Going through college not knowing whether or not you'll end up being part of the 1 in 5 women who fall prey to sexual assault in her lifetime is a hard reality to deal with. But while women worry about the imminent threat of rape, what are the men doing? According to a piece in Bloomberg, at least some of them aren't too concerned: They are too busy worrying about being falsely labeled a predator to bother with being active bystanders or trusted allies. Apparently, making sure not to rape anybody can be a full-time burden for America's collegiate men.
One of the students interviewed in the piece, Malik Gill, who used to serve as the social chair of the Sigma Chi fraternity at Harvard University, expressed his everyday struggle: "I don't want to look like a predator," he told Bloomberg. "It's a little bit of a blurred line."
While it's a good thing that men like Gill seem to be paying more attention to rape culture on campus, not everyone seems to be focusing on the right thing. Indeed, other men Bloomberg quotes appear much more concerned about their perception than whether or not they may be actually crossing the line.
Then we hear from a Harvard Medical School psychologist's "patient" who once cock-blocked himself because of sweaty visions of a disciplinary board. Apparently worried he would be accused of rape, something that would hurt his chances at law or medical school, he told the woman he was making out with, "It's been nice seeing you."
Cue the violins.
The chorus of male anxiety really crescendos with Chris Herries, a student at Stanford University who stressed that it's women's responsibility to protect men from becoming rapists: "Do I deserve to have my bike stolen if I leave it unlocked on the quad? We have to encourage people not to take on undue risk."
Image Credit: AP
First of all, in this wildly inappropriate analogy, the person who steals the bike (aka, commits the assault) is still responsible and guilty in the court of law. Whether it's locked up or not, you're still stealing the bike, bro. Second, if you're using a metaphor that compares women's bodies to property or vehicles, you're revealing a profoundly misogynistic mindset. Women aren't things that can traded or stolen; they are human beings whose dignity can't be bought back.
Once a woman is assaulted, she is a rape survivor for the rest of her life. That trauma is often relived, re-experienced and often leads to post-traumatic stress disorder. Although there are treatments and medication for PTSD, it never fully goes away. And what is the solution you are proposing, Chris? That women lock up their vaginas with chastity belts to make sure you don't accidentally rape them?
Being a survivor of sexual assault becomes a lifelong battle, and yet these college men seem to think that they are the victims here. So let's help them out. Here's a helpful chart I've created to settle any uncertainties these misguided men may still have:
Image Source: Tri Vo/Mic
As Mic's Jared Keller pointed out, the irony is that while these men are apparently devoting all this energy to the "fear" of being labeled a predator, they've still allowed themselves to be quoted in Bloomberg sounding like insensitive buffoons. As Jessica Valenti of the Guardian highlighted, that article should be enough to affect their Google searches — and therefore the career prospects they're clearly worried about protecting — for a long time.
Good luck with that, boys.
Editor's note: This piece was updated at 6:15 p.m. 08/22/2014