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.

About paxus

a funologist, memeticist and revolutionary. Can be found in the vanity bin of Wikipedia and in locations of imminent calamity. buckle up, there is going to be some rough sledding.

5 responses to “What the big boys dont know about rape”

  1. Abigail says :

    Its so good to have allies that get it. Thanks Pax. We still have a lot of work to do, Im so glad you’re on our team.

  2. Benjamin says :


    I completely disagree with you. Mandating that school administrations do something is more beneficial than allowing administrations to ignore or try to hide sexual harassment situations. A student who seeks help from the school administration wants that school to take some course of action. On the other hand, the text is so loose that it allows the school a lot of leeway to honor the request of the victim.

    Consider this from the same document:

    Schools should also inform and obtain consent from the complainant (or the complainant’s parents if the complainant is under 18 and does not attend a postsecondary institution) before beginning an investigation.

    Although the interpretation does advise schools to weigh several factors, such as the safety of other students, the needs and desires of the victim should, according to the interpretation, weigh very heavily in the school’s decision.

    So this interpretation is essentially the best compromise available to prevent institutions from ignoring or covering up sexual harassment or assault, while giving the school enough leeway to honor the needs of the victims. No written document can ensure that every unique situation is handled correctly, but it’s unfair to call a good attempt at finding the best approach “dead wrong”.

  3. paxus says :

    Dearest Benjamin: i welcome your disagreement. And i talk with the people who are being hit by this ruling. The University administration is concerned about one thing above all else: lawsuits. If Title IX is mandating running over survivors to get perps, and schools face litigation if they dont do this, than survivor rights are irrelevant.

    i certainly agree that most schools need to do much more and that many schools hide these crimes. But creating an environment in which survivors are less likely to report is certainly going the wrong way.

  4. Sean Peters says :

    Interestingly – after a rash of sexual assaults within the military, the Navy revamped their sexual assault response program to be more to Paxus’s liking – now, if you’re raped, you can choose whether to report the assailant or not. And if you don’t, you can still get the medical, psychological, and other support you need. At the time, I thought that was a bad idea – why not go after these guys as hard as possible? But I see there may be good reasons not to.

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