Scripps speaks up: Story 2

By Anonymous After reading the “Walk of Shame” editorial published in the previous issue of The Scripps Voice, I felt compelled to address some of the issues raised about slut shaming and, more specifically, about the conduct of a Claremont sports team. A story like this, in which a young woman walking home in the previous night’s dress is ridiculed by a group of people chanting “WALK OF SHAME,” should not be such an unusual thing to read about in a women’s college newspaper. Women’s colleges are seen as overly critical of men and overreactive when it comes to issues of sexual violence. Yet it isn’t a part of our everyday dialogue. Often when I read stories like this, I agree with the editorial’s critique, but then I move on. But that editorial spoke to my own personal experience of sexual assault and subsequent ridicule at the hands of a sports team. This time I spoke up.

I feel compelled to write because when we tolerate the verbal harassment of young women for their conduct—when we make concessions, when we support the “groupthink” of sexual dominance and submission, when we remain silent to any degree—we are silently consenting to the non-consensual.

While the details of my personal experience do not need to be graphically hashed out for public entertainment, it is specifically those details I cannot remember which make my experience so bewildering and hard to explain. I had slept with him before, and several times we had been drunk. But this time was different. I don’t remember much but falling and being pulled. I don’t even remember the sex itself, but I remember the aftermath and the confusion. For weeks afterwards the bruises and scrapes on my body from being unable to walk home unassisted would painfully remind me of what I still can’t remember.

It’s easy for me to blame myself. It’s easy for me to justify it by explaining I was younger and more irresponsible and am the only one responsible for personally drinking myself into near unconsciousness. After talking to friends, who told me that I was raped, I still can’t blame it all on him. I never reported the incident because I could never fully take the blame off myself.

For a long time I didn’t understand that what happened was something that I could or should report. Given the feelings I had for him and our previous sexual history, I became the last person in my life able to call it “rape.” I also decided that no matter how angry I was, I didn’t want to potentially ruin his life. Somehow, no matter how angry, hurt, or shamed I felt, being a survivor of rape just didn’t seem as tragic as potentially ending someone’s college career or future opportunities.

The reason I feel so compelled to share these past events now is that, to me, the worst part is the branding. I hate being called a survivor. I hate being one of the 1 in 4 college-age women to experience sexual assault. But even worse I hate being called a whore.

I knew him. I thought maybe everything would go back to normal and we’d be cordial again. Instead he avoids me and members of his sports team have spoken for him—and it is nothing close to an apology.

I don’t necessarily mean to group every member of the team together, but there has been some group action. During game season, his team has dinner every Thursday in the same room in the same dining hall. They arrive sometime around six. It’s now a place I have to avoid. Pub is out of the question. The Muddhole any time after Pub is another place I am pointed out and observed. Men from the team turn to look at me before turning back into each other and discussing me. There’s no denying the cruelty, sexism, and arrogance in this kind of groupthink.

I know not all of them are guilty, I’m sure not all of them know anything about me, but there are specific members who seem to haunt me wherever I go. I’ve had to block complete strangers on Facebook and fortify my privacy settings because of harassment by members of the team.

I can’t go to a party and meet new people without at least one girl coming up to me and explaining how cool I am and how surprised she is because she’s heard that I’m a great person, but she’s also heard all these horrible things about how I’m such a slut and a bitch which is so weird because they only came from one place but she’s not sure she trusts them anymore and could she be friends with me instead?

Why are we accepting and fostering this kind of behavior by a group of people on their bully pulpit? Is it that we are allowing athletes some sort of social high ground above their peers? It should be noted that it would be outrageous for any group of people—men or women—to conduct themselves in the way our fellow players have.

If this were any other group, especially a group of women or mixed gender, this behavior would not be tolerated. What makes it worse is their identity as a cohesive unit who apparently chooses to act rashly and crassly while being identifiable representatives of prestigious institutions. It’s hypocritical that the same group that is perpetrating this cruelty also parades around campus in their jerseys, seen as emblematic representatives of prestigious institutions. It is unacceptable for anyone to make anyone else feel singled out or ridiculed, even more so when that group is masking itself under the privilege and protection of a school-sanctioned team.

I appreciate the opportunity for me and persons involved to remain anonymous. While I am “calling out” this group of people, it is to call into question their conduct as human beings and as an entity that represents prestigious colleges. While we are a consortium of friends and peers, we must not forget the responsibility that comes with adulthood, and the bullying of this team to the women of our campuses is no longer something I or anyone should remain silent about.

I encourage other victims/survivors/people in need to seek help if they have been through a similar experience. For women who are survivors of sexual assault or abuse, there is a survivor’s group that meets at Monsour on Thursdays from 3:00-4:30 pm headed by Fiona Vajk, Ph.D., and Katy Dorsheimer, Ph.D. If you’re interested, please contact Katy Dorsheimer at katyd@cuc.claremont.edu or (909)621-8202