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