What the big boys dont know about rape
At first glance the imprisoned former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn and VP Joe Biden seem to have little in common. Strauss-Kahn sexually assaulted a hotel maid in NYC and is in prison for it on the infamous Rickers Island on suicide watch. Biden just released a strong new interpretation of the Title IX which mandates schools take action against perpetrators of sexual assault on campus. Which includes the text:
“If a school knows or reasonable should know about student-on-student harassment that creates a hostile environment, Title IX requires the school to take immediate action to eliminate the harassment, prevent it’s recurrence and address the effects”
Sounds great, right? Schools should do stuff to stop sexual assault, right? Except that this approach is wrong, dead wrong. And it is setting back years of survivor centered approaches to sexual assault on the campuses which should be models for the right way to handle this.
What this means in practical terms is if you are raped on campus and you go to a university employee to report it, or even to get support, you will most likely loose control of the situation. What you want no longer matters because the school legally must take action, even if you as the survivor dont necessarily want that.
But why wouldn’t you want the school to go after the person who assaulted you. Throw them out of school or arrest them? Well, they might be someone you once considered a friend who fucked up. You might not want to get dragged into a court or student conduct case. You might be afraid of their fraternities or sports teams retaliation. Or most likely, you might have no trust in the institutions to deal with this situation in a way that respects you. And of course your starting proof is that your requests are not being respected from the get go.
Often when someone does report, it is not only the school and the cops that feel justified in weighing in on the merit of the case, but everyone and their brother has an opinion about the complainants motives, background, past sexual history and even HIV status. Its no wonder 60% of sexual assaults go unreported.
So what is the effect of this new “get tough on sexual assailants” policy? Fewer women come forward and report, more rapists get away with it and the cycle of victim blaming continues.
Joke has is that when Strauss-Kahn was asked why he screwed the hotel maid the former head of the IMF replied he thought she was a small Caribbean nation. Joe Biden does not have such a good excuse.
Some of the people doing the best work on this in the US are SWAT – the Sexual Wellness Advocacy Team at University of Oregon in Eugene. This shop is run by my gifted lover Abigail. You can like them on Facebook.