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viewpoint

A culture of complicity

| Thursday, September 3, 2015

When the second and third (I repeat, third) reports of sex crimes were emailed out after just one week of school, the conversation on campus, at least on social media, was already full of victim-blaming and insensitive criticisms aimed at the accusers.

If you don’t believe me, let me direct you to a small sample of anonymous Yik Yak posts from this past weekend, sprinkled in between jokes about Texas. I took screenshots of these Yaks if you, too, find it too frustrating to believe they’re real.

Number one: “Idea for the ladies (and men too but you guys don’t have as much to risk): DON’T HAVE SEX OUTSIDE A COMMITTED RELATIONSHIP OF SOME KIND.”

Fortunately, this post was down voted quickly. This person’s bright idea is that the best way to stop sexual assault is for all single women to wholly abstain from sex. First of all, intimate partners can commit assault too. Second, I know we’re a Catholic school, but what century is this? But I digress.

Number two: “I’m a girl. I try to be safe. But girls need to understand that if you regret it in the morning, it’s not rape. Not to say anything about what happened, just letting you know.”

Ah yes, the classic “I am a girl, but I’m not like those other girls” response, paired with the disclaimer that “this has nothing to do with the recent reports, except my timing obviously implies that it does.”

This had 90 up votes when I saw it. It’s true that regret alone does not equal rape, but I doubt anyone sane would contend that it does. That’s not the issue here.

My fellow females, I ask that we stick together on this one fact: We are generally not psychotic emotional liars out to ruin a boy’s life with an accusation because we had a bad night. No one should assume such a thing when someone comes forward with a report of assault.

Number three: “It’s scary to even be with a girl consentually [sic] nowadays, because as a guy I can be accused of Title 9 violations just because a girl has second thoughts afterwards.”

I’m sure men everywhere (76 up-voters, at least) are quaking in fear as they take girls to bed, thinking only of what could happen if she decides tomorrow she didn’t have a good time.

Because what men face is obviously much scarier than the fear of rape that inevitably goes through a woman’s mind when she walks alone down a street late at night, or when a guy won’t stop pestering her at a bar.

Excuse me if I don’t have as much pity for the men who claim to be terrified that they’ll be falsely accused, something that is statistically more unlikely than an actual assault.

It saddens and angers me, but there were pages of posts like these and there will be more in the future.

I’m not saying there aren’t also positive discussions going on and empathetic students out there, trying to improve how we talk about sexual assault. Yik Yak is certainly not the best hub for intelligent social discourse.

Still, this serves as a reminder that too many people, here and elsewhere, believe and perpetuate the damaging views that have created a culture of assault complicity on campuses today.

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About Renee Griffin

Notre Dame senior, formerly of Farley Hall. Originally from Lake Zurich, IL, majoring in American Studies with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. Enjoys talkin' about practice.

Contact Renee
  • Captain Murphy

    Well when at least 2/3 complainants decided against bringing charges, what can you expect?
    If I am robbed or raped, or whatever, I will go to the police and get help.
    If I am not, then I won’t.
    It isn’t that hard.
    Looks like these “victims” aren’t really victims after all. Or else they would be trying as hard as they could to get the alleged rapists off campus.

    • stopblamingthevictim

      coming forward with the crime poses a serious risk to the victim (mentally, physically, emotionally etc.)… what if the perpetrator threatened the victim’s life if they came forward with the truth? what if the victim simply does not want to publicize their traumatic experience as to not have to relive the struggle again? would you want to immediately come forward? yes, obviously the world would be a much better place if every victim went to the police and no rapists existed, but that’s not the case. being a victim of rape is something that no one should ever have to experience. but until you are the victim, please refrain from making assumptions as to why a victim does not “try as hard as they can to get the alleged rapists off campus” or why these victims “aren’t really victims after all.” WE ARE IN SERIOUS NEED OF A PARADIGM SHIFT HERE. we need to begin looking at the reason as to why rape is such an ubiquitous issue, which means shifting our attention away from the victims and towards the perpetrators. stop blaming the victim. please.

    • stopblamingthevictim

      coming forward with the crime poses a serious risk to the victim (mentally, physically, emotionally etc.)… what if the perpetrator threatened the victim’s life if they came forward with the truth? what if the victim simply does not want to publicize their traumatic experience as to not have to relive the struggle again? would you want to immediately come forward? yes, obviously the world would be a much better place if every victim went to the police and no rapists existed, but that’s not the case. being a victim of rape is something that no one should ever have to experience. but until you are the victim, please refrain from making assumptions as to why a victim does not “try as hard as they can to get the alleged rapists off campus” or why these victims “aren’t really victims after all.” WE ARE IN SERIOUS NEED OF A PARADIGM SHIFT HERE. we need to begin looking at the reason as to why rape is such an ubiquitous issue, which means shifting our attention away from the victims and towards the perpetrators. stop blaming the victim. please.

    • stopblamingthevictim

      coming forward with the crime poses a serious risk to the victim (mentally, physically, emotionally etc.)… what if the perpetrator threatened the victim’s life if they came forward with the truth? what if the victim simply does not want to publicize their traumatic experience as to not have to relive the struggle again? would you want to immediately come forward? yes, obviously the world would be a much better place if every victim went to the police and no rapists existed, but that’s not the case. being a victim of rape is something that no one should ever have to experience. but until you are the victim, please refrain from making assumptions as to why a victim does not “try as hard as they can to get the alleged rapists off campus” or why these victims “aren’t really victims after all.” WE ARE IN SERIOUS NEED OF A PARADIGM SHIFT HERE. we need to begin looking at the reason as to why rape is such an ubiquitous issue, which means shifting our attention away from the victims and towards the perpetrators. stop blaming the victim. please.

    • stopblamingthevictim

      coming forward with the crime poses a serious risk to the victim (mentally, physically, emotionally etc.)… what if the perpetrator threatened the victim’s life if they came forward with the truth? what if the victim simply does not want to publicize their traumatic experience as to not have to relive the struggle again? would you want to immediately come forward? yes, obviously the world would be a much better place if every victim went to the police and no rapists existed, but that’s not the case. being a victim of rape is something that no one should ever have to experience. but until you are the victim, please refrain from making assumptions as to why a victim does not “try as hard as they can to get the alleged rapists off campus” or why these victims “aren’t really victims after all.” WE ARE IN SERIOUS NEED OF A PARADIGM SHIFT HERE. we need to begin looking at the reason as to why rape is such an ubiquitous issue, which means shifting our attention away from the victims and towards the perpetrators. stop blaming the victim. please.

      • Captain Murphy

        Why report it to the campus if they aren’t going to bring criminals charges? If something happened it is their duty to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Also, you know nothing about me, or if I am a victim.

    • Kelly McGee

      Survivors who cannot imagine going through the devastating process of testifying publicly (criminal court) what their worst nightmare was in intimate detail, or fear that their friends and family might victim-blame them (as you are doing now) for what happened have plenty of reason to not bring criminal charges. They might also have been advised by lawyers who correctly tell them that statistically their rapist will not be brought to justice because only 2% of all those who commit rape in our country will ever see jail time. So they might not want to have to go through that. Please show some empathy and respect. These people have gone through enough without their fellow students denying their experiences (while lacking any knowledge of the facts of the case).

      • Captain Murphy

        I am not victim blaming, because apparently there are no victims.
        Get real. Either you want to help yourself, or you don’t.
        If a crime happened, do something and get justice, stop hiding.
        I might lack knowledge of the case, but what I do know is that no one cared enough about their “sexual assault” to bring charges.

        • stopblamingthevictim

          no no no!! this is a serious misunderstanding of the issue. you’re right, I don’t know if you have ever been the victim of assault, whether it be emotional or physical. however, I would hope that if you are/have been a victim, you would take on a more empathetic view of what is occurring across the world. it is not that easy to “help yourself.” the physical, emotional, psychological trauma that one endures after being a victim of assault is unparalleled and can hinder one’s ability to get the appropriate help they require. thus, we need to stop believing that the victim is ever at fault if they decide to not come forward with the crime. rather, what we should do/need to start doing is to take a critical look at 1) why so many people take part in victim blaming and 2) why are the crimes being committed. these two questions go hand in hand. a culture that victim blames is a culture that breeds violence. we need to face the issue of violence, and to do so, we must not focus on those victims who do not come forward and make them feel guilty for what they have experienced. rather, we must look towards the common patterns found in the perpetrators to figure out why violence is so common. once we begin to understand the origins of violence, we can begin to holistically combat the problem. we can not do this by blaming the victim. I hope this does not come off as a personal attack- I’m just trying to point out what the author of this article is trying to say about the serious issue of victim blaming that is found throughout society- it’s a societal issue that needs to be confronted.

  • Captain Murphy

    “It’s true that regret alone does not equal rape, but I doubt anyone sane would contend that it does. That’s not the issue here.”
    You actually have no idea if that is the issue here or not. I am inclined to believe it is since no criminal charges have been brought against the “rapists”.