[mad]Angry is not the word. Infuriated. Outraged. Disheartened. None of these words can describe how I feel that ten rapes have been reported on campus since September. I struggle with the numbers and even more so with the way our campus is handling the situation. The administration has yet to take concrete action and our mainstream newspapers fail to talk about the real problems. We are standing frozen as the numbers of reported sexual assaults rise like the mercury for our community’s climate. How dare we be this complacent.
I commend the handfuls of men and women that have gathered against the violence in the last few weeks. I sympathize with the victims and praise them for their courage. The obvious target for my anger is directed at those who raped or assaulted the young women. Yet, in an attempt to look outside the individual, I blame the culture we live in and the climate in which we exist. We live in a system that allows rape, that perpetuates the objectification of women and that lulls men into a sense of entitlement and women into silence. It is a dangerous sleep.
That leads me to the real problem: men’s violence against women. It is not our responsibility as women to take self-defense classes, carry mace or walk in numbers at night (while these are all good ideas). It is the responsibility of men to reexamine our culture and to start becoming accountable for how they treat women. I’d like to clarify that I am not talking to all men by any means. Many men would never think of raping a woman. I am not angry with all men. The men in my life have almost always been positive figures. My father is a caring man that called me his sunshine, encouraging me to be anything I wanted. I am close with my brother and grandfather. Every one of my boyfriends has respected me as a woman. I am not speaking from a biased stance, only a woman’s stance, and it is men that need to raise their consciousness.
Eight out of the ten assaults reported were acquaintance rapes. The men raping on campus are not the lurking predators that we’re trained to fear. They are our friends, boyfriends, roommates and brothers. They are the seemingly harmless guys we let into our dorm rooms. Most likely they have not pre-meditated their actions. But a vague entitlement and tolerance for violence lies within many of our men. There are those five or so crucial minutes when the lines can be blurred, when he takes what he wants, what many times he feels is owed to him. Even more disturbing is the silence that is socialized within her. If only one out of ten rapes are reported, she is too often silenced by shame and fear. She may deny all together that this could have happened to her. “Not me,” she says, “I came from a good home, my parents taught me never to get in these kinds of situations, this couldn’t have happened to me.” Our culture let this happen to her.
By ending the rape culture that permits his entitlement and her silence, and by moving out of a climate where women have less power, we could eradicate sexual assault altogether. But we can’t do it alone. It’s up to all of us, both women and men, to band together to say enough is enough. We need to get past alarmed, move right by pissed off and go straight to mad as hell. We need to force the administration to do something about the rape epidemic; whether it is mandatory sexual violence sensitivity classes, a widespread media campaign or more police on campus. If 100 of us need to carry flashlights and surround Holden hall all night than we should do it. We need to send the message that we will no longer tolerate this violence.

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