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April 24, 2014 / 24 Nisan, 5774
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An American Tragedy in Steubenville

The greatest tragedy made manifest in Steubenville is the attitude of teenage men toward girls.
Defense attorney Walter Madison, right, holds 16-year-old Ma'lik Richmond as judge Thomas Lipps announces his verdict on Sunday.

Defense attorney Walter Madison, right, holds 16-year-old Ma'lik Richmond as judge Thomas Lipps announces his verdict on Sunday.

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Something analogous is happening with the growing sexualization of women wherein teen boys are being taught to see young women not as their equals but as the walking fulfillment of their sexual desires. This is an issue I addressed a few years ago in a full-length book called Hating Women, but it only gotten worse. I had a seventeen-year-old boy, from a leading prep school, tell me how angry he was at a sixteen-year-old girl he knew because she had gone out on a date with a friend of his and had not given him anything sexual. “Not even a hand job. Can you believe it? She’s just a ….tease.” He said this with righteous indignation. A girl like that, who refuses to play the roll accorded her by a secular society that uses women’s bodies to sell beer, cars, and everything in between, is often called a ‘b—h’ for not playing ball. Who does this uppity girl think she is anyway, not to give men their rightful due?

That this is attitude is becoming prevalent among teen boys is evident from how the two accused sent pictures of a drunken girl to all their friends, posting them on the internet, and there was no outrage. Just another guy feeling entitled to see a girl as some drunken ‘dead body’ who was there for his erotic enjoyment.

There was a time when men were raised to be gentleman. Society impressed upon them the need to nurture, protect, and take care of women. Yes, I know it all sounds pretty mushy today, and many a woman would dismiss such sentiments as patriarchal, patronizing, and hopelessly sexist. But is it really too much to ask that when a girl is drunk and helpless, a young man feels the obligation to get her safely home to her parents, enjoying their thanks and the feeling of being a gentleman as something far more pleasurable than whatever sexual thrills her drunkenness can provide?

We males combine within our person the carnal desires of the animal as well as the spiritual transcendence of the uniquely human. The struggle between the two is felt within us constantly. Employing our freedom to choose moral behavior over outrageous indulgence is a serious battle and one that should be helped by an overarching culture that trains boys from their earliest days to respect women as equals and to see in them a divine image rather than the breathing realization of an erotic urge.

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About the Author: Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi” whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is the international best-selling author of 29 books, including The Fed-up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.


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7 Responses to “An American Tragedy in Steubenville”

  1. Keith David Reitman says:

    Bravo, Rabbi Shmuley. I gained insight about the modern conditioning of our youth and adults, from your article.

  2. Dan Silagi says:

    What does Madonna have to do with this, ******ley? Or Miley Cyrus? You're implying that this girl, by being hot, brought this upon herself. This was an act of drunken debauchery, which 30 years ago, might have not been prosecuted because the football coach, who seems to be a real villian here (NOT Joe Paterno, who was made a scapegoat) had these kids' backs. What made the difference here is that social media, even though misused, brought the story out in the open and prosecution was made necessary for that reason. And the punks, through social media, were hoisted upon their own petard.

    Leave Madonna out of this, you moralizing twerp.

  3. Keith David Reitman says:

    Why the dirty name calling of others, Mr. Silagi? The Rabbi wrote an article, and you had, and still have, an opportunity to comment about it and share your opinions with others. I found the Rabbi's mentioning of Madonna and Miley Cyrus useful in understanding his argument about the sexualizing of youth. Conversely your raging and rambling tirade was not useful, at all. You might, in future, consider your opportunity to comment as your opportunity to convince folks of your opinion. if you view your commenting opportunities in that light, you will likely think harder before you open your pie hole, or unclench your digits. I hope this is helpful.

  4. Dan Silagi says:

    This kind of stuff went on long before Madonna was born, and for Boteach to blame it on Madonna is about as specious as preachers of the past blaming Elvis or Little Richard or Jerry Lee Lewis for the amoral turpitude of the good ol' boys of the 1950's who got girls drunk and raped them. We don't need Boteach, who once said (I was there) that 40% of Jewish men are porn addicts and if they would buy Boteach's book, they'd be cured. My friend and I walked out of the lecture, which as I recall was in February of 2008, in disgust.

    What makes this situation somewhat novel is that these *******s bragged about what they did on Facebook, and posted videos, which I find particularly disgusting. That, of course, is what caught them. Had this happened in the 1950's, they would have skated, and the case almost certainly never would have been investigated.

    As for my pie hole, wanna put your fist in it? C'mon, boychik. Bring it.

  5. Dan Silagi says:

    This kind of stuff went on long before Madonna was born, and fundamentalist hypocrites of the 1950's blamed it on rock 'n roll, which "sexualized" youth. In those days, it was this "Negro" music, and white interpretations of same from the likes of Elvis and Jerry Lee.

    In his way, Boteach is essentially blaming the victim, just as has been done since time immemorial. Had some good 'ol boys of the 1950's gotten a girl stone drunk and raped her, they would almost certainly have gotten away with it. But in this case, these *******s bragged about it on Facebook and Twitter, and took the videos which ended up incriminating them. Therein lies the difference. But instead of talking about the benefits of social media, in that the perps hoised themselves upon their own petard, Boteach yammers on about the "sexualization" of youth.

    Rape is not a crime of "sexualiztion." It's a crime of violence. You and Boteach need to get this through your thick skulls.

  6. Keith David Reitman says:

    Yes, Mr. Silagi, "rape is a crime of violence". Rape of a child is a compound crime as it is also pedophilia. The distressing trend toward the sexualization of children is an abomination that is a serious element in the broad and general endangerment of children in our society. Please continue to tone down your dirty name calling; it makes you appear like a disturbed child. You are likely better than that…

  7. Dan Silagi says:

    I'll tell you what, Reitman. I'll write whatever the hell I want. If you have a problem with that, tough.

    Boteach is nothing more than an opportunist who seizes on a tragedy to garner publicity for himself. The worst example of this was with one of his "bochurim," Michael Jackson. He's "America's Rabbi" as much as the Atlanta Braves are "America's Team." Or the Minnesota Twins.

    And this was NOT a case of pedophilia. There were no adults attacking kids. The victim and her attackers were the same age.

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