things she has ever had to watch. Sympathy is laid on thick as we cut back to studio to discuss how the day’s events will scar the lives of these ‘promising’ young men from Steubenville….. wait a second…time out…. those guys…. those guys who drugged and repeated sexually assaulted and raped a sixteen year old high school girl then spread the pictures across social media…. those ‘promising young men’.

CNN’s coverage has been widely criticized. In fact, as the Huffington Post reported… this parody from The Onion, published over a year ago, actually captures the tone of the report accurately:

However, before we race, like many others, to slam CNN and their reporters, is it worth asking ourselves how they and we got here? What would elicit sympathy for these two ‘promising young men’?

That is really the pivotal point on which, we here at ReclaimingPink, think turns the coverage around. Take a look at these two boys and you don’t see monsters or vicious criminals. Neither boy seemed to have gang affiliations and all four parents were in the courtroom. These two boys look like our brothers, our friends on Facebook, our sons. CNNs coverage raises a question:

How did these two ‘promising young men’ end up committing an offence like rape? Are they sexual predators in disguise? Was this just a ‘big mistake’? Does North American society, popular culture or media contribute in someway? Are there lessons we could learn to ensure that this is a freak one-off incident? What will you do with your sons to ensure that, regardless of their blood alcohol level, this would never cross their minds?

So we are, in this new segment, throwing it out to you…. Leave your thoughts here or on Facebook and we will copy them over. Alternatively you can email them to us at and we will publish them anonymously unless you request otherwise.

Due to the sensitive nature of this discussion, this is a moderated forum and it may take a few hours for your comment to appear. 

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