Following an attack at the University of Delaware, the world is once again demanding more
Content warning: abuse, physical attacks, rape.
Boys will be boys; no boys will be held accountable for their actions.
Following an assault that took place on October 8 at the University of Delaware, the internet has been set on fire with demands for action. These are demands that not only should the University of Delaware be ashamed by how they have responded – slowly and without ensuring same-day mental health services were available – but a demand for us as humans to demand better from one another.
For those who are unfamiliar with this case, a male student has been charged after violently attacking his ex-girlfriend; both are students at the University of Delaware. This brutal attack caused the victim to need emergency medical attention at one of the local hospitals. For many, this is not an uncommon story – boy meets girl, boy likes girl, boy maybe gets to date girl, boy is either rejected or broken up with, and boy responds in a violent manner when he doesn’t finally just get what he wants.
Just like many of the students taking to the streets and the internet to protest what the University of Delaware is doing, ask any female identifying student what it feels like to walk around a university campus; they are all going to tell you the same things. It does not feel safe to walk out to your vehicle at night. It is easier to avoid the person than to reject them for fear of retaliation. You may be putting your future at risk by putting your present self first.
Why do we walk around on eggshells and pray to whatever higher power we choose that we can make it through the day without incident? Why must we have a backup plan for our backup plan when attending a party, or going to the bar or other events where liquor and other substances are present? Why must we apologize for trying to get through our day when we didn’t ask for these events to happen?
It is simply because, as a society, we have been taught and we continue to teach that it is the fault of the female. “Boys will be boys” is something that we have all heard. We were taught that they pulled our pigtails and threw stones because they liked us. Now, instead of pulling at our hair they are pulling away our sense of autonomy. They are no longer throwing stones but throwing punches to ensure we are aware of where we stand.
Onlookers will approach you and ask why you didn’t just say yes. It shouldn’t be a big deal, it’s only dinner or a movie or whatever menial activity they invited you to do with them. We should not have to say yes to requests out of fear of upsetting them and causing a scene or experiencing harm. If they cannot accept “no” when asking about dinner, how do you honestly expect them to handle no when they want sex?
Walking through the hallway, you are not a person, but rather an object that is ripe for the picking. There is a greater chance of them accepting “I have a boyfriend” than any other answer. This is not because they have greater respect for the person you are with than they do for you, the person you are with is simply a challenger. What they respect is that the property is spoken for, and the code that you don’t touch someone else’s property. We are not people, ladies; we are objects to be taken for a test drive in the minds of these men.
In instances like the Delaware case, the man became enraged when he discovered that his ex-girlfriend was at a different fraternity’s party. Even though she was no longer dating him, he still viewed her as his property meaning she was “not allowed” to partake in such activities.
What are we supposed to do when the only solutions that are brought forth for those who are put in these situations is to report it? For anything to be done, you need evidence. If they are saying things that are making you uncomfortable, following you, or coming across as threatening in any other manner, that seemingly is not good enough. You cannot discipline someone for making you uncomfortable as it’s not viewed as dangerous. Rather, it’s your own problem that you’ll need to overcome.
Then what? We wait until we are beaten, raped, and left for dead, and let our bodies be all the evidence that we need? That won’t work either, as your body then becomes the weapon that they point at you to justify the situation. The way that you feel is not taken into consideration, and the evidence left on your body is turned into a loaded gun. You have no choice but to come nose to nose with the barrel repeatedly, hoping that something positive may occur.
For the survivor of this attack and for the survivors of every single other attack that has ever happened; whether it be on a university campus, a park, a house, anywhere – I am sorry. I am sorry that you are forced to relive your own horrible story every time another one is covered in the news. I am sorry that the warnings you had and the help you tried to seek failed you. I am sorry that the way in which you see yourself is now permanently altered. And I am sorry that once again the world continues to fail you.
These boys will one day be held accountable in the ways that they should be. It will no longer matter how rich their parents are, which team they are the captain of, or how “bright” their future is. What will matter is the person whose life they thought they were entitled to, and the ways in which that life will never be the same again.