Rape culture is certainly prevalent

A response to Tom Pernecker’s letter:

I understand where you’re coming from; you don’t see the culture and you don’t think it’s prevalent on campus. You don’t see it, that is your opinion and I respect that. But I think that you’re wrong and I’m going to tell you why you’re wrong.

You say that rape culture isn’t a problem at Ohio University. During the first week of classes, as students flood into Athens, fraternity houses hang banners, which line the streets, asking fathers to leave their daughters, that they’ll be well taken care of. They hang in plain sight: double entendres, sexually-laden messages, all projected at incoming freshmen girls. Every weekend, I hear men catcalling at girls walking down Court Street.

“Slut!” they yell. “Look at that b---h!” Often, the girls increase walking pace and hot-foot it into the nearest bar. All of this because she’s wearing a short skirt that clings to her body.

I tell a friend about it casually the next day and they’ll say, “It’s her fault for dressing like a whore.”

I attended a party not too long ago. I was drinking, but I was not drunk, and a fellow, who also was not intoxicated, came through the door and began hitting on me in a pretty obvious way.

“No, thank you,” I say to him. “I’m not interested.”

He insists that he was “looking for some woman company tonight.”

I laugh and reply, “Well, there’s lots of girls here. I’m sure you’ll find a nice one.”
I walk away and talk to other friends, happily. The same guy returns and places his arm around me.

“Why are you touching me?” I ask.

“You’re just so pretty,” he says.

I ask him to remove his arm, and he offers me some of his liquor.

“No, thanks,” I say to him. “I’m doing just fine.”

He persists and insists and I realize that he’s trying to get me drunk. Because I’ll be more compliant to his advances if I’m hammered. He wasn’t drunk, he knew exactly what he was doing, and I was disgusted.

I leave him standing alone. He puts his arm around me again later, and I tell him to remove it, but he chuckles and tries to touch me again. I tell him that I’ll skin him and make a leather jacket from his outer shell if he touches my body again. At this point, I’m labeled a prude.

In Halloweens past, I’ve debuted my costume only to have a boy tell me that it “isn’t sexy enough.”

I was harassed, uncomfortable and almost taken by a man in a car one night. My friend said, “Why were you walking alone?” It was 8:00 PM and the sun hadn’t set completely.

Rape culture isn’t the act of rape or assault. Rape culture is just that, the culture — a culture that makes light of a person’s discomfort.

Where my harassment was harmless fun.

Where a girl who doesn’t say no must have wanted it.

Where tweets from students proclaim that the poor girl on Court Street last Saturday “looked like she was enjoying it” and “I didn’t hear her say no.”

You want to redefine rape. If both parties are drunk, it’s rape. If a drunk man shoots a woman on the streets, he’ll be held accountable and nobody questions that, so why do you think we should examine the situations in which rape occurs?

Assault is assault, harassment is harassment and a rape is a rape.
You question whether rape culture is a problem. You’re perpetuating it now, Tom, You’re a part of it.

Ashley Labaki is a senior studying psychology.

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