One Less held seminars for student groups on bystander intervention and how to be supportive of survivors. Jackie dove into her new roles as peer adviser and Take Back the Night committee member and began to discover just how wide her secret UVA survivor network was – because the more she shared her story, the more girls sought her out, waylaying her after presentations or after classes, even calling in the middle of the night with a crisis. Jackie has been approached by so many survivors that she wonders whether the one-in-five statistic may not apply in Charlottesville. “I feel like it’s one in three at UVA,” she says.
But payback for being so public on a campus accustomed to silence was swift. This past spring, in separate incidents, both Emily Renda and Jackie were harassed outside bars on the Corner by men who recognized them from presentations and called them “cunt” and “feminazi bitch.” One flung a bottle at Jackie that broke on the side of her face, leaving a blood-red bruise around her eye.
I wonder where this fine young fellow learned that term. Not that Rush invented the idea of women’s rights activists spoiling all the MENZ fun by, you know, demanding they not get raped and stuff, but he certainly gave it a catchy nickname.
This whole story is a massive nightmare, but for whatever reason this the part I glommed onto, because doing that to women? That’s TAUGHT behavior, and you can talk all you want about girls going to parties and drinking underage and drinking too much and walking home alone and the frat system and everything else, but at the root of this is teaching young men that women are not friends. They are prey.
Men and women should live in the same buildings in college. The dorm I lived in college had mens and women’s sides, but they were just different ends of the same hallway, with the elevator and common area in between, and mens and women’s bathrooms on each side of the elevator. We were free to walk through and spend time in each others’ areas and rooms. One RA per floor, for both the men and women together. Frankly, it would have been about the same if the rooms were just mixed. And with the growing number of out LGBT students, mixed-gender rooms should be on the table too.
It dramatically lessens the sense of having some all-male “fox den” or all-female “hen house”, and makes the presence of the opposite sex something normal and mundane, rather than an infrequent, sexually-charged booze-fuelled encounter. College age men need to be able to see women as actual people – friends and peers – that they run into in the elevator and laundry room and TV lounge – rather than as some mysterious, sexualized, foreign being which only enters their living space late at night during parties.
I grew up with boys, boy cousins and guys my dad worked with. I was always around men, and when I worked with boys in college they were all like my brothers, and we’d have taken bullets for each other. I’m not saying I’m some kind of exception or that rape culture doesn’t exist, I’m saying my environment, healthy as it was, was rare and that’s not a good thing. That breeds this kind of exoticism, this resentment at something not really well understood, this tendency to argue with imaginary people, with “feminazis” and “cunts” instead of the girl in the next room.
We are not real to each other and that is taught, and it is taught in the avalanche of hate and fear that comes out of the right-wing puke funnel and it’s always had its adherents, but we didn’t used to amplify it every single day and make it a fucking catchphrase.