From our comments…

This post has been moved from the comments on I am really angry because it a) is really long, and b) raises points not directly related to the original post. We changed the formatting to create a block quote, added relevant links, and corrected some typos, but none of the content has been modified. Love, the Admins

I don’t think people are angry that posters were put up; I think people are angered that they were put up in an offensive and possibly sexist way. They overwhelmingly are in a woman’s tone of voice, and indict the hookup culture on campus (and as an extension, most men on campus) in a way that simply cannot be overlooked. No one is victim blaming or supporting the people who defaced the posters; I believe that we are trying to support wholesome efforts to make people feel better. There is a hostile element to this campaign, as previous posters pointed out, and we have a legitimate right to air our grievances. We’re working towards a compromise, and I am very happy that SOAR appears to be listening to our reservations. This goes back to a post [admin note: This was originally a comment on Confused?] I had earlier which I will repost, because no one has responded and I want to know what people think.

… there are certain cases when one party can and should be held accountable, whereas there are many other times when it was just confusion on one side. To group them into one category diminishes the effect of both.

Although I know it’s often hard to do, let us consider the side of the accused in this matter. There are certain times when if you tell someone they have committed rape, they know it. There are also many times when if you tell someone they have committed rape, they will probably collapse, be shocked, or somewhere between the two. It is important to distinguish the two categories because explicit and unbending language leaves no room for healing on the part of the either side.

While it is often scarring, what about those people who want to confront the accused? I know they exist. What if they want to hear the person honestly say, “I’m sorry. I didn’t know. I cried because of what you said. I never wanted to hurt you.” The fact of the matter is, I have seen such vitriolic rhetoric here I am scared. People who commit violent, explicit rapes are monsters. Confused teenagers are not.

As a student of Haverford, I don’t want to live in a community where healing is impossible because someone can be considered a monster for a mistake they made. I want to live in a community where people can stand up and honestly say “I’m sorry! I never wanted to hurt anybody! I am not a monster! I want to help you!” I want to live in a community which encourages dialogue and understanding of all root causes. And this kind of partisan demonization is not going to help anyone. To equate violent rapists and people who wanted to commit no crime is a moral failing [admin note: fallacy in original].

I think someone said that 90% of rapes fall into the latter category. I’d say at Haverford it’s closer to 99%. The fact of the matter is, we’re saddened that the some of the posters are about indictment and pointing fingers, and none mentioning actually helping people, the cause we’re all working towards.


14 thoughts on “From our comments…

  1. I didn’t have a positive reaction toward all the posters. But I don’t agree that some of the posters which have been read as directed at males must be read that way, and I think it’s telling that they are. (I was definitely guilty of thinking the same when I first read some of the signs.)

    I feel really uncomfortable with the throwing out of that statistic. I also think the goal of a campaign of enthusiastic consent 100% of the time is to eliminate any possibility of / potential for “confusion on one side.” What I think was emerging from the discussion in the comments of the Dec. 2 post where you originally wrote was some desire for a focus on a fully *mutual* consent. This seemed particularly problematic in the case of questioning instances where the ability of both parties to consent was impaired, and commenters worried about blame falling unfairly on one person (in which case all our assumptions about gender, age, experience, etc. come into play). I think this is really relevant in the case of a campus which often depends on alcohol to facilitate “hook-up culture.” ( currently says, “The consumption of alcohol impedes one’s ability to give effective consent, as well as to recognize when consent is not effective.”) Not to say that sexual assault cannot occur completely sober. I’m not sure if I’m expressing myself completely – I’ve been mulling over these things for a few days. For context, here’s a quote from the petition description – Amy’s I think – that I’ve been thinking about a lot. It calls for a conversation “about gender, sexuality, social dynamics, violence, power, alcohol, culture, agency, beliefs, and policies at Haverford, because all of these elements contribute to sexual violence on this campus.”

    • “I also think the goal of a campaign of enthusiastic consent 100% of the time is to eliminate any possibility of / potential for ‘confusion on one side.'”

      QFT. And it makes me really sad and angry that people seem to be so resistant to this, to considering and internalizing this idea of enthusiastic consent, so that our campus can be a better and safer place in the future.

  2. I am the OP of the “I am really angry” post.

    First of all, I agree with the admins that I am unclear about how your post relates to mine specifically. I was not speaking to people who have a problem with the posters because they find them offensive or sexist. I was rather speaking to non-survivors who object to the campaign because it makes them sad or uncomfortable to be reminded of sexual assault and use that as an excuse to take down the signs (who I know exist on campus because I have had conversations with them). There is a specific incident I am referencing in which some people I know took down a sign that said someone was raped in their dorm. The right way to react to that is to engage in activism to ensure that no one is ever raped there again, not to blame those who are merely stating what happened.

    Secondly, I am really happy that you are raising your concerns about the campaign by starting a conversation here as opposed to doing what some of your peers did and just silencing people by taking down the posters. I think it might help me to better understand your concerns if you gave examples of which posters you find offensive or sexist and why. This is not my way of doubting that they are problematic. I just want to get where you are coming from.

    • I guess we didn’t fully understand each other. I thought you were referring to my comment about how I didn’t like some of the posters in the campaign. Sorry; I didn’t know about that specific incident you were talking about. Anyone getting some dramatic irony here?

      Well one of my concerns is that I count 5 posters explicitly about women and 1 from a man’s perspective. To me the disparity is and of itself sexist. There are new posters going up about men because we cried out.

      These two are offensive:
      One fish, two fish, red fish, keep your penis to yourself.
      This very literally targets men.

      Scholar. Athlete. Artist. Rapist. What are your extracurriculars?
      I find it hard to believe there are knowing serial rapists at Haverford. This kind of comparison is unnecessary and belittling to people who dedicate time and effort to art and athletics.

      We live in a culture where men are expected to initiate not by asking to dance, but by being spontaneous. Please say rather than skirt the issue, because it’s obvious. I did an experiment with one of my friends this past weekend. I asked girls to dance; he just walked up to them and started to dance. Not a single girl objected to him, most of them responded. I got weird looks. All the ones about asking and initiating are directed towards men, who are caught in a catch-22. Damned if you do, celibate if you don’t.

      • I didn’t write the comment above, but the one beginning “I didn’t have.” But I take your point about “One fish, two fish” and a lack of reciprocal poster.

      • “Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet, and if I want your vagina I’ll ask for it” was very specifically written as a counterpart to one fish two fish.

      • Which 5 are “explicitly” from a woman’s perspective? We didn’t come up with that number at all–see our most recent post.

        Scholar, Athlete, Artist, Rapist was intended as a “one of these things is not like the others” rather than a “hey, look guys, they’re all the same!” comparison. We participate in academics, athletics, and the arts, and would never intentionally belittle participation in any of those. Participation in rape, however, we wholeheartedly condemn.

        I’m generally willing to believe that Haverford students are a better lot than most. I even agree that many people don’t understand consent to the extent that is necessary, but I–like the second commenter–don’t see any basis for your 99% statistic. And I’m not comfortable saying that there are “no knowing serial rapists” here.

        Being assaulted by someone who didn’t know he was assaulting me didn’t make it less traumatic anyway.

      • Christine, thanks. I think your comment plus the latest post cleared up some misunderstandings I had about the wordings or possible readings of some of the signs. -Commenter 2

  3. Call me naive, but I would like to think that at Haverford, most people are somewhat conscientious of other people. I don’t know about 99%, but I like to think its a majority. That being said, the point about both parties being intoxicated is exactly what I was trying to bring up. The “hook up culture” in and of itself facilitates these kinds of problems. That’s why I think trying to levy absolute blame is not cut and dried in many cases, therefore blanket statements are inherently flawed.

  4. “I’m sorry! I never wanted to hurt anybody! I am not a monster! I want to help you!”
    This: I agree with you that most people hold this sentiment. However, it becomes easier to commit rape and sexual assault if you simultaneously hold the above sentiment and certain rape myths (e.g. I wasn’t trying to hurt them– they were asking for it!).
    I’m extremely hesitant to make any assumptions about 90-99%… What are other people’s thoughts on this?

    P.S. There are serial rapists at Haverford. Sorry.
    That poster would get torn down.

  5. The OP [admin note: of I am really angry] here again. I think other people have already responded to the majority of what you said in your response to me, but I want to take a moment here to talk about your “experiment” this last weekend. From my own anecdotal experience, I have never heard any woman or man I am friends with ever express being turned off by someone asking them to dance. If they wanted to dance, they would say yes and if not then they would say no. However, even if women did for some reason overwhelmingly get turned off by someone asking them to dance, this seems to me evidence of internalized sexism and rape culture and not an excuse to exploit it. Also, your “celibate if you don’t” comment seems somewhat akin to other comments on this blog that also have the ring of “but if I am a ‘nice guy’ then I won’t get any ass!” This makes you sound like you think you are entitled to sexual contact with others. This is part of the rape culture we are all trying to dissasemble.

    Also, the dance sign can apply to any combination of genders. I would be just as dissapointed in one of my women friends who grinded on a guy without his permission as I would a guy who grinded up on a girl without her permission as would any of those who made the campaign, I am sure.

    While I think that some of your comments were misguided, I don’t want this response to silence you. I just want you to think about what I am saying and if you have a response for me I would happily read it.

  6. Look, I think that we’re seeing pretty much eye to eye here. The fact of the matter is, I was trying to use the example of the dancing to confront the issue, as I said, head on, and admit that men are in most cases, expected to play the role of spontaneous initiator. We cannot skirt the fact that gender roles exist. While we both agree they’re wrong, to pretend that they simply aren’t is just makes a bigger stumbling block. I agree that the culture is screwed up to epic proportions — that’s what I was trying to illustrate. I’m glad you agree with me, because I’d just begun to think its because I’m unattractive. Maybe I’ll stumble upon you or one of your friends, and hopefully we can dance together, because as you said, being asked doesn’t annoy you.

    As for my comment about “damned if you do,” it was merely a dry attempt to better exemplify the exact same type of culture I was talking about in my previous example. I would never say that I am entitled to sexual contact with others, rather, it was an observation on the kind of questions most adolescent males grapple with. The fact of the matter is, I know too many guys who won’t go to parties because it’s one big soul-crusher. It’s this kind of sick, twisted culture that leads them to believe being a nice guy condemns them to loneliness.

    And that’s another stereotype I wanted to address. Why do people assume it’s about getting ass? I don’t mean to personally call out you; that’s an indictment of the culture at large. Most of my guy friends care so, so much more about the emotional attachment, yet they’re stifled in this hypersexualized hookup culture. That’s another false assumption that has to be combated. Frankly, I just want to hold someone tight and know that they care about me.

    A female friend of mine recently commented to me that its unfortunate that “so few men want to date anymore,” and all I could think of was about all the guys I know who would give their right arm for companionship, not just sex.

    I end up in tears writing most of these, so they end up getting mushy towards the end, but I really put my heart into them, so forgive me, if you will. I wanted to give the opinion of a man who feels very insecure and very, very lonely. I firmly believe that the latter emotion can explain so much. I would venture to say that most guys repress it, and that drives them to seek out random sex. I’ve talked to many men seriously about this, and that’s my conclusion.

    • Yes, gender roles definitely hurt men as well as women and I understand that men who don’t fit into traditional gender roles often get hurt just like women who do. It also plays a role in why male rapes are even more underreported than female rapes. So we agree there.

      Thanks for your clarification.

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