I have been rather surprised by the media coverage of Penn State rape cases. I am not shocked that something involving a popular coach received so much media attention. However, I am shocked by several media personalities and reporters objecting to the language being used in the media to describe what happened.
The media tends to refer to any rape against boys as “sex,” “tryst,” “affair” or “relationship.” Few call it “abuse” or “molestation,” and fewer call it “rape.” So I was surprised to see some reporters questioning that. As Buzz Bissinger puts it:
Note: we need to stop the daintiness and describe the alleged offenses for what they truly are in the vernacular to somehow try to capture the monstrousness. Not anal intercourse or oral sex, which sounds clinical, but butt-f–king and blowjobs and cock-grabbing and pants-groping and other assorted acts that the 67-year-old Sandusky allegedly inflicted on eight minor victims over a 15-year span, according to the 23-page grand-jury report, and resulted in 40 counts of serial sex abuse of minors.
People dance around the allegations rather than calling them what they are. Reporting policies prevent journalists from using the language that Bissinger used, but he has a point. Every time we refer to this as molestation, we do kind of downplay the severity of what happened. Calling anal rape “butt-fucking” stops anyone from pretending it is harmless. Saying that Sandusky gave blowjobs to 11-year-olds makes what he did a little more real. You cannot avoid it. The vulgarity forces you to see it for what it is.
It is good to see some the media finally acknowledging this, especially as it relates to male victims. What Sandusky did was terrible, and there is no reason to dance around that.
Speaking of which, the Grand Jury report on the Sandusky case is available online. It is graphic and detailed. It is clear from the reports that these boys accused Sandusky of rape. As I noted, this is graphic:
Victim 4 stated that Sandusky would wrestle with him and maneuver him into a position in which Sandusky’s head was at Victim 4’s genitals and Victim 4’s head was at Sandusky’s genitals. Sandusky would kiss Victim 4’s inner thighs and genitals. Victim 4 described Sandusky rubbing his genitals on Victim 4’s face and inserting his erect penis in Victim 4’s mouth. There were occasions when this would result in Sandusky ejaculating. He testified that Sandusky also attempted to penetrate Victim 4’s anus with both a finger and his penis. There was slight penetration and Victim 4 resisted these attempts. Sandusky never asked to do these things but would simply see what Victim 4 would permit him to do. Sandusky did threaten to send him home from the Alamo Bowl in Texas when Victim 4 resisted his advances. Usually the persuasion Sandusky employed was accompanied by gifts and opportunities to attend sporting and charity events.
Every boy, now men, who testified reported that they did not want to do these things. I think that is important not as it relates to Sandusky’s acts, but also rape committed by women. All of these boys wanted it to stop, but only a few did anything in the moment to stop it. Most basically hid from Sandusky after months of abuse.
It is not easy for victims of abuse to stop it, especially if it is a person they like or a person who helps them in ways no one else can or will.
The other truly sick thing about the report is that so many people knew what this man did, and yet no one did anything to stop him. Only once were the police involved, but the case was closed. It is as if people literally did not care what this man did even though they were all disgusted by it.