Fembot Schools of Shame (SOS) Map

June 16, 2014 § Leave a comment

The amazing humans over at the Fembot Collective have just put together an SOS map visualizing the discrepancy between expected incidence of college sexual assault (based on the White House’s recent report on the subject) and the assaults that are actually reported and disclosed per the Cleary Act. As anyone even remotely familiar with sexual assault on college campuses (or sexual assault generally) will be utterly unsurprised to discover, the discrepancies between these numbers are staggering. Here is that map, as well as Fembot’s explanation of the research process (full disclosure: I helped with some fact-checking).

On that same note, here is the story of one woman –one woman amongst thousands and thousands of women– whose experiences are not reflected in the Cleary statistics. Not reflected because she did not report her assault; and not reported because she didn’t think it would do anything, and more insidiously, because she’d internalized the idea that it was her fault for “letting” it happen. As writer and Yale grad Amanda Ruggeri explains of her decision to remain silent:

As the years went on, I became only more aware of just how commonly this happens — and how few of us have come forward. In our senior year, I was in an all-female secret society. There were 13 of us. We were 21 years old. As each of us gave our “bios,” or life histories, the traditional way to jump-start what was meant to be a lifelong bond, I kept count.

The number was four. And all four assaults had gone unreported, un-investigated, and uncounted.

A few years later, I was having dinner with two good friends. Somewhere between our second and third cocktails, we found out that each of us had, at one point during our university years, been raped. We were all strong women, and none of us had pressed charges. We were all smart, and none of us seemed to realize, deep down, that we were entirely blameless for what had happened. We were all writers, and none of us had published a sentence about our assaults.

“I was roofied and raped in college,” I told a different friend about a month ago. She took a swig of wine and laughed wryly. She had been, too, it turned out. A bartender. A glass of water. A ten-hour blackout. A naked wake-up. Vomit on her hands. She did a rape kit, but she wished she hadn’t: invasive, traumatizing. She did not press charges. She did not know where he was, these days.

“It’s like women are the walking wounded,” a friend commented to me once. Dealing with it on our own, quietly — whether because that’s what strong women do, or what good girls do, I’m not sure.

But one thing is for certain: Most of us don’t speak. No matter how strong we are, no matter how “feminist,” we carry around with us a sense that, somehow, we brought the assault on ourselves. We were too flirtatious. Or we didn’t say “no” loudly enough. Or we were wearing the wrong thing. Or we should have known better than to go to his room, get in his car, go for a drink, accept that shot.

I’d say I’m not sure where we pick up those signals, so much and so early. Except, of course, that I do — because they’re everywhere.

I won’t even try to throw together a tidy conclusion.

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