SPEAKING FREELY


Posted by Regina Mills ('09) in response to Jacob Geiger ('09)


Mr. Geiger,
 
The term sexual assault is not used solely to denote sexual violence of a purely physical nature to a person; according to the American Heritage Dictionary, it is "Conduct of a sexual or indecent nature toward another person that is accompanied by actual or threatened physical force or that induces fear, shame, or mental suffering. (emphasis my own)" Thus, sexual harassment fits under this term because it creates "fear, shame, or mental suffering" in the person named.
 
Furthermore, as Prof. Wheeler aptly puts it, this fear and shame can affect more than those named - it can include people like me, who feel ashamed that the word "slut" refers to me, my female professors, and my best female friends. That this term can be as easily thrown around as "chick" or "girl" is disturbing and hurtful. In this way, allegations of sexual harassment, even if it is by someone who you are not certain was explicitly named, should be every bit as protected as any other allegation of sexual assault.
 
In addition, I believe that many events and workshops on campus have attempted to examine and expose the horrible problem of gender relations in this community long before the Bracket or the List. However, only those who all ready know there is a problem (or have been forced to go) have attended events like the Sexual Assault Summit, the Day of Dialogue or Take Back the Night (to name only a few). For some reason, it has come to this outrageous display of insensitivity to make the apathetic and those who are offended but silent see where these problems have led and where they will continue to lead if we keep this trajectory.
 
The opportunities to talk about these problems are there and have been for a while - these are being addressed but many don't want to join in the discussion. We should be brainstorming how to get more people involved - how to make it "okay" to talk about gender issues and not be called man-hating feminists or gay slurs.
 
So, I actually don't see Prof. Richardson's statements or the Ring-Tum Phi's slamming of the SFHB as merely "distractions"; I see them as telling the public that the victims of the List or the Bracket or any other form of sexual violence have nowhere to go. That the authors themselves are the real victims of fascist speech restraints and an unjust court.
 
The resources for victims and survivors of rape, sexual harassment, sexual assault, etc. are all ready scarcely used, considering how often we know that these acts occur. The larger issue is that the school media isn't offering possible solutions but telling the community that we have no one trustworthy to turn to. On a campus where victims all ready feel isolated by social pressures and the fear that they will be "that girl" (or guy), I think it is important that the Phi has characterized the SFHB as a shady, secretive court where the accused are the real victims. This is a real issue as much as anything else I have discussed.
 

Back to Speaking Freely home