The first couple of times this happened, it was surprising.
A friend of mine would ask me if we could talk, and I’d say yes, and I’d ask if she wanted to get coffee, and she’d say no, I can’t tell you in the coffee shop. Or she’d act really distant for a week, skittering away from me, then finally asking me, drunk and with tears in her eyes “Can I talk to you for a second?”
And she’d tell me, with lots of equivocating and apologizing and minimizing, that she had been raped. And the person who raped her was one of our mutual friends.
I’m a senior at a liberal arts college, and the boys I’m friends with are former Glee Club presidents and class presidents and chess club presidents and shortstops, the product of the most ambitious and successful helicopter parenting from all across the country. They are well-dressed and articulate and they sometimes call themselves feminists. They read Jezebel (even if they’re a little embarrassed about it) and they’re pro-choice. They have perfect orthodontically-straightened smiles and bright, clean-shaven faces and they are raping my friends, in droves.
I found out about another one last night and woke up this morning shaking with rage. ANOTHER one? ANOTHER? Another time that I have found my best judgement totally overturned—these are boys who I not only like, but who I have touted to my friends as good men, good people, the type of person I would encourage a younger friend date with no reservations. Another time I am sitting in what feels like a wading pool of guilt for not realizing that this person could do something to hurt someone I love, for not figuring it out, for encouraging my friend to go for it! He’s such a sweet guy!
Almost all of them have continued in their college experience without a problem. They have hooked up with more girls, attended more Take Back The Night events with solemn, moved faces, kept binge drinking and stumbling out into the night like almost all of us do. My friends have been scarred. They have seen ineffective counselors and had nightmares. They have struggled. I don’t know what lies ahead of the girl who just told me about her rape yesterday, but I know she will struggle, too.
There is something very, very wrong going on at this campus, and on all campuses, and in this culture. I don’t know how it can stop, but I want it to stop. I want men to stop raping my friends. I want women to stop raping my friends. I want people to stop raping my friends. This has to stop.
What can we do?