Home Law F*ckRapeCulture: The real issue in the Dorian Graham case

F*ckRapeCulture: The real issue in the Dorian Graham case

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If you missed the story over the break, here are the basics: Dorian Graham, an Ohio University student, was indicted on charges of sexual battery, attempted sexual battery, extortion and attempted extortion. Graham apparently posed as a woman online and persuaded another male OU student to send him nude pictures. Graham then apparently used those images to blackmail the student into having sex with him. The student contacted OU police during Graham’s second attempt to extort him. More details of this case can be found at The Athens News.

Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn summarized the case with this statement: “It’s just another instance of social media and people being too free with their thoughts and what they’re doing. We have to remember that when we do things involving social media, that these things are out there forever.”

Blackburn’s comments are in line with much of what the media has been saying about the case.  Elizabeth Nolan Brown, a journalist from southern Ohio, starts off her Bustle.com article by reminding us she’s one of those “old-school sorts who still send photos via text or email.”

Though Brown said Blackburn received well-deserved backlash against his similar comments about the Oct. 12 alleged sexual assault on Court Street during Homecoming, she thinks he’s right this time. She concluded by reminding us, her impressionable young readers, to be careful on social media because — in case we haven’t heard — the Internet is forever, even on Snapchat.

Here are my two biggest problems — out of the many that I have — with this response:

First, the argument that both Blackburn and Brown share is that social media is to blame for this case — not, say, the apparent rapist.

Blaming social media for this case takes agency away from the apparent perpetrator. It positions the victim’s “misuse” of social media as the problem, not Graham’s apparent extortion and sexual battery. Both Blackburn and Brown insist on focusing on social media, which places the blame on the victim and misrepresents the case.

Building off of that, my other problem is that Blackburn and Brown use social media to make light of a very serious case. These voices delegitimize the case and belittle the real pain that this victim is feeling. What is it about this case that makes it worthy of dismissal and jokes, instead of serious consideration?

Is it simply the fact that Snapchat was involved and we can’t wrap our heads around the idea that no matter the medium, extortion is still extortion?

Is it that this is a case of alleged male-on-male sexual violence, which is already vastly underreported and misunderstood? I can’t imagine the courage it took for this student to come forward, and I’m disgusted by the degree of flippancy to that his story is being treated.

I can’t tell you what the specifics are, but what I can tell you is that the university and its students need to stand up in support of Graham. We need to support him — not make jokes out of his pain. When one student may have blackmailed and assaulted another, it’s no laughing matter.

This column was written by f*ckrapeculture member Madison Koenig. FRC meets Wednesdays at 6 p.m. in the Women’s Center in Baker Center. You can reach them at [email protected].

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