I’ll preface this column by stating my intentions. I’m here to attempt to calm down these masculine macho men we see too often in many of the fraternities here at Cornell, and to approach this subject through my experience with it in the Marine Corps. That’s right, I’m a jarhead. During boot camp, we were legally and illegally hazed. The specificities of my treatment are best left unsaid because quite frankly, they were disgusting and atrocious, and absolutely insane, but there was some purpose to this hazing.
Earlier this week, Katy Habr, another Opinion columnist, wrote a column on rape culture and the way that it is so deeply embedded in our society, even within groups that supposedly denounce all forms of oppression and acts of violence. Her column emphasized ideas I already had and made me think even more about the idea of rape apologists. I want to clarify at this point that this column is going to be discussing rape apologists and sexual assault/rape in general. I’ve been considering this issue for a while now as another scarily unique way that rape culture functions. Any issues or discussions around the topic of sexual assault can be uncomfortable, but rape apologists create a different kind of discomfort, at least for me.
Two weeks ago, a leaked tape released audio of Donald Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women, turning away a substantial amount of his voters and government supporters. The next week, I was with a friend and looked over his shoulder to see messages from his fraternity’s group chat referring to women with the sentiment: “if you’re not going to fuck them, what’s the point?” When I expressed my concern, someone else replied, “I didn’t say you should look.” My friend looked away and smiled awkwardly, uncomfortable enough for me to assume he knew something was wrong, but not uncomfortable enough to do anything about it. “Just locker room talk, right?” I wanted to ask sarcastically, but I held my tongue. What I saw was just a small incident, though one of many; but this article isn’t about frats. We all know the statistics, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men will be sexually assaulted in college.
My sister tells me I’ve turned into a book snob. She claims that my reading list is largely propelled by a hunger for cultural capital, that I don’t enjoy the things I read, that I’m checking off the novels of someone else’s book list: some antiquated, white professor’s book list. And to an extent, she’s right. As an English major, I have not only become trained in applying psychoanalytical and queer theories to the ample texts we chow down in a semester, but I’ve become adept at prioritizing certain genres of texts over others, according to their so-called intellectual merits. The classics: Good.