Excusing Rapists

In November of 2015, Cherelle Locklear, a 19-year-old student, hanged herself. Two months earlier in September at William Paterson University, Locklear was raped at the college’s Sigma Pi Fraternity house. She did not report the incident until October after attempting suicide by overdose. Locklear then confided in a university Victim Services Coordinator. Because her rapist was never confronted or charged, she lived in fear of seeing him in class and around the school’s campus, made up of just 9,500 undergrads. In November, Locklear attempted and committed suicide. As Locklear’s mother argues, she did not receive proper attention as proven by the victim’s suicide. After filling 11 times for incident forms about the university’s involvement in Locklear’s sexual assault from the Victim Services Coordinator, Locklear’s mother is finally now in September of 2016 able to sue the university for lack of reaction and prosecution, the fraternity, the Victim Services Coordinator, and the police officers responsible for reporting the sexual assault.

From the west coast to the east, rape and sexual assault have been normalized. The offenders are looked at as elite Stanford students and potential Olympic swimmers instead of rapists. Their mug shots are replaced with prestigious university portraits. Victims are blamed, evidence given by Canadian judge Robin Camp who asked a 19-year-old victim who was raped over a sink at a house party, “why couldn’t you just keep your knees together?” and proceeded to question, why didn’t she “skew her pelvis or push her bottom to the sink to avoid penetration?” Camp then, after acquitting the offender, stated to the rapist, “I want you tell your friends, your male friends, that they have to be far more gentle with women. They have to be far more patient. And they have to very careful. To protect themselves, they have to be very careful.” Camp’s comments were made in 2014 when the case was tried and he is just now as of September 13th, 2016 in the process of a week-long judicial council hearing to determine his release from the bench. A new trial for the rapist is scheduled for November.

As the Washington Post reports, only an estimated 35 percent of rape or sexual assault cases are reported, leaving 65 percent in the dark. Similarly, according to RAINN.org, only 6 rapists out of 1,000 will serve time and “perpetrators of sexual violence are less likely to go to jail or prison than other criminals.” Often swept under the rug as well and excluded from the media is the mental health and well-being of the victims. While rapists are highlighted and explanations like, “he was a troubled boy,” “he would never normally do this,” and talk of how great he “could have been” are posed, the victims are forgotten.

The names flooding the headlines are not the ones that should be recognized. Why make the offenders famous? Give us the victims’ stories. Make the public understand why the offender needs to be in prison. Make the victim’s grieving, violation, and loss of self known. Make sure every offender that slipped through the system, each rapist that is not being held accountable for his actions, knows that women are not “free rein.” Women are human. Would Judge Camp have said the same if the rapist was a women and the victim a man? Would he have acquitted the rapist then? Would rape still be normalized if most rapists were female instead of male? Young women, or any women for that matter, should not need to live in fear of sexual assault or even of saying no, a fear instilled by Mary Spears’ 2014 case. (Spears was shot and killed by a 38-year-old Detroit man when she rejected his sexual advances.) Stop honoring “I have a boyfriend” more than “no.” The lack of respect shown by the men in these cases seems to reveal that women are far too often viewed as sexual objects. But men’s purpose is not solely to please women, so why would women’s sole purpose ever be looked at as just to please men? The question of gender equality still arises on a daily basis and will continue to be unanswered as long as issues of sexual assault and issues of proper prosecution of sexual assault remain.

©2016

 

To The Women I Once Loved: Book Review

Jeanty’s (Unspoken Feelings of a Gentleman) latest collection of poems echoes his stale mistakes and lessons learned in regards to his past love life. Jeanty confesses each woman taught him how to better treat a lover, understanding that a woman’s looks are nothing to brag about when she has features like a “heart of gold and a mind of a champ." With every failed relationship, he discovers more in the ways of a healthy, happy co-existence. He writes, “An injustice, I say, to give your body to men who wouldn’t dare walk next to you in public nor ever consider standing next to you at the altar," implying he learned to value relationships and hold them at a certain level of importance, differing from some of the earlier poems in the anthology. However, too often the simplistic language falls short of properly conveying Jeanty’s touching concepts. His sentimentality is hidden behind clichéd terms and phrases like “a miracle you were." While strong themes like respect and equality emerge from the text, they are clouded by honey soaked and tired words. Jeanty’s collection is a handbook of sorts for young men, as he tries to portray his most substantial findings in the world of love and affection.

©2016