Date Rape

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These days it is impossible to open a newspaper or turn on the radio or TV without hearing another report of sexual misconduct, abuse, harassment and rape. Rape culture has spread throughout our institutions and assault has become epidemic. Digging deeper what you almost always find is that there are those — mostly young privileged men — who lead, those who follow and those who turn away.

This is sadly not new though with the increase in narcissism and growing belief in entitlement among the rich and by athletes perhaps it is greater than it was in my youth. Though I’m not entirely sure.

When I was in my first year of university there was a young man, I’ll call him K, who was trying to fit in. He was the youngest student in our freshman class — he turned 16 during his first year. K wanted to be one of the guys. He spent hours at the gym trying (and succeeding) to bulk up. He tried out for sports teams but was never quite good enough. He hung at the edge of crowds laughing at the sexist and racist jokes. He was smart but he preferred the company of loud and aggressive men.

It wasn’t enough of course. He was too young, too ‘inexperienced’. K soon figured out a way to fix that. Rules were lax those days and pretty much anyone could drink if you stayed on campus. IDs were barely checked and you could always find someone to turn a blind eye. K would go to beer gardens and watch the women. He would in particular watch for those who had a few drinks. He would buy them another or two or three. And eventually he would get them back to his room.

Sex occurred though it is doubtful if any of the women were capable of giving consent. Even if they did, they didn’t consent to what happened next. It was not enough for K to have sex, he had to prove it. He would leave the women naked and uncovered on his bed and, when he went out of the room for a shower, he would leave his door open. The young woman was gawked at; they were saved from further harm because in those days we actually had maids in the men’s dorms. They would rouse the student and get her back to her own dorm. K would bask in the glory of another conquest.

Most guys didn’t approve (though some did) but no one did anything about it. Until K picked the wrong girl — the younger sister of the football star quarterback. After that night K’s life was a living hell — hazing, beatings, public humiliations (being tied naked to a chair and placed in the elevator of one of the women’s dorms was one incident). He was eventually driven out of residence.

Before you say: good — he deserved it, think of this: K wasn’t beaten because he abused a woman; he was beaten because he offended a privileged male — intruded on his life, his family. Vigilante justice — whether meted out by men or by women — is not the answer. It wasn’t then and it isn’t now. The abusers must be punished by the legal system (and we need to make real changes to ensure that happens) but what we need more than anything is for the followers to stop following and for the rest of us to stop looking away.

End rape culture now — it’s in your hands to do so.

And that’s ten minutes.

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4 thoughts on “Date Rape

      • Following one of the questionable episodes, the female character stabbed the jerk and John Snow put a sword through the back of his head and out of his mouth. The rest of the women banned together and told the men that helped them kill the really bad men that they didn’t need any further assistance from men. I’m not sure how much of that was the network vs the novel. I like the show despite those elements, but I’m against domestic violence, so I struggle with it some. I get the writing perspective being medieval times and feeling a need to portray things with some accuracy. When I write anything, I try to make things realistic even in a fantasy context, but I like you’re perspective on that he isn’t writing history. From what I understand from others, things weren’t as bad in the books as TV has made them out to be. But if he were writing non-fiction, does that really change things in the context of rape culture? He could be writing something that historically indicates rape as being acceptable.

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