Great. Thanks! Since it has been a solid three decades since any woman has been assaulted, now we can all relax, kick back, and read the campus crime report, which is where you said you received your information. Your letter was, to be clear, unbelievable. And I mean that. I really could not believe that someone who has been teaching sociology, the scientific study of social behavior with a focus on critical analysis, legitimately believes that because the campus crime report doesn’t show it, no woman has been assaulted or raped on the grounds of our university.
You wrote that in a newspaper that people, like your peers and students, read. I am not paraphrasing. You wrote, “If you don’t watch your stuff, it might get snatched. But what we definitely don’t have is a problem with assault and rape.” I read that to my students. Their eyes widened. They asked if it was real or a piece in The Onion. One student said she knew a woman who was assaulted the previous night.
When I’m not pacing around a classroom ranting, I mean teaching about how important it is to not take anything at face value but instead be critical and aware, you can find me at home, whispering Beyoncé-infused rhetoric into my seven-month-old daughter’s ear while she sleeps. It is my primary concern that she grows up to be smart, strong, sensitive, passionate, and curious. I don’t want her to be afraid, but she cannot afford to be nonchalant. No woman can. It’s just not a luxury we have.
I do agree with part of your letter. While you did try to make women feel like dumb, drunk whores for sprinting to their cars in poorly lit parking lots with one hand on our pepper sprays, you also wrote, “Don’t let fear and stories of crime in the media control your perception of the world. Instead, rely on evidence.” You are right. I could not agree with you more. We should rely on evidence. You even went so far as to point out what we should be afraid of: the “real dangers,” like “overeating, overdrinking, not getting exercise, not keeping up with classes.”
Finally. Someone has the guts to tell women they need to watch what they eat. Someone needed to say it. I can’t tell you how many women I know that never put themselves on fad diets, starve themselves, exercise until their vision blurs, give themselves stress ulcers, clutch their drinks with both hands as they keep one eye on the clock and carefully time how much they consume so that they don’t make themselves a target.
But let’s get back to that evidence of which you speak. Come with me on a horrifying journey through our country’s recent history of handling rape. I will surprise no one, except you, apparently, when I quote a Justice Department report released at the end of 2014 that says only about 20 percent of campus sexual assault victims seek out the police. One in five said they fear reprisal.
As I’m reminded of every time someone accuses me of not really being married because I didn’t take my husband’s name, we live in Oklahoma. Fun fact: In 1993, Oklahoma became one of the last states, along with North Carolina, to make marital rape illegal. Until the mid-1970s, marital rape was legal in most states.
In 2015, rape victims get beer bottles thrown at them when they walk down the street and it’s not unheard of to side with Bill Cosby.
So, yes, of course our campus police reports are sparkling clean. Of course they are.