Let’s lay it all out. The media may use the term “unconsensual sex”, but let’s call it what it is – rape.
You may now have heard the news of the disgustingly insensitive Frosh week chant at St. Mary’s University that has now gone viral – not in a good way.
In case you haven’t, here is a link to an article explaining how a Frosh week chant effectively condoned and encouraged the underage rape of young girls.
It’s hard for me to know where to begin on this other than to say that while I write this I’m quite literally feeling sick to my stomach. I attended St. Mary’s University, and I only participated in about half of the frosh week activities available to us. I don’t remember this cheer being used when I attended (2001), but where I didn’t attend every event, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t used.
The lyrics to the chant are as follows:
“Y- is for your sister
O- is for “Oh so tight”
U- is for underage
N- is for No Consent
G- is for Grab that Ass
SMU boys, we like them young”
The President of the Student Association is claiming that he (and the over 80 student leaders) didn’t notice the message, that it was more about the rhythm and the rhyme of the chant. Pardon me, but presumably they’re intelligent enough to be accepted into University, so I find it hard to believe they’re unable to interpret such a slap-you-in-the-face, overtly sexually violent message. Which leads me to my next concern: We are desensitizing our youth to sexually violent acts.
This is the day and age where a song like Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” can top the charts, without question to his message. The words “I hate these blurred lines, I know you want it”, to me can only be interpreted one way. But when it comes to the topic of sex, there shouldn’t be any blurred lines. Yet lyrics such as these and the video that goes along with it that sexually objectify women are the norm – even most young women these days don’t see how it is devaluing their bodies and their right to sexual human rights.
If you watch the video of the Frosh week chant at SMU, you’ll see that sadly even most of the young women in this video are actively smiling and participating in the chant, seemingly oblivious to the connotations or implications. Either they are so affected by pop-cultures objectification of women’s bodies and the right to say “NO” that they honestly didn’t think twice about the lyrics, or even sadder, are so fearful of being the girl who says “that’s wrong and inappropriate” that they didn’t speak up and stayed
cowardly safely camouflaged in the crowd.
These students, however can hardly claim ignorance. All of the student leaders, and the student President himself are at least 2nd year students at SMU. Which means, that they were around last year for yet another viral news story – that of Rehtaeh Parsons. At the age of 15, a local girl went to a party and was gang-raped by a group of young boys while she was intoxicated, vomiting, and clearly unable to give consent. They photographed the assault and distributed it around her High School where she then had to endure taunts and bullying from male and female students alike. After 17 months of inaction by the police department, she committed suicide. It made international news, but sadly the only thing ever pursued was child pornography production and distribution and not rape charges. Why? They claimed not enough evidence. Apparently the photos/videos of her nearly unconscious and vomiting, plus the boys bragging about it were not proof enough.
This story was viral, and for good reason. It was an injustice to Rehtaeh and to all victims of rape. Rather than teaching young women that these crimes are intolerable, it taught them that their assailants could not only get away with the crime, they could get away with bullying, taunting and haunting her for the rest of her life.
The media uses the term sexual assault. For some reason, the word assault doesn’t carry the same weight as the word rape. This chant is promoting RAPE. It is promoting the violation of a young girl’s body. It is promoting the degradation of a woman and completely making light of her right to say “NO” and to protect herself. With Rehtaeh’s story going viral (especially since it was in the same city that SMU is located), along with the widespread public outcry for changes in the school board for how they handle cyber-bullying and how the police force handles rape allegations, how could not one of these University students have picked up on the
insinuations bragging lyrics to their chant? These people are old enough to vote for our country’s leader, but yet they can’t decipher between right and wrong? There are no blurred lines when it comes to rape.
Our daughters are being taught that their bodies are not their own. Their bodies are to be used in cheesy pop-videos and objectified. Their bodies are simply there for male domination, wherever and whenever they please. Their voice does not matter, and even if they have suffered a rape and are brave enough to report it to the authorities, their voice will still not be heard or valued. Our young girls, rather than standing united against rape, are furthering the assault by victim-blaming and bullying. Our young girls are so afraid of becoming a victim themselves, that they’ll do anything not to stand out from the crowd and stand up for what is right.
That speaks loudly as to where our society is headed. We’re regressing. We need to change how our young girls and boys alike are educated on what constitutes rape. We teach them their ABC’s and their 123′s, but it is just as important (if not more so) to teach them right from wrong. To teach them that it is okay to stand up against rape and rape culture. To teach them that our bodies are our own, and nobody has the right to violate the boundaries we set for ourselves. To teach boys and girls alike that when it comes to sex, there are no blurred lines. Rape is rape.
Even more importantly, our justice system needs to show our youth that if they are a victim of such a crime they will be taken seriously and justice will be swiftly and thoroughly pursued. We haven’t done a good job of showing them that recently. There have been too many instances in the media where a victim speaks out, and is then re-victimized and persecuted among their peers until they reach a breaking point. We haven’t shown them justice at work.
Where have we gone wrong?
I only hope my daughter and her peers can grow up to learn differently.