Alright I’ll be honest from the start – this post is coming from a place of intense emotion and its focus is not books. There’s been some serious shit going down at my school lately, including sexual assault and rape.
There is a fair amount of resentment and protestations aimed at the administrative levels and their handling of the cases. To sum it up: the campus & community wide emails that we received were worded in such a way that did little to hold anyone accountable for these sexual assault crimes. Many people were outraged at the authoritative punishment (read: lack of) that they bestowed on the accused.
The vaguely worded emails did very little to bring awareness to the realness of the danger that sexual assault poses on campus. The fact of the matter is, girls’ drinks were being drugged. There have been multiple rape cases in a short amount of time. Well, until a large group of students demanded action on this front, most of the staff and community had no idea the that sexual assault was even an issue on this campus. Many are outraged. We are having trouble allowing ourselves, as a campus community, to trust administrative and campus-wide notices ever again.
Many professors have brought up the topic of sexual assault to be addressed in class, and each professor handles those classroom conversations a little differently, but with a sense of urgency and concern. I’m grateful that the scholarly leadership we have at this school is encouraging us to engage with tough topics and confront the reality of issues like rape.
Here’s what I’m tired of in general, though. The University has held a few ‘forums’ to have victims of sexual abuse on campus share their stories (if they so chose), and work toward figuring out the steps we need to take. There have been changes announced that will hopefully go into effect soon, but that’s not what I want to talk about. What I’m tired of is hearing discussions of these forums where brave women stand up and share deeply traumatizing and personal stories be labeled as “too one sided.”
The forums are not held to keep you, the unaware audience member, comfortable. If it makes you uncomfortable to listen to young women call out their abusers’ lies, then GOOD. Talking about sexual abuse would go over a lot more smoothly if we all heard each others’ stories on the same level of validity, I agree with that, but the girls you’re listening to are victims. They don’t want to sit in a public forum and listen to their abusers openly tell lies about what is going on.
We women do NOT want to hear accused rapists defend and justify their actions – they are rapists. They clearly were not taking their victims’ feelings into account in the act of the crime, so why the hell should the women they raped or abused take their feelings into account. Trusting the men of this campus and taking what they say at face value is what got us into this mess. We tried the whole ‘openness’ thing, and you turned around and raped us, our sisters, our classmates. Of course we don’t want to believe you. The last time we did, you victimized us.
We left our drinks alone for two minutes, and you drugged them. We don’t want to imagine what trusting you with our time or attention might do to us.
Furthermore, I’m goddamn tired of hearing people say “I don’t know how to talk about this stuff” or sitting in a discussion wherein the words “sexual assault” are used only twice. You better get used to talking about this stuff. It’s not going away, and damn it all to hell if activists are going to let you ignore it.