“Female Students Shouldn’t Play the Victim Card.” That’s the title of a piece on Spiked,written by their education editor Joanna Williams. Williams spends the whole piece complaining that today’s young feminists further rape culture by raising awareness of the issue of campus rape. At Oxford University, many students taking their finals will wear white ribbons on the academic gowns they have to wear during those exams. Those ribbons are part of a campaign called “It Happens Here,” which is all about rape awareness.
Williams argues that all this awareness will do is encourage more women (she calls them “females”) to play the role of the victim in adulthood, and blame “the patriarchy of a by-gone era” for their problems. What Williams (who is a woman and should understand this) doesn’t get is that awareness of rape on college campuses worldwide is a necessary thing. Instead, she puts forth this nonsense:
“As I’ve argued before on spiked, there is no evidence to suggest an explosion in sexual violence at British universities. Instead, the current talk of a university ‘rape culture’ is merely the product of female students being encouraged to interpret the messy, uncomfortable and perhaps regrettable processes that are involved in negotiating relationships and sex through the prism of rape. The introduction of compulsory lessons in how to ensure sexual consent at many universities will only exacerbate this trend.”
So what if there’s no evidence to suggest there’s been an explosion of sexual violence? Ms. Williams, are you seriously suggesting that the existing levels of rape are acceptable? That, as long as sexual violence isn’t increasing, everything’s fine, and we don’t need awareness campaigns? You do know, do you not, that even in the U.K., rape goes badly underreported, and that rape cases at Oxford and other U.K. universities could be considerably higher than you think? Obviously not, since you mentioned in your other piece on the issue that rape statistics would, on average, amount to four rapes per year on campuses. Perhaps rape culture would go away if we taught people not to rape, and not to objectify women. You probably didn’t think of that.
You’re part of the reason so many women don’t want to report their attacks. A poll, taken two years ago in the U.K., found that 70% of women feel that the media is unsympathetic to rape victims. You’re the media. You just proved rape victims right. If a woman can’t be sympathetic, then why should anybody expect any sympathy from anybody when they’ve been raped?
It’s horrible and shameful that a woman would write such a piece, because it’s not the people trying to raise awareness that are the problem. It’s women like you, Ms. Williams, who are the problem because you won’t stand with the victims, the women who have suffered rape. Instead, you stand with the still-existing patriarchy, that blames women for rape culture because they think feminists are teaching women to see men as rapists, and to be victims. You don’t see that awareness is empowering, not victimizing.