Earlier today, I wrote about the firing of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno in the aftermath of the sexual abuse allegations against his former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky. It is an utterly tragic case for obvious reasons; Sandusky is accused of molesting and raping eight boys over a period of 15 years and when a witness to one of his assaults reported it to his superiors, they didn’t go to the police. The case has illuminated just how far people will go to protect their “reputations” and to adhere to a chain of command rather than their own moral compass. The student protest/riot in State College, PA, following Paterno’s firing further emphasized that hero worship leaves otherwise decent people blind. The more I read, the more depressed I feel.
But I also came across one article that left me incredibly annoyed. Over at Jezebel, Erin Gloria Ryan has written a piece which asks the question, “What if Penn State’s coach had victimized girls?” and tries to make the point that if Sandusky’s victims had been female, the public, private, and media response to the allegations would be very different. While I wholeheartedly agree that female sexual assault victims are very often not taken seriously, and that they are somehow blamed, at least in part, for the crimes against them, etc., I have a serious problem with the Penn State scandal being used as an example of how male sexual assault victims are treated somehow “better” than female sexual assault victims. Keep reading »