“SMU boys we like them YOUNG! Y is for your sister. O is for oh so tight. U is for underage. N is for no consent. G is for grab that ass.”
This is the frosh week chant from my school that has been making the news for the last couple of days. (Here’s a link to the first story I saw, but in your mind, please replace the words “underage sex” with “rape”.) I’m basically at the point where I’m unable to concentrate on anything else.
The chant was approved and sung by the executives, including the president, of our student association (SMUSA). Since their actions were caught on tape and spread across the internet they are now facing some consequences like being forced to take “sensitivity training” and go to a conference on consent (too harsh?) NOW they are pretending to be interested in our Women’s Centre and issues of consent. Funny, considering last year they decided to withdraw funding for future conferences like ConsentFest, which the Women’s Centre helped organize and host at our school. They did not support us, and they certainly did not attend. They had no interest in learning more about rape and consent until this bad publicity forced them to acknowledge that they are wrong. And now they’re trying to promote us to get us off their backs…
Maybe I would have been able to avoid becoming so emotionally involved in this if I hadn’t read this aspect of it, where a former frosh leader talks about approaching the SMUSA executive about the same chant after a survivor of rape was negatively affected by it. This silencing diminishes people and it hurts.
Some people think this is a joke and may not understand why I am so outraged by this. To me, it is a painful reminder of how quickly other people can exercise power against my body. I’ve spent too much of my life being consumed by what happened when I lost control over decision-making about my body, and my reaction to news like this is overwhelmingly physical as well as mental. This sort of news reminds me how little value I have, and how my rights are somehow less worthy of protection than others’. Last night, this forced me to reflect on my past, on dominant understandings of masculinities and femininities, and on how my existence and work can be so easily negated. I cried and shook and twitched and wrote stream-of-consciousness hate-filled pages and thought about the SMUSA execs and how they were probably worried about their future social and political aspirations but were probably also receiving tons of support while (at least some, or at least one) survivor(s) of rape have to deal with the consequences of other people’s actions again and again, often alone. And being reduced to a ball of tears can turn this into a personal problem when it is definitely political. I feel this, and I personalize it, but this is much bigger than my emotions and my personal history. I’m writing because it’s the best way I know how to resist. Rape culture is real, people. And it fucking hurts. And sometimes I feel violent against myself just because I desire to exercise my own power through and over my own body. Just to re-claim some of that power. But in this fucked up world, that just makes me crazy.
Today I read that in order to deal with this issue, SMU has hired an “expert in bullying” to start a task force charged with “preventing sexual violence”. Although bullying is a real problem that people have to deal with, I am seriously sick of how it is equated with sexual violence. Maybe this guy knows tons about bullying, I don’t really give a fuck, it does not mean he is at all equipped to deal with the gendered aspects of sexualized violence.
All this to say that I am mad, and sad, and I have to get this out or I am never going to get back to what I really need to be doing, which is working on changing this little piece of the world that is so important for me to change. Yesterday I established a tentative thesis date (in December, so close!) and my second draft of my thesis is due Sunday so I have to get on that. I hope that by writing about this I can just let it go for awhile…