Wash. U. has a man problem
By now, most of us has seen or heard about the anonymous op-ed, “Not a threat” published in Student Life April 16. It is unfortunate that this is not the first time in the last 365 days that a member of our community has decided to publicize their traumatic experience because of the failure of numerous offices at Washington University. I can write all day about the various failures of offices and officials (one even inspired a character in this year’s fantastic Black Anthology), but instead I’m going to focus on a group that is the primary reason for this problem and the primary people who can fix it. With that, I offer you one thought that has only gotten louder as the stories grow: I am severely disappointed and embarrassed with the men at this University.
I want to make clear that I am not blaming every single man on this campus, nor am I denying the experiences and authenticity of survivors of sexual assault that identify as men. Sexual assault does not discriminate who it effects and should be treated equally seriously, no matter the victim, perpetrator or location. But at universities, especially this one, the crimes are committed in large by the men who occupy that space, and those culpable should be held responsible regardless of how the University may mishandle these cases, whether it potentially be through ineptitude, valuation of reputation over justice or whatever sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic ideas they keep.
Now back to my main point: At this University, every student attends “The Date,” a sexual violence prevention program at the start of their college career. Along with various related events and activities held throughout the academic year, there is no shortage of information about what constitutes sexual violence. Plus, it is common f—ing sense to not commit such a horrible crime. And yet, it still happens. Is there something that is not getting through to their brain? Does having the tiniest bit of freedom from parents erase any empathy and human decency? Or were they always monsters who now know they are in an environment where their crimes have little chance to actually result in punishment? Whatever the reasoning may be, it’s a poor excuse that does nothing but display how little you care about the women you claim to love so much.
With anyone who proclaims themselves to be an ally, there is the knowledge that you are there to support those who have been ignored, usually by a group you belong to. One responsibility of allyship that many men here seem to have forgotten is to be vocal in your own communities to help change those who have yet to come around to becoming an ally. I think of myself as a staunch and unapologetic feminist and ally for women. No man in the world has done anything worth remembering without the support of women. The silence from the male community regarding the continued war on women at this University is pathetic. Every man on this campus should be looking inward to better themselves in this area as well as organizing to eliminate the toxic masculinity that permeates our campus. This deafening silence only further validates the notion that women at Wash. U. cannot count on their male counterparts to not be cowards and speak up for what is right. Men have no trouble speaking over women when it serves them; so, the fact that they have chosen now to finally shut up is telling.
Sexual violence will never cease to exist. There will always be pieces of human garbage that occupy our space and do horrible acts. But the men at Wash. U. have the position to prevent them by speaking up in their own communities and having meaningful conversations with their friends about how they treat and view women. Besides the sparse male voices, the male population at Wash. U., including the administration, have shown nothing but extreme cowardice. Speaking out against sexual violence should be a part in every man’s life, because if not this epidemic will could devastate any woman in your life.