Hierarchical Privilege and Sexual Assault in US Colleges and Universities



He said yes, I think.

He said yes, I think.

Sexual assault is a common and violent way of degrading those in social positions beneath those of the oppressor. I always like to discuss this more generally, in contrast to the gender differentiated constructions that often prevail. It’s good to get the guys thinking about being raped. And, of course, we have ample evidence that within the structure of university education male rape is commonplace, though usually by instrument. The places that are most often the sources of the rape of women by men are also places where men are frequently subjected to violent sexual abuse. In  these settings, sociologists and psychologists have pinpointed an axis of abuse, and we know where sexual abuse thrives: (1) fraternities and sororities;  (2) Athletic clubs, particularly football and basketball; and (3) other student organizations where peer hierarchies predominate.

The war against higher education that began under Ronnie Raygun has shifted the lens of scrutiny from criminals and social organizations responsible for fostering a culture of sexual dominance to the few people who are trying to change culture to make it less violent and reprehensible—universities and their faculty and staff. We do not need more administrators to reduce rape—we already have plenty and all colleges are required to have professional staff working to reduce sexual assault. We train dorm advisers and hold workshops for students to explain to them how civilized humans are supposed to interact. We have counseling and support staff and rape hotlines to assist victims. Indeed, the “rise” in sexual assault which is supposedly happening (I have seen no concrete evidence that sexual assault is on the rise) is almost certainly a function of the fact that we have these support structures in place. More women and men who would have suffered in silence and told nobody about their assault are now speaking out and demanding justice. We are doing our job. The people not doing their jobs are police forces operating in college towns and university police departments.

Oh, and, of course, deanlets and deanlings who want to protect the image of a university, athletics programs, and powerful alumni who think rape culture in fraternities and sororities is just fine and dandy. We know how to further reduce sexual assault (which I would bet is at a historic low on college campuses). (1) Disband all fraternities and sorororities; (2) eliminate football at virtually all universities, and tightly regulate the activities of all “student athletes”—including eliminating all athlete specific dorms; (3) reinstate policies for terminating students for moral failings—we are now in a situation where rapists who don’t get convicted can come back and sue a university, and we don’t have to be in that situation. If we could simply say, “whatever happened there is a moral failing that makes you unworthy of being a student at our university” then it’s over. None of this “you can come back later” shit. (4) I hate to agree with Douchehat, but lowering the drinking age to 18 would also allow universities to supervise drinking behavior. When I started college it was the last year of 18 year old drinking, and dorms had parties and all of the RA’s were in attendance (and the Area Directors). If someone got drunk, they were escorted back to their dorm by a responsible sober person. Now, parties happen in frats and in rental properties. If someone gets drunk, a predator may rape them.


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