September 8, 2009

You Are [Not] Safe

Warning: Talk of rape...experimental format post...hearsay

You Are [Not] Safe

We had yet another rape on campus this year, last week. It'd be naive unfortunately to pretend that rape and assaults don't happen on any college campus; the startling thing is our crime rate here is supposedly low but it's only low because it's rarely publicized, that is to say not reported. Or if it is only for a fleeting moment via email.

For instance, this rape. Everyone has quickly made up their mind to blame the victim because she lied at first. It seemed sort of typical to me when I heard about her story. It went, the first time, that she was being followed back to her apartment by a strange man at night, then he pushed her into her apartment and she was raped. After the investigation it came out that she did know the guy following her, she let him in, and he pushed her into her apartment and she was raped.

Well! As soon as that came out the snickers & back handed sympathy began and suddenly it was her fault for not taking precautions. I think what I heard missing from a lot of this discussion is, he raped her. What about the rapist? It's not that anyone's pitying him but why isn't he under public scrutiny as well? Do we even know who he is? Will they tell us? Is he in jail? No it's GIRL GIRL GIRL YOU YOU YOU READ THE PAMPHLETS NEXT TIME sigh

Your Words Have [No] Meaning

During orientation and all through the school year we politely remind women of the precautions they can take to not be raped, and every now and then we tell the guys what they can do to...not rape I guess. Or better yet, how not to be caught in a situation where you're framed for rape. Don't go out at night (even if you have night classes). If you have night classes try using the facilities on campus (although you can be raped or assaulted in the day time). Don't be anywhere alone. Be aware of your surroundings. Don't let strange people in.

It's always great advice--I mean, what else can they do besides hold your hand every hour of the day? They can't save you from rampant victim blaming our culture is prone to. They can't save you from not being believed.

What a symptom of society. You'll probably call me naive (as usual) when I say I was astonished at the people I talked to or heard that were basically dismissive. It's a bit of a self fulfilling prophecy AND vicious cycle because the victim isn't believed. I'm willing to speculate that the woman probably knew she wasn't going to be taken seriously if she told the truth so she lied; then you know, after you lie no one takes the truth seriously then your story just gets swept under the rug~

I can only speculate but I can do so from experience. I've seen it. It's happened to me & it's happened to many women. It keeps happening because we put all the responsibility on the woman's shoulders not to go out & get raped, and when it happens well...did you see these nice pamphlets?

They Can [Not] Save You

This apparently happens every fall because this campus doesn't care much about women even though women make up a rather large portion of the campus...go figure. I like how suddenly there's all this info about rape prevention in my dorm hall that wasn't there, on billboards where it wasn't before, information about the health clinics won't be there next year, well, not until the next rape is publicized.

A side note.

They Do [Not] Care

Actually it's not very safe here at all for anyone who isn't white Christian & straight. Atheist? You have to suffer harassment you heathen. Student of color? Errr... Gay/Lesbian? Them's the breaks you heathen. We don't cover gender expression here because everyone's expressing their appropriate gender right...? Wait what?

It started becoming really apparent late in my second semester that this campus is either not interested in bettering "relations" or just...can't. I'm not sure which it is or if the two are exclusive but...

I Can [Not] Say

When people ask me recommendations for ETSU I'm never sure what to say anymore. I mean yeah, education wise I'm satisfied but as a queer woman of color I'm not safe on this campus in the day or the night. Most of my friends as far as I know are, at minimum, white & straight. But a lot of them are women--how do I say, "Oh well you know we have the occasional rape every now and then that you never hear about but otherwise it's a nice place!"

No. It's strange. I just feel like I'm lying & like I'm putting someone at risk. Are we safe anywhere though?

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