On Wednesday, the trial will begin for two high school boys charged with raping a young girl at a party. Their story — and the story of their town, Steubenville, OH — has captured national attention, bringing a focus onto football culture, social media, and the issue of consent.
The alleged victim isn’t from Steubenville. She’s from a town in West Virginia, across the Ohio river. But she was at a Steubenville party one night in August of 2012, where the attack is said to have occurred. Reports, and a rather incriminating video, indicate that the two boys sexually assaulted the girl over several hours, in the back of a moving car and, later, in a basement. The assault allegedly included anal and vaginal penetration and urination.
As the trial begins, here’s what you should know about the boys, the victim, and the town of Steubenville:
There is a clear media narrative at work now: That two boys, just trying to get by on the love of football, are facing the trials of a public court, and that they might be denied the chance to play again. But that line bumps up against a broader conversation that is just beginning to crack the surface of the mainstream: That women’s bodies shouldn’t be seen as commodities, and that our culture needs to stop teaching women not to get raped and start teaching men not to rape in the first place.