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Feminspire | April 21, 2014

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Rape Culture 101: How to Rape a Girl and Never Get Caught

Rape Culture 101: How to Rape a Girl and Never Get Caught

Last week at Miami University in Ohio, a flyer detailing how to get away with rape circulated throughout one of its residence halls, prompting action from university officials.

(Note: trigger warning throughout this article for mentions of rape and sexual assault.) 

According to a recently published article, a resident assistant in McBride Hall, a co-ed freshman residence hall, discovered a flyer entitled “Top Ten Ways to Get Away with Rape.” Campus officials responded to the incident, but some students are critical of the perceived lack of action.

A female student in WAVE (Women Against Violence and Sexual Assault) at MU denounced the decision to not inform all students of the incident via email communication. Pictures of the flyer were promulgated throughout the Internet, which helped news of the incident to travel more widely throughout the campus. Withholding this information from the student body at large may have been avoided if the sexual assault prevention coordinator position had not remained vacant for more than a year.

Unfortunately this case, an example of rape culture, is not an isolated incident. College campuses around the country have been cropping up in articles, under fire when officials do not respond properly to incidents of sexual harassment, assault, or rape.

In 2010, Yale University suspended pledging activities for DKE (Delta Kappa Epsilon) after pledges chanted “No means yes, yes means anal!” repeatedly throughout the campus, near the all-female residence hall. It wasn’t until seven months later in May of 2011 that the fraternity chapter was banned for five years from Yale’s campus.

Next, in December of 2011, the University of Vermont’s Sigma Phi Epsilon chapter released a survey with the question “If I could rape someone, who would it be?” Eventually, the chapter was banned from UVM as well as from Nationals for five years.

While this incident was handled in a more appropriate manner than the other aforementioned incidents, the language involved still perpetuates rape culture. WPTZ reported “This [survey] doesn’t look like something that was distributed by the chapter or the chapter leadership. Right now it looks like an individual acting on their own accord.”

My alma mater, American University, is also guilty of incidents that support rape culture. A student who was vice president of the Inter-Fraternity Council posted the following status on Facebook in regards to the upcoming Take Back the Night Event on American’s campus:

The IFC decided to have the student step down from his position. The Eagle Online reported the incident, and the president of the IFC stated “[The student] is a man of integrity and is sincerely sorry that his words and actions have caused both offense and uproar in our school community.” The student in question publicly apologized while he and some of his fraternity brothers attend Take Back the Night.

Finally, this week former student Angie Epifano from University of Massachusetts Amherst recounted her horrendous foray against Amherst’s administration to report her rapist. Epifano’s account, detailed here, depicts a university unwilling to aid victims of sexual assault and rape and simultaneously strives to cover up the incident with gems such as “He’s about to graduate, there’s not much we can do.” The sexual assault counselor even went so far as asking her “Are you SURE it was rape?  It might have just been a bad hookup… You should forgive and forget.”

I wish I could tell you that these were the only incidents that occurred on college campuses, but sadly, there are many other incidents that either go unreported or do not reach mainstream social media or news stations.

The culture surrounding these incidents reinforces students to think that it is okay to discount or shoo away incidents involving rape and sexual harassment. American University recently had four incidents of “forcible fondling,” where, reportedly, a man was sneaking up behind women and grabbing their butts or chests.

While the incidents were reported and the campus was promptly notified, I was aghast at the flippant manner in which students made fun of the assaults. Forcible fondling is a legal definition for this crime, but the phrasing turned the serious reports into a campus-wide joke. I cannot tell you how many times I walked through the quad and heard different people claim to “be the fondler” or criticize women for reporting something “as minor” as groping. Even though it is a legal definition, American University’s Department of Public Safety could have chosen a more serious term for their bulletins.

What’s most damning about these incidents is every administration seems to share the collective attribute of minimizing crimes so that the public, the media, or the potential new student population does not discover the dark truths of sexual assaults on campus. Yale seemingly waited seven months before absolutely banning DKE (which Jezebel insinuates was a result of the Title IX lawsuit filed against the Ivy League school). Amherst repeatedly offered terrible resources for Epifano after she was raped and attempted to prevent her from being discharged from the psychiatric ward. Miami University refused to send an email to its students because “It [the flyer] didn’t pose an immediate threat.”

This attitude of finding excuses for criminal’s actions because he or she is a “Nice Guy (TM),” or for discounting a person’s feeling because “it’s an Ivy League school, it couldn’t possibly be unwelcoming” constantly reinforces rape culture. Take a look at the comment sections on any of these reported incidents, and I guarantee some form of the above two statements is present in every article. (Warning: I do not suggest you read the comments’ sections often. Side effects include losing faith in humanity.)

Time and again the running theme of these incidents is a chosen quote by a friend or fellow member of an organization who vouches for the rapist or the person who has uttered an offensive remark, effectively minimizing or deleting entirely the personal accountability for his or her actions. When you erase the responsibility of the perpetrator, this ushers in a discourse laden with victim-blaming.

I have currently been hired as a volunteer online operator for RAINN and worked as a resident assistant for a year. I want to work with sex offenders and victims of rape and sexual assault, and have experience helping people already through multiple jobs and through friends who have suffered through these terrible experiences.

After telling a friend of mine of my sexual assault, he tried, but epically failed, to comfort me. He was sympathetic, but he whispered, “Well, you weren’t raped, right? At least you weren’t raped.”

This detrimental statement effectively demonstrates that the consistent factor deterring survivors from reporting is public opinion. How will my friends see me? Will the administration believe me? Will people label me as asking for it? Does my incident count? My assault wasn’t as bad as another person’s, so will people think it matters?

Constant inundation of rape flyers, chants discounting consent, and encouraging silence of victims adds to the perpetuation of this rape culture.

There are terrible incidents happening at these colleges, and what we need to do, not just on campuses, but nation and worldwide, is to keep shattering the silence and stigma associated with rape and sexual assault. If you do not feel that your incident is “worth getting worked up about,” or if someone tries to minimize the impact an incident has upon your own being, remember these words a friend of mine uttered to me immediately after I told her of my experience:

“You can do anything with this information you want, and you should remember that. If you decide that reporting him is what you need to do, then you should do it. And don’t feel badly about it because he is the one who made you uncomfortable in your own skin, and no one should ever do that. Once you feel uncomfortable, there is a violation; even if nothing physically has happened, you have a right to confront him about that.”

Written by Nicole Del Casale

  • Emma

    It’s sickening that that flyer was circulating…way to make the freshmen feel safe and welcome. Also WOW at that Take Back the Night thing. What messed up priorities.
    Thanks for this article, it was really eye opening and I appreciate your honesty <3

    • http://www.delhisexyescortagency.com/ Amisha

      Really rapist have dirty mind, Emma

  • http://www.facebook.com/rachaelalbers Rachael Kay Albers

    That sexual assault counselor needs to find a new career.

    • http://www.delhisexyescortagency.com/ Amisha

      sexual assaults destroy her life and career both, Mr. Rachel

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  • je-t’aime

    I luv this article thnx for writing it <3
    o, and to that guy on facebook with the 'take back the night' status: learn to respect women…they're the reason ur here !!

  • windskisong

    I remember WAAAAY back when when I was in college, we engineering students (70+% male) warned the lib arts students (70% female) about the prevalence of rape on our otherwise very safe campus, and tried to encourage them to avoid certain areas without escorts. We were ridiculed and told to stop trying to make a public nuisance and to stop trying to control women. Then one of our fellow (female) engineers stopped a serial rapist at the bars near campus by bringing her concealed carry pistol and holding the prick until the police arrived. Suddenly, we weren’t so bad. It’s about changing the culture, yes, but it’s also about making good decisions (to prevent the date rape situations) and being able to defend yourself (or hang with those who can) or avoiding situations where you may have to.

    • Pipsqueak

      I swear to Blog, if one more person tells me I’m supposed to prevent myself being raped, I’m going to start arbitrarily castrating.

      • Guest

        Get over yourself. You can take steps to prevent rape from happening just like you can lock your doors, get a security system, buy a big dog, and keep a gun in order to prevent burglaries and home invasions.

      • Emma

        You’re right Pipsqueak. While there are obvious things one can do to reduce the risk of being a victim of any crime, when everyone is constantly telling women how to avoid rape it make it seems like it is the victim’s fault if sexual assault does occur. And while there are things you can do, everyone woman should have the right to dress how she wants, go out at night, and have a good time without those being “things you should avoid.”

    • Bastet

      As I’ve mentioned to another commenter here, we simply cannot be imprisoned indoors between sunset and sunrise our entire lives. Yes, sure, minimise the risks as much as possible but getting grom point a to point b still has to happen. Not everyone has an escort ready and available. Not everyone has a car. Changing attitudes is the most critical thing that needs to happen. Girls/women don’t need to be stopped from ‘trying to get raped’ because we’re not doing that. We’re trying to get to work, to get to study, to get to friends houses, to get home, to ho to the movies. ..

      • windskisong

        Agreed. Which is why we were quite specific about the areas. The bars close to campus and fraternity row. 80-90% of rapes on or near campus were happening in 10% of the campus. We weren’t trying to control anyone, we were trying to stop our friends from getting hurt. I agree with you, you should have the freedom to move about as you please. But as I learned growing up near Chicago, my freedom to move had to be balanced with common sense. I didn’t hit the dangerous areas of the South Side at night, especially on weekends with a Bulls game. It wasn’t because I was racist or any other ‘ist’. It was because that was where the bad things happened to people who weren’t from around there (as well as to people who were from there).

        • Bastet

          My point, wasn’t that you’re guilty of ‘ist’ or ‘ism’ but rather to consider that choices are limited. Poor women can’t afford to live in the safest neighborhoods, can’t afford cars and taxi’s. It isn’t even about the ‘right’ to walk at night. It’s about the necessity to walk. If the only job one can get is bartending at night, you take the job and keep looking for a more suitable job. If you cant afford a car, don’t earn enough to get a taxi, buses stop running before your shift ends and its a 20-30 minute walk home at 2am, well necessity dictates you work out the safest route and walk home. The problem with many people saying, it’s common sense to drive home or avoid walking at night is that these choices aren’t available to everyone. They are predominantly white, privileged, middle class choices. When the whole picture is taken into account, we can no longer point at the victim and say, ‘bad choices’. The problem becomes much more clear. The streets need good lighting. Entertainment area need public transport for staff to get home. Attitudes need changing. And much, much more.

    • Seriously

      What about guys? What should they do to avoid getting raped? They can also be taken advantage of, you know. Too much drinking in parties, a blind date with a messed up guy, a girl who turns out to be manipulative, women who’re actually stronger than you – beware, college guys.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dominic.blais.5 Dominic Blais

    what is even sicker is the guy who put em out probably has 10 girlfriends and 50 more trying to get on him

  • John

    I think the biggest issue on our college campuses is about changing the culture. A few things that have really hurt the cause, I think, is that many don’t take it seriously, as seen by the things like Yale’s fraternity, and also that stories of women trying to write off a bad night of poor decisions as rape. Every time a story like that comes to light, people jump on it and say, “SEE! It’s not that bad!” Those stories de-legitimize the horrid truth of rape when someone actually has the nerve to scream “rape” when it didn’t happen. Here at the University of Arkansas a few years back a girl claimed to be raped by a couple of basketball players. After an investigation was performed, it came out from friends and people at the party that she clearly wasn’t raped and instead made some bad decisions that evening. Every time someone says she was raped here, now, people point at that incident.
    We need more education about rape for men and women.
    Men must know just how awful rape is so they can understand it’s not just some joke that she will get past.
    And women as well must be educated on things such as not taking drinks from strangers at parties. Also, as another comment said, women need to avoid places where there can be problems. I think we will continue to have groups that will work to improve things and make these horrible college situations fewer and fewer, finally making them a thing of the past.

    • ZImabob

      I don’t appreciate being told that I have to “Avoid places” or “not drink” something OR ELSE. That’s a problem with society that needs to be remedied so that people stop blaming the victim. “Oh, she walked down that street, she should have known better! No wonder she got raped!” should not be what goes through someone’s mind when a rape occurs. Rather, all of the blame should be rightfully placed upon the rapist, and the consequences for the crime should be handled accordingly.

      • Anon

        The point is to guard yourself against the possibility of assault. Don’t leave your drinks unattended, notice your surroundings, walk to your car at night with friends. That sort of thing. As with many things in life, you have to take precautions. Be safe.

  • Cortney Marie Willis

    I completely agree with everything stated so far. At my college, Sacramento State University, there were 28 sexual assaults/date rapes that occurred over the 3 years that I went there. And those were just the reported ones. As it has been studied and proven, many assaults are never reported at all. One of the incidents was a woman abducted by three men in a van, raped and beaten viciously, and then dumped in the same spot the next morning. This particular incident scared me so badly that I didn’t go anywhere on campus after dark without my boyfriend. While I think that it is abhorrent that women have to worry about being attacked wherever they go, and that we should be able to go anywhere and do anything we want without this fear, sadly this attitude is not available to us at this point in history. Until the rampant and blatant rape culture pervading our society is dealt with, we as women must make good decisions about where we go and whom we are going with, and when. I’ll keep doing my part to fight this, though.

    • http://www.delhisexyescortagency.com/ Amisha

      Nice and reality thinking , i am standing with your facts

  • Kaitlyn

    Angie Epifano was a student at Amherst College, not UMass Amherst. Easy mistake, just thought it was worth pointing out. Other than that, fantastic article. Couldn’t agree more.

  • Guest

    I’m so opposed to rape and rape culture, but I also find it pretty offensive that shit like male privilege get lotted in so it fits with a nice “men are all bastards” patriarchal message. There’s a reaons there was a third wave of feminism and it’s stuff like that that gets snuck into feminist messages.

    I keep forgetting that because I’m a human in a male body that I can’t be a feminist, right?

    • Melissa Peterson

      Males or male identified certainly can be feminist. It’s because of society today that most people have the view that all “men are bastards.” With everyone working together, we can dispel those and other stereotypes like men aren’t good fathers or men are incapable of doing housework.

  • sarah

    Hi, I just wanted to let you know that Angie Epifano was not a UMASS student but rather an Amherst College student.

  • rochefoucauld

    Given that the very large majority of rapes are committed by someone known to the victim – a husband, boyfriend, partner, friend, colleague – where does that leave your well-intentioned but more or less useless ‘advice’?

  • eric

    Yes, the victim blaming has to stop, but you shouldn’t get so defensive about being told to take common sense precautions to protect yourself. As a male, I don’t have to worry about rape, but I do take precautions to prevent becoming a victim of other crimes, such as robbery or assault… same thing. As far as rape culture goes, unfortunately there’s only one thing that can really be done about it, and it’s almost exclusively the responsibility of men. We have to start teaching our sons to respect women and setting the example for them so they don’t grow up with that mindset in the first place. So my challenge to my fellow men is, be the catalyst for the change. Teach your boys better

  • R-MWC rape survivor

    I want to add that this issue isn’t only at large universities. I’m a sophomore at Randolph College (formerly Randolph-Macon Woman’s College) and I was raped last year. It wasn’t until last semester, a year after it happened, that I could tell anyone. I reported the guy to the Dean in November and the case has been a shit show.Even though there were no more than six people that the Dean of Students had to call in as witnesses, the case has taken, so far, over two months. I got an email from the college at the beginning of Winter break saying that they were putting the case on hold until Spring semester started, and no matter what I asked of them, they insisted on taking a break. A week ago my rapist got kicked out of Randolph for having poor grades, and now the college is going to drop my case and make it look like it never happened. Randolph dragged their feet with a rape case, but somehow they were able to take him out in a snap for his grades, denying me the closure that I’ve worked so hard for.

    TL;DR Randolph College, former woman’s college with a student population of 700, also doesn’t have its shit together in regards to sexual assault.

    My friend and I want to start a petition soon about this. If you’re interested in being a part of it and helping me help my college, comment on this and I’ll give you my email.

    • thinker

      I am not sure you should be distributing your private email info on these forums. You never know who you might find. Better to create a completely new email id, see how it goes, if you get bad emails then close it.

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  • Bastet

    I’d like to add that if these flashers get away with this now they are more likely to up the ante to see what else they can get away with.

  • Bastet

    There’s a really huge difference between avoiding a bad neighbourhood and being imprisoned indoors after sunset every day of your life in every single area of the world! Women still have to actually get from point A to point B. Furthermore, poverty effects more women than men foecing women to live in bad neighbourhoods. Working and going to night school is a way out of that situation. Please tell, how is a poor woman without a car meant to get to night school and home again, oh wise one with all the blame-the-victim-through-vicarious-simile answers?

  • Bastet

    Not everyone has a car! Not everyone has an escort to walk to the bustop, ride the bus and walk home with! This is why attitudes need changing. Lower income women have less options about minimizing harm potential.

    • Fivezenses

      But street smarts/common sense are needed if you live in an area that isn’t safe. Avoid areas with low lighting, avoid areas with gang related violence if you can, don’t ignore that pit in your stomach that tells you “NO!”. Also all women should carry something that can be used as a weapon.

      Whether its car keys, a pen, a hair brush, etc… normal days items can be a weapon if used correctly. Hair brush? If it’s thick bristles can be used against the face harshly to distract the attacker or use it to sack the crotch area. Keys can be used to jab in the ear, eyes, balls, anywhere that is sensitive. A pen you can use to stab in the leg, the foot, etc… if you’re under attack your adrenaline kicks in and the human body gains extra strength when it needs to…kind of like those mothers that save their baby trapped under a car and lift it situation. Hairspray? Eyes. Soda Can/Water Bottle? Heavy enough to knock a person to the ground if whacking the adam’s apple or temple area of the head where the eye is located. Cell phone? Start dialing 911, put it on a low to silent volume so that the operator on the other end can’t be heard. When you do that 911 will automatically send a police vehicle out there if you are on for more than a minute and you don’t respond. It’s protocol in almost every state. The reason is because people end up unconscious lots of times. From heart attacks to chocking to fires to someone breaking in the house, they have to respond to the scene.

      All in all, it’s just common sense on what you are carry that can help defend and keep you safe, in a good or bad neighborhood.

  • windskisong

    I like your point, and agree with you. When guys brag about who they slept with, that behavior must not be approved of. The rapist should not be rewarded, and the victim not only must report it, but should not be shy about naming names if the perp is known. However, there are common sense things you can do that GREATLY reduce your risk, that others have talked about, and I tried to get the message out when I was in the college and singles scene, and I ALWAYS got angry comments about how I was blaming the victim – when we were offering a free and safe service to help prevent, and providing information (specifically, avoid this 10% of the campus at night, because that’s where 90% of the rapes happen).