Victim Blaming Student Piece Ignites Controversy in Arizona

There has been a trend in recent op-ed pieces, written primarily by straight, white men whom are often in fraternities, that choose to place the blame of a sexual assault on the victim. For obvious reasons, this has caused uproar from men and women alike in universities across the country.  But one article, written by Rob Monteleone of the Arizona Wildcat, cause an especially large amount of controversy. The title of the article: “Only Responsibility Can Stop Rape” gives the reader a feel for what they are about to encounter from the start.

The Arizona Wildcat article makes several claims regarding who is really responsible, in the opinion of Monteleone, for preventing rape. Monteleone places the blame on the victim with comments such as, “College is full of being vulnerable around strangers. When stated like that, it seems like something you’d want to avoid, no?” and “If drunk women who have sex are able to claim “rape,” why aren’t drunk men alleviated of responsibility for the poor decisions they make?”.

Monteleone’s main argument is that women, although they find themselves in “regrettable positions”, have the ability to prevent their rape or assault by using some “foresight”. He also tells girls to “bring their common sense” when going out.

Image courtesy of Twitter/neverjessie

Image courtesy of Twitter/neverjessie

Many people have been outraged by the claims made in Monteleone’s article, as well as other articles with similar viewpoints. An Arizona University undergraduate student, Erin Zwiener, commented on the article, “Wouldn't it be better if women just exercised a bit of caution and avoided this whole inconvenient rape thing? Really? That's your argument? Here's the real double standard: Men can go out alone, party, drink, heck just walk home at night without fear of being raped. Women not only risk being sexually assaulted when they step out of an ever narrowing "safe zone"... they also have to deal with people like you going on about how if they'd just been a little more careful, nothing bad would have happened to them. Sure, if I lived my entire life inside a glass bubble, I'd be perfectly safe. But I like experiencing the world.”

In response to this comment, he responds, “I'm shocked that Erin sees life only in extreme circumstances; that she doesn't see the reasonable practice of caution between risky behavior and life in a glass bubble.”

Article’s similar to Monteleone’s have popped up from time to time, although the response to these types of articles tends to be consistent with the view of Zwiener.

Others have made the point, like Jared Keller in Mic, that “A sexual assault free campus is not one in which women must carry mace, make sure to keep their skirts long, and only consume two drinks in an evening. A safe campus is one where no one rapes anyone."

Most college campuses across the country have taken steps in the prevention and education of sexual assaults on campus. Here at BC we have the resources and staff in place to answer questions and respond to concerns regarding sexual assaults and rape. The Women’s Center at BC has support groups as well as discussion groups to help and serve students.

There is also SANet, or Boston College’s Sexual Assault Network. “The mission of the Boston College Sexual Assault Network (SANet) is to connect those who have been directly or indirectly affected by sexual violence with trained advocates who can: offer empowering support to survivors, provide on and off campus resources, explore all available options, and be a compassionate and affirming presence throughout the healing process," their website states. The SANet webpage also provides simple answers to questions addressed by articles such as Monteleone's, including “What is sexual violence?” and “What is consent?”.

While articles like Monteleone’s will continue to be written, there are people that victims can reach out to in search of support.  On campus, SANet and the Women's Resource Center serve as effective places to start.

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Nicole Strik