Feminist and black-centric blogs were blazing this morning because of excerpt from a recent interview French Open winner Serena William had with the iconic Rolling Stone magazine that otherwise showed her in a very non-flattering light. It was a Q&A for its website, and during the interview, attention had turned momentarily to the news on TV in which the Steubenville High School rape case was being discussed. While the Q&A was certainly more than just that, RS chose to include a quote from Williams about her thoughts about the matter, and more interestingly, the victim:
We watch the news for a while, and the infamous Steubenville rape case flashes on the TV – two high school football players raped a drunk 16-year-old, while other students watched and texted details of the crime. Serena just shakes her head. “Do you think it was fair, what they got? They did something stupid, but I don’t know. I’m not blaming the girl, but if you’re a 16-year-old and you’re drunk like that, your parents should teach you: Don’t take drinks from other people. She’s 16, why was she that drunk where she doesn’t remember? It could have been much worse. She’s lucky. Obviously, I don’t know, maybe she wasn’t a virgin, but she shouldn’t have put herself in that position, unless they slipped her something, then that’s different.”
As a celebrated figure in sports, and especially women in sports, a universal letdown was expressed for Williams’ apparent take on the infamous violation against women’s rights and rape. While the media was all too hyper to paint Serena as insensible, it was again an issue of the circumstance of blaming the victim.
Today, in a link from her official Twitter account, the tennis pro has issued a statement about her true thoughts along with an apology:
“What happened in Steubenville was a real shock for me. I was deeply saddened. For someone to be raped, and at only sixteen, is such a horrible tragedy! For both families involved – that of the rape victim and of the accused. I am currently reaching out to the girl’s family to let her know that I am deeply sorry for what was written in the Rolling Stone article. What was written – what I supposedly said – is insensitive and hurtful, and I by no means would say or insinuate that she was at all to blame.
I have fought all of my career for women’s equality, women’s equal rights, respect in their fields – anything I could do to support women I have done. My prayers and support always goes out to the rape victim. In this case, most especially, to an innocent sixteen year old child.”
Williams has done the right thing in trying to clarify her stance on the Steubenville case, and while her original quote included some major flaws in how she vocalized her initial reaction, the bigger picture that may had been trying to convey was that women must always put their safety first at their own discretion because you can’t allow yourself to be anesthetized in any shape or form when they are so many individuals willing to do so much harm.
–C. Shardae Jobson (@lavishrebellion)