Guest Column | One in four-ward thinking
One in Four | Penn’s all-male rape prevention group expands upon “Forward Thinking”
February 11, 2013, 11:05 pm·
If we were at a party and saw a passed out girl being sexually harassed, we wouldn’t think twice about doing something.
When faced with the opportunity to intervene in situations of sexual assault and harassment, there is no question. One in four college women experience rape or attempted rape — the very statistic from which we derive our name.
We are Penn’s all-male peer education and rape prevention group, One in Four. We are men who inform men how to decrease sexual assault and help survivors of it. And we’d not only like to applaud Ali and Hayley for beginning a conversation about rape culture last week, but also take this opportunity to expand the discussion.
While Ali and Hayley don’t specifically talk about rape, rape culture is nevertheless all around us. You might be asking yourself what rape culture is. There is no legal definition (how can there be when the definition of rape varies by state?), so we’re going to put it in the most relatable of terms:
It is walking out of an exam and saying, “That test just raped me.”
It is high-fiving your best friend the next morning for his drunken hook-up.
It is blaming a sexual assault survivor for what she was wearing, acting flirtatious or being drunk.
It is making jokes like, “You can’t rape the willing!”
It is commodifying women to the point of requiring a specific man-to-woman ratio to enter a party — and this is coming from an organization whose members are active in the Greek community.
It is dry humping a barely conscious girl and even encouraging your friend to commit the act.
And most certainly, rape culture is exploiting and objectifying women through means like Snapchat.
We’re not here to play the blame game. We all know that it’s not OK to sexually assault or harass someone, but we want you to understand that it’s also not OK to perpetuate rape culture. Just like using “retarded” to describe something you don’t like and “gay” in place of “stupid,” using “rape” out of context is inappropriate.
Actions that trivialize rape increase someone else’s pain. We know it may be hard to speak out against your closest friends, but take a moment and imagine if someone chose not to intervene in a situation in which someone you love was subject to violence. How would you feel?
Ali and Hayley are absolutely right: we have a responsibility to be decent human beings. We should never condone this behavior and can never be bystanders. We all have sisters and brothers, girlfriends and boyfriends or friends, straight and gay, who may be affected at some point in their lives — and it’s time we do something about it.
Jeremy Pincus, Dylan Hewitt, Nick Volpe, Lucas Salzman and Rishi Simha are members of the One in Four executive board and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.