Editorial: Rape is not a joke

Rape:jokeThe Texas Tech chapter of Phi Delta Theta fraternity has been suspended for an incident at one of its parties. On display was a banner approving of rape and a water sprinkler shaped like the female genitalia. Their actions crossed the line. The men of this frat did not only degrade women; they also promoted rape.

“No means yes, and yes means anal.”

This sign was proudly and prominently displayed for all partygoers to witness. The actions of those involved lacked common sense. The words gave every man at the party the go-ahead to have sex with any woman of their choosing, regardless of resistance. Is this what we want frat brothers promote to their younger brothers?

Some argue in defense of Phi Delt that the sign and the sprinkler were just a joke. When a situation is fueled by alcohol and hormones, someone’s perspective may be skewed enough to take what is written on this sign to mean that rape is OK.

This type of hateful exploitation of women may, intentional or not, lead to someone being taken advantage of. This behavior bolsters the damage of sexual assault.

The line between funny and hurtful was crossed when these guys learned the behavior and were desensitized to it – not when the men responsible for the signs thought of the idea. The problem goes deeper than just a joke. Fellow fraternity brothers, the media and Hollywood perpetuate the idea that women are objects that should be dominated. This mentality can lead to sexual assault.

In many sexual assault cases, a common defense says “she was dressed for it” or “she was drunk.” Just last week, Forbes columnist Bill Frezza penned a column stating that “drunk females are the gravest threat to fraternities” because of the likelihood that they would file rape charges against frat brothers, thereby jeopardizing the entire fraternal existence. The “no means yes” banner very directly shows that the biggest problem is the acceptance of rape. Not the victim, drunk or otherwise.

A 2007 study shows that men in fraternities are three times more likely to commit rape then other men on campus. It’s not because they are all terrible people. It is because they have learned this behavior and have become numb to its vulgarity.

The fraternity brothers were not the only people who lacked common sense in this situation. Photos of the banner and sprinkler were sent around via Snapchat and posted to websites such as brobible.com and totalfratmove.com. Before the images hit the Internet, did anyone at the party think to say ‘this isn’t right?’

There is no way the vulgarity did not offend every girl who walked into the party or that every guy in the frat agreed with the declaration. Why didn’t anyone stand up and say something?

It’s this reluctance to stand against the idea that sexual assault is OK that makes the situation worse. Sexual assaults, especially on college campuses, will continue to happen unless people protest the mentality that it’s not wrong.

The current trend of sexual assault on college campuses is alarming. According to a White House report published in January, one in five women was raped while in college. Seven percent of men on college campuses have committed sexual assault or attempted to.  Of the men who admitted to committing or attempting rape, 63 percent said they committed an average of six rapes each.

Everyone can agree that rape is wrong, but there is a mentality that is being maintained by the actions and jokes such as those of the Texas Tech chapter of Phi Delt. The thinly veiled disguise of humor that has been used to let these actions slide by without punishment is disgraceful. We as fellow college students and society should hold ourselves an our peers to higher standards and maybe, just maybe, we can minimize the number of sexual assaults.