After “A Rape on Campus”

I’m disgusted.

I’m disgusted with what allegedly happened to “Jackie” in the Rolling Stone’s “A Rape on Campus.”

I’m disgusted with what’s happened to the other countless victims of sexual assault at UVa and the world.

Currently, I’m most disgusted with the responses to this story.

Regardless of whether or not the account was true, the backlash it has received is unreal. Numerous people resorted to victim blaming, which is the most ignorant, idiotic response to something this sensitive I’ve ever seen. If someone claims that they have been sexually assaulted, you take it seriously. Doubt and victim blaming are what keep victims from reporting their assaults. It’s a crime. It needs to be investigated of course, but very few reported cases of sexual assault are the result of a boy/girl who cried wolf.

Nevertheless, it does happen. In the light of new information, Rolling Stone has issued a note to readers stating that they have reason to believe “Jackie” was not as honest about the events at the UVa fraternity two years ago and that they regret not speaking with the assailants.

This also disgusts me. If this “Jackie” created this tale for attention, I feel bad for her. She obviously has something in her life going on that makes her feel the need to act out in such a way. But the fact that someone would lie about a sexual assault makes me almost as nauseous as the act itself.

The damage of a false account at this magnitude is unmeasurable. That being said, I don’t think RS has shared enough information with readers to back this calamity just yet. I understand the purpose of issuing this correction, but was it necessary to do so without sufficient evidence? It makes “Jackie” look like an awful person and creates a very hurtful scenario for those involved and other victims. Who’s to say that the people contradicting her claims are the ones creating false statements? It’s doubtful that a criminal would openly admit to their crimes, so it’s unsurprising that there would be a response from the assailants (and/or their lawyers, I’m sure) stating that the incident never occurred. It would ruin their lives (which, if this is a true event, should be the case in my opinion).

I’m saddened that this is even something that society has to be concerned with. As an independent female attending a large university, I find it mind-boggling that women should fear walking home in the dark alone. I grew up in a small town. I’ve never feared for my life. I’ve never used pepper spray. I carry a pocket knife not for safety, but to cut duct tape and open packages. Why the hell should I have put limitations on my life because other people choose to be monsters? Why should I change the way I dress because it could make a guy believe I “was asking for it?”

I’m not ignorant or oblivious. I may not take the same precautions of my female peers, but I understand that, regardless of my belief that the world is a wonderful place, there is danger. I tend to press my luck (something my family and friends are less than thrilled to know). I’m trusting. And why should I not be? Why is it that I have to be on the defensive every day?

I saw a great analogy on Twitter a few weeks ago that stopped me in my tracks. The truth to it was painful. This is what it said:

“You say not all men are monsters? Imagine a bowl of M&Ms. 10% are poisoned. Go ahead. Eat a handful. Not all M&Ms are poison.” 

Another part of the tweet said this:

“Because we’re taught ‘Don’t leave your drink alone’ instead of ‘Don’t drug someone.'”

Why is this reality? Why do we live in a society that thinks this way? I don’t know how to fix it. As a twenty-something with dreams of world travel, adventure and independence, how am I supposed to live? If I’m trained to hold tight to my purse, hold my keys between my knuckles in defense, and not talk to strangers, how am I expected to meet new people, open up and experience the good of the world?

In exactly one month from tomorrow, I’ll be traveling over 4,000 miles to London, England for a semester abroad. At our orientation, at least one-third of the discussion was focused on safety. They want us to go out and experience the city, but don’t go alone. Experience the nightlife, but don’t stay out too late. Try the bars, but watch your drinks and don’t get too drunk. Meet new people, but don’t talk to strangers. Of the 28 or so going on our trip, all but two are women. The safety talk was very obviously directed at us. (Pepper spray was not mentioned as something to bring with us because it’s illegal in the UK.)

I know that I live in a bubble of optimism. But I know that horrible things happen all the time. MU itself has numerous rape/assault reports every month or two. The Rolling Stone story cited that one in five females are sexually assaulted in college, a number that is one in five too high. I’m achingly aware that this statistic is alarmingly high. I avoid alleyways and talking to sketchy men on the street. I don’t take drinks from strangers. I stay in lit areas. But I don’t let fear hold me back.

It may be my blissful ignorance of the evils of the world or a rebellion against being told to be safe, but I just don’t understand. I don’t understand assailants. I don’t understand how people can be so obtuse and believe that women “ask for it” by wearing leggings or a too-short skirt. I don’t understand why it should be necessary to invent a nail polish that changes color when drinks are “roofied” because I don’t understand what person would drug someone else’s drink. I just don’t understand why we live in a society with so much good, love and joy, but have to suffer terror, pain and sadness.

Regardless of whether or not the RS story told a fabricated tale or a traumatizing true story, “A Rape on Campus” has added a renewed dialogue about rape in our culture.

So that’s my rant for today.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s