Hmm … normally a person would apologize for or clarify wrong, misguided or insensitive things she did say, and deny things that she didn’t actually say. Right?
That’s why Serena Williams’ recent statement about her controversial Rolling Stone interview on the Steubenville, Ohio, rape case (in which a 16-year-old girl was raped by two high school football players) has plenty of people scratching their heads. Slate explains:
Here’s her full statement from today (emphasis added):
“What happened in Steubenville was a real shock for me. I was deeply saddened. For someone to be raped, and at only sixteen, is such a horrible tragedy! For both families involved — that of the rape victim and of the accused. I am currently reaching out to the girl’s family to let her know that I am deeply sorry for what was written in the Rolling Stone article. What was written — what I supposedly said — is insensitive and hurtful, and I by no means would say or insinuate that she was at all to blame.
“I have fought all of my career for women’s equality, women’s equal rights, respect in their fields — anything I could do to support women I have done. My prayers and support always goes out to the rape victim. In this case, most especially, to an innocent sixteen year old child.”
And here’s the original quote as published by Rolling Stone in its profile of Williams. You’ll see why it didn’t take a leap for many to read the remarks as a version of the “she was asking for it” defense. (To say nothing of the fact that Williams decided to discuss the teen’s virginity.):
“Do you think it was fair, what they got? They did something stupid, but I don’t know. I’m not blaming the girl, but if you’re a 16-year-old and you’re drunk like that, your parents should teach you — don’t take drinks from other people. She’s 16, why was she that drunk where she doesn’t remember? It could have been much worse. She’s lucky. Obviously I don’t know, maybe she wasn’t a virgin, but she shouldn’t have put herself in that position, unless they slipped her something, then that’s different.”
This, of course, raises a few questions: 1) Is Williams saying she was misquoted? 2) Did she just throw “supposedly” in for fun? 3) Why are public figures asked to weigh in on things that have nothing to do with them in the first place (here’s looking at you, Bill Cosby)? And this: 4) When they are, when will they learn not to think out loud?
It’s safe to say that those questions will remain unanswered for at least a little while. Supposedly.