I am angry, and here’s why

| April 9, 2012

I’m not sure if any of you have ever actually read my bio, but it says that I am a generally pleasant person. This is true. What it doesn’t tell you is that I feel things deeply, my empathy muscles are in pretty great shape, and I am a feminist. These are things I don’t announce to you because, if I am living my life appropriately, they should be obvious.

So it should also be obvious that I have spent the last few months very frustrated, and no one should be shocked when I say that events of the past few days have made me livid. I don’t get truly angry very often, but I am actually and legitimately pissed.

I don’t need every news outlet from here to Australia to tell me how much of a disaster area my school allegedly is; I am acutely aware of how clusterf*cky we appear to the general public. And are we in a bad place right now? Well, yes. But that does not make articles like this okay.

That links to a story on Jezebel—a website I have faithfully and gleefully read for years, that offered me a feminist and liberal refuge while trapped in a Red State—that systematically lambasts nearly everything that makes me who I am. It attacks my school. It attacks my course of study. It attacks a sport I love, people I care about deeply, and somewhere that I consider my home.

And that’s not right.

I am the first (no, really) to go off on a tangent about rape culture, about how unacceptable victim-blaming and slut-shaming are, to explain to you why I am deeply offended by the vast majority of things my generation says and does. I love the conversations that are sparked by my reading books like this in public (what what, Howard Thurman Center). I marched in Take Back the Night. I have absorbed the fight against patriarchy, and misogyny, and inequality in all its forms, into my personal psyche. I fight, and I fight, and I fight.

And then shit like this gets published, and it seems like none of it even matters. And that makes me sad. And then it makes me really, really angry. Because just as it’s unfair to blame “hockey culture” for the alleged actions of two individuals, to scapegoat Boston University for all of rape culture is sweeping and offensive. And I don’t like it.

I’ve been wanting to write a frustrated post for months—about how I’m sick of living in a world where people still treat feminism like a four-letter word, where I have to bend over backwards to make sure I have someone to walk me home at night, where disgusting and degrading things are said and no one bats an eyelash. I’m tired of living in a world where dental dams are “awkward,” where people think rape jokes are funny, where ANYONE of ANY GENDER has the audacity to begin any sentence with “Well, she was wearing a short skirt…”

What I need, is for everyone to educate themselves. To learn why people are offended. To pay attention to trigger warnings. To stop starting their sentences with “I’m not a feminist, but…” To hold the door open for everyone BECAUSE IT IS A POLITE THING TO DO, not because of some outdated and gendered notion. I need the focus to shift from “don’t get raped” to “don’t rape.” I need everyone to start paying attention. I need people to care. We need to stop passing the buck and take some accountability. It’s not enough for me to say “rape culture is bad;” I have to critically examine the things I say and do and actively try to eliminate anything problematic from my behavior. Similarly, it is not enough for Jezebel—or anyone, really– to say “BU has a rape culture problem,” because scapegoating passes the buck. They need to be a part of the solution.

I need the brilliant and accomplished young men and women that I walk down Comm Ave with every single day to stand up and prove that they’re better than what the world thinks of them. Start asking the right questions. Start offering answers. Start caring. Because I do. And I’m not going to stop caring, and I’m not going to shut up. But no matter how much fire I may have in me, I cannot fight this fight alone.

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Category: featured, Social Activism, The (Sex)es

Rhiannon Pabich

About the Author ()

Rhiannon was once asked to write a "bland, professional bio" and she failed miserably. She is, however, good at some things, which include yelling in hockey arenas, explaining the importance of comprehensive sex ed, and pursuing adventures. The journalism major hails from the deep south and, on a good day, enjoys scintillating conversation and copious amounts of caffeine. On a bad day, she enjoys sarcasm-laden conversation and obscene amounts of caffeine (but really, isn't every day a good one?). She likes playing with paint, crying happy tears, red balloons, and you.

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  1. Smo says:

    Thank you for writing this. After the events that have been transpiring in our school it was quite amazing how few people were willing to make a serious discussion about how unacceptable all this shit was. It was embarrassing that our school’s image was tarnished by such irresponsible writing and almost insulting how insensitive the apology was. There is a big difference between being sorry for getting called out and being sorry for what you’ve done. I don’t doubt that it was never their intention to hurt anyone but the question that bothers me is what kind of mindset within the press allowed this to happen? Is misogyny within our school a bigger problem than I originally thought it was? All of this just hit too close to home.

  2. Stacey says:

    Very well written and definitely expresses what I think a lot of us feel. Great work. I shall be sharing in hopes of inspiring others. :)

  3. Brittany Shepard says:

    I appreciate the fact that you have decided to focus on solutions in this. Most people just complain, blame our school for this Task Force and its intentions, blame the girls at our school, blame this that or the other thing. But this is deeper than that and you’re opening that conversation. This is about being good people and it extends far beyond the walls of this school. It has nothing to do with our clothes, our major, our interests, it has to do with what is right and what is wrong.

    Thank you for writing this. :)

  4. Emile says:

    It strange that people aren’t willing to use this kind of logic for other things. If you carry a wallet or purse, aren’t you just asking to get mugged? If you’re riding your bike during rush hour, aren’t you just asking to get hit? If you “act gay,” aren’t you really asking to get bullied?

    So, yeah, I guess if I just change my lifestyle to accommodate the rapists/thieves/reckless drivers/bullies, then life is a piece of cake. Awesome.

  5. Dirk Slamsalot says:

    This is going to be an unpopular opinion but it needs to be said. To eliminate rape culture you have to identify the problems in women’s behavior as well. No, “she was asking for it” is never a valid excuse, but why can’t someone be asked to change their behavior if it’s going to put them in danger? We have to deal reality here. Absolutely punish men who rape but, at the same time, realize that there will always be people who take it one step too far. And I mean BOTH sides here.

    TL;DR – No rapist should be excused for what the victim was wearing but that shouldn’t give us a free pass to act any way we want.

    • Allyson Galle says:

      Because wearing revealing clothes shouldn’t put a woman in danger, and fashion isn’t a behavior. The only time that a woman wearing revealing clothes puts a woman in danger is when there is a rapist or assaulter in her vicinity. You’re right – behavior needs to change. So let’s focus on eliminating the one behavior that causes cases of rape (reported and unreported) to rise: raping.

      • Logan Lumm says:

        To this I bring a comparison. If you had money constantly sticking out of your back pocket, thieves will take advantage of it. You are putting something that bad people want to take from you out in the open. I don’t put down women who want to dress provocatively…but the word “provoke” is in their for a reason. You are bringing attention to yourself and upping your risk.

        • Allyson Galle says:

          I understand the comparison you’re making, but I don’t think that having boobs sticking out of one’s shirt is on the same level as money sticking out of one’s pocket. To steal money from one’s pocket is a crime, is unwarranted, and is a behavior that shouldn’t occur, but it isn’t a personal violation or personal coercion. I would equate rape in your comparison with robbery at gunpoint or knifepoint – it is not only a crime against property, but an endangerment to one’s well-being and a traumatic experience physically and mentally. In that situation, it was not that the money was sticking out of the victim’s pocket, but that there was an armed robber. Is the best prevention of armed robbery making one’s wallets and purses invisible, or is it working to change the behavior that makes armed robbery seem like an acceptable means of getting cash?

          • Jenny Gilbert says:

            I would go farther than Allyson’s comparison because armed robbery or being held at knifepoint does not mean your body was actually touched and mutilated against your will, that you have the potential to have received many diseases, nor carry the silent stigma of being less than other women and never being able to tell people what happened.

            Hardly surprising that readers immediately read this post and jump to arguing about women who are “provocative” changing their actions instead of the actual cases that have happened at BU. If you’re worried about misogyny, start by changing the dialogue of lumping every sexual abuse survivor in a group of women who wears miniskirts and comes home drunk at 2 AM, and start treating the cases like what they are: diverse, complicated, and above all else, human.

        • Kal says:

          The fact is that a lot of women who are raped are not dressed provocatively. And telling women to cover up more will not solve the problem. People who rape are ill and will rape at any opportunity that is given to them. Women are raped in parking lots in the mall and grocery stores, taking their dogs for walk, and many other innocent parts of their lives, not just at parties. Rapists aren’t looking for women in short skirts or low cut tops, they are looking for someone to dominant.

          • Logan Lumm says:

            I’m certainly not encouraging the saying that women “were asking for it” because of what they were wearing. I also have heard that statistically, rapists more often go after women who are covered up, skittish, and look like they could be easily dominated. But if we are talking about behavior that needs to change, revealing sexualized parts of your body is a very purposeful way to make people think about sex and specifically sex with you. This is absolutely a behavior that creates a culture obsessed with sex, which some awful people unfortunately take too far.

    • Mary Claire says:

      “Dirk SLAMSALOT,” your opinion is unpopular because it fails to address all of what Rhiannon’s post just discussed. The problem is not that women (or people in general) aren’t changing their behavior “if it’s going to put them in danger,” the problem is that there is that danger to begin with. The existence of that danger, and the misrepresentation of that danger as being the fault of the victim, is exactly what we should be working against. In a situation of rape, the rapist is the one with the power, not the victim.

    • Kal says:

      Honestly, how is running on the esplanade a behaviour that warrants rape? How about walking back from the library at night? Girls don’t just get raped when they are intoxicated. Is alcohol intake a behaviour that needs to be changed? Should a girl change her behaviour so that SHE isn’t walking home alone? Or wouldn’t a better solution be HE doesn’t rape?

      Rape can also happen men. It can happen at anytime to anyone. If there is no consent from a party it is rape. Rape is rape.