Bloomberg News has an article Thursday about how America's college rape crisis is impacting student social life at prestigious universities around the country. Titled "Hook-Up Culture at Harvard, Stanford Wanes Amid Assault Alarm," reporters John Lauerman and Jennifer Surane note that some male students are beginning to think seriously about how their advances on female classmates are perceived:
As former social chair of the Sigma Chi fraternity at Harvard University, Malik Gill wants to appear especially welcoming to girls who come to the house for parties.
Yet, Gill, who starts his junior year in a few weeks, says he won’t be offering a female classmate a beer.
"I don’t want to look like a predator," the 20-year-old economics major said. “It’s a little bit of a blurred line."
Good for you, Gill, as a little introspection never hurt anyone. Unfortunately, this thoughtfulness wears off by the time we get to this woefully ignorant quote from Stanford University senior Chris Herries (emphasis ours):
While everyone condemns sexual assault, there seems to be an assumption among female students that they shouldn't have to protect themselves by avoiding drunkenness and other risky behaviors, he said.
"Do I deserve to have my bike stolen if I leave it unlocked on the quad?" Herries, 22, said. "We have to encourage people not to take on undue risk."
Let's break this immensely problematic statement down, shall we?
1) No, you don't deserve to have your bike stolen just because you left it unlocked in the quad.
2) A woman's vagina is not an object to be owned or possessed by anyone, like a bicycle.
3) A sexual assault free campus is not one in which women must carry mace, make sure to keep their skirts long, and only consume two drinks in an evening. A safe campus is one where no one rapes anyone.
Hey, NHS, I fixed your poster. pic.twitter.com/xbCCfySYRg— neverjessie (@neverjessie) August 1, 2014
Herries, this is called victim blaming, and it's one of the fundamental components of rape culture in America. A victim is never responsible for their rape, period. Was the 14-year-old Missouri girl allegedly raped by a Maryville High School football player after passing out drunk responsible because she, to use your unwieldy not to mention wildly insensitive metaphor, "left her bike unlocked in the quad?" How about that 16-year-old West Virginia girl raped by two Steubenville High School football players? Was she responsible because she wasn't being careful enough about her alcohol intake? Nope. Never. Not even by a long shot.
It's thinking like this that perpetuates sexual assault on college campuses. I feel bad for you, Herries, seeing as the process of constantly being forced to not rape your fellow classmates is so exhausting.
Of course, as the Guardian's Jessica Valenti points out, this quote is going to haunt you for the the rest of your life when prospective employers search your name in Google. Good luck in the fall, old sport.