Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Disturbing Op-Ed About Rape and Accountability in The Daily Princetonian

Posted by: Michelle Haimoff

Cross-posted on

Iulia Neagu, a Princeton Freshman, wrote an op-ed this week about the “ambiguous situation” of date rape called “The real ‘Sex on a Saturday Night.’” Among the many inaccurate and victim blaming points in her piece, she writes:

We live in times when sexual discrimination has, more or less, disappeared from our society. Yet it still prevails when talking about a ubiquitous thing like sex. If both people were drunk and if the girl has the right to make the accusation of rape, then why shouldn’t the boy enjoy the same privileges? If a culprit is required, then both of them should be guilty or there should be no culprit at all.

A more eloquent feminist than myself should explain all of the reasons this piece is rife with dangerous messages, but here is a short list:

  • It implies that the victim is to blame for being raped because she was intoxicated. Note: The victim is never to blame.
  • It reinforces an already misogynistic rape culture in which it is on the woman not to get herself into potentially dangerous situations. In this culture, men are not told not to drink too much or to curb their violent tendencies so that they don’t rape, but women are told to behave appropriately so that they do not bring acts of sexual violence upon themselves.
  • It implies that women commonly get drunk, have sex with men and cry rape. To say that situations like that are rare is an understatement. It is much more common that rape goes underreported because op-eds like Neagu’s create a society where the victim is guilty until proven innocent.
  • It questions why the guy is “always to blame,” when any rape study will show that women are overwhelmingly the victims of rape by men, and that even in cases where men are raped, other men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators (99% of all rapists are men). There are pretty obvious biological reasons why it is easier for men to rape women than vice-versa.
  • It attempts to level the playing field on sexual assault by implying that the victim shares the responsibility of the crime. That the victim is willing, even. From Neagu’s piece:

[By drinking] the girl willingly got herself into a state in which she could not act rationally. This, in my opinion, is equivalent to agreeing to anything that might happen to her while in this state. In the case of our girl, this happened to be sex with a stranger.

I learned tonight that the reason the media has always sexualized black women is that back in the day sexualized victims gave slave owners permission to rape their black slaves without the burden of accountability. Similarly, a victim who is “asking for it,” because of the alcohol in her system, allows the victim to share in the accountability of the crime.

It is horrifying to me that a woman wrote this op-ed.

Response from Princeton Sexual harassment/Assault Advising, Resources and Education (SHARE) peer advisers and SpeakOut advocates.

Jessica Roy’s take in NYULocal, “Princetonian Op-Ed Plays the Rape Blame Game.” The comments here are almost as upsetting and ill-informed as Neagu’s original op-ed.

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