On Monday afternoon, I had the distinct pleasure of having lunch with Keri Potts of ESPN and listening to her give her first lecture on her experience surviving sexual assault. As I read up on Keri before the event, I did not know what to expect. Her story only really became widely known after she shared it in her own words with Marie Claire in November. I’ll let you read Keri’s story for yourself because I could not possibly do it justice in just a few lines, but one of the things that stands out is that Keri doesn’t fit the mold for how our society generally portrays a survivor of sexual assault. We usually see the image of the attacked as weak and powerless. Some are quick to blame the victim and say “Well if she hadn’t been dressed like that or hadn’t had so much to drink, she wouldn’t have been raped. Come on, dressing like that she was asking for it.” You can’t even begin to say any of that about Keri without sounding like an idiot. She’s strong. She’s independent. She’s fierce. She is everything that we should want our sisters or daughter or girlfriends to be. Yet, she still wasn’t immune. I was floored by the way that Keri was able to so ably articulate an experience that is still so raw to her, but the unvarnished emotion of the talk made it all the more powerful. You could feel the authenticity when she addressed the systemic issues that exist in society that still allow such a heinous act to be implicitly tolerated.
Keri pointed out in her speech that due to the underreporting of rape and the slim chance that a survivor will chose to vigorously pursue prosecuting her attacker that rapists tend to go on punished. That’s a disgrace. It’s easy to sit back and think, “Well I would never rape someone. Why should I even be thinking about this?” For men, it is easier to push it to the back of our minds. We have the privilege to do so because we don’t have to worry as much about walk alone at night or getting lost in a strange and unknown part of town. However, if we truly want to see a change in the way that our society operates, we have to wake up. I’ve been trying to find the words to express how truly necessary this is, but I think I’ll leave it to Keri instead:
1. To the Clinton Student (dark, short hair with bangs sitting in back) who asked me what I think about college girls and drinking, and what I would say to colleges on how to approach this topic..My answer, now that I have thought some more on it, is..”How are we engaging men on college campuses? Men are raping women. Are we having the dialogue with them? Are we hammering home the idea that they must be part of the solution? Are we relating it back to the women in their lives so that they have a less distant perspective on the matter. And are we hammering home the idea that alcohol is a rapist’s best friend? Alcohol is the excuse that keeps rapists from going to jail and women from getting justice. Is there some kind of campaign that can attack alcohol use and its link to sexual assault in a way that resonates with college kids? “Real men don’t rape.” or “Alcohol = Rape’s best friend.” I just refuse to continue to put women into a box by piling on to the list of things they should do to avoid being raped. In essence, we are telling them they must be PERFECT. Yes, I believe girls and women need to learn self-defense because once you take such a class, I believe you will automatically think differently on how to approach certain situations. But why don’t we come at this via the men for a change and how pathetic it is to rape women?
Thanks for reading,