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Letter to the editor: Rape culture must stop

Letter to the editor:

I have been a student at Ohio State for six, going on seven, weeks and already there have been four — count them, four reported sexual assaults — and they are getting more and more frequent. The fact that there have already been so many is outraging. And the fact that in at least two of the cases, there were multiple assailants is sickening. No means no! I know these this past weekend has been a heavy party weekend, and with the football game against University of Cincinnati and midterms, I understand the desire to let loose and drink it away. But just because you decide to get wasted doesn’t mean that the rules all of a sudden don’t apply to you anymore. Just because you’re drunk and the girl you’ve been dancing with all night is drunk doesn’t mean you get to have sex with her or vise versa. Legally, if someone is intoxicated they cannot give consent. This means even if the girl/guy you are dancing with and have sex with says yes, but is drunk and you know it, if the next morning he/she feels as though they have been taken advantage of, they are within their rights to file a report of sexual assault. 

Rape is always about power and control. Some people think it is done when someone has a strong desire for sex, and while sometimes the two coincide, someone who cannot understand “no” or someone who thinks it’s OK to sleep with someone who is drunk is asserting their power over someone. I don’t think people who haven’t experienced sexual assault or known someone who has understand how truly horrible it is. When someone is raped or sexually assaulted, the assailant takes all power away from that person. The person loses control of something that is very, very personal — their body. In life, we do not always have control about what happens, but we do have control over our bodies. Most sacred and meaningful of all is that we can chose who to share our bodies with, who we have intimate relations and/or sex with. We chose that, and when someone takes that choice away from you, you are never the same. You did not choose to have sex, and you could not stop it from happening. You were made completely powerless. That feeling is the worst feeling in the entire world. When you are raped or assaulted you have to live with it every day for the rest of your life. You have to live with the fear that it could one day happen again. You feel weak, like you have lost control of your life, and in a sense you have. As I said before, the one thing that we have complete control over is our bodies and when someone takes that away from us, we feel as though we have nothing.

Students at OSU and around the nation need to understand how horrible acts of sexual assault and rape actually are. There are too many jokes that make light of something that is the furthest thing from funny. Another thing students need to understand is that it is never, ever the survivor’s fault. No one ever asks to be raped. It doesn’t matter how you dress, how you act, what you say or do. Survivors should not be made to feel ashamed. Students need to understand that and promote a culture that looks down on sexual assault and violence, and looks up to a culture that supports respect and consent. Girls should not be told, “Don’t dress like a slut because someone might get the wrong idea,” but instead, everyone should be taught it is wrong to take advantage of someone, no matter how they dress or act. But in today’s society, there is such a strong rape culture that the wrong message is sent to protect those that we love. We need to promote anti-rape efforts toward those who assault others, not toward those who could be assaulted. By directing our efforts toward potential survivors, we indirectly support rape culture, because we are, in a sense, blaming the survivor for being assaulted because of something they did. By directing our efforts toward those who assault others, we are supporting a much stronger and more important anti-rape culture that correctly blames the assailant. If we blame the victim, we are supporting and justifying rape, but if we blame the assailant, who is really to blame, we show that we discourage rape and that it is never OK. As I said before, the survivor is never to blame. No one has ever asked and no one ever will ask to be raped. And nothing anyone does will ever be justified as “they asked for it.” So please, OSU and all colleges out there, understand how truly horrible something like rape or sexual assault is. Join in the fight to end this rape culture that consumes society in America and across the world. Stop with the rape jokes, stop blaming the survivors and start holding the assailants, the rapists and sexual predators accountable for their actions.

Emily Pellegrino

First-year in international studies



  1. I agree that sexual assualt is an absolutely evil, disgusting act that often torments victims for the rest of their lives. And yes, this “rape culture” needs to be stopped. I disagree, however, that all of our efforts should be towards the assaliant. Rape (must like murder, war, poverty, etc.) is a terrible fact of life that plagues society and has for thousands of years. And although I can hope that one day people will evolve to a point where sexual assualt is a thing of the past, we must realize that it is very much a threat right now. It’ll be a threat tomorrow, and next year, and five years down the road. Should the victim ever be “blamed” for being the object of sexual assault? No. But could women and men in our culture benefit from learning how to better protect themselves from attacks? Yes.

    So we need to stop saying that the only way to end rape is to stop the sickening people who do it. We need to teach people to not walk alone at night, to not get intoxicated without the knowledge that someone you trust will keep you safe, and to carry pepper spray or learn some kind of defense.

    Lets stop our feminist, men-hating perspective on this, and start treating it as an unfortunate problem that we need to battle right now. Let’s work to stop sexual assualt entirely, but let’s also start actually protecting ourselves against it.

  2. I almost fainted with joy when the other night I turned on HLN and the discussion was how to teach college students NOT to drink beyond knowing their surroundings etc. It was a show on the Hannah Grahmn case. See female writer in colleges can write all they want “It’s not the victim fault” blah blah blah but if a deer is sitting in the middle of a field and a hunter comes along….well you get my point!!! I pounded in my daughter’s head (before she headed to Osu) I don’t care if most of the team is getting filthy drunk and sleeping with the FB/BB teams of sexed up knuckleheads then stumbling drunk..you bet not!!! No parent sends their child off to college to come home in a body bag!!! I agree Anon..EVERYONE needs to act responsibly! When I was stationed Korea we never let a female member of our party leave a club drunk unless she met a boyfriend, we knew, etc.

  3. Brings to mind a young woman band member who relied on her brother section members to keep her safe when she became intoxicated.

  4. I don’t think the writer is suggesting that women don’t need to take precautions. It is actually drilled into our heads as young women to not walk alone at night, to carry pepper spray, etc. And there is nothing wrong with that. But please don’t act like this alone will stop these perpetrators and that this alone is the solution. A woman could be carrying a gun and still get raped.

    I agree 100% that girls need to be extra careful especially around the college binge drinking atmosphere. It’s the world we live in. However, being careful isn’t going to solve the problem completely. Let’s stop trying to play “I told you so” when a victim is raped while intoxicated. I’m sure you would feel differently if it was you (or your daughter) that had a couple of drinks and then was sexually assaulted. It’s not “feminist, men hating” behavior to say that women (and men) shouldn’t have to worry about being raped.

    There is only one way to end rapes completely and that is for PEOPLE TO STOP RAPING.

  5. When rape is defined as even explicitly stated consensual sex while intoxicated, as in the case of the Occidental College ruling recently and as it is now defined by the “Yes Means Yes” bill passed in California, the line is much blurrier than this. Under this definition, two students who go out and have a few two many drinks then engage in consensual sex have technically ‘raped’ each other if either party decides to report it as such.

    What are opinions on this?

  6. Rape culture has become ingrained in the college drinking culture. You cannot kill one without killing the other.

    Once college students stop acting foolishly at every opportunity, this will pass.

  7. Guest, you are correct. Following Ms. Pelligrino’s line of reasoning if two drunk people have sex and then later regret it, they can charge each other with sexual assault if they both “feel they were taken advantage of”. That’s madness. Accusations of sexual assault are serious, life destroying accusations, especially after an ill-equipped board of academics hear the case, rather than a court of law, and then kick a student out of college, essentially destroying that person’s life. An accusation of sexual assault is not a responsible or reasonable response to conducting one’s self in a manner which you later regret. It doesn’t do anybody any good, especially rape victims, to allow morning-after regrets to be confused with or equated to actual sexual assault.

    If I take $1000 out of the bank and store it on the dashboard of my car, rather than in my wallet or my safe at home, and somebody steals that $1000 I am the victim of a crime. If I acted in a way that obviously and knowingly put myself at greater risk of being a victim, it’s okay to point that out and accuse me of poor decision making. It’s not “blaming the victim”. It’s just pointing out the obvious that it makes sense to take certain precautions when the results of poor decisions are obvious.

  8. I would just like to start by pointing out that to our knowledge, not all the assailants were OSU students.

    Additionally, I disagree with much of this letter:
    First of all, as pointed out by Guest, if both students are drunk, neither can legally give consent. So if neither party said no, then either both were raped or neither was, it’s completely inappropriate to wake up the next morning and decide that because you regret it, it’s rape. I would like to elaborate on this. You can not blame a true rape victim. When someone forces them self upon you against your communicated wishes, the is rape for which the victim can never be blamed. But getting drunk is a decision, taking someone home is a decision, and you are held accountable for your decisions. We all do things we regret later, both big and small, but in no other situation do you get to turn around and blame someone else. In fact, let’s consider other things people do when drunk. If I get drunk and drive my car, I can’t be held accountable for that decision right? And if someone is drunk and picks a fight, they can’t deny blame and sue someone else when they regret it. People never want to take responsibility for there actions anymore and that’s a problem.

    Also, we need to stop pretending like clothes don’t make a statement about yourself. If you’re going to a job interview you dress a certain way. If you’re going to a football game you dress differently. Sure, clothes don’t ask anyone to harass you, but certain clothes intentionally call attention to you and your body and you should know that when you go out. I don’t think it’s ever ok to cross someone’s threshold, but attire is a part of how you declare that threshold.

    I agree there is too much joking about rape, and too many real cases of assault and harassment, but there is also too much accusing and passing the blame.

  9. In the case of “you can’t blame someone for taking your $1000 in YOUR car”…. They broke in, they stole something that wasn’t theirs… And you are blaming the car owner? So what if the person had gold sitting on the dash… It is “considered” a crime to break into a car. Don’t defend the abuser. Also, if you can’t tell… I believe all if this ” we should better educate women to take care of themselves” is idiotic. The people doing the assault should be held responsible- as with any crime against fellow humans is dealt with.

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