Today’s line of thought is inspired by the book Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit. I bought this book thinking it would be a somewhat lighthearted series of recollections of men explaining to women about their bodies and life experiences. It started with a couple of those stories then quickly went into page after page of stories about men abusing, raping and crushing the spirits of women around the world. You know, kind of a downer.
But one of the stories that stuck in my craw was the response to college rape. At one campus where women had been sexually assaulted by an unknown male perpetrator the university responded by telling women to stay inside at night or, if you must go out, don’t go alone. Men were not addressed at all, despite the perpetrator being a male. When somebody asked why men were not required to stay indoors at night the response was outrage: “That would be limiting their freedom of movement!” Well, what the fuck do you think you’re doing when you tell when to stay indoors or only go out in pairs. We like freedom too.
So, I took the liberty of writing the speech I would like to hear a University president give the next time a woman is raped at their school. Which is, of course, every. single. day. So here goes:
“It galls me to stand here and tell you that in response to another sexual assault on our campus I need to address our female students and tell them to not go out at night alone, don’t get too drunk at parties, don’t leave your drink unattended, don’t dress in too-revealing clothing, etc. etc. However, if I do not say this the press, your parents and the community at large would think I was being remiss in my duties as guardian of your well-being. So there, consider it said. Now I can say what really needs to be said to men: Don’t rape women. Don’t assume that a short skirt or tight pants mean she wants it. Don’t have sex with a woman even if she’s unconscious or too drunk to say no. Basically, don’t stick your penis in her vagina (or anywhere else) if she hasn’t given you a clear ‘yes.’ Otherwise, you are a rapist and will be for the rest of your life.”
I can’t decide if the president should say “Any questions?” after this or if they should just drop the mic.