Letter to the Editor: Still Much for Some to Learn About Sexual Assault

Letter submitted by Lorraine Leeson, Julian and Virginia Cornell Distinguished Visiting Professor in Linguistics, 2013-14.

Last Thursday I happened to have lunch in Swarthmore. The restaurant is small, with four or five tables, and conversation travels. Two middle aged men, who, from their discussion appeared to be members of the Swarthmore College community, were talking about the topical issue of “sexual misconduct” on campus.

What initially caught my attention was their commentary on whether being lesbian was a question of ‘nature versus nurture,’ which quickly led into consideration of the issue of rape and discussion around the issue on campus. One of the men said that women college students get drunk to give them the bravado to become sexually active and try out things that otherwise wouldn’t be sanctioned socially and then, post-hoc, cry rape… The other man added, “And then they prosecute innocent men.”

This was their conversation as they went to pay their bill. A private conversation in a public place. And one that is incredibly out of step with how modern society views the issue of rape and abuse.

I didn’t get to say anything on the day, but if I could retrospectively do so, there are a number of things that I’d like to add to their conversation.

Firstly and foremostly, I’d remind them that rape is not about sex, but about power and control. It is never the victim/survivor’s fault. Given the seeming blasé nature of the men’s conversation, I feel it is worth reiterating this fact, plus adding that both men and women can be the subject of rape.

Indeed, their lunchtime conversation prompted me to check the US’s figures and I learned that in the USA, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18 (Finkelhor et al., 1990). A staggering 1 in 3 American women will be sexually abused during their lifetime (George Mason University, Worldwide Sexual Assault Statistics, 2005).

I’d tell them that the reporting rate for sexual violence is very low indeed… The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (Ireland) suggests that only 1 in 20 reports a rape when the rapist is known to them. As they say, “Terrible things happen behind closed doors and too often that is where victims stay. Male and female. More often raped by people they know than strangers.”

I’d remind them that perpetuating myths is not helpful and I would tell them that every 2 minutes someone somewhere in America is sexually violated (www.rainn.org). Bringing this closer to home, this translates to 945 rapes being reported in 2010 (approx. double the national average, as it happens) and 833 in 2011 (by the Philadelphia Police Department’s Uniform Crime Report). There are 1,876 registered sex offenders living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; the ratio of number of residents in Philadelphia to the number of sex offenders is 825 to 1. (http://www.city-data.com/crime/crime-Philadelphia-Pennsylvania.html – October 29, 2013).

In this broader context, I would tell these men that the leafy confines of Swarthmore College campus is not immune to instances of sexual misconduct. I would add that the conversation about how to best respond to such crimes happening here on campus is timely and wholly appropriate – because these are serious crimes and the consequences last a lifetime for those who are the victims of such crimes.

But their conversation also made me reflect that if I were a student, the parent of a student (or potential student), or indeed a colleague who had suffered sexual violence or misconduct, the attitudes expressed so casually last Thursday would leave me rethinking how I might trust such men to act appropriately in responding to this issue, and by extension, how I would trust the College to respond. I would like them to know this too.

In a TED talk in 2012, Mr. Jackson Katz, a recent visitor to Swarthmore, has said that sexual violence is a men’s issue. He also says that “We need more men with the guts, with the courage, with the strength, with the moral integrity to break our complicit silence and challenge each other and stand with women and not against them.” (http://www.ted.com/speakers/jackson_katz.html) I’d like to invite the men – and women – of Swarthmore to take up this call. It is only when out of touch, misinformed and harmful expressions such as those I overheard are challenged that we can start to ensure that sexual violence is not reframed as acceptable behavior mitigated on the grounds that “s/he was asking for it”, “s/he was drunk”, “s/he was wearing provocative clothing.”

The bottom line is that sexual violence is never acceptable behavior. As I see it, institutions – and those staffing institutions – must be clear on this and ensure that they do not, in any shape or form, validate outmoded, highly sexist views. This is the minimum required to begin to encourage those hurt by sexual violence feel safe enough to report the crime.


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140 comments

  1. 0
    CrisisMaven says:

    I believe that what these men were referring to was not rape as you defined it but alleged rape. And as you aptly point out, rape is about power and control. These men you overheard were talking about (initially) consensual sex. That later then is called rape by someone posing as a victim. While I do not doubt the figures you quote about rape (!) you totally fail to quote any about ALLEGED rape just as if that did not exist. There have been a few high profile cases only recently where courts acquitted alleged rapists and in no uncertain terms did accuse women of making false allegations. All I say: it does happen. Maybe these men overly generalized but so do you.

  2. 0
    David F. Hill IV says:

    My fellow Swatties,
    I think it is reasonable to say that no one here supports rape. What we have is a dispute on the best means to resolve it. Peter, Maria and Nathan all make excellent points that people like to blame women for rape, because of alcohol or whatever reason they cook up, because it is often easier for them to call a woman a liar or mistaken than to accept that someone they may know, respect or love could be guitly of such a hideous crime. We need to accept that rape victims rarely lie and even if you have your doubts, believe them anyway. The alleged perpetrator will have his own support network, he probably doesn’t need your help.
    Some on this forum have suggested that we reject telling women to be careful when drinking. I think that this message should be expanded to everyone, rather than presuming women to be helpless. Men (usually) are rapists and nothing a woman or man does means that raping them is ok. We really must instill in our culture that value and hold people accountable to it. BUT until we obtain that cultural shift, and it won’t happen overnight, it is utterly negligent not to warn of the dangers of alcohol and drugs. We just need to seperate this warning from victim blaming, an admittedly difficult prospect, but if it avoids even one rape, I believe it is worth it.
    Now, I don’t know the statistics and it seems clear that there really aren’t any perfect ones but that does not mean that rape isn’t an endemic society. Even one rape is too many, no matter the circumstances it occurred under. I think everyone here supports that. I know there has been substantial controversy over individual rights in this forum and others. Even I, however, understand that some concessions to liberty must be made in order to avoid one of the most greivous violations of human rights there can be. Striking that balance can be difficult, especially on such an emotional issue. With cool heads and basic decency, Swatties can work together to improve the campus community and provide the resources for those who need it. Cultural change takes time, effort and cooperation. I beg you to remember that even those who may oppose your ideas probably want the same good things you do, just in a different manner. And even if they don’t, pissing them off rarely helps. (Yes, I realize the irony of my saying that last bit but it’s still true)

    1. 0
      Maria Rogers '13.5 says:

      This is information that anyone who is serious about both protecting women and understanding false accusation rates needs to read:

      http://www.ndaa.org/pdf/the_voice_vol_3_no_1_2009.pdf

      I hope that I have managed to speak in support of some who might not have been able to comment on the DG. Of course I wish that I had been more eloquent. I hope anyone reading my comments will attempt to interpret them in the most charitable way possible so as not to argue in their minds against a straw man. If anyone has read this and wanted to ask me questions personally- my e-mail is mrogers3.

      Take care Swarthmore. You can do better.

  3. 0
    Nathan Graf'16 says:

    And not a word about keeping those drivers off the road and/or providing better driver’s ed in general? Also, we live in a culture where hitting people with a car is not acceptable. This isn’t true of rape.

    That acronym is terrible. R: You may as well ask people to just live locked up alone in their home (or another private place for those without homes). A: this is bloody terrible. Avoid conflict?! Really!? Especially when applied to women, I’m hearing “you should just be quiet and agree with what the men around you say, because if you speak up, they might rape you in retaliation” This not okay at all. P: this is mostly redundant with R. E: Silence is not consent! Only enthusiastic affirmation from both (or more) parties constitutes consent.
    And every one of these is blaming the survivor for the crimes of the rapist.

    I don’t even know how to react form the random rapist quote. I guess maybe if I make an effort, it could be perceived as a warning to potential rapists that they shouldn’t rape people because it damages their lives too. At worst, we’re giving voice to rapists over survivors and casting the rapist as sympathetic and relatable. The statistics others gave above about serial rapists show that they’re evidently not that bothered by it.

    And WHY is expression articulated “Men who drink are also a greater risk of being accused of raping someone.” !?!?!?! Try “Men who drink are also at greater risk of raping someone”.

    “many men and women feel that a woman who has more than one or two drinks is asking for sex, no matter what she says.”
    Are you kidding!?! Two drinks and they’re asking for sex? The fact that people think that is what we need to target, not the women (and men and others) who are drinking.
    I agree with your final sentence, but that should be the core point, not a minor footnote.

    1. 0
      Education about alcohol usage says:

      All of these cites (and there are thousands) are warnings issued about the association between alcohol consumption and rape. You can rail all you want about not liking the association, but this does not change it.

      1. 0
        Uhm ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

        There’s also an association between general physical health and the number of TVs in the individual’s household. Let’s buy more TVs for better health!!!!

        Correlation is not causation.

        Afghanistan has a very high rate of sexual assault (among the highest in the world) yet there’s no alcohol and mandated conservative dress.

  4. 0
    comment about being responsible says:

    From the University of North Carolina, since you want other sources. If several pedestrians are killed walking on the shoulder of a road, even if this is legal, wouldn’t you warn people not to walk on the shoulder of that road?

    “What Role Does Alcohol Play?

    Drinking alcohol can set you up to be a victim of sexual assault, or someone who commits rape.

    Whether you are a man or woman, drinking alcohol reduces four skills that can protect you. These skills form the word RAPE:

    R ealize what situations place you in danger of committing rape or being a victim of rape;

    A void and manage conflicts with partners and intimates;

    P erceive clearly what others are doing; and

    E stablish and communicate your desires and limits about sex.

    “When I woke up, she was crying, and we both were shocked and unsure about what had happened. I’ve lived with that experience ever since. For months afterwards, I was depressed and frightened. I dropped out of school for a semester. I know she’s suffered. If people knew how awful it is to take advantage of someone and live with yourself afterwards they would act very differently.” -junior man

    Most people admit that their thinking gets distorted when they drink. As a result, they can miss important danger signals, such as changes in the voice or behavior of a potential assailant. They are also less likely to avoid or talk their way out of a conflict.

    Women and men who drink are less able to communicate what they want and don’t want in terms of sex. The odds that “maybe” or even “no” will be interpreted to mean “yes” increase when either party has been drinking.

    Some students push others to drink so they will be unable to resist physical or emotional pressure to have sex. Men who drink are also at greater risk of being accused of raping someone.

    And there’s one other problem: like it or not, many men and women feel that a woman who has more than one or two drinks is asking for sex, no matter what she says.

    “Be very wary of guys giving you free alcohol! I mean, if a guy keeps pouring free vodka down your throat, it’s not necessarily benevolent . . . he’s trying to get you drunk enough to get you to go home with him.” -senior woman

    Regardless of how much a someone drinks, however, no one is ever justified in forcing sex on someone who resists or says “no,” or who is under the influence of alcohol.”

    http://www.med.unc.edu/alcohol/prevention/rape

    1. 0
      Peter '15 says:

      Hahaha nice source bro. It took me a minute to be sure that wasn’t satire.
      Anyway, wow, look at that nice agent deletion!

      Drinking alcohol can set you up to be a victim of sexual assault…
      The odds that “maybe” or even “no” will be interpreted to mean “yes” increase when either party has been drinking.

      Also, awww, it much suck so much to be a rapist:

      Realize what situations place you in danger of committing rape…

      “…If people knew how awful it is to take advantage of someone and live with yourself afterwards they would act very differently.”

      Men who drink are also at greater risk of being accused of raping someone.

      Oh wow, these poor men are at risk for being accused of raping someone! That must suck! Maybe they could… not rape people? Problem solved.

      like it or not, many men and women feel that a woman who has more than one or two drinks is asking for sex, no matter what she says.

      i.e.: rape culture exists, therefore it should continue existing. Nice reasoning.

      It’s amazing what lengths people will go to to deny they are at fault for raping someone. “It was the alcohol that made me doing for it!” “She was asking for it!” “I’m at a high risk for being accused!” Grow up and take responsibility for your actions.

      1. 0
        Just Curious says:

        According to a nationally recognized authority on campus safety that isn’t the case.

        “Fifteen years ago, 20 years ago, if a student got into trouble he would just drop out and go elsewhere,” Sokolow said. “Now colleges are starting to share information, they’re starting to put notations on transcripts.”

        Brett Sokolow

        To argue that a conviction by a school using a standard commonly used in civil litigation is somehow alright,because the punishment is nothing more then monetary is not sound reasoning.

        Also, spare me your condescension in future comments please.

        1. 0
          Peter '15 says:

          A CJC finding is not a conviction. Students still do drop out with no record.

          (Considering your viewpoint and the fact that you can’t spell a 4-letter name right, I feel justified in being condescending.)

          1. 0
            Just Curious says:

            A spelling error indeed,I apologize to Yana for the mistake.

            The fact that you feel justified in your condescension for an opposing point of view says a great deal.

  5. 0
    Education about alcohol usage says:

    Peter’15: The author of the slate article above is not blaming the victims, she’s warning them. Please read the article and similar ones.

    “The same study states that more than 80 percent of campus sexual assaults involve alcohol. Frequently both the man and the woman have been drinking.

    But a misplaced fear of blaming the victim has made it somehow unacceptable to warn inexperienced young women that when they get wasted, they are putting themselves in potential peril.” (slate)

    From the
    Journal of American College Health
    Volume 57, Issue 6, 2009

    “Results: Findings indicate that almost 20% of undergraduate women experienced some type of completed sexual assault since entering college. Most sexual assaults occurred after women voluntarily consumed alcohol, whereas few occurred after women had been given a drug without their knowledge or consent.

    Conclusions: The authors discuss implications for campus sexual assault prevention programs, including the need for integrated substance use and sexual victimization prevention programming.”

    1. 0
      Peter '15 @ Education says:

      Yes, I have read this article. It is gotten a lot of attention on the internet, mostly from all the people who have pointed out what a load of shit it is. Take this or basically anything else after the first few Google hits for an example.
      Guess what? I’m assuming you don’t go to Swat, because we had “integrated substance use and sexual victimization prevention programming” — which worked so badly that the college has been pressured into abandoning it.
      I’d like to say that your rape apologist drivel isn’t welcome here at Swarthmore, but judging by the rest of the comments, it is. You make me sick.

      1. 0
        Alum says:

        Peter,
        So, you believe it is better to suspend due process than to warn women that drinking can have negative (though utterly unfair) consequences? I’m not excusing men who rape women (or men) who are drunk. But I can’t understand why you would be against this warning.

        1. 0
          Peter '15 @ "wewe" says:

          wewe, rape statistics are not “sensationalized,” they are real. And no, this is not an error of oversight. This is victim blaming.

          It’s advising them not to get black-out drunk in public places.

          Oh, so that’s how you think rape happens. Let me reiterate: that is literally victim blaming. “Dammit, stop drinking and getting raped!” No. Stop fucking raping.

          Oh, and can we all stop and appreciate this delicious irony?

          Not every article can address every side of an issue. This article gave practical commonsensical advice. Its message needs to be said and needs to be heard, because it can prevent rape.

          Hm, that’s what I would have said about what professor Leeson wrote… which many of you hostile commentators have attacked for somehow not doing everything possible every second to combat rape culture.

          In sum: Yoffe’s article is stupid and perpetuates the idea that women* need to change their behavior to avoid being raped. No, no, no. Men need to stop raping. There really is nothing left to say here, it has been said many times, but you refuse to get it. You refuse to accept that your behavior as (I’m presuming) a man affects women.

          *(and I say “men” and “women” here because this is a gendered issue and Yoffe’s article is specifically blaming women; this is not to detract from the fact that all people can commit rape and all people can be raped)

          1. 0
            Peter '15 @ "wewe" says:

            wewe,

            Yes, I get that you are mocking me. That was kinda my point about a lack of respect.

            To call rape a “crime epidemic” is to erase the existence or rape culture. It isn’t a disease, that just strikes people with no agent present, and can only be presented by taking precautions. Rape is something people do to other people, on purpose. No agentless disease there. Furhtermore, rape has always been a part of our society; it isn’t transient–if it seems to you like people are talking about rape more, it is because survivors are gaining ground in fighting back. And calling rape a crime is like calling any form of oppression (racism, heterosexism, transphobia) a crime — it’s a wider phenomenon than just individual acts.

          2. 0
            wewe says:

            Actually I was just mocking you, Peter.

            Your refusal to acknowledge the prudence of taking reasonable precautions in the midst of a 25% crime epidemic is despicable.

          3. 0
            Peter '15 @ "wewe" says:

            The fact that you provide this analogy for sexual assault demonstrates a complete lack of respect for survivors. You disgust me.

          4. 0
            wewe says:

            I left my brand new car on the side of the street last night with the driver door open and its key in the ignition. I came back the next morning and the car was gone. I did a little twirl to scan the premises, but it was indeed gone without a trace. I fumed and stamped my feet, tore at my hair. I said “No, NO, NO! Stop fucking stealing. Thieves need to stop carjacking NOW.”

            Needless to say, I did not get my car back. Thanks a lot Peter.

        2. 0
          wewe says:

          Alum, how dare you!

          Why should I have to lock my front door when I leave the house in the morning? Theft is always the responsibility of the thief!!!

          Why do I have to be careful when walking alone in the inner city at night? Mugging is always the responsibility of the mugger!!!

          Why should I have to abridge my travel itinerary to heed the warnings issued by the US State Dept. of reported terrorist activities happening in certain dangerous politically unstable countries abroad? The kidnapping, extorting, and possibly murdering of me and my family is always the responsibility of the terrorists who do it!!!

          Similarly, how could you EVER condone advising women not to get black-out drunk at parties with strange men who might rape them? Don’t you understand that rape is always the responsibility of the rapist, and that therefore giving women obvious well-intentioned practical advice on how not to get raped is taking the blame away from rapists and putting that blame on women?

          1. 0
            wewe says:

            The guy approaching her in this scenario is a classmate. So he’s going to rape her via “social pressure,” “sleep deprivation,” or “BEGGING”? You make women out to be weak submissive beings without a will of their own.

            Several women in these comments have expressed that they feel an impending fatalistic fear that they will be raped any day now. I suspect it’s because of people like you who make it seem like women have precisely zero control over their own fate with regards to non-forcible rape.

            Any day, just wait, a man is going to walk up to me and BEG me for sex, and before I know it I will have been raped. Oh god I hope today is not that day. I hope the sex-beggar doesn’t target me today.

            Okay I think we’re done here. Thanks for confirming that you’re literally insane.

          2. 0
            Peter '15 @ "wewe" says:

            … no. She is not “removing agency from women.” You are removing agency by rapists–trying to cast women who are assaulted as somehow being the agent. That is the point of assault–the person being assaulted is not the one in control of the situation.

            At any point in the chain of events, assuming it doens’t become “forcible” rape, she can refuse his advances and walk away.

            No. No no no no. That’s not how it works. It isn’t this hypothetical woman’s responsibility to stop the assault. It is the rapist’s. Often, people can’t refuse other’s “advances” (i.e. assault). Being assaulted is scary. The most common response to fear is to freeze. That’s just instinct. Furthermore, there are plenty more ways than alcohol or brute strength for rapists to secure targets. To name a few: social pressure, coercion in a relationship, unequal power, sleep deprivation, begging, threatening…

          3. 0
            wewe says:

            1. If you have something else that you think is even better for individuals to do as a means of rape prevention, then feel free to say what it is without screaming “rape apologism” about this advice. Just because you feel like you have better advice does not mean this advice is condoning rape.

            2. If you think the advice is incomplete and will not protect women in most cases, then say so without screaming “rape apologism” about this advice. Just because the advice is not good enough by your standards does not mean this advice is condoning rape.

            3. You are removing agency from women. Stop infantilizing women. In your scenario, if a woman is offered a drink by a classmate, she can refuse the drink. If she is offered to be taken home by him, she can refuse his offer. At any point in the chain of events, assuming it doens’t become “forcible” rape, she can refuse his advances and walk away. Unless, of course, she is too incapacitated by alcohol to make willful decisions anymore. And that’s Yoffe’s point. A very simple point indeed.

          4. 0
            Maria Rogers '13.5 says:

            “wewe”
            I think that the most obnoxious part of Yoffe’s article is not that he advise is not sound. The problem with that kind of talk (which was not some kind of breath of fresh air- I’ve heard this same thing over and over and over again since I was a little kid)is not what she was saying, but the fact that she seems to think that this will have the greatest impact on reducing the number of rapes.

            Most people are raped by someone they know. Usually someone you trust being drunk around. The problem is not that women don’t know how to watch out for themselves when they feel at risk (we’ve been taught to take our keys out of our purse BEFORE we get to the car, to pretend to be on the phone, to avoid jogging at night even if our work/class schedules don’t allow us much daylight, to have the buddy system when going out.. also sorts of things like that I took years of self defense classes because it made me feel safe) and in the end, we are betrayed by people we
            trusted.

            Childhood friends, that guy in your Language Class, your boyfriend. If you really care about women being safe tell them to avoid men. Tell them to disown their male relatives, friends and to never date a man again. Tell them to pick classes with only female professors. Otherwise you are giving them a false sense of security when they don’t see a stranger in a bush and instead are flirting with a cute classmate that they worked on a project with when he gives her a drink and offers to “make sure she gets to her room.”

          5. 0
            wewe says:

            @ Anonymous

            Not every article can address every side of an issue. This article gave practical commonsensical advice. Its message needs to be said and needs to be heard, because it can prevent rape. So it didn’t address every dimension of rape prevention as a society. Sure, but it gave a major component of what an individual can do to protect him/herself. If I call the police department and ask how I can protect myself in the city, they will tell me how to comport myself, where to place my valuables, and what areas to avoid. They will NOT tell me that the only means of theft prevention is to teach men not to steal. Does this mean they are condoning theft culture? No, it just means that the broader discussion of what a society can do to prevent theft is sometimes outside the scope of what an individual can do to protect him/herself. People like you don’t seem to appreciate this distinction, and that’s sad. So 25% of women get raped and you are stubbornly unwilling to take some individualized action (ANY individualized action) to prevent this? WHAT? That’s insane.

            The outrage surrounding Yoffe’s article indicates it’s being judged as not just an error of oversight, of omission. It’s as if giving good sane practical advice is in and of itself rape apologism, and that’s plain ridiculous. Calling for more articles about what society as a whole can do to prevent rape is one thing, but attacking and actually trying to suppress an article that gives good individualized advice is just amazing and beyond my ability to comprehend.

            The article is not blaming women for rape and telling them they have to be vigilant every second of the day. It’s advising them not to get black-out drunk in public places. Is this really so extreme? If you think that’s as restrictive as holding people responsible to check for asbestos in their office spaces, or wear CHAIN MAIL on their hands when walking around, then you are being dishonest. That doesn’t even warrant a response.

            You say that so many of the women you know feel this inescapable dread of being raped someday. Might I suggeset that this feeling isn’t caused by articles calling on them to take sane rational precautions with respect to alcohol, but rather by the sensational figures being repeated here (with little justification) that rape is by far the biggest crime epidemic in this country, and 25% of women will be raped in college.

          6. 0
            Anonymous says:

            The problem here isn’t telling women how to avoid being raped. The problem is that all of these articles are ONLY telling women how not to be raped. Rape and theft are two different crimes. That’s why rape isn’t called ‘sex theft’. What you are doing is telling a man who lost his hand to a gunshot that he should have worn a chainmail glove if he was going to the bank in such a terrible neighborhood. What you are doing is telling a woman with cancer that she should have checked her office building for asbestos in the ceiling before she accepted her job. What you are doing is perpetuating the attitude that women are the only people who should worry about rape. Why isn’t that article saying, ‘If you see a woman who is blackout drunk, watch her and take her home’? Why aren’t there articles warning men to watch over their friends who may be getting too handsy with a girl at the bar?

            Telling women to watch what they drink is not bad advice. The problem is that that is always the only advice. I’m so tired of feeling like I have all of the responsibility to not be raped. I’m sick of being catcalled by a car full of guys that can’t even properly see me when I’m walking the two blocks down the street from a friend’s place to mine at night and thinking ‘Tonight’s the night. This is when I’m going to get raped.’ So many of the women I know honestly expect to be raped someday because we cannot be vigilant every second, and no one tells anyone else to. This is not how we should have to feel. We should not have to think that we are the only ones trying to keep us from being raped. Rape prevention needs to become a group effort, and that means a lot of people changing their attitudes.

        3. 0
          Peter '15 @ Alum says:

          So, you believe it is better to suspend due process than to warn women that drinking can have negative (though utterly unfair) consequences?

          Not sure where that weird false dichotomy came from.

          Anyway, do you seriously think women are not made aware, constantly, of the many ways that men can use to rape them? Women know about the risks involved with drinking. This bullshit article seems to believe that women are not “educated” about this danger. That’s false. Yoffe is using this obvious trend to distract from the fact that men are raping women. You know what makes rape rape? It’s not a choice. So don’t tell women to do things differently; tell men to stop being rapists. Yoffe has not contributed some revelation about the dangers of drinking, but is just reiterating the same victim-blaming shit that is the core of rape culture.

    2. 0
      Nathan Graf'16 says:
  6. 0
    Education about alcohol usage says:

    “College Women: Stop Getting Drunk
    It’s closely associated with sexual assault. And yet we’re reluctant to tell women to stop doing it.”

    By Emily Yoffe

    “Let’s be totally clear: Perpetrators are the ones responsible for committing their crimes, and they should be brought to justice. But we are failing to let women know that when they render themselves defenseless, terrible things can be done to them. Young women are getting a distorted message that their right to match men drink for drink is a feminist issue. The real feminist message should be that when you lose the ability to be responsible for yourself, you drastically increase the chances that you will attract the kinds of people who, shall we say, don’t have your best interest at heart. That’s not blaming the victim; that’s trying to prevent more victims.”

    http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2013/10/sexual_assault_and_drinking_teach_women_the_connection.html

    1. 0
      Peter '15 says:

      NO. This is seriously messed up and you should be ashamed, along with everyone who upvoted your comment. At least “wewe” and “Alum” had the decency not to victim-blame people like this. I’m not going to dignify this bullshit with any response other than this: you are the lowest of the low among DG commenters.

      1. 0
        SwatGreek says:

        This is still a very grey area. No one is blaming the victim but it is true that if students were able to better control their drinking the incidence would decrease.
        No one should take advantage of people who are drunk. This is sick! But people should also take better care of themselves. This shows responsibility and mature decision-making. If you are the person who is passed out in the corner at every party you are showing that you are not being responsible, not taking care of yourself, and you are putting yourself in danger.

          1. 0
            SwatGreek says:

            Peter’15: No and that has nothing to do with the issue at hand. Your response was completely irrelevant and has nothing to do with the issue being discussed. Please reply when you actually have something relevant and useful to the context of the thread.

  7. 0
    wewe says:

    ” False convictions are super super super super super super rare”

    You seem awfully emotionally invested in this idea. Do you have any actual proof for this? I’m guessing no (not least because studies on this subject are inherently unreliable). So what are we to do? Just believe your word? I think, and hope, not.

    “What I find the most repulsive about the train of your argument is that it seems that you would not prosecute anyone”

    For crime, the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard is not just a pragmatic measure intended and carefully calculated to balance ratios of false positives vs false negatives, but is indeed the only morally sound standard upon which to base a justice system that holds “innocent until PROVEN GUILTY” as a fundamental irrevocable principle. Your constant arguing from a utilitarian perspective makes me tempted to just propose that instead of having these judicial committees, we should ban women from drinking and going out because surely THAT would reduce most of the rapes, and who cares about the rights of the women because those can be sacrificed for the common good, which is no more rapes AND no more false accusations so in the end we all win right?

    “When I mentioned being cautious about the perception of others- I meant consent. I meant not blocking someone’s exit from a room,”

    How does this protect from false accusations done with malicious intent? Tell me how?

    “extremely slow, extremely invasive police system. ”

    Then work to fix the police system. Setting up kangaroo courts is not the solution, morally or practically.

    “The reports of rape will go down to nearly zero.”

    I call false.

    ” 25% of women and 16% of men ”

    Where are you getting these numbers from? Biased survey results? What in the world? So if each rapist has 5 victims, and 25% of women are victims, then (assuming some small amount of overlap in victims), we have probably 10% of men are rapists? If this number is true, maybe shut down colleges.

    1. 0
      Maria Rogers '13.5 says:

      Here’s a study. We’ve been UNDER reporting rape.

      “Estimating the Incidence of Rape and Sexual Assault concludes that it is likely that the NCVS is undercounting rape and sexual assault.”

      http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=18605

      Please come back and talk when you are ready to admit that we have a problem and the way you are addressing it will not solve it.

      1. 0
        wewe says:

        I asked for details about your claim that 25% of women are raped in college. Are you now implying that 25% is an undercount?

        So what do you think is more accurate? 40%? 50%?

        And will you ever provide explanation on the 25% claim that I was asking about?

        1. 0
          Maria Rogers '13.5 says:

          Here are the CDC numbers that were reported for 2010.

          http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/nisvs_sofindings.pdf

          I have contacted statistics experts at the BBC program “More or Less” and they said they will look into getting the source studies for the statistics about rape for me.

          The problem is that it is exceedingly difficult to count and it is highly likely due to the way that surveys have been done in the past (framing of questions etc.) that we we have been underestimating.

          Don’t worry wewe. I can see how worried you are about women.

          I’ll make sure you know exactly how many of us are suffering so you can say that there is nothing the school can do to keep us safer except encourage us to go to the police.

          (Let me repeat that only a tiny fraction of rapists are convicted to jail time for their crimes. Most women do not have enough evidence (because of shame, taking showers and trying to just forget it, many women don’t have physical evidence by the time they go to the police and it becomes a matter of her word against his. Most women don’t want to be called false accusers and they are told that it was their fault both by their friends and people like you).

          Basically what you are telling perpetrators is that they can act with impunity. Women who go the college instead of the police are trying to move on with their lives as quickly as possible. They want to focus on their studies and not be forced to relive their rape over and over. Many women are only looking for accommodations (like the rapist being given a restraining order or moving out of the victims’ dorms).

          If you can’t see the need for such protections then I don’t think we will ever be able to agree on how Swarthmore should change its culture and policies.

          (Not that I was worried about our “conversation” ending any time soon)

          1. 0
            wewe says:

            @ Honeybee

            Serial rape survivors exist also. In order for 25% of all women in a certain age range to be raped every 5 years, there’s necessarily gonna be a lot of overlap in victims.

            @ Peter

            Your definition of rape includes “begging.” Enough said.

          2. 0
            Peter '15 @ "wewe" says:

            No, wewe, Maria is not “redefining” rape. No, you don’t get to just completely make up numbers out of thin air and be taken seriously. That said, according to the CDC, 1/6 women will experience attempted or completed rape at some point in their lifetimes. And a very large percentage of men are rapists — In “Repeat rape and multiple offending among undetected rapists” (Lisak and Miller 2002), it is estimated that between 6 and 14.9% of men have raped someone, based on men’s own reports (and this data comes primarily from college campuses, by the way). So no, the majority of men are not rapists, but a very large number are.

            we can send the rapist off to another school with a fresh start and hopefully this will be a learning experience for him and everyone can just move on with their lives

            No.

            I’m sorry you’ve refused to learn anything from this thread and are responding to facts with sarcasm. Have fun bothering people elsewhere.

          3. 0
            wewe says:

            So not only are the college rape figures the horrifically high number you’ve stated all along, but life for women outside of college and indeed for the remainder of their lives is going to be much of the same? That means that if 25% of women get raped in the 4-6 years that they are in college, then we can very safely infer that well over 50% will get raped in the course of a lifetime. From this we infer that possibly half or more of all men will become rapists at some point in their lives. See, when you’ve been talking about rape culture all this time, I had no idea you meant that a majority of men become rapists and a majority of women will become rape survivors. So now we face two possibilities: either you’re redefining rape to include a wide range of *relatively* harmless things (e.g., we can send the rapist off to another school with a fresh start and hopefully this will be a learning experience for him and everyone can just move on with their lives), or in fact a literal majority of men in this society become violent criminals who deserve to be put straight in jail for lengthy periods of time. Now I think that one of these possibilities seems much more likely than the other, but I won’t tell you which one. I think you can figure it out for yourself. Anyways, you can believe what you want. I don’t have time for this anymore. Cheers.

          4. 0
            @ Wewe from Maria Rogers 2013.5 says:

            Being a woman anywhere is dangerous.

            Parents cannot protect their kids simply by not sending them to college.

            Again. Life is full of risks. Are the risks of being raped worth not living in a panic room for the rest of my life? Yes. Does that mean that we shouldn’t work to reduce the risks of personal violation and trauma? No.

            Eliminating alcohol from college campuses is impossible, reducing binge drinking can happen through peer pressure and general atmosphere (ie: if you want to be THAT asshole spoiling the party for everyone, so be it, but we all think you’re an asshole, it’s not funny, and we won’t give you our alcohol)

            There are things we can do. Showing someone that rape is punishable (ie “suffling rapists around from one school to another”) is probably a good thing. They get a fresh start without having to be known as a rapist and they can take the chance to learn about the horrible effects their actions can have on others. Their victims can also move on and deal with their experience without having to see them around campus. If the rapists continue to rape, then the police will get involved eventually. Not prosecuting through the school will not increase the number of people who go to the police. It will increase the sense of impunity that rapists have on college campuses.

          5. 0
            wewe says:

            While we are waiting for response by the BBC, I will take your word for it.

            Since 25% of women are raped in college, I would support much more drastic measures than shuffling rapists around from one school to another. We should prohibit drinking and institute gender-segregated dorms in all colleges a start. 25% is obscene and I don’t think parents would be happy to pay $50k/year to send their children to college where they have a 25% chance of being scarred for life.

    2. 0
      alum says:

      Um, “beyond a reasonable doubt” is not the standard for prosecutions. Not even close to the standard for arrests (“reasonable suspicion”). That’s the burden of proof for a case that has gone to trial. Some prosecutors will press charges only when they think they may be able to gather the evidence to cross that threshold, but that’s not necessarily the case. And that’s why conviction rates for rapists are really low– only 6% of rape trials that go forward result in a conviction and prison time. So if you rape someone, your chances are looking pretty good that you’ll get away with it. Unless you think that the 1 in 3 women who’ve been sexually assaulted in their life are all lying about it. .

      Also, I’m a little doubtful of your FBI forcible rape statistic, because as of several years ago, the FBI no longer distinguishes between “forcible” and “nonforcible” rape.

      1. 0
        wewe says:

        I think it’s clear from context that I support the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard as the ultimate standard before conviction/punishment is applied. Of course I do not mean that we must adhere to this standard for merely conducting an investigation or bringing in a suspect for questioning.

        The FBI statistic is from 1996. I couldn’t find the actual report online but in most of the references to it online, it was qualified that the finding was only applicable for forcible rapes.

        Stop tossing around sweeping figures without solid evidence. For instance, Maria has accepted for fact that 25% of women get raped in college. But she has no details for how this study was done. I find the result highly suspect. And she carries on like it’s the ironclad truth. Look, if someone told me that I had a 1/4 chance of being raped in college, I simply wouldn’t attend college.

        1. 0
          Anonymous says:

          The problem there is: you know how else has higher risks of rape? Women in low-income households and neighborhoods. You know what is heavily correlated with women being in low-income households and neighborhoods? A lack of education. Rape happens everywhere, but to follow your logic, the easy solution is to never, ever go outside – except people get raped within their own houses too. I worry that you are only considering the perspective of only yourself rather than of those who are ultimately suffering from these attitudes, i.e. women, trans*people, and most gay men.

          (Note: I’m not contesting your evidence, though a lot of changes have been made since 1996 and 2013. I just worry that you’re missing a big part of the issue, which is that women (and trans*people and gay men) are constantly walking around with the fear of being raped and then having the media, the police, and their own classmates and college administrators sympathize more with their rapist than with them. The short of it is that more women get raped than women who make up rapes. You are sympathizing with a minority, and I worry that it’s because it may be easier for you to empathize with a guilty man than with any woman.)

          1. 0
            wewe says:

            How is any of what you said relevant?

            Maria used an old figure from the FBI that applies mostly to rapes that happen outside of college in order to justify an unfair policy that she proposes be instituted inside college. I call her out on this. That’s all.

            Are you suggesting we should also lower the standard of evidence in courts of law as well? Or else I’m not following what your point is.

      1. 0
        wewe says:

        It’s just as much blaming the victim as telling women to not drink alcohol in order to prevent the occurrence of rape. Either both are blaming the victim, or neither is. Maria is defending a system that she herself admits is “unfair,” but which she is (partially) excusing it on the grounds that men can just be hypervigilant at all times and avoid any situations where their presence could be interpreted in a negative light. According to her, men should simply adjust their behaviors and pay more attention to the needs and perceptions of others, whatever the hell that means. I’m assuming she means that men should be careful not to be caught alone with a woman? I’m not sure what else could protect someone from false rape accusations under the operation of an injudicious judicial system. Whatever she means, she is “fine” with that.

        I looked up the FBI’s 8% rate of false accusations that Maria keeps using to assure herself and others that the rate is extremely low. It appears that the 8% figure is only for FORCIBLE rape, where physical evidence would presumably be more available to prove or disprove any allegations. This isn’t the kind of rape that is prevalent on a college campus, so actually Maria has no evidence for her belief that the rate of false accusations is so low as to be a definite non-issue. Now conversely, I don’t know for sure that it IS a major issue, but I find it disturbing that she and others came rushing into this discussion fully determined to downplay the existence of something so serious as false accusations, especially when their stated agenda is to make false accusations much more difficult to defend against, and also to make it taboo for men even to TALK about their existence.

        1. 0
          Maria Rogers '13.5 says:

          Hello Wewe,
          You can talk about false accusations all you want. I would not stop you and I do think that false accusations are bad because they make real victims’ lives much much harder since they have to justify themselves to people like you. False convictions are super super super super super super rare- and the convicted parties who are later exonerated are disproportionately minorities (the Innocence Project does a lot of work on this- black men are particularly likely to be falsely convicted).

          What I find the most repulsive about the train of your argument is that it seems that you would not prosecute anyone (for that is the only way you could be sure not to convict anyone falsely). If you read the article in the Phoenix you see that this process bends over backwards to support those who are accused for that very reason. It would look REALLY bad for the college to expel an innocent person but they need to balance that with the safety of other students.

          When I mentioned being cautious about the perception of others- I meant consent. I meant not blocking someone’s exit from a room, I mean being aware that men are often stronger than the women they are around and that can feel threatening, especially if the woman is trying to explain why she doesn’t want to have sex to a persistent acquaintance.

          So. If you think that no false convictions are allowable- you mean to say that any woman who wants to feel safer on campus needs to go through our extremely slow, extremely invasive police system. Congratulations. The reports of rape will go down to nearly zero. And the lives of men women in Swarthmore who are victimized will end up being miserable. The assailants (who on average in college assault 5-6 people in their 4 years) won’t stop. They don’t even think of what they are doing as wrong. So the idea of “an honest one-time mistake” is rather off too.

          So what do you propose to protect 25% of women and 16% of men on our campus? If you have a good idea- I’m all ears.

          1. 0
            Anonymous Coward says:

            I do think that false accusations are bad because they make real victims’ lives much much harder since they have to justify themselves to people like you.

            Not to mention that those falsely accused will never be able to prove their innocence to people like you, even after being found not guilty / not responsible by a trial, or even by the much lower standard of evidence in an SJC hearing.

  8. 0
    Just Curious says:

    “…we understand the risk of arresting (not convicting yet..just arresting) innocent people is a part of the process. We can just try to make sure they are not convicted and that the impact on their lives and reputations is minimized.”

    The difference being a person arrested for murder, falsely or otherwise, is judged by a beyond a reasonable doubt standard.

    So I can assume you are opposed to the DOE preponderance of the evidence directive?

    Since courts are required to take exacting precautions to avoid convicting an innocent person of a crime,shouldn’t we expect the same from a group far less qualified to adjudicate these matters?

    1. 0
      Maria Rogers '13.5 says:

      Dear Just Curious,
      The penalty for students found guilty by a preponderance of evidence in a college is at most expulsion.

      It is not life in prison.

      In order to balance an effective method of keeping students safe from sexual assault and harassment I think that it is fair to impose standards like this. If a someone is afraid that this mean they have to be “extra” careful not to be put in a position where circumstantial evidence might push their situation over the top to a preponderance of evidence- I’m not too upset about that. A little extra caution and attention to the perceptions and needs of others should make it exceedingly difficult that a truly innocent man isn’t expelled under false pretenses.

      You can complain that this isn’t fair. But neither is being violated and having to suffer having your assailant live in your dorm and go to your classes.

      1. 0
        wewe says:

        So if an innocent man is a victim of false rape accusations, then it’s his fault for not having taken extra precautions to avoid “risky” situations that make one vulnerable to being falsely accused and then expelled according to a lowered standard of evidence? Hmm, sounds like… blaming the victim to me.

        Oops. I forgot I shouldn’t even be talking about false rape accusations. Someone like Prof. Leeson might have me dragged in for mandatory re-education with the administration.

        1. 0
          Peter '15 says:

          wewe, I see you still enjoy making straw men and false attributions as much as ever.

          So if an innocent man is a victim of false rape accusations, then it’s his fault for not having taken extra precautions to avoid “risky” situations that make one vulnerable to being falsely accused and then expelled according to a lowered standard of evidence?

          Nope, that’s not something anyone ever said. Perhaps you are referring to Maria saying that people should be cautious not to violate other people? Hmm, sounds like… consent.

          Furthermore, it is ridiculous to frame the allegedly falsely accused as “victims” comparable to those who have actually been raped.

          And I see accusing people of “re-education” has not lost its appeal. Because you obviously won’t drop this, let’s talk about it again. Here’s the closest possible thing Lorraine said to what you are alleging:

          …if adequate education around the issue of sexual assault is provided (and, I’d suggest, made mandatory), then things can change.

          Oh, GOD FORBID that education be mandatory. Oh wait, mandatory education is the basis of the US’s idea of democracy. What Lorraine is talking about is making sure people understand consent. As in, something in line with ASAP. Surely you don’t feel ASAP is oppressive?

      2. 0
        versaceversaceversace says:

        It’s good that you’re not in any position of power because this type of reasoning would be the death of this country. How do people even think like this???

        1. 0
          Maria Rogers '13.5 says:

          We have a criminal standard of evidence that is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” That’s not the only possible standard, and we did not choose that standard simply to prevent erroneous convictions. We chose it to set the ratio of erroneous convictions to erroneous acquittals at a value we can live with. Even with that standard there are obviously people falsely convicted of crimes. Error is inevitable; all you can do is reduce it as much as you can and apportion it fairly between erroneous convictions and erroneous acquittals. It’s easy to say that you have to aim for zero false convictions, but at what cost? Is it OK to falsely acquit 10 serial killers in order to be sure your system will not convict one innocent man? If we wanted to eliminate false convictions entirely, all we need do is never prosecute any crimes. Since we do not want a society overrun with criminals we wince and accept a certain, hopefully very low, rate of false convictions. What matters about “beyond a reasonable doubt,” is not that it is an ideal principle, but simply that for most crimes it gives a balance between false convictions and false acquittals.

          Rape is different than other crimes, though. Using “beyond a reasonable doubt,” particularly in cases of date rape where the issue is not whether sex occurred but whether it was consensual, does not work well. It’s ridiculously easy to create “reasonable doubt,” in such cases. So “beyond a reasonable doubt” creates a very heavily mis-balanced ratio of false acquittals to false convictions. To balance that ratio in a fair way might require loosening the standard of evidence so that the ratio of false convictions and false acquittals for rape became more like that ratio for other crimes. To get agreement on that in the criminal justice system would be politically impossible, I think, but on a college campus, there’s nothing horribly unfair about a disciplinary board adopting a preponderance of evidence standard.

          1. 0
            hmmmm says:

            I was not aware that “beyond a reasonable doubt” was an ad hoc principle to balance the consequences. I always thought the idea was that people shouldn’t be punished for crimes they haven’t been proven to have committed.

        2. 0
          lol says:

          ^the irony is that i think the same think when i read through here, given that at least one of the anonymous commenters who you agree with was a student with a lot of power last year.

          1. 0
            lol @ Alum aka David says:

            Hm, convenient that “Alum” posts this comment within 9 minutes of David posting a comment saying the same thing… and I doubt anyone but you would refer to him as “Mr. Hill.”

          2. 0
            Alum says:

            I’m sure Mr. Hill is very flattered that you think he had a lot of power. But knowing him, I’m sure that he would just use his name.

          3. 0
            lol @ Alum says:

            Because I’ve seen a lot of your comments on the DG before, and I have a good sense of who would say what. And judging by this, my hypothesis was completely correct. Unless we somehow both guessed wrong.

        3. 0
          John '14 says:

          This isn’t about government policy, though?

          I for one think it is reasonable for the college to have different evidentiary standards than a criminal court. It’s worth noting also that most civil trials also have a preponderance of evidence standard.

          1. 0
            Yana List '14 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

            Just Curious,

            Exactly – the result of civil litigation is money.

            Arguably, a CJC case is doing just that. If the college follows legally mandated procedures set out by ED (DOE is the Department of Energy, ED is the Department of Education), and finds that a rapist is more likely than not to have committed the crime, then the punishment is effectively monetary.

            The rapist loses the benefit of their college education. And because these cases are currently kept confidential, and records of these trials do not generally follow them – they just re-enroll elsewhere.

          2. 0
            Peter '15 @ "Just Curious" says:

            Right — but there are vast differences between criminal trials and campus hearings, so I’m not sure why you think comparing those two is valid.

          3. 0
            Just Curious says:

            The penalties in civil litigation are monetary. Also there are vast differences between civil courts and campus hearings.

      3. 0
        Just Curious says:

        Are you suggesting the nature of the crime should suspend due process?

        Your willingness to suspend a standard that goes against one of the core tenets of our judicial system simply because you deem the penalty inconsequential is surprising.

        Understanding a preponderance of evidence standard is not presuming guilt, it is hardly presuming innocence. If there was a generally low conviction rate for a given crime,would the solution be to lower the burden of proof?

      4. 0
        Alum says:

        Maria,
        To be guilty of shoplifting in Virginia, a crime with no jail time and a $100 fine, it must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. To be expelled from Swarthmore, or even be suspended, is to be kicked out of your home (dorm) and to lose the benefit a Swarthmore degree, valued at almost $200,000. Further, you lose the effort and time put into the degree and presumably have difficulty securing alternate education. I beg you not to dismiss these costs so lightly.

        Now, look at the system that can deprive you of it. The CJC takes on the role of both judge and jury, with the college administration, an entity highly interested in the outcome, allegedly acting as a safe guard. The evidentiary rules are also a farce. There is no meaningful rule of perjury, investigation depends on public safety (who are not sworn or trained police officers) and defendants are not allowed the benefit of counsel but are meant to get by with a “supporter” who cannot speak or review the evidence against the defendant. Finally, the evidence burden of “more likely than not” boils down to who the CJC believes 50% + something. Oh, and since the verdicts are based on consensus, it doesn’t need to be unanimous. Are you really comfortable with the deprivation of substantial rights based on 7 untrained people thinking you’re 51% guilty? Because I’m not.

        I want rapists and all criminals to be punished. However, the current system utilized by Swarthmore College and mandated by the DOE is neither just nor effective. I would advocate that Swarthmore constrain itself to adjudicating plagiarism and little else, leaving the matter of criminal justice to the courts, where it properly belongs.

        1. 0
          Peter '15 @ "Alum" says:

          I think everyone agrees that the CJC is not the same as a court — that is the point. It is indeed severely flawed, but in such a way that greatly advantages rapists over their victims. For instance, read this or literally anything anyone has every written about their experience in the CJC.

  9. 0
    Lorraine Leeson says:

    Two things –

    First -in response to ‘K’ – I have no problem whatsoever with the notion of free speech! Indeed, I am exercising mine right now. But there are also questions that need to be asked in the snapshot I talked about: if you overheard people making overtly racist comments – would that be acceptable or defensible? I think not. As far as I am concerned, the comments I overheard were equally unacceptable and I wanted to do something about that.

    Second – I want to emphasise that there are procedures in Swarthmore for the reporting of harassment and sexual misconduct. But this overheard conversation seems to fall outside the remit of such policies (and that seems reasonable to me). Add to that that I do not know the people who made the comment and you can’t make a complaint about unknown commentators. Thus, I spoke to some people on campus and considered an appropriate response before writing my original letter. My goal was not – and is not to create unnecessary drama – rather it is to say that we all have a responsibility to think before we speak. What we say impacts on the people around us. This principle is established in US laws that deal with harassment relating to ‘protected traits’ for example (as I have learned from taking a course on the matter here at Swarthmore).

    The fundamental question is about how rape and sexual harassment seems to be thought about and talked about- we need to stay focused on the fact that rape and sexual harassment is a real phenomenon. It happens on campuses. The studies I have been referred to suggest that “false allegations” are very rare indeed. It is under-reported when the aggressor is known to the victim and it is a crime. We don’t tend to blame victims of burglary so why do victims of sexual assault get held to a different set of standards in some peoples’ eyes?

    1. 0
      Alum says:

      Ma’am,
      I believe the critciism of your piece is solely limited to the premise of college suppression of this speech, rather than support for the speech itself. I am glad you recognize this conversation doesn’t even enter the realm of harassment or misconduct.

      How rare is very rare? 1%? 5%? Are these based on not guilty verdicts? Accusation to conviction rates? Because I damn well gurantee it is not that rare on this basis. I am not saying we should punish rapists. I’m only arguing that we need to be damn sure they are rapists before we punish them and the current system of adjudication at Swarthmore to determine such is a farce.

      Finally, burglary and sexual assault are two very different crimes but there often false burglary claims (insurance fraud or petty vindictieness). I am not saying that there are equal incentives to falsely report sexual assualt but it does happen.

      1. 0
        Peter '15 says:

        Aside from the fact that you are wrong about false accusations(and Maria shows you why false accusations are very, very overestimated), why is this relevant? Who are you defending here?

          1. 0
            Uhm ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

            David, it must be hard for you to read through these arguments given that the law isn’t on your side. Try reading Title IX for once.

          2. 0
            Peter '15 says:

            Also: I wanted to say thank you for your positive response. It’s nice to get some positive feedback from an actual human, when there’s a constant barrage from possible votebots.

          3. 0
            Peter '15 says:

            @Sam: I also have been suspecting vote-rigging. Now I’m sure of it (no one would downvote what you said that much that quickly in the real world). I used to think this was impossible to test, but I just figured out how to do it. The server has to keep track of what IP voted. This in and of itself has its limitations (you can test this by plugging into the wired network, voting, then switching to the wireless network and voting again). But even counting these tricks, there should be a certain set of IPs that upvote/downvote in blocks. I’ll look at these and see if my hypothesis is true. I’ll post the results once I have time…

          4. 0
            Alum says:

            Sam,
            It’s poor form to call “vote-rigging” after you receive 50 down votes. Maybe your assessment of the opinions of Swatties is simply wrong? I don’t claim to speak for the majority, or really anyone but myself, but it seems that your claim to represent Swat is even less than mine. Also, you really should learn to accept that sometimes people won’t like you or your ideas.

            Secondly, thanks for comparing me to Captain America. He beat up Hitler, you know. Are you really comparing Peter”15 to Hitler? Because if I fight against tyranny and oppression like Captain America, and I fight Peter”15, he’s similar to Hitler, according to your logic. Also, since you called Peter’15 a DG superhero, does that make him my nemesis? Because that’s Hitler too. That seems unfair. I will happily go on record and say that Peter’15 is not similar to Hitler. And that no one similar to Hitler should be a superhero. But it seems you might disagree.

            Third, I’m glad you don’t get to pick juries then.

          5. 0
            Sam Zhang says:

            First of all: strongly suspect vote rigging here. Does the DG do any sort of IP-based filtering of votes, because some people might just be refreshing the page and voting a million times. Either that and/or FIRE? Because these votes aren’t really reflective of the comments, or Swarthmore people in general.

            Second of all: Peter’s summary of this entire incident is heroic, and above and beyond the call of duty. You are a DG superhero. (not to mention the civil responses to the hardcore conservative/possibly trolling questions)

            Alum is completely off the mark, and the fact that he’s resorted to name calling is telling. There are intelligent critiques to be made along the lines of what he’s saying, but he is too busy being Captain America to see them. Read Katie Roiphe for more interesting controversial opinions about cultures of rape, sexual harassment, and the activist and legal entities that surround them.
            (For example: http://www.nytimes.com/1993/06/13/magazine/date-rape-s-other-victim.html)

            Sorry Alum, even if CJC didn’t exist and everything went to the courts, I wouldn’t want you sitting on a jury anytime soon.

            Good night, and thanks again for the discussion, Peter, because without you this wouldn’t really have been one

          6. 0
            Alum says:

            Peter,
            I’m sorry the conversation didn’t unfold as you wished. I know it can be very frustrating when people don’t agree with you or present arguments that are philosphically different from your beliefs. This is all very understandable and I hope that your Swarthmore education helps you work through these difficulties. Remember, there is always someone there to listen to your problems and help you through them.
            Maybe one day, and I know this probably really hard, you can finally get all of that sand out of your britches and stop being so petulant. I know it’s not fair that my side has freedom and justice on it, these are just super good values. But I want you to know that I’m very proud of you for your ability to respond by citing pointless statistics, making personal attacks and all in all ignoring my points. Its very clear why you are a very important person on campus and enjoy widespread respect. Oh wait…

          7. 0
            Peter '15 @ "Alum" says:

            I’m not sure what link you are referring to, unless you mean the Phoenix article I linked in a different part of the comment thread. In that case, yes, the CJC process is unfair for victims — that was my whole point. As much as you seem to think I am a supporter of the CJC process, I am not. I don’t have an opinion one way or the other on whether the CJC should be involved in this sort of decision. Rather, I am objecting to your barrage of assertions that the college is finding people responsible for sexual assault without sufficient evidence — the problem is the exact opposite. Furthermore,

            …even those convicted of criminal offenses are permitted to remain in their homes and communities, if they aren’t incarcerated.

            haha that’s funny, because that’s literally what happens at Swarthmore. Most rapists get to stay here.

            BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY:
            I feel stupid for letting you steer the discussion this way yet again, so let’s back up and trace how we got to this point.

            1. “K” makes up some ridiculous claim that Professor Leeson is violating these men’s freedom of speech by calling them out, and furthermore elevates pro-rape comments to the status of “opinions [that] differ,” rather than just unacceptable and wrong:

            Please confirm that you believe that employees of the college do not have a right to express opinions that you differ with even in an off campus venue and that such employees whose opinions differ from yours need to be re-educated so that their opinions mirror yours.

            2. Professor Leeson responds to this and other comments. She reminds K that she is in no way violating anyone’s freedom of speech. She explains her reason for writing this letter:

            My goal was not – and is not to create unnecessary drama – rather it is to say that we all have a responsibility to think before we speak. What we say impacts on the people around us. This principle is established in US laws that deal with harassment relating to ‘protected traits’…
            The fundamental question is about how rape and sexual harassment seems to be thought about and talked about- we need to stay focused on the fact that rape and sexual harassment is a real phenomenon. It happens on campuses. The studies I have been referred to suggest that “false allegations” are very rare indeed. It is under-reported when the aggressor is known to the victim and it is a crime. We don’t tend to blame victims of burglary so why do victims of sexual assault get held to a different set of standards in some peoples’ eyes?

            This last paragraph explains why the comment the men made about women who “cry rape” is so ridiculous and hurtful. She does not discuss the CJC or any legal process — she is merely showing that these men are wrong in treating rape as a made-up issue.

            3. You respond to her comment, pushing back against the idea that what these men said is unacceptable:

            I believe the critciism of your piece is solely limited to the premise of college suppression of this speech, rather than support for the speech itself. I am glad you recognize this conversation doesn’t even enter the realm of harassment or misconduct.

            Here is the place where you invent “college suppression of this speech,” which was not part of Professor Leeson’s comments or letter. You then proceed hop on the derailment train, and decide to make this a conversation about how the CJC is being unfair to the accused:

            How rare is very rare? 1%? 5%? Are these based on not guilty verdicts? Accusation to conviction rates? Because I damn well gurantee it is not that rare on this basis. I am not saying we should punish rapists. I’m only arguing that we need to be damn sure they are rapists before we punish them and the current system of adjudication at Swarthmore to determine such is a farce.

            This has absolutely zero to with the letter or her comments on it. She is talking about the campus culture, not about how the administration should handle complaints of sexual assault. But for some reason, you construct this straw man, and managed to bait people like me who care deeply about our school’s response to sexual assault into addressing this red herring.

            4. Commenters such as Maria and myself are forced to try to dispel the aspersions you are casting on all survivors.

            5. You decide to return to your glory days in the revolutionary war, casting Maria (and the rest of us who are trying to defend survivors) as somehow believing the CJC is infallible. Funny, but she actually never mentioned the CJC in her comment. You made that straw man up.

            There are rapists at Swarthmore. But none have been convicted by a tribunal of any merit.
            … I just believe that everyone deserves a substantive defense, no matter how guilty they may seem.

            And by this point you have completely departed from the discussion of the rape-apologist commentary this letter to the editor is about.

            6. Unlike me, Maria is not fooled for a minute by your derailment, and critiques your attempt to steer this conversation towards false accusations (which were not part of this letter to the editor, let’s not forget):

            I would argue that the question of justice for the falsely accused is too often used to distract from the conversation about stopping rapists and protecting women.

            7. In a parallel subthread, I similarly ask why you are bringing up false accusations, when this letter to the editor is not about the CJC process. I ask, “who are you defending here?” You write “the innocent,” and have successfully diverted my attention to trying to address your red herring.

            So to sum up, and ask yet again, who are you defending? That is, why do you feel compelled to steer conversations about how men oppress women, towards completely unrelated discussions of the very, very few men who are falsely accused of rape. This isn’t about men, save for those who have been assaulted. You made this conversation about you, when it was supposed to be about the struggle survivors face due to the rampant sexism, victim-blaming, and rape culture at Swarthmore and the world at large.

          8. 0
            Alum says:

            Peter,
            I’m not saying that the CJC is a criminal trial. I’m saying that it should be or that it shouldn’t exist at all to try criminal offenses. Being determined “responsible” leads directly to the deprivation of a substantial property interest, i.e one’s housing and the Swarthmore degree. You dismiss the impacts of expulsion far too easily, in my opinion, as even those convicted of criminal offenses are permitted to remain in their homes and communities, if they aren’t incarcerated. I don’t know about you but I certainly wouldn’t want a body to hold me “responsible” for a horrible offense based on terrible procedures and a preponderance of the evidence standard. Oh, by the way, the link you quote shows how the system is broken for victims as well, given my argument even more credence. It truly baffles me how you can consistently argue against fairness, free speech and due process. But hey, at you’re consistent.

          9. 0
            Peter '15 @ "Alum" says:

            Alum, being found responsible by the CJC is very different from being found guilty in a court. There is no possibility of jail time or any deprivation of liberty at all. Rape is a crime, but a CJC hearing is not a criminal trial — stop pretending it is. If anything, a civil trial is a more accurate analogy. Hence, the preponderance of evidence is enough, rather than “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

          10. 0
            Alum says:

            Peter,
            I don’t really care about academic miscounduct because it isn’t a crime. It’s substantively different to be labelled a cheater than to be labelled a rapist. This isn’t to say that I support the CJC, as I have consistently objected to its protocols, but rather I accept that a civil offense, such as plagarism, doesn’t necessitate a “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard or the level of protection due to an accussed criminal. It is concerning that you do not worry about the rights of the accussed in your pursuit of “justice”. A just man is willing to punish rapists to the maximum extent. But he is not willing to do so without affording the accused a real opportunity to defend himself. I say again, I defend the innocent, which every accussed person is until they are proven otherwise.

          11. 0
            Peter '15 says:

            Pithy, but wrong. This started out as a discussion of rape culture and has turned in to an attempt to argue that the rights of the accused are being violated. Funny how it always goes in that direction.
            If this was really about “the innocent,” (and I’m speaking not just to you but to the Swarthmore community as a whole), then we would hear people voicing concerns for the rights of the accused for everything the CJC is involved in. Do we ever hear people talk about the rights of the accused being violated by the CJC, when the accusation in academic misconduct? No. Somehow, sexual assault is special in people’s minds because any discussion of punishment immediately triggers responses invoking the rights of the accused.
            So I am still wondering who you are defending.

      2. 0
        Maria Rogers '13.5 says:

        Dear Alum (who chooses for some reason not to stand by their position with their name),

        There are so many reasons that I am frustrated by your comment. First of all- this was a discussion about whether or not we should criticize and call-out the kind of attitude that was reflected in the conversation overheard by professor Leeson.

        I am not sure why you brought up the “false accusation” question and why you did so in such an obviously uninformed way.

        The FBI has estimated the number of “unfounded” reports of rape (1996) at 8%. (not a large number btw).
        Unfortunately,
        This doesn’t mean very much:

        Cases are called “unfounded” when there isn’t enough evidence (ie- it is often the case that intimate partner rape is deemed “unfounded” even when what occurred was rape)of “forcible rape”. In many states intimate partner/marital rape isn’t treated as anything more than a domestic dispute.

        For an understanding of how many cases get confused with false: http://pervocracy.blogspot.com/2011/09/ten-shades-of-false-rape-accusations.html

        So basically if you want to understand how many women falsely accuse- that’s fine. Your prerogative.

        Almost all federal sources agree that it is less than false accusations for other crimes. Also- since so many rapes are NOT reported at all (especially since many women know that they would be looked at as a “false accuser”, face invasive questions and be dismissed and attacked by peers- who would want to report- many women just want to get on with their lives and forget about what happened).

        1. 0
          Alum says:

          Maria,
          “It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished. But if innocence itself is brought to the bar and condemned, perhaps to die, then the citizen will say, “whether I do good or whether I do evil is immaterial, for innocence itself is no protection,” and if such an idea as that were to take hold in the mind of the citizen that would be the end of security whatsoever.”
          -John Adams on his defense of British soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre.

          It is easy to feel compassion for rape victims and to crave justice for them. I am glad that they have impassioned advocates such as yourself and Peter, among others in the Swarthmore community. However, I defend the accused for the reasons elucidated by Mr. Adams. If we abolish justice and due process, equating accusation with guilt, the men Professor Leeson rightly condemns will be even more certain in their beliefs and, more horrifyingly, partial correct. It pains me that the judicial process at Swarthmore is such a sham that I cannot in good faith accept a conviction from them. There are rapists at Swarthmore. But none have been convicted by a tribunal of any merit. Before you say that pressing a legal claim against them is traumatic and difficult for survivors, I will concede the point. What I will not concede, however, is that we must sacrifice due process in pursuit of redress.

          In sum, Maria, it is not that I do not care or that your points don’t matter. I just believe that everyone deserves a substantive defense, no matter how guilty they may seem.

          1. 0
            Maria Rogers '13.5 says:

            Alum,
            I appreciate that you have been civil in this discussion (despite your anonymity).

            That being said, you claim that it is easy to feel compassion for the victims of rapists. I would challenge you to look at the public discourse surrounding cases as clear as the Steubenville and Maryville cases and you will see that, in fact, victims are not surrounded by compassion. Many people are ready to offer young rapists a pass because there is a sense that they “shouldn’t have to suffer from their actions for the rest of their lives” even thought their victims will.

            I would argue that the question of justice for the falsely accused is too often used to distract from the conversation about stopping rapists and protecting women. Am I saying that it is not important? No. But this conversation does not stop our attempts to prevent murderers and I think the difference is important. Yes. We should try to make sure falsely accused men are treated as well as possible- the same way we treat falsely accused murderers. But all of this talk of false accusation does not stop the police from arresting murder suspects and we understand the risk of arresting (not convicting yet..just arresting) innocent people is a part of the process. We can just try to make sure they are not convicted and that the impact on their lives and reputations is minimized. That’s all.

          2. 0
            K says:

            Alum thank you for your thoughtful reply. In all the discussion of removing procedural protections for the accused on the Swarthmore campus, I have thought back to the early history of our country and thought of John Adams (one of our first presidents) who had the courage and clarity of mind to stand for justice and legally represent the British soldiers in the face of much opposition from the Boston populace.

        2. 0
          Alum says:

          Ms. Rogers,
          First, I remain anonymous because I do wish my arguments to be evaluated solely on their merit, rather than who they are said by.

          Second, my raining of false claims stems both from the initial article but especially from the follow up comment:

          “The fundamental question is about how rape and sexual harassment seems to be thought about and talked about- we need to stay focused on the fact that rape and sexual harassment is a real phenomenon. It happens on campuses. The studies I have been referred to suggest that “false allegations” are very rare indeed. It is under-reported when the aggressor is known to the victim and it is a crime. We don’t tend to blame victims of burglary so why do victims of sexual assault get held to a different set of standards in some peoples’ eyes?”

          8% is a huge percentage when it comes to false accusations of a major felony that taints the life of the falsely accused forever. Again, rape is a terrible crime that deserves substantial punishment. My objection is to the idea that it is never falsely reported and that accusation means guilt. This is fundamentally against the justice system of the United States and even basic understanding of fair process.

          1. 0
            David F. Hill IV says:

            Dear Sir or Madam,
            As much as I enjoy antagonizing, and lord knows I do, I have never shied away from using my real name when doing so. One should always take pride in their position. Do you really not think me sufficiently vain to take credit for “Alum”‘s cogent and well received remarks? Because I definitely am. Alas, it is not I. Though I have been enjoying the debacle from afar.

          2. 0
            [not the real] David F Hill IV says:

            David F Hill IV should appreciate everything that Swarthmore has done for him and kindly move on and stop antagonizing others with his comment presence.

            Editor’s note: David F. Hill IV has verified that he did not post this comment.

          3. 0
            Yana List '14 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

            Alum,

            While you talk about defending the rights of the accused, I think that you are missing the key fact that rapists and abusers are hardly ever imprisoned or punished. Only 3% of rapists ever serve any jail time (http://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/reporting-rates) and of those that serve time in prison, the average time served is 5.4 years (http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/PSATSFV.PDF).

            You need only look at the public discourse to understand how frequently women are either blamed for their own assaults, or KNOWN rapists and abusers are allowed to move on without consequences. The most prominent example lately has been Chris Brown, and his abuse of Rihanna. Despite incredible violence, he was only sentenced to community service and probation, and his career has not been hindered in the least.

            But he is far from the only man who is a known assailant, who continues to progress in his career. Mike Tyson is a convicted rapist – and given how rare that is, I think you’ll agree he’s done it (he was accused by multiple women, but only convicted once). Roman Polanski pled guilty to raping a 13-year-old – then fled to France. While he can’t come back into the country, a multitude of celebrities have continued making movies with him – he won an oscar! Sean Penn (while they were married) tied Madonna to a chair and beat her for 9 hours, and he won an Academy Award for playing Harvey Milk.

            These famous cases are easily paralleled by prominent cases of rape that have been present in the media. The amount of victim blaming that went on in Steubenville cannot be explained by a rational human being. In addition to the two rapists who were convicted (and they are not “boys” or “promising young men” or any of the other terms by which they were lovingly referred to – they are RAPISTS), over 50 teens from the town watched what was happening, laughed about it, and did NOTHING to stop it.

            We live in a culture that promotes, condones, and defends rape. We live in a culture where women do not feel safe to come forward as victims/survivors of rape because they fear they will be blamed, ostracized, mocked and ignored. None of these fears are irrational – they are based on piles of evidence, that as a society, we do not take rape seriously.

            8% (the reality is closer to 2%-5%) is not a huge amount, when you compare it to 95%. By always sticking to the false reporting statistic, you are ignoring HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of actual sexual assault victims every year. It is not enough to say, “Again, rape is a terrible crime that deserves substantial punishment”, because that IS NOT HAPPENING.

            We must face reality. Rapists are not punished. 90% of college rapes are committed by serial rapists, with an average of 6 rapes (http://bit.ly/sT0bsO). We are not doing enough to stop these men, and as a result more people are victimized every year.

            I will point out that at Swarthmore that there are multiple known rapists. Maybe only in circles of activists and survivors, but their names and actions are widely known. There are people on campus that I am terrified of – I literally shake when they are in the same space. But too many people are powerless to do anything, because repeated attempts have been made, with no administrative response.

            It is beyond time to deal with the situation. Only by calling these actions out – both by students, and the inaction of administration members, can we even begin to address the rape and rape culture problem on campus.

          4. 0
            Peter '15 says:

            Mr. Alum,

            As Maria pointed out, 8% is a huge overestimate of false reports. False reports are very rare, and even if the method behind producing such figures wasn’t biased towards a false positive, rare events are in general overestimates.

            Also, I find it hilarious that you say false reporting “taints the life of the falsely accused forever.” You know what can really taint someone’s life? Being raped and then silenced, and held to be a liar for having the courage to speak up. Even those who are correctly accused of rape and successfully held responsible suffer very little in the way of consequences. It should be no shock to you that there are rapists on campus that have been accused (and in at least one instance found responsible), yet remain on campus. Their lives aren’t tainted.

          5. 0
            Maria Rogers '13.5 says:

            Alum,
            You seem to have ignored everything that I wrote, so I’m not sure the point in replying to you….

            Only 3% of rapists (in the US) will spend time in jail for their violation of others.

            If you want statistics on perps: http://sapac.umich.edu/article/196

            some of the most interesting numbers:

            23% of college men will admit to having gotten a woman drunk or stoned IN ORDER to have sex with her.

            84% of college men who COMMITTED acts that met the legal definition of rape did not consider their actions to be illegal.

            Given that 25% of women in College are suffering the life-long aftereffects of being raped, I find it fascinating that you chose to focus on the VERY small number of men who might be falsely accused (not imprisoned- accused…). To me that shows either that you don’t understand the impact on women, you think that they are getting more support from the community than they are, or you don’t care.

            Any of those is a bad option. Please do more research (and click on the link in my last post about false accusations) before you stand up to heroically defend a statistically negligible proportion of men.

  10. 0
    K says:

    @ uhm – It is unfortunate that you demean yourself by resorting to vulgarities and by apparently being unable to accurately read my comment. I never said the person listening in on a conversation and writing the letter about it had no right to her opinion or the right to express it. I also do not feel the listener/writer needs to be reported to campus authorities for her thoughts and expressions thereof. I address the same comments @ Peter ’15 minus the reference to vulgarities and applaud Peter ’15 for refraining from the use thereof.

  11. 0
    K says:

    Profesor Leeson- Please confirm that you believe that employees of the college do not have a right to express opinions that you differ with even in an off campus venue and that such employees whose opinions differ from yours need to be re-educated so that their opinions mirror yours.
    Do you believe that freedom of thought and expression are of value on college campuses? Are the only thoughts and expressions to be made on campus ones that you or some other entity approve?
    Fortunately, there are college presidents taking public stands for freedom of speech and thought:
    http://news.brown.edu/pressreleases/2013/11/letter
    and
    https://www.amherst.edu/aboutamherst/president/reflections

    1. 0
      Sam Zhang says:

      I don’t think it’s a freedom of speech issue. These people in the article were untactful and wrong. My point was that there is oftentimes a middle way of responding between nothing and a formal Daily Gazette article, and we have to thread that needle carefully.

      For example this is the perfect kind of thing to call out on Facebook (though I don’t have a facebook so you’ll have to attest/correct). It’s less formal than the DG, and it’s more suitable for a quick jab at people who violate social norms.

      By making every issue a “free speech” issue you nullify everything about it. As others have said, speaking up against speech spoken freely is also “free speech”, and so equally protected by what you’re saying, so you’re basically passing wind.

    2. 0
      Uhm ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      You’re full of shit. She never said that they weren’t allowed to say victim-blaming statements — ever. She’s doing exactly what you’re doing right now — disagreeing and trying to change an opinion. Believe it or not, calling people on on their douchebaggery is NOT A VIOLATION OF FREE SPEECH.

      Jesus Christ.

      1. 0
        wewe says:

        K is asking her to CONFIRM that she believes the following is an appropriate response to overhearing someone make disagreeable statements in the course of a private conversation. These are Prof. Leeson’s own words:

        “…I have also worked on other campuses and I have known of assaults happening and seen how another campus community responds. In the university I normally work at, if known members of a College community were known to have made comments such as those I overheard -be they student, academic, or other staff – a disciplinary procedure might take place, not least because the comments might be considered to have brought the institution into disrepute, and because they could be in conflict with the institution’s policy on dignity and respect. “

    3. 0
      Peter '15 says:

      Okay, I’m fed up with this “freedom of speech” BS. Criticizing someone is not a violation of their freedom of speech. This is not an issue of freedom of speech. This has nothing to do with freedom of speech.

      To use your own logic:

      “K”–Please confirm that you believe that employees of the college do not have a right to express opinions that you differ with even in an online venue and that such employees whose opinions differ from yours need to be re-educated so that their opinions mirror yours.

      Can you see the irony in what you are doing here? Calling out someone for supporting rape culture is not “re-education.” Go back to FIRE.

          1. 0
            Alum says:

            Peter,
            You seem to be unable to separate private condemnation of speech/expression with public suppression/re-education. In a free society, you don’t have the latter but you have a lot of the former. This is unfortunate, because it has been the philosophically underpinning of our discussions. The Swarthmore College Handbook extols freedom of thought and expression. Just because the First Amendment isn’t in force, doesn’t mean we have to abandon it’s principles, especially at a liberal arts college. Swarthmore’s commonalities with Liberty University should be, in my opinion, minimal.

          2. 0
            Peter '15 @ "Alum" says:

            Oh, I forgot that holding people accountable is re-education. I forgot that private institutions are bound by the First Amendment. How silly of me. Being complicit in rape culture? Yay freedom! Speaking up against rape culture? Boo tyranny!

          3. 0
            Alum says:

            “You might think that this is not exactly the same thing as assault on a College campus – but I have also worked on other campuses and I have known of assaults happening and seen how another campus community responds. In the university I normally work at, if known members of a College community were known to have made comments such as those I overheard -be they student, academic, or other staff – a disciplinary procedure might take place, not least because the comments might be considered to have brought the institution into disrepute, and because they could be in conflict with the institution’s policy on dignity and respect”

            Calling someone out is not the same thing as punishing them. The former is an exercise of individual rights (yay freedom) while the latter is the suppression of other individual rights (boo tyranny).

  12. 0
    Lorraine Leeson says:

    I feel compelled to respond to the discussion generated by my letter.

    I wrote this letter to the editor because I was flabbergasted by the conversation I overheard, not least because I have witnessed first hand over 20 years the consequences of sexual abuse and rape on the victims of these crimes and their families in the work I have done and continue to do as an interpreter in counselling and legal settings. I have worked with children and adults, men and women, young and very elderly.

    I also wrote this letter because I had the opportunity to take some training this summer with the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre which resonates with me still. And because I am just embarking on a European project which looks at Deaf peoples’ access to justice – and legal redress for victims of sexual assault is sadly a significant issue in many countries for members of Deaf communities.

    You might think that this is not exactly the same thing as assault on a College campus – but I have also worked on other campuses and I have known of assaults happening and seen how another campus community responds. In the university I normally work at, if known members of a College community were known to have made comments such as those I overheard -be they student, academic, or other staff – a disciplinary procedure might take place, not least because the comments might be considered to have brought the institution into disrepute, and because they could be in conflict with the institution’s policy on dignity and respect.

    For the record, I also find the fact that rape and harassment are reduced to the notion of “sexual misconduct” extremely concerning, minimising the consequences of these acts.

    For all of these reasons, this is why I focused on the overheard comments on rape. I overheard just the very end of the conversation on lesbians, and so didn’t think I could fairly say anything further on that point – but the mens’ comments do contextualise the nature of the conversation. And, for the record, the men in question were not working class.

    I also think it is worth reiterating that I am a visitor here, and I am not privy to the history of the discussion of ‘sexual misconduct’ on campus. But I felt a responsibility to say something in a place where I don’t know the ropes and I don’t know many people – In fact, I didn’t even realise that the Gazette existed until I asked for advice on how I might report this story…

    The decision to publish is not one I took lightly. I worried about it, but I believe it to be the right one. Of course one letter won’t change a culture, but if enough people on campus say that this kind of attitude is simply unacceptable, and if adequate education around the issue of sexual assault is provided (and, I’d suggest, made mandatory), then things can change. The world has shown us that even the most entrenched, violent conflicts can be resolved if there are enough people who support resolution. It takes time, but it is worth the effort to engage.

    And yes, I take the point raised by Sam that an in-depth article would be useful. I agree. But Sam, I didn’t set out to write an article. I simply wanted to provide this snapshot of a point of time, at a particular place. This kind of scenario isn’t unique to Swarthmore and it’s illustrious surrounds. Indeed, it is too commonplace a viewpoint. But until we challenge that viewpoint in whatever ways we can, it won’t change. I am still kicking myself for not running after the men in question on that day and taking them to task face to face. I was too gobsmacked to do so and they had left the restaurant by the time I acknowledged that they really had said these things.

    Coming back to the topic of the role that men can take in stopping rape, you may be interested in this, recommended to me by colleagues at the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre:
    http://mencanstoprape.blogspot.ie/2011/12/saying-goodbye-to-my-strength-is-not.html

    Fundamentally, as the saying goes, “It takes a community”. Well, each community consists of its’ members, and the members have to contribute in order to be heard. This is simply my contribution.

    1. 0
      B. Kettle says:

      Thank you so much for your good work. It is cool to see a professor involved in the communities where she lives. You are a moral inspiration for writing this story. It’s too bad you chose not to report and identify the men to the proper campus authorities, or did you? But you are right, one letter that is just a snap shot of a point in time, at a particular place may not be enough to change the culture. And this continued dialogue and education is making an impact. Best wishes on your European project!

      1. 0
        Thought Patrol says:

        Yes,it truly is a shame the Professor didn’t get the opportunity to report the conversation of two men who “appeared to be members of the Swarthmore College community”. Surprising as it may be even unwelcome speech is protected unless it constitutes one of the narrow exceptions to the First Amendment. Out of curiosity who would be the proper campus authorities to report an off campus, uninformed conversation between two men who may, or may not have an affiliation to Swarthmore?

        1. 0
          Peter '15 says:

          Thank you both for taking the time to express your opinion that one should neither report problematic behavior nor write about it. Antagonistic apathy is the key to social progress. Action is for people who aren’t strong enough to sit around making snarky comments.

  13. 0
    RJ says:

    This is a tale of two Swarthmores. I can just bet that this sordid story took place at Occasionally Yours, not Hobbs, and that the speakers associated with the college were not professors, were not young and were white working class. The perception of survivors as what these men expressed responds to their place in the workforce–to their willingness to defend the patriarchy as an excuse for their failure to examine their own abysmal alienation at the hands of that same system. However, the absence of that alienation, in part, is what surprises me when more tenuous yet similar views find expression in student’s voices.

    1. 0
      Well, says:

      You can’t even bring yourself to ask this question on the internet under a real name. Why do you think it might be difficult for someone in real life to challenge a pair of men who are condoning rape?

      Also, what is your point here?

  14. 0
    Concerned says:

    Two ignorant ideas were expressed by the men. One about lesbians and the other about rape. I thank the authors for their discussion about rape, but I also want to express my support to Swarthmore’s LGBT community and wonder why the authors chose to bring both ideas into the article but only address one.

  15. 0
    Maria Rogers '13.5 says:

    I also would like to thank Professor Leeson and Julian and Virginia Cornell.

    It would have been so easy (I know from experience) to have overheard a conversation like that and used it as an illustrative anecdote among friends. It is far safer than submitting yourself to the hateful misogyny of online rape apologists.

    Instead professor Leeson is calling attention to the blase manner in which these ideas were brought up and treated with a legitimacy that they don’t merit.

    It means a lot to me that a professor overheard these men and took the time to write. I am touched. And I hope people will take the time to learn more about the numbers and the harsh reality that is rape on college campuses. 25% of college women have one arm tied behind their backs because they are dealing with the emotional repercussions of sexual violence. Imagine how much more we could achieve if women didn’t have these memories and, in many cases, their actual assailants haunting them around school.

    For people who haven’t thought too much about rape culture and the draining effect it has on women (women who could be contributing more to society if they just had the freedom to feel safe) Here are some links that might be useful in reading more:

    an excellent article about power and consent that I found explained a lot of the dynamic.
    http://radtransfem.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/under-duress-agency-power-and-consent-part-one-no/

    It’s not that they don’t understand, they just don’t like the answer.- an article on why the “I didn’t know she didn’t want it” defense is full of crap.
    http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2011/03/21/mythcommunication-its-not-that-they-dont-understand-they-just-dont-like-the-answer/

    Following on that one: an article about why the “nice guys commit rape too” is only helpful to serial predators. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/dec/18/nice-guys-commit-rape-conversation-unhelpful

    And a surprisingly good article from “The Brobible”
    on male responsibility to prevent rape:
    http://www.brobible.com/life/article/on-male-responsibility-for-rape-culture

    And an article on how cat-calling promotes violence against women:
    http://msmagazine.com/blog/2013/10/21/when-street-harassment-is-more-deadly-than-catcalls/

  16. 0
    asim sheikh says:

    A very well written letter and bravo to Prof Leeson for elucidating the matter with such eloquence. In this day, it is shocking and abhorrent that so many people, in so many cultures, still have so much of an out-dated mode of thinking in relation to sexuality and sexual behaviour. More family education, class room education and coverage by the press, social media and the entertainment industry would be useful to shout out the message that this mindset is wrong and unacceptable and it is a message we should all shout out when we can. Thank you for shouting!

  17. 0
    Sam Zhang says:

    This has been a classic dilemma since I’ve been a freshman here, and it’s not about sexual misconduct or the veracity of what people are saying. It’s actually a disguised issue of public vs. private space.

    People will be fuckwads and say whatever they want, just to prove their “free speech”. There is no prerogative toward truth in any of what they’re saying. The question is whether you want them to say what they say in a space that you think belongs in the discourse community that you do.

    Maybe you should ask the restaurant owner to put up a sign reminding patrons to not say offensive things. But until that happens, I think this article doesn’t really do much to combat the culture of misogyny that runs through our community. It’s so preachy, god.

    1. 0
      Sam Zhang says:

      Well, thanks for responding nicely everyone.

      I think there are two things that irk me the most. 1) the idea that calling out one specific incident on the Daily Gazette can be a suitable replacement for talking to these people in person. I realize in-person confrontation is SUCH a hard ideal, but it is necessary to have an actual community.

      I realize too late that that is one of the shortcomings of writing Phoenix articles for as long as I did.

      2) that the author of this article was a visiting professor. I think that position accords enormous cultural capital, in terms of influencing how the outside world sees Swarthmore and how Swarthmore sees itself. Hearing two people talk over lunch last Thursday on a restaurant off-campus is not a representative anecdote of the school. OR MAYBE IT IS. I would have liked more substance to back it up, and make it a story about the culture of the entire school, because god knows we have problems, and we need someone impartial to look at it and acknowledge it’s fucked up.

      Chris–I agree with you, but too much “classy” is also the problem. What sorts of cultural capital give people the authority to confidently write articles such as these? I know life isn’t a zero-sum game in that way, but it can be intimidating for people who have heard MUCH worse and still don’t feel powerful enough to write DG articles about it, to read professors (Professors with phds and jobs!) write such tepid articles about this stuff. I think in a significant way, this article silences people, because Prof. Leeson has so much power and still can’t make a dent in the sort of misogyny that gets passed around as regular in Paces and whatnot. I am left with the bitter impression of there being some sort of massive collusion between structures of power and misogyny where basically Professors call out anything they hear, testifying that the school is otherwise clean, and in exchange, try their damned hardest to not hear anything.

      (so yes, I guess I agree that it’s good that Prof. Leeson at least admitted to hearing something.)

      But silence isn’t always collusion. It can be waiting, for the right figure to speak up. With that said, I’m going to stop talking

    2. 0
      Chris G. '13 says:

      I see what you’re saying, Sam, about the delicate balance of public vs. private space, a grey area where this article is active. However, I didn’t get the feeling you did at all–I was left with the impression that Prof. Leeson was handling this in the classiest way possible: preserving the anonymity of the individuals involved while still using the example f their conversation to highlight what goes on, at least among some, outside the most public aspects of our discourse in sexual assault.

    3. 0
      Mark L. '10 says:

      Sam, I invite you to re-think your labeling of this speech as offensive.

      I propose that what Professor Leeson heard at lunch was not “offensive.” It was a dismissal and a silencing of real violence.

      Telling someone they’re an idiot is offensive.

      Telling someone that rape is overblown, or is the fault of victims… “offensive” is not the right word for this. It is cruel. It is violent. It has no place in any just community.

      These men overheard by Dr. Leeson didn’t invent this idea on their own, but they are responsible for examining the violence their beliefs condone and hide.

      Perhaps you are implying that it is a foregone conclusion that these are unacceptable beliefs, and that columns like this one highlighting the violence of these beliefs are unnecessary. You mention “a culture of misogyny” in your comment, but I cannot tell if you believe this exists or not.

      In any case, this overheard conversation is misogyny. It is emblematic of rape culture and sexism. These are systems that do great harm. They do not merely offend. These systems are good at hiding themselves. To fight back, we must uncover them.

    4. 0
      B. Kettle says:

      Yes, your comment clearly shows that people will be fuckwads and say whatever they want and it is very preachy 😉 But more importantly, it is a concern to have people in positions of power at the college who are expressing such ignorant ideas and it seems like writing this letter to the editor is a better way of reaching out to these guys than your way.

    5. 0
      wewe says:

      “Maybe you should ask the restaurant owner to put up a sign reminding patrons to not say offensive things. ”

      Ah the enlightened liberal solution to pretty much everything.

    6. 0
      M. Crabbe says:

      I disagree, Sam.

      I applaud a visiting professor for getting so involved in the issues of the campus; Professor Leeson’s effort of time and energy in constructing an editorial is 200% more time and energy most of the professors I personally had gave toward making life better for survivors and, frankly, students in general. (Shout-outs, now and forever, to Gwynn Kessler.)

      I also am sympathetic to the points that she is both a visitor and a woman. I think Professor Leeson has called out both of these gentlemen in a way that won’t damage her career via word of academic mouth but will a. reach these men as the campus will now be buzzing a little bit about this and b. reaches even more faculty.

      I would ask you, a man, to take a step back from coming down on a woman for speaking out against rape and men condoning rape while she is strapped into various weird social positions via her gender, occupation and a lot of contextual stuff which I surely don’t know!

      (I am obviously not asking you as a man to take a step back because rape is a “woman’s issue”; I’m asking you to think about your dynamic when engaging WITH a woman on rape, about a conversation that was centered around female survivors. I appreciate very much how Professor Leeson reframed that conversation without eliding misogynist violence aimed at women around rape too.)

    7. 0
      Uhm ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      Maybe you or I is misunderstanding this letter. My interpretation is that this is not about whether or not people have a right to say these shitty things-it’s about that these things that they’re saying are really misguided.

      This letter wasn’t about this particular incident of misogyny, it’s about rape culture. It’s a small episode that illuminates the broader context and how women feel at Swarthmore. She then asks men in at Swarthmore to step it up.

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