Sunday, October 26, 2014

Women are not rape bait

Email from Phi Kappa Tau coaches fraternity members to abuse alcohol and sex

Georgia Tech fraternity Phi Kappa Tau has recently become the subject of investigation after an email entitled “Luring your Rapebait” was sent by the chapter’s social director.

The student, who has remained unnamed, wrote the email to members of his fraternity, giving detailed instructions to his house brothers on how to manipulate women once they have consumed too much alcohol. The email gave explicit, vulgar instructions for dancing with women in an effort to hook up and encouraged readers to “go get more alcohol” if all else fails.

In other words, to take advantage of them, get them drunk. Once they are drunk, hit the dance floor for a good time groping and grinding. Continue to escalate the experience by using your imagination, and finally, “send them out of your room and on their way out when you are finished.” The how-to email finishes with “I want to see everyone succeed at the next couple parties.”

Before I could even reach the last line of the appalling material, tears blurred my vision. Rape is an extremely serious, humorless subject matter. Yet here a college fraternity has made unconscionable behavior appear okay — amusing, even. Worse yet, they are teaching others to follow suit.

What happened to fraternities and sororities instilling a sense of camaraderie and community? If these are the methods by which brotherhood and sisterhood are taught, today’s guide to socialization is one I want no part of.

A study published Oct. 7, 2013 in JAMA Pediatrics found that nearly one in 10 Americans aged 14-21 admit using coercion or force for sexual favors. Four percent reported attempting or completing rape.

According to a series of investigative pieces from the University of Massachusetts concerning sexual assault across college campuses, America is coming to be defined as a rape culture: a culture in which people are surrounded with images, language and other everyday phenomena that validate and perpetuate rape. Language and phenomena like the fraternity email.

Rape is a societal problem. Rather than viewing the culture of rape as a serious problem that needs immediate attention, sexism and violence become seen as “just the way things are.”

According to the Rape Crisis Center, ages 12-34 are the years with the highest risk, with 80 percent of victims being under the age of 30. Women ages 16-19 are four times more likely than the general population to be victims of sexual assault. To make matters worse, alcohol plays a role in 81 percent of rapes.

A culture that takes advantage of women and has no respect for the value of another human life. A culture where men are invested in sex and drunken escapades as a sense of fulfillment and entitlement. Are these the lessons the social director of Phi Kappa Tau wants to be responsible for teaching?

The heartbreaking truth is that, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, 95 percent of sexual assaults on campus go unreported, and there is little disciplinary action taken against those that are.

The sad, shocking and ultimately sickening email has only brought to light a problem that has long been in existence. In defense of the email’s author, the student did issue an apology.

“As hard as it may be to believe, it was written as a joke for a small audience that understood the context, and it is not my nor my fraternity’s actual beliefs on the subject,” he said. “I have now come to realize this is a very serious topic that should not be taken lightly.”

Though the student should have realized these truths long before his fingers hit the send button, I hope that his repentance was a moment of honest sincerity. It is beyond my ability to fathom how the topic was “written as a joke,” but I pray that in retrospect, the email’s coming to light will do more good than harm.

Women are not rape bait, and any attempt to seduce women with the use of alcohol should in no way be condoned. For those who are victims of this serious subject, I apologize for the insensitivity and grotesqueness of the email. And for the millions of students currently in college, please do not believe the lie that these are the years for partying, experimenting and following the so-called wisdom of fraternities and sororities.

Enjoy your college years, but do so with decency, responsibility and respect.

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