An SIUE alum now in grad school elsewhere reflects on the assumption that men are entitled to women’s attention whether they are reading, mourning, taking a train ride, talking with friends, or just not interested. Because of the charged nature of the comments, and the possibility of local retaliation in the current environment, the author wishes to remain anonymous.
TW: Discussion of rape culture, violence against women, Kavanaugh hearings, Bill Cosby sentencing, etc
Hi, everyone! Brevity is not my strong suit, but I will try to be brief. That said, I have multiple stories that I would like to share with you. I am currently pursuing my second a Master’s degree and, like other places and campuses across the country, my place has been buzzing about the recent Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh and the allegations of sexual assault brought against him by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor at Palo Alto University and, as of this writing, at least three other women. Among other news traveling through the campus grapevine are the trial and subsequent conviction of Bill Cosby for drugging and then sexually assaulting many women.
It was in this context that, just two days ago, I was standing in line at a local cafe when I overheard a young, early-20-something undergraduate discussing the Kavanaugh debacle in a very disturbing way. He was conversing with a fellow undergraduate, a young woman who looked to be about the same age. He claimed to not understand “what the big deal was” and that “stuff like that” (the activities that Kavanaugh participated in as a high school student in the 80s) happens “all the time.” There were also claims that Brett Kavanaugh and co. were “young kids.” A week prior to this encounter, I’d overheard another, very similar account–this time in regards to fraternities on our campus which endorsed sexual assault not unlike the famous Yale fraternity that chanted “No means yes, yes means anal,” a chant that was later echoed by fraternities across the country including at Texas Tech. The overarching sentiment it seemed to me was “What’s the big deal? This is so commonplace that it isn’t noteworthy. Get over it. Let them be kids.”
Around the same time that I’d heard the comments about Theta Tau, I witnessed another incident on campus. I’d been walking from my house to the CVS that’s a couple blocks from my campus. As I was walking down the promenade of campus, I passed two girls about my size (quite short). They were clearly friends, and one of them was talking to another friend on her phone. As they walked past me, two guys about their age—they were all white and looked to be late teens, early 20s—approached them.