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Keenan Revue must take care

Letter to the Editor | Friday, January 26, 2007

Last week, two friends told me that they were recently raped. The previous spring, I listened to similar stories from two other dear friends. The experience of hearing these four devastating stories is impossible to describe. I felt helpless and sick.

The psychology of rape is subtle and devastating. The mental and spiritual chaos that my friends poured out to me that sprung from their victimization is staggering. Chaos is the right word. But perhaps, the most important bit of this to focus on is that, each time, the man did not conceive this forced sex as violence. Three of the four rapes were subtle; the women were disoriented in the moment of the rape, enough for the men to brush off their “no’s” as just being coy. The violence of this subtle rape is no less real.

I planned on going to the Keenan Revue this year. I lived in Keenan for four years and know of the camaraderie and fun that can come of Revue week. But with the pain of these women’s stories and the memory of the jokes I saw and laughed at in past Revues, this year, I cannot go.

I do not fear feeling bad or offended. My uneasiness stems from questions about the kind of culture that the show creates and expresses. Even if there are no jokes about rape, this does not mean the material does not touch issues of sexual violence. The cultural formation of someone who would take advantage of a woman is complex. I consider this cultural formation to be tied to women’s self-image issues (especially eating disorders), irrational homophobia, objectification of women, domestic abuse, insane drinking. In the past, the show laughs at all of these more subtle issues. I have a hunch that the roots of this are deeper than I know, much deeper than a two-hour show.

I hear that this year’s staff has taken special care to clean up the show, and for this effort they should be thanked and commended. But still I fear that we do not ask deep enough questions about a culture that is slow to confront sexual violence.

Paul Mitchell

fifth year senior

off campus