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WATCH: The best response yet to the Steubenville rape case
A 19-year-old film student's 26-second video hits back with a simple, resonant message
 

The Steubenville, Ohio, rape case has been called "rape culture's Abu Ghraib moment." A leaked video showing young men laughing as they talked about carrying around an unconscious woman they had just raped shocked the nation. And even after last week's conviction of two of the offending high school football players — Trent Myers, 17, and Ma'lik Richmond, 16 — University of Oregon film student Samantha Stendal, 19, felt that many Americans seemed to think that the victim's alleged drunkenness somehow made her partially to blame. So Stendal put together a simple but powerful 26-second video called A Needed Response. It has racked up more than 1.4 million views on YouTube in just five days. (Watch it above.)

In the video — which Stendal intended for "the Steubenville rapists...or any rapists out there" — a young man stands in front of a woman who is lying down, apparently asleep on a couch. "Hey bros, check who passed out on the couch," the young man says, gesturing toward the woman. "Guess what I'm going to do to her." Then he gets a pillow, gently placing it under her head. He covers her with a blanket, and places a cup of water nearby. Then he turns to the camera and says: "Real men treat women with respect."

"I can't believe this video is actually necessary," says Adam Mordecai at Upworthy. "However, dudes need to learn how consent works." Stendal, of course, isn't the first person to push back against the abuse of women and the widespread tendency to shift blame from rapists to their victims — remember all of those SlutWalk rallies? But there's still something refreshing about Stendal's short and sweet video, says Joanna Weiss at The Boston Globe, "which removes the charged language and the justifiable anger, and introduces the kind of blissfully simple idea that high school and college students should be able to understand": Just treat other people with basic human decency. "Over and out and there you have it: The most concise, useful addition I've seen in awhile to this old, sad conversation about alcohol, sex, and safety."

 
Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami HeraldFox News, and ABC News.

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