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Opinion: A case of forests and trees

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Rape culture. The prevalent attitudes and human scale interactions regarding rape and sexual assault have been at the forefront of the student body’s consciousness this fall. What began with the two reports of sexual misconduct within the first weeks of school soon escalated to the Southall tweet and grew again with the Blurred Lines fiasco. It shifted to the empowering F*ckrapeculture demonstration, and is now culminating in a struggle over how to come to terms with an alleged rape on Court St. during homecoming weekend.

From a glance at The Post’s editorial page, or a look at F*ckrapeculture’s Facebook wall, it’s easy to tell rape culture is hugely divisive. But everyone hates rape. So, where does the disagreement come from?

It happens when rape and sexual assault are taken from isolated incidents and viewed in a context of greater societal influences. People struggle to move their understanding of rape from a narrow, case-specific, criminal-legal view to a sociological, holistic understanding of why sexual misconduct occurs and how society reacts to it. They become mired in definitions, or preoccupied with assigning blame to individuals, and they fail to see the forest for the trees.

Rape culture is so insidious because it is much like a forest, complex and encompassing. There is no easily identifiable group to point a finger at. Institutional responses like the upcoming Day of Dialogue seem so hollow, because this is, for once, not a problem mainly perpetrated by the university as an institution. It’s the university community, and more broadly, American society as a whole that is responsible. Rape culture is so entrenched, recognizing it is a radical act in and of itself.

This deep entrenchment of rape culture is why the bystanders on Court St. pulled out their phones and tweeted instead of calling the police. They didn’t consider consent of both parties; they saw it through the lens of a homecoming weekend spectacle and social media fodder. It’s why The Post considers it news that the two were seen walking into the same building together that night. It’s why the woman falsely identified as the woman on Court St. described the experience as a nightmare, and felt that she needed to remain in her home for days. This woman was literally taken as a prisoner of rape culture.

Rape culture is evident when a victim receives more injustice in the process of trying to bring about justice. It is evident when efforts to support the victim are washed away and taken down by the authorities. In the battle against rape culture, the enlightened have no choice but to ally with each other. In order to combat a prevalent social attitude, the fight must be waged on all fronts, no matter how subtle. Groups like F*ckrapeculture are crucial for consolidating resources and power, but there must be an equally strong effort to reject rape culture during the hum drum everyday. So let this semester serve as a sort of call to arms to everyone who cares for their fellow being: say no firmly, where before there was only silence.

The Ohio University Student Union meets Thursdays at 8pm in Baker 237. 

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