If you're against rape, you should read this.
Sometime in the week of the 6th in February 2011, I was walking with my friends to one of their rooms. I live in an off-campus student housing facility. It’s like a dorm-apartment blend, with Resident Assistants on every hall, all male halls, all female halls, and co-ed.
In every hallway there is a bulletin board which the RA is supposed to decorate somehow, usually according to whatever holiday or festivity is going on. Valentine’s Day was coming up, so this board had, “What’s your pick up line?”
Beneath it had a permanent marker and a bunch of blank note cards for residents to write their answers on. To quote my friend who is an RA on campus, leaving a blank and open space for the bulletin board "can quickly transform into one of the most destructive presence of a residence hall community."
Looking at this board, I already had a problem with it because of the very idea of having a “pick up line” – something you (usually a man) says to someone (usually a woman) that enables you to coerce them into sex. Not exactly the most consensual phrase.
With that thought in mind, and my feministey-senses tingling, of course, my friends and I stop to read what has been written. The few that stood out to me were as follows:
“Want to see a garage full of dead babies?” (Or something to that effect, I didn’t get a picture of it)
“Want to know how I know you’re getting laid tonight? ‘Cause I’m bigger than you.” I didn’t get a picture of this either, but I remember it verbatim because it implied rape.
Then, the one I got a picture of, “Let’s not turn this rape doesn’t into a murder!”
Don't ask what that drawing is supposed to be - I have no clue. An electrifying and phallic two thumbs up? Whatever.
So, I rip that note off, take my mighty pen, and write a response. Please note, I do curse, I have no problem with cursing. I would probably appear “calmer” if I didn’t, but I’m always suspicious of folks who only respect a woman when she’s at an appropriate level of “calmness.” So I can’t remember exactly what I wrote, but it was something along the lines of, “Whoever the fuck wrote that rape ‘joke’: You’re disgusting. It’s pathetic that you find that funny…there’s something called human decency.”
A few days later I walk by again, and I see this in response to what I wrote:
“LOL! – The Rape Guy <- He’s awesome”
He identified himself as "the rape guy." This should trigger an alarm for y'all.
So Saturday the 12th I made a video on my YouTube channel about the rape jokes made, about a dorm on my campus that is known for having a “rape rock," and about rape culture. A quick note on what the rape rock is: it's apparently a rock that gets passed down to freshman guys that has painted on it, "Rape. It's not rape if she can't say no."
Anyways, I have the video privately listed now, and have re uploaded a new version without the specific references.
The link to the new video is here
Let's proceed, shall we?
Sunday morning around 8 AM about 200 Stop Hate messages were went in to my University.
Sunday afternoon: I reported the incident at the front desk. My name and number was written down. The first RA I spoke to was using many qualifiers with me, sounding almost skeptical about the jokes. The second lady I spoke to was much more understanding and concerned, rightfully so, and every time I’ve met with her she’s been a lot of help. So, I was told “Joel” would contact me when I inquired about a meeting. I also sent an email to corporate and got no response.
Tuesday the 15th: I got stopped while walking out the door by the Resident Director who told me she had SENT out warning letters to that floor and that there was no way an investigation could be done.
See, I didn't appreciate being stopped like that, I had a lot more I wanted to talk about (like investigating who wrote it, programs being scheduled about sexual harassment, etc) and of course don't appreciate being lied to. My friend lives on that floor, and he had received nothing that day.
I'd also like to point out that I never showed the images I took to any of these people. I only quoted the murder/rape joke to the first lady at the front desk, and she didn't write it down.
Wednesday 16th: I called front desk, and got called back by the RD who told me she was GOING to send messages out either Thursday or Friday. I had more questions to be addressed, but was told my specific RA would contact me. She said she sent an email to her “right now.” I got no contact about a meeting from her. (*Now, I also had a meeting with a woman who works for Resident Life about the rape rock. She said that Sunday there was roughly 90 students from the dorm at a meeting on Sunday evening, they were investigating about the rape rock, and alerted the University Police Department about a student who allegedly had it last.)
Friday around noon the 18th: I went to front desk, left name/number/message I wanted to MEET with the RD (Nothing).
Saturday the 19th: My roommate and I alerted the community around 5 PM of the harassment by posting flyers in the stair wells and 2-5 floor of the bulletin boards. They said, “Rape is not funny. Ever. These were jokes posted by residents here, the community needs to be aware.” With the two photos I posted above.
I got a call warning me about MY soliciting, that it is a violation of my lease by doing this.
Let’s note: Soliciting is when you’re trying to sell something. I was not selling anything.
They were angry because some tour group apparently saw the flyers (that was the point), because I needed permission to post flyers, and the RD said, “This is not the way to handle this. I told you I was handling it, I told you I was taking care of it, I am taking care of it.” *I can post a transcript of the voicemail if people are interested*
Also note: threatening me with a violation of my lease after not meeting with me after I requested a meeting is known as retaliation here.
To add another factor in the mix, the Thursday or Friday night before, I found flyers posted on the bulletin boards between the elevators of two pictures of girls that said, “for a good time please call one of us” with their names and numbers, then below “Willing to do: anal, bondage, rimjobs, facials.” I have a copy of the flyer still and a photo of it, but because it shows the girls’ face I don’t want to post it here.
I contacted one of the girls and it turns out it was a couple of her guy friends who wanted to start a prank war. They didn’t get in trouble or reprimanded, and she didn’t want them to.
The first week of March my friends and I are sitting in the cafeteria after it was closed, just talking, and we see flyers being put up. They are always there on the tables, normally about study habits or procrastination.
This was about sexual harassment! A slight move forward, I thought. But then I saw some issues.
Problem 1) Makes a chart between flirting and sexual harassment.
Problem 2) Says sexual harassment is a violation of SCHOOL RULES.
Problem 3) I found one that had been written on *I’ll post a picture after Spring Break, I left it in my room* It had “is awesome” written in after “sexual harassment” and someone scratched that out writing “muy bueno.” (means "very good")
Sexual harassment and rape.
Sexual harassment and rape on college campuses.
Sexual harassment and rape on college campuses that claim to be safe or free of that threat.
Sexual harassment and rape on college campuses that claim to be safe or free of that threat, when in actuality rape culture is fostered here.
Sexual harassment and rape on college campuses that claim to be safe or free of that threat, when in actuality rape culture is fostered here, and becomes a tradition.
Sexual harassment and rape on college campuses that claim to be safe or free of that threat, when in actuality rape culture is fostered here, and becomes a tradition under the guise of a joke.
My next post will talk about rape jokes and how important it is to target this younger college demographic. I’ll also talk about how big a part it plays in the rape culture we live in and how we talk about rape. Also, I'd like to have more discussion about the role Universities play (and Resident Assistants, for example) about this culture.
On my video I linked to earlier, I go on more about rape jokes, but I’ll reiterate here as a preview. The big message to take home, folks, is that it’s never “just a joke.”