I long for the day when a woman can speak about her experience of rape with all the force of her convictions, as she would for any other experience of injustice. On such a day, rape survivors will not place the blame on themselves for the violence they experienced, and society will not compound their suffering by scrutinizing their outfits or their dating histories. Their ‘no’s’ will be enough. Of course, this is only the bare minimum needed to establish an environment in which rape is called what it is, in which sexual violence is not an experience that an individual must cope with alone and in secret. But this day will not come when we have a female president. It will not take place when we have more female CEOs. It will happen when our institutions, from the government to the workplace to the classroom to the family, view rape as an act of gender-based violence rather than a “natural” enactment of desire.A feminist analysis of Yale’s response to campus rape, arguing that rape is not sex. Feminism and sexual violence. Analysis of rape on college campuses.
For the millionth time, rape is not sex. Surely this has been established by now, you may argue. But looking at the recent report from Yale University, a venerable institution of higher education and my alma mater, I am not so sure. In its fourth “Report of Complaints of Sexual Misconduct,” released via a reporting process mandated by the Department of Education as part of a Title IX complaint resolution, the university determined that over a period of six months, six students were guilty of “nonconsensual sex.” The report offers a disclaimer that, due to privacy concerns, it does not convey the “diversity and complexity of the circumstances associated with the complaints or the factors that determined the outcomes and sanctions.” But the qualifier “nonconsensual” is all the detail that is needed. It is lack of consent that defines rape. Not force, not bruising, not visible scars. The victim said no or was unable to give consent, but the perpetrator proceeded anyway.
Of the six Yale students found guilty, four were given written reprimands, one was placed on probation, and one student given a one-year suspension. All six will graduate with Ivy League degrees after committing a crime, which if committed outside the bounds of campus, would lead to far more serious repercussions.
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