Poppy Harlow is a douchebag, and so are her friends.

by Janelle Hanchett

Poppy Harlow, you’re a douchebag. And so are you, ­­Candy Crowley. And Lester Holt, thank YOU for your insightful words in response to the rape of a 16-year-old

These people are a bigger threat to America than Caillou. FOR SURE.

girl in Steubenville, Ohio: “In many ways, tonight stands as a cautionary tale to a generation that has come of age in the era of social networking.”


And let’s all lament their “promising football careers” and the “lasting effects of jail time” on boys so young.

I have an idea: If you don’t want to go to jail, don’t rape people.

And let’s emphasize how sorry these boys were and really, REALLY emphasize how drunk intoxicated out-of-her mind this victim was. Let’s make it clear that she made some seriously unladylike choices that put her in a position to be raped and THOSE POOR BOYS they were just BOYS being BOYS. I mean, what are they supposed to do when faced with an unprotected vagina?

Just for funsies, let’s play a little game. Let’s pretend the female who was raped was a male. Let’s pretend a 16-year-old boy got drunk, fell semi-conscious and was raped and urinated on by classmates, and it was video-taped and texted about.


Wouldn’t the rapists be monsters, now? Wouldn’t they be sick fucks who took advantage of a person who was just having fun, just out for a little fun one night, like all teenagers do?

Think about it. I bet the media would have a very, very different reaction. Setting mainstream homophobia aside, it’s interesting to think about whether the focus on the victim “making bad choices” and “compromising oneself” would exist were the victim male. I mean if a girl gets drunk she’s potential rape material. If a boy gets drunk he’s having fun.

Here we go again with the same old narrative: it’s the woman’s fault.

And apparently, if you’re CNN or NBC or whatever, if you’re a boy who gets drunk and fingers a girl against her will and then urinates on her and slaps your penis against her hip in front of a bunch of people while she lies there half-unconscious, and you videotape it all and text about it and brag to your friends – well, you’re just a boy being a “boy” and it’s just fucking heart-wrenching when you get punished for your ILLEGAL behavior because WHAT ABOUT YOUR PROMISING FUTURE?

Yes, such promising futures as douchebag misogynistic football stars.

It’s really too bad they didn’t make it all the way to the big leagues, where they could rape women and get away with it! Yay!

Alright, to get away from sarcasm for a minute, when I first thought about these media outlets practically in mourning for the rapists, insinuating the classic “boys will be boys” rhetoric – I got all pissed off, like “how dare you call my son a rapist,” (which what they’re doing when they imply that all boys would be rendered powerless in the face of an unconscious female).

And I got all irate thinking about the way the media deployed the offenders as “just regular ol’ boys” doing boy things…rather than calling them what they are (individual monsters).

But then I started thinking about their douchebag coach who was all but condoning their behavior, and I started thinking about the thousands of comments on social media demonizing the girl, and the people in their town sending the victim death threats. And I started thinking about the boys’ parents and teachers and coaches and friends throughout their lives and all the people that could have or should have taught them some self-respect, some basic decency toward others, some simple fucking humanity.

And I realized they are every boy. Or they were, at some point.

They started like my son.

And they grew up, and they were told women are property and playthings, and that men are tough and sexually driven and the ones in charge, and they were shown every day that women are objects – tools to satisfy their desire. They were spoon-fed misogyny and the subjugation of women. They were built. They were structured. They were molded into the monsters that spoke of a “dead girl” getting “so raped.” Between fits of laughter they showed the world what they’d become.

I’m not saying they aren’t responsible. Obviously. They are undoubtedly horrible specimens of people and are wholly responsible for their crimes (um, do all boys grow up to be rapists? No, so clearly society isn’t the only problem here.) I’m glad they’re there, and I’d like to dropkick their football coach and the aforementioned idiotic media reps.

But it’s too easy to think they are just individual demons, that they’ve just made bad choices because they come from “bad stock” in a “backward town” in wherever the fuck – like the coach and their parents and classmates and local citizens are just an anomaly, a strange occurrence of twisted humanity, and we can all just fall back in our smug superiority, because we’re so much better, raising such better sons.

Although yes, that’s probably true.

But check it out: when we dismiss them as exceptional, we ignore the systematic violence toward women being deployed every single day on a million different fronts.

And we ignore the systematic violence toward men being deployed every single day on a million different fronts.

Because we’re all dying here. If girls are sex objects, and men are the mindless victims of testosterone, unable to control themselves in the face of drunk female, it’s pretty clear to me that we’re all losing here.

Men are monsters. Women are the preyed upon.

But we’re all losing our humanity.

And when I look at my boy and my girl, I’m terrified that society is going to see them as a “boy” and a “girl,” with all that those labels involve, and it’s going to work to mold them into the crap of humanity we see on television on a daily basis. And on the streets. And everywhere.

I see my kids and I see humans who are going to walk along this earth like all the other humans who have ever been and ever will be, and I know it’s my job to teach them, teach them to be human. But I’m fooling myself if I think I’m all there is. Like my husband and family and I are it, like we can single-handedly negate every sick and twisted outside influence on our children.

As if I can fix a broken society by being a “good mother.”

There’s more to this story.

And we better figure out what it is, or we’re all going down.

It makes me sick to think about the whole thing: those boys raping that girl, laughing and giggling and bragging about it, the burden the victim will carry the rest of her life, the town and coach and media defending the rapists, offering their condolences to the criminals.

The attitude of all of it: “Sorry, I’m just a boy, and that’s how boys are.” I’m just a poor weeping boy in a court room! I’m just a high school football star! I mean no harm! I’m just a boy being a boy because that’s how boys are!

No, no they’re not. You’re a fucking criminal, and you deserve to be in jail, and my son and father and brother and husband would have kicked your ass if they saw your sad selves abusing that girl.

Because they’re men.

Or they’re women. WHATEVER. Call ’em what you want.

They are humans.

And that’s how we are.

Until we become something else, I guess.

  • GG

    Good god, woman – thank you for writing this!!

  • bob

    1st rate – you should be doing the news!

    • Marisa


      • Doc Werner

        Poppy who? Oh that thing… Just read this now…
        Mom, you have a heavy hammer and a big ass nail and did this country and our humanity justice by setting the record straight.
        Big Shame on everybody involved and colluded in this sick
        Story. Now a year and a half later, have we learned anything?
        Do things change? Have gjknfs even changed in Steubenville or Anyville for that matter. Life goes on. Really? This is what we teach the children of today. Instant everything, selective memory. Easy to forget.
        I was looking for one story regarding Ms. Poppy Pants and found another.
        Mom, I am humbled by your integrity and your grit.
        I will hope to have as much as my 9 year grows into a young woman and faces similar challenges of who’s the boss of her!!!!

  • Renee'

    Bravo for putting into words what a lot of us were thinking! Society, especially our small towns, tends to accept horrible behavior and tends to “sweep it under the carpet” to “save face” of the mighty athletes. I feel nothing but compassion for the young lady. She is going to be condemned, belittled and harrassed because of this. Maybe she should not have been there; maybe she should have not been that drunk; maybe she made some horrible decisions but she did she ask to get raped? No, and that my friends, is why it is a crime and why there should be NO ONE justifing their actions. Our society, as a whole, needs to get their shit together – SOON!!!!

  • Beth

    I dread the day I have to explain to my lil girl that rape exists and she has no real control over it. Because, it does not matter what she wears, if she drinks or doesn’t drink, if she goes to parties or stays home, we live in a society that condemns her as a victim for just being a specific gender.

    • brian

      Please don’t teach her to be a victim. I might be robbed and beaten one day. But nobody ever told me I don’t have control, don’t tell it to her just because she’s a girl. I won’t teach it to my daughters. They’re in martial arts just to ensure they do have a modicum of control. They will grow up strong and proud, not thinking of themselves as victims because of their gender

  • Diana Bisares

    Goodness! I’m so irate right now! I just broke my pencil trying to hold my anger! This is the problem with our society today, condoning criminals. And what these rapists’ mothers do or say or whatever? If they agree with “Boys will be boys,” they have sold their fuckin’ vaginas! Sorry, I really don’t like to badmouth, but this time I think really have to, or else I’m gonna die with heart attack!

    I have a son. If he were one of those boys, it will not only break my heart; I would have died thousands of time…It’s just… oh, God, this world is unbelievable! This just makes me afraid of the world awaiting for my little son…

    I still believe mothers have huge influence over children’s behavior. I, for one, will do everything to teach my son how to respect and love women, because they, too, are humans.


  • Heather

    Um…YES!!! and WOW!!!! and thanks for the having the guts to be an example of the way Humanity should be! <3

  • Danelle

    Thank you for posting this…!

    It needed to be said, badly.

  • Molly

    YES!!! love this post!x

  • Chandra - NowThisLIfe.com

    Absolutely. Well said.

  • Tottums

    This is by far, the best thing I’ve read on Steubenville. As a mom of two boys – sexually assaulting someone is not ‘boys being boys’ … it’s ‘being’ a fucking shitty human being. Thank you for the post.

  • Rachel

    As always, thanks for expressing my thoughts so perfectly. Every time this rape culture mentality is idealized, glorified, made acceptable etc in the media we should be protesting with condemnation from the rooftops and scathing reproach from our blogs, from within our communities, when parenting our children, when voting for government and when giving “news” stations our viewership. It is only through giving our outrage a voice and an outlet that we will ever since this change in our society.

  • Dixiebelles

    And if that was their daughter? It’s OK someone did this to my daughter, we don’t want to ruin his career defending her human rights now, do we?

    I am in Australia, I don’t know the media representation if this story, but your post is universal… and brilliant.

  • Elizabeth

    Yes. It is absolutely sickening how the media has lifted up these boys because they are “star football players”. They should have been tried as adults.

  • Les

    Boys will be boys. There is no reason for that to imply they will be rapists. There is a difference. My sons like bugs and dirt, are fascinated by blood and other bodily fluids, play rough, and eat everything in sight, like many boys. They’re also gentlemen, and know that if they mistreat a woman of any age, I will land on them like a ton of bricks, and they will deserve it. Boys being boys does not, ever, justify rape.

  • MaryBeth West

    What bugs me is how much the reporting makes it sound like rape is just about sex…like just because they were drunk and horny. That’s not it at all. It’s about power and humiliation. They did it because they wanted that girl to feel like dirt. To shrivel up and die. To feel as low as they could make her feel. THAT’s what it was about.

  • Ms Burrows

    If young men really have so little control of their urges that committing sexual assault on an unconscious victim is to be expected, then why do we even let them out of our sights? If we can expect no more of them than that, then we are seriously failing somewhere.

  • Momtothree

    Great post! The coach said to the boys “Don’t worry, I’ll make this go away.” WHAT?
    The lawyer defending one of the boys says they’ll appeal the conviction, that the boys’ brains aren’t fully formed (not that you need to be rocket scientist material to get a place at college playing football, right?).
    Death threats from the female cousin of one of the boys? How is the victim ever going to get her life back together? I for one admire her for, at 16, having had the balls those to speak out, and dare to lift an accusing finger.
    To the woman whose poster read “No is no, unconscious means yes”, I hope you never slip on an icy sidewalk, and crack your head on the ground. Who knows how many men could then legitimately abuse you, walk on your hair and piss on your inert body, film their acts and ultimately ruin your life in a small town?
    Disgusting. I just hope the continuing investigation brings those passive bystanders to justice. The ones that witnessed it all and stood by doing nothing. The officials and people of authority who tried to hush it all up and pervert the course of justice. A sad time to be a woman if all you are is a walking vessel with various holes that male predators can play with.
    Needless to say, I had a long talk with my 14 year old son this evening …
    P.S. The journalists and lawyers making excuses for those ‘poor ol’ boys’ have brought their professions to all-time new low.

  • Allison

    I actually could not believe the words coming out of her mouth while I was watching the video of her reporting outside the courthouse. And you are right when you wrote the tired “it’s always the woman’s fault” viewpoint…whether she was drunk, her skirt was too short, wore to much make up…bla bla bla…the list goes on and on, it’s her fault. Disgusting. Absolutely shameful and disgusting.

  • Marisa

    I think part of our society’s problem with the boys will be boys mentality starts early. For example, when a boy hits you and pinches you and chases you around the playground, as girls, we are told to brush it off. It’s okay, it just means he likes you. So we’re telling boys if you like a girl, this is how you treat them? We’re telling girls, when a boy likes you, they will bully you. NO!

  • Staycie

    Amen, sister! Around our house we use the term: enema-bag. It seems more accurate!

  • Kristin Shaw (Two Cannoli)

    Incredible post! I am standing up and cheering, as a rape survivor, a mother of a boy, and a husband with an incredible set of morals and values who was a football star and never would have stood for this.

  • C

    My friend…when she was 12 years old was raped by a high school football player. A serious star of our podunk Friday Night Lights town. This boy was her half-brother. And when she came out about it, told her mother and father, her dad begged her not to press charges. HER FUCKING FATHER. Know why? I’m sure you can guess. He had such a promising career in football.

    The entire town hated her. Called her a slut. Slammed her head into lockers. And I was one of her only friends.

    That piece of shit never made it out of this town. He knocked some poor girl up, now he works at a gas station. And everyone knows what he did. Half the time I’m shocked no one has fucking killed him. And the other half of the time, I realize it’s because they don’t think he did anything wrong.

  • C

    And then, this is the cherry fucking part of it all, 2 years later, I get raped by a 20 year old man. And my aforementioned “friend” didn’t believe me. She said I wanted it. She said I could have handled myself. I was so fucking drunk… and 14 years old. She said I could have stopped it. She told me she was jealous because she wanted him.

    Thanks, man. Love ya, too.

  • C

    Anyways, the point of that last bit which I forgot to add was that she was taught that there was nothing wrong with it. It happened to her, but because she was told, shown, by everyone, her family, that hey, you could have stopped it. You, young teenage girl, could have made that 200 lb man stop. If you had wanted to. Slut.

  • C

    I’m sorry, I’m just so fucking bitter.
    I’m watching the video…. We’re supposed to feel bad for the “big football player” rapist who’s bawling his eyes out. “Drenched in tears and tragedy.” His absentee father telling his rapist son for the first time that he loves him? and the final, Her life was already destroyed, why should we destroy anymore lives speech? “It will haunt them the rest of their lives.” THEM!? We’re fucking worried about them?
    God. I hate everything.

    • Momtothree

      I’m so sorry you and your friend both went through this ordeal. But your testimony highlights one important thing – part of the problem is that society minimizes the impact of rape. Even the women who are victims are under pressure to believe that they brought it upon themselves, that they could have prevented it, even that underneath it all they really ‘wanted it’. This is totally unacceptable. I have sons and a daughter, and I want all my kids to know it is not ok. That no means no. Something deep in society has to change. The patriarchal domination has to give, or don’t fathers love their daughters?
      I hope you find closure.

  • Joy

    CNN should take responsibility and have their reporters explain that they do NOT think rape is just another thing that happens when you’re at a party. Or that it’s ok to blame the victim. I can’t believe they just broadcast these disgusting views.

  • Ry

    ‘As if I can fix a broken society by being a “good mother.”’
    Yes. This.

  • Larry

    I note that a majority if not all the comments appear to be female. I think that summarizes the issue perfectly. Us guys don’t need to worry about such things -it’s a girl thing!! No, it’s a mankind thing. I’m a father, son,brother and a husband. I have a daughter and a son and I loath having to teach them at such a young age about freaks out there, I don’t want to appear to be ending their childhood, but what else can parents do? We have to educate them, give them principles. I said the following some weeks ago to my wife & friends on another issue:”The children of a family are a window into the home-life.” What we see kids, say, think, do, is an indicator of what’s happening at home.That’s not science just an observation. There is no excuse for what these “boys” did.

  • Heather

    Thank you!!

  • Hannah

    I have been thinking about how we need to teach our children to be witnesses, and to stand up against their peers when they veer so terribly astray from kindness and humanity. (Writer and teacher Barbara Coloroso tells us to teach our children to make good choices. Don’t enforce obedience because as teens, their obedience will shift to their peers.)

    Your blog points out something very powerful and frightening. Our news media is not standing up for basic humanity. It is following the influence and the trend of the rapists.

  • Kristina

    If we want to stop rape, we have to teach men to not rape. If she is drunk, she can’t consent. If she is unconscious, she can’t consent. If she consents and changes her mind half way though, you must stop. Just because you are married, doesn’t mean you have the right to have sex with your wife. I’m surprised how many men simply don’t know this.

    Thanks for this post – you explained exactly what I have been thinking about this while thing.

  • jill (mrs chaos)

    This: “I see my kids and I see humans who are going to walk along this earth like all the other humans who have ever been and ever will be, and I know it’s my job to teach them, teach them to be human.”

    I wish every parent on the planet lived that sentence. Well, well said.

  • KOS

    You are just amazing!

  • C Smith

    In all of the news coverage I didn’t pity the boys, but I did feel some sympathy for their parents. I kept seeing my own 15 year old son in that position and thought, surely those parents didn’t know their sons were capable of such things, after all we all think “not my kid…”. So, I talked to my son, I told him about what happened, we watched some of the coverage. He was shocked, I asked him what he thought of that girl, what he thought of those boys. He got choked up, all he could say was, “I don’t understand why no one helped her, not one person.” Maybe it’s because he has 5 sisters, but I’m so glad that his first instinct was that an incapacitated person should be helped.

  • C Smith

    Wanted to add, my son also pointed out, what if a woman had passed out drunk in front of a bar and been attacked by a group of scruffy, 40 something homeless men? Would anyone be defending their actions, what makes these young men special, above the law and common decency?

  • Kate

    absofuckinglutely. the only remorse the little fuck has is for getting caught and being made to answer for it. rotting in hell would be too good for him.

  • Job

    Why you picking on douchebags??? I can think of far worse

  • Ray

    Funny, but in europe – at least in germany – that reaction of defend a rapist is quite impossible to imagine. Never heard before of this shit.

    Whats wrong with your country, that someone needs to get in public and get applause in anonymous comments on a blog for saying whats obvious?
    Sorry, nothing against your fans, but if they really comment with: “Thank you for posting this…! It needed to be said, badly.” I really get a very strange impression of how the things in usa work. “it needed to be said”? It that true? nobody said that? how small is that town? how civilizied the people are there?

    i cant imagine, somebody defend a rapist without get disrupted immediately, alone, because have a lot of fathers, mothers, relatives and friends of young girls out there, which want to see them having party without any need to being afraid. Or even being harmed. Incredible.

  • Ray

    Sorry, I need to do another comment, because I just realized now: THATS CNN?! The woman (!) who works on CNN (!) report a rape case on court (no doubt about guilt!) and she says in their job as an reporter, that its amazing, thats was “Incredibly difficult” for her (!) that these young men, which had “so promising futures” watched, that their (!) lifes felt apart. Sorry, thats fucking un.be.lie.ab.le!

    But the best thing is: They only get one year?! They probably destroyed the life, at least the sexual life of that girl – out of all the harrassment, because she “destroyed the promising future” of that gangsters – and they are all free after 12 month? And they make a story at CNN, not about, how short that is, but how the “promising future” of that rapists is getting affected. Wow.