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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.

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