The Sexist

American University Students Debate New Sexual Assault Policy; Vitriol Ensues


After a week of national media coverage over a column by Alex Knepper casting doubt on the existence of date rape, American University student newspaper The Eagle has devoted its home page to serious discussions of the problem of rape on campus. In one story, the paper discusses proposed changes to the school's sexual assault policy; in another, an anonymous victim of campus rape shares her story. Has the campus conversation at AU progressed from these widely-publicized accusations of "rape apology"? Let's go to the comments!

In response to news that the school's new sexual assault policy would clarify definitions of terms invoked to describe sexual assault, and would "differentiate between the charges students receive for different types of sexual assault," commenters complained:

Everything was better in the '60s:

Men are tired of 5 decades of women telling us what we say is unacceptable. We will say what we will, when we will, in the manner that we so chose.

What you believe we should say, how we should say it, or the way we should say it, is of no importance.

If you do not like the way in which we state our opinions, then too bad.

The law is so inconvenient:

What the hell is the school doing keeping records on students for sexual assault? Isn’t that the job of the police?

The first boy who gets falsely accused (it will happen with people like Gail Hanson in charge) should sue AU into the dirt. Furthermore, the false accuser should be expelled forthwith.

This fragile imagery will not stand:

Get the fuck over yourselves and your fragile imagery of women, its embarrassing and you give women everywhere a bad name.

This guy figured it out, everybody!

I have a way to prevent rape. How about all of yall stop sluttin it out and wait until you are married to have sex. Have a blessed day.

Token completely nonsensical comment:

How about AU gets it’s own abortionist? Problem solved.

This article about sexual assault on campus sounds like a great opportunity for me to make a rape joke:

What about girl on girl date rape?  It’s a serious issue.  I would know.  I frequently date rape other chicks.

Shut up. They like it. wink

Wait, someone else had the exact same idea!

This guy in my class raped me in my dream. Can I press charges?  I’m pretty sure Women’s Initiative would approve of that idea.

Did you know that preventing rape hurts women?

We need to prevent rape.  Here’s how we do it.  We need to protect girls because they are fragile and men are evil.  So here is what we will do.  We will petition the university for a new rule that says girls can’t leave their dorm rooms after 5 PM.  If they must leave, they shall be escorted by campus security.  If any man comes within 50 feet, he will be tasered on the spot.  DOWN WITH EVIL MAN-RAPISTS!

Rape victims are huge whiners:

The same thing happened to me my freshman year at a frat party.  But I am not going around claiming “rape” and trying to get sympathy.  If the girl and the guy are both drunk, the girl does not get to claim “rape”.

Unless you say “No”, “Stop”, “Get off me” or something to the likes, then it isn’t rape.  Two drunk people having sex and later regretting it does not equal rape.  It’s called a mistake.

Policies meant to prevent rape are so immature!:

People will act in their own self-interest. As a mature and educated person, one ought to expect other people to act in their own self-interest. If a drunk guy spots a drunk girl and the drunk girl is coming onto him, he is going to attempt to have sex with her. This is not rape. It is human nature.

Rape is just one big misunderstanding:

Guys can’t read girls’ minds.  Many drunk girls come to frat parties wanting to get drunk and hook up.  How can we tell which drunk girls are wanting to hook up and which drunk girls are not wanting to hook up if both sets of girls are acting the same way?  Unless the girl tells me that she doesn’t want to have sex, I am going to assume that her come-ons are genuine and she wants to have sex.  And I will pursue sex unless she tells me to stop.  How am I supposed to know what she wants unless she tells me?

Just like drinking and driving causes dangerous accidents, so too does drinking and partying with frat boys.  I’m sure people who drink and drive do not intend on crashing their cars, but they still do because they made the stupid decision to drink and drive.  They knew that alcohol affected their judgement yet they still chose to drive.  And they deserve to die in car crashes.  Have a sense of self-responsibility and stop blaming others for your mistakes.  The guy was probably just as drunk as you.  You knew drinking would effect your judgement.  And you still chose to get shitfaced.  You brought this on yourself.  I do not feel sorry for you one bit.  Hopefully you learned something from your mistake.  But as evidenced by it happening to you again, I guess you didn’t.  It will probably happen to you again and again until you learn some self-responsibility.

Plenty of anti-rape AU students are also making their voices heard on this thread. To the haters, I have to ask: What is so threatening about a policy revision that would make the school's sexual assault policy easier for students to understand?

  • Theresa

    Holy crap. I am depressed.

  • Em

    The whole point of this is to get us whiny feminists to shut up about it. then it WILL be like the 60's. These people just wish the problem would go away and stop inconviencing them, and if they aren't hearing about it, i tbasicall yhas gone away from them.

    That's why we can't shut up.

  • Ami

    If only they knew how trying to silence this whiny feminist motivates me to keep talking...LOUDER.

  • Megan

    Wow that's...depressing/infuriating.

    And they say that feminism is no longer needed...holy CRAP.

  • chris

    Ugh. This is really depressing.

    What the fuck is so difficult about wrapping your head around the idea of actually listening to what women are saying?

  • Alicia

    On date rape = drunk driving: Man, I hate it when I go out drinking and accidentally wrap my vagina around a rapist.

  • LeftSidePositive

    Look at that douchebag who thinks, "I don't know what women are thinking, so my default entitlement is to go ahead and have sex with them!!"

    A side note--drinking and driving is illegal because of the harm it does TO OTHERS, the public menace you make yourself on public roadways (and sidewalks!). There is no law against being drunk alone in your own home with your collection of Japanese Samurai swords, even though I imagine it poses roughly the same danger to *you* as drinking and driving, because it doesn't endanger a whole community. Also, when you drink and drive, you are the PERPETRATOR of a crime, not the victim!

  • Covington

    I still don't understand how girls are at fault for partying with frat boys. I party with fraternities often during the weekends at school and the boys have been respectful, even when I was overly friendly after having a few drinks. I don't understand how these boys are not taking responsibility. If there are respectful frat boys, then they all have that potential.

    I understand that it can be confusing when both people are drinking and the lines are blurred, but really, if either person is that drunk, you should just take a pass. We're having an issue with "blackout rape" at my school as well. It is difficult, but it won't be solved any faster with boys claiming that it is all because of girl's drinking! Until boys/men start understanding that sex (or rape) REQUIRES their presence, therefore responsibility must be shared.

    I don't know how this comment will be received, but I have to comment on the girl's job in this situation as well. I drink at fraternity houses and I make sure that if I am really going to get drunk,I make sure there is someone I trust to take me home and watch out for me. As women, we do know that these things happen in the world and while nothing infuriates me more than people saying that girls "ask to be raped," the point is that we do know that bad things can happen. I was raped in high school and while I do not blame myself anymore,I do take measures to protect myself. I agree that women shouldn't have to, but the fact of the matter is, girls: we know this is happening out there! It is the number one crime on college campuses! Please don't get blackout with no one to make sure you'll be safe! We have to take care of ourselves and not just hope men will "smarten up"

  • Ophelia

    What is it with people?

    "I have a way to prevent rape. How about all of yall stop sluttin it out and wait until you are married to have sex. Have a blessed day."

    Oh, why didn't I think of that? Hey everyone, all we have to do is decide to remain virgins until married and all the rapists will evaporate in clouds of nice, abstinence-y sparkles! If we had just realized that it was our *choice* that meant we got raped, we could have fixed it all so much sooner! That was truly enlightening!

  • Saurs

    "On date rape = drunk driving: Man, I hate it when I go out drinking and accidentally wrap my vagina around a rapist."


  • DB

    If an assault is a contact which the recipient considers to be offensive...

    i suspect:

    - Most would agree that touching someone violetly, forcibly or threateningly, or drugging them would be acts of assault. (Absent affirmation of consent)

    - There is probably less of a societal consensus over whether touching someone who is drugged (coincidentally) is assaulive, but still a majority view.

    - i observe differing opinions as to the circumstances which could render touching someone who is drunk to be assaultive. Some will apply a complainant-centric standard (whether they considered it assaultive once sober). Some supplant their own judgement (whether they as third-party critics consider the contact in context to be assaultive).

    - i observe differing opinions as to whether being "also drunk" somehow lessens the culpability of someone who is engaging in such acts that would/could otherwise be deemed assaultive.

    - i observe a surprizingly widespread willingness by some to second-guess whether complainants are able to differentiate between regret and offense taken... when the thing they believe they were offensively touched by is a penis.

    - That said, many persons experiencing alcohol-induced lack-of-memory ("blackout") do not recall what happened while blacked out. They do not even know whether they were *passed out* (unconscious) or wide awake, as there is no or low memory formation. They are often faced with second-hand recollections of their own behavior--behavior which may well be out-of-character for them and is thus difficult to believe. Confusion/fear/etc. are understandable. i occasionally observe persons deciding how they are choosing feel about / characterize the things they discover they experienced the night before.

  • Em

    I understand what TYPE of frat boys are this defensive. It was well known on my campus there were frats where you could go to their party, have some drinks, have fun, whatevs. Then there were frats where you had to make all of your drinks yourself because there were more roofies than alcohol in that place, and the punch was drugged. I've had several friends who were drugged in those situations. They just want an excuse: well she came into OUR house, and if she didn't want to have sex with us, she shouldn't have entered our house. It extends beyond "well she got super drunk and I didn't know," though I'm sure that's the story they'll tell. A lot of times it's more like, "she came into our house so I was entitled to sex, and I drugged her/loaded her drinks as insurance."

    A friend of mine joined one of those frats and they really do justify it as, those girls are just whores anyway. He even told us "Oh, I'd never invite you guys to any of the parties", but apparently it was okay to drug and rape other girls? Ugh.

  • Archivist

    Sigh. You made some good points, then you hurt your advocacy with ideological overreaching. I will tell you how this reads: If both parties are drunk and they willingly have sex, the guy is the "rapist" because as a male, he's obviously a predator, and he has the bodily organ that inserts. Sex is something that is "done to" women in this circumstance, as opposed to two drunk free moral agents making a stupid, indeed terrible, choice to have sex.

    Instead of playing "pin the felony on the male" in these murky circumstances where women are, at times, more responsible than the men, it would be far more productive if we ditch the gender politics (which, if you haven't noticed, is awfully divisive ever since men found the Internet don't like the fact that feminists dictate the public discourse on these issues) and do something productive -- like work together to curb the problem. The problem is alcohol in the hook-up culture.

    In my recent representation of a young man falsely accused of rape, in-house counsel of a large, and very liberal, university told me, point blank, that it's the drinking that's at the core of almost all these cases. This guy was left of Che Guevara but he bemoaned the fact that the women are drinking at least as heavily as the guys on campus nowadays.

    Women ought to be able to do what the men do, but both the men AND the women ought to stop doing this. They ALL need to grow up; they All have too much to lose; and they're ALL responsible, men and women. Colleges need to start cracking down much more severely, despite the outrage it would cause their paying customers -- and that's really at the heart of this. There's too much at stake, for women and men.

  • LeftSidePositive

    Archivist, 1925 called. It wants its prohibition back.

    The rest of us, in 2010, understand that drinking is in fact legal and hoping it will just go away is ridiculously foolish.

    And, really, WTF is wrong with women drinking as heavily as men? Don't we have that right?

    Oh, an otherwise totally liberal guy who happens to harbor residual sexist attitudes? I've never, ever heard of THAT before.

    Now, there are a lot of reasons to encourage people to cut down on their drinking, health and wellness being chief among these. But, saying that people's fundamental BODILY AUTONOMY is an acceptable collateral to compel wise decisions is absolutely bullshit. And, just because an individual makes stupid decisions that fucks their OWN body up *does not* mean that anyone else can fuck their body up, too.

    Looking at rape and saying "the problem is drinking" is like looking at hit-and-run drivers and saying "the problem is steering wheels."

    For the bizillionth time: you are responsible for what you DO while drunk, not what IS DONE to you. Legally, someone in an advanced state of intoxication cannot give consent to ANYTHING, so they cannot consent to anything being done to them. At all. Male or female. And, pretending that it's oh so hard to know who is the person actively making the sex happen and who is the more passive party is silly. Can women force sex on men? Of course, and they should be held to the same standard as a man who forces himself on a woman. BUT that does not mean you get to ignore a woman who was forced into sex by saying, "theoretically, you could have forced yourself onto him, and so I don't particularly care to take you seriously."

  • Em

    "I'm a pretty liberal guy, but..." is the new, "I'm not sexist, but..."/"I'm not racist, but..."