Columns

Newlon ‘14.5: Don’t Rape

By
Opinions Columnist
Monday, February 25, 2013

“They peed on her. That’s how you know she’s dead, because someone pissed on her… They raped her quicker than Mike Tyson raped that one girl. They raped her more than the Duke lacrosse team… It isn’t really rape because you don’t know if she wanted to or not.”

These are perhaps the least disturbing quotes from the video released by the hacker group Anonymous, featuring 18 year-old student Michael Nodiano providing his own personal commentary on the alleged rape of a 16 year-old high school girl by two members of the Steubenville High School’s celebrated football team.

The controversial case centers on the supposed events of Aug. 11 and 12, 2012, when the two high school sophomores allegedly drugged the girl, dragged her around and sexually assaulted her. Pictures appeared on Twitter and other social media sites showing the girl trussed up and unconscious, held by her hands and feet by two teenage boys. The graphics are accompanied by such charming comments as “the song of the night is definitely ‘Rape Me’ by Nirvana.”

The Steubenville case is one of many recent infamous rape controversies — another being the notorious gang rape and murder of a 23 year-old Delhi college student. People protested both cases internationally.

These events are on the more horrific end of a spectrum of the persistent and insidious sexual assault that infects many areas of our society — including our college culture.

According to reports by the U.S. Department of Justice, an estimated one out of every four college-aged women has experienced an assault that meets the criteria of rape or attempted rape, and one out of five college-aged women is raped during her college years.

Yet no one ever talks about it.

To be sure, we have events like “Consent Day,” where we have a dildo ring toss and obtain our hot-pink quintessentially Brown t-shirts. The event, while fun and empowering, obscures the serious problem of on-campus sexual assault with the frivolity of water balloon condoms and sex vending machines.

Last week, the international movement  “One Billion Rising” took to campus to protest, dance and discuss widespread violence against women. Yet there was little discussion about assault at Brown.

By most estimates — and my personal knowledge — a significant number of women on this campus are assaulted every year. Yet even here, at a progressive, liberal school, we’re reluctant to speak about it. It’s still somehow shameful for the victim. Everybody on this campus almost certainly knows a victim of sexual assault — and yet there is little outrage.

We were taught about sexual assault during first-year orientation. A brave, traumatized survivor spoke about her date rape, perpetrated in her dorm room by someone she thought was her friend. It was a noble speech. It was also horrifying.

And yet later I wondered: What was the point of it? To tell women to go out and not get in rape-y situations? Much like the warning speech about alcohol, it’s acknowledged that problems occur — so, as women, we should really be more careful.

Listen: If one in five college women is getting raped, somebody is doing the raping. In the aforementioned government study, at least one in 12 college men admitted to committing acts that fit the legal definition of rape.

So shouldn’t our culture, and colleges, be spreading the message “Don’t rape”?

The American rape confusion should come as no surprise to us. We couldn’t look at the news last year without seeing troglodytic politicians babbling about “legitimate” or “forcible” rape. As if the quiet, desperate struggles that occur in thousands of dorm rooms nationwide are somehow less real than the rapes that happen via the knifepoint of a stranger.

Yet even fellow Brown students seem to have trouble demarcating exactly what a rape is. Last semester, fellow writer Chris Norris-LeBlanc ’13 published a controversial column about the prevalence of on-campus rapes (“Rape happens here, too,” Nov. 28). The anonymous commenters were swift to retaliate:

“Rape is not always a black/white, cut and dry thing (especially when intoxicated co-eds are involved)… There are clear cut examples out there, including but not limited to violent and/or drug related assaults…Is it rape if a guy sleeps with a girl who’s drunk?”

In our culture, the definition of sexual assault is foggy. But rape — and sexual assault in general — are the most clear-cut things in the world. Instead of perpetuating victim-blaming, we need to teach a new message that clearly delineates what constitutes sexual assault:

If a girl is too drunk to wholeheartedly, happily consent, it’s sexual assault. If a girl wants you to stop and you don’t, it’s sexual assault. If a girl says “no” the first three times you ask and then eventually, reluctantly relents to the pressure, it’s sexual assault. Sexual assault is sexual assault, whether it’s by a stranger, boyfriend or husband.

It’s easy to hide behind a message that places some fault on the victim. It makes us feel better, the problem seem smaller. As women, it makes us feel protected: We’ll never be so stupid or so reckless, so we’ll never be assaulted.

But it’s time to recognize a new truth. The lesson we should be teaching? “Don’t assault women.” Don’t assault anybody. That’s all there is to it.

 

Cara Newlon ’14.5 is happy to continue this conversation at cara_newlon@brown.edu.

52 Comments

  1. This is one of the dumbest articles I’ve ever read. First, there is constant outrage at Brown about alleged rape crisis. And yet, the only rape case I know of at Brown destroyed the life of a male due to a grossly unfair process (that doesn’t even respect U.S. law) and has been set up by feminists like Cara Newlon.

    Further, the reported numbers are utter bullshit. It has been frequently published that the scientists who came up with the statistic 1/4 of women get assaulted and 1/5 get raped were feminists in the 80s, who made up the numbers (and for some reason they never went away). For instance, they define rape as an act in which a woman (who gives a shit about men, right) can not legally consent, aka is 100% sober. Well guess what, under that definition, my girlfriend raped me last night! This is insanity. Sex is not like driving a car. People can want it even after 10 shots of Vodka and if they regret it after I would suggest drinking not so much is a good cure for this “rape problem”.

    Listen (as the author would say), if 1/5 women were raped, one should put all males at Brown in investigative custody. But as no reasonable person who thinks about this can honestly assume that this number is anywhere close to reality let’s tone the alarmism down shall we? This whole “rape crisis” is a vilification of men as animals that are just waiting to date rape a girl. The best part of the story is the standard answer when anybody (who dares) questions the numbers. “You know, most women don’t even report rape.” This may well be true, but crying wolf without any real evidence hurts not just real rape victims (cause how special is that when 20% of Brown’s campus has been raped?) but also men who are under constant suspicion of committing one of the most repulsive crimes known to men.

    • Okay, wow, there are loads of other rapes on campus that don’t get publicized like the McCormack case. That one was high-profile because of the people involved; there are plenty of others that have gone unreported. I know a number of survivors; don’t make blanket statements just because you aren’t familiar with the specifics of the situation.

      Newlon’s point isn’t that no one should have sex (or engage in any kind of sexual activity) when drunk –– her point is that there needs to be explicit consent every time it happens. This is especially a problem when there ISN’T an extant understanding between you and another person –– some couples have understood, non-verbal forms of consent, but not all do, and not everyone wants sex every time it happens. In novel encounters, non-verbal consent is far less clear.

      I agree that this piece was female/heterosexual-centred, especially on a campus that has a large population of LGBTQ individuals. While the overwhelming number of rape cases involve men raping women, this conversation certainly shouldn’t exclude men who get raped or women who rape others.

      • We agree on a couple things. But I want to point out that I didn’t say there are no rapes, I said that the statement “20% of Brown’s women have been raped” is just ridiculous. Any kind of those stats are not scientific because they are designed to be non-verifiable. Clearly there are rapes that are not reported. But that doesn’t make a rape epidemic as the author wants to make us believe. Please, show me real numbers how many convicted rape cases there are. Everything else is hearsay and should not be taken seriously. It is just like the cases of “date rape drugs”. So many girls that pass out after a bottle of vodka claim somebody put a drug in their drinks. This is plain ridiculous

        Further, the definition with explicit consent is utter rubbish because unless I sign a contract while I am sober, there is no such thing as proper consent. I agree that having sex with an unconscious person (or somebody close to it) is rape. But where does this state start? If one cannot consent to sex while drunk, the U.S. should outlaw sex under the influence of any kinds of drug. However, as an adult I demand the right to drink as much as I want and do whatever I want to my own body when I in this state. Be this sex, drugs or self-mutilation! And I won’t let some feminists tell me when I have been raped or when I haven’t consent. I also refuse to support the option that I can sue a girl over rape, just because she was so kind to f#### me while I was drunk.

        Thank you very much

      • We agree on a couple things. But I want to point out that I didn’t
        say there are no rapes, I said that the statement “20% of Brown’s women
        have been raped” is just ridiculous. Any kind of those stats are not
        scientific because they are designed to be non-verifiable. Clearly there
        are rapes that are not reported. But that doesn’t make a rape epidemic
        as the author wants to make us believe. Please, show me real numbers how
        many convicted rape cases there are. Everything else is hearsay and
        should not be taken seriously. It is just like the cases of “date rape
        drugs”. So many girls that pass out after a bottle of vodka claim
        somebody put a drug in their drinks. This is plain ridiculous

        Further,
        the definition with explicit consent is utter rubbish because unless I
        sign a contract while I am sober, there is no such thing as proper
        consent. I agree that having sex with an unconscious person (or somebody
        close to it) is rape. But where does this state start? If one cannot
        consent to sex while drunk, the U.S. should outlaw sex under the
        influence of any kinds of drug. However, as an adult I demand the right
        to drink as much as I want and do whatever I want to my own body when I
        in this state. Be this sex, drugs or self-mutilation! And I won’t let
        some feminists tell me when I have been raped or when I haven’t consent.
        I also refuse to support the option that I can sue a girl over rape,
        just because she was so kind to f#### me while I was drunk.

        Thank you very much

        • Ana Cecilia Alvarez says:

          I am shocked and frightened by reading some of the comments for this article. What is with our culture that a column that starts with the description of a young woman being drugged, drag, carried by her feet, raped, and then having her rape publicized on social media, is met with comments about how it is the accused rapists who’s “life’s are destroyed” thanks to those god-awful feminists. ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS DADADA?

          1) OF COURSE STATISTICS ON RAPE ARE NON-VERIFIABLE. THIS DOSENT MEAN THAT RAPE DOESNT HAPPEN When victim-blaming and excusing rape is the norm, many (read:most) rapes go unreported. Women and men who are victims of sexual assault internalize the guilt of their assaulter believe that they should have drunk less, that they should have been more careful, that it is their fault. This means that it make having “verifiable” statistics impossible, What this does not mean is that, therefor, rape is not happening frequently, or that therefor, there is no reason to not talk about rape and sexual assault because hey, who knows who many of girls who drink all that vodka get raped?!? The fact that many victims are unable, unwilling, and afraid to report their rape should be a telling fact on just how FUCKED UP this situation in

          2) IF YOU DO NOT RECEIVE EXPLICIT CONSET, IT IS RAPE. PERIOD. Let me say it again. If you are with a partner, and you are unsure, it is unclear, by their or yout state of consciousness that you both ACTIVE DESIRE TO HAVE SEX, and you still go ahead, IT IS RAPE. Again: IF A PARTNER IS TOO DRUNK TO GIVE VERBAL CONSENT, yes IT IS RAPE. What I don’t get is why in the world would you want to have sex while half-conscious, when you can’t even tell if your partner desires it. Is that good sex to you? I mean, like you said, do with your drunken body whatever you will. If you actively desire and consent to have sex with another person thats great. But DO NOT do with other bodies, drunk or sober, whatever you will. While you may be glad that some girls are “kind enough to fuck you” (really!?!? wow) many women and men who are victims of sexual assault would like you to be kind enough and start practicing active consent.

          • Well, you kind of proved my point. First of all the talk about the huuuge dark figure (which cannot be proven). Nobody says rape doesn’t happen. But EXCUSE ME for pointing out that the 20% rape figure I always hear in these discussion is just plane ridiculous.
            Also, I said that sex with an unconscious person is rape. But Brown’s feminists say one must not just be bale to give consent, but also be under the right condition to give this consent! And that’s the point where it gets nasty, because the physical condition under which one can give consent is so damn arbitrary. Right now, if a woman gives consent but was drunk, she can sue the guy over fucking her because she was not in the right state of mind to give this consent. This is the fucked up situation I am talking about. As always, people twist the words inside your mouth if you talk about subjects like that.

        • The idea that it’s impossible to have reliable statistics about the prevalence of rape on college campuses is absurd. It’s true that many rapes are not reported to the authorities, but studies like the National Crime Victimization Survey or any of the dozen studies listed in the first footnote of the paper below don’t rely on police reports alone. The number of false rape reports has been shown (also with science! wow!) to be very low, contrary to popular myth. Furthermore, other surveys have revealed that a similar number of men (1 in 5) admitted to doing things that classify as sexual assault. Even if you believe perpetrators more than survivors (which is disturbing to say the least), the statistics stand.

          http://faculty2.ucmerced.edu/lhamilton2/docs/paper-2006-sexual-assault.pdf

          • Well, Kara. First of all, what about your 20% rape claim? That’s the disturbing one. That’s the statistic that is just not right.
            Further, you can’t be serious about this study! It is a much to small sample (42 floor residents) from a non-representative, non-random population (Midwestern university and party dorm).

            The punch line of any “rape” study has to be that there is rape. If you don’t find it, it is not reported. So these “researchers” made it easy and just generalized from a very, very extreme environment. But hey, maybe I should do a male rape study in prison and then publish the results that in America, 20% of all men get raped….

          • Well, Kara. First of all, what about your 20% rape claim? That’s the
            disturbing one. That’s the statistic that is just not right.
            Further, you can’t be serious about this study! It is a much to small sample (42 floor residents) from a non-representative, non-random population
            (Midwestern university and party dorm).

            The punch line of any “rape” study has to be that there is rape. If you don’t find it, it is not reported. So these “researchers” made it easy and just generalized from a very, very extreme environment. But hey, maybe I should do a male rape study in prison and then publish the results that in America, 20% of all men get raped….

          • I was not citing this study to back up the 20% statistic because you’ll notice that was not the focus of the research presented in the paper at all. As I said in the first place, the first footnote lists fully twelve studies that DO back up the 20% statistic. That is why I linked to this paper. Clearly that was confusing so I will just list the studies: Abbey et al. 1996; Adams-Curtis and Forbes 2004; Copenhaver and Grauerholz 1991; DeKeseredy and Kelly 1993; Fisher et al. 1998; Humphrey and White 2000; Koss 1988; Koss, Gidycz, and Wisniewski 1987; Mills and Granoff 1992; Muehlenhard and Linton 1987; Tjaden and Thoennes 2000; and Ward et al. 1991.

          • haha, I went through these studies and not one has any proof of this number. They all cross reference. Honestly, if a study told you grass is blue, you would probably also believe it. Feminist studies are not real science. They are made to support a political agenda. The tobacco industry is more respectable in its studies.

    • Constant outrage? Hardly. If something actually got done, then maybe there wouldn’t need to keep being so many articles about it.

      I was raped. Now you know my case. Congratulations, now the number you know is 2. And I’m a male who was assaulted by a male. However, as a survivor, I also know that the vast majority of other survivors are female. There are others like me, other men raped by women, but the VAST majority are female. To ignore the actual numbers would be to ignore the problem altogether.

      At NO point in this article does she suggest anything that you would vilify as “feminist.” Ironically, you’re complaining that women are vilifying men, when, ironically, you’re vilifying her.

      “Real rape victims?” You’re starting to sound like Todd Akin. And if every man knew about consent back-to-front, knew EXACTLY where the lines lie, then they shouldn’t be under constant suspicion. However, given your outspokenness about “vilification of men as animals,” (which is really just victim-blaming) I can understand why you might think that all men other than you face tremendous scrutiny.

  2. I actually think the “consent is sexy” type of campaign and educating people on what is and isn’t consent is a far better option than the “Don’t Rape” campaign. As a high school senior, the same rape survivor that Brown employs came to my all boys school and gave us a very much “Don’t Rape” style talking, and I and many other guys left that session as rape apologists when we were not originally. The default for men is not “rapist unless told otherwise” so don’t treat me like that.

    • Not sure if I’m being considered one of the “anonymous commenters slewing shit”. I am Toby Cohen ’09. When I was Greek Council Vice Chair I attended the new sexual assault prevention course that we, Greek Council, were going to implement as part of a mandatory session for pledges of all houses. In this session, I was not treated as a rapist in need of an intervention but as an ally to victims. I found this approach to be far more effective than the session I received in high school and then again during orientation a few months later. I think that when men are treated as “rapists unless otherwise educated”, we see it as “Well, this person is calling me a rapist but I am not a rapist; therefore, how do I know that girl accusing that guy of being a rapist isn’t also lying.” When I was treated as an ally in the fight to end violence against women instead, the session proved to be much more powerful, rewarding, and engaging.

      Therefore, as I stated in my previous comment, the lesson shouldn’t be “don’t assault people” since that implies I was going to. The lesson should be focused on how amazing asking for and receiving consent is.

      • Chris Norris-LeBlanc says:

        Toby,

        You do raise a good point — a sex positive approach certainly has its merits, and sex positivity in general is a really good thing.

        Where I think you go astray, however, is to assume that sex positivity and a “don’t rape” message are mutually exclusive or at odds with each other.

        When we are brought up, we are told not to steal, not to cheat, not to kill, etc. It is not as if our parents are assuming we are thieves, cheaters and murderers, but rather that people need both a solid understanding of the things they should do and those that they shouldn’t do.

        It is really easy to promote a “don’t rape” message alongside a sex positive model for consent. The issue with only promoting a sex positive consent model is that, despite what we might like to think, we live in a world where sexual assault is incredibly prevalent and pretending it doesn’t exist is not fair to victims or effective in confronting it.

        Clearly, not every man is a rapist. However, the act of not raping people does not make one a good ally, and we are not good allies until we try to be; it is something we have to earn through a great deal of thought coupled with vigilance and action.

        It is also important to mention that rapists are not just a handful of bad people who we can get rid of and then be done with the problem. The prevalence of men raping women is the result of underlying constructions of masculinity and male privilege, not a few “bad apples.” As such, we who identify as men must look to see how these things play out in our lives and not just assume that since we are not rapists, they don’t effect us at all.

        So, Toby, I agree that the session you had is absolutely an integral part of the solution to this problem, but I disagree with the assertion that it is the only one and that it is at odds with the solution Cara proposes.

        • Let’s not pretend that people don’t know that rape is illegal by the time they go to college. That’s just a myth purported by Brown’s women’s rights groups. The point is that a “don’t rape” campaign puts all men under general suspicion. You claim rapists are not just a few bad apples, BUT THEY ARE! This is what general suspicion looks like! Feminists like Cara, who claim that 20% of women are raped do that! This is what inflating numbers comes to. What would you say if there would be a mandatory campaign for black and latino students to attend “don’t kill people” campaigns, just because there are black and latino gangbangers? If you think this edited quote form you sounds wrong, it’s because IT IS!

          “It is also important to mention that [murderers] are not just a handful of
          bad people who we can get rid of and then be done with the problem. The prevalence of [blacks & latinos] killing [others] is the result of underlying constructionsof masculinity and male privilege, not a few “bad apples.” As such, we who identify as [blacks & latinos] must look to see how these things play out in our lives and not just assume that since we are not [killers], they don’t effect us at all.”

        • Chris,

          I disagree that teenagers or young adults need to be educated in the way that toddlers and young children are. Regardless “rape is wrong” is still different from “don’t rape.” You can educate someone about a topic without the presumption that they will commit it. You can also separate perpetuating rape culture from actually raping someone.

          I am not sure why you are lecturing me on the fact that “not being a rapist isn’t enough.” Nowhere in my post did I say that just because I or any man are not rapists means that we are done with our job in helping combating rape culture or violence against women. My point is simply that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Engaging men as allies will be far more productive than engaging them as future enemies who need to be shown the light.

          For example, I remember my sophomore or junior year, take back the night came into my fraternity house, and started yelling at us in the hallways about how they were reclaiming the space as a safe space for women. This couldn’t have been more insulting. Standing in front of my bedroom and yelling at me about how my room is not a safe space did nothing for me in terms of making me aware of how I might help women. I know the stats about Greek Life and sexual assault but why skin your nose to save your face if you can save both? Being yelled at did not make me face my male privilege, it made me angry, it made me hate take back the night. It made me initially dread going to that Sexual Assault Prevention course that I actually ended up loving and finding really great. If take back the night is simply meant to be a cathartic experience for its participants than I guess it probably achieved that goal but at what cost? How many “dadas” are created from men on the receiving end of that yelling mob?

          I am not saying there is only one way to do it, I’m just saying that I think less hostile and accusatory campaigns are better. Maybe I’m wrong, but I have had 3 experiences that in my opinion, did much more harm than good in terms of the cause.

  3. This has to be one of the top 5 worst BDH opinions I’ve ever read. And that’s saying a lot.

  4. Rape affects all sorts of people, and the definition of it needs to be expanded. Women AND men can be perpetrators and victims of sexual violence, and neither group should be shamed into silence.

    If ANYONE is too drunk to wholeheartedly, happily consent, it’s sexual assault. If ANYONE wants you to stop and you don’t, it’s sexual assault. If ANYONE says “no” the first three times you ask and then eventually, reluctantly relents to the pressure, it’s sexual assault. Sexual assault is sexual assault, whether it’s by a stranger, SIGNIFICANT OTHER, husband, OR WIFE.

    • omg calm down, nobody is arguing that it isn’t a problem for everybody

    • I really appreciate you mentioning this. Sexual assault is not a gendered crime and shouldn’t be talked about as such. And it’s SO INCREDIBLY EASY to use inclusive language. Let’s try a little harder here.

  5. Me thinks the lads below protest too much! And why do they hide behind anonymous comments? Would the light of day before their peers reveal the guilt they seem to share?
    Tom Bale ’63

    • They hide behind anonymous comments, not for guilt, but because if a male student currently at Brown posted a response which criticizes an article about rape, the personal backlash experienced among female students would be severe. Our society has not only shamed rape victims, it has, by trying to address that, shamed anyone who would dare to offer up conversation or critical views on the subject.
      Josh Bloom ’14

      • I would think the backlash would be more severe, given that women might not want to hang out with someone that has very complacent views about sexual assault. I agree that there should be a better discourse, though I suggest you more greatly explore the causes and effects before immediately concluding that it’s the women’s fault for having such a reaction.

  6. Chris Norris-LeBlanc says:

    To anonymous commenters,

    If you want to sling shit at a columnist, at least have the courage to do so without hiding behind the internet. Is there perhaps a certain amount of fear that you will have to be held accountable, potentially by people who have suffered a great deal and by a community that supports them?

    Let’s be real about what “constant outrage” means. To my best approximation, it means a handful of columns written in the BDH over the past several years, the two days after they are written when the campus talks about them, and the efforts of a very small group of people to change how Brown handles sexual assault policy. Either you are being hyperbolic to prove a point, or I am deaf and blind.

    Everyone also needs to also get something straight — the McCormick case is an aberration. It is the same argument that people use to say racism doesn’t exist in the United States anymore — “Well, I know a poor white person who was thrown in jail for a crime they didn’t commit, so it doesn’t just happen to people of color.” In the face of the prevalence of sexual assault which goes unreported and under punished, particularly (but certainly not limited to) that perpetrated against women in our community, to continuously cite this case, or even several, is to expose the degree to which you are tilting at windmills.

    Dadada et al., did you ever stop to think that given the nature of your arguments about rape, you might not be the first person a victim would open up to? Or is the burden on them to convince you to recognize their suffering?

    Cara’s point is also, purely from a rigorous point of view, correct. One can make an infinite amount of arguments about how women being more careful could reduce the amount of rape, but this implies that if a woman is not constantly vigilant, she is liable to be raped. However, to insist that we promote a message of “don’t rape” rather than “don’t get raped” implies that nobody will get raped if we are constantly vigilant about not raping each other — it seems as if the latter should be a lot easier than the former.

    What this does, though, is force the spotlight off of the victim’s behavior and refocuses it on the assaulter — in a statistically staggering amount of cases, off of women and onto men. This means that it is now your job to avoid sex with highly intoxicated people, and perhaps even more difficult, to be deeply introspective about your own behavior and rigorously confront what you may have previously defined as a “gray area.” It might mean having less sex, even when the sex would have been consensual, but I would hope that most people would agree with the fact that it is worth it for everyone to turn down any number of sexcapades if it can prevent one rape.

    • YESSSS, finally. The “don’t blame it on the victim” response. Nobody does that (of course your “reputable” source socialist worker begs to differ). My point is that rape is not anywhere close to an epidemic. And people can only stir up an epidemic if they change the definition of rape to something where consent means being in the position to give full consent (aka if the girl is drunk you rape her). But this is ridiculous.

      Also, of course the rapist’s rights count as much as the victims. Of course, to feminists the concept of innocent until proven guilty doesn’t ring a bell.

      • You don’t know anything about rape. You don’t know what it’s like to have to face a process that is already working against you. Frankly, you scare me.

        • walk a mile in my shoes says:

          With the way public opinion at Brown is these days, it really is working against the accused just as much. You know nothing about being accused of rape. You don’t know what it’s like to have to face a process that has people thinking you’re the antichrist. Frankly, you scare me.

      • I swear, I'm not a rapist. says:

        I believe that 20% of women at Brown have been raped, assuming we take the newly standard definition of rape as any sex that has occurred within 24hours of consuming a drop of alcohol.

        Honestly, that 20% number is laughable.

  7. Maybe if less women lied about rape and sexual assault, then serious cases would be taken more seriously. Just last semester someone was expelled from Brown because of a false accusation. It wasn’t just McCormick.

    • The rate of misreporting in sexual assault is the same for any other felony: 2%. I highly suggest you take a look on the latest statistics on the matter before offering rather unverifiable hearsay evidence. One could equivalently claim that “I just don’t think you were mugged last week.”

      • This is an incredibly stupid assertion because you compare apples and oranges. If I say that person X mugged me at gunpoint, the police would look for a gun and the bait at person X’s place. The same should hold true for rape! Yet, this is not the case. At Brown, a girl can anonymously accuse the guy and the university is known to expel men even without the shred of an evidence. Really, shame on people, who compare the just due process of the law with Brown’s arbitrary rape policies that put women’s rights over men. You guys have been brainwashed. BRAINWASHED. Saying that Brown does not put women’s rights over men’s is objectively false. Brown doesn’t even follow the most basic principle “innocent until proven guilty”. I just hope that somebody sues the hell out of Brown so that this practice stops. Seriously, it undermines the legitimacy of all real rape cases!

        • Give me one example other than the McCormick case.

          • How could one case that showed Brown’s standard procedures not be enough? Why don’t you give me examples of how the system works against women. And please no hearsay. Real articles from real sources (police reports etc.)

          • Last semester, the expulsion. He wrote a letter to the editor about it. It wasn’t a rape allegation, but it was a false allegation of sexual assault without a shred of evidence other than the girl’s story.

          • Not How Evidence Works says:

            And you’re taking his letter as evidence that the allegations against him were false?

  8. Ana Cecilia Alvare says:

    If you want to learn more about rape culture and victime blaming, I strongly suggest you read this article by Jen Roesch, who spoke at Brown last week.

    http://socialistworker.org/2013/01/07/victim-blaming-system-excuses-rape

    Here is an excerpt from her article, that I think gets to the hear of what Newlons column was trying to say:

    “THE ASSUMPTION that rape is murky and hard to identify underlies the normal response–in which the rights and feelings of men accused of rape are elevated above the rights and needs of rape survivors.

    The way in which college campuses handle sexual assault cases provides a vivid example of this. A man who is found to be responsible for a sexual assault is expelled in less than 15 percent of cases. Much more common sanctions include having to participate in alcohol awareness training; writing a letter of apology to the victim; having to take a women’s studies course; and other minimal punishments. Administrators are much more likely to approach these cases as “teachable moments”–in the process, they minimize the experience of rape and sexual assault for survivors.

    The result is that rape becomes normalized–almost as if it’s the consequence of being a young woman, particularly a sexually active woman, in society today.

    At least part of the assumption is that those who commit rape are bright young men whose lives shouldn’t be ruined by one “mistake.” But missing from the discussion is the impact that rape and sexual assault have on the victims themselves.

    Many victims of rape leave school for fear of having to attend classes or live in dorms with their assailant. And women who report being sexually assaulted often find themselves victimized all over again by a criminal injustice system where they are treated as if they are responsible.

    Even for those who don’t report sexual assaults (and the vast majority of women do not), there are consequences. Almost one-third of women who have been sexually assaulted will suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or a major depressive episode during their lifetime. More widespread are the more common effects on self-esteem, the ability to trust, sexual functioning, sleep disorders and more. A majority live in fear of friends or relatives finding out what happened to them.

    A real response to the epidemic of rape and sexual violence in society would put those experiences, endured by the victims, back at the center of the discussion. Such a response must reject any idea that there are gradations of assault, and that some can be more “legitimately” described as rape. And it must reject victim-blaming and the idea that it is a woman’s responsibility to prevent a rape or sexual assault.

    Only then can we begin a real discussion about why some men rape and how the broader culture is responsible for making that acceptable.”

  9. Isabella '14 says:

    thanks for keeping the conversation going, cara.

  10. There should be a trigger warning before the start of this article. There is very graphic language and people, especially survivors, should not be forced to read something that may trigger unwanted emotions.

    • BrownStudent22 says:

      The article is called “Don’t Rape”. Seems pretty intuitive that there’d be talk about rape in the article.

      • Discussion of rape doesn’t mean graphic and explicit language intended to grab the attention of those who are perusing a newspaper. There should be a trigger warning.

  11. This is a paper written by Dr. David Lisak, a clinical psychologist who teaches at UMass Boston, that offers statistics about men who sexually assault that may be useful to this conversation. In it he talks about how the majority of sexual assaults are committed by repeatedly undetected offenders who make up only about seven percent of men studied, but commit a disgusting number of assaults.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11991158

    • The reason I posted this article is not to say that we should stop spreading the message that men should not rape, but rather to start conversation about the importance of asking men to be allies to survivors and potential victims.

    • Chris Norris-LeBlanc says:

      Will,

      This is really interesting, thanks for posting. I also think it is worth thinking about, though, how as men, our role in the existence of sexual assault is much more expansive than just perpetrating it. By not confronting it either as it happens in front of us or as it appears in a lot of cultural signals and symbols, we are also playing an integral role in its continued existence.

  12. Very rarely do people want to be a rapist. Except for special individuals like Michael Nodianos and the rest of them, most date rapists aren’t even aware that they, according to definition, raped someone. How can that possibly be?

    Simple. Our courting/dating culture rewards assertive-aggressive males. As you pointed out Cara, the guy that insists, usually gets the girl (I’m keeping this to the heteronormative case as was outlined in the article). The guy that doesn’t push the relationship forward usually doesn’t “win.” This results in males adopting assertive and aggressive strategies or behaviors as the courting rituals are completely asymmetric. Consider who by societal norms is taught to be the pursuers and who is taught to be the pursued, and the picture I’m trying to paint becomes clearer.

    In my eyes, sex is a beautiful thing between two equals. However, in our asymmetric dating/courting culture, this doesn’t always seem to be what happens. For example, I personally think many times, the Senior-Freshmen relationships to exhibit major, and inherent power imbalances. Perhaps that’s another topic to consider tangentially to this one.

    In order to fight rape culture I think it is imperative to rethink how relationships of power imbalance occur. I think it starts with our courting rituals. I’d urge women to take power and equity in relationships back by steering the ‘ship themselves. Only then, do you remove the terrible game incentives that reward only assertive-aggressive behavior and instead shared values and things that matter. My point here isn’t to address sociopaths like Nodianos, its to address the everyday. I’d hope to live in a world one day where it is not weird for a girl to ask a guy out or a guy to ask a girl out. I don’t think we’ve achieved that yet, as evidenced by the prevalence of rape.

  13. I don’t think Newlon is discouraging the “consent is sexy” campaign or men “allying” with women (whatever that means). The article advocates a more serious method of dealing with sexual assault in conjunction with consent in sexy, etc. She’s not villifying men, she’s just advocating shifting responsibility to them instead of rape victims.

  14. For real, though. says:

    Sometimes it seems that the only thing I hear about more than rape is people sanctimoniously declaring that nobody talks about rape.

  15. Awaiting the shitstorm says:

    Rape is always bad, and it is never the victim’s fault that they got assaulted. However, people can be vigilant in reducing sexual assault by walking in groups, keeping tabs on alcohol consumption such that they are able to meaningfully resist attacks or deny consent, and other things of that nature. This is apparently called “victim-blaming”, but I think it’s common sense for females, males, heterosexuals, homosexuals, cis, trans, etc. no matter who you are.

    • I would agree with the majority of what you said as common sense. The only this I would object to is the part about not getting drunk to more greatly resist or deny consent. Unfortunately in a lot of cases, there is an inherent size or strength imbalance already. “Don’t get drunk” could be interpreted as “it would have made a difference,” where in many cases, it wouldn’t have. Everything else is supported in ally and prevention programs, though. I would include keeping tabs on your friends and not hesitating to intervene in problematic situations.

  16. Instead of making rape a gender issue, I think it’s time we recognize that both men and women can be raped by both men and women.

    Other than that, good article.

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