Earlier this autumn, we felt a coldness in the pits of our stomachs when we heard that a flier was discovered inside a dorm at Miami University in Ohio listing “10 ways to get away with rape.” It included items like “Sex with an unconscious body does count, so don’t back down if she’s sleeping” and “When you see a woman walking by herself take advantage of the fact that she is alone.”
Was it just the plot of some sick fuck? Was it some kind of meta-feminist commentary? Well, now we have an answer: it was written by a freshman boy at the school, who no longer attends Miami University. Yesterday, he plead guilty to a disorderly conduct charge, which carries a $100 fine.
The young man, whose identity is being kept private at the behest of his attorney, apparently made the list as a joke. Said the Butler County prosecutor, as quoted in USA Today, “My concern was acceptance of responsibility. There’s a realization by all concerned, especially by the young man, that this was a really dumb thing.” The student no longer attends the school, but it’s unknown whether he withdrew or was expelled.
I hope his parents and loved ones are treating this incident not as just a dumb “prank,” but as a something seriously fucked up that requires mental healthcare. I agree with the prosecutor that perhaps the best use of resources was not to make a federal case of the incident, but I don’t think that this should be swept under the rug by those around him because “boys will be boys.” For the sake of diminishing rape culture, I wish our society looked at “pranks” that involve threats of violence towards women, gays and minorities not as not just “pranks,” but cries for help.
Another large question is the accountability of Miami University. As Julie noted in her post about the initial flier, it was a student club on campus that alerted students in the dorm about the flier. Not campus safety, not RAs — a student club. Schools and school districts all over the country have a shitty track record when it comes to incidents of sexual violence (or in this case, threats/”pranks” of sexual violence); the schools would much rather see the incidents minimized and even hidden than have the bad PR associated with exposing them. The trouble is, of course, that ignoring problems don’t make them go away. Students’ affected by sexual assault suffer and drop out, like in the case of Angie Epifano at Amherst College. Unknowing students at the school are at risk of further incidents with the rapist/violent person. And when the truth eventually comes out, the school still ends up looking bad.
Thankfully, USA Today reports that the incident with the student who made the rape flier was handled by Miami University’s disciplinary process. But that doesn’t change the fact the school mishandled the incident from the get-go in terms of warning students. Let this be a lesson to them and other schools.
Contact the author of this post at Jessica@TheFrisky.com. Follow me on Twitter.